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[P]
Atheists are Open Minded

By davros4269 in Op-Ed
Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:38:05 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
-- Isaac Asimov

I'm a skeptic and therefore, an atheist. Many agnostics would think that first sentence an oxymoron, yet this would be a popular misconception. A skeptic generally, where possible, tries to assume nothing going in, so to speak, and requires evidence for claims made. I'm not looking at a dictionary; this is the definition of skeptic that I'll be meaning when I say that word in this piece.

Recently an agnostic friend of mine told me that being an atheist is closed minded; thinking there is nothing out there is as dogmatic a claim as many made by religions. I was taken aback by this because I was always quite open minded, or so I thought.


Does a skeptic have to reserve belief, even potential belief, for God because there is no evidence against God? My simple answer would be, "no".

As I said above, I would consider God a claim. Not just any claim - an extraordinary claim, requiring therefore extraordinary evidence. I would further say that if no evidence can be provided, we can say, with some confidence, that God does not exist.

This doesn't entirely rule out the possibility! Mr. Agnostic might call this view agnostic. I would strongly disagree. Based on my knowledge of biology and astronomy, for example, I see alien life as a strong possibility. However, being a skeptic, I will say that thus far, there is no evidence for aliens. I might word it this way, "aliens don't exist".

Likewise, I can say, "God doesn't exist". There is no evidence to support such a claim. The possibility of life on other planets is currently much higher than the existence of God, but this is just my opinion since neither can be currently confirmed. Does this really make me closed minded? I don't think so - let me explain why.

My first reason is similar to what I said above about the burden of proof. If I say that I saw a ghost while walking to work, would not the burden of proof be on me? While some might believe me outright, for those that do not, is it not up to me to demonstrate a ghost? Does my very statement carry some power of creation? If anyone asks me to provide proof, can I just fire back and say, "Show me some proof that I did not see a ghost!"? Mr. Agnostic says, "yes", in this case, perhaps to sound intellectual, as Asimov said, and perhaps to sound open minded.

If we allow this kind of reasoning, reality itself breaks down, or rather, our understanding of it. Everyone knows that one can't prove a negative. But it's just as silly to use English grammar and turn every statement around, form a negative, and expect the person hearing the claim to provide the negative-proof! The person making the claim must provide evidence and/or proof, as the situation demands, rather than using grammar to turn their claim around and throw it back at the listener.

For example, I can create a silly construct such as the infamous IPU (Invisible Pink Unicorn). Does my statement carry the power to assert this deity into reality? Is anyone that does not believe in the IPU closed minded? Can no one say that they will not believe in the IPU until they have some evidence, without being called dogmatic in stance? Is it really up to the skeptic to disprove the IPU in order for it not to exist?

Why stop with the IPU? Lets put everything on the table for Mr. Agnostic.

Mr. Agnostic, is there anything at all that you do not believe in? No? Do you think that anything and everything is possible? What about the notion of a paradox, Mr. Agnostic? Do you accept the notion of a paradox? Do paradoxes, which are illogical by definition, not raise any red flags that you just might have found something that is not believable?

If we allow this kind of thinking, what method are we to use to determine reality, to study the universe, to tweak something resembling truth out of this stubborn universe, whatever the word truth might mean? Surely there is some standard! For example, currently, people walk and lack the ability to fly like birds. How do we determine that people cannot fly? Is a lack of wings evidence? Are we really being clever by procaliming that anything is possible, or just naive? Some people believe in ghosts, but no person can fly - is there something powerful and sneaky at work here? What if we used the same methods to determine that no one can fly to check to see if there are, indeed, ghosts?

A common response from Mr. Agnostic is that we don't know everything, we can't see everything. Many fundamentalist Christians are feeling the squeeze of modern knowledge. Many are escaping into regions that science can't really touch as of yet - alternate universes, for example. Whether it's the "branes" from M-theory, or separate universes which have separately inflated, there seems room for anything and everything, and this room is somewhat grounded in science, making it even more appealing. Mr. Agnostic is following as well, "how can you be a closed minded atheist? God could live in an alternate universe, ya idiot!."

My simple answer would be, if we find God in another universe, I'll become a Christian. I see no need to protect my "open mind" status by becoming Mr. Agnostic in the meantime. Atheism isn't a belief for me; I loose no face if something changes and I adjust my understanding. Potential reality, however, isn't reality. This quote from Asimov fits in rather nicely here:

To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
-- Isaac Asimov

Any concept or strange region which we don't understand (perhaps the bottom of a black hole) does not automatically become housing for supernatural deities and events. A lack of understanding isn't evidence for the supernatural. And while I cannot disprove that a family of hippos doesn't live in the bottom of super strong gravity wells, does it make me close minded to say, "Based on the evidence thus far, I do not believe that hippos live in the bottom of super strong gravity wells."?

Finally, Mr. Agnostic, lets get beyond blanket assumptions and statements about atheists, agnostics, etc., and de-construct one of your common specific statements and see how a skeptical open minded atheist might view it:

An atheist cannot prove that God doesn't exist [therefore, he might].

Lets forget the bit above about whom the burden of proof is on. Most theists I relate to are Christians. When most agnostics in my experience mention God, they use a capital G and mean the Christian God. When I referred to God above, I was specifically refering to the Christian God. This God has very specific attributes. These attributes come from the Bible. I break the Bible into two possibilities. A non-literal interpretation and a literal interpretation.

I throw out the non-literal view for this particular argument because there is no definitive way to determine how much we want to say is metaphor and how much is literal. For example, given the evidence for evolution, many Christian sects have no issue with interpreting Genesis to fit the observable evidence - this wasn't always the case; the interpretations change over time, as does the evidence.

But why stop there? Lets just assume that a supernatural God is also just a metaphor. The Bible is it's only evidence, after all, so there is no authority to which we can look to determine this accurately.

As for a literal interpretation, thus far, it's evident that the Bible is wholly inaccurate vs. history and science. What we see, what we dig up, what we know about ancient cultures, what the universe tells us in most every way contradicts a literal Bible.

Given those, if God, with a capital G, has attributes from the Bible than:

  • We can say he is just a metaphor - no further disproving required, or, his attributes are meaningless or aren't known/defined (see below, 'god-concept')
  • We can say that the book which defines his attributes is unreliable and faulty; therefore his attributes are not reliable either, therefore, we can say he doesn't exist in the manner defined by the Bible. Or, if he does, we have thus far no reason to think so. In other words, if the Bible is to be taken literally, and if it's wrong in some cases, we cannot consider it right necessarily about God either.

Similar methods could be used for all known gods and their relevant holy texts, I suspect (I haven't looked at them all). So, as an atheist, I can quite confidently say that God, capital G, does not exist (at least not in the manner in which he is described in the Bible).

But what about a general notion of a god - a general god-concept?

If we don't use any attributes from holy texts, than what have we got? Even assuming the burden is once again placed on the atheist to attempt to disprove this idea, how can something which is not defined be disproved? How can one work with a vaporous, massless, void of a concept?

I would say that first you must define your extraordinary claim in some fashion. Merely referring to some vague god-concept is not enough.

Being a skeptic, I rely on the evidence I don't always require proof, but I do need something more than a possibility! Right now, there isn't any for God (capital G), so I don't believe. There isn't any for the IPU, so I don't believe. There isn't any for a race of large green Smurfs living in an alternative universe, so I don't believe. Saying that all of these might be in some way possible is not enough for me to believe. It's possible that my mom will vote for Bush, but I have no reason to believe it, based on what I know. However, as a skeptic, if it does happen, if she does vote for Bush, than I will believe it.

Thinking in this skeptical manner isn't closed minded or dogmatic, it's a rational and logical way to observe and try to understand reality. It's the best method we have, in my opinion. This is the kind of skeptical atheist that I am.

Let me add also, that typically, I have no issue with agnostics, but rather, it's some agnostics which have issues with me.. This piece isn't meant to offend agnostics (or theists). It is meant to defend my type of atheism against a specific type of agnosticism, and nothing more. I also understand that for some, evidence is not required at all for belief. This way of thinking is alien to me, (it seems self-evident that evidence is needed to determine fact from fiction), however, I understand that this category includes many, not all of which are theists!

In conclusion, I can't disprove the god-concept. I can't disprove a silly virtual construction, like hippos in black holes. I can, however show specific gods to have no foundation by arguing against their evidence - their holy books. By showing their holy books inaccurate or undefineable, I can remove any certainty of attributes from the god(s) in question. This leaves only a general god-concept.

Having said that, even though I can't disprove general god-concepts, or black-hole hippos, I am not dogmatic for disbelieving them based on the information I have right now.

I am an open minded, skeptical, atheist. The universe is full of possibilities.

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Atheists are Open Minded | 727 comments (622 topical, 105 editorial, 1 hidden)
reliance on rational thought (2.33 / 6) (#3)
by karb on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:03:19 AM EST

I think what science has told us about the brain is that ... it isn't really built around manufacturing rational thoughts.

Not that the pursuit of rational thought isn't great, it's just that the only thing it's told us with certainty is that we suck at it.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

that's a good point (none / 1) (#142)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:41:12 PM EST

After all, cats don't know they have a finite life, right, and Baboons can't recognise that a mirror is just a reflection...mice can't learn just by watching trained mice - they have to be individually trained.

Whoever said that our brain is equiped to understand this stuff? Some of it sure seems illogical!
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

to task, taken (1.11 / 9) (#4)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:07:58 AM EST

As for a literal interpretation, thus far, it's evident that the Bible is wholly inaccurate vs. history and science. What we see, what we dig up, what we know about ancient cultures, what the universe tells us in most every way contradicts a literal Bible.

As wordy as you have been, I expected some examples here.  Don't see any.  Hmmm, must not be any.

Given those, if God, with a capital G, has attributes from the Bible than:

than? or maybe then?

...In other words, if the Bible is to be taken literally, and if it's wrong in some cases, we cannot consider it right necessarily about God either.

What if the metaphorical content simply helps to define this God?

I can, however show specific gods to have no foundation by arguing against their evidence - their holy books.

Don't have a problem with this statement. I just hope you don't expect us to assume you have disproved the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob with this diatribe.

Have a nice day.
Jesus loves you.
<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

not the point (3.00 / 4) (#7)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:28:08 AM EST

I could post, and I'm sure there have already been, articles about evolution (example number 1) or an old universe (example number 2), or the flood (example number 3), but that wasn't the point.

I was quite clear at the onset that I was an atheist. I wasn't trying to disprove the Bible in any depth. It's already been disproven in a literal sense. I was just using that knowledge to make a point.

Your comment about the metaphor is circular logic, my friend.

In any case, I wasn't trying to offend any believers, even though you and I disagree greatly. Thanks for your comment
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

circular logic (1.14 / 7) (#13)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:53:51 AM EST

1. evolution

Can you prove that life can be created by chance from non-life?

2. old universe

Here we can get into metaphors quickly, but can you prove that the Bible maintains a young universe?

3. flood

Can you prove that there was no Noah's flood?

I wasn't trying to disprove the Bible in any depth. It's already been disproven in a literal sense. I was just using that knowledge to make a point.

That assumption is what I found offensive.  You state this as if any educated person knows the Bible is flawed.  There are more than a few well educated people who disagree with you.

Your comment about the metaphor is circular logic, my friend.

My logic is no more circular than anyone else's.  Our worldview sets our truth.

Thanks for your comment

Thanks for entertaining my comment.


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

You sir.. (2.83 / 6) (#19)
by urprayers on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:16:13 AM EST

or madam, are an idiot. I apologize for coming rought out and saying it like that, but I did not want to mince words.

"life can be created by chance from non-life"
What is non-life? Or life for that matter? What are your criteria for this?

"can you prove that the Bible maintains a young universe"
Can you prove, without referencing the bible itself (which would be actual circular logic, please look it up in a dictionary or thesaurus!) that anything in the bible actually happened? This should cover the whole Noah spew too.

"You state this as if any educated person knows the Bible is flawed"
umm.. that would probably have something to do with the fact that IT IS TRUE. Seriously now, go find someone who was educated outside of a religiously biased environment who will disagree. You won't find any, and mainly due to the fact that anyone educated outside of the god *fearing* circles will have absolutely no use for it.

"Our worldview sets our truth"
Then why did you bother making such silly comments? (that is a serious question, don't be offended)

You don't actually need to reply if my posting bothers you. I just couldn't read what you had written and not "say" something.

[ Parent ]

saying something (1.16 / 6) (#23)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:37:05 AM EST

[you] are an idiot. I apologize for coming rought out and saying it like that, but I did not want to mince words.

... and whoever says, You [5] cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be [6] liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.
  -- Matthew 5:21-23 :: Amplified Bible

I apologize for coming rought out and saying it like that, but I did not want to mince words.

"life can be created by chance from non-life"
What is non-life? Or life for that matter? What are your criteria for this?

How 'bout just making me a few self-replicating cells out of some murk.  Or even easier, show me a human child that has a self-reinforcing mutation that jumps species. You know, a kid with wings or something.  Maybe bat-child.

"can you prove that the Bible maintains a young universe"

I can find a passage that maintains that a thousand years is like a day unto the Lord.

Can you prove, without referencing the bible itself (which would be actual circular logic, please look it up in a dictionary or thesaurus!) that anything in the bible actually happened? This should cover the whole Noah spew too.

yes.  There are several well known Biblical artifacts in the world.  The most obvious is the Jewish 'Wailing Wall'. Watch the news more closely. Just here of late there have been stories about tunnels and lepers, etc.

"You state this as if any educated person knows the Bible is flawed"
umm.. that would probably have something to do with the fact that IT IS TRUE. Seriously now, go find someone who was educated outside of a religiously biased environment who will disagree. You won't find any, and mainly due to the fact that anyone educated outside of the god fearing circles will have absolutely no use for it.

These people you speak of are simply knowingly ignorant of the Bible.

"Our worldview sets our truth"
Then why did you bother making such silly comments? (that is a serious question, don't be offended)

This is the least offensive thing you've said. What I said is a great truth.  You have faith in science as you have learned it.  You have faith that Judism and Christianity are flawed.  You have been taught this way.

You don't actually need to reply if my posting bothers you. I just couldn't read what you had written and not "say" something.

Peace man, that's how I felt about this story.


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Rebuttals (2.88 / 9) (#41)
by kitten on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:10:44 AM EST

How 'bout just making me a few self-replicating cells out of some murk.

No problem. This was done in the 70s in a series of experiments at Cornell headed up by Dr Carl Sagan. Actually, it was done even earlier. No "self replicating cells" came crawling out of the mud, but it has been proven, in reproducable experiments, that organic compounds can be created from basic elements.

Or even easier, show me a human child that has a self-reinforcing mutation that jumps species. You know, a kid with wings or something.

I don't know how serious you are with this. Creationists are always whining about one thing or another and there's no pleasing them. If there's a gap in the fossil record, they bitch that there's a "missing link" and the whole thing must therefore fall to pieces. When intermediaries are found, they bitch that the intermediary seems to have "suddenly appeared" according to the fossil record. There's no pleasing them.

I can find a passage that maintains that a thousand years is like a day unto the Lord.

A passage in the Bible is an appeal to authority and an appeal to authority is only valid if it can be demonstrated why the authority has any weight. When it comes to theological matters, the Bible is not an authority - there's no way to verify what it says other than believing what it says. Using Bible passages to "show" things to unbelievers isn't going to help.

yes. There are several well known Biblical artifacts in the world.

So what? That doesn't prove that the Bible's story about them is accurate.

Let me tell you a story. When I was little, my teacher read us the tale of Paul Bunyon, a giant man with a pet ox named Blue. Old Paul Bunyon walked through Minnesota one time, and his enormous feet left great depressions in the land, which later filled with rainwater and became lakes.

Now, you may think that's silly, but check this out: There are actually a lot of lakes in Minnesota! Since they exist, and the story mentioned them, the story must be true!

These people you speak of are simply knowingly ignorant of the Bible.

Inane excuse. Anyone who disagrees with your position just doesn't know enough? Doctrines like that make it really easy to dismiss any counterargument before it even happens.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
RE: Rebuttals (1.14 / 7) (#47)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:31:18 AM EST

...organic compounds can be created from basic elements.

You probably know that does not constitute life.
I'll give you a 'B' for thoughtful response with a mention of Sagan.

I don't know how serious you are with this. Creationists are always whining about one thing or another and there's no pleasing them. If there's a gap in the fossil record, they bitch that there's a "missing link" and the whole thing must therefore fall to pieces. When intermediaries are found, they bitch that the intermediary seems to have "suddenly appeared" according to the fossil record. There's no pleasing them.

Well, maybe if you evolutionists types quit insisting that you've disproved a Creator. Maybe we can get along?

A passage in the Bible is an appeal to authority and an appeal to authority is only valid if it can be demonstrated why the authority has any weight. When it comes to theological matters, the Bible is not an authority - there's no way to verify what it says other than believing what it says. Using Bible passages to "show" things to unbelievers isn't going to help.

I know this.  My real beef is that the story author insists that a metaphor laden Bible discredits the entire notion of God.

So what? That doesn't prove that the Bible's story about them is accurate.

...Paul Bunyon, ...ox named Blue...enormous feet ...silly...the story must be true!

Surley you see the difference of intent and effect of these narratives.

Anyone who disagrees with your position just doesn't know enough? Doctrines like that make it really easy to dismiss any counterargument before it even happens.

Not a doctrine.  The author's ignorance was overwhelming.

Thanks for an interesting discussion.  HAND.
JLY!

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Typical religious response. (none / 3) (#141)
by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:38:48 PM EST

We've got it all here.
  1. The religious set the rules for debate. Historical science is completely invalid. The only proof of evolution is the creation of life in the lab. And if you do that, then it doesn't count, because then you're God, right? There's no way to win.
  2. The religious are horribly persecuted. It's the naughty evolutionsists who are always saying inflamatory things and trying to trick people into believing them! The content of our debate may be apalling, but you should sympathize with us anyway!
  3. Myopic double standards. We believe the stuff in this book for reasons A, B, and C. You believe the stuff in another book for the exactly the same reasons? Well, you're wrong. Obviously.
  4. You're just ignorant, and I'm not going to present you with the facts you're missing.
  5. The debate is over. It's the perogative of the religious to decide when the matter is settled, and what the conclusion is.


[ Parent ]
leonbrooks? Is that you? (3.00 / 4) (#192)
by kitten on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:50:39 PM EST

You probably know that does not constitute life.

Sure it doesn't, but what it proves is that organic compounds - the building blocks for life as we know it - can be made quite easily out of natural processes. Throw the right ingredients together, apply a spark, and suddenly you've got amino acids.

What happens when amino acids group together? Experiments prove that eventually they'll form proteins.

Is that life? No, but it's close, and if you wait around long enough, it will become life. The experiments weren't meant to produce life as such, but rather to demonstrate that it can happen through natural and obsevable processes, thus doing away with the Creationist bleating "It couldn't have happened by itself!"

Well, maybe if you evolutionists types quit insisting that you've disproved a Creator.

That's backwards. I wrote an entire article on this here on K5. Evolutionary theory, first off, has nothing to do with the initial formation of the universe. If you were so inclined you could argue the Deist viewpoint - that God set the universe in motion and then more or less walked away from it, leaving the rest to work on the natural laws he set up, which includes formation of matter, stars and planets, organic compounds from basic elements, and the evolution of life from the results. There's room for a god if you want to argue it that way. By the way, I challenge you to disprove the Deist view.

Anyway, the point is that evolutionary theory has nothing to do with God. All it says is "Here's the data we've collected and we see that things change over time. Here's our theories to explain why." No mention of God, and it stands entirely on it's own merit - it does not require the disproof of Creation to work.

Creationism on the other hand relies exlusively on disproving evolution. No Creationist has ever come up with a coherent argument in favor of Creation - his method is to attack evolution, pick holes in it, and conclude "Evolution is wrong, ergo God."

It is, in other words, the God Squad who want to disprove evolution, not the other way round.

My real beef is that the story author insists that a metaphor laden Bible discredits the entire notion of God.

The author was quite explicit that he cannot disprove the "entire notion" of God. He can, however (according to him) disprove certain views of God. If it be proved that the Bible is a collection of myths and fairy tales, the Christian God falls apart, but that does not mean there is no god at all. There's more than one religion out there, you know.

Surley you see the difference of intent and effect of these narratives.

Yes. One is meant as a fun story and makes no bones about it, and the other is meant to tell people what they want to hear and control certain aspects of their behavior. But the point remains: Noting that artifacts mentioned within the Bible actually existed does not mean anything about the Bible's truth or falsehood. Many myths and legends have a basis in reality, but that doesn't make the myths themselves true. The Paul Bunyon story was a perfect example.

Not a doctrine.

By this you were referring to my statement where I said that it's too easy for you to dismiss criticism by quickly claiming the critic doesn't know enough. And that is a doctrine. Paul was paritcularly notorious about it.


mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
No, I had never heard of (none / 1) (#210)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:12:39 PM EST

leonbrooks.  But thanks to your mention of him and your previous article...
An open challenge to Creationists. (Op-Ed)By kitten Fri Jun 8th, 2001
I can see why you were suspicious. I'll be reading this and considering your challenge of a proactive Creationist argument.

if you wait around long enough, it will become life

This looks like a leap of faith.

It is, in other words, the God Squad who want to disprove evolution, not the other way round.

Come now. It works both ways. Evolutionists don't want the Bible in schools and Chrisitians don't want their faith undermined.

If someone suggests that evolution is a process God created and used, I could live with that. What I see happening is atheism gets its toe in the door through evolutionary theory, then throws Biblical morality out of the schoolhouse.

By this you were referring to my statement where I said that it's too easy for you to dismiss criticism by quickly claiming the critic doesn't know enough.

I suppose lots of things I say could be seen as posturing and technique. Really, I'm not bright enough to comfortably agree that I'm executing a mind game or strategy.  I am just honestly appalled at the naivity of much of what is said about God.

I'm sure you are similarly appalled with much of what I say. Thanks for posting here on K5, you have expanded my universe.

Peace.
<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Try this. (3.00 / 5) (#241)
by kitten on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:55:42 AM EST

This [waiting around for proteins to form] looks like a leap of faith.

Not at all - it's just proteins doing what proteins do. They must do it, because of what they are.

Evolutionists don't want the Bible in schools and Chrisitians don't want their faith undermined.

Last time I checked anyone is perfectly free to bring a Bible to school, to pray in school, to hold Christian meetings in school. All of this and more was to be found at my high school. The only thing that we (by "we", I mean people who respect the Constitution) is that such things are not mandated or encouraged by teachers, administration, school boards, or legislature. But neither should it be discouraged. If someone wants to bring a Bible to school or pray before every class or whatever else, I don't care.

But these rights aren't good enough for Christians. They want their "alternative theories" taught alongside evolution (shortest class ever: "God did it"), or preferably not have evolution taught at all, despite it being a science and Creation not. They want to bring back mandatory prayer. They want the Ten Commandments posted in the classrooms. In short, they want to use the police power of the state to force everyone else to do what they want.

If someone suggests that evolution is a process God created and used, I could live with that.

It's been suggested many dozens of times over, and in fact is the most popular viewpoint among Christians today. While I partially applaud it, I also note that as usual, Christianity's doctrines have to be revised and updated every so often in order to keep up with the times. Before anyone came up with a coherent analysis of evolution, Creation was "obvious" because there was nothing else, and no other explanation. Today, although Creationists are loud in the United States, you'll find very few people, globally speaking, who take Genesis literally. Most Christians suppose exactly what I said - that evolution is another system that God set up.

While not, strictly speaking, an evolutionary scientists, Richard Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker addresess many of the problems associated with this view, from a standpoint of biology and other sciences. Other complaints have been raised from the philosophical and theological side, complaining that it pushes God into being a "god of the gaps".

Should you decide to take up the challenge laid out in my article, I'd be most interested in seeing what you come up with. But in your research, I think you will find, if you're honest with yourself, that nobody has yet to produce a pro-Creation argument, only arguments that attack other theories.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Religous bullshit. (none / 2) (#441)
by ekj on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 02:26:54 AM EST

You probably know that does not constitute life.

Yes, I'm sure he does. But you where asked before: What exactly do you consider life ? This migth seem like a stupid question, but in actual fact it's not clear-cut at all.

Most agrees that rocks are not alive, and that monkeys are alive. But what about those things in between ? What about bacteria ? Virii ? Prions ? Computer-virii ?

In biology you learn that there are typical signs of life. But it's not clear how many of these must be fulfilled to qualify as "living". signs like:

  • Takes in energy.
  • Actively expels waste-products.
  • Grows -- either in size or in numbers, when given access to a adequate environment.
  • Actively transports substances using energy.
  • Reproduces, either by simply splitting, or by sex.
Please note that a virus put in a otherwise sterile nourishment-mix does none of these. Is it alive ? If so, is a computer-virus ? If not, what is the difference ? (other than "ain't made of carbon")

Everyone agrees "creationism" isn't "disproved". For the fairly fundamental reason that *nothing* can ever be "disproved".

Thinking people also agree that "creationism" as a theory has about as much going for it as colonies of smurfs on the backside of the moon. Do you believe in Allah ? Why not ? When you have answered that question, theny you have *also* answered why I don't believe in your "God".

[ Parent ]

I seem to remember (none / 0) (#575)
by Ward57 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:04:12 PM EST

there being seven properties of life, something like: respiration (refering to the using of energy) reproduction (makes new copies of itself) growth (spends part of it's time getting larger) motion (moves to some extent. I'm not sure all bacteria do this, but a lot do) Irritability (responds to stimuli) Excretion (expels waste products) nutrition. (Ingests and uses food) A theory is disproved when it is found to contradict the facts. If I have the theory that a hammer will float in the air of it's own accord if I leave it there, a single disagreement (it falls) will disprove it completely. If a theory cannot be falsified (ie there is no test which can concievably disprove it if carried out and found wrong), then it is not scientific, and probably not a theory.

[ Parent ]
Nice.. (none / 0) (#195)
by urprayers on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:05:35 PM EST

I seem to have misjudged you in another thread.. I apologise for that. Good rebuttal.

[ Parent ]
Re: Paul Bunyan (none / 0) (#349)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:18:30 PM EST

Let me tell you a story. When I was little, my teacher read us the tale of Paul Bunyon, a giant man with a pet ox named Blue. Old Paul Bunyon walked through Minnesota one time, and his enormous feet left great depressions in the land, which later filled with rainwater and became lakes.

Now, you may think that's silly,


Of course, it's silly. It was Michigan, not Minnesota.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Not only that, (none / 0) (#410)
by Tau Neutrino on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:51:53 PM EST

but his name was Paul Bunyan, and his ox, although blue, was named Babe.

--
Theater is life, cinema is art, television is furniture.
[ Parent ]
Babe? (none / 0) (#704)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 04:08:33 PM EST

I thought that was a talking pig.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#714)
by CodeWright on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 03:53:16 PM EST

Thank you for dealing with the heretic so promptly.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Paul M Davies (none / 0) (#669)
by richarj on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 01:03:12 AM EST

Who is not a creationist or Christian by the way. Refuted those experiments could ever actually create self replicating life, in his book the fifth miracle. Maybe you should read it?

No problem. This was done in the 70s in a series of experiments at Cornell headed up by Dr Carl Sagan. Actually, it was done even earlier. No "self replicating cells" came crawling out of the mud, but it has been proven, in reproducable experiments, that organic compounds can be created from basic elements.

Just remember that scientific thinking has moved beyond what we believed in the 20th century.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
[ Parent ]

Very poor argument (2.00 / 4) (#38)
by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:02:23 AM EST

The statement: "You state this as if any educated person knows the Bible is flawed" was countered by:
umm.. that would probably have something to do with the fact that IT IS TRUE. Seriously now, go find someone who was educated outside of a religiously biased environment who will disagree. You won't find any, and mainly due to the fact that anyone educated outside of the god *fearing* circles will have absolutely no use for it.
Many people who were educated outside of religious environments have come to believe in the veracity of the Bible. One example is Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Another is Sadhu Sundar Singh. Another is Tatiana Gordecheva. Another is William Murray, the son of Madeline Murray O'Hare.

With a bit of digging I could probably find hundreds more. I think perhaps you're mistake is because you were raised in a country where most people did have some sort of Christian upbringing. Therefore, most of the people who question their upbringing question the Bible. In other environments, such as the former Soviet Union, where atheism is drilled into people's heads, the Bible gets explored on its own merits when youths question their upbringing.

[ Parent ]

Proof (none / 3) (#34)
by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:56:23 AM EST

Can you prove that life can be created by chance from non-life

It can be shown that infinitely complex structures can be developed by the repeated application of simple rules. Reference the Mandelbrot set for further info.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Perhaps this is more a proof (1.25 / 4) (#37)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:01:32 AM EST

that man can design virtual universes, set parameters, and set events in motion.

Man playing God, in whose image he was created.

Nothing surprising here.

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 3) (#46)
by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:30:24 AM EST

Man did not design the Mandelbrot set.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
are you suggesting (1.50 / 4) (#48)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:33:42 AM EST

that this mathimatical model evolved on its own?  Was designed previously by the Meta-Universe's Creator?  what?

Spell it out.  Maybe I'm really missing something.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

z(1) = z(0) ^ 2 + z(0) (none / 3) (#49)
by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:44:05 AM EST

When you repeatedly square complex numbers, some interesting patterns result. No, that didn't "evolve", it is a feature of complex numbers. No god required. The phrase "Meta-Universe's Creator" is incoherent, as are your arguments.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
ok (1.50 / 6) (#51)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:48:33 AM EST

in this universe we find an inherent formula.
This is neutral, at best.

You say it supports evolution.
I say it supports Creation.

I would be more impressed if you could prove that chaos was always inevitable, and that out of chaos, our world mutated into existense by chance.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

The Mandelbrot set needs no creator (none / 3) (#53)
by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:56:43 AM EST

We find a simple formula that produces arbitrarily complex behavior. This does not support "Creation" in any way shape or form. It does support, however, the idea that complex forms can arise over time due to very simple selection criteria.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
come now (1.25 / 4) (#57)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:07:18 AM EST

can't you see that a good creator builds-in universe behavior like this?

Once He has the univeral formulae in place, He just speaks things into existance.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

formulas and god (none / 1) (#86)
by dasnake on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:21:25 AM EST

He could at least create a world where equation of dynamics were, if not solvable, at LEAST well approximable with perturbations.
Physicists usually doesn't belive in God to not hate Him for the crazy world he left :D

Apart from lame jokes, my thought is: if God has created such a complex world that behave exactly as if he doesnt exists .. why should I need to belive in God?


Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per un selva oscura
che` la dritta via era smarrita.
Dante, Divina Commedia, Inferno, I, 1
[ Parent ]
because of death //nt (none / 0) (#223)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:52:57 PM EST

no text, really.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
and so? (none / 0) (#298)
by dasnake on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:02:06 AM EST

Really, I can undestand that sometimes we like to fly with fantasy and we feel the need to belive to something irrational, but ... there's a real reason, a strong one, for which we need to belive in God?

C'mon, dead is something our science can explain quite well (once taken for hypotesis a definition of life), and there are religions who deal with death in a non-scientific way without the need of a God for the explanations.

Maybe it's something obvious I cannot see, but I still cannot think a single reason for introducing God in my "meaning of life" theories.


Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per un selva oscura
che` la dritta via era smarrita.
Dante, Divina Commedia, Inferno, I, 1
[ Parent ]
I was implying... (none / 1) (#589)
by SaintPort on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:46:41 PM EST

For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

  -- Hebrews 9:26-28 :: King James Version (KJV)

How will science help you deal with the judgment to come? The more you know, the more responsible you are held.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

divine truth.. (none / 1) (#610)
by infinitera on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 06:03:39 PM EST

Is present in all things. Unless your dogma says it isn't.

[ Parent ]
this is completely off-topic! (none / 3) (#138)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:15:52 PM EST

However, since you insist:

The theory of evolution doesn't cover origins. "something from nothing", as it were, is abiogenesis (sp?). However, I can't "prove" evolution, even without origins. I wasn't trying to. However, all evidence, and I do mean "all", confirms the only theory we have for the bio-diversity on the planet.

It's not up to me to prove that the Bible maintains a young universe. If we take it as a metaphor, than as I've said, "not really, no", and if we take it literaly than yes, the Bible does maintain we young universe.

Can I prove that there wasn't a flood? Yes, I think I can, assuming we stick to science and not lala-land philosophy. There isn't enough water, for one. Need I go on? BTW, a child could prove that the animals wouldn't fit. So, in a literal view, that single point is enough to show that the Bible, in part, has errors.

It's true that something offends everyone. There are educated people that think that astrology is real; this would include my mother - what is your point?

Using God to prove God or using the Bible to prove the Bible is circular logic. Your worldview is irrelevant in that case.
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

sorry, I missed this comment (none / 1) (#611)
by SaintPort on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 06:06:20 PM EST

all evidence, and I do mean "all", confirms the only theory we have for the bio-diversity on the planet.

If you have faith in evolution, you can fit it to the artifacts.

It's not up to me to prove that the Bible maintains a young universe. If we take it as a metaphor, than as I've said, "not really, no", and if we take it literaly than yes, the Bible does maintain we young universe.

Despite the fact that the Bible maintains that God measures time in varying ways? I realize this gets all allusionary and all, but if you take it literally, you cannot ignore the variables that are stated.

Can I prove that there wasn't a flood? Yes, I think I can, assuming we stick to science and not lala-land philosophy. There isn't enough water, for one.

Even if you melted the polar caps? Measure it.

Need I go on? BTW, a child could prove that the animals wouldn't fit.

Then do it. I have read analysis that there was room to spare.

what is your point?

The point is that a Bible believing Christian can be just as educated and informed and intelligent as a corresponding atheist without having to give up any part of the Bible or his faith. You implied otherwise, and I took offense.  

Using God to prove God or using the Bible to prove the Bible is circular logic. Your worldview is irrelevant in that case.

Then your worldview is equally irrelevant, by the same measure.

You must think I am one ridiculously fundamental fundie. I take this tone only because you have more tunnel vision than I ever have had.

HAND.
<><


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

You're joking, right? (none / 3) (#17)
by urprayers on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:07:32 AM EST

As wordy as you have been, I expected some examples here. Don't see any. Hmmm, must not be any.

You've never seen the very "bottom" of the planet. Therefore it *MUST* be supported on the backs of turtles!

[ Parent ]

I never did understand (1.40 / 5) (#18)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:15:09 AM EST

where the turtle thing came from.  I think this is a Babylonian thing.  Why turtles?

HAND
<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

It has to be turtles (none / 3) (#30)
by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:50:57 AM EST

After all, Atlas shrugged.

[ Parent ]
and it rolled down to the turtles? (1.25 / 4) (#33)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:55:51 AM EST

and they JUST HAPPEND TO BE THERE?

And Atlas didn't shrug until 1957 or so, and figuratively at that...

So really, what is it with turtles...
and are these the same turtles who really are good but are always asleep (I'm thinking about Stephen King's IT)?

I'm rambling aren't I?

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Well, it wasn't the turtle I saw in the museum (none / 3) (#39)
by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:09:41 AM EST

That turtle had no world upon its back.

[ Parent ]
Then we have proof (1.40 / 5) (#43)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:19:08 AM EST

the world is NOT resting on that turtles back. It is as our Lord said, the spherical Earth is suspended in space, circling the sun.

http://www.therefinersfire.org/science_bible.htm

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Did you even read that link? (none / 1) (#213)
by ttfkam on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:21:07 PM EST

First of all, it says absolutely nothing about the Earth circling the sun.

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth"

Sounds a lot like God is enthroned above the circle.  Where is the sun-Earth relationship?  And there may have been no word for sphere in ancient Hebrew, but that doesn't aid your argument.  If the Bible says that somewhere there is a point and later it is found to be a line, here come the Bible-thumpers to claim that from certain locations, a line can appear as a point.  And then once it's established that it is a line, from certain locations, it could be a vast, two-dimensional plane.  And just like paintings, two-dimensional planes can actually describe three-dimensional objects.  And a three-dimensional object is merely the shadow of a fourth dimensional construct.  And...

Could the Bible have meant a sphere when it said a circle?  Sure.  Could it have been an "oops" by the ancients?  Sure.  Could it have been an errant account by ignorant folks trying to make up stories about the creation/creator of the world?  Sure.  My retort doesn't disprove it any more than your assertion proves it.  The fact is, that link is useless to both sides of this discussion.  The only thing proven is that the link's author wants it to be true and so s/he sees it that way.

As far as the rest of the link's content, it was hardly unique to the Bible.  Just because the authors were (sometimes) observant of their surroundings doesn't necessarily mean that their findings were inspired by God.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

yeah, I read it (none / 1) (#227)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:37:14 PM EST

the thread that led to it was rather light in tone. Sorry if you feel I wasted your time.

Have a nice day.

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Turtles (none / 1) (#194)
by urprayers on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:03:29 PM EST

copied directly from
http://www.the-funneled-web.com/hawking.htm

Stephen Hawking in A Brief History Of Time starts with the anecdote.
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a
public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the
sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection
of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at
the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish.
The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant
tortoise."

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is
the tortoise standing on?"

"You're very clever, young man, very clever,"
said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down."

[ Parent ]

in short (2.71 / 7) (#5)
by fleece on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:08:48 AM EST

you're really just saying it frustrates you when people argue that something is true on the grounds that it cannot be proven to be false. The rest is just window dressing.



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
you might be right (none / 1) (#140)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:35:42 PM EST

That might be a compressed version of my whole piece, lol ;)
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]
zmemes (none / 0) (#687)
by zmemes on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 08:47:06 PM EST

In a fit of what may seem unbridled conceit I offer the following link:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/9/20/1880/50544?pid=23#30

All the self-proclaimed atheists I have known seem to be both very honest and thoroughly open-minded. The reason for this, however, may have nothing to do with the content or validity of their belief systems.


[The benefits of humility are untold.]
[ Parent ]

this sort of makes me laugh =) (1.14 / 7) (#9)
by MechaA on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:41:40 AM EST

not sure why!

abstained.

k24anson on K5: Imagine fifty, sixty year old men and women still playing with their genitals like ten year olds!

isn't that good? (2.00 / 3) (#15)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:58:25 AM EST

Isn't a laugh a good thing? Surely that should count for a positive vote, no??


Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

Christianity works for me (1.46 / 15) (#11)
by Jonathan Walther on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:45:23 AM EST

First, the Bible has never been shown to be wrong or false in any particular.  Neither does it contradict itself, despite attempts to show that it does.

The best way to judge Christianity is by its results.  It works.  It is the social glue that allowed Western civilization to develop the aeroplane, the internal combustion engine, the lightbulb, and too many other marvels to enumerate in this small comment.

The proof of God is in prophecy.  When you find that world events were consistently documented hundreds of years in advance, never failing, and still aren't convinced of the existence of God, then NOTHING will convince you.

Go in peace.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")


not quite right (2.83 / 6) (#14)
by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:56:25 AM EST

The literal Bible is easy to show false, as I said.

The non-literal Bible of course can be made to "fit" any situation - very adaptable by some clever people, but not anything I would call evidence.

As for the airplane, Christianity has done more to hold back progress than to aid it. Just because most Americans were Christian at the time of the birth of aviation, doesn't translate into your point.

What percentage were Christian, 80, 85? Switch to a country like Ireland where 95%+ are Christian and you wonder why they didn't invent planes??

clearly, it's much more complex, including the history leading up to that time, the industrial revolution and so on, all the way back to the Greeks and earlier.

My opinion, based on my knowledge of history is this: Had religion had less of an influence long ago, we would have an almost equal increase in our technological level - perhaps already living on Mars.

Thanks for the comment
Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
[ Parent ]

I hate to resort to this (1.75 / 4) (#26)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:43:29 AM EST

wishy washy stance, but faith has been both an aid and a hindrence to progress.  It depends on the implementation.  If one's faith encourages him to emulate the Creator, he creates.  If one's faith causes one to stand still, he does.

clearly, it's much more complex

I think we can agree here.

<><


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

I hate to retort this (none / 1) (#217)
by ttfkam on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:36:33 PM EST

wishy washy stance, but if faith can induce people to both create or stand still, what's the point?  After all, people without faith have also both created and stood still.  Faith adds nothing to the equation.

It's like the saying, "God helps those who help themselves."  If you help yourself, where does God come into play?  God didn't help you?  Well first you need to help yourself.  You helped yourself?  Well I guess God would've helped you if you needed the help.  Ummm...?

It's like when professional (American) football players drop a knee after a goal to thank God.  Doesn't that also say that God flipped the bird to the other team?  We hear, "I thank God for giving me the strength to..." all of the time.  I want to see the folks tearfully emoting to the camera, "We were really kicking ass until Jesus made me fumble.  He obviously just didn't love us as much as the other guys which is weird seeing as how the guy who scored three touchdowns is a wife-beating drunk with a gambling addiction."

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

Huh? (1.66 / 6) (#31)
by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:51:29 AM EST

Christianity has done more to hold back progress than to aid it.

This is a common myth, and it's never justified. The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution both occurred in the nominally Christian world. The great scientists of the pre-20th-century era (and quite a few in the 20th century too) were Christian or religious. Modern mathematics and astronomy were born in the Muslim world (which isn't Christianity, but it's still religion).

And, of course, there are many social inventions which were spearheaded by religion. From the invention of the hospital to the US civil rights movement, religion has been there.

My point is not that religion helps in technological advancement (though historically, it has certainly helped in social advancement). I would certainly agree that it has at best been neutral. However, it's ludicrous to suggest that Christianity, and religion in general, has somehow inhibited the progress of the world. It is demonstratably not true.

My opinion, based on my knowledge of history is this [...]

You should probably study more history.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Galileo (2.28 / 7) (#40)
by marx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:10:44 AM EST

However, it's ludicrous to suggest that Christianity, and religion in general, has somehow inhibited the progress of the world. It is demonstratably not true.
It is demonstrably true.

One counter-example of your claim is the Inquisitions's trial against Galileo Galilei:

On June 22 1633, the Roman Inquisition started its trial against Galilei, who was then 69 years old and pleaded for mercy, pointing to his "regrettable state of physical unwellness". Threatening him with torture, imprisonment and death on the stake, the show trial forced Galileo to "abjure, curse and detest" his work and to promise to denounce others who held his prior viewpoint. Galileo did everything the church requested him to do. (The idea that he mutteredEppur si muove! - "But it moves anyway!" - is a legend.) That the threat of torture and death Galileo was facing was a real one had been proven by the church in the earlier trial against Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600 for holding a naturalistic view of the Universe.
Note especially the final sentence in the quote.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Nope (2.00 / 4) (#73)
by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:46:46 AM EST

Ah, yes, proof by example. Show that it's true for the case n=4 and then claim that this shows everything required to prove the general case. Sorry, not good enough.

The original claim, if you recall, was that Christianity had done more harm than good in the world. If I wanted to "prove" this, I could pull quite a few examples out of history. Similarly, if I wanted to "prove" that science was bunk, there's enough in Michael Crichton's recent talk to keep me going for a while.

Bear in mind, also, the problem of separation of church and state. When church and state are not well-separated, some tend to blame the actions of the state on the church. Admittedly, this isn't always an undeserved criticism. However, in the case of Galileo, remember that this is the same church that embraced the same beliefs when held by Copernicus a hundred years earlier. This suggests that Galileo's treatment was more political than religious or scientific.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Proof (3.00 / 5) (#82)
by marx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:11:55 AM EST

I interpreted your statement:
However, it's ludicrous to suggest that Christianity, and religion in general, has somehow inhibited the progress of the world. It is demonstratably not true.
to mean that Christianity has never done anything to inhibit progress in the world. If you meant "on average", then I don't see how it can be ludicrous, since it is not easy to do such a computation.

You claim that you can describe several events where Christianity has helped the progress of science and technological development. Yet you don't cite a single one. You say that "the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution both occurred in the nominally Christian world", but association does not imply that it was somehow Christianity which was the reason for these events.

You could just as well claim that: "the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution both occurred in the nominally White world", so therefore the population having white skin must be the reason for these advances.

Surely you can come up with a couple of events where Christianity specifically helped progress. I can think of monks transcribing the bible helping printing technology, but that has a quite limited scope.

On the other hand, there exist very well defined examples of Christianity (and other religions) doing much to hinder the advance of sciency and technological development, one example being the Inquisition.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Read what I said again (none / 0) (#200)
by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:19:23 PM EST

I did not imply that Christianity was the reason for any technological advance. In fact, I specifically denied it. I did claim that religion in general has spearheaded many, possibly most, social advances, but that's a different issue.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Changing your tune? (none / 2) (#131)
by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:54:50 PM EST

You originally claimed that the idea that religion "somehow inhibited the progress of the world" was "demonstrably not true". Well, others have mentioned a number of specific examples of religion holding back progress. That counts as "somehow", right? Now you've decided that we need to prove that religion always holds back progress?

(Another simple modern example is stem cell research. It's the religious right that objects most strongly. Whether their reasons are valid or not, they are clearly holding back the progress of science.)

I even feel very comfortable with the statement that religion on average holds back the advancement of science. The more religious a population, the less technological progress is made. Remember the Dark Ages? In modern times scientists are vastly less religious than the general population, and this trend has been true historically as well. There are still very religiously observant scientists and there always have been, but it seems that they were always statistically less likely to be religious than non-scientists.

It's also fascinating to note that you take credit mathematics and astronomy to religion as well, since you claim they developedin the "Muslim world". The fact that the Arabic world was not muslim--in fact the Judeo-Christian belief system was centuries away from its humblest beginnings--when these technologies were developed seem to betray your bias.

The further truth that astronomy has developed independently a great many times in many independent cultures with no exposure to each others' religious beliefs seems to provide a strong refutation of "progress through religion".

[ Parent ]

Not changing my tune (none / 0) (#197)
by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:17:41 PM EST

I'm not changing my tune. I could have worded it better, but in conext, the meaning of the phrase "inhibited the progress of the world" refers to being more harm than good.

BTW, I didn't credit mathematics and astronomy to the Muslim world. I credited modern mathematics and astrononmy to them. You could argue that this is incorrect, that modern mathematics and astronomy actually date from the Renaissance, and that would be a fair argument too.

Moreover, if you actually read what I said, I specifically disclaimed the notion of scientific "progress through religion", though I do claim a certain degree of social progress.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link (none / 0) (#712)
by farmgeek on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:06:26 AM EST

Excellent reading, even if it is from Crichton.

[ Parent ]
Let's use the scientific method, for a change. (none / 3) (#77)
by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:52:31 AM EST

Name one non-Christian society that developed science and an industrial civilization without help from outside.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Name one Christian society that ... (none / 2) (#88)
by pyramid termite on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:08:42 AM EST

... developed science and an industrial civilization without help from outside. Sorry, but your argument's not going to work, considering the history of invention and the many civilizations that have contributed and borrowed to and from one another.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
OK. (none / 3) (#149)
by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:10:16 PM EST

France, UK, various bits of Germany? Maybe even parts of the U.S.

Historical relativism is a crock. To claim that moon-worshipping tribesmen from Papua-New-Guinea contributed as much to the development of science as Pascal and Descartes is just plain stupid.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Sheer ignorance (none / 0) (#229)
by pyramid termite on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:50:24 PM EST

Gunpowder? China. Horse Stirrups? China, then Central Asia to Byzantium. Arabic numerals? Heh. Try doing modern math in Roman numerals, buddy. In fact much of our knowledge of Plato and Aristotle came from the Arab world as we didn't preserve the manuscripts and they did. Iron plowsshares? China. The system by which we tell time originated in Babylonia. The barbecque was invented by Carib Indians and the potato was bred to its crop form by ancient South Americans.

We couldn't even have a decent tailgate party at the football stadium without the help of other civilizations.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Modern math? (none / 0) (#254)
by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:40:09 AM EST

Try doing modern math with numerals, period. Silly.

Anyways, I think you missed his point. Science is a method and an ideology, not a list of inventions. HTH.

[ Parent ]

You, sir, are an utter moron. (none / 0) (#277)
by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:40:55 AM EST

Please explain how gunpowder and stirrups are in any way whatsoever related to science?

Moron.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Moron yourself (none / 0) (#290)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:27:49 AM EST

Please explain how we went from talking about science and industrial civilization to talking about science only.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
OK then. (none / 1) (#296)
by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:07:15 AM EST

Inventing gunpowder so that you can launch pretty fireworks in celebration of Dear Leader Emperor God's Birthday does not constitute "industrial civilization".


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Neither does blowing off Granny's head ... (none / 0) (#348)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:15:11 PM EST

... with a shotgun to buy some crack. Anyway, my claim wasn't that other civilizations were successful with their inventions but that we were successul with them - meaning, we had outside help building ours.

100 years from now, when the Chinese rule the roost, this argument will seem rather quaint to them.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Still. (none / 0) (#392)
by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:36:29 PM EST

The Chinese didn't invent the railroad. And, they're using our university education system and military command structure to "rule the roost".


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 0) (#469)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:15:44 PM EST

Anyway, my claim wasn't that other civilizations were successful with their inventions but that we were successul with them - meaning, we had outside help building ours.

To what extent did European civilization have outside help in developing the scientific method, the textile mill, the steam engine, modern metallurgy, defining the elements and organizing them on the Mendeleev chart, or inventing the three-masted ships (along with the associated navigational hence astronomical appurtenances to navigate them) that were the first agents of intercontinental globalization?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Awfully selective, aren't we? (none / 0) (#487)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:01:36 PM EST

The Africans had much to do with the invention of the three-masted ship - after all, it was done with money earned from the slave trade wasn't it?

Really, chauvinists like you and the other guy deserve this kind of sarcastic, yet accurate answer. You don't want to consider any history or accomplishment besides the Western ones you worship. You don't even want to admit that the civilizations of history did not exist in exclusive bubbles. I never questioned that Western Civilization had taken the lead to create what we have now. That isn't good enough for you - you have to insist that it was 100% our idea and those superstitious wogs were too stupid to come up with anything helpful.

To hell with that and to hell with you.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
IHBT (none / 0) (#494)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:27:31 PM EST

Really, chauvinists like you and the other guy deserve this kind of sarcastic, yet accurate answer.

You're a creep, because I got in this thread in the first place when you were serious. Are you actually conceding tkatchev's point that Scholasticism created the possibility of the scientific method?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I was being serious ... (none / 0) (#508)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:19:40 PM EST

... and both of you made specious and selective arguments. Especially tkatchev. I don't play that for long. People start playing games, I start trolling.

Just be thankful I left your mother out of it.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
yeah, well (none / 0) (#565)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 10:32:10 AM EST

So far, your claim that our arguments are "specious and selective" is backed by nothing.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Ever wonder what language ... (none / 0) (#602)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 04:30:35 PM EST

... the word algebra came from? Or where the word algorithm came from? Here, educate yourself.

Clearly, this constitutes "help" for Western Civilization's science. My statement is proved.

Bye.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
you are such a tool (none / 0) (#615)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 07:57:31 PM EST

Algebra is not the scientific method. I never denied that the West adopted many foreign technologies, many of which were far superior to its own. Algebra was indeed one of these, even a foundation for the mathematical systematization of physics, the cornerstone of Western power.

But the scientific method is essentially a philosophical rather than a technological issue. Algebra, the printing press, the barbecue, the discovery of Archimedes' principle, these are all technologies and techniques, not science. Systematic empiricist investigation into nature is not some kind of philosophical default; this is demonstrated by the very fact that China had a wide technological lead over Europe for most of history without ever having "science."
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

My initial statement (none / 0) (#616)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 09:19:51 PM EST

"Name one Christian society that developed science and an industrial civilization without help from outside." That's "science and an industrial civilization" NOT "the scientific method". Last time I checked, mathematics was considered a science. Last time I checked, every industrial civilization knows about algebra.

As I said above, you're making specious and selective arguments. Next time, address what people actually say, not what you want to argue against. My command of English is good enough to be precise and accurate about what I mean to say. Is yours good enough to parse it?

I know it's not your upbringing - your mother understands me very well ...

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
you are such a loser (none / 0) (#635)
by Battle Troll on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 09:50:11 AM EST

Because you want to claim some sort of cultural equivalence but you can't defend it.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
HEADLINE - "Battle Troll Argues on K5 ... (none / 0) (#650)
by pyramid termite on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 07:56:36 PM EST

... National Straw Shortage Forseen".

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
not really (none / 0) (#653)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 12:03:55 PM EST

You're trying to argue that all kinds of societies contributed, to some degree, to the scientific method and industrial civilization. This is an uninteresting point because of the weasel words "to some degree." You've been unable to show that the contributions of other cultures were philosophically or logically antecedent to the scientific method per se.

While we're talking straw men, I might recall to you yours : your attempts to paint me as claiming that all known technologies originated in Europe.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Uh-huh (none / 0) (#660)
by pyramid termite on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 06:50:06 PM EST

You're trying to argue that all kinds of societies contributed, to some degree, to the scientific method and industrial civilization. This is an uninteresting point because of the weasel words "to some degree."

So uninteresting that you've spent the last 4 days arguing about it. You can leave anytime you get bored enough.

You've been unable to show that the contributions of other cultures were philosophically or logically antecedent to the scientific method per se.

I've yet to MAKE an argument about the scientific method. Not one. But of course, you desperately want me to make some kind of rash statement about it, don't you? That way you can hide the fact that you basically misunderstood what I was saying.

While we're talking straw men, I might recall to you yours : your attempts to paint me as claiming that all known technologies originated in Europe.

When you jumped into this thread, I had just said that our civilization had outside help with various technologies. You dropped by and listed a whole bunch of technologies with the assertion that only Europeans had accomplished them.

Just what was the point of doing that if not to belittle the point I had been making, that we have gotten technology from other cultures? What purpose do you have in continuing to bring up arguments about "the scientific method" when I've made no statement about it?

Why don't you just admit that you misunderstood the argument to begin with and stop trying to get me to change mine, so you can cover up your foolishness?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
you are smug beyond words (none / 0) (#663)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 07:56:52 PM EST

Ignorant, too.

This comment and these two follow-ups are the damning evidence.

tkatchev's statement, that Catholic theology was essential for the development of empiricism and the scientific method, has not even been addressed in your responses. Your thread with tkatchev degenerated into crap. Frankly, you don't come across too well because of your hippie smugness prevented you from grasping tkatchev's point about the implications for world history in the creation of empiricism and its adoption in the West.

Here's the problem: any sufficiently large difference in quantity constitutes a difference in quality. The truth-claims advanced by the Catholic Church really did create a unique and almost entirely unprecedented intellectual environment. Prior to the Catholics, nobody would have seriously pursued a universal, rational, empirical inquiry into the physical world. This is clearly a defining moment in history, rather more so than the advent of horse stirrups or printing, because once such an inquiry was sustainably begun, it began to provide an as-yet unlimited technological toolbox. This transformed continents and profoundly affected the lives of most humans, animals, plants, and many even of the unicellular organisms, in the world.

Al-Khwarizmi is hardly news to me; I first read about the Arab contributions to Western knowledge as a small child. But it is very stupid of you to pretend that his work was philosophically, as opposed to technically, foundational for the scientific paradigm. In fact, al-Khwarizmi and his counterparts in all the medieval societies, such as court mathematicians in Japan and China, remained somewhat in advance of the West for centuries after the West adopted the empirical paradigm. In fact, power structures in the West adopted mathematics because of physics, not the other way around. Which is exactly the point.

I've yet to MAKE an argument about the scientific method. Not one.

Of course; you prefer to insist on 'industrial civilization' to salvage your shattered position. Unfortunately for you, the non-Western contributions to the first industrial cultures in the West were limited to slaves, raw materials, free-standing pieces of technology, and markets. Since experimental science is technologically and temporally antecedent to large-scale industry, experimental science remains the issue at hand.You dropped by and listed a whole bunch of technologies with the assertion that only Europeans had accomplished them.

Not at all; whatever it means to "accomplish" a technology. But Europeans did design and build them first, usually to exploit foreigners. The mere fact of the foreigners' exploitation hardly makes them the creators of science or even of whichever technology is in question.

Why don't you just admit that you misunderstood the argument to begin with and stop trying to get me to change mine, so you can cover up your foolishness?

Because even when you think you're trolling, you're trolling with your real beliefs, which are collectively an utter crock. And I know that it pisses you off when you beliefs are demolished by somebody with whom you think you're manipulating.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Rather smug than wrong (none / 0) (#666)
by pyramid termite on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 09:49:45 PM EST

tkatchev's statement, that Catholic theology was essential for the development of empiricism and the scientific method, has not even been addressed in your responses.

Is that why scientists were threatened with burning at the stake in the middle ages by the church?

As far as the rest of your rant is concerned, it's irrelevant. Really. All I ever said was that outside help was received and for some reason you felt a need to argue about it.

you're trolling with your real beliefs

What arrogance. You now propose to tell me what my real beliefs are?

But as long as you've insisted on arguing about the scientific method ...

You may look at this. I'll quote the good parts -

"It was under their successors at Oxford School (that is, successors to the Muslims of Spain) that Roger Bacon learned Arabic and Arabic Sciences. Neither Roger Bacon nor later namesake has any title to be credited with having introduced the experimental method. Roger Bacon was no more than one of apostles of Muslim Science and Method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that knowledge of Arabic and Arabic Sciences was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge. Discussion as to who was the originator of the experimental method. ... are part of the colossal misinterpretation of the origins of European civilization. The experimental method of Arabs was by Bacon's time widespread and eagerly cultivated throughout Europe."

That certainly looks like a contribution to me.

I have proved my initial statement - that Christian society did not develop science and an industrial civilization without help from outside. Period. End of story. And you are a rank and utter dickhead for being so insistent on arguing about it. People like you are a dime a dozen on the net. You're married to a certain core of beliefs, whatever they might be, (I don't pretend to know and I don't even care), and you don't post on the net in a spirit of discussion and inquiry, but to show off how clever you are in defending your hobby horses and prejudices. You're not trying to convince anyone of anything except that you're better at arguing endlessly then they are. ANY concession, even in the face of fact, is a sign of weakness. ANY compromise on an issue is a sign of moral weakness.

Now if I were to start arguing against the primacy and importance of Western Civilization, which you seem to think I've been doing, the first piece of evidence would be this -

It took 2500 years of it to produce a mediocre intelligence like you.

One other point -

any sufficiently large difference in quantity constitutes a difference in quality.

That explanation was accepted by your mother. Then I took my 12 inch cock and fucked her.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
but smug and wrong is worst of all (none / 0) (#679)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 02:12:25 PM EST

I have proved my initial statement - that Christian society did not develop science and an industrial civilization without help from outside

The way you've defined "help from outside" is completely useless - by your definitions, no society anywhere developed anything without "help from outside." For instance, within this framework, the Wright Brothers didn't invent the airplane on their own, because it had been tried a number of times before by others, and they'd seen birds in flight. While it's true that they didn't invent one completely divorced from the intellectual history of the rest of humanity, nobody has ever done anything on those terms. So those terms are shown to be propagandistic.

Hence my quotation of Hegel. Your insistence that Arab technology was behind the development of the scientific idea in Europe only shows that you never learned the difference between science and technology. I'll explain it in the simplest words I can: science is an idea and a method rather than any particular set of inventions. (In fact, even after some Western European researchers began to adopt the scientific method, Western European societies remained technologically inferior to other societies for a few hundred years.) The website you linked does not contradict that thesis, it merely suggests that Arabs are best credited with developing the scientific method. But the last two paragraphs quoted from him suggest that Briffault conflated science with technology as well. The writers I've read did not find a consistent or pervasive adoption of empirical reasoning among Muslim thinkers (for instance, I know that Averroes applied his medical reasoning within a Galenic deductive framework which he never questioned) and until you cite me current scholarship, as opposed to Briffault (1876-1940) quoted without reference to page numbers on somebody's geocities site, I'm hardly going to give you that point. The other writers cited only claim that the Arabs contributed knowledge to Western Europe, which is obvious and not contradicted by me.

You know, I find it really telling that you keep beating that drum about the Arabs' contributions to European knowledge. It's totally irrelevant, because what's at issue is the adoption of empirical scientific methods and ideology among all European physical sciences and the revolution in philosophy and world order that ensued. You think that you've "proved" that Christianity didn't have an internal philosophical revolution producing events that cannot be compared with any precedent in world history. Well, I guess I'm not going to convince you otherwise, because you are willing to overlook the difference between a few thinkers groping toward science before their culture turned away from it forever, and a genuine paradigm shift. But a paradigm shift took place, the biggest one since the development of agriculture. Suddenly, from events in a cultural, economic and political backwater, the world changed permanently.

You're not trying to convince anyone of anything except that you're better at arguing endlessly then they are. ANY concession, even in the face of fact, is a sign of weakness. ANY compromise on an issue is a sign of moral weakness.

No, I'm trying to convince you that there was an enormous difference between the post-Medieval Western worldview and the worldviews of other peoples in other countries, this difference serving as the engine driving the modern experiment in society. Despite all evidence supporting this proposition, I have failed to convince you. But you've not told me anything that I didn't already know (I mean, honestly, you have a lot of gall to lecture me on al-Khwarizmi, when any "History of Math" wall-chart or high-school math textbook will have a sidebar on the Arab foundations of Western math; I don't think it's possible to find a college math major who hasn't heard of him.) So, from my perspective, you've brought nothing to the table except a persistent failure to understand the difference between a modern and a premodern world-view, which any scholar of Medieval literature could tell you about in exhaustive detail, and a persistent failure to appreciate that both the body and roots of modernity are in Western Europe thought.

That explanation was accepted by your mother. Then I took my 12 inch cock and fucked her.

From what I heard from your wife last night, it's more like 12 centimeters. And, from what she told me of your whereabouts, you mean "the family dog" rather than "my mother."
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

"You got tech in my science! No, you ... (none / 0) (#682)
by pyramid termite on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 03:45:09 PM EST

The way you've defined "help from outside" is completely useless

Which hasn't stopped you from arguing about it for 5 days. Or from misstating my argument in an effort to teach me things like, "Oh, the world really changed after the Middle Ages in Europe".

Like, duh. The way you've been falling all over yourself to "prove" the supremacy of Western thought is quite amusing. Even the slightest thought that there might have been some secondary contribution from elsewhere is enough to send you to the barricades to repel the barbarians.

But this isn't a cultural or historical argument for you - it's a religious one. The xenophobia and fear are obvious. Even someone who makes a basically "useless" (hint - a better description would be innocuous) statement has to be fought off as a "propagandist". Which is why, of course, you're going on at length about the superiority of Western Civ while I'm just trying to mention some secondary contributions from elsewhere.

I can see why. The "modern world" and Western Civilization are dead. Oh, yes, we still have the scientific method and all that good stuff, but it's in a 21st century, whole world context now. As is our history. Brayings of cultural superiority are irrelevant - oh, no, I'm not arguing that all cultures are equal or anything ridiculous like that, I'm arguing that they're getting killed off and replaced by a messy mishmash of stuff cobbled together from here and there. And once having percieved this in our current world, it's rather easy to see it in operation throughout history.

In short, your whole argument and viewpoint are yesterday's news. Quaint. Archaic. And rather irrelevant. Guess what? The days are past when "European Civilization" is going to get a free pass from anyone by claiming, "Look, we taught y'all how to think!"

The bottom line? You have yet to disprove my initial statement - regard it as useless if you will, but you haven't disproven it and you won't.

you mean "the family dog" rather than "my mother."

In your family, there's no difference.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#690)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 09:35:34 PM EST

What arrogance. You now propose to tell me what my real beliefs are?

It appears I was right about them. But then: But this isn't a cultural or historical argument for you - it's a religious one. The xenophobia and fear are obvious. Even someone who makes a basically "useless" (hint - a better description would be innocuous) statement has to be fought off as a "propagandist". Which is why, of course, you're going on at length about the superiority of Western Civ while I'm just trying to mention some secondary contributions from elsewhere. Sauce for the goose, you mendacious hypocrite.

Also, here are some things that I didn't say: "Western Civilization and/or Christianity are superior to other cultures/religions;" "Look, we taught y'all how to think!" Your insistence on making me out to be some kind of bigot says more about you than it does about me. (What would 'superior' even mean in such a context?)

Anyway, to address whatever is left of your argument:

I'm arguing that they're getting killed off and replaced by a messy mishmash of stuff cobbled together from here and there. And once having percieved this in our current world, it's rather easy to see it in operation throughout history.

This seems to be yet another argument by reiteration: "Intellectual history is and always was global!" As you don't seem capable of realizing that, just like the Muslim world, the medieval Christian world made a unique and lasting contribution to modern society - more so than, say, the Carib Indians; or that ideas originating in medieval Christendom define modernity in exaclty the same way that medieval Chinese ideas do not; all I can say is here's a nickel, son, go buy yourself a real education. Or your mother, down on the corner.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

And now, the coup de grace (none / 0) (#693)
by pyramid termite on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 11:12:37 PM EST

Also, here are some things that I didn't say: "Western Civilization and/or Christianity are superior to other cultures/religions;" "Look, we taught y'all how to think!" Your insistence on making me out to be some kind of bigot says more about you than it does about me.

No, you just have had a knee-jerk reaction to a simple statement that "Christian civilization" had "outside help" - first, you argued against it, then you tried to minimize its importance as much as you could and then you called the statement useless. Sorry, but people don't argue against what is, after all, established historical fact without some kind of agenda in mind, not to the length that you have. And it's not the kind of bigotry you think I'm accusing you of.

I think you exaggerate the importance of science in a culture where damn near every daily newspaper has an astrology column and a substantial number of people believe that man walked with the dinosaurs and the world was created 10,000 years ago. That little cult of rational and experimentally minded people is a subculture and has always been; extraordinarily useful and talented and utterly ignored by the mass of people except when it comes to enjoying the benefits of applied science.

Which creates that little phenomenon known as "geek angst". Intelligence is all that matters. Those who disagree with you are "fools" and "idiots". The enemy is to be overcome with a carefully selected barrage of facts that show your superior knowledge. Anyone who provides you with information is lecturing to you or smug. You go online and spew forth with the frustration you feel in your day to day existence - (cartoon voice) "I'm surrounded by idiots!"

Which is why you want so desperately to win this argument. You've blown it all out of any sensible proportion.

The most effective troll is the one that makes the trollee reveal something about himself he didn't want revealed. Are you ready to spit that hook out yet?

Ready or not, I'm letting you go. You can keep the hook.

Free clue, Mr. Battle TROLL - you have a few years of battle ahead before you can hope to match my ability at trolling. I'm letting you off simply because your wretched indignation at being manipulated so transparently is beginning to nag at my conscience. It shouldn't be THIS easy.

You will, of course, make a reply that will vainfully strive to claim that you "won" this argument. But I won't be reading it.

Your last clue - this argument was never about Western Civilization, science or technology. It was about whether you could agree with another person's good point without a bunch of huffing and puffing.

just like the Muslim world, the medieval Christian world made a unique and lasting contribution to modern society

Just think - it took 3 or 4 days of arguing to get you to admit that the Muslim world did make a "unique and lasting" contribution.

Now why the hell didn't you just come out and say that to start with?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Wow. (none / 0) (#699)
by gzt on Sun Jan 25, 2004 at 03:05:30 PM EST

I hope for your own sake you're faking.

[ Parent ]
you pathetic shnook (none / 0) (#703)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 02:46:42 PM EST

Just think - it took 3 or 4 days of arguing to get you to admit that the Muslim world did make a "unique and lasting" contribution.

What do you call this?

In fact, al-Khwarizmi and his counterparts in all the medieval societies, such as court mathematicians in Japan and China, remained somewhat in advance of the West for centuries after the West adopted the empirical paradigm.
Which creates that little phenomenon known as "geek angst". Intelligence is all that matters. Those who disagree with you are "fools" and "idiots".

My disdain for the contemptible g**ks ought to be clear from the way in which I refurse to type the word "g**k."
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

by the way (none / 0) (#681)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 03:26:02 PM EST

Is that why scientists were threatened with burning at the stake in the middle ages by the church?

This is really an idiotic thing to say, considering that a) it's not true of most scientists, just those who stepped on the Church's political toes; and b) scientists in the Arab world faced considerably greater harassment.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Tsk (none / 0) (#683)
by pyramid termite on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 03:52:06 PM EST

You'll argue over any factual statement I make, won't you?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
no... (none / 0) (#688)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 09:25:50 PM EST

You'll argue over any factual statement I make, won't you?

Just the ones that are dishonest.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Another idea. (none / 0) (#673)
by tkatchev on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 11:53:27 AM EST

Personally, what really interests me is how the concept of linear time came about.

Because, in reality, all non-"Western" societies and the majority of "Western" people before about the first millenium had no concept of linear time.

The traditional concept of time is cyclical -- which makes a lot of sense concidering that everything in nature is cyclical.

P.S. Cyclical time is what gave us our calendar system and the concept of reincarnation.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I think this is an oversimplification... (none / 0) (#692)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 10:39:59 PM EST

Chinese thought contains both linear and cyclical elements. On the one hand, "the Empire, once united, must divide; once divided, must unite." On the other hand, each major thinker / school of thought contributed to a recognizable progression in Chinese philosophy. The impression I get from the little I know of Chinese philosophy is that most theorists described human life as linear but urged seeking harmonious relationships with the cycles of nature.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
don't disgrace yourself like this (none / 0) (#356)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:38:03 PM EST

Iron plowsshares? China. The system by which we tell time originated in Babylonia. The barbecque was invented by Carib Indians...

These are technologies, not the scientific method. Experimental science as a method and an ideology is an entirely European creature. It developed from the ideas of the Humanist scholars in Italy and was articulated explicitly for the first time by, IIRC, Roger Bacon, ca. 1230 AD.

China's technology was drastically ahead of Europe's until the sixteenth century. Then Europe simultaneously colonized all continents except Antarctica, enslaving or murdering their inhabitants, and extracting unbelievable wealth from them. This was the outward manifestation of the flood of technological progress that followed the spread of the experimental-science idea throughout England, Holland, France, and the German states. I mean, honestly now - the enormous increase in the rate of technological progress in a small minority of the European states is an extraordinary event and it requires an extraordinary explanation.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Read what was stated carefully ... (none / 0) (#403)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:54:35 PM EST

... not "developed science and industrial society" but "developed science and industrial society WITHOUT HELP". Obviously, any foreign importation of any technology or thought was helpful, and many instances exist of such importation, so my statement stands as correct.

You are welcome to say that the help wasn't the most significant factor, however.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
it still doesn't wash (none / 0) (#413)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:16:14 PM EST

Read what was stated carefully : "Developed science and industrial society WITHOUT HELP"

Hello, I was not confused on this point. Which non-European agency are you claiming taught the Europeans the scientific method?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

You're neglecting the clause ... (none / 0) (#419)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:48:32 PM EST

... "industrial society".

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
what about it? (none / 0) (#459)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:19:46 AM EST

Would you call 18th century China industrial? How about pre-Columbian Hispaniola? It seems to me that France and England industrialized entirely on their own.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Without any slave labor or colonies (none / 0) (#488)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:03:33 PM EST

Yeah. Right.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
since you asked... (none / 0) (#496)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:35:07 PM EST

England did industrialize without any (foreign) slave labour or colonies. The conquest of the colonies was a consequence of industrial strength, not its source. To be sure, the colonies' raw materials made possible the specialized industrial economy of ca. 1760. But England was already technologically far beyond the peoples it would conquer.

England's technology was significantly inferior to China's, ca. 1000 AD. Doesn't it interest you that ca. 1600 it was significantly superior? Aren't you curious as to why? Ah, fuck it, kill whitey.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Bad analogy (none / 0) (#206)
by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:00:48 PM EST

Classical Greece practically invented science, and it was not Christian. Rome invented large-scale engineering, again without Christianity.

I'm not sure what you're trying to state here. The Renaissace and the Industrial Revolution happened in nominally Christian countries, but it's only something that could happen once, so it's logically impossible to say if it could have happened under any other religion or non-religion. The closest social invention to the Industrial Revolution is probably the invention of the city (i.e. the formation of permanent gatherings of people and the breakdown of nomadic life), which happened a long time before Christianity. I think it's generally credited to Sumeria.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Learn some history. (none / 0) (#281)
by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:46:07 AM EST

Ancient Greeks had absolutely no notion of the scientific method. Sad but true: they had no idea whatsoever how many legs a fly has, or how many teeth are in a normal human jaw.

For some reason, the idea to just count it never occured to these guys.

Point is, the methodology, ideology and language needed to make science possible was created by Catholic scholastics. This is a historic fact.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Man (none / 0) (#310)
by Kiss the Blade on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:37:34 PM EST

Have a look at Aristotle's History of Animals and say that again! He was the father of the scientific method, and that book is an enormous attempt to put chaos into order by applyign the polished reason of the Greeks to the natural world for the first time. He classifies every creature about - from how many fins a dolphin has to how snails have sexual intercourse.

Anyroad, that was the start of the scientific method, but you'll see it does lack one important part: expirements. Aristotle passively observed the world around him, rather than carefully measuring and creating repeatable expirements in a lab or suchlike.

Still, the Christians did well. It's very annoyign to read this site and see people bash the Christians for oppressing science when, in fact, half the bloody figures of the Renaissance and Medieval times seem to be Priests of one sort or another, or funded by the Church, or using materials preserved by the Church since ancient times. Its that fool Galileo and his indictment by the Pope for political reasons that've fed the flames of this lies ever since.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

Experiments (none / 0) (#389)
by Pseudonym on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:30:58 PM EST

Aristotle was a natural philosopher, which meant he spent his days philosophising. Archimedes is probably a better example. He actually went to the trouble of performing experiments.

I take your point about "priests of one sort or other", though. People who bring up Galileo seem to forget, for example, that Copernicus had the same ideas a hundred years earlier, and he ended his days as administrator of a bishopric.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
it's amazing (none / 0) (#359)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:43:26 PM EST

Aristotle: "Women are inferior to men. Consequently, they have darker blood and fewer teeth."
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
It is (none / 0) (#404)
by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:01:08 PM EST

Aristote: "A deduction is speech (logos) in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from those supposed results of necessity because of their being so"

Yes, he said many absurd things. They are far outweighed by the concepts of logic that he put down, even if he didn't use them very well.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
hello (none / 0) (#412)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:14:39 PM EST

I wasn't running down Aristotle, I was pointing out that the scientific method is not Greek.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Scientific method. (none / 0) (#444)
by tkatchev on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:47:39 AM EST

I have a feeling that you failed your middle-school science class.

Otherwise, you'd have known that the scientific method is somewhat the opposite of deducing things by feats of "logic".


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

I know you've flunked English all your life (none / 0) (#447)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:32:35 AM EST

Because you've demonstrated a great inability to understand the written form of it. Where did I say the scientific method was identical to logic?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
In your post. (none / 0) (#467)
by tkatchev on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 10:28:48 AM EST

That's where.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Read through it again (none / 0) (#489)
by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:06:02 PM EST

The words "scientific method" occur nowhere in it. Neither does the fact that I fucked your mother last night.

Now go away troll, before I email you the pictures.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Wow. (none / 0) (#543)
by tkatchev on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:57:28 AM EST

You are a rockstar.

With razor-sharp wit.


   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

No, just an expert at marketing ... (none / 0) (#558)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 05:28:41 AM EST

... and demographic analysis.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Kewl. (none / 0) (#586)
by tkatchev on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:14:46 PM EST

You're kewler than I thought.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#603)
by pyramid termite on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 04:35:19 PM EST

You're kewler than I thought.

That's what your mother said when she saw my glow in the dark tattoo of a Harley. Then I fucked her.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
I doubt it. (none / 0) (#626)
by tkatchev on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 04:32:22 AM EST

BTW, you better stop before I get like totally offfended.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#646)
by pyramid termite on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 04:26:13 PM EST

BTW, you better stop before I get like totally offfended.

That's what your mother said when I was spraying whipped cream on her. Then I fucked her.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Can we use it to explore causation? (none / 0) (#695)
by kmcrober on Sun Jan 25, 2004 at 01:51:23 AM EST

While I'm loathe to jump into a contentious thread, especially after a long absence, that's a fairly ridiculous thing to say.  My training isn't in science, but even I know that correlation does not equate to causation.  

Moreover, one of the arguments made below was quite cogent - it is overly simplistic to speak of any significant intellectual development happening, especially at the level of an entire civilization, "without help from outside."

Even if you disregard the Milesians and others as the first movers of scientific theory, and I'm happy to defer to someone with more knowledge than me on that point, I don't think it's plausible to say that science and industry would have developed as they did without the foundations laid by Greek and Arab scholars.  Those thinkers were not held back by their lack of veneration for Jesus, but by their timing; I think a powerful argument can be made that the progress made by early scientists such as the Milesians was a more difficult and significant step than formalizing a scientific method.  

I'll agree, however, that the embarassments of modern day radical Christianity aside, the faith has done more to help science throughout history than to hinder it.  I recall dimly that Mendel was a monk, wasn't he?

I haven't followed the entire discussion, so please feel free to ignore my complaint.  In fact, feel free to commence with six dozen signature "No.  You are an idiot." posts.  They are sure to sway me with the gentle breeze of your delicate rhetoric.

[ Parent ]

yes and no (none / 0) (#706)
by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 09:29:48 PM EST

Those thinkers were not held back by their lack of veneration for Jesus, but by their timing; I think a powerful argument can be made that the progress made by early scientists such as the Milesians was a more difficult and significant step than formalizing a scientific method.

Two simple theses:

  • There's a lot more to Christian culture than simple veneration for Jesus; and culture, not religion as such, is what's very much at issue, considering that Europeans were technologically inferior to other high civilizations (particularly the Chinese) for most of their history. Furthermore, non-Western European Christians, such as the Semitic Christians or Eastern Europeans (Catholic & Orthodox alike) did not reap the benefits of Western European technological supremacy. So the issue is more nuanced - it's about 'what Scholasticism did to culture,' not 'what Christianity did to culture.' My Communist history prof was quite willing to trace his intellectual history to Scholasticism and Humanism, which were movements among the Catholic Church elite of their day.
  • Highlighting the efforts of the Milesians is also somewhat question-begging. Similar speculative philosophy existed in Asia, and Aristotle was seriously studied in Muslim countries long before he was seriously studied in medieval Christian countries. So, if pre-Socratic philosophy could exert such an influence, why didn't it exert it in every case?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
  • it's happening, right now (none / 1) (#158)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:01:39 PM EST

    I think that right now, religion is inhibiting progress. From cell stem research, to gay rights, to women's rights.

    I guess the fallacy here is, "which" Christians are for, against, etc.?" Do we lump them all together, or don't we?

    If we do, than I can say that religion inhibited women's rights, as just one example of a social change.

    Honestly, do you think, regardless of your opinion on the matter, that in the near future, gays won't have more rights, if we can call them rights?

    Although I sense a conservative trend in the US right now, I think this trend is on the rise - the gay trend, if you will.

    100 years from now, will future Christians say that it's because of Christians that gays enjoy the rights that they have, rather, I assume they will have?

    Of course there are those Christians now that think that the "gay thing" is ok, but what is your sense of "most" Christians and what they think?

    I don't think there is anything neutral about it. Christians have been a destructive force. Was it Christianity or Democracy? Or Christianity or capitalism combined with democracy that started the industrial revolution?

    Further, who was at the helm during the Dark Ages? Why were they called the Dark Ages? Could that knowledge that was thrown out, rebuked and lost during this, have helped us get where we are today, sooner?

    For a 1000 years, give or take, Christians were in control. Did they advance good science and women's rights during this phase?

    If you say this isn't the fault of the Christians, I'd agree with you in this sense - it was the system of government that held society back - their beliefs are mostly meaningless. Or, try this angle: As I've heard some Christian fundamentalists say that the Bible doesn't suggest trial by jury, women's rights, civil rights or democracy. The Bible suggests what we had during the Dark Ages, minus perhaps the corruption (given ideal circumstances).

    As for the Muslims, well, for most history most people were affiliated with one religion or another. Therefore, we can't say that all great progress is because of religion - if anything, we can step back and look at the world and ask, "is this is a nice place, overall"? If religion is responsible for everything, as you must be suggesting, than I certainly stand by my idea that removing it would improve things ;)

    Be it frowning upon drawing the insides the human body or adding lightning rods to church steeples - religion and Christianity specifically has handicapped science and social change for ages, and it continues to this day. If I prayed, I would pray that our society never becomes a "Biblical" society.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Good question (none / 0) (#202)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:46:29 PM EST

    I guess the fallacy here is, "which" Christians are for, against, etc.?" Do we lump them all together, or don't we?

    That's one issue. A good analogy for this is SCO's charge that it was the Linux/open source movement responsible for DDoS attacks on their web site. Do we lump all open source advocates together, or don't we?

    Another issue is one of geography. In the US, you have the so-called "religious right" as a social and political phenomenon. In the rest of the world, there are conservative Christians, but they're not, as a rule, anywhere near as vocal or political. Many of these things which are "hot issues" in the US are still issues in the rest of the world, but they're not nearly as "hot", and in most cases, the opinions of conservative religions can be safely discounted (apart from a nod to religious tolerance). Abortion, for example, is a huge deal in the US. Elections have been known to hinge on it. Here in Australia, it has no more significance than any other health-related or social issue.

    I'm therefore prepared to believe that you personally (assuming you're in the USA) see Christianity inhibiting progress, whereas I (not being in the US) do not. I can't comment on conservatism in the US, as I don't know much about it, but I have a strong suspicion that US conservative Christians don't cause conservativism, but rather feed off a conservatism that is already there. I've seen US free-to-air television. No nudity, no swearing... it's extremely bland compared with the rest of the developed world. You wouldn't have that if people didn't want it.

    Incidentally, on the issue of civil rights for homosexual people, I suspect that any advance on this issue in the US is going to come from outside pressure. Other countries are doing it right now, and eventually the US will follow suit. Certainly here in Australia, one of our largest churches, and large sections of some of the other large churches, are behind this movement.

    It's interesting that you note that Christanity says nothing about trial by jury, democracy and so on. The reason for this, however, is lost on most Christians. Christianty was born as a multi-ethnic Judaic movement and grew up under persecution. It was never designed to be "in power". Indeed, that's one of the reasons why it caught on so quickly: it was not tied to a single nation or a single ethnicity, but rather it adapted itself to wherever it was.

    For this reason, I wouldn't mind being in a truly "Biblical society", because it would specifically rule itself out of running the state, and would stay at the voluntary community level.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Interesting comment (none / 1) (#240)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:49:31 AM EST

    Our media is actually not as tame as you think - specifically, it gets quite sexual as far as body movements go, but we have this hangup with showing specific body parts - but only on network TV. On pay channels, the rules are very different - but yes, we are a very "prude" nation compared to say, France or Germany.

    Swear words are becoming more popular on late evening TV, and there is now only a very small list no-no words in the land of the Free.

    Porn can be rented at any video store bought at any news stand.

    As for conservatism, I think they go hand in hand. I do blame Christians in the US, at least partially, for maintaining conservative politics. I detest, however, this notion that Jesus would vote Republican or slogans such as, "If you pray, vote pro-life!".

    In case you don't know, the pro-life movement is against abortion and the Republicans are the more conservative of the two parties (though it wasn't always this way), in general. They have been infiltrated by the religious right and you've hit upon something key:

    One of the main reasons why I bother to come to sites like this and debate folks is for this very reason. I am glad to hear that Down Under, the religionists are kept out of government. If this is self-imposed, than I, as a disliker of religion, am impressed with Australian Christians.

    I do, however, disagree with the rest of your comment. Is there Biblical justification for this Christian tolerance of trial by jury, personal liberties and so forth, of this just what your sect believes on its own?

    As has been made clear to me by Christian fundamentalists, the Bible doesn't believe in jail sentences or democracy. Benevolent dictatorships, corporal punishment and execution seem the order of the day.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Conservatism, civil rights etc (none / 0) (#387)
    by Pseudonym on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:25:01 PM EST

    My first comment on US conservatism is that I was wrong. I said that I probably was, and it turned out that I was. :-)

    The USA is actually a land of extremes. You have extreme conservatism and extreme liberalism, and you have a culture where people are encouraged to speak their mind and, to cap it all off, you also have a culture where people think that other people's private business is their business. This makes for a volatile mix. It also makes for TV shows like Jerry Springer. Shudder.

    One of the main reasons why I bother to come to sites like this and debate folks is for this very reason. I am glad to hear that Down Under, the religionists are kept out of government. If this is self-imposed, than I, as a disliker of religion, am impressed with Australian Christians.

    "Religionists", as you say, are kept out of government, though they still have a political voice. It tends to be concentrated on "liberal" issues, though, such as helping those which used to be called "the poor" (i.e. stuff Jesus actually talked about). They were also vocal about the whole Iraq thing, but then, a lot of people were.

    Churches, however, do have one strong self-imposed rule: They never, ever, endorse or condemn a candidate or party. In return, politicians never endorse or condemn a specific clergyperson. (That least point is very important. Separation of church and state means that states shouldn't meddle in churches, either.)

    Yes, there is plenty of "Biblical justification" (I dislike this term for many reasons) for Christian "tolerance" of trial by jury, personal liberties and so on. Paul, in his letters, was very clear about submitting to government authorities, except where this interfered with your religion. Jesus, when asked if people should pay tax to Rome, effectively said "yes" (though he used the opportunity to make a point about God).

    Indeed, Jesus' directive to "turn the other cheek" has been interpreted by some as saying that your right to swing your fist doesn't end at the tip of my nose. (his is actually incorrect. Slapping someone on the cheek was more like an insult to one's honour. Still, it's an amusing thought. Try that argument on your Christian fundamentalist friends and see how they react.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    A few quick points (none / 1) (#218)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:54:22 PM EST

    1. Gay rights
      1. In the US, the Unitarian Universalists are proponents of equal rights for gays and lesbians.
      2. The Episcopal Church USA is willing to ordain practicing homosexual men to the priesthood and the bishopric and performs same-gender marriages.
      3. The Presbyterian Church in the US has kicked out priests who perform same-gender "marriages", but is willing to perform same-gender "union" services that are marriages in all but name.
    2. Women's rights
      1. Various Christian Churches were some of the primary drivers behind the ERA.
      2. The Unitarian Universalists support a woman's right to choose.
      3. The Episcopal Church USA (and many other denominations) put women in the exact same place as men with regard to the ordained ministry.
    3. Stem cell research
      1. Only those Christian groups that believe that life begins at conception (granted, this is the majority of Christian groups) are against stem cell research.
    My point being that in grouping all Christians together, you are arriving at absurd conclusions. There are a tremendous number of various Christian groups. To state that Christianity has had more a negative impact than a positive one is too only look at one part of Christianity. I'll repeat myself that it appears that you are only familiar with North American Evangelical Protestantism and assume that all Christian groups hold identical beliefs.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm not convinced. (none / 0) (#239)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:31:14 AM EST

    First off, only one point addresses scientific progress, and you've agreed that most all Christians are against this, as they have been throughout history, from church steeples to stem cell research.

    As for the other issues, if I went to adherents.com and added up the groups which you mentioned, would that that come to a majority of American Christians, or a minority?

    Something that is a bit harder to classify is the power and influence of a sect. The types of Christians that you think I'm referring too is also one of most powerful and influential and has got it's hands into the Republican party, as we all know. This counts much more than sheer percentages.

    Consider also that there is a world outside of America. You may not agree, but I consider Catholics Christians - they do as well. They are currently in gaged in, worldwide, policies which I consider anti-women and anti-progress, most having to do with birth control and abortions, etc. They have many adherents ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    So, now Catholic theology matters (none / 0) (#248)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:22:45 AM EST

    Funny how in your bits about the Bible you held strictly to a North American Evangelical Protestant point of view and were unwilling to consider the view of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox and Nestorian Churches. But now, suddenly the points of view of these Churches are to be representative of all Christians?

    You're being extremely inconsistent here.

    Aside from which, please explain to me why it matters at all whether the groups I mentioned on the topic are in the minority or the majority? My point was only that you are painting with a wide brush where you ought to be making narrow strokes. Christian theology is far more varied than you seem to be aware of.

    Here's another question, were you even aware of these denominations and their theological stances before I brought them up?

    (And a word to the wise. The numbers at adherents.com are notoriously unreliable. They are very interesting and I've browsed through them on a number of occasions for different purposes, but I'd hesitate to use them as evidence for any substantial argument.)

    [ Parent ]

    never (none / 0) (#256)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:43:02 AM EST

    I was never inconsistent. And despite what many fundamentalists have told me in my time debating, I've always considered Catholics Christians.

    Please show how I've been inconsistent. In my piece, I broke the Bible down into 2 categories. Catholics belong in the first, metaphorical group. Some Baptists groups in the second, for example.

    You can't have it both ways. If you lump "Christians" together as being behind the modern era, as you or someone else suggested above, than I can lump together and blame the current trend to slow down or halt progress on them, as well as the Middle Ages.

    If you want to say that only some Christians are responsible for the airplane, for example, than I will play along and try to cite only certain groups responsible for theocratic trends and so forth, which are clearly anti-progress, to my mind.

    Were you able to provide an alternate reference for Christian thought? There isn't - it's the Bible, take it or leave it (again, excluding Catholics and some of their invented doctrines, which even most other Christians consider suspect at best).
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Your inconsistency is plain as day (none / 0) (#258)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:50:15 AM EST

    Contrast:
    I've always considered Catholics Christians.
    with:
    Were you able to provide an alternate reference for Christian thought? There isn't - it's the Bible, take it or leave it (again, excluding Catholics and some of their invented doctrines, which even most other Christians consider suspect at best).
    You've just excluded the majority of Christian doctrine of the majority of the worlds Christians from the discussion.

    Go back and read the history of the Christian Church before coming attempting to discuss Christian theology.

    [ Parent ]

    theology? (none / 0) (#263)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:03:11 AM EST

    I'm not discussing Christian theology.

    Please provide an alternate source if not the Bible, and be specific.

    If it involves a miracle, please show the proper evidence.

    By the way, from what I know about Catholics (I used to be one), since they have a metaphorical view of the Bible, I'd assume that they would have a metaphorical view of these "alternate sources" as well. In this case, my argument would stand, "we have no definitive way to distinguish fact from fiction" - I would likely therefore still toss it...
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Christian sources of doctrine (none / 0) (#269)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:19:08 AM EST

    1. Personal experience, Christianity is all about a personal encounter with the Godhead.
    2. Prophecy, Christianity holds that God speaks directly through prophets.
    3. Tradition, the vast majority of Christianity holds that Holy Tradition contains truth about the Godhead.
    If you'd like more information on any of those topics, I'd be glad to reccomend some books to you.

    As for the assertion, "we have no definitive way to distinguish fact from fiction", it is irrelevent for two reasons.

    The first reason is that the source of the information is irrelevent when discussing whether or not the information is true unless you are relying on an argument from authority which is falacious t begin with. The only thing that matters is whether the information is reasonable on its own merits.

    Secondly, whether the Bible ought to interpretted allegorically is irrelevent provided that the method of interpretation is consistent and reasonable. If the whole point of a particular passage is metamorphical, then whether it is 'fact' or 'fiction' is irrelevent to the point of the discussion. You are arguing that a methaphor cannot transmit knowledge in any meaningful way. This is absurd.

    And I'd also like to point out that if you are discussing the Christian idea of God, then you are, in fact, discussing Christian theology.

    [ Parent ]

    personal experience doesn't count (none / 0) (#545)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:01:15 AM EST

    I can have personal experience with Allah which could contradict your personal experrience, however, you and I seem to have 3 or 4 of these going - stick to the main one, if you would. I have to respond to so many posts, that I don't have time to talk about the same issues with you in three different places.

    If others don't see me reply, then perhaps they will think you the winner, ya big fat idiot!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    oops (none / 2) (#16)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:04:22 AM EST

    Kind of ignore my other reply - it's late and I can't think straight - you said Western Civ., not just America, and I suppose that would lump Ireland and the US togehter...

    The rest of my reply stands. I may say more tomorrow.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    God is going to kill you. (2.85 / 7) (#21)
    by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:30:43 AM EST

    The best way to judge Christianity is by its results. It works. It is the social glue that allowed Western civilization to develop the aeroplane, the internal combustion engine, the lightbulb, and too many other marvels to enumerate in this small comment.

    Yeah, and other marvels such as concentration camps, nuclear weapons, Hee-Haw, land mines, Fox News and the War On Iraq.

    Furthermore if there is a god - he kills people. Not a few people, not certain people. Everyone. I will leave it to you to explain why someone who kills even a SINGLE person without a good excuse ( an excuse such as "hey man, that dude in the bar had weapons of mass destruction and shit") deserves to be imprisoned for many years, while an entity that kills EVERYONE, good bad and indifferent deserves to be revered.

    Suffice it to say, you have issues.

    Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

    [ Parent ]
    hmmm... methinks (1.25 / 8) (#27)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:45:53 AM EST

    it is you who have issues.

    I mean, this horrid God is going to take your life, you are going to be at His mercy as for your eternal destiny...

    Perhaps if you ignore Him, He'll just go away.

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    Nice. (1.80 / 5) (#32)
    by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:53:21 AM EST

    Now you sound like a high school principal trying to threaten me. This will go on your permanent record young man!

    Fuck you, and fuck your whiny little religion. Suffice it to say I worry very little about your vengeful little god.

    Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

    [ Parent ]
    oh well (1.33 / 6) (#35)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:57:59 AM EST

    intimidation didn't work.

      *  wipes feet  *

    Have a nice day.

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    I'm sorry...?! (none / 0) (#710)
    by iuk on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 07:26:24 AM EST

    The best known use of concentration camps was by Nazi Germany under Hitler. The only power Hitler professed to believing in was that of the aryan race - I fail to understand how a regime that actively persecuted the christians can have it's horrors blamed on Christianity? (You can't claim that the official state church in Germany is the link - it was rapidly turned into a political rather than a religous organisation). A philosophy which allows the imprisonment and execution of "enemies of the state" to the extent that their body parts can be collected and used as if they were those of animals can't really be compared with an instruction to "love your enemies" or to pray for (not prey on) those who persecute you?

    As for nuclear weapons, while it's a well known fact they they were developed by the vatican to be used to destroy heretic nations - no wait - sorry, I forgot - the blame should largely be laid at the door of Albert Einstein, an agnostic, and at scientists who believe that the pursuit of knowledge is the only consideration in scientific research. Compare that with a metaphorical interpretation of the Garden of Eden.

    As for land mines, when Jesus proclaims that "those who live by the sword will die by the sword", I don't think anyone seriously believes that the comment was only limited to handheld weapons used for stabbing or slashing.

    Not sure what Hee-Haw is.

    Fox News I am not familiar with either, but the War On Iraq was declared by President George W. Bush and the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair and you should remember that the support for the war by churches and church leaders (in the greater part of the world, at least) was somewhat lacking. In fact, in Britain, we have a state church and, ignoring the queen, the head is the Archbishop of Canterbury who, although appointed by Blair, happened to be one of the most outspoken critics of the war.

    You forgot to remember the millions of people whose lives have been more radically changed for the better by becoming Christians than anyone who knew them would have believed possible. You ignore people like John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, who lived a "godless" life as an slave trader before becaming a Christian whose preachings influenced William Wilberforce, a man who later led the campaign to outlaw slavery in Britain.

    You ignore the fact that had it not been for god-inspired preaching of men like John Wesley and George Whitfield, that Britain would probably have had a bloody revolution much like happened in France (which I presume that you would disapprove of on the basis of excessive and needless slaughter of good, bad and indifferent people?) That had it not been for people like Lord Shaftesbury who put their Christianity before their popularity, the situation of the poor in Britain would be immeasurably worse?

    In your second paragraph you speak as though an "entity" that has a different value set to you must inevitably be flawed, even if they are omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent etc (A rehashed version of the old argument "because God doesn't do what I want, God cannot be good"). It seems your problem is that humans are mortal and you find this morally repulsive, so your immediate assumption is that "an entity" wanted it to be this way. (An entity which you apparently don't believe exists, but which you feel better qualified to comment on than the authors of the Bible, theologians who have spent years researching, studying and experiencing or Christians who claim to know "it"). So you dismiss the basic assumption that all Christianity rests on, that is, that God is holy and can't accept anything less than perfection, but that God is both merciful and gracious and will go to extraordinary lengths, and beyond, to provide a way, an escape route, whereby people can avoid mortality?

    The Bible I've got contains a letter written by a guy named Peter who actually met God in human form and having spent years with him, speaking with him, listening to him, learning from him, Peter writes "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9). This same Bible writes that "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This same Bible describes a God who wants to bring those who are willing to a place where "he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev 21:4)Again the Bible portrays a God who is by no means in a hurry to kill people, rather that "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ."(

    [ Parent ]

    prophecy (2.50 / 4) (#81)
    by dasnake on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:11:13 AM EST

    First, the Bible has never been shown to be wrong or false in any particular. Neither does it contradict itself, despite attempts to show that it does.

    I could say the same about the most part of human literature, expecially sf books. No Douglas Adams book has never been shown to be wrong or false in any particular. Neither does it contradict itself, despite attempts to show that it does. But because that I don't have faith in Adams's words like the average hebrew/christan/muslim in Bible (well, except for the 42 part ... :D)

    The best way to judge Christianity is by its results. It works. It is the social glue that allowed Western civilization to develop the aeroplane, the internal combustion engine, the lightbulb, and too many other marvels to enumerate in this small comment.

    I think that the social glue that allowed Western civilization is more likely to be found in Galileo first, then in industrial revolution and finally in French revolution. The church and the religion were the slowing part of the Western development, the main cause of our middle age.

    About the propechy, I really don't know what you are talking about. I've been in the Jehoshaphant valley, but as a tourist, not to attend the Judgment.


    Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
    mi ritrovai per un selva oscura
    che` la dritta via era smarrita.
    Dante, Divina Commedia, Inferno, I, 1
    [ Parent ]
    Never wrong or false in any particular (none / 0) (#597)
    by hatshepsut on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 03:04:12 PM EST

    Old Testament, I Kings 7:23 : "And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it about."

    So, pi = 3.0

    OK, so it is old testament, but you didn't specify new testament only in your statement. Can we say then that there are factual, ummm, inaccuracies?

    I won't even get into the area of prophesy. I used to give tarot readings at parties, and consistently amazed people with the incredible accuracy of my predictions.

    [ Parent ]

    Puhleeze (none / 0) (#613)
    by Pseudonym on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 07:11:09 PM EST

    There are arguably many falsities and inaccuracies in the Bible, but this supposed one is just plain stupid.

    Ask yourself: What would this verse have to say in order for it to be correct, in your opinion?

    And a line of 31.4159 +/- 1e-4 cubits did compass it about.

    I can tell you're not a numeric analyst, or you'd know the difference between accuracy and precision. Rounding numbers off is not inaccurate, it's merely imprecise. Besides, what's the likelihood that the construction described was perfectly circular anyway?

    Next thing you'll be telling me that the Bible is inaccurate when it says "the Sun came up", because everyone knows the Earth revolves around the Sun.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    What is a skeptic? (2.57 / 7) (#24)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:37:42 AM EST

    A skeptic is not somebody who starts by assuming nothing and goes from there.

    A skeptic is someone who questions. That is what the word has always means. This is compatible with just about every major religion and non-religion that I can think of. I'm glad you're happy as an open-minded, skeptical atheist. I don't know you, but based on your article, that term certainly seems to apply to you. That's cool. However, it is wrong to assume that this is the only position that a skeptic can take.

    I consider myself a religious skeptic. You may wonder what this means, so I'll try to explain it briefly.

    Let me ask you a question to begin with: Do you believe in science?

    If you're like me, you've already thought of about three or four objections to the question. You don't "believe in science". Science isn't a bunch of propositions to be accepted or rejected. Science is a process by which we discover things about the world. Those things have been shown to be corroborated and empirically useful. So it's possible to trust the scientific process, but you don't believe in the factoids which it has discovered.

    Well, religion to me is the same. A religion is no different from any other way of life. The major religions have been found to help many people get through their existence. Some atheists characterise this as a "psychological crutch" for people who can't take the universe at face value, but this is clearly no more correct than characterising a car as a physical crutch for people who can't walk.

    If the religion works for you, do it. All the evidence you need is there in the experience of the people who have followed it. If it doesn't work for you, don't do it.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    Pedantic quibble (2.75 / 4) (#28)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:48:10 AM EST

    Assuming nothing leaves one unable to reason. Such principles as identity, the law of non-contradiction, the law of the excluded middle have to be assumed in order for logic to be valid. Such principles of the law of universal conformity and that solipsism is not the case must be assumed in order for us to be able to reason about data we learn from experience.

    [ Parent ]
    Crutches are temporary, walk on your own someday (none / 2) (#29)
    by felixrayman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:48:20 AM EST

    Some atheists characterise this as a "psychological crutch" for people who can't take the universe at face value, but this is clearly no more correct than characterising a car as a physical crutch for people who can't walk.

    The difference being of course that we are not talking about people who can't walk, we are talking about people who can walk without crutches and choose not to because it is easier not to. That's their choice, I'm fine allowing them to do that, but it is in fact weak and lazy.

    It is not easy to live life with your eyes wide open, don't expect people who do so to be kind to the cowards.

    Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

    [ Parent ]
    Beliefs are complex things (none / 2) (#68)
    by cabbage on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:16:09 AM EST

    The difference being of course that we are not talking about people who can't walk, we are talking about people who can walk without crutches and choose not to because it is easier not to. That's their choice, I'm fine allowing them to do that, but it is in fact weak and lazy.

    I think there are several things to say to that, but I'd be here all day, so:

    I don't accept that religious belief necessarily constitutes being weak and lazy. Translating religious belief into practical action and making the right choices can be very hard work - but it depends on the individual. For some people, it is easier to accept a "pointless" universe without a god. For some it is easier to accept the existence of god. Some people intrinsically feel one way or the other.

    Is it surprising that we are good at constructing ways to reject viewpoints we find difficult? However, I think it is almost too easy to "understand" Christianity through fire-and-brimstone creationism, just as one can "understand" atheism through amoral nihilism.

    A sceptical view would probably reject such simplistic characterisations. We have not all reached a stage where eveything we perceive and feel is amenable to being made concrete and described. For some people, their experience of god is not something they understand and they approach it in a mode of sceptical inquiry - some people's understanding of quantum mechanics is the same.

    You could say that it is all just an artefact of the mind, but a) is there a basis for that assertion and b) does it really matter if religious belief is all just mental noise?

    Sorry for rambling. Not all of these points are addressed to the parent.



    [ Parent ]
    On the relative ease of religion (none / 2) (#74)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:14:39 AM EST

    The difference being of course that we are not talking about people who can't walk, we are talking about people who can walk without crutches and choose not to because it is easier not to.

    Cabbage did a good point of addressing many of the issues raised by this, and I won't repeat them. There is one thing I'd like to comment on, though.

    We're not talking about a disability here. We're talking about doing what works for you. Driving a car is easier than walking places, that's why people do it. Has it made people weak and lazy? Possibly; obesity is on the rise in many places in the developed world. Even if I was the fittest person in the world, a car will take me further in a short time than my legs alone ever would.

    Another analogy might be to compare religious beliefs with political beliefs. Joining a political party may well be the easy way out for some people, saving them from thinking up their own beliefs. However, many (most?) members of political parties do have their own beliefs which are not identical with the "party line"; they just feel they might be more effective as part of a group.

    Oh, another random thought. Did you consider that religious people might be doing the world a favour by not allowing a memetic monoculture to form?


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    I agree with, but... (none / 2) (#148)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:09:11 PM EST

    I agree with you a great deal, except for this part of your comparison:

    You likened science to religion because they both produce "useful" results. Your other points about science cannot be matched by religion, in my opinion.

    I don't except personal experience as evidence - perhaps this is where we really disagree.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Right (none / 1) (#205)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:55:14 PM EST

    See, personal experience is the only possible evidence for acceptance or rejection of a "way of life". That, and, I suppose, examining how its followers contribute to society. As the Christian sacred text says, "by your fruits will you be known".

    As I've previously noted, people in the USA are possibly spoiled by having a large social and political movement based around conservative Christanity. I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that the USA is, on the whole, a conservative country, and the religion feeds off that. If this is true (and I don't know if it is or not), then the inhibiting of progress in the USA with respect to, say, abortion, gay rights or stem cell research, can be interpreted more correctly as conservativism in general rather than conservative Christianity in particular.

    In the rest of the developed world, this kind of conservative religious movement is almost unheard of. Abortion, for example, isn't a big deal here in Australia. Yes, it's an issue, but it's no more an issue than treatment of the mentally ill or immunisation.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    On second thoughts... (none / 0) (#207)
    by Pseudonym on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:02:56 PM EST

    I said I didn't know much about the US. I was right. :-)

    The US isn't really a conservative nation. Rather, it's a land of extremes, and in a land of 250 million people, even 1% of them is well beyond a critical mass.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    bad fruit (none / 0) (#252)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:34:24 AM EST

    I generaly don't like the fruits produced by American Christians ;)

    Maybe the Down-under variety are sweeter, I don't know...

    You guys came up with Farscape, so anything is possible down there I guess! ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    I think this article is very poorly thought out (2.63 / 11) (#25)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:43:27 AM EST

    First, it doesn't treat agnosticism very fairly at all. For example, the classical agnostic stance as stated by Huxley is not treated at all. Classical agnosticism doesn't claim to keep an open mind on the question at all. Rather it is a very strong statement about the nature of reality, that if a supernatural realm does exist, we have no way of knowing (in any meaningful sense of the word) anything about it. The stereotype of the wishy-washy and/or apathetic agnostic is a strawman and easily burnt down. Consider that agnosticism is but one of the many forms of weak atheism. Weak atheism, at its core, is nothing more than lacking belief in the assertion 'God exists'. (Note that lacking belief is a form of belief in and of itself.) The other family of atheistic beliefs is strong atheism, the belief in the statement 'God does not exist.'

    Second, it doesn't treat Christianity fairly. All Christian beliefs are lumped into one category regardless of the fact that many different Christian schools believe many different things about God. For example, the classic argument from hell is devestating to many different forms of Christianity but utterly fails against those forms that teach necessary universalism and is very weak against those forms that allow for the possibility of universalism. It seems to me that modern North American Evangelical Protestantantism is being made out to be the only type of Christianity despite the fact that such is the new kid on the block.

    Third, it doesn't treat the Bible fairly. An example of this is that allegorical interpretation of the Bible is thrown out altogether regardless of the fact that most of the allegories in the Bible have been interpretted in the same fashion for thousands of years. We might as well throw out most of the works of Plato as not having any real meaning because most of his ideas are communicated by metaphors and allegories.

    Another shortfall is that terms are used in a way that are inconsistent with meaningful dialogue. For example the assertion that atheism isn't a belief for the author. This is more than a mere semantic quibble. One cannot, by definition, be an atheist if one doesn't believe in atheism. I suspect that this problematic language has its roots in the false faith/reason dichotomy of the Rennaisance and the Enlightment that holds faith in opposition to reason.

    Lastly, the title of this piece, Atheists are Open-Minded. is demonstrably false. Any clear thinking person that has taken an introductory course in logic can demolish it with a single counter-example. Perhaps a better title would be something along the lines of Confessions of an Open-Minded Atheist. I have no quibble with the assertion that some atheists are open-minded, but I only need to point to the existence of the likes of Madeline Murray O'Hare to disprove the categorical statement that atheists are open-minded.

    you make some good points, (none / 3) (#159)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:29:22 PM EST

    But it almost seems as if you are trying to fit my piece into your notion of text book philosophy and definitions.

    First, I thought I made it clear that I wasn't attacking all agnostics. The agnostic behind my motivation for this piece is real. I know that he represents a class of agnostics. This might not fit the text book definition of an agnostic, but it does fit the real world and my personal encounters over the years during debate and discussion. It wasn't my intention to treat agnostics fairly, nor to offend theists, as others posting here seem to think. My intention was to show that this type of agnostic treats those that fit into my category unfairly. As for "weak atheist" or "strong atheist" - shall I use percentages - am I for or against agnostics leaning towards theism 60%? I don't think I need bother, if it's all the same.

    I completely disagree with your second and third point. Without the Bible, what does Christianity have at the back-end of it's belief system? The most popular case, the case that takes a loose interpretation, covers most Christians in the world today. Given only the Bible, perhaps you can show me a system of determining what is metaphor and what is literal, without using circular logic?

    As for your Plato comparison, if Plato had made any supernatural claims, I wouldn't believe them either - but this need not invalidate any other value we can draw from his works. Some think we can draw ethics or other inspirations from the Bible - I don't think so myself, but that's just my opinion.

    However, that wasn't my point. Nothing in the Bible, nor in the works of Plato, is evidence for God or any gods. If I agree that honoring my parents is a good thing, this doesn't suggest God. If it's riddled with metaphor and stretched and reinterpreted, than I have no definitive base - no method to differentiate between fact and fiction, as it were, regardless if the metaphor has philosophical meaning to me or anyone else. To my thinking, then, I can not be sure of any of God's properties, since they also originate from the Bible. That was my only point.

    I also tried to specifically say, "for this argument", did I not? I wasn't suggesting that my little piece was going to be the end-all argument for what I consider the non-truth of the Bible. I was trying to present a very specific point about attributes. I've already considered the Bible and have tossed it, so to speak, but I felt I needed to show why - had I just said that I tossed it I'm sure this piece would have already been dumped.

    Lastly, please provide me with this obvious counter example as to why atheists are not open minded, keeping in mind, of course, that "open minded" is a subjective term. My whole piece tried to show that atheists can be open minded and I think I've done that. It's not about whether or not God exists, it's about whether I can say he doesn't exist and be non-dogmatic while doing so.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    dogmatics, Christian history, reasonableness, etc. (none / 2) (#173)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:46:27 PM EST

    it almost seems as if you are trying to fit my piece into your notion of text book philosophy and definitions
    I'm trying to to fit your piece into meaningful language.
    First, I thought I made it clear that I wasn't attacking all agnostics.
    Your tendency to use sweeping generalities certainly blurs your intended message. Where did you define Mr. Agnostic as a specific breed of atheists and where did you point out that many other breeds of atheists exist and that your argument is not pointed at them?
    The agnostic behind my motivation for this piece is real. I know that he represents a class of agnostics. This might not fit the text book definition of an agnostic, but it does fit the real world and my personal encounters over the years during debate and discussion.
    Sure, some people are out there like that. But it is still better to be clear about one's language so that readers of your article know without a doubt that it only applies to a specific subset of agnostics.
    Without the Bible, what does Christianity have at the back-end of it's belief system?
    Given that the Christian Church existed before the Christian Bible, I think it self-evident that the Bible does not make up the back-end of the Christian belief system. The very name "Christian" implies just what it is that Christianity is based on, the person of Jesus Christ. In all of your questions and statements you are begging the question of whether or not Christianity would exist without the Bible. History shows that the Christian Church did exist without the Bible for many years.
    The most popular case, the case that takes a loose interpretation, covers most Christians in the world today.
    I have no idea what you mean by that and given that you seem to be very out of touch with what most Christians in the world believe, I doubt very much that you can speak for most Christians in the world today. Without looking up the answer, do you know what the largest sects of Christians in the world are and understand what those sects believe about the Bible?
    Given only the Bible, perhaps you can show me a system of determining what is metaphor and what is literal, without using circular logic?
    Given that the vast, vast majority of Christians do not hold the the Bible as the sole source of doctrine, why should I only use the Bible to determine which portions of the Bible are metaphor and which are also literal? Remember my earlier point that the Christian Church preceded the Bible. If you like, I can show citations from Christian literature from antiquity up to the present as to how to interpret the Bible and how to discern that which is meant to be taken literally and that which is meant to be taken as an allegory or metaphor. (Although I am willing to provide this, I will advise that it will take several days to compile such a response. Two thousand years of Christian history is quite a span of time.)
    As for your Plato comparison, if Plato had made any supernatural claims, I wouldn't believe them either - but this need not invalidate any other value we can draw from his works.
    I think you just denied that Plato has very much value at all. Most of Plato's writings are on questions of metaphysics. Are you familiar with Plato at all?
    I also tried to specifically say, "for this argument", did I not? I wasn't suggesting that my little piece was going to be the end-all argument for what I consider the non-truth of the Bible. I was trying to present a very specific point about attributes. I've already considered the Bible and have tossed it, so to speak, but I felt I needed to show why - had I just said that I tossed it I'm sure this piece would have already been dumped.
    But my complaint is that you fail to understand both the Bible and the fashion in which most Christians have interpretted it for the past two thousand years. And by doing so, you treat the Bible unfairly in your discussion. Now, if you want to specifically state that your arguments only apply to a plurality of North American Evangelical Protestants, that's fine. But you did not qualify your argument so. Instead you assumed that North American Evangelical Protestant theology is representative of all of Christianity for all time. Even a cursory read of Christian history will demonstrate that this is not the case.
    Lastly, please provide me with this obvious counter example as to why atheists are not open minded, keeping in mind, of course, that "open minded" is a subjective term
    I think you misread what I wrote. I was very clear in my response, but let me lay it out again to make it crystal clear. (1) Madeleine Murray O'Hare was an atheist.
    (2) Madeleine Murray O'Hare was not open minded.
    .: (3) At least one atheist is not open minded.
    .: (4) Not all atheists are open minded.

    Perhaps you missed it when I stated that I had no quibble to the assertion that some atheists are open-minded.

    My whole piece tried to show that atheists can be open minded and I think I've done that.
    Actually, all you've done is demonstrate that some atheists know very little about atheism, agnosticism, Christianity and the Bible. To be fair, the same can be said for many theists.
    It's not about whether or not God exists, it's about whether I can say he doesn't exist and be non-dogmatic while doing so.
    But you have been dogmatic in doing so. ;)

    But such is irrelevant, my point wasn't to discuss whether you've been dogmatic or not. My point was to illustrate that (1) your reasoning is very poor and (2) you don't understand the topic you are discussing very well. (With regards to the latter point, logic governs form and not content. It tells us that if our premises are sound that our conclusions necessarily follow. If our premises are not sound, then the truth of our conclusion is unknown. As you make many errors in your premises concerning Christianity and the Bible, whether or not your rejection of such is sound is unknown.)

    There are quite a few atheists that have reasoned to conclusions very similar to yours in a very reasonable fashion. I may disagree with them, but I do understand why they arrived at their conclusions and I'll admit that they are neither dogmatic nor unreasonable.

    [ Parent ]

    Catholocism? (none / 1) (#268)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:18:57 AM EST

    I thought I was quite clear about which group of agnostics I was referring too. In the future, if I post another piece, I will try and narrow the field a bit, though that would also narrow the discussion and such, making it less interesting.

    As for your comments about the the Bible, my method could apply as well to the oral history of the Aborigines. However, we both know that we had the Old Testament during the time you speak of. As well, I'm told, the New-Testament stories were already in written form and selectively included, sometimes by committee. Now, I don't think modern Christians use these committee notes as a source for attributes for God, I rather think they use the Bible. As for that time, if the Bible was different then, than we have different attributes. I could chop what they did have at the time equally well into my two categories, and use the same procedure and the same arguments, the same as I could for the Koran. I really don't see your point as a good one, or a valid criticism.

    As for alternate doctrines, if you are referring to any Catholic "stuff", than please provide that stuff. It if involves miracles, please provide the evidence. Since Catholics have a metaphorical view of the Bible, I'd assume that they have a metaphorical view of these "other" doctrines as well, which would then allow me to use almost the same argument and toss it as valid attribute-provider.

    I am slightly familiar with Plato. My point is, however, that if I or anyone else can draw meaning from one of his works, that doesn't reflect on the accurateness of anything he wrote down - this is in comparison with the Bible, of course.

    Finally, my point wasn't to "toss" the Bible. It's not the end-all argument for what I consider an unreliable source. But I did have to show how and why I came to some of my conclusions. The accuracy of the Bible is not the central theme of my piece.

    Do you have any criticisms about the point of the piece itself?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Catholocism? (none / 0) (#270)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:19:29 AM EST

    I thought I was quite clear about which group of agnostics I was referring too. In the future, if I post another piece, I will try and narrow the field a bit, though that would also narrow the discussion and such, making it less interesting.

    As for your comments about the the Bible, my method could apply as well to the oral history of the Aborigines. However, we both know that we had the Old Testament during the time you speak of. As well, I'm told, the New-Testament stories were already in written form and selectively included, sometimes by committee. Now, I don't think modern Christians use these committee notes as a source for attributes for God, I rather think they use the Bible. As for that time, if the Bible was different then, than we have different attributes. I could chop what they did have at the time equally well into my two categories, and use the same procedure and the same arguments, the same as I could for the Koran. I really don't see your point as a good one, or a valid criticism.

    As for alternate doctrines, if you are referring to any Catholic "stuff", than please provide that stuff. It if involves miracles, please provide the evidence. Since Catholics have a metaphorical view of the Bible, I'd assume that they have a metaphorical view of these "other" doctrines as well, which would then allow me to use almost the same argument and toss it as valid attribute-provider.

    I am slightly familiar with Plato. My point is, however, that if I or anyone else can draw meaning from one of his works, that doesn't reflect on the accurateness of anything he wrote down - this is in comparison with the Bible, of course.

    Finally, my point wasn't to "toss" the Bible. It's not the end-all argument for what I consider an unreliable source. But I did have to show how and why I came to some of my conclusions. The accuracy of the Bible is not the central theme of my piece.

    Do you have any criticisms about the point of the piece itself?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Not just Catholicism (none / 3) (#275)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:35:42 AM EST

    Aside from the Catholic Churches (which number far more than just the Roman Catholic Church), some of the Churches that do not hold to the Bible as the sole source of doctrine are:
    1. The Eastern Orthodox Churches
    2. The non-Chalcedonian Churches of the east
    3. The Assyrian Church of the east
    4. A good number of the Anglican Communion (those that consider themselves Anglo-Catholic)
    5. Some of the older Lutheran Churches, especially those in Russia.
    I don't know the exact numbers, but when you combine all of these various traditions, I'm pretty certain that over 2/3 of all Christians are accounted for.

    Concerning Plato, you said My point is, however, that if I or anyone else can draw meaning from one of his works, that doesn't reflect on the accurateness of anything he wrote down .

    I am entirely confused by what you are saying. Plato used metaphors and allegories to precisely communicate many metaphysical points. Likewise, the Christian Bible (especially the Old Testament) was authored to precisely communicate many metaphysical points. That these points are expressed by way of metaphor and allegory in no way makes such works unreliable.

    You also claim that Finally, my point wasn't to "toss" the Bible. But in fact, your point was precisely that. First you dogmatically state that the Bible is the only possible source of Christian doctrines and then you dogmatically toss the Bible out the window, then you "reasonably" conclude that there is no evidence for the existence of God.

    That is not very open minded at all.

    Do you have any criticisms about the point of the piece itself?
    Yeah, it's very sloppy in its terminology, uses irrational assertions about Christianity, unfairly portrays agnosticism, and it is impossible to derive a valid logical argument from it meaning that the conclusions do not necessarily follow from the premises so that even if all of your assertions were correct, it would still be unknown as to whether your conclusion is correct or not.

    [ Parent ]
    Examples of logical errors (none / 1) (#323)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:21:49 PM EST

    I'm a skeptic and therefore, an atheist.
    Non-sequitor. Skepticism does not necessarily entail atheism.
    I will say that thus far, there is no evidence for aliens. I might word it this way, "aliens don't exist".
    Equivocalism. The assertions "aliens don't exist" and "thus far, there is no evidence for aliens" are nowhere near equivalent in meaning.
    Likewise, I can say, "God doesn't exist". There is no evidence to support such a claim.
    Begging the question/argument from authority/strawman. The only support you've offered for their being no evidence for the existence of God is a quote from Asimov and the strawman about all Christian doctrine being drawn from the Bible.

    More logical errors abound.

    [ Parent ]

    Good god in heaven. (joking! ^_^) [LONG!] (2.85 / 20) (#42)
    by Kasreyn on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:12:15 AM EST

    I just finished reading up on the history of the O.T.O. and its links to Scientology and Masonry, and I sign on k5 and see this right while I'm in the mood. Thank you, sir!

    First off the bat: I consider myself an agnostic, humanist, and freethinker, though the latter two groups have never actually heard of me. I claim membership by like ideals. :-P I was raised R.C. Christian, baptised under Saint Christopher (Thomas would have been more appropriate, but he's ill-omened for christenings... ;-), and confirmed likewise. Two years after my confirmation, I made the conscious decision to stop pretending in something which, if I had ever truly believed in, I had ceased so long before that I couldn't remember what it was like. For a time I was an atheist, until I came to believe that that was equally incorrect. More on that later.

    As for extraordinary claims: sez who? Define "extraordinary". I, for one, consider the idea of that small, bright light in the sky being a 5-billion-year-old flaming ball of gas 92 million miles away in space to be quite extraordinary - but most people, including me, accept it as fact. Where do you draw your line, and how can you prove that you are doing so in a detached and objective manner? (Rather than, say, defining those things which you have already decided to disbelieve as "extraordinary"?)

    As to ruling out: That wouldn't mean you're agnostic, merely a weak atheist. An old friend of mine is what I call a "strong" atheist. Weak and strong are here used in terms of strength of belief in the nonexistence of god. She is utterly convinced that there is no god, and is quite close-minded about it. She is one of those people that make agnostics roll their eyes and shrug. :-P

    Likewise, I can say, "God doesn't exist". There is no evidence to support such a claim.

    I must take the strict agnostic position here: When lacking sufficient evidence to support a claim, all one can say is "I do not know". I know what a tired old horse this is and how often it gets beaten, but I feel I must get out my whompin' pole: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! Lack of evidence for the existence of god does not prove his nonexistence, it merely fails to prove a different proposition entirely, the proposition that he exists.

    Also, probabilities are only used for guesswork and hit-or-miss shit. They have no place in a logical proof of a proposition, thus the probability of god's existence is irrelevant; only the facts matter. 2 million years and counting, no facts yet that I'm aware of...

    Burden of proof is an interesting concept to bring into this, and I'm glad you did. I agree that the burden of proof for the existence of god is upon the believers in that notion. However, I further submit that the burden of proof for, not the assumption, but the outspoken proposition of god's certain nonexistence, is also on the proposer. Which, as you pointed out, is garbage: you can't prove a negative.

    In which case, why did you post this story in the first place? "God does not exist" (the atom of the "strong" atheist viewpoint) is clearly a negative proposition.

    But it's just as silly to use English grammar and turn every statement around, form a negative, and expect the person hearing the claim to provide the negative-proof! The person making the claim must provide evidence and/or proof, as the situation demands, rather than using grammar to turn their claim around and throw it back at the listener.

    Good point, and well taken. However, you're assuming that all unproven propositions are false until proven true. This is incorrect. All unproven propositions are just that - unproven propositions - until proven one way or the other, false or true. I haven't taken an accredited course in Logic nor am I a logician, but I feel this is the position I and other agnostics are forced to take: all propositions are in a neutral state until evidence and proof cause them to be revealed as true or false (which, of course, they were all along - the neutral state is merely notional). I'm sure that someone who has actually taken a course in logic is even now scrabbling for their flamethrower.

    Mr. Agnostic, is there anything at all that you do not believe in? No? Do you think that anything and everything is possible? What about the notion of a paradox, Mr. Agnostic? Do you accept the notion of a paradox? Do paradoxes, which are illogical by definition, not raise any red flags that you just might have found something that is not believable?

    I will step into the role of Mr. Agnostic here to answer your questions.

    Is there anything at all I do not believe in? Yes, the supernatural, in all its forms. Its opposite, the natural, I do believe in. However, I do not consider my disbelief in the supernatural to be its destruction. While some may believe that every time you say "I do not believe in fairies" you are performing remote fairicide, I do not. It has not been proven to me that the supernatural world requires belief for its continued existence, therefore I assume neutrally that it is belief-independant like all other phenomena I am aware of. Thus, my disbelief in it does not necessarily mean the supernatural does not exist; I could very well be wrong, and there may be a thriving supernatural world all around my unsuspecting ass.

    Do I think that anything and everything is possible? This depends on your definition of "possible". I prefer to think in terms of "probable." I base my belief of the possibility of propositions based on how they affect and are affected by the existing structure of the universe as I am given to understand it. If they fly in the face of too much other evidence, they are considered improbable, and vice versa. However, once direct evidence for or against a proposition is obtained, it leaves the realm of probability and a decision on its correctness is made. Since I don't HAVE evidence for "anything and everything", I don't feel I can answer this question.

    Do I accept the notion of a paradox? Again, I am assuming I can guess what you mean by a term that, like all these others, has been muddied by hundreds of writers, mystics, and quacks. My conception of a paradox is a logical inconsistency within the universe, such as having two galaxies with different values for the gravitational constant - or opening the box and finding Schroedinger's Cat neither dead nor alive but MIA! I will not say I do not believe in paradoxes: in fact, I specifically deny their possibility. I am firmly convinced that the universe is ordered in a rational and self-consistent manner, which has been borne out countless times by direct evidence I have witnessed, and mathematical evidence that has been explained to me during my education. You might call it faith that I feel there can be no paradoxes; I call it certainty due to a great preponderance of evidence, such as the facts that I have never knowingly witnessed a paradox in the universe, and have witnessed a great deal of serene order. Until I receive some rather startling evidence for the existence of a paradox, I will continue to believe they do not exist (note: this is different than your disbelief in god, because in my opinion the opposite of the paradoxes I disbelieve in, namely an ordered universe, has been amply proven to my mind), and that while I may not fully grasp the order of the universe, my limited understanding does not preclude my belief that such an order exists.

    Surely there is some standard! For example, currently, people walk and lack the ability to fly like birds. How do we determine that people cannot fly? Is a lack of wings evidence? Are we really being clever by procaliming that anything is possible, or just naive?

    Logically, we do not cannot know that people "cannot fly". (Note: I am not going to take the childish route of insisting that you differentiate between natural flight and assisted flight. I know what you mean.) All we know is that no human has yet proven he has the ability to fly. It is extremely improbable that it may happen now with all the time that has passed without evidence of it; yet from a logical standpoint, it must be considered possible, at whatever ridiculously low percentage of chance. The fact that humans live their lives with a comfortable belief that none of them can fly matters not a whit to logical thought; the jury is perforce still out on the proposition "man can fly." Our everyday belief that we cannot is merely one of the filters we apply to our thoughts and perceptions in order to make everyday life possible. It is a useful fiction which the common man accepts, because logic is alien to his mind. The same can be said of any negative proposition commonly believed, such as "humans cannot breathe water", or "dead humans never return to life". We assume these as true because they have never happened yet despite ample opportunity - and for the sake of our sanity. It would be rather hard to live if we reminded ourself every time someone died, that it was possible, if only infinitesimally probable, that he might come back. We would merely torture ourselves and never find time to live in the now. Thus, the fiction: belief in negatives. I submit that your disbelief in god is a deeper and more conscious version of this: it allows you to live your life, and so it is useful. Nevertheless, logically, a fiction.

    As to our being clever or naive: we are neither, we are merely applying logic, which could care less about cleverness or naivete. (sic; don't know ASCII for accent marks in HTML) If we apply logic properly, we neither gain credit for being clever, nor deserve scorn for being naive; applying logic is merely a process, which if done correctly, always brings about the same result. It's like a machine that way, only more perfect than any human-made machine: it does the exact same thing 100% of the time. If two people both apply logic correctly to the same evidence, and are both willing and able to face facts and not delude themselves, they MUST arrive at the same conclusion.

    Mr. Agnostic is following as well, "how can you be a closed minded atheist? God could live in an alternate universe, ya idiot!."

    I've never met an agnostic who claimed this, but I'll take your word for it... I don't see why an agnostic would need to come up with something fanciful like this! To me, it seems perfectly possible that god could be sitting on your nose right this very instant. If he has the powers of omnipotence ascribed to him, he'd certainly be able to exist in this universe and avoid having a scrap of evidence fall into your hands! If he wanted, he could appear to you, sucker-punch you in the gut, fuck your mother in your bed, and then wipe your memory of it all. Maybe he just now did. :-P The point is, none of it matters because "omnipotence" is the ultimate gimme trick in this debate. Nothing you can say or do logically can beat it, so don't even try.

    A lack of understanding isn't evidence for the supernatural. And while I cannot disprove that a family of hippos doesn't live in the bottom of super strong gravity wells, does it make me close minded to say, "Based on the evidence thus far, I do not believe that hippos live in the bottom of super strong gravity wells."?

    This is all quite correct, and you are well within your "rights" logically to disbelieve this proposition. In fact, I disbelieve in it as well (but I congratulate you on its novelty!). However, your atheism is taking it a step further: "There ARE NO hippos living in the bottom of super strong gravity wells". This is unsupported and, logically, bullshit - you've never been down there, so how can you know?? However, the useful fiction is that they don't exist.

    An atheist cannot prove that God doesn't exist [therefore, he might].

    Not quite fully stated. Agnostics believe NO ONE can prove the nonexistence of ANYTHING - including atheists, but if a Christian decided to try and disprove it, he would fail for the exact same reasons. A minor point, but I felt I had to nit.

    When most agnostics in my experience mention God, they use a capital G and mean the Christian God

    Odd. I certainly do not use a capital g when referring to the Christian god. (I capitalise Christian because it is the proper name of something which I believe exists - a religious organization / culture / belief system). I do not capitalize god because you will not find it capitalized in the dictionary if it is a proper dictionary. The reason most capitalize it is the religious tradition (and quite a well-meaning and noble one, I believe!) of respecting the name of a deity by capitalizing it. Since I do not believe in god, I feel it would be inappropriate and quite foolish for me to take part in this ritual.

    I throw out the non-literal view for this particular argument because there is no definitive way to determine how much we want to say is metaphor and how much is literal.

    Congrats, you're one of the few I've ever known who realized this. Of course, IMO this specifically allows that the Bible can be destroyed by its self-inconsistencies. :-P

    As for a literal interpretation, thus far, it's evident that the Bible is wholly inaccurate vs. history and science.

    Congrats again and thank you for not wasting time on needless Bible-bashing. Common knowledge; moving right along...

    So, as an atheist, I can quite confidently say that God, capital G, does not exist (at least not in the manner in which he is described in the Bible)

    God with a capital G does indeed seem to be hoist by his own petard. The biblical evidence which would support this proposition, also destroys it. However, as you noted, this does not mean that god can't exist in some other form, which was perhaps only partially or incorrectly detailed in the Bible. It is even possible that he exists in exactly the form detailed in the Bible, and deliberately lied to his believers to introduce inconsistencies in the work. This is giving theists a very generous unproven proposition (that god was described improperly, thus explaining away biblical inconsistencies), but I allow it because the entire thing resolves to nothing logically anyway! :-P It merely allows me to speak of these things with the religious without actually calling them deluded to their faces. (With the exception of fundamentalists, who allow me no alternative)

    I would say that first you must define your extraordinary claim in some fashion. Merely referring to some vague god-concept is not enough.

    Agreed. I would define the proposition jointly shared by all theists to be: "that there is, are, or were, singular or multiple, force(s), being(s), object(s), process(es), or other logical entity(ies) which exist without conforming to the order by which the universe exists; that they do not destroy or disprove that order but coexist with it somehow; and that these entity(ies) may exist or behave in ways that cannot be supported or proven empirically by known methods." I know that's full of weasel words and vague language, but dammit, "supernatural" covers a LOT of ground. ^_^;; Or, more simply, "Zero could be equal to one." :-p And just about as garbage, until you find a situation where zero equals one.

    Being a skeptic, I rely on the evidence I don't always require proof, but I do need something more than a possibility! Right now, there isn't any for God (capital G), so I don't believe. There isn't any for the IPU, so I don't believe. There isn't any for a race of large green Smurfs living in an alternative universe, so I don't believe. Saying that all of these might be in some way possible is not enough for me to believe.

    And quite right you are. Probabilities shouldn't really be considered logically. They can be used to get by until you have proof - they're better than nothing. But they are trumped by fact.

    Thinking in this skeptical manner isn't closed minded or dogmatic, it's a rational and logical way to observe and try to understand reality. It's the best method we have, in my opinion. This is the kind of skeptical atheist that I am.

    I applaud your skepticism, however, I think you have failed to properly apply it to your own beliefs, most particularly your belief that the claim of god's existence is "extraordinary".

    Let me add also, that typically, I have no issue with agnostics, but rather, it's some agnostics which have issues with me..

    Then let me add that I am certainly not among them; though I feel you're not following the logic here to its conclusion, I can see your viewpoint, and I'm sure we're each happiest as we are. :-)

    I also understand that for some, evidence is not required at all for belief. This way of thinking is alien to me, (it seems self-evident that evidence is needed to determine fact from fiction), however, I understand that this category includes many, not all of which are theists!

    I agree with you, it's alien to me as well. However, I feel that evidence is required for negative belief as well: the conviction of nonexistence. You see, I see a distinction between "disbelief" and "negative belief" (I'm sure there's a more proper term, but I don't know it, so I have chosen what seems appropriate). You have been using the word "disbelief" interchangeably to mean either of these at need, which leads me to believe you either don't know or care about this distinction. Simply put, disbelief in something is nothing but the lack of a positive belief in that proposition, whereas negative belief is the ACTIVE belief in that proposition's falseness - the former, a shrug of the shoulders, the latter, a deliberate denial.

    Having said that, even though I can't disprove general god-concepts, or black-hole hippos, I am not dogmatic for disbelieving them based on the information I have right now.

    I am an open minded, skeptical, atheist. The universe is full of possibilities.


    You, sir, are an agnostic and refuse to admit it. You express disbelief, but not negative belief or denial. Welcome to the club (such as it is, or rather, isn't)... you'll accept it after a time, as I did. ;-)


    -Kasreyn

    ex-Christian
    ex-atheist
    agnostic, humanist, freethinker


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    well said (1.60 / 5) (#55)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:02:59 AM EST

    Tell me, what specifically disturbed you about the Bible?

    Also, was there a point that you 'lost' your faith, or was it more like... 'never was there'.

    Very curious.  Again, well said.

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    Replies - Biblical Inconsistencies Galore! (2.85 / 7) (#62)
    by Kasreyn on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:40:06 AM EST

    Hi saintport,

    What disturbs me most about the Bible is the inconsistency between the god of the Old Testament and the god of the New Testament, which Christians believe to be both part of a single, uniformly correct work! They also believe god is uniformly loving throughout both. WRONG.

    The Old Testament god is a real hellion. He creates beings with curiosity, then punishes them for it (the fruit of knowledge). He's omniscient, yet he created lucifer with the flaw of pride. He is all loving, but he annihilates 99% of humanity on the Earth, even down to helpless babies, in the Deluge - only Noah and a random bunch of people who *happen to be* related to him are saved. He willingly tortures his most faithful servant, Job, at the bequest of Satan, showing that god himself has the flaw of pride - he even gives Job's family and servants, innocents, into Satan's hands to be killed, just to prove a point! His servant Lot offers up a virgin girl to a mob of men to be raped, so the men will not attempt homosexual intercourse with a couple of "men" (sometimes assumed to be angels) visiting him - and is never punished by god for being an accessory to rape! Lot's wife is slain for the same in-built flaw of curiosity as she looks back towards Sodom. Abraham is cruelly tested when god commands him to slay his own son - what loving deity would cause his most devoted servant such heartache and misery, would turn him into a filicide in all but deed? What about the slaves and hebrews slain instantly for the "sin" of looking at the ark of the covenant - again, natural curiosity is punished with death by the creator of curiosity! What about the thousands of innocent Egyptian firstborn sons slain on Passover due to the "heart of stone" of the Pharaoh - and what of the fact that the Bible implies that god himself turned Pharaoh's heart to stone - engineering the excuse for Passover!

    NONE of this is consistent with a loving god, thus the Old Testament god is anything but loving! He is jealous, vindictive, petty, near-sighted, and extremely vain.

    The New Testament god reads like he was written by a totally different guy (or four totally different guys)... Represented by Jesus, he's suddenly become a pacifist! He rescues adulterers from their lawful death by stoning, throws the moneychangers out of the temple (a traditional place), mocks the pharisees, and disrespects the Romans. He's an ancient Hippie! Eventually he makes the ultimate sacrifice for humanity, whereas the Old Testament god regularly made humanity make ultimate sacrifices to HIM! A total reversal of policy. Even so, the New Testament has some self-inconsistencies, like "Peace be unto you" and "I come not to bring peace but a sword", etc., etc. ad nauseum.

    As for "losing" my faith, I don't really know. As I said, by the time I was certain that I did not believe, it had been such a LONG time since I had (I think?) believed, that I couldn't clearly remember it. It took about 8 years for the process of disillusionment to run its course, and by the end of it, my memories of the previous periods of my life were too vague to rely on.

    I assume I never truly believed in god, though I'm not certain.

    Thank you for your compliment. I think that was the longest comment I've ever written at k5. I was pretty nervous when I hit post. ^_^;;


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Thanks for the quick reply... (none / 3) (#67)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:13:52 AM EST

    I know what you mean about 'post' reluctance...

    You have obviously given alot of thought to this and I greatly respect your ideas. Too many of my fellow believers cannot be bothered to wonder over these troubling matters.

    If I did not have faith that He will make all wrongs right in eternity I would feel a fool to trust this God.  He seems to move in cruel ways.

    I happened to read Disappointment with God  by Philip Yancey, before I was mature enough to worry much about these things. I hope that the Bible would have revealed the same truths to me eventually that this book did directly.

    Mr. Yancey suggests a God that learns mankind as mankind learns God. Over time, God changes His approach in dealing with men, always failing to reach the relationship He desires. Finally, He becomes a man... using Jesus as a bridge for His communion with us. Whether this model is an illusion for our benefit or the actual position God has placed Himself in is an exercise for the reader. I do recommend the book as well as anything else by Yancey.

    I suppose that this book began my thinking of God as a Farmer, and mankind as His crop. My roses may resent being pruned and disbudded, but my joy is in seeing them bloom in all the glory they can display.

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    It's on The List. :-) (2.50 / 4) (#80)
    by Kasreyn on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:01:04 AM EST

    Thank YOU for being open-minded, a refreshing change from the wave of fundamentalism sweeping this nation today.

    What's more, I respect your beliefs, and in many ways, envy them. I envy the serenity your faith can give you - the certainty that a loving father awaits you with open arms, that all this madness and pain has a noble purpose in the end. But somehow, I finally decided I couldn't stand for the flaws in the system, or maybe the earthly practicioners of it (priests and laymen) drove me away... In any case, I felt I was being intellectually dishonest to pretend a belief I didn't feel in my soul. Further, if god does exist, then I felt having a half-hearted fool pretending in his church was effrontery! It finally felt forced and fake (wow, alliteration on 6 hours of sleep in the past 72...), and I gave up on it because I realized I didn't actually believe any more. In any case, I parted with god (if you could call ceasing to believe in an entity "parting") on good terms, and I bear non-fundamentalist religion no ill will.

    In any case, hold onto your faith. It's a great gift, and once it's gone, it's nearly impossible to get it back. I envy you your peace of mind, though I don't think I can ever go back (and a small, terrified spot in my soul feels I couldn't be forgiven even if I wanted it - though that's immaterial). And most days, I'm happy as I am, just trying to live by the golden rule and be good to others... but at night alone, sometimes I wonder.

    If your god exists, may he bless you. Thanks, and good night for now.


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    wonderful (none / 0) (#219)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:12:00 PM EST

    I did Yancey a disservice by nutshelling his text the way I did. I appreciate you overlooking that.

    ...a refreshing change from the wave of fundamentalism sweeping this nation today.

    yeah, I get a bellyful pretty often.

    ...I respect your beliefs, and in many ways, envy them.... serenity your faith can give you - the certainty that a loving father awaits you with open arms, that all this madness and pain has a noble purpose in the end.

    Sir, this is the sweet Jesus peace that I hope to spread, well said.

    But somehow, I finally decided I couldn't stand for the flaws in the system, or maybe the earthly practicioners of it (priests and laymen) drove me away

    Yes, God took a huge risk with our destinys by letting humankind rep for him. Yancey adresses this as well.

    In any case, I felt I was being intellectually dishonest to pretend a belief I didn't feel in my soul. Further, if god does exist, then I felt having a half-hearted fool pretending in his church was effrontery! It finally felt forced and fake (wow, alliteration on 6 hours of sleep in the past 72...), and I gave up on it because I realized I didn't actually believe any more.

    I think a half-hearted-forced-fake faith is little better than none. God prefers we either be hot or cold. I think your present wilderness experience is part of the maturing of a great intellect.

    In any case, I parted with god (if you could call ceasing to believe in an entity "parting") on good terms, and I bear non-fundamentalist religion no ill will.

    I sometimes wonder if I am a fundie or not. I have no desire to control other people, yet I do support many fundie ideas to a degree. Once a sociology professor described a pendulum swinging from left to right. I agree that laws have been too right at times. I fear they are too left now. People comfortable with the left are afraid of a swing back. If it swings too far right, I'll be afraid too. Fundamentalism, as a word, means to me that the Scripture is taken literally. I take the Scripture literally, realizing much is allegorical.

    (and a small, terrified spot in my soul feels I couldn't be forgiven even if I wanted it - though that's immaterial)... at night alone, sometimes I wonder.

    Reminds of the idea of the Unbearable Lightness of Being... as opposed to the Unbearable Heaviness... that's the beauty of God's grace. He promises to cast our sins into the Sea of Forgetfulness. Consider Paul, the self-proclaimed Chief of Sinners, accuser and murderer of Christians, totally forgiven and lifted-up for history to revere.

    I feel myself leading to a big finish. I'll resist that out of respect for your mind.

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    fundamentalists (none / 1) (#556)
    by crayz on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 03:54:13 AM EST

    I think, if you really respect people's right to believe as they wish and make their own choices in life, you should leave religion out of politics.

    Fundamentalists are ultimately trying to take beliefs they get from religion and force them on people who have chosen otherwise. It limits freedom of conscience for everyone.

    [ Parent ]

    everyone (none / 0) (#585)
    by SaintPort on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:11:59 PM EST

    brings their set of beliefs into their politics. The secularist believes he is more objective than the religious, but his worldview is a belief system that can oppress the religious just as much as the religious can oppress the secular.

    Yes, we must have balance, but purely secular politics is unbalanced.

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    um.. (none / 1) (#609)
    by infinitera on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 06:01:40 PM EST

    Neutrality is not a battle but a lack of it.

    [ Parent ]
    and the student (none / 0) (#643)
    by SaintPort on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:56:06 PM EST

    was enlightend.

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]
    Read the bible again.. (none / 1) (#266)
    by sudog on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:11:14 AM EST

    None of these "matters" are troubling in the slightest if you read about five or ten passages of context surrounding them.

    That interpretation of God's behaviour doesn't really make much sense, but of course that fellow Yancey is certainly entitled to his opinion.

    That's a nice analogy about the roses, though. :-) Much the same thing happens with children--they need discipline, or they run wild.


    [ Parent ]

    What a superficial treatment! (none / 2) (#265)
    by sudog on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:07:45 AM EST

    You should have spoken to a theologist or someone who has formally studied the bible or made their life's work doing so. A priest, or a reverend..  or something who can explain the whole lesson/reasoning behind those tests and punishments, and you're also neglecting the whole reason why the shift in attitude happened at all from OT to NT. It's quite simple really: Jesus was born and died on the cross. It's only the most central belief that Christians have (and the reason they're called Christians,) and you missed how it relates to the shift in God's attitude completely.

    On to a point-by-point.

    "They also believe god is uniformly loving throughout both."

    Uh. No they don't--not by the definition of "loving" that you seem to be using. And your definition is superficial, by the way. "Loving" does not mean endlessly indulgent, perfectly attentive, and completely giving, especially since the relationship between God and man is that of a father to his children. Where's the discipline?

    "The Old Testament god is a real hellion. He creates beings with curiosity, then punishes them for it (the fruit of knowledge)."

    No he doesn't. He punishes them for disobedience. Besides that, the story does not connotate punishment. It is a symbol which means very simply that by eating the fruit of knowledge, Adam and Eve were no longer able to live in the perfect bliss of paradise, which is by analogy a physical representation of ignorance. Far from being something to aspire to return to, paradise can even be seen as a warning--that only through knowledge can we possibly see the truths of our existence.

    "He's omniscient, yet he created lucifer with the flaw of pride."

    This is simple. Lucifer was not a mistake, but a deliberate act. Didn't you read Paradise Lost? It's a good treatment of a way by which God remains omniscient and omnipotent. Lucifer is the tempter that God created specifically to both test and teach man about good and evil and the difference between the two. Lucifer's uprising didn't succeed, did it? Course not, that's why he's Down There. Duh.

    "He is all loving, but he annihilates 99% of humanity on the Earth, even down to helpless babies, in the Deluge - only Noah and a random bunch of people who *happen to be* related to him are saved."

    Why does the flood translate to something other than love? Humanity as a species was saved. Besides, punishment of the truly wicked is something that we humans do to our criminals. What, you think perfect love is somehow compromised when all he's doing is cleansing the earth to make way for the symbolic righteous--in this case Noah and his relatives? After all, the damned aren't completely destroyed--they're just removed from the planet.

    "He willingly tortures his most faithful servant, Job, at the bequest of Satan, showing that god himself has the flaw of pride - he even gives Job's family and servants, innocents, into Satan's hands to be killed, just to prove a point!"

    Is being killed by Satan when you were righteous and good such a horrible thing? All those people, by those same beliefs, are now up at God's feet, frolicking in heaven. You're mixing your own idea of evil with someone else's, pointing out the flaws, and thinking yourself clever for doing so..! He wasn't proving a point, he was preparing Job to be one of the most cherished and beloved creatures in biblical history and to show everyone who learned of Job that God still loves them even when it seems everyone and everyone else doesn't! Again..  duh. Read the poetry of John Donne: suffering and adversity are what life here on Earth is all about, and man's reaction to such is what defines him as a man, and defines where he gets to be In The End--in happy-happy land, or alone and stuck down below. Again, duh.

    "His servant Lot offers up a virgin girl to a mob of men to be raped, so the men will not attempt homosexual intercourse with a couple of "men" (sometimes assumed to be angels) visiting him - and is never punished by god for being an accessory to rape!"

    According to the King James bible, Lot knew the "men" were angels to begin with, and the offer of his daughters to the crowd (not only men, by the way) was Lot's attempt to protect the angels themselves. After this proof of Lot's faith, the angels blinded the men who had come "to know them." Go read the story of Lot again. He wasn't an accessory to rape, he was *VERBALLY* offering up his most cherished--his own flesh--in much the same way that Abraham was tested. Lot proves that he would sacrifice his own offspring in the service and ultimately unnecessary defence of God's messengers, and by putting his blind faith in them, they protected both him and his daughters. You imply that the daughters were actually raped or even physically present--they were not.

    "Lot's wife is slain for the same in-built flaw of curiosity as she looks back towards Sodom."

    She wasn't slain, she was turned into a pillar of salt. First off salt was once extremely valuable, even used as currency. Second, God specifically told them all not to look back to the cities as they were being destroyed, yet she looked back all the same. The Bible doesn't actually say that the Lord turned her into a pillar of salt. It says she "became" a pillar of salt, which could be interpreted to mean that the effects of God's destruction were harmful to be witnessed by mortals, which is a common theme.

    "Abraham is cruelly tested when god commands him to slay his own son - what loving deity would cause his most devoted servant such heartache and misery, would turn him into a filicide in all but deed?"

    This is silly. It was a test of faith. If Abraham didn't accept God with all his heart, then he wouldn't have done it. He faltered how many times before actually setting about to do it? But even when he was about to, putting his faith in God that God knew what was right, God stayed his hand and that was that. Simple. If God came down and told you to kill your own son without telling you why, how would you presume to know better than some omniscient entity? Maybe your son is destined to be the anti-christ? It's a question of faith and obedience, and is just as symbolic as the rest of the bible.

    "What about the slaves and hebrews slain instantly for the "sin" of looking at the ark of the covenant - again, natural curiosity is punished with death by the creator of curiosity!"

    You're going to have to point out where this is. There's a few places where God killed some people near or around the ark of the testament.

    "What about the thousands of innocent Egyptian firstborn sons slain on Passover due to the "heart of stone" of the Pharaoh - and what of the fact that the Bible implies that god himself turned Pharaoh's heart to stone - engineering the excuse for Passover!"

    This is just silly--you're putting your own fantasy, your own interpretation of the verses to an absurd level and mixing it with actual passages and claiming it makes no sense. First, where does it "imply" that god himself turned the Pharaoh's heart to stone? Second, Pharaoh was the one who enslaved the Hebrews, so even if God did turn Pharaoh's heart to stone, it would make sense if he wanted to punish the Egyptians for the enslavement of the Hebrews. Finally, the children of wicked people contain at least half of the wicked's DNA. The fact is that God favoured Abraham's children by the virtue that they were Abraham's children. Why aren't you arguing against that? Is disfavour not allowed to pass the generations but favour is? Are the faithful acts of the fathers something that can affect future generations but sins not?

    Yeesh.. while I'm not a Christian, I just hate it when people regurgitate these endlessly repeated falsehoods and think they're all the more clever for it, without even reading or citing the appropriate passages. People seem to think that the only interpretations are the literal, and thus the only arguments they have are against the literal. No intelligent Christian will make the claim that the Bible is some literal piece of literature. It was filled with symbolism, just like most of the other writings of the period. Again, duh.


    [ Parent ]

    I don't think I'm particularly clever. (none / 0) (#429)
    by Kasreyn on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:15:12 AM EST

    I merely feel these points are indefensible. No matter how you dress them up or explain them away in metaphors, they remain what they are. And as a child no one told me "oh, this is just a metaphor!". They told me this was truth. I find that unacceptable.

    Why does a god who can see into every heart need tests? No, scratch that. Don't even answer. I'm not interested. To me, the whole thing is ludicrous to argue about since I no longer even believe god EXISTS. These are merely the reasons why I ceased to believe in him years ago. Even if you satisfied me on each of these points, it wouldn't make me magically believe in him all over again.


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Succinctly (none / 0) (#476)
    by pdrap on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 01:50:05 PM EST

    When asked why I don't believe, I just say that I don't believe because I can't believe. I don't remember who said it first though.

    Belief isn't something that can be turned on or off like a switch. It sure would be nice to think that there's a beneviolent being looking out for my best interest, who will provide me with an eternal life, but what I can see and understand isn't enough to make me believe it.

    Interestingly, a friend of mine who was a Catholic monk didn't see that as a problem. My natural skepticism was to him something that his god provided to me. He couldn't imagine that god would send me to hell for being the person that god made me to be. OK, that's a nice thought to think, but I still don't believe it.

    [ Parent ]

    Cool Monk. (none / 0) (#697)
    by sudog on Sun Jan 25, 2004 at 02:38:20 AM EST

    He sounds very wise.


    [ Parent ]
    Of course not. :-) (none / 0) (#696)
    by sudog on Sun Jan 25, 2004 at 02:37:30 AM EST

    If they told you that was truth, and that the bible was literal, then that's their failing.

    God doesn't need to test us for himself--you're right, assuming he exists he's omniscient. Wouldn't it make more sense to assume these tests are for us? For our own enlightenment and our own spiritual growth?

    And it isn't a question of explaining them away as metaphor: similar writings are full of symbolism, and it's obvious to anyone reading it that there's a pile of literary device in there. Simple example: Matt, 7:3 "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

    Only a fool would think the Bible here refers to actual, physical specks and beams. They're symbolic for the acts and problems of others, and part of the whole "judge not, lest ye be judged" theme.

    Likewise, most of the rest of the Bible which aims to teach morally does so through parable and symbolism. Knowing what we do about both the fossil record and the evolution of our species, it's illogical to conclude that the story of Adam and Eve is actual, literal fact. And if it stands to reason, and in reasoning so we can find no contradiction between the Bible and our perceptions, then why throw away the gift of reason that God gave us to begin with in favour of the illogical literal interpretation of the Bible?

    It makes no sense, and this particular contradiction is exactly what the fundamentalists like to sweep back under the rug and ignore.

    At any rate..  ttyl,

    [ Parent ]

    Oh, and one more quick thing. (none / 0) (#723)
    by sudog on Fri Mar 05, 2004 at 08:08:06 PM EST

    ... just because the people who were teaching you about something were idiots, doesn't mean the material is idiotic.

    If they taught you history or literature, would you suddenly hate the collective works of Shakespeare, Donne, Coleridge, and Byron? Would you disbelieve that the rise of Hitler was facilitated by the crippling reparations imposed on Germany from WWI?

    Likewise with the Bible: "Thou shalt not kill," feels pretty right to me.


    [ Parent ]

    excellent (none / 1) (#167)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:24:23 PM EST

    Wow - what a well written post. Thanks man - this is the kind of good debate that I was hoping to get out of this. I understand your points.

    I have to say that disagree that I will, "join the club". Do you think we can know anything at all? Some don't; I do. I know that I'm writing this post, for example - and I say this while trying strongly to avoid a philosophical cat's game of, "I don't really exist", etc.

    Given that, if we take what we know or can know about hippos (because, being open minded and not blind to the obvious, we don't know everything about hippos), and what we know about black holes thus far, we can say that hippos could not survive in a black hole.

    Now, given that the term, "open minded" is subjective, I would say that I am a strong atheist and that even without using probabilities, can conclusively say that, "I do not believe hippos can live in black holes".

    Perhaps "open minded" refers to future possibilities - I touched on this in my piece. Perhaps at some future point, someone will conjure up a way to transport hippos to wild-life sanctuaries inside black holes, who knows? Even if I accept this possibility, for right now, in the present tense, my wording sticks, "hippos do not live in black holes, even though I have never been in, seen inside one, etc."

    Is it a limitation of the language? Do I need to add words like "yet" to my statement to remain, "open minded"? I don't think so.

    Given what I know about human muscular structure and the wings of birds and bats, etc., as just one example, I will also boldly say that, "man cannot fly". Thank you much, by the way, for not using the out that an 8 year old would, and respond with bits about helicopters and jet packs! :)

    Now what if, by some fluke of evolution or who knows what, there happens to be born a fellow tomorrow with wings and a different body structure to fit so that the wings work, etc., and lets further say that this happens only once every 100,000 years.

    Was I closed minded for saying what I did above about man, given this fluke? I don't think so. Based on what I knew at the time, I made a valid statement. My mind was still open.

    If I walk in the park tomorrow, should I point out to my friend that that tree could turn into a frog? Based on any and all knowledge thus far accumulated, that would be, *drum roll*, impossible.

    Should scientists say that since anything is possible, that some new graduates should study the issue and determine if, in fact, a tree can turn into a frog? What about what Asimov said - is he open minded? Is he a strong atheist? I think he is and if his writing is any indication, he is also quite open minded.

    Maybe I just don't to waste my time searching for vague, as you admit, god-concepts that could be anywhere, anything and everything?

    As for why God is extraordinary, well, in my daily life and presumably in anyone's daily life, if we are to believe the news and newspapers, without getting too deep into definitions, nothing supernatural-ish happens that we can observe.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#312)
    by jmzero on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:04:10 PM EST

    Given what I know about human muscular structure and the wings of birds and bats, etc., as just one example, I will also boldly say that, "man cannot fly".

    Before you can really talk about the confirmation on a statement like "man cannot fly", you really need to define what you're saying.

    Perhaps a more instructive statement to start with would be "all mice have tails".  Despite being false, this is not an unreasonable thing to say.  When we say it, we mean something like "all the mice species we know of normally have tails".  This is also a silly thing to say, in an absolute sense, as the definition of "normally" is quickly going to become circular.

    And yet this is the kind of statement we use in life.

    Despite the utility of this kind of phrase, the lack of clarity means that attempts to use it as a starting point for "talking logic" are doomed to fail.

    without getting too deep into definitions, nothing supernatural-ish happens that we can observe.

    This statement is meaningless without defining "supernatural".  I have a good idea what you mean, but (as with the mice above) you really can't reason about this kind of thing without a good definition to start.

    It's a different, but related, kind of muddy thinking that plagues your writing about God.  You seem to have defined "know" as requiring something much less than absolute confirmation.  As you don't give a solid definition of what you mean by "know", you're free to equivocate about pink unicorns and hippos.  It may be clear to you what you mean by "know", but your private definition means that we aren't all arguing from the same premises.

    Muddy thinking is fine in a lot of practical sort of subjects.  You may find "knowing" that "God does not exist" has great utility for you.  And perhaps that's what you mean by "know" - "I intend to behave under the assumption that God doesn't exist (until possibly proven otherwise)"  

    You can't start a philosophical debate and then just handwave away "deep definitions".  The distinction between "atheists" and "agnostics" is not one of utility, but of philosophy, and it depends on what you mean by "know".  
    .
    "Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
    [ Parent ]

    Rephrase your double-negatives. (none / 0) (#226)
    by sudog on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:00:55 PM EST

    'Logically, we cannot know that people "cannot fly".'

    Double-negatives are pretty much meaningless. Rephrase these in future, you'll make a more consistent impact and sound less like you're posturing after feeling smart about your research efforts.


    [ Parent ]

    'not possible to know' would have been better. (none / 0) (#232)
    by Kasreyn on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:28:02 PM EST

    Oh well, can't edit comments... I'll keep in in mind in future. :-)


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    :-) My comment history is worse, believe me. n/t (none / 0) (#276)
    by sudog on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:36:34 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Weh? (none / 1) (#316)
    by jmzero on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:20:01 PM EST

    Double-negatives are pretty much meaningless

    No they aren't.  If I say "I don't not have a dog", that's logically equivalent to "I do have a dog".  Both have the same amount of meaning, though the first is awkward.  

    On the other hand:

    'Logically, we cannot know that people "cannot fly".'

    is not a double negative at all.  The two "nots" are not talking about the same thing.  If I say "I didn't know that you don't have a dog", is that a double negative?  

    Of course not.
    .
    "Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
    [ Parent ]

    double-negs are meaningless.. n/t (none / 0) (#722)
    by sudog on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 08:09:31 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    I've always thought myself an atheist (none / 0) (#562)
    by Rhamadanth on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 10:26:31 AM EST

    But I read your comment, and I wasn't sure if I was an atheist or an agnostic.

    This link to positiveatheism.org gives the definition of atheism that I was most comfortable with, and leads me to believe that most agnostics are actually atheists and perhaps don't realize it.

    An atheist is merely someone that is 'without god', not someone that DENIES the existence of god. Etymologically, this makes sense as well.

    In any case, it makes little sense for me to sit and cite the whole body of text to you. It's a fairly interesting read, and does support the position of the author of this post. He's pretty much an atheist. A POSITIVE atheist, to be sure, but an atheist nonetheless.


    -- The /bin/truth is out there.
    [ Parent ]
    re: invisible pink unicorn (2.50 / 6) (#44)
    by fae on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:21:54 AM EST

    Technically speaking, we can't have an invisible pink unicorn since emitting pink light and invisibility are contradictory. :)

    Invisible unicorn works just fine.

    -- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity

    Then what color is the unicorn? (nt) (none / 3) (#59)
    by truth versus death on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:15:12 AM EST



    "any erection implies consent"-fae
    [ Trim your Bush ]
    [ Parent ]
    hmm... transparent? colorless maybe. (nt) (none / 3) (#60)
    by fae on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:18:41 AM EST



    -- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
    [ Parent ]
    Infrared, of course! [nt] (none / 2) (#153)
    by flo on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:15:04 PM EST


    ---------
    "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
    [ Parent ]
    Or maybe ultraviolet NT (none / 0) (#472)
    by Cro Magnon on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:30:14 PM EST


    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    It's just another level (none / 2) (#64)
    by Eater on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:47:22 AM EST

    First, you believe in an invisible unicorn based on faith.
    Then, once you've mastered this step, you believe that the unicorn is pink - this again is a matter of faith, since you will never actually see the unicorn because of its invisiblity.

    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    Not so. (3.00 / 6) (#111)
    by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:32:15 PM EST

    First, "emitting light" probably isn't what you meant. Nobody ever suggested the unicorn glowed.

    "Pink" means that it either emits or reflects certain wavelengths of light (which, incidentally, are not necessarily the "pink" wavelengths, since our visual system infers the pink wavelengths from three different wavelengths).

    "Invisible" just means we can't see it. If you take this in the DC-comics sense, the unicorn doesn't reflect any light at all and is completely transparent.

    I don't necessarily see these as contradictory; in fact I find the combination a good analog of religious beliefs. If the unicorn did reflect light, it would look pink. This is no more contradictory a concept than a red ball in a completely dark room. It is sensible to say that it's red even if you can't see it.

    If you're already believing in a unicorn you can't see, why not believe that if you could see it it would be a particular color?

    [ Parent ]

    my whole problem! (none / 2) (#168)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:26:29 PM EST

    This is my whole problem with a certain type of agnostic - if anything is possible, than so is an invisible, yet pink, unicorn.

    Sorry folks, I just do not believe it.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    do agnostics say *anything* is possible? (none / 1) (#188)
    by fae on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:36:18 PM EST

    I thought they just don't take a stand where the evidence doesn't say either way.

    Logical inconsistency is very strong evidence against.

    -- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
    [ Parent ]

    that's the same thing (none / 1) (#257)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:45:31 AM EST

    Not taking a stand on God means that God could exist. If the evidence showed he existed, why be an agnostic? If the agnostic thought that the evidence showed be didn't, why remain an agnostic?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    exactly right (none / 1) (#271)
    by fae on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:22:14 AM EST

    The agnostic has no evidence for God or against God, and thus remains an agnostic.

    I, as a disbeliever in glowing pink invisible unicorns, have evidence against them. I also have evidence against hypothetical sums of 2 and 2 that result in 5.

    -- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
    [ Parent ]

    what is the evidence against the IPU? (none / 0) (#544)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:58:17 AM EST

    If you claim to have evidence against the IPU, then I claim to have evidence against God.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    beyond -isms: thought experiments (2.50 / 4) (#54)
    by just8 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:00:47 AM EST

    Open mindedness and skepticism are epistemological (theory of knowledge and how we know) stances. Atheism is a metaphysical claim.

    These two positions have a fundamental contradiction:

    open minded = open to ideas, including reality of some sort of divinity
    a-theistic = does not believe in god

    You can not be both open minded and strongly not believe in an idea at the same time.  

    There are various thought experiments that could be done to play with these oposing positions.

    Taking a step back: you could alternate between these positions, as a method of inquiry.  One could have an internal or journal-based debate. Might be interesting to try that out.

    One could try meditating or somehow feeling looking beneath thought. Awareness without thoughts is possible, for awhile. Is there any sort of thing that can be felt there?  What?

    You could even try prayer with a bit of scincerity. Here is a scifi way to do it: Oh, highly evolved entitites who have been contemplating reality for billions of years, help me out. Could you give me a clue about what the F*** is going on?  Really, just a little one?

    I was an atheist for about 2 weeks at age 12 or so. When I understood that espousing atheism means to have a firm position about divinity about which I had no basis to make claims, I switched to describing my ignorance about and curiosity about the ultimate questions as being agnostic. I called myself agnostic for 2 years until I realized I would rather undertake the path of gnostic inquiry - looking into the nature of reality through exploring subjectivity. I dropped any definition of point of view after awhile.  Rotating through different points of view became more interesting.

    Most of your piece argues against some kind of judeo-christian metaphysics.

    Atheism, agnosticism, and open mindedness are positions that would well describe the epistemological positions of *some* mystics from various eastern and indigenous spiritual traditions.

    Many thinkers and spiritual seekers in many cultures have performed thought experiments to inquire into the nature of mind and reality.

    To move beyond debating the virtues of theism vs. atheism or agnosticism vs. gnosticism, it is necessary to observe and feel down into your mind...

    There are fascinating layers of reality to be explored there, just as there are outside.

    Your 2000 world thought stream would benefit from some research and a number of rewrites to organize ideas and eliminate repetition.

    Suggestion: you might enjoy reading Ken Wilber on the development of different approaches to theories of truth and experience in eastern and western thought:
    http://wilber.shambhala.com


    Did you read a word of what he wrote? (none / 2) (#85)
    by marx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:21:11 AM EST

    One of his main points was that if you accept the definitions you state:
    open minded = open to ideas, including reality of some sort of divinity
    a-theistic = does not believe in god
    Then you should also accept these definitions:
    open minded = open to ideas, including existence of IPUs
    sane = does not believe in IPUs
    A simple test for you. Do you deny the existence of IPUs? Are you open minded?

    Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
    [ Parent ]

    0, Hide -- Poster is a Marxist (none / 3) (#98)
    by polish surprise on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:34:02 AM EST


    --
    Controversy is my middle name.
    [ Parent ]

    Invisible Pink Unicorns might exist... (none / 1) (#99)
    by just8 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:45:57 AM EST

    ...in a number of ways.

    - as conceptual creatures
    - as creatures who are alternating invisible and pink over time
    - as pink unicorns that can only be seen by some people (these probably exist somewhere in the multi-verse)
    - as pink unicorns that exist in the dream state

    There are different types of insanity.  It could be considered insane to rely on thoughts to define our existence when it is our existence that defines our thoughts. Karl Marx made a similar claim. Extend that to the exploration of deep subjectivity and you find a place where science and spirituality overlap.

    I'll agree there are absurdities that might not exist as meaningful real creatures or as coherent ideas (such as davros4269's position in the parent article).  Not every absurdity is possible. However... existing and not existing are very subtle and variable states (that can coexist across layers of reality).  According to both physics and spiritual traditions, there are layers of existence.  The laws of existence change at different layers. Understanding subtle states and indeed experiencing subtle states will vary depending on level of reality and consciousness and on timespace concept with which one enters and then appreciates a given state. See Ken Wilber link in previous note.

    Yes, I read what davros4269 wrote. It was sophomoric.  It is necessary to return to basic definitions when logical confusion sets in. Most of the acute responses to davros4269 agree about the root contradiction in the article.

    davros4269 states that he is dealing with a specific Christian view of God. There are quite subtle Christian Theologians:  Kung, Fox, etc.

    Then, davros4269 talks about a general god-concept. He throws out all "holy texts." These are a mixture of theory and myth and ethics and stories and so on.  The theory parts are helpful.  Mathematicians, physicists and philosophers define universals all the time.  It is possible.  And it is possible to talk about the unknown and nonexistent in various ways.  And the relation of the divine to that can be talked about.  

    In his piece, Davros4269 bypasses subtlety and depth and sets up a logical straw men and knocks them down.

    Something I'll agree with: the existence of life on other planets is high.  Working upwards from there: If one excepts it is probability that life exists elsewhere in the universe, then the existence of intelligent and even divine beings is also probable, given the age of the universe and especially given the possibility of multi-verses.  If divine beings are probable, then these beings probably have found someway to participate in a common root being. Why not?

    Working downward from received spiritual traditions (and downward into yourself), well:

    Did you read and think about what I wrote?
    To get a sense of the nature of reality, it is necessary to step past logical debates about metaphysics and epistemology into exploring methods that yield an experience of deep reality.

    A test for you:

    Try meditating using some time tested contemplation process 5 min a day for a few years. Your view of existence and existences might change.

    According to various spiritual traditions; At some levels of experience, divine being becomes very real. At deeper levels in some of those same traditions, divine being becomes not real or innate in nonexistence. At still deeper levels or integrations, nonexistence and existence become intertwined -- the divine and the empty both being close to our source.  This makes a lot more sense when you get into contemplative explorations of awareness and your self and reality.

    To respond to another point from Marx: Religion has been used to justify horrible things.  So have political beliefs.  So has plain old greed. This does not invalidate the beautiful principles and practices found in the heart of religion and politics: such as experiential spirituality and grassroots democracy in process.

    [ Parent ]

    open minded (none / 1) (#171)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:33:47 PM EST

    open minded is subjective. Does it mean accepting some new ideas, or does it have to be all ideas?

    As for the rest, I'm a bit tired and didn't give it's due, I admit, but I borrowed this from another comment elsewhere on this page and I think it might fit: Philosophy is the fool's mathematics: you provide your own definitions and axioms and then derive some theorems.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    re: open minded (none / 0) (#333)
    by just8 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:51:48 PM EST

    regarding:
    open minded is subjective. Does it mean accepting some new ideas, or does it have to be all ideas?

    reply:
    You can reject some ideas and be open minded about other things. Most of us do this.  However, even seemingly absurd ideas may have a grain of truth. Why is it that divinity is not an absurd idea for many?

    Your article conveys you as being closed minded (for now) about the existence nature of the divine (though you can change your mind).

    I invite you to be open minded about what is subjective and what is subjective reality.

    Being open minded means having the openness to look at a fundamentally important topic from various angles -- and to revisit a topic with an openness to changing your view or viewpoint when new ideas and angles come up.  

    Being open minded means not throwing up a few simple positions as the basis for rejecting a great many varied positions about the nature of reality, which are based on many sophisticated theoretical positions and experiential bases.  

    You are very most probably extremely wrong about the nature of divinity.  

    Many spiritual seekers have devoted their lives to contemplation and meditation on reality. They have experienced the divine as utterly real, more real than our world.  There are many very eloquent theories and reports about this.  Some mystics have experienced the divine as inherent in a more fundamental reality, an impersonal void. Others have experience that the impersonal absolute and personal divinity are not different.  Who knows which is true?  Probably some variation on those themes.

    Being open minded about subjectivity means entertaining the possibility that divinity has been verified as real (or as more real than this world), as an inter-subjective reality, based on the *experience* of a great many seekers and sages.

    Being open minded means even entertaining at length and in various ways the possibility that the divine is the only objective reality.

    You can test this through your own experience - but it would take a lot of effort.

    You can experience the reality of the divine or spirit or whatever you wish ever more profoundly through various spiritual paths.  

    You don't have to believe in any particular god concept to undertake that journey. All that is required is curiosity about the nature of subjectivity.  

    What is not open minded is to rule out all that exploration and all those positions as unfounded or delusional.

    If you rule out the nature of reality as including spiritual aspects and divinity, you are closed minded. If you think this is not so, you need to read more to see that this is so.

    If you wish to be closed minded about the nature of reality, it is your loss.  

    Your arguments set up weak straw robots and dismiss whole classes of experience and theory without enough investigation.

    I invite you to read up on (or do more reading on) the history of western and eastern philosophy and theology and try a prolonged meditation or other spiritual practice at some point before ruling out the reality of the divine.

    regarding:
    Philosophy is the fool's mathematics: you provide your own definitions and axioms and then derive some theorems.

    reply:
    You are describing what is mostly a certain kind of deductive analytical philosophy based on metaphysical speculation.  Perhaps your use of philosophy follows that model moreso than most of what is practiced today. Philosophy began to go beyond deductive metaphysics in the 18th century through the work of Kant. Kant showed that opposing arguments cancel each other out, logically.  He philosophically investigated what are the possible conditions of knowledge. Then, in the 19th century, Hegel and Marx took things a step further considering, what are the social conditions of knowledge. Then various other philosophers in the 20th century, such as Wittgenstein, investigated how is it that language works in practice. Others, such as Husserl and Schutz, investigated how thoughts and experiences unfold. Eastern philosophers developed various schools and methods of thought to explore various types of subjectivity over thousands of years. Philosophy is a very very complex and wide body of divergent disciplines.


    [ Parent ]

    Aliens don't exist? (2.60 / 5) (#61)
    by kesuari on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:21:19 AM EST

    However, being a skeptic, I will say that thus far, there is no evidence for aliens. I might word it this way, "aliens don't exist".

    How can you say that? What reason do you have to believe that they don't exist? And then if it turns out that aliens exist, you will have been wrong. Why would you want to be wrong based on nothing more than a guess? That statement seems to me to be way more absurd then saying 'The Bible is perfectly true in every way' ... [reliable evidence crops up that evolution happens] ... 'Parts of the Bible are to be interpreted as stories made up for less knowledgeable people to better understand their universe'.

    With no reasons to believe for or against, I have no belief.

    [Do I have no opinion on IPUs? Well, being invisible and being pink are mutually exclusive, so there's a pretty reliable argument against them. If they live on Earth, then where do they get their food from? If they don't, as Unicorns do not, to my knowledge, have any affect, and are clearly not massive enough to be noticed by looking at frex. orbits, they aren't relevant. Furthermore, with IPUs, no-one's asking me if I think (a) or (b); with life's origins, I'm asked to believe in Creationism and Evolution, the latter has the better arguments for it.]

    yet (none / 1) (#172)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:41:14 PM EST

    However, being a skeptic, I will say that thus far, there is no evidence for aliens. I might word it this way, "aliens don't exist"

    I strongly suspect that there aliens out there, but I do not currently know. Therefore, [as best we know right now], aliens don't exist.

    We probably agree, it's language that gets in our way.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Agnostics, Evidence, and Other Fun Stuff (2.16 / 6) (#63)
    by Eater on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:43:09 AM EST

    Your stance seems awfully passive to me - you expect evidence as to god's existence, or lack thereof, to be presented to you by someone or something. I strongly doubt that any such evidence is forthcoming in the near future, and while I previously thought that an agnostic stance was about as cowardly and mentally lazy as you could get (which, naturally, made me question my own beliefs a bit), I now know better. Perhaps instead of sitting around and waiting for evidence to be presented, using the time to argue technicalities and paradoxes in the Bible, you can spend a bit more time thinking about that concept you decided to cleverly dodge - not the God that Christians, Muslims, Satanists, Worshippers of the Black Hole Hippos, etc. try to push on you, but God as you see him, the implications of his existence, and of the lack of it. Maybe then you can come to a real conclusion with a bit more mental vigor than just sitting at the back of the universe and waiting for evidence to be placed, or not placed, into your passive little arms.

    Eater.

    No evidence == no belief (none / 1) (#103)
    by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:04:42 PM EST

    You're clearly missing the whole point of skepticism. The fact that someone has asserted some unfalsifiable theory doesn't lend that theory any importance whatsoever. Are you lazy because you haven't joined the discussion of the above-mentioned "invisible pink unicorn"? Are you lazy because you haven't studied ESP in detail?

    I claim that there is a small teapot orbitting the sun at a radius of several million miles, and that our only reason for existence is to please the teapot. Are we lazy for not spending our time searching the heavens for signs of the teapot? Are we lazy for not spending our tax money on rockets to try to find it? More realistically, how dare the government tax me on the funds I use to build my own rocket to go searching for the teapot?!!

    The burden of proof is on the one making the assertion. There are an infinite number of possible theories; characterizing someone who doesn't happen to study yours as "lazy" while failing to study all the others of equal (or greater--there is a lot of evidence against a literal interpretation of the Bible) validity is incredibly closed-minded and arrogant.

    [ Parent ]

    Theories and Assertions (none / 0) (#231)
    by Eater on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:05:06 PM EST

    That's the problem here - the author is looking at the issue in terms of organized religion making an assertion - "God exists and our holy book of choice describes who and what he is". Simply by refuting the asserting of that particular group, he is convinced that no god exists. But the issue goes far beyond believing or not believing your local Catholic priest, and if simply refuting or accepting the words of that priest make up the entire scope of your views on god then you can be neither a good Catholic nor a real atheist - you're just someone who isn't prepared to confront this issue. That is not to say that an atheist viewpoint is unjustifiable - it most certainly IS justifiable, but not based on "what the Catholics say is wrong". Looking at the issue in terms of "claims" and "assertions" muddies up the nature of the question - it's not about who's asking it, it's about how you answer it. If you refuse to deal with the idea completely you're not an atheist, you're just someone who refuses to deal with the idea of good at anything above a bible refuting level.

    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    not possible (none / 0) (#187)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:35:08 PM EST

    Since I can throw the Bible out based on my points - rather, I have thrown the Bible out for the purposes of understanding the world, and since I'd wager I could do the same for other holy books, I'd be left with almost nothing.

    Why should I sit around and contemplate what will happen if some massless force, if we can even call it that, cares if I believe in it/she/he/them/hippo or not?

    Any "after life" issues that I might fear, for example, went out with the Bible, so to speak...
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    So. (none / 3) (#66)
    by Megahitler Electrodictator on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:10:31 AM EST

    I can suggest a potential reply. Cosmology, one might object, is an organ of religion but not the heart of it. The profound power of Christianity, for example, lies not in its Jewish conception of the universe, but in Christ's revolutionary ideas.

    If this objection stands, it would seem to undercut the relevance of your argument, for your otherwise sensible case would then rest upon a misunderstanding of religion's focus.

    You only hate God. (1.18 / 11) (#69)
    by V on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:17:43 AM EST

    That's what atheist do, nothing more.
    ---
    What my fans are saying:
    "That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
    "well look up little troll" cts.
    "I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
    "goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
    doesn't make any sense... (none / 1) (#70)
    by secularfuture on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:33:26 AM EST

    How can you hate something that you don't believe in?

    [ Parent ]
    You tell me. (none / 2) (#79)
    by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:56:41 AM EST

    For some reason, I don't meet many people whose main purpose in life is to bash Santa Claus at every opportunity they find.


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    On the other hand (none / 2) (#84)
    by marx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:15:56 AM EST

    You don't meet many people who use Santa Claus as a reason to murder and torture thousands of people either.

    Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
    [ Parent ]

    That's pretext. (none / 1) (#97)
    by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:33:06 AM EST

    Murder is in the genes.

    --
    Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.
    [ Parent ]

    maybe (none / 1) (#117)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:17:16 PM EST

    but religion is a good excuse to use those genes to their full potential ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    God would be disappointed if we didn't (none / 1) (#126)
    by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:41:09 PM EST

    work at our potential.

    I know father is disappointed in me, SIGNOR SPAGHETTI, a boy who, despite having been raised in a family of men, turned to his mother for a sense of identity. A boy who preferred the company of neighborhood girls and their games of "house." A boy unable to pass his father's tests of manhood, traumatized by dread and anxiety over his own ambiguous sexual urges.

    What?

    --
    Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.
    [ Parent ]

    Shut up. (none / 1) (#152)
    by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:14:18 PM EST

    Fag.

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Can't a guy have a nice body? (none / 1) (#155)
    by SIGNOR SPAGHETTI on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:29:11 PM EST


    --
    Stop dreaming and finish your spaghetti.
    [ Parent ]

    Idiot. (none / 2) (#151)
    by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:13:40 PM EST

    You don't meet many people who use God as a reason to murder and torture thousands of people either.


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Yes I do (none / 0) (#190)
    by marx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:44:33 PM EST

    Or perhaps not meet, I see them. Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, etc.

    Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
    [ Parent ]

    Well then. (none / 0) (#280)
    by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:42:52 AM EST

    Lenin's mummy is still not thrown out.

    Or are we seriously going to argue whose television-induced bogeyman is more badass?


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    Lenin didn't kill people in the name of Santa [nt] (none / 0) (#336)
    by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:29:10 PM EST


    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    The people he killed are, nevertheless, dead. nt (none / 0) (#340)
    by error 404 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:53:44 PM EST

    .
    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]
    Irrelevant. (none / 0) (#634)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 09:47:08 AM EST

    Allow me to refer you back to the top of the thread.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    ugh (none / 0) (#353)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:29:13 PM EST

    Mao.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Santa is harmless! (none / 2) (#119)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:23:48 PM EST

    Santa doesn't sway peoples vote based on a perception: Vote Republican - Santa would!

    Santa doesn't attempt to teach Elf myth in public schools.

    Santa doesn't pressue the President to cut funding for family planning like inititiatives in poor countries BASED on myth, "Special elves decide when and if a women is to have a child - it doesn't matter if you don't have the resources to feed your population - when you die, you can feast everyday at the North Pole".

    Finally, Santa doesn't make his first and most important rule that he is the one and only holiday figure.

    Btw, santa and God do have something in common. Neither exist.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You are wrong. (none / 1) (#150)
    by tkatchev on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:12:26 PM EST

    Our kids are indoctrinated with Santanism from a very, very young age. What about the hundreds of multi-billion-dollar Hollywood movies glorifying Santa?

    What about the worldwide, trillion-dollar Christmas industry that is pushing Santanism to the very farthest, most backwards reaches of the world?


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    confused (none / 1) (#177)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:01:24 PM EST

    Is this a clever bit of humor, or are you equating Santa-ism with devil worship? I've spent entirely too much time reading these posts!!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Both. (-) (none / 0) (#279)
    by tkatchev on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:41:29 AM EST


       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    He may be right! (none / 0) (#470)
    by Cro Magnon on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:27:27 PM EST

    Santa-ism encourages us to buy,buy,buy, and that gets us into credit card debt, and credit card debt is The Devil!
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    God doesn't exist (none / 1) (#112)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:39:21 PM EST

    How can I hate something I don't believe in?

    I do have some ill-feeling towards religion, however, Christianity is only one of many...
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    That would be theophobia, (none / 1) (#146)
    by flo on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:56:58 PM EST

    not atheism :)
    ---------
    "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
    [ Parent ]
    -1, diary (1.00 / 8) (#91)
    by Hide The Hamster on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:39:02 AM EST




    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    My stand on God and the IPU (none / 3) (#92)
    by pyramid termite on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:40:04 AM EST

    I've chosen to assume there is a God, and am therefore a theist. I do not consider the IPU to be important enough to me to make an assumption about, therefore I am agnostic in this matter.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    Important point (none / 0) (#536)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 11:22:50 PM EST

    You've made a very important point here which people possibly missed, so I'll re-iterate it for you:

    You've chosen to assume there is a God.

    This, when you get down to it, is the only reason why people believe anything: they choose to do so. This is a very deep statement. I encourage everyone to think about it for a while.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    I'm a skeptic.. (1.00 / 4) (#94)
    by thelizman on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:35:10 AM EST

    ...therefore I am a Christian. Yeah, whatever...
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    I have wondered... (none / 0) (#220)
    by SaintPort on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:28:52 PM EST

    what do you consider yourself. I have you down as a secular conservative. The Right platform resonates with your patriotic ideals, but the whole Christian-born-again thing seems to personally invasive?

    just curious.

    Have a nice day!

    <><

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]

    Politics and Religeon (none / 1) (#299)
    by thelizman on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:07:18 AM EST

    You can keep me down as a secular conservative if you like. I'm just me, and my faith is my own.
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    there's belief, and then there's belief (none / 2) (#95)
    by speek on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:44:11 AM EST

    When some people say they believe in something, they mean that they know it unshakably. That they cannot conceive of any argument, evidence, or circumstance that could convince them their belief was false. Other people, when they say the believe in something, simply mean their current set of beliefs that guide their actions in the world include some certain proposition. This set of beliefs is entirely malleable, effected by arguments, evidence, and circumstance, and they can well imagine their guiding beliefs changing.

    So, although both agnostics and atheists might say "I don't believe in God", these statements mean different things.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

    Proposition? What? (none / 0) (#332)
    by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:48:21 PM EST

    You're confusing "believe in" and "believe that". If I say, "I believe that there is one God, the Father Almighty...", then I am saying I assert the proposition "There is one God, the Father Almighty..." is true. Can you see the difference between that and, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty..."?  It seems to imply more of a personal knowledge and trust of a person than agreement with some abstract proposition, however certain or unshakeable, though your definitions are also found in practice. Maybe it's a regional thing.

    [ Parent ]
    hmm? (none / 0) (#347)
    by speek on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:12:08 PM EST

    I was just pointing out that different people take different attitudes towards their beliefs. Some people are dogmatic, and some aren't, or are dogmatic about different things. So I would say the difference between a dogmatic and a non-dogmatic belief that god doesn't exist is akin the difference between an atheist and an agnostic.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Yeah, I got that bit... (none / 0) (#367)
    by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:17:44 PM EST

    ...I was just saying that people more often say "believe in" to refer to something other than assertion of some proposition and that sets of beliefs aren't usually in propositional form, so it's a bit silly to say, "their current set of beliefs ... include [sic] some certain proposition".

    [ Parent ]
    ok (none / 0) (#399)
    by speek on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:21:35 PM EST

    Sure, if someone phrased a belief as "believe in", I'd be likely to assume it was a dogmatic type of belief.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Could you find a better term? (none / 1) (#401)
    by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:30:13 PM EST

    "Dogma", in discussing theology, has a specific meaning which isn't the one you intend. And I wouldn't assume that, but you're free to do whatever you like.

    [ Parent ]
    Atheism v. agnositism (3.00 / 7) (#96)
    by debillitatus on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:32:39 AM EST

    I'll only say a few words because Kasreyn has a great post already in this thread and I'd probably repeat a lot. But let me say this:

    I think one thing you are confusing in your argument is the noncommutativity of certain ideas. For example, as we all know, evidence of nonexistence of A is certainly not equivalent to nonexistence of the evidence for A. I think you make a convincing argument that the latter exists, but your central thesis is the former.

    Another similar confusion is the fact that the notion of "believing" that you describe can be negated in two completely nonequivalent ways. For example, the theist believes in the notion of god. Two possible negations of this are

    • "I do not believe in the existence of god."
    • "I believe in the nonexistence of god."
    It seems to me that you confound these two propositions. Your original claim is for the latter, but you really argue the former. For example, in your penultimate paragraph:

    Having said that, even though I can't disprove general god-concepts...

    This is a clear argument for the former proposition, i.e. agnositism. You're a classical agnositic, with perhaps a tendency towards a feeling that atheism is right. You are not an atheist. Sorry.

    Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!

    Right on. (none / 1) (#101)
    by Imperfect on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:01:10 PM EST

    This is what is commonly missed, and you said it far better than I was considering phrasing.

    Thank-you.

    Not perfect, not quite.
    [ Parent ]
    am I really an agnostic? (none / 1) (#110)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:31:41 PM EST

    It seems to me that you confound these two propositions. Your original claim is for the latter, but you really argue the former. For example, in your penultimate paragraph:

    Having said that, even though I can't disprove general god-concepts...

    This is a clear argument for the former proposition, i.e. agnositism. You're a classical agnositic, with perhaps a tendency towards a feeling that atheism is right. You are not an atheist. Sorry.

    No, I differentiate between believing in a specific God, with specific properties, and stories, morals, goals - the list can go on.

    What really is left? What is a general god-concept? Am I really an agnostic for believing in something that is undefined?

    Stripped of all attributes, can we even be justified in placing the "god" in front of "concept"?

    Assuming we throw all religion aside, do we even know if this concept is sentient? Alive? Anything at all, "godly" in any way. shape or form?

    I don't think so.

    Further, I'd add that my inability to disprove something, doesn't equate to belief. Does an atheist have to disprove something in order not to believe in it? Based on indirect evidence, I'd venture to say that hippos don't live in black holes, although I can't disprove it, I do not believe it. Does that really make me an agnostic?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Yes, it does. (none / 1) (#113)
    by Hide The Hamster on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:50:47 PM EST




    Free spirits are a liability.

    August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

    [ Parent ]
    quite wrong (none / 0) (#247)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:19:20 AM EST

    An atheist doesn't have to disprove everything he doesn't believe in. Neither does a skeptic, for that matter. A skeptic merely has to withhold belief until evidence becomes available or until it's proven, whatever it is.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: am I really an agnostic? (none / 0) (#698)
    by debillitatus on Sun Jan 25, 2004 at 11:18:13 AM EST

    Look, you're redefining words all over the place.

    As it is commonly used, the word atheist means someone who is willing to make a positive assertion in the nonexistence of a supreme being. It is clear from your posts that you're not.

    If you want to call that atheism, that's fine, I guess. It is a free country and all. But just be aware that you're using a word in a completely different way than the way it is commonly used.

    Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
    [ Parent ]

    Hmm. So tell me (none / 2) (#100)
    by DeepOmega on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:51:34 AM EST

    what you do believe in? Or, put in more "logical, rational" terms, what has been proven in your mind? One example, please. Choose the one you find least assailable. Humor me.

    Peace and much love...

    proven? (none / 1) (#106)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:21:53 PM EST

    I'm not intersted, at least not with this piece, in what has been, "proven", but I could say, that people walk and do not fly.

    Now, I realize that we can escape into pure philosophy - what I call, "lala-land", and muddle it up like this, "how do you know that you exist?", "How do you know that I exist?", "How do you know walking is walking?" - but I won't go there.

    Throwing aside the idea that I'm dreaming all of this, or sleeping in a gutter drunk someplace or living in the Matrix, we can effectively find such overwhelming evidence that people can't fly, that I would be so convinced that I would venture to say:

    I DO NOT believe that any person can fly.

    If I second guess reality itself in order to prevent myself from learning even basic truths, I may as well commit myself.

    Further, if I believe and "know" that people can't fly but walk around and pretend as if, "it's possible", then I am not "smarter", but "stupider" , if that messs of a sentence makes any sense!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    La-la land is duly avoided (none / 1) (#114)
    by DeepOmega on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:03:15 PM EST

    I'm talking strictly science here.

    First, how do you define a person? Yes, you can get into ancestral lineages which trace back to Australopithicus afarensis, but, more basically, a human is a collection ofcells and organs which work together towards a common goal, furthering ones genetic line, with sub-goals such as "not dying," "finding food," "finding a suitable mate," etcetera. Scientific enough so far?

    So we have this tightly-knit conglomerate of cells which do this, and we can point at this union and say "See? A human!" But wait... cells die and are replaced. And within each cell, molecules and atoms come and go, some splitting off from the union entirely, maybe joining up with another one. Organs can be replaced as well, naturally. So the body is in a state of change and flux. There's no "group of cells" that can be pointed at.

    "Ah!" you say. "But what about the brain? The brain is what unites the body! That is where the man lies!" Ohoh, I return. The brain is in just as much flux. And your memories, which I think we agree are one of the key things that define you, are just as much in flux. They change based on your current experiences, they degrade.

    What, then, is a man? A man is a pattern. Or, if you'd prefer, an event. Same as any other hunk of matter, in fact. Same as your mind.

    So we have here a theory which unites mind and matter, concept and physical reality. And an interesting side effect is, patterns can affect other patterns. One mind can change the pattern of another. Matter-pattern can change matter-pattern. Mind-pattern can change matter-pattern, changing the position and configuration of, say, fingers (and thus by continuation anything fingers can manipulate). And note that it is completely meaningless to determine what the body can do "on its own", because there is no "it" which is cohesive and unrelated to the world around it.

    Or, to conclude: A pilot in a plane is just as much an "it" as a pilot alone. The plane came about solely through the acts of mind-patterns, and thus are the offspring of men, the same as any child is. Men and their ilk can fly. QED, my friend.

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Way to redefine the wrong thing. (none / 2) (#122)
    by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:30:02 PM EST

    You go through obvious redefinitions to try to get to the point at which "man" means "man and airplane", but you never even think of redefining the term "fly"?

    Can a man fly in the sense that a bird can fly? No.

    Can a man fly in the sense that a man get be transported on a flying machine? Yes.

    Philosophy is the fool's mathematics: you provide your own definitions and axioms and then derive some theorems.

    Science is different. You define terms as labels for phenomena, and you derive theorems/axioms from observable events. This is a very fundamental and important distinction.

    [ Parent ]

    wow! (none / 1) (#129)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:47:16 PM EST

    Sir, your quote on philosophy is brilliant. I have filed it forver in my collection of text files. Thanks man!

    I may use that as my sig at some point...
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    As opposed to "true mathematics?" (none / 1) (#130)
    by DeepOmega on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:53:24 PM EST

    I'm trying to figure out why that's any different from Euclidean geometry. Hell, it's been proved that taking different postulates results in perfectly valid mathetmatical systems, the only inherent difference is that they aren't as "convenient" - they don't make quite as much intuitive sense.

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Math isn't "true" (none / 1) (#135)
    by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:04:12 PM EST

    Mathematical systems are self-consistent. They are not necessarily relevent or useful to anything. They are not necessarily models of reality.

    Euclidean geometry is a pretty good model of physical space within a particular scope. But it can't be used to navigate the earth's surface very far: you need spherical geometry for that. And it isn't quite right at astronomical distances: general relativity makes the model much more complex. Euclidean geometry is certainly not a perfect model of physical space. It is not "scientifically true".

    Restating the original quote for the fools themselves: math is make-believe, and so is philosophy.

    [ Parent ]

    clever English is not evidence (none / 2) (#127)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:43:50 PM EST

    Men and their Ilk can fly?

    Of cousre we have airplanes. My idea was simple: men walk. We also drive in cars and ride in bullet trains, but that's not the issue.

    Must I speak in legal-ease, and explicitly state that I mean man alone, with just his physical body, and so forth?

    Yes, perhaps I could have said, "without mechanical aid", etc., however, I strongly suspect that you knew what I was talking about ;)

    You seem like a rather rational, smart person, so do not take the next statement as an insult, but your retort seems rather like something my 8 year old son would come up in that child-like, take everything literally, manner.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Taking everything literally (none / 1) (#132)
    by DeepOmega on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:56:29 PM EST

    Would probably not mean assuming that planes are just as much a part of a man as his quote-unquote body. You missed the point of my comment. What makes the body special?

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    nothing (none / 2) (#134)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:03:07 PM EST

    makes it special, except that the virtual construction was my creation. Man cannot fly without mechanical aid and we can prove it and although I didn't specify "mechanical aid", I made it obvious from the context.

    What prevents me from saying that man is part of the universe, therefore [throw in some lala-land stuff here], man IS the universe, therefore, man is God?

    Further, man is immoral, therefore God is immoral, therefore we have a contradiction and therefore, God doesn't exist.

    Anything goes in lala-land.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Humans (none / 0) (#709)
    by artis on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 10:59:39 PM EST

    a human is a collection ofcells and organs which work together towards a common goal, furthering ones genetic line, with sub-goals such as "not dying," "finding food," "finding a suitable mate," etcetera. Scientific enough so far?
    No. A human is a collection of cells that might or might not further ones genetic line. There is no goal. It's just that collections of cells that tend to further their genetic line are much more common.
    --
    Can you know that you are omniscient?
    [ Parent ]
    Good catch (none / 0) (#721)
    by DeepOmega on Tue Feb 10, 2004 at 12:17:53 PM EST

    Thanks, you're quite right. Survival of the fittest is a beautiful thing.

    Peace and much love...
    [ Parent ]

    Should've picked an equation. (none / 0) (#222)
    by sudog on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:51:28 PM EST

    Now you're going to be shredded.


    [ Parent ]
    Evidence (2.75 / 8) (#102)
    by localroger on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:04:16 PM EST

    You are actually making a major assumption about which you are very close-minded; you are assuming that the Universe is consistent. This is a convenient fiction which serves us well, but you make the common mistake of forgetting that it is still just an assumption.

    I covered this before so I'll be brief here.

    Many skeptical people have received hints that the Universe is not actually consistent. There are exercises you can do which improve your likelihood of receiving such a hint. But the Universe obviously likes us to think it's consistent, and you will always have the opportunity to doubt yourself instead of taking the hint at face value.

    In the article I linked I relate the tale of a very strange Tarot reading I once did. By any sane analysis this was such an extraordinary event that it couldn't have possibly happened without the intercession of some unknown force. But in the comments, people such as yourself repeatedly cite the close-minded mantra of the scientific materialist: I must not know how to shuffle, for various mathematical reasons it isn't as meaningful as I make it out to be, etc. These people have to disbelieve in my experience because it violates the sanctity of their world-view.

    You might say the claim that the Universe is sneakily pretending to be something it isn't is extraordinary, requiring extraordinary proof -- but for most of human history, it's your assumption that the Universe is basically simple that would have been the extraordinary claim. The fact is, as Kasreyn skillfully puts it, lack of proof is lack of proof. As for evidence short of proof, how much of that exists depends very much on what you're willing to accept -- which has a lot more to do with what you believe than what you observe.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min

    Consistency is a methodological assumption... (none / 1) (#163)
    by desiderandus on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:44:57 PM EST

    ...that's fundamental to science as we know it. Experimental/observational evidence all rely on the induction fallacy. If you want to disbelieve it, go right ahead, but until the rest of us have a similar experience to yours, you honestly can't expect us to believe it (assuming we're openminded).
    _________
    Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
    [ Parent ]
    Exactly (none / 0) (#191)
    by localroger on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:45:13 PM EST

    that's fundamental to science as we know it.

    Of course. I recognize that, and much of the time I operate on that principle because it's the one that works.

    But a useful methodological assumption != absolute truth. Newtonian physics are a useful methodological assumption which work most of the time, but they don't accurately describe the Universe.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    [ Parent ]

    I know... (none / 0) (#211)
    by desiderandus on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:16:11 PM EST

    but not all observation is scientific observation. We use induction for far more than that, in fact all the time. Sticking to logic and being a skeptic constitutes a pretty boring life if carried out to its logical conclusion, I think. I'll stick with science.

    I know you'll fault me for my completely illogical thought, but as a scientist I have to accept assumption at some level to actually do anything. The best I can do is to minimize the extent of my assumptions. Taking on the inductive fallacy, especially when hedged by other scientific assumptions, seems less worse a fate than other assumptional frameworks such as religion.
    _________
    Our sins catch up to us in the worst possible way; they become part of our essential identities.
    [ Parent ]

    Well I do respect that (none / 1) (#214)
    by localroger on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:27:29 PM EST

    I know you'll fault me for my completely illogical thought, but as a scientist I have to accept assumption at some level to actually do anything.

    No, I don't fault you for that; in fact I salute you far at least recognizing what you're doing. I agree that it's very hard to get anything accomplished under what I call the "low information model" because you don't quite know where you stand. My job requires me to deal with technology, and such a viewpoint would not benefit me at work.

    My solution is basically doublethink. Since I know I don't know the truth, I use the model that works best for the task at hand. Usually that's science. But sometimes, when things are murky and not knowable, I let in the other idea because if I have to act at random anyway, in the absence of knowledge, potentially informed random is superior to definitely uninformed random.

    What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
    [ Parent ]

    Well said... (none / 0) (#314)
    by jmzero on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:10:48 PM EST

    My solution is basically doublethink

    I've identified a few of my beliefs that are pretty much inconsistent.  I can't eliminate them, as they are tied to bigger bodies of beliefs (and I like those beliefs).

    I just keep them in different buckets in my brain, and I don't make them cockfight.  It's better that way.  
    .
    "Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
    [ Parent ]

    The ghost example is broken. (2.00 / 5) (#104)
    by squigly on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:11:59 PM EST

    My first reason is similar to what I said above about the burden of proof. If I say that I saw a ghost while walking to work, would not the burden of proof be on me?

    No.  Once you see it, there is evidence that you have seen a ghost.  Precisely one eye-witness.  Most people are usually honest, so it is up to everyone else to prove that you are a liar, delusional or mistaken.

    While some might believe me outright, for those that do not, is it not up to me to demonstrate a ghost? Does my very statement carry some power of creation? If anyone asks me to provide proof, can I just fire back and say, "Show me some proof that I did not see a ghost!"?

    Yes.  You have seen it with your own eyes.  It would be very difficult to convince you that you had not.  Even from the point of view of others we have evidence  that someone has seen a ghost.  You have to provide evidence that is at least as valid not to consider it a possibility that the person is telling the truth.

    In much the same way, The Bible is evidence of the existence of God.  There are even aspects of it that correlate with other historical records.  It is often considered adequate evidence, even for athiests to believe in the existence of Jesus, so why is it that it should not be usd as evidence for the existence of God?

    Extraordinary claims (none / 1) (#116)
    by rvcx on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:14:16 PM EST

    When evaluating evidence one must find the most probable theory that the evidence supports. "There are ghosts" is an extremely outlandish theory and would require extremely reliable evidence. There are many much more common occurences which can lead to one person thinking they've seen a ghost. A dishonest witness is certainly one, but that person being tricked by the light, or a trick being played by someone else, could be very likely depending on just what the person saw. Further, it has been demonstrated that some commonly-reported "psychic phenomena" can actually be induced medically: out-of-body experiences, visual hallucinations of ghosts, and delusions of alien abduction (a common interpretation of the dissociation between facial recognition and emotional reaction) can also be reproduced in the lab by stimulating (or subduing) different parts of the brain. There are also many well-documented cases of such perceptions from those is "altered states of conciousness": the effects of alcohol or drugs or even just sleep deprivation. When there are other witnesses around, or the causes for the altered state are obvious, those affected usually recognize that it was their own perceptions which were mistaken. It seems much more likely that such things sometimes happen when people don't realize their perceptions have been inaccurate than that ghosts really exist.

    The burden is pushed back to the one making the claim. You think you saw a ghost? Well, that's one more data point, but it's still much more likely that you were just exhausted and dreamt it. It is the extraordinary claim which requires proof, because the definition of "extraordinary" is the very lack of evidence to support it.

    [ Parent ]

    not quite (none / 1) (#125)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:36:18 PM EST

    No. Once you see it, there is evidence that you have seen a ghost. Precisely one eye-witness. Most people are usually honest, so it is up to everyone else to prove that you are a liar, delusional or mistaken.

    Once you've "seen" it, there is evidence that you saw "something". Most people are basically honest, but most people can be fooled by even the most basic optical illusions, to give just one example.

    The other chap that replied said it in more detail. Read his post.

    I'd like to add, that an individual experiencing something has no value outside of their own brain, so to speak, unless it can be proved, or, shown to be plausible. Ghosts are not scientificaly plausible.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Do you believe that knowledge is possible? (n/t) (none / 1) (#139)
    by leviramsey on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 02:19:35 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    yes, because (none / 2) (#174)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:48:36 PM EST

    according to many posts here, I must believe that "anything is possible", even that my keyboard can become sentient, attack me and take over my block, in order to remain open minded ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    You are missing my point completely (n/t) (none / 1) (#208)
    by leviramsey on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 08:05:38 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    it wouldn't be the first time (none / 1) (#249)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:23:10 AM EST

    However, I'm afraid, that unless you show me some evidence of a Ghost, some else's personal experience will not sway me. Personal experience is only personal evidence - it's meaningless outside of one's own psychy.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Then science is meaningless (none / 0) (#324)
    by leviramsey on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:50:43 PM EST

    Do you accept that science is empirically based on observation?

    These observations are made by humans (at some point in the chain a human makes an observation).

    Observation is a personal experience, so thus the observations that science depends on are themselves "meaningless outside of one's own psychy [sic]." How can something based on something meaningless have meaning? Where would the meaning come from?

    You could say that an observation made by multiple people is more reliable. But consider the implications of that statement and where they logically lead. You are essentially saying that "if enough people's psyches have the idea that they experienced something, [an observation in this case,] that that affects its truth.

    Returning to the main thrust of this article, does that defense then not imply that if a certain number of people's psyches have the idea that they saw a ghost that the ghost exists? Replace "ghost" with Deity; I need not complete the syllogism.



    [ Parent ]
    here is my answer to that (none / 0) (#551)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:31:01 AM EST

    I see your point, however, science is built up and based on previous bits of facts and evidence, etc.

    Science also relies on logic, and abhors a paradox. Now, we already have laws which specify some things about matter and energy. If someone has a personal experience with a ghost, this would seem to conflict with our notions of matter and energy.

    However, I'll admit that this tricky - this isn't the first time that I thought that language itself is a barrier to specifying this stuff. Take folks who experience a rock and compare to folks who experience a ghost. Subtract one from the other. Science is more like the former - does that make sense? It's why we, in general, don't accept ghosts, even though many people have claimed to have experienced them.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    But again, what is the basis for... (none / 1) (#593)
    by leviramsey on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 02:06:30 PM EST

    ...those facts, pieces of evidence, and laws? It ultimately comes back to observation/experience. Otherwise science is a fool's mathematics; finding trivial truths coming strictly from the definitions/postulates.

    Why exactly is the experience of a rock any different from the experience of a ghost? I'm not asking this to be an asshat or because I believe that ghosts exist.

    It seems somewhat presumptuous to say that because an observation contradicts currently existing notions that it must be distrusted. It was the generally held notion that the universe was geocentric. As far as I know, every human culture at some point went with geocentrism (with their particular holy place or capital city [generally the same, but...] as the center of the earth and thus the center of all). Should experience that indicates a hole in that theory be disregarded out of hand (as "illusion" or as "experimental error")?



    [ Parent ]
    who bloody knows? (none / 2) (#620)
    by davros4269 on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:19:28 AM EST

    But what do you get when you subtract those? Who knows?

    I can only speak for what I know now. I know, you can say, "how do I know what I know now"? This can get into lala-lan real quick.

    An agnostic friend of mine told me that I don't "know" anything. I told him sure I do, I know that the Christian God does not exist. I qualify the statement: based on the evidence that I have right now, I know he doesn't exist. If future evidence shows otherwise, I'll become a theist.

    He claims that my statement is false because of this "future" potential. I responded that when I make a statement I don't have to qualify future potential. For example, my daughter is 3. Based on the evidence I have now, this is true. Now, in the future, she might be older. That doesn't mean I'm wrong for saying she's 3 now, does it?

    To this he answered that how do I know that she isn't just in my mind, or, perhaps she will age backwards - dude, when you get to this point and have to second quess reality itself, you loose the ability to reason and make rational additions to knowledge.

    I start from the assumption that evidence is self-evident. If we say science is observation, built up from this basic premise, I think we can have a systematic and meaningful way to understand the universe. Based on this system and the evidence I have right now, ghosts don't exist.

    Of course, I may not exist, so this may not matter! doh!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Justify that assumption (none / 1) (#625)
    by leviramsey on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 03:39:09 AM EST

    Here's a hint: you can't, without begging the question.

    That assumption has the same value as the statement "God exists". They're both completely nonsensical. They have no basis in rationality.

    Now, that doesn't mean that they're not useful. Indeed, we proceed with life using these little bits of unadulterated irrational nonsense; there's not a sentient person who doesn't at least accept one base postulate from which all else flows. But it is a completely arbitrary choice as to which nonsensical postulate is accepted; it thus follows that it is shooting giant fish in a small frozen barrel with a grenade launcher to assume one postulate and disprove another. The theist can convincingly argue against every tenet of science, given the postulate that there is an omnipotent, omniscient deity, provided that the audience accepts that simple postulate.

    You might find the writings of David Hume to be interesting. He generally avoids "la-la land" (indeed, as an Empiricist, his goal was stripping away the Rationalist's grand claims about the Universe), and puts forth the famous Fork that bears his name (and which, as near as I can tell, has yet to be convincingly refuted; Kant's attack on it a few years ago doesn't quite jibe with me); indeed it is one of the only philosophical works that leaves a direct implication that it itself is nonsense.



    [ Parent ]
    How ironic (none / 0) (#639)
    by big fat idiot on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 10:27:26 AM EST

    I start from the assumption that evidence is self-evident. If we say science is observation, built up from this basic premise. I think we can have a systematic and meaningful way to understand the universe.
    In other words, a systematic and meaningful way to understand the universe can be based on an assumption that has requires no proof or explanation.

    Why then, does anything else require proof or explanation?

    [ Parent ]

    Very nice. (none / 2) (#107)
    by bakuretsu on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:24:58 PM EST

    You seem like a very open-minded and intellectually flexible person. I highly recommend this book, written by the late Carl Sagan, scientist, astronomer, self-professed atheist. He goes through the same reasoning you do in your piece, except that he did it in 1996.

    He focuses more on the supernatural in general, rather than claims of god, but the references to modern religion are in there, and I found it to be an entertaining and stimulating read for doubters and believers alike.

    Surely for the likes of us, it's preaching to the choir. I always love those sermons, though ;-)

    +1 FP, increase awareness of true atheist philosophy. Also see the Brights Movement (as mentioned in Wired).

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004

    Sagan was wise (none / 1) (#120)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:28:24 PM EST

    Hi, thanks for the positive comment. I've read several books by Sagan. He manages to teach science and at the same, throw both the new-age "Matrix"-ish religions AND the old style religions into the fire, while at the same time, making you care about human potential.

    In "Pale Blue Dot" he goes one step further - amid the science, the tour of the solar system and coverage of various space probes, he offers a philosophy for humanity, a goal, if you will. Good stuff.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Brights (none / 1) (#123)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:30:12 PM EST

    I forgot to mention that I signed on - they have a good idea. If they can spread that "meme" it will be a good thing ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    ugh (none / 0) (#351)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:27:37 PM EST

    Surely for the likes of us, it's preaching to the choir.

    Why not actually bother to find out what religions have to say, rather than reading straw-man demolitions and perpetrating same?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    I don't know and I don't care. (none / 2) (#108)
    by Spatula on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 12:25:01 PM EST

    I'm an Apathetic Agnostic. Hell, I'm even a 'priest' with that 'church'. On the same day I got that, I also received one of those bogus degrees from some other place.

    But, really, who honestly cares whether there is a god or not? Besides fundamentalists, I mean? I FPed this article, because there quite possibly could be some good conversation coming out of it (btw, excellent post, Kasreyn) and it's always fun to see devout Christians get angry and violent because someone dared say that they don't suck the same cock that they do.
    --
    someday I'll find something to put here.

    This seems like... (2.25 / 4) (#121)
    by romperstomper on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:28:26 PM EST

    a lot of work, grammatically and logically, all to reify beliefs you seem to be fairly in touch with.  

    Don't make it harder than it is.

    Just say you don't know.

    that's not enough (none / 1) (#124)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:31:39 PM EST

    I not only don't know, I don't believe based on what I know.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Bah (2.83 / 6) (#128)
    by Tatarigami on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:47:03 PM EST

    If anyone asks me to provide proof, can I just fire back and say, "Show me some proof that I did not see a ghost!"? Mr. Agnostic says, "yes",

    It's easy to prove someone wrong if you're going to put words in their mouths, then refute them.

    No agnostic I know argues for the possible existance of God. They argue that theists and atheists alike have so far failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their extraordinary claims that God either exists or doesn't exist.

    default position (2.50 / 4) (#133)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 01:56:55 PM EST

    What about the fantastic claim that Smurfs exist?

    Can't we start with a clean slate, and learn from there, by observing? Shouldn't this be the default position? If someone, out of the blue, asserts Smurfs into reality, must we forver then say, "they MIGHT exist. I'm an intellectual fool for saying that they DO NOT exist."

    In my opinion, this is a silly method for understanding the world. Isn't this basicaly making another claim, that claim being that, "everything is possible"? Where is the evidence for this claim? If we turn this around and say the claim is, "everyting is not possible" - this is perhaps one we can prove: if we stick to logic, than we can say that paradoxes are no-no's. Therefore, everything is not possible".

    The remaining claim, then, is, "anything IS possible". Prove it, or, show some evidence. I do not believe this idea. In a shallow manner, I say that it "seems silly", and when I break it down deeper, I reach the same conclusion ;)
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    I don't understand what you are getting at (none / 2) (#147)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:06:33 PM EST

    If someone, out of the blue, asserts Smurfs into reality, must we forver then say, "they MIGHT exist. I'm an intellectual fool for saying that they DO NOT exist."
    I'm utterly confused why someone couldn't merely respond either (a) that he or she does not believe that Smurfs exist or (b) that he or she believes that Smurfs don't exist. Everyone that holds to (b) would also hold to (a), but holding to (a) does not necessitate holding to (b).
    In my opinion, this is a silly method for understanding the world. Isn't this basicaly making another claim, that claim being that, "everything is possible"?
    I have no idea how you arrived at this point from the preceding one. Every claim stands or falls on its own merits. One can argue for (or against) the claim either a priori or a posteri. If the former, no evidence for the claim is required because the proof comes from agreed upon axioms. If the latter, the proof comes from some sort of empirical evidence. Also, the two types of proof are not mutually exclusive. One may argue a priori to the existence of Smurfs, but it could be that one of one's axioms is false which means that the conclusion does not necessarily follow. One could then still attempt to prove the existence of Smurfs a posteri.

    In either case, the claim that everything is possbile doesn't come into consideration. We are not dealing with everything, but with specific claims. Every specific claim has a truth value. That truth value may be true or false. If someone wants to argue that the truth value consists of true, it is up to that person to argue for that case. If someone wants to argue that the truth value consists of false, it is also up to that person to argue for that case. If someone does not care about that truth value, that person is neither required to refute the case of the believer nor of the disbeliever. However, if either of the first two has a good case, the person not forming a belief on the matter does look pretty silly.

    This state of affairs has nothing to do with whether "anything is possible" or not.

    [ Parent ]

    anything must be possible (none / 0) (#251)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:30:25 AM EST

    If you are to agree with certain agnostics. They will not say that they do not believe something, until it has been disproved. In other words, a good agnostic will agree that Smurfs might exist - anything is possible. To my mind, this is completely ludicrous, but that's just my opinion...

    Yes, a case by case analysis makes much more sense, for me - I am not the one who claims that "anything is possible". I have no issue saying that, "there are no hippos in black holes". I say this based on what I know about both hippos and black holes. I've never seen the inside of a black hole, and I never will. Further, that statement is not dogmatic.

    If in the future, black hole research shows them to be prime hippo habitat, than I was still correct in my statement above, based on the information that I had at the time I made it.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You almost have me (none / 1) (#253)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:38:49 AM EST

    But in your first paragraph, your move from "certain agnostics" to "good agnostics" makes no sense to me. You move from a specific example that is ridiculous to the holding that example as being representative of the class in general by referring to it as "good".

    Not to mention that your third paragraph is incoherent unless you made a typo.

    [ Parent ]

    You're still putting words in mouths (none / 3) (#169)
    by Tatarigami on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:30:51 PM EST

    If someone, out of the blue, asserts Smurfs into reality, must we forver then say, "they MIGHT exist. I'm an intellectual fool for saying that they DO NOT exist."

    Why not just say "There is no compelling reason to believe in the existance of smurfs"?

    Isn't this basicaly making another claim, that claim being that, "everything is possible"?

    No, it isn't. You see, the way to make the claim that anything is possible is to say "Anything is possible". If it isn't said, it isn't claimed, even if that makes it less convenient for your argument.

    [ Parent ]

    ok, (none / 2) (#175)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:53:04 PM EST

    Perhaps I'm too tired - search and replace and change everything to anything. The difference is a matter of degree, I think, my point stands.

    Isn't this the agnostic position that some agnostics hold? How am I putting words into someone's mouth? Provide evidence for the claim that anything is possible?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Welcome to Smurfville (none / 1) (#440)
    by Lionfire on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 02:26:16 AM EST

    Just because someone acknowledges the possibility of a God (and, equally so, the possibility of there being no God), does not mean that they believe in the possibility of Smurfs actually existing outside of a television set.

    Given your use of this argument, I can only summise that you somehow believe Smurfs are God (which may explain the lack of logic in your arguments).

    If you truely want to start with the assumption that there is no God and then wait to be disproved, then that assuption is your current belief. You do not need to prove your belief for it to be a belief; but you should acknowledge that you are not in a neutral position. Were you to remove all of your assuptions on every unproven topic, yes, you would have to assume the possibility of smurfs existing. To do otherwise would introduce subjective bias to your future scientific observations.



    [ blog | cute ]
    [ Parent ]
    About 'evidence' (2.80 / 5) (#156)
    by mattw on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 03:29:22 PM EST

    I find it amusing that it's somehow important that agnostics do or do not respect atheists' terminology about themselves and their intentions.

    That said, your whole point seems to be that all claims that God exists are incredibly weakly supported, and therefore there is no evidence to suggest the existence of a God, and therefore you are justified in calling yourself an atheist.

    There are arguments for the existence of God which do not rely at all upon the Bible. They often lead TO the Bible, because if you believe God has been proven to exist, then you are left asking: well, what is the nature of God? Do we owe God allegience, and does God want something from us? But these questions of religion are fundamentally separate from the existence of God at all.

    I refer you to a Google search for 'ontological argument for the existence of god'. I find your article lacks convincing weight, because it is so dismissive of any "supposed" evidence of God, and the whole premise of your argument relies on your ability to be dismissive.

    There are also teleological arguments for the existence of God.

    I think these arguments are a great deal stronger than your weak dismissal here, especially as you offer no evidence to the contrary, and as such, I don't accept that there is no burden on an Atheist to provide some measure of disproof for the existence of God.

    However, I feel you're fine in whatever label you wish to apply to yourself. In my general view, people who have argued the topic for a while come to one of 3 conclusions:

    (1) The evidence is weak enough that they are comfortable delcaring there is no god;
    (2) They believe they have insufficient evidence thusfar to decide if there is a god or not;
    (3) They believe in God, or a god of some type

    And I'm happy with #1 calling themselves Atheists. I don't feel your label requires justification, nor do I think the label implies you have a closed mind. I'm happy with #2 calling themselves agnostics, even though agnosticism was traditionally a branch of thinking which was not a state of being uncertain, but a firm belief that they did not know because it could not be known. Even #3 may often label themselves as agnostic.

    Insofar as your editorial tries to justify your atheism by claiming that there "is no evidence" and derides agnostics for being uncertain simply because all things cannot be disproven is a weak argument, because of course there is an abundance of evidence. Some weaker, some stronger, and sorting through it is consuming the lives of thousands or millions of people. How you evaluate that evidence leads to your self-label, if you bother to take one.


    [Scrapbooking Supplies]

    challenge (none / 1) (#176)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:59:21 PM EST

    There is no argument for the existence of god or God or gods that stands up to muster that doesn't require some pre-asusmption about this god-concept, and I claim that these come from the Bible or other specific sources.

    Take ID, for example, which I assume is along the lines of what you suggested. Without the pre-assumption of sentience and other very basic facts, which come from the Bible (usually), we can't say anything about some force that existed "before" the universe, if there is such a thing, and created it.

    Honestly, I have yet to see a workable conjecture for a god strong enoough to assert this attribute-less thing such that the Bible can LATER be called upon to be it's book.

    In line with my piece, I would venture to say that such a thing is, based on what I currently know, impossible.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    bible? (none / 0) (#311)
    by mattw on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:42:09 PM EST

    The only comment I made about the Bible is that it is not required for many arguments in favor of a "created" universe. The fact that you are unable to find an explanation of the creator that satisfies you has no bearing on the arguments. You're welcome to choose to believe whatever you like; the point is, you can't dismiss the idea of a creator as a pink unicorn because there are strong arguments in favor of creation.

    You can choose to decide those arguments are unpersuasive, but as such, you have to make a judgement call. When you make that choice and declare that evidence unworth -- without having a strong refutation -- you are an atheist not because of lack of evidence, but because you chose to believe a certain way. And that's the point. The agnostics are not necessarily following the theists along on some road to insanity; they're just remaining undecided because they realize that there is yet no framework which fits all the facts and arguments strongly.

    You can choose to dismiss their reservations as insignificant, but that's not a rational decision.


    [Scrapbooking Supplies]
    [ Parent ]

    the Bible is very much required (none / 0) (#548)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:16:13 AM EST

    The classical rebuttal to the loonacy of ID is the lack of attributes for a God. Assuming nothing going in, there is no reason to even think that this "force" has an urge to create - indeed, even that suggests human-like attributes, or, God like, if you will - God of the bible, etc. It doesn't have to be the Bible per se, but there is always a source for attributes.

    Forget the agnostic vs atheist thing for a minute - ID is actually rather easy to refute.

    Ok, back to agnostics vs atheism - agnostic support, if we can call your statements "support", of ID is dangerous to good science.

    Every theory needs some evidence and needs to make predictions which are to be tested, further, they need to be falsifiable. Any "scientific" theory needs to clearly state what conditions make that theory false. In the case of evolution, for example, finding a human bone in the same layer as a dinosaur toe would be a "serious" blow...

    ID is not falsifiable, so while it may be an interesting philosophical view, it is unscientific by definition.

    So, my issue here is that if agnostics say, 'ID sounds reasonable', it might continue the spread of pseudo=science in public education - we conflict on political grounds as well, therefore.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You find the teleological argument convincing? (none / 1) (#221)
    by sudog on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 09:40:43 PM EST

    Yikes.


    [ Parent ]
    The best disproof of the ontological argument: (none / 0) (#370)
    by Jazu on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:37:41 PM EST

    *bamf*

    [ Parent ]
    that's teleological (none / 0) (#374)
    by mattw on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:47:32 PM EST

    That's teleological.

    Also:

    That teleological argument:Good teleological argument::Microsoft's Version of "innovation":Linus's version of innovation


    [Scrapbooking Supplies]
    [ Parent ]

    what was teleological? nt (none / 0) (#461)
    by speek on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 09:19:13 AM EST


    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Without some fairytale existence (none / 3) (#161)
    by debacle on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:32:43 PM EST

    With gods, and angels, and demons and paradise, the world is a very very cold and empty place.

    I say kick it up a notch. You know who's at fault for hate crimes? That's right, the forest king. You know who killed Kennedy? Well, I'll tell you, it was an ice fairy. Bill Clinton is really a Romulan, I swear!

    It tastes sweet.

    Allow Me to Link My Own Article One More Time (2.00 / 4) (#162)
    by MichaelCrawford on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 04:35:04 PM EST

    Is your faith in reality crumbling? Not sure what's real?

    Thank you for your attention.


    --

    Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


    Semantic Confusion (2.28 / 7) (#166)
    by cronian on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 05:10:01 PM EST

    Before you can say anything about God you have to define it. Because God is everything, all-powerful, etc. God can't really be known or defined, which is why God's true name can't be written. No one and nobody can truly understand God. The notion of God comes before the notion of existance, so it doesn't make sesne to ask whether God exists, just as it doesn't make sense to ask the question is this statement false. Formally, I define God as that which has no truth value, and is indeterminate in all logical contexts.

    The importance of these concepts relates to false gods. If one believes God is defineable, then they can accept a definition of God. Some attempt to define as a ruler, whereby they are able to get people to believe all sorts of crap. If you assume God doesn't exist under this definition, then you accept that all can be known. However, if you think you know everything, they you are closed minded.

    If you acknowledge the true God, then all reference to God including my own is basically meaningless. True religion tries to get its inherents to recognise the true God. Only then can one realize the meaningless of God.

    I would like to add that any 'scientific' that claims to explain everything, and be complete can just as easily be a false god as anything else.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    circular logic (none / 2) (#178)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:02:24 PM EST

    How do you know these very specific things about God, such as that his name cannot be written and so forth?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    By implication of the definition of God (none / 2) (#183)
    by big fat idiot on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 06:24:29 PM EST

    If a deity exists that is unlimitted, then that deity's name (which is by extension unlimited) cannot be written because to write it would be to limit it.

    [ Parent ]
    unlimited? (none / 0) (#233)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:37:22 PM EST

    How do we know even that much? That sounds like an attribute to me which originated from an unreliable source.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    By definition (none / 0) (#250)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:28:30 AM EST

    A God that is not unlimited is not the God of Christianity. Regardless of whether or not you think that the sources (and do note that sources is plural, despite what you think, the Bible is not the only source of Christian knowledge of God) of Christian knowledge concerning God are sound or not, since you defined God in your article explicitly to refer to the God of Christianity, you must accept the Christian definition of God.

    Whether or not you must believe that God exists is another matter entirely.

    [ Parent ]

    ahhh (none / 0) (#259)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:52:48 AM EST

    So, if and only if we accept the Bible and/or other Christian sources, than yes, God has attributes! Wonderful - now we've come full circle.

    At least you see that an attributeless god-concept is rather meaningless.

    Now for the easy part: refuting the Bible. Firstly, though, there is no other source.

    Second, I don't need to repeat myself, I spelled it out quite well in my piece. Either we can't tell metaphor from reality, or, we have a book that is wholly inaccurate against what we've observed from nature. Either renders God's attributes meaningless, reducing it to a meaningless concept.

    I would boldly add, "Therefore, the Christian God does not exist (or, if he does because he's fooled us and has attributes which aren't specified anywhere, we have absolutely no reason to think so)". Of course, if he has fooled us in this way and has other attributes, we don't know these attributes, meaning, that, right now, he is a useless deity until he reveals himself/his attributes to us.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Repeating yourself doesn't prove your point (none / 0) (#262)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:00:59 AM EST

    Now for the easy part: refuting the Bible. Firstly, though, there is no other source.
    You keep saying that. You're wrong. You're ignoring the entire history of the Church prior to the Protestant Reformation and the history of 2/3 of the Christian Church since.
    Either we can't tell metaphor from reality, or, we have a book that is wholly inaccurate against what we've observed from nature.
    That is a false dichotomy based upon an assertion (that the Bible is the sole source of Christian knowledge of God) that is demonstrably false.

    And even if you were correct (which you aren't) your conclusion wouldn't follow from your premises. You appear to have as precarious grip on logic as you do on Christian doctrines.

    [ Parent ]

    need non-Biblical support text please (none / 1) (#272)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:23:09 AM EST

    I've repeated my two categories for tossing the Bible, yes.

    I managed to show that a God without Biblical support (or other doctrinal support, as you will no doubt say), is useless. Therefore, to disprove the Christian God, I need take away his attributes by discrediting his support.

    I've already done this with the Bible, so perhaps if you'd be good enough to provide the remaining textual support, we can progress in the debate.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    No, you didn't prove that at all (none / 1) (#282)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:46:16 AM EST

    I managed to show that a God without Biblical support (or other doctrinal support, as you will no doubt say), is useless.
    I hate to break the news, but you did no such thing. All you managed to do is point out that we can't even meaninfully talk about God without some point of reference. As I repeatedly have pointed out, whether or not the God of Christianity exists or not is an entirely different discussion than whether or not Christianity has a meaningful definition of God.
    I've already done this with the Bible, so perhaps if you'd be good enough to provide the remaining textual support, we can progress in the debate.
    No, you haven't done this with the Bible. But if you want look into the other sources of Christian doctrine, I can supply you with some pointers. I would direct you to the texts of the seven Ecumenical Councils of the Orthodox Church, Saint John of Damascus' Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith and the writings of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch for an explanation of Holy Tradition in the Christian Church.

    I would refer you to Kyriacos Markides Mountain of Silence and the writings of Symeon the New Theologian for discussions on the personal experience of the Godhead.

    I would refer you to The Philokalia: the Complete Text published by Farber and Farber for examples of the proper interpretation of the Bible.

    But if you prefer, instead of looking into the evidence with an open mind, you can simply dogmatically accept atheism.

    [ Parent ]

    theology?? (none / 0) (#328)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:24:22 PM EST

    All you managed to do is point out that we can't even meaninfully talk about God without some point of reference. As I repeatedly have pointed out, whether or not the God of Christianity exists or not is an entirely different discussion than whether or not Christianity has a meaningful definition of God.Right - God is not self-evident. Without attributes, we have nothing. Hence my point, that if I can remove any attributes, I can effectively show the Christian God, the God of the Bible (more on "other" doctrines later), to not exist or, at least, point out that we have no reason to consider those attributes (so he exists, but who cares [not I] - he hasn't revealed himself to us yet, assuming he ever will)

    And as I have already pointed out, I'm not interested in "meaningful" definitions of God. If folks draw meaning from the Bible, than good for them. That isn't my point, and it doesn't support the notion of God. This is similar to the rather silly argument that if, for example, some of the 10 Commandments are good and make sense, than the rest must be right also!

    As for the Bible, again, tossing the Bible was not the point of my piece, however, it is a part of why I believe what I believe. It's not the only reason that I'm an atheist - specifically, removing the Christian God leaves many others, and I didn't directly address the Koran, etc.

    It's quite simple, really, to my mind. I have placed the Bible into two categories. If we stick with the metaphor category, which I know that Catholics do as well, than I must ask, what is a definitive way to separate metaphor from literal interpretation?

    My claim is that there is no such method. Now then, let me tie in these other sources that you've cited. These sources weren't written by God directly, nor is there evidence that they were written by Diving Guidance, as the Bible was supposed have been, correct? If, on the other hand, you claim they were - provide the evidence. Without this evidence, I will accept the default and obvious position that were written by man (we want to avoid circular logic, if these doctrines are to support God, than I cannot assume God first).

    These sources then are analogous to the Hadid (sp?) of Islam, correct? That is, based on the religion, which is ultimately based on the Bible itself or parts of it, that helps to further refine and understand it?

    If these sources are merely someone's interpretation of the Bible, than whatever insight they may provide can still be folded into category 1: Metaphor - fact or fiction?

    Realize, that I'm not debating theology here. I'm not attempting to understand Christian thought anymore than I already understand it. I don't have to understand each tribal verbal religion in the Amazon to disbelieve in wood-spirits.

    If it's all just humans debating over what is and what is not metaphor than I simply cannot accept this a reliable source for god-attributes.

    But if you prefer, instead of looking into the evidence with an open mind, you can simply dogmatically accept atheism.Theological discussion isn't evidence - it already assumes God and then tries to discuss this already assumed phenomena. I don't know if if I accept atheism as much as I label myself an atheist since it's the only thing left standing.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Well that explains quite a bit (none / 0) (#331)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:42:41 PM EST

    I'm not attempting to understand Christian thought anymore than I already understand it. I don't have to understand each tribal verbal religion in the Amazon to disbelieve in wood-spirits.
    That is an argument from ignorance and is no more valid than someone claiming not understand particle physics an, therefore, doesn't believe that particle physics is real.

    I intend to post more on your misunderstanding of the role of Holy Tradition in Christian thought later. The bottom line is that you still haven't answered my question, if Christianity is entirely dependent on the Bible as a source of knowledge about God, how is it possible that Christianity existed before the Bible did?

    Your assertion that the Bible is the only source of Christian knowledge is not only prima facie absurd but reflects an ideology that is incredibly ignorant of Christian history.

    [ Parent ]

    Pre-Bible Christiniaty (none / 0) (#368)
    by cronian on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:23:14 PM EST

    What Christianity existed before the bible? Are you saying Christianity came before Christ(note the name), or you merely refering the years between Christ's birth, and the writing of the new testemant.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    More than that (none / 0) (#388)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:29:14 PM EST

    Just as Judaism existed well before either the Pentateuch or the books of the Prophets were written, so too Christianity existed before the Gospels and the Epistles were written.

    For your statement about the Bible being the only source of Christianity to be true, Jesus would have had to write the New Testament before the existence of the Christian Church. Given that it was the Christian Church that not only produced the Bible, but decided that the Bible was the Bible, the Church is superior to the Bible for determining Christian doctrine.

    Another obvious disproof of your theory is that the Bible never states that the Bible is only source of Christian doctrine. The Bible refers to both Prophecy and Oral Tradition as means of passing along Christian teaching. Therefore, if the Bible is a source of Christian teaching, it is not, by its own witness, the only source of Christian teaching.

    [ Parent ]

    a few points (none / 0) (#432)
    by cronian on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 01:01:15 AM EST

    I don't believe I ever said that bible is the only Christian teaching. You might be confusing me with someone else. I suggest looking at the parent of your comment, and earlier ones in the thread.

    I don't believe there was any Christian church prior to Jesus. There were other religions, and Jesus may have been preceded with various Jewish sects, but I don't think any religious tradition or institution existed by the name of Christian.

    I don't believe Jesus ever wrote anything. The new testemant was written by Jesus's apostles, and then compiled by the early church. However, the bible has very little mention of Christians. I think one of the few mentions it has is when it says certain people praying in some church were called christians.

    As to the origins of the church, I believe it came out of the end of the roman empire. I don't recall the details, but I believe it was basically set up an offshoot of the old Roman central government.

    As far as the Jews are concerned, I believe the Torah attributes the founding of Judaism to Abraham, and I don't see any reason to dispute that.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    My apologies (none / 1) (#455)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 07:54:06 AM EST

    I did confuse you with davros4269. I agree with most of your post except for the bit about the origin of the Christian Church. There are many documents from the first and second century that paint a picture of the Christian Church as an organization that is virtually identical to the Christian Church near the end of the Roman Empire.

    If you are interested in the topic, go to either the Christian Classic Ethereal Library or Early Christian Writings Dot Com and read the letter of Clement of Rome from the first century and the letters of Ignatius of Antioch from the first decade of the second century. The hierarchial ministry of bishops -> priests -> deacons seems to have been in place from the first century onward.

    [ Parent ]

    not good enough - you ignore the big question (none / 0) (#492)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:15:19 PM EST

    I'm not as accommodating as the other chap responding to this thread.

    All Christian thought originates in one form or another from the Bible. The Old Testament is half of the Bible, as I'm sure that you are aware. During those days when they were putting it together, they were adding bits of things generally deciding what to include, etc.

    If you say that this pre-"modern whole-Bible" is somehow special, than I agree. Since the Bible wasn't identical to what we have today (and I don't mean various translations and all of that jazz either), then I might say that that God may have had different attributes than the current one.

    Accepting that, I can show to my own satisfaction (though I suspect to many agnostics as well), that he doesn't exist because those attributes are probably supernatural in nature, which leads us to lack of good evidence, etc.

    I'm not a biologist, but I understand evolution enough to know pseudo-anti evolution nonsense when I see it. I don't have to be an expert in Christian theology to understand concepts like metaphor, burden of proof and/or literal nonsense.

    Try this angle: During these times, did those Christians accept the old testament as valid? If so, see my piece: the old testament was either taken literally or metaphorically, etc., etc. - same deal.

    Now, if the stuff they believe in addition to the old testament, written down or not, gives a definitive method of detecting metaphor from fact in both the old and new testament, let me know and provide a cut of the text.

    You haven't answered my basic question - if you want to convince me or show me in error, you must provide a definitive method to determine fact from fiction from the Bible. Yes, the Bible. Even if you draw other inspiration from the committee notes taken during the Council of Nycea (sp?), the Bible is still a part, I'd say, a central part, of Christian belief, including Catholicism.

    Finally, let me repeat myself. I'm not interested in circular logic. Theology comes after belief, doesn't it? I looked up the definition of theology:

    The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.

    These strongly imply to me that we must already believe in God. My point isn't a fallacy at all, your point is circular logic. I could have a theological debate about what is required to enter Heaven, to use a quick and crude example, but this completely a side issue to my point. If my process of throwing out the Bible is valid, than it becomes irrelevant what method one should use to enter Heaven.

    You don't have an easy out, my friend. Do you have a method to distinguish between fact and metaphor or don't you (and please don't tell me that I first have to be a Christian in order to understand this, I cannot accept circular logic)?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Then answer me this (none / 0) (#512)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:47:04 PM EST

    If the Bible is the sole source of Christian doctrine, then where does the Bible say so?

    It doesn't.

    In fact, it says the opposite.

    Read the first three chapters of 2 Timothy. Timothy is told in chapter 1 to guard the tradition that has been entrusted to him. In Chapter 2, Paul specifically commends Timothy to pass along the oral tradition of the Church.

    In the letter to Titus, Paul explicitly states that one of the qualifications of a bishop is that he is to hold to tradition.

    I don't have to be an expert in Christian theology to understand concepts like metaphor, burden of proof and/or literal nonsense.
    This assertion is absurd. How many people that don't understand genetics understand the modern theory of evolution? You have to learn the basics of a science before you can understand the fine points of that science. If you want to understand evolution, you do need to understand basic biology, including genetics. If you want to understand how to interpret the Bible, you do need to understand the principles of Christian theology.
    During these times, did those Christians accept the old testament as valid? If so, see my piece: the old testament was either taken literally or metaphorically, etc., etc. - same deal.
    They certainly took the Old Testament as being valid, but you certainly don't understand how they interpretted it.

    Consider the Epistle of Barnabus, a first century Christian writing. The author of the Epistle of Barnabus has a method of interpretation entirely different than your own.

    But what think ye meaneth the type, where the commandment is given to Israel that those men, whose sins are full grown, offer an heifer and slaughter and burn it, and then that the children take up the ashes, and cast them into vessels, and twist the scarlet wool on a tree (see here again is the type of the cross and the scarlet wool), and the hyssop, and that this done the children should sprinkle the people one by one, that they may be purified from their sins?

    Understand ye how in all plainness it is spoken unto you; the calf is Jesus, the men that offer it, being sinners, are they that offered Him for the slaughter. After this it is no more men (who offer); the glory is no more for sinners.

    The children who sprinkle are they that preached unto us the forgiveness of sins and the purification of our heart, they to whom, being twelve in number for a testimony unto the tribes (for there are twelve tribes of Israel), He gave authority over the Gospel, that they should preach it.

    But wherefore are the children that sprinkle three in number? For a testimony unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because these are mighty before God. Barnabas 8:5 Then there is the placing the wool on the tree. This means that the kingdom of Jesus is on the cross, and that they who set their hope on Him shall live for ever.

    And why is there the wool and the hyssop at the same time? Because in His kingdom there shall be evil and foul days, in which we shall be saved; for he who suffers pain in the flesh is healed through the foulness of the hyssop.

    Now to us indeed it is manifest that these things so befell for this reason, but to them they were dark, because they heard not the voice of the Lord. [Epistle of Barnabus 8:1-7]

    The Church has always had supremecy over the Bible. This is why nowhere in the Bible is there anything that states that the Bible will be written in order to use as the sole source of doctrine for the Church. However, the Bible does record that Jesus promised to lead his Church into all truth and righteousness.

    Lastly, your assertion that a reader must be able to seperate fact from fiction in order to understand the meaning is irrelevent because the Church is there to interpret the Bible and always has been. If you want to know how to interpret a particular passage, read how the Church interprets it. If you want to methodological about it, read how the Church interpretted that particular passage in each century between the advent of Christianity and today. Those interpretations that are universal can be known to be the true teachings of the Church.

    please don't tell me that I first have to be a Christian in order to understand this, I cannot accept circular logic
    You don't have to be Christian, but you do have to know the mind of the Church. (But even if you did have to be Christian, that wouldn't be circular logic, because I'm not saying that the Bible is the only source of Christian doctrine. The Church is the primary source of Christian doctrine. Therefore, if you want to understand the Bible, you first need to understand the Church.)

    [ Parent ]
    you've all but proved my point (none / 0) (#515)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 06:21:33 PM EST

    I claim that the Bible is all we have, more or less. You claim that the Bible itself shows that other sources are valid. While many other Christian sects would disagree, I'll accept that for the time being.

    I throw this out, however, because I do not know, based on the Bible, whether or not to believe that other sources are valid - is it metaphor, or literal?

    Further, lets assume that somehow I was able to deduce that the Bible said other sources are ok. If these sources than point back and clarify what is fact or fiction in the Bible, than we still have circular logic! You are claiming that neither can stand on it's own, because for your point to make sense, you require more than a single source.

    If the Bible stands on it's own, than we have no definitive way to tell fact from fiction. These other doctrines can't stand on their own - they require the Bible to justify that they are acceptable.

    Besides, I still claim that these "sources" are actually just theological interpretations, and before we can speak theology, we must all believe, per the definition.

    Mountains of circular logic doesn't amount to anything.

    I'm trying to avoid branches here - lets get the basics out of the way. Do you have a non-circular logic answer to how I can tell definitively what is real or not real in the Bible?

    I will add this though, even though I've said it before. What meaning comes out of the Bible is irrelevant. The Bible itself is on trial here. If it's false, than people can still draw meaning from it - or, not. That isn't now, nor was it ever, the issue.

    However, if it's unreliable, than we've chopped God off at the knees, the knees being any properties he may have had.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You've just proved you're an idiot (none / 0) (#518)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 06:41:04 PM EST

    Your claim that the Bible is all we have to go on is akin to the claim that Darwin's Origin of the Species is all we have to prove the theory of Evolution, and since it contains some errors, we can toss out the theory of evolution. It doesn't matter what other sources say about the theory of evolution because Origin of the Species doesn't mention them and even if it did, since Origin of the Species has errors, we can't know if those sources are reliable.

    The fact of the matter is that historical Christianity (all those forms of Christianity that can trace their roots back to the first century) has always looked to the Bible as only one of multiple sources. If you want to know understand the claims Christianity makes, you need to understand these forms of Christianity. This historical record is very clear. You can read the writings of the Church Fathers, the writings that came about because of the various Ecumenical Councils and compare those to what different Churches teach today. Where there is a difference between the former and the latter, you can know which Churches maintained the same teaches. Where there is agreement between the former and the latter, you can know that you have the athentic teaching of the Church.

    If you are unwilling to examine the truth claims made by Christianity on their own merits, then you are truly as close-minded as your "agnostic" friend claims you are.

    [ Parent ]

    what do humans matter? (none / 0) (#540)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:39:51 AM EST

    Realize, that I'm not interested in what the church fathers think, no offense. If the Church is based entirely on what humans have conjured up, than I still have reason to be an atheist, if the definition of an atheist is what it is, which of course it is! ;)

    A brief note about your comparison with Darwin's work: his work isn't "doctrine" to be believed. Other work since his time stands on his own. The evidence for evolution continues to accumulate. If not Darwin, it would have been someone else. I can accept evolution without Darwin, though of course we remember his role like we remember Newton and Edison. Further, Darwin doesn't make claims like the Bible does; he meant his work as fact, not metaphor. Another crucial difference, of course, is via the scientific method, we are invited to attack his work and find the flaws. How else do we advance? Does the Bible tolerate this kind of attack? No, it does not, as I've shown in my piece.

    I've done these debates long enough to know that when the other person resorts to name calling, it's over. Other red flags include numerous branches into side issues and questions which are asked repeatedly, but never answered.

    If you can't answer how I can tell fact from fiction in the Bible, than I consider myself the victor. Of course, you are free to object. As for name calling, you sir are a, "big fat idiot". ;)

    An old technique that I used was to blast the opponent by following them down every path that they produced, until the responses become research papers and got longer and longer and longer until they tire, lol. I don't operate that way anymore. Having kids alters one's interpretation of time and priorities ;)

    Here is some thing I posted to one of the other replies. I can't argue against circular logic, anymore than than I can argue against a child:

    Lets use the Socratic method:

    • If any of those writings are based on, or merely presents an interpretation of, the Bible, then my tossing stands
    • If not, we must ask why humans are writing doctrine and not God (this idea comes from the old testament, which was around during any disputed times relevant to our debate)
    • If we say that it's because God spoke to them, then I say show the evidence
    • If, we say that, as you claims, that the Bible itself allows this extra Biblical-doctrine, then I would say that since I can toss the Bible, I do not trust the Bible to allow this extra-Biblical doctrine. I don't have a definitive way to interpret the Bible. You cannot have me use Bible-sponsored doctrine for this - doing so employs circular logic, in other words

    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Show me your evidence (none / 0) (#550)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:23:00 AM EST

    The evidence I presented from the first century of the Church explained how Holy Tradition works and why Christians from the historic versions of Christianity believe it is a method by which humans can know Christian doctrine is true. Apparently you either didn't bother to read it or you're too much of a moron to understand what you wrote.

    Go back and read the excerpt from 1 Clement and then tell me how the hell you can state, "I'm not interested in what the church fathers think" if you really want to understand why Christians claim knowledge of the divine.

    [ Parent ]

    "holy" and "divine"? (none / 0) (#584)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:06:52 PM EST

    I will not discuss theology until I have confirmation of God. I can't have confirmation of God until you provide me with a concise method to deduce fact from fiction in the Bible - yes, lets just stick to the Bible - you haven't shown how these other doctrines prevent violation of "circular logic" fallacy and until you do, I can't consider them anymore than you would consider the Hadid - which explains and interprets the Koran.

    Until you do, we are talking in circles, ya big fat idiot. You are saying, "if you would just believe like I do, than you would believe like I do."

    I won't go dissect 1 Clement any more than I have to dissect any specific story in the Bible. Contrary to popular Christian belief, for example, I also do not have to "read the Bible cover to cover". Despite your flawed analogies with Darwin, Genesis is enough to raise the metaphor or literal issue that I raised in my piece - the same way that finding a human skull in the rib cage of a t-rex would toss out evolution.

    I could assume that there is no circular logic and dissect it, but, I think I've assumed enough as it is to bring the discussion this far when actually, it should have been halted a few posts back by your inability to address my very few actual points.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You are arguing in a circle (none / 1) (#591)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 02:05:03 PM EST

    I will not discuss theology until I have confirmation of God.
    Idiot, arguing about the existence of God is theology. Your statement amounts to "I will not discuss biology until I have confirmation of life." How the hell are you going to define life without recourse to biology?

    [ Parent ]
    apparently.. (none / 0) (#612)
    by infinitera on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 06:10:05 PM EST

    Metaphysics becomes a dirty word the moment you start talking about the divine. I wonder if he has that opinion of all philosophical debate - from his grasp of logic, it would seem so.

    [ Parent ]
    Shhh. Don't spoil the surprise. /nt (none / 0) (#614)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 07:44:45 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    ROFL ROFL (none / 0) (#619)
    by davros4269 on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:07:51 AM EST


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    ROFL, ya big fat idiot! (none / 0) (#618)
    by davros4269 on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:07:04 AM EST

    Well, I said I wasn't going to respond to any but the other thread, but here goes:

    From dictionary.com: The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.

    Did you know? Or, did you forget? I posted this into the other thread. This definition strongly implies to me that one must already believe in god(s) to discuss theology. "The nature of God". I don't believe in God, what nature can he have for me? He has no nature if he doesn't exist.

    ROFL, it's funny how you call me an idiot when you make these silly mistakes, ya big fat idiot! ;)

    tootles - see other post
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    You didn't answer my question (none / 1) (#630)
    by big fat idiot on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 07:14:16 AM EST

    I won't reply until you do.

    How can you answer the question of whether or not life exists without recourse to biology?

    [ Parent ]

    ignorant prattle, again (none / 0) (#632)
    by infinitera on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 08:15:56 AM EST

    Theology and philosophy have always been one field. Do you see the rational part? Did you just gloss over that?

    I presume your education consists of closing your eyes and theorizing blindly on the nature of things, rather than actually finding out for yourself through inquiry.

    [ Parent ]

    And another thing (none / 1) (#520)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 06:55:51 PM EST

    Further, lets assume that somehow I was able to deduce that the Bible said other sources are ok. If these sources than point back and clarify what is fact or fiction in the Bible, than we still have circular logic! You are claiming that neither can stand on it's own, because for your point to make sense, you require more than a single source.
    The circular logic is only in your mind. Throughout my post, I've maintained that the Bible is dependent on the Church for its authority. I only mentioned the passages in the Bible that confirm this because of your idiotic notion that the Bible is the only valid source of doctrine for the Christian.

    [ Parent ]
    One more (none / 1) (#522)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 07:01:25 PM EST

    If the Bible stands on it's own, than we have no definitive way to tell fact from fiction. These other doctrines can't stand on their own - they require the Bible to justify that they are acceptable.
    You've yet to offer any proof for your assertion that the Bible ought to be the sole source of Christian doctrine. Please do so, thanks.

    [ Parent ]
    Okay, I lied, I've got one more thing (none / 0) (#524)
    by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 07:07:22 PM EST

    The letter of Clement of Rome to the Church at Corinth is a first century document that illustrates the use of oral tradition in the Christian Church. In one passage, Clement shows how tradition is handed down by the apostles from Jesus on a specific issue, that of appointing bishops:
    And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop's office. For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered unblameably to the flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all--these men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration. For it will be no light sin for us, if we thrust out those who have offered the gifts of the bishop's office unblameably and holily. Blessed are those presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their departure was fruitful and ripe: for they have no fear lest any one should remove them from their appointed place. For we see that ye have displaced certain persons, though they were living honourably, from the ministration which they had "respected" blamelessly. [1 Clement, Lightfoot translation, paragraph 44]
    Now, where is your evidence outside of the Bible from the first century of Christianity that the Bible is the only source of doctrine for the Christian Church?

    [ Parent ]
    not the point, friend, and you know it (none / 0) (#541)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:50:29 AM EST

    See my other recent post - I don't accept this doctrine because it's either Bible sponsored or entirely the work of humans. If it's the work of humans, then the burden of proof is on you to show me why God adheres to what humans have said. Further, if I all I have to argue against is the opinion of a human, I feel quite confident in my definition of myself as "atheist".

    If, on the other hand, it's justified by the Bible, then we employ circular logic.

    Btw, I don't require proof, merely evidence. To use evolution, which you brought up - I can't prove evolution to be true, yet all the evidence that we have and that keeps coming in points that way.

    I can conjecture, also, that aliens are very probable, though we have no direct evidence that they exist now. We don't even have reason to believe in the probability of God, in my opinion (I expressly avoided probabilities in my piece to keep it simpler).

    He isn't self-evident, and many humans have conjured up various religions. It almost seems natural for us - this is better explored in other posts - see one of the other 500 posts for more information - this is off topic, sorry.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Can you read English? (none / 1) (#549)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:18:40 AM EST

    (1) I asked for evidence, not proof. You've provided none.

    (2)You made an assertion on why you reject the God of Christianity. That assertion is wrong. Your conclusion is based on that assertion. Your conclusion doesn't necessarily follow. You won't admit your ignorance, nor do you understand Christianity enough to reformulate your argument.

    Go back and read the history of the Christian Church and a bit of theology from some of the ancient Christian Churches or shut the hell up before you make an even bigger ass out of yourself.

    [ Parent ]

    Just one small point (none / 0) (#530)
    by pyramid termite on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 10:04:36 PM EST

    I claim that the Bible is all we have, more or less. You claim that the Bible itself shows that other sources are valid.

    I could be wrong about this, but I'm almost certain that "big fat idiot" is arguing from a Catholic and not a evangelical Protestant perspective. In the Catholic tradition, the Church's writings and doctrine are considered to be authoritative, especially when interpretation of the Bible is concerned. The Catholic doctrine is not solely based upon the Bible, but on many other documents, some of which have been written by priests, others by Popes, including the present one. (And yes, tradition, oral or otherwise, but this has faded over the years.) In fact, the Pope is considered infallable when speaking upon matters of doctrine and therefore his writings have as much importance to the faithful Catholic as the Bible.

    Therefore, you can't just argue against the Bible, you need to argue against the Church, also. As an ex-Catholic, I understand what I'm talking about here.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    I'm also an ex-catholic (none / 0) (#538)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:11:45 AM EST

    Lets use the Socratic method:

    • If any of those writings are based on, or merely presents an interpretation of, the Bible, then my tossing stands
    • If not, we must ask why humans are writing doctrine and not God
    • If we say that it's because God spoke to them, then I say show the evidence
    • If, we say that, as big fat idiot claims, the Bible itself allows this extra Biblicle-doctrine, then I would say that since I can toss the Bible, I do not trust the Bible to allow this extra-Biblical doctrine

    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    Do you know what the Socratic method is? (none / 0) (#552)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:53:15 AM EST

    You didn't ask one question. Aside from being ignorant of Plato, Christianity and logic, you are also ignorant of Socrates and the Socratic Method. Are there any other topics that you'd like to prove yourself to be ignorant about?

    Your points, one by one:

    1. If any of those writings are based on, or merely presents an interpretation of, the Bible, then my tossing stands

      This is a non-sequitor because of the clause 'or merely presents an interpretation of'

    2. If not, we must ask why humans are writing doctrine and not God

      This is a straw man. You are falsely assuming that the writings of humans are necessarily inspired by the author. Why did you ever even consider allowing the Bible into evidence, then? The Bible is universally accepted as being written by men.

    3. If we say that it's because God spoke to them, then I say show the evidence

      I did in an earlier post and you either ignored it or were too idiotic to understand it, nor did you require this evidence for the Bible.

    4. If, we say that, as big fat idiot claims, the Bible itself allows this extra Biblicle-doctrine, then I would say that since I can toss the Bible, I do not trust the Bible to allow this extra-Biblical doctrine

      But as sources outside the Bible that the Church accepts as authoritative teach the same thing, we do not have to depend on the Bible. I have pointed this out multiple time and each time you've ignored this point.



    [ Parent ]
    8 year old logic (none / 0) (#587)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:26:30 PM EST

    That subject doesn't refer to logic that is 8 years old, but rather, logic that an 8 year old child would use, lol!

    This is similar to your "dissection" of my statement that "men cannot fly" - you talked about airplanes, when you knew what I meant, as did everyone else that read it. In any case, if you don't like point number 1, separate that If into several Ifs connected with ANDs instead of that OR and attack the as separate issues. If I had said, "and/or", I would have beem more precise. Forgive my attempt to cut down on the size of the post

    As for point 2, if the writings of the Bible are not inspired by a Godly author than I win - I'm an atheist because there is no evidence for God. If they ARE said to be inspired by God than we have a bit more work. Of course the Bible was written by men! However, most of it's proponents claim divine guidance. An atheist wouldn't care, at least I wouldn't, if it were also universally accepted that the Bible was written by men ALONE?? Isn't this obvious and self evident? Who is using straw men arguments, ya big fat idiot? :) I don't consider the Bible evidence per se, however, it is the only thing at all that we have to consider, given that God is not self-evident and that other doctrines are merely interpretations (if they are not, you haven't shown this without requiring circular logic).

    You've provided no evidence that God spoke to anyone. Evidence is of course subjective, but if there were what I would consider evidence, I wouldn't be an atheist, lol!!

    Who cares what the Church considers authoritative? Who Gives them this authority, God?? => circular logic. Self imposed? => circular logic.

    Try again, and please, lets keep to just one thread, since all of our threads end in the same discussion.

    And yes, the Socratic method of asking nested if questions is what I am using. I don't agree with all of it. For example, I do not agree with the notion that we know, "nothing". But asking logical if questions is a great way to cut down BS rather quickly!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Show me where I mentioned airplanes (none / 0) (#590)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 02:02:23 PM EST

    if the writings of the Bible are not inspired by a Godly author than I win
    I never claimed it wasn't and your inability to understand that is why you're an idiot.
    I'm an atheist because there is no evidence for God. If [the writings in the Bible] ARE said to be inspired by God than we have a bit more work.
    The exact same argument that you here offer for why the Bible is authoritative for the Christian Church is the same I offered for the Church being the primary authority. You accept the argument for the Bible, but not for the Church. This is why you're an idiot.
    You've provided no evidence that God spoke to anyone
    I offered a primary source that accounts for why the Church is an authority for Christian belief. (A teaching that the Bible concurs with.) I offered this in a form that is independent of the teachings in the Bible.

    You have offered no evidence, other than your say so, that the Bible is any authority for the Christian Church, much less the sole authority for the Christian Church.

    Who cares what the Church considers authoritative? Who Gives them this authority, God?? => circular logic.
    This argument also works against the Bible, yet you seem to accept that the Bible is an authority for Christians, you even claim that it is the only authority.
    Self imposed? => circular logic.
    Here I agree. However, you seem to be unable to understand the distinction between the Christian Church being the primary authority on Christian doctrine and how we can (or cannot) know why the Church is authoritative.

    And by the way, it isn't a circular argument. You prove once again that you're an idiot. Do me a favor, lay your argument out in formal logical form in a fashion that is circular. I'm absolutely certain that you can't do it without adding premesis that are not stated here and ones that will not hold up to analysis when looked at critically.

    And yes, the Socratic method of asking nested if questions is what I am using.
    Moron, you claim to be using the Socratic method in a post that consisted entirely of bullet point statements. That is the method of instruction of Socrates foes, the sophists.

    [ Parent ]
    you have not wisdom, sir! (none / 0) (#617)
    by davros4269 on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:01:35 AM EST

    "For all you knowledge, you know not wisdom"

    I didn't know they had bulleted lists back in those days, but I'll take your word for it. Further, since I've read that Socrates was opposed to writing anything down, I suppose if his opponents did, than I agree as well. Form what I know about Socrates, one method was to ask someone a series of if-then questions, taking people down paths and getting them to realize things they hadn't before.

    You weren't the airplane idiot? I've answered so many of these, I get confused. You two make similar arguments, so I assumed...my apologies...you also follow me around on this forum, it seems, and respond to many of my posts, so, again, I assumed.

    First and foremost, I said earlier that certain red flags have popped up and I know when it's time to quit.

    Now then, since you haven't answer any of my questions, I will lay out your flaws and my points one last time, as concisely as I can. You may answer as you see fit, I'm movin' on, so to speak. I've considered myself the victor since the getgo, but feel free to contradict this, someone may read it and gain something from it. The last word is yours, my friend.

    First off, I pasted the definition of theology which strongly implicates that one needs to believe in God. Since I don't, I have no basic interest in reading your Christian theology. This already assumes God and can therefore tell me nothing. If I have to assume God to evaluate text about God, that equates to circular logic, my friend.

    Now then, the Bible. If mankind wrote the Bible without divine guidance then I have no issue. I'm still an atheist for obvious reasons. Simple, no?

    If the Bible IS said to be written by divine intervention, then as an atheist that relies on evidence, I need to investigate this source. I have, and you are correct, it's not worthy of being called evidence.

    Firstly, if I take it literally, it conflicts with both history and science. Second, if I take it to be metaphor, I have no definitive way to determine what is metaphor and what isn't. This causes many problems, not the least of which is that it renders it an unreliable source, because, relevant to my atheism, even God could be a metaphor, who bloody knows?

    Ok, here is where you come in, claiming that my flaw is that Bible is not the only source. You claim is that there are other doctrines which some Christians rely on to formulate a belief in God.

    Accepting this, we must find the truth of these documents, in a non-assuming fashion - we can't assume God yet, because we are placing these items in exhibit A box to see if in fact they point to God.

    Accepting that, I would ask, why is this doctrine divinely inspired (for, obviously, if it's not divinely inspired then as an atheist looking for evidence for God I would not care)?

    Ok, at this point you showed me a Bible passage which indicated that external doctrines are allowed. Fallacy - since we can't determine what is fact or fiction in the Bible, this passage itself could be a metaphor, hence I cannot accept the new doctrine on this reason alone.

    The other doctrines have to stand on their own. The task is then up to you to show some evidence that they are divinely inspired. You have given me none. You've simply insulted my understanding of several famous philosophers and other small logical quibbles - you may even be partially right - however, that doesn't address the point! Typos, a misplaced AND instead of an OR, etc., you haven't shown in a non-circular fashion what I've asked for!

    I'm not interested in theology; how the Church thinks that they have the right to Claim the Bible - why is this allowed in a non-circular fashion? (ironically, I'd bet that many Protestant folks may want similar answers :))You've given responses, but not answers. "The Church takes ownership of the Bible - you'd know this if you had read those doctrines [not an exact quote]" - this is not circular logic?

    You are making side claims and doing it with circular reasoning.

    We can't use the Bible to prove that other doctrines are allowed. Bible adherents claim that the Bible is divinely inspired. This cannot be confirmed.

    It cannot be confirmed that any other Christian doctrines are divinely inspired, even assuming that they aren't heavily reliant on the Bible. This leaves text without God, therefore, I'm an atheist for lack of evidence - this ignores other gods, see my piece as to why, etc.

    Live long and prosper, ya big fat idiot and remember for future debates, attacking the format your opponent uses is fine and good, but not enough. If you lack the meat to make your own claims, you aren't any better than a spelling-nazi who thinks he's won a debate because the opponent forgot to run the document through his spell-checker. That was tip number 1. Tip number 2 is that in my experience, the one that ignores questions which are repeatedly asked and starts the name calling first is the one who feels, and usually is, defeated. Tip 3 is that you may want to change your username - your opponents can call you by your handle, making it unclear whether or not they are actually insulting you ;)

    Tootles
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    WIthout doubt you don't understand logic at all (none / 0) (#631)
    by big fat idiot on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 07:21:54 AM EST

    attacking the format your opponent uses is fine and good, but not enough
    What an idiotic thing to day. Logic is entirely about form and cares not for content at all. Similarly, science doesn't care about content, if the form is not correct.

    And far from being the one who doesn't answer questions, you have repeatedly refused to offer any evidence as to why I should believe your assertion that the Bible is the only source of Christian doctrine. This assertion plays a big part in your reasoning and it is fallacious.

    Further, you (at least in the beginning) were willing to accept the Bible as a source of Christian doctrine without any evidence. It is enormously inconsistent to then require evidence from somebody who claims that the Church is the primary source of Christian doctrine.

    Lastly, you refuse to lay out your argument in a valid logical form as I have requested. This is a big indication that you can't.

    [ Parent ]

    Some more idiocy pointed out (none / 0) (#641)
    by big fat idiot on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 10:42:43 AM EST

    I pasted the definition of theology which strongly implicates that one needs to believe in God. Since I don't, I have no basic interest in reading your Christian theology. This already assumes God and can therefore tell me nothing. If I have to assume God to evaluate text about God, that equates to circular logic, my friend.
    You appear entirely unfamilar with the fundamentals of logic. One can analyze Christian theology entirely in a propositional manner that does not beg the quesion simply by prepending assertions with "if it is the case such that ..."

    This is useful because it then allows one to examine what should follow if the premises are true.

    If the Bible IS said to be written by divine intervention, then as an atheist that relies on evidence, I need to investigate this source. I have, and you are correct, it's not worthy of being called evidence.
    Consider what would happen if you substituted the word Church for Bible in that first sentence.
    If the Church IS said to have been created by divine intervention, then as an atheist that relies on evidence, I need to investigate this source.
    But you are not willing to examine the Church. Why are you willing to examine the Bible, but not the Church?
    I'm not interested in theology; how the Church thinks that they have the right to Claim the Bible - why is this allowed in a non-circular fashion? (ironically, I'd bet that many Protestant folks may want similar answers :))You've given responses, but not answers. "The Church takes ownership of the Bible - you'd know this if you had read those doctrines [not an exact quote]" - this is not circular logic?
    Again, why do you ignore my request to lay this out in a formal argument? Perhaps because it is not a circular argument?
    It cannot be confirmed that any other Christian doctrines are divinely inspired
    Per your own words, you have not examine the claims of the Church regarding these documents. You have not looked at the evidence. How then can you then concluded that they cannot be confirmed?

    The answer is because you are an idiot and unfamilar with the way logic, the scientific method and the English language function.

    [ Parent ]

    Sure, they had bulleted lists (none / 0) (#647)
    by pyramid termite on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 04:41:45 PM EST

    They even had windows and eunichs.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Not arguing from the Catholic viewpoint (none / 0) (#553)
    by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:56:47 AM EST

    I'm arguing from the viewpoint of all of the ancient Christian Churches. These include the Catholic Churches (Roman, Ukranian, Greek, etc.) as well as the Orthodox Churches (Russian, Greek, Romanian, Syrian, Arabic, etc.) as well as the non-Chalcedonian Churches of the east (the Coptic Churches, the Jacobite Churches) as well as the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Anglican Communion, some of the older Lutheran Churches and (probably) the Assyrian Church of the East which is, as far as I know, the sole surviving Nestorian Church. I may have missed some.

    [ Parent ]
    Some analogies (none / 0) (#288)
    by cronian on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:30:03 AM EST

    Can you write the square root of 5? You can write 2.236, but that isn't really the number. You can explain it for how it relates to other things, but you can't write its name. You can assign every letter of the alphabet, or every word a number. Multiple letters or words can even be combined into one number*. If our language is going to make any sense, we relations between words. So assume God can be included in our system. I will assume our logical system doesn't explain everything, because otherwise it would in itself constitute God--although there may be more to say on this point. Thus, it doesn't show all the relations of God, thereby not defining God, hence a contradiction. Note the implication of the above is that God's existance is undecidable.

    Despite God being undecideable, I think God is useful. God defines that which cannot be defined making things simpler---maybe only technically---to understand.Furthermore just because God isn't named in our system, a part of God can be named (I.E. something having God attributes in relation to all in the system). Yet, by having the concept of God, we may better realize our inherent limitations.

    Just because something is complicated, lied about, misused, and misunderstood throughout the world, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. When it was discovered, that all numbers are rational**, the Pythagoreans tried to suppress the knowledge, because it contradicted their theological beliefs about numbers being rational, and made up of the fractions of whole numbers. It didn't come directly from the numbers they could easily find.

    * Let p_1,p_2,p_3,...,p_k be the first k primes. We can combine k numbers a_1,a_2,,a_k into one as p_1^(a_1)p_2^(a_2)...p_k^(a_k)

    ** Assume (a/b)^2=5
    where a,b are positive relatively prime numbers
    a^2=5b^2
    So, 5|a so let a'=5a
    25a'^2=5b^2 ---> 5a'^2=b^2 which implies 5|b but that contradicts that a,b are relatively prime.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    Um, dude, I can write the square root of 5. (none / 0) (#329)
    by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:32:46 PM EST

    Square root of 5: a s.t. a2 = 5. Silly. I believe you may have meant a "decimal representation of the square root of 5". As for the rest, I don't think the analogy's very helpful, but that's just me.

    And I believe you meant "not all numbers are rational".

    [ Parent ]

    wrong (none / 0) (#364)
    by cronian on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:14:29 PM EST

    What does a.s.t stand for? Mathematically, I think you are saying the square root of 5 is {x|x^2=5}. Unfortunately, that really work because you didn't say in what set x must be a member of. Are you refering to -sqrt(5), sqrt(5)or even the vector (sqrt(1/2*sqrt(5)),sqrt(1/2*sqrt(5))) dotted with itself.

    Defining the square root of 5 is actually a bit tricky. One method of deriving the reals is to consider the equivalences classes of Cauchy Sequences. The square root of 5 can the eqivalence class represented by a sequence where x^2-5 approaches 0.

    Algebraically, you can look at field extensions of Z[x] which is the polynomials over the integers. Although, that won't get you all of the real numbers. The numbers you can't get via this method are called transcendentals, and include such numbers as pi and e.

    The sqrt(5) can be defined, but it was outside the scope of allowable definitions for the Pythagoreans. When the sqrt(5) is then defined you can express all its properties, and limit its context.

    So I say either there is some logical system that contains all which would then be God, or else God can't be described I.E. you can keep extending what you have like I described for the square root of 5.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    You don't want to start with me. (none / 0) (#393)
    by gzt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:43:31 PM EST

    s.t. stands for "such that". And the obvious choice for a space was R. Please don't lecture me about the real numbers, as you forgot to point out what damn metric space your Cauchy sequences use - for one can complete the rationals using any metric, only some of which will produce the square root of 5.

    Anyways, you can use these analogies if you like and find them helpful, I don't, but that's just me.

    [ Parent ]

    Well (none / 0) (#431)
    by cronian on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:40:37 AM EST

    You can indeed use other metric spaces to complete the rationals. You can define a metric
    d(x,y) =0 if x=y
    =1 if x not equal y
    You can then take its completion, and get back the integers. OK. However, unless otherwise you generally usually apply the standard metric d(x,y)=|x-y|. Although, many at U of C don't seem to like following standard mathematical conventions so maybe you consider a P-Adic metric standard, which may not neccesarily be a bad thing (Note: I was taught by them in elementry school that 2/4=1/2 so there is no point bothering to reduce fractions among other things.)

    Anyways, you can use these analogies if you like and find them helpful, I don't, but that's just me.
    I would like to better to expalin what I mean. Although, it can at times be difficult. I'll try again. You mentioned that you were working in R. I was trying to say is that if you are working in some set, there is a limit to how much you can express about something. If S is our set, then there are only so many functions, and other things on it. However, we can then form a bigger set, by considering all the functions on that set. By God I mean that whose scope isn't limited. All of the properties apply to it. God is that which formed by the recursion of recursions. Yet, that gets real big, real fast, and so we can't express it.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    you're wrong from the start. (none / 2) (#430)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:28:49 AM EST

    Before you can say anything about God you have to define it.

    I can perfectly well tell you that Aristotle was, say, a bloody fool, without having to define "Aristotle". In fact, according to the theory of proper names in recent analytic philosophy (e.g. Kripe's "Naming and Necessity"), my statements about Aristotle remain statements about him even if it becomes known that I had a faulty theory of who he was (i.e. I had "misdefined" the name). Why do you think "God" is any different?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    not that I've read any Kripke (none / 0) (#483)
    by Battle Troll on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 03:54:32 PM EST

    But I think it's clear that the parent poster meant something along the lines of "in order to discuss the propositional/theoretical case for God, it's necessary to define your terms." I agree that these two statements should not be conflated.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Are you sure... (none / 0) (#491)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:13:50 PM EST

    ...that "God" is really a rigid designator? Given the conventional definitions of God, contingent attributes aren't really an issue. Or maybe I'm just not thinking about this correctly. Actually, what sense does it make to speak of God within all possible worlds?

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    No, I'm not sure. (none / 0) (#514)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 06:03:41 PM EST

    Which is a pretty good reason to bring it up, isn't it?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Hmm... (none / 0) (#519)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 06:51:57 PM EST

    I was hoping you had some well reasoned and clever argument up your sleeve. It's all a bit vexing.

    On the one hand, it seems obvious that God is a rigid designator, seeing as the referent should be the same irrespective of any contingent features of world. On the other hand, God posseses no contingent features and I've always thought that rigid designation applied to the establishment of a referent irrespective of the set of all possible contingent features belonging to said referent. And then there's the ontological issue of whether God can be said to exist within a real or possible world (or if existing within a world is necessary condition in order to invoke rigid designation).

    Anyhow, I'm glad you brought it up, as it's kept my mind busy all day.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Tripe (1.81 / 11) (#196)
    by Lord Snott on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 07:14:51 PM EST

    Sorry, but your article is based on garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.

    If we allow this kind of reasoning, reality itself breaks down, or rather, our understanding of it. Everyone knows that one can't prove a negative.

    Utter rubbish. You don't have to prove a negative. Most of science is based on black box reasoning.

    When Newton was devising his laws of gravity, he didn't know what caused it. Mass did. He knew that, but how? It didn't matter, mass has a little black box in which gravity was created, he didn't need to know how it was created to describe it's effects. But it would be almost impossible to know more about the creation of gravity without knowing it's effects.

    Voltaire said "If god didn't exist, it would be necessary to create him." Until we discover how something happens, it's perfectly reasonable to allow people to say "God handles that bit, we'll worry about it once we have more background knowledge."

    Our understanding of reality will not break down if we wait for other areas of knowledge to catch up.

    I find it almost offensive that you would generalise to the point of absurdity. "Our understanding of reality will break down"? Gimme a friggin' break.


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    What's really rubbish? (none / 1) (#228)
    by davros4269 on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:39:42 PM EST

    Voltaire said "If god didn't exist, it would be necessary to create him." Until we discover how something happens, it's perfectly reasonable to allow people to say "God handles that bit, we'll worry about it once we have more background knowledge."

    That bold text is the real "rubbish", to use your term. Do you believe that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence? Many agnostics have quoted this to me in regards to my piece, although I have no problem with this perfectly rational and logical statement - it's why I run SETI@Home 24/7!

    You, however, want to go further and insert God into the various "black boxes" of science? Based on what and, why? If we stick God into an atom, and then later discover it's true nature, have we lowered the power of God? Utter non-sense, IMO. "Allow" people to believe something? People believe what they want, however, such a practice should be strongly discouraged in any rational society!!

    To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today. -- Isaac Asimov

    In this case, I prefer my sci-fi author to yours. As for my statement about breaking down reality, consider the agnostic that believes that paradoxes might be possible. How do we include this belief into the fold when deducing what the universe seems to be telling us by observation? We need a systematic, consistent and logical way to advance our knowledge. Can't we say that we do not think paradoxes logical and therefore, we do not think them possible, even though we don't know everything? That was my basic point.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Hehehe :-) (none / 1) (#529)
    by Lord Snott on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:45:12 PM EST

    ..."such a practice should be strongly discouraged in any rational society!!"

    Rational society!? Where the hell do you live!?

    Can I come too? :-)

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    [ Parent ]
    God of the gaps? (none / 2) (#230)
    by kitten on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 10:59:21 PM EST

    The more knowledge we gain, the less need we have of the concept of God, if all we're using him for is to explain things we can't currently explain. Sooner or later we will be able to explain the phenomenon, and then God loses that much more potency.

    Until we discover how something happens, it's perfectly reasonable to allow people to say "God handles that bit, we'll worry about it once we have more background knowledge."

    No, it isn't. What's reasonable is to say "We don't know. Let's investigate it until we find out."

    By using God to explain an unknown, you're effectively sweeping any intellectual challenge under the rug. Let's not bother finding out what causes rain - let's just say "God does it", eh?
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    Not practical (none / 1) (#235)
    by Lord Snott on Sun Jan 18, 2004 at 11:56:56 PM EST


    "We don't know. Let's investigate it until we find out."

    You can't "just investigate", I understand where you're coming from, but the real world doesn't operate like that.

    Throughout the history of science, independant simultanious discoveries have been made. Not through plagiarism (like Newton often claimed), but because the underlying science had matured to the point the new discoveries become obvious. You can't "investigate" until you discover calculus, once the underlying mathematics have matured enough, calculus becomes the next logical step.

    Darwin didn't suddenly become an evolutionist (his father was an evolutionist), he already believed and searched for the motivation, the director, of evolution until he dicovered natural selection. A discovery he couldn't have made without astronomers and architechs work coming beforehand.

    How does a DNA sequence create a human being? It would be almost certainly fruitless and a waste of resourses to concentrtate on such a narrow goal. But mathematics has given us chaos theory, and fractal geometry, which gives us a clue as to how it may work.

    What are the chances that studying the chemical and biological properties would have led to something as basic yet complex as the Mandelbrot set? What are the chances we could have discovered fractal geometry without the computer sciences building the machines that calculated and displayed the diagrams?

    My point was, using "black boxes" is a necessary part of science, completely unavoidable. Every discovery can become a part of the underlying science of a discovery in a completely different field. It's not sweeping anything under the rug, it's giving an unknown value the moniker "X", and then waiting till we have the rest of the equation before assigning any value to "X".


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    [ Parent ]
    that's just fine (none / 0) (#236)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:15:42 AM EST

    As long as we don't "stick God" into any of those boxes.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    why not? (none / 0) (#317)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:21:46 PM EST

    If it's a "black box", God is just as valid as anything else.

    A good scientist would put God on equal footing as everything else.


    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    Not everything. (none / 0) (#335)
    by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:17:59 PM EST

    A question mark would be more valid than any unsubstantiated guess.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    he didn't say that... (none / 0) (#373)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:43:40 PM EST

    He didn't say "anything is possible", he said "anything but God is possible", which is not a valid use of his own scientific method.

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]
    no he wouldn't (none / 0) (#547)
    by davros4269 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:06:43 AM EST

    Suppose an atom is a black box. Mysterious, sure, but we know something about it - it's small.

    A good scientist would not put elephants into this black box - based on evidence thus far, they wouldn't fit! Why should he put in God?

    Why put a black box into a black box? There is nothing definitive we can say about God. It serves no rational purpose to put God into any black box, unless you come from a theological angle, and want to use God to justify atoms or black boxes in general.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    In the black box titled "the origin ... (none / 0) (#346)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:06:27 PM EST

    ... of the universe" or "First Cause", many have put God. You object to this saying that we cannot prove God, have never seen him, etc. etc.

    So, what's in the black box now? Nothing - that seems to be the alternative.

    I object to this. We cannot prove nothing, have never seen it, etc. etc.

    Don't these arguments cancel one another out?

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    In the black box titled "the origin ... (none / 0) (#354)
    by blight on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:35:33 PM EST

    God or Nothing? You make it sound so simple :)

    Let's complicate it: what is the difference between God and Nothing?

    how would you define Nothing? how would you define God? Of course, without circular definitions.


    [ Parent ]

    All I can say ... (none / 0) (#384)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:13:23 PM EST

    ... is Nothing is omniabsence. God is omnipresence. Some, notably Buddhists, would say they're the same.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    cf. Leibniz on the subject: (none / 1) (#502)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:56:06 PM EST

    Why is there something rather than nothing?

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Sheesh (none / 1) (#242)
    by kitten on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:59:34 AM EST

    When I said "let's investigate and find out", you took that far too literally. I understand that it doesn't always work that way, and that certain knowledge must be in place in order to gain new knowledge.

    All I meant was, it's absurd to say "God did it" and shutting your brain off, instead of continuing the process of discovery.

    It's not sweeping anything under the rug, it's giving an unknown value the moniker "X", and then waiting till we have the rest of the equation before assigning any value to "X".

    Perhaps, but why not just say "We don't know yet, but we're going to find out sooner or later as long as we continue."? Why assign it to be "God"? Saying "I don't know" gives you an incentive to find out. Saying "God" gives you an incentive to sit on your ass, thinking you already have the answer.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    Motivation (none / 1) (#528)
    by Lord Snott on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:08:34 PM EST


    I didn't say you had to assign it to God, I said it was reasonable to allow people to assign it to God. Sorry to get semantic, but what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another.

    I consider Isaac Newton a genius, he's one of my favourite figures of history. He advanced physics, mathematics, chemistry, and optics (in spite of being an obnoxious prick), yet he believed comets were sent by God to fuel the sun.

    There was obviously too much going on in his head for any normal, sane person to deal with (he had a few mental breakdowns), and he found comfort in saying "God handles that bit, God keeps all this going, but I want to find out how he does it." He hardly "sat on his ass".

    I guess the difference in what you are saying compared me, is I think God works not in mysterious ways, but in ingenius ways, using the laws of the universe he created, which are completely dicoverable/knowable, and you seem to think I mean "That's magic, we can never understand it, so we won't try". That's not where I'm coming from.

    (Sorry to over-simplify, but I'm not sure I'm being understood - English is not my first language.)

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    [ Parent ]
    Proving negatives (none / 0) (#237)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:27:36 AM EST

    I'm sick of all this talk about proving negatives. Where does it all come from? Tons of people go back and forth "can't prove a negative," "don't have to prove a negative," etc. What the hell, man?

    --
    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    [ Parent ]
    The aphorism is probably derived from positivist (none / 2) (#246)
    by qpt on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:18:57 AM EST

    Thought. Since positivists only admit sense perceptions as sources of knowledge, and it's difficult to sense the universal absence (as opposed to immediate absence) of something, a positivist has trouble knowing that something doesn't exist.

    The replacement of knowledge with proof in the common phrasing is probably due to a rationalist conflation of the two. I don't know why the saying came to encompass all negative propositions as opposed to merely propositions affirming nonexistence.

    My best guess, then, is that the worst of two competing schools of epistemology were combined and then the bastard child was truncated, giving us the contemporary, "you can't prove a negative."

    Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
    [ Parent ]

    when did you stop beating your wife? (none / 0) (#315)
    by horny smurf on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:15:18 PM EST

    I heard a story about Lyndon Johnson, during one his early Texas compaigns, he told one of his campaign workers to start spreading rumors that his opponent liked to have sex with sheep. Te caompaign worker asked if it was true, and Mr Johnson replied, "no, but I want him to have to deny being a sheep fucker".

    Point being, someone makes absurd claims and rather than providing proof, the onus is on you to prove it's not true, or at least deny it.

    [ Parent ]

    The closest solid statement (none / 0) (#505)
    by error 404 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:04:03 PM EST

    "Universal negatives are not subject to observations."

    In the real universe you can't prove jack (OK, there are semantic constructs "pink elephants are pink", "flightless waterfowl do not fly" that you can prove, but those proofs are more mathemetical in nature than scientific) with absolute certainty, you can only demonstrate to a high degree of confidence. And you certainly can demonstrate a negative to a high degree of confidence.

    What you can't do is observe, as in see or show examples of, a universal negative.

    OK, here's an example: whales do not nest in trees. This is demonstrable to a very high degree of confidence based on what we know about trees and whales, by a large number of observations of trees and whales and tree-dwelling organisms. By predictions based on the hypothesis - I predict, based on my hypothesis, that many future examinations of trees will reveal a remarkably whale-free condition. I further predict that, should a whale nest ever be found, it will be found in a non-arboreal habitat. That whales do not nest in trees is not observable - you can't check all the trees. It is also not, in the strict sense, provable other than by a semantic trick of adding "non-tree-dwelling" to the definition (not description, definition - such that if an otherwise entirely whale-like organism is found living in a tree it is not, by definition, a whale) of "whale". And if you add "non-tree-dwelling" to the definition of whale, the question moves from the realm of science to that of math.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]

    An overused saying (none / 3) (#238)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:30:25 AM EST

    I'm ashamed to quote the overused saying but it's true: comments on this story are like assholes. Everyone's got one, and they all stink.

    --
    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    fucking idiots (1.06 / 15) (#278)
    by MatrixTheorist on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:40:57 AM EST

    you atheists disgust me. you highlight your utter fucking incomprehension. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT LOGIC IS! allow me to explain it; you might want to rest for a bit so you can recharge your limited mental energy.

    LOGIC is the art of understanding A SINGLE THING AT ONCE. FOCUSING on a single detail before going to the next. are you logical? so is my fucking calculator, dumbass.

    thinking BEYOND a single detail, including EVERYTHING in it's wonderful totality is how you experience God.

    "open-minded" you can't be open minded while you reject ANYTHING AT ALL. YOUR THOUGHTS have created this reality, go read SuperStringTheory or you will continue to be a stupid ape.

    your ego.. (none / 1) (#283)
    by MatrixTheorist on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:58:04 AM EST

    is your downfall, lose it and you can understand god. i read once that you should always start with doubts and end with certainties. i think atheism is a part of doubt, but your next step should be at least accepting the possibility rather than outright rejecting it. your senses are not the limit of actuality. your nothing but a fool if you don't continually revamp your concepts of WHAT IS. YOU absolutely must keep simplifying your ideas of how the world works until they can no longer be reduced.

    ALL leads to ZERO. ego is ONE and 1=0. your binary-machine-logic existence is not all that there is and you doom yourself to a life trapped in physicality while you continue to assume that your assumptions are correct. the MORE mistakes you make the greater the possibility you will eventually be right.

    [ Parent ]

    TimeCube guy? (none / 0) (#341)
    by kitten on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:55:09 PM EST

    Is that you?
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    timecube :) (none / 0) (#411)
    by MatrixTheorist on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:03:08 PM EST

    no, but ALL-IS-ONE. i understand him. however.. YOU ARE EDUCATED-STUPID. YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND TIMECUBE.

    hah.. just kidding, even if it is true..

    [ Parent ]

    time to go back on the meds /nt (none / 0) (#661)
    by melior on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 07:19:12 PM EST


    - That's OK, I wasn't really using all of my Constitutional rights anyway...
    [ Parent ]

    Ask a bird or a bee, is there a God? (none / 3) (#285)
    by R E D R U M on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:30:47 AM EST

    If it doesn't answer that _is_ the answer: God is a complex of neurons in your primate brain, arguments for his existence are grammar. Just grammar. "Is there a God" is some gibberish with a question mark at the end. That's what humans do.

    Shut up shut up just shut up.

    50,000 years into the future there'll be no humans. That's sad. OTOH there won't be anyone around to wonder publicly whether god exists. Joy!

    Believe whatever you want. It never made a difference before and won't make one now.

    -1 And God shalt strike thee with furious anger! (none / 3) (#286)
    by Azmeen on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:35:39 AM EST




    HTNet | Blings.info
    Open minds good! (1.33 / 6) (#301)
    by Zombie Pol Pot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:47:30 AM EST

    Make for getting zombie food easy! Juicy brains! Needing mind open for to get at! Bringing fish sauce for tasty brains! So very hungry!

    Hmmm. You haven't been the same... (none / 0) (#458)
    by bigchris on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:08:30 AM EST

    ... since you ate ta bu shi da yu.

    ---
    I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
    kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
    [ Parent ]
    Hmm (none / 1) (#304)
    by ShooterNeo on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 11:30:03 AM EST

    For me, 'agnosticim' isn't a belief.  It has the greatest probability of containing the correct answer.  That is, it is in fact most correct to apply the attribute 'I don't know' to something that I don't.  HOWEVER, I DO assign probabilities to the chances of something that I don't know about being one of different things.  For instance, I don't know for certain that humans cannot fly...but I think the probability is vanishingly small that they can fly.  So it's dumb to say "I don't believe humans can fly" because that implies there is a 100% chance they can't...the truthful answer is that nothing is ever 100%, you are a sack of meat that cannot observe everything in the world.  In a similar manner...I consider it a very small chance that a pink elephant exists at the bottom of a black hole...but I do acknowledge the chance of this being true is non-zero.

    Similiar arguments apply to god...except that since I don't know ANYTHING about what is outside the universe we can observe, I cannot assign ANY probabilities to the chances of a particular flavor of god existing.  I have NO information, so I don't base any decisions on whether or not a god exists.

    This is the best possible decision making system that currently exists.

    Also...the universe itself defies reason, so acknowledging one has a non-zero chance of being wrong is only being honest.

     Quite simply, there is no possible way that Mr. Atheist's logic system can explain his own existence....since he "is certain" he knows exactly what is out where he cannot observe.  He is "certain" that his reasoning is correct (and is certainly is as long as you stick to terrestrial analogies), yet there simply cannot be a way for anything to exist, ever, as nothing ever observed allows something to spring from absolutely nothing.  (and no, "vaccuum fluctuations and zero point energy" don't count, as the universe itself obviously gives rise to these phenomena)

    Since we exist, anything really IS possible, and thus the CORRECT answer to the question is open minded agnosticism that tracks probabilities for useful decision making in the actual world.  

    probability (none / 0) (#371)
    by cronian on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:39:03 PM EST

    In your context please rigorously define probability so it makes sense taking into account all paradoxes.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    You're not an athiest (none / 1) (#306)
    by Burning Straw Man on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 11:58:50 AM EST

    As I said above, I would consider God a claim. Not just any claim - an extraordinary claim, requiring therefore extraordinary evidence. I would further say that if no evidence can be provided, we can say, with some confidence, that God does not exist.

    Athiests are completely dogmatic in their belief that there is no God. There is no "level of confidence" assertion, there is no "if provided evidence I would change my mind". There is the simple belief that "there is no God".

    The key remark you made was "with some confidence". If you believe with "100% confidence" that God does not exist, then you are an athiest. If you believe with "99.999999% confidence" that God does not exist, then you are not an athiest.
    --
    your straw man is on fire...

    Everybody has their own terminology. (none / 1) (#334)
    by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:10:17 PM EST

    I'd put myself as a technical agnostic, practical atheist, essentially the same as Asimov. For all practical purposes, I'm atheist, but on a pure technical standpoint, I accept the unlikely possibility of a god.
    ___
    Length 17, Width 3
    [ Parent ]
    terminology vs. definition (none / 0) (#684)
    by Burning Straw Man on Sat Jan 24, 2004 at 05:00:08 PM EST

    There is no "terminology" when it comes to atheism, as it is a defined word with a specific meaning: "A disbelief in the existence of a deity". There is no secondary definition of an atheist as "A belief that there might be a deity, but that the chances are very very small".

    I can't place you as either an agnostic ("not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of a god") or a theist ("belief in the existence of a god"). Actually, if you "accept the unlikely possibility of a god" then perhaps you are even a theist after all?

    After all, guys don't say "well technically I'm gay, but practically I'm straight, as I accept the unlikely possibility that I might be attracted to the right girl".
    --
    your straw man is on fire...
    [ Parent ]

    of course atheists are open-minded (none / 2) (#307)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 12:02:20 PM EST

    not believing in pink elephants does not mean you are closed minded

    taking the charge of being closed-minded seriously merely means you equip your looney toons theological adversaries with more ammunition than they have

    i fully await with glee the death of the monotheistic religions, but i am chagrin to note that their long-overdue deaths will probably take many decades, dragging many human lives and minds with their decent, and i probably won't be alive to see the last wheeze of the looney bins of islam and judaism and christianity

    long live civilization

    death to it's enemy, organized religion


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    How 'bout disorganized religion? n/t (none / 0) (#318)
    by poopi on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:34:41 PM EST


    -----

    "It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

    you mean personal spirituality (nt) (none / 0) (#319)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:50:04 PM EST



    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    OK.... death here too? n/t (none / 0) (#321)
    by poopi on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:57:46 PM EST


    -----

    "It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

    huh? nt (none / 0) (#322)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:17:56 PM EST



    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    Is spirituality civilization's enemy? n/t (none / 0) (#325)
    by poopi on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:56:07 PM EST


    -----

    "It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

    personal spirituality good, organized religion bad (none / 0) (#327)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:59:20 PM EST



    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    Right! What if I hang with likeminded peeps? Bad? (none / 0) (#337)
    by poopi on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:38:02 PM EST


    -----

    "It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

    for more enlightenment, consult... (none / 0) (#343)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:57:46 PM EST

    http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2004/1/17/173653/288/12#12

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    Check that. Org. Religion - bad. Spirituality - ok (none / 1) (#344)
    by poopi on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:00:29 PM EST


    -----

    "It's always nice to see USA set the edgy standards. First for freedom, then for the police state." - Parent ]

    Can someone define what spirituality means? (none / 0) (#457)
    by bigchris on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:07:16 AM EST

    K. Thanks.

    ---
    I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
    kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
    [ Parent ]
    any thought or feeling (none / 0) (#465)
    by circletimessquare on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 09:33:53 AM EST

    which is transcendent of space, time, yourself... any thought or feeling which makes you feel very small, or very large, or very aware of something much, much bigger than yourself... insert your own definition here

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    you are the biggest idiot on this site (none / 0) (#350)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:24:49 PM EST

    Quite an accomplishment!
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    no, not the biggest idiot (none / 0) (#361)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:53:46 PM EST

    biggest troll

    thanks for playing

    xoxoxoxoxoxox

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    it's not trolling if you believe it /nt (none / 0) (#366)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:16:22 PM EST


    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    i will take these words to heart (none / 0) (#369)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:31:04 PM EST

    as soon as the source of preceding comment has absolutely any integrity on the issue LOL ;-P

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    you are a strange creature (none / 0) (#372)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:42:30 PM EST

    as soon as the source of preceding comment has absolutely any integrity on the issue LOL

    PLease restate this in grammatical English so that I know what the hell you're talking about.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    sure, here goes (none / 0) (#380)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:59:21 PM EST

    suck my dick, bitch

    how's that translation?

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    keep trying /nt (none / 0) (#383)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:04:40 PM EST


    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Quite a lucid comment, I think. (none / 0) (#456)
    by bigchris on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 08:05:43 AM EST

    Thanks for playing!

    ---
    I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
    kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
    [ Parent ]
    That could be ... (none / 0) (#407)
    by big fat idiot on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:21:49 PM EST

    .. but I am the biggest, fattest idiot on this site!

    [ Parent ]
    um... (none / 1) (#320)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 01:52:11 PM EST

    You can't use a tool of science (logic) to explain an inherently unscientific (illogical) phenomena.

    Obviously, if a God is out there, he doesn't want to be "proven" to exist - and I'm sure that a being capable of creating the universe is capable of avoiding your puny scientific method.

    Your wonderful little article makes perfect logical sense, (we'll, I'll assume it does) but it completely misses the point of the entire philosophical exercise of contemplating God, existence and our role in this universe, if any.

    Continuing to press the issue of God in as a   scientific persuit marks you as a bit of an idiot.


    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

    Thank you! (none / 0) (#342)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 04:56:49 PM EST

    You can't use a tool of science (logic) to explain an inherently unscientific (illogical) phenomena.

    Or to explain it away. It's amazing how many people don't see this.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Let's take this argument further (none / 0) (#352)
    by Morkney on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:28:50 PM EST

    You can't use a tool of science(logic) to explain something which is inherently unscientific(illogical), such as perpetual motion. Such as Alex Chiu's immortality device. Such as the fact that 1+1 != 2. Such as spirits and quintessence and geocentrism.

    You're entirely right that God is basically an illogical concept. However, that doesn't mean that it's immune from logic; it means that it is wrong.

    [ Parent ]

    please rest my mind (none / 0) (#397)
    by army of phred on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:05:25 PM EST

    You're assuming that there is only one set of rules in all of existence. You're welcome to prove that 1+1 = 2 in all of existance, but you'll have to do it for all possible conditions, including while residing entirely within a neutron for instance. Thanks in advance!

    "Republicans are evil." lildebbie
    "I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
    "my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
    [ Parent ]
    I can't prove that (none / 0) (#405)
    by Morkney on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:04:34 PM EST

    Fortunately, I don't have to, since other mathematicians already have. Mathematical proofs are entirely independed from physical circumstances, and depend only on the axioms used: in this case, logic and ZF.

    If you'd like to think that logic sometimes applies and sometimes doesn't, go ahead. But don't argue it, because all arguments implicitly depend on logic.

    [ Parent ]

    no (none / 0) (#463)
    by phred on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 09:26:26 AM EST

    I haven't seen the entire universe (or any potential other universes for that matter), so I'm certainly not going to take the word of a mere mortal on this one. Nothing personal.

    [ Parent ]
    Universe doesn't matter (none / 0) (#495)
    by error 404 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:33:11 PM EST

    Math is derived from axioms that may, in some cases, resemble some natural phenomena. But math is just about those axioms, not the phenomena. In fact, there are branches of math (non-Euclidean geometries, which make different assumptions about parallel lines, for example) that start with axiom systems incompatible with the more familiar ones. Unsurprisingly, the things you can prove in those situations are different from those in more familiar math. Surprisingly, the results are often as applicable to the physical universe as the others are.

    In a universe with completely different rules, the same axioms would lead to the same conclusions.

    Not having seen the entire physical universe is irrelevant to math, because math is its own universe. The math universe is ruled by a very small number of unbreakable (unless you start a seperate math universe, which is not unusual) rules that are entirely known and while some of the basic rules may be hard to grasp, none of them are complicated. In math, you can prove things. Observation has no standing in math. Math moves from the general to the particular. In science, on the other hand, observation is king and nothing is truly provable, although many things are close enough for anybody but mathematicians and philosophers. Science moves from the particular to the general.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]

    response (none / 0) (#566)
    by phred on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 10:33:14 AM EST

    Not having seen the entire physical universe is irrelevant to math, because math is its own universe.

    I think thats the key to my thinking. When you mention that "math is its own universe", how can you prove the nonexistance of alternate mathematical universes, when its hard enough to prove that 1+1 = 2?

    (PS., I appreciate your response)

    [ Parent ]

    Nonexistance of alternate math universes (none / 0) (#604)
    by error 404 on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 05:14:18 PM EST

    That would be hard to prove, considering mathematicians routinely create them.

    Unless you mean on a deeper level, where the basic rules of logic (excluded middle, a=a, etc.) are different.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]

    Yes, but... (none / 0) (#577)
    by trimethyl on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:10:58 PM EST

    Mathematical proofs are entirely independed from physical circumstances, and depend only on the axioms used: in this case, logic and ZF.

    True, but this also means that the relevance to any particular situation is as likewise independent, and furthermore, subjective. While it is theoretically possible that 1 + 1 = 2, I could come up with numerous examples of where this is not true in the real world by simply misapplying the theorem. (For example, 1 + 1 = 3. Since 3 != 2, your theorem fails; one human(male) plus one human(female) = 3 humans...)

    What atheists do is misapply logic to dismiss the argument of God's existence. The fact that someone can invent a logical framework in which God cannot exist doesn't show the non-existence of God, but rather the failure of their model to define such.



    [ Parent ]
    Bad analogy (none / 0) (#535)
    by Pseudonym on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 11:02:49 PM EST

    Consider the following proposition: My wife loves me.

    Your task is to test this theory scientifically.

    Any experiment which could determine this must be repeatable and independently verifiable, otherwise it's not scientific. If it is impossible to devise such an experiment, it follows that the proposition is by nature not scientifically testable.

    This doesn't mean that it's wrong. It just means it's immune from science.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    I think you are agnostic (none / 0) (#326)
    by vedas on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 02:58:46 PM EST

    Nice article, you made some great points that I as an agnostic really agree with. However, I do *think* your definition of an agnostic is incorrect.

    dictionary.com (we all know this is the best place to find a hard-working definition :]) has this for a definition of an agnostic:

    One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

    So, when you say...

    Right now, there isn't any for God (capital G), so I don't believe. There isn't any for the IPU, so I don't believe. There isn't any for a race of large green Smurfs living in an alternative universe, so I don't believe. Saying that all of these might be in some way possible is not enough for me to believe. It's possible that my mom will vote for Bush, but I have no reason to believe it, based on what I know. However, as a skeptic, if it does happen, if she does vote for Bush, than I will believe it.

    I think that you are agnostic. You have athiestic views - "there is no god" - and you say that if evidence is found, you will change your views. That "if" right there would imply that you are not closed minded to the possibility of actual hard evidence regarding the existence of God being found.
    I'm hot for pb and BadDoggie
    I realize what the definitions are, (none / 0) (#345)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:03:33 PM EST

    however, don't we, as atheists, or whatever group, have some ability to define ourselves? I think that based on all of the atheists that I know, the definition will be altered or changed at some future time. This isn't as stupid as it sounds, consider Christians. Some don't think of Catholics as Christians - but by definition, Catholics are.

    Many atheist web sites are pretty big on the idea of bad standard definitions. Maybe we should use a new word, neo-atheist or something, who knows?

    I can't accept the notion that an atheist has to be "anti-god", or against the concept such that if evidence is found, they will still remain atheists. That's not only dogmatic, it's stupid.

    I don't know any atheist who wouldn't change his views in that case. A Christian may cling to their beliefs despite the evidence, as many fundamentalists already do, but no atheist that I know would do the same...

    Do you think Asimov, based on his quote, an agnostic as well then?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    As for Asimov (none / 1) (#396)
    by vedas on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:04:48 PM EST

    After not thinking about your first question very much, (after a lot of thought, maybe I would believe differently), I do not think that people have the ability to define a word that describes them. I think in doing so would erase much of the meaning of the word itself as a decription. For a rather stupid example, lets say that I am green, but I say I am blue. I am redefining what the word "blue" means. In the case of Catholics... if a Catholic says they are not Christian, they are wrong. IMO, its not a question of them redefining themselves as a group, its a question of actually knowing what theyre talking about.
    Maybe this is not what you meant when you asked if we have the ability to define ourselves. If you meant that we, as individuals, have the ability to think whatever way we want and to be whatever way we want, then I agree, of course :)

    You mention that perhaps the definition of "athiest" will change. Just out of curiousity, what do you think it might change to? If it will change to something which has a more agnostic meaning, what will agnostic mean? Also out of curiousity, I would be pretty interested in seeing some of these athiest websites you speak of. If not for fucks sake, then to give me some more facts about inconsistencies in the Bible, or just other misc. facts that relate to why athiests belive there is no God. Like I said, I dont believe in God, so I would like to be armed with as much as I can to back this up. :)

    I also think youre right to say its stupid to hold beliefs when evidence contradicts them. In the little experience I have with athiests, they generally tend to be smarter than the average person. So I dont think that they would remain athiest if somehow God was discovered. I would think, however, that some are so adament in their hatred of blind faith, that it would take quite a bit to really get them to change their beliefs. But again, I think most would change.

    As for Asimov... I would have to say that yes, I do believe he is agnostic. This line stands out: "but I so strongly suspect that [God] doesn't [exist] that I don't want to waste my time." He *suspects* God doesnt exist. This means that he thinks it is *probable* that God doesnt exist.

    Your reply made me start thinking that 99% of people who say they are athiest are really agnostic. There have been quite a few athiests that I have spoken to who didnt even know what agnostic meant. When I explained it to them, a common response was, "oh, well, that fits me better."

    Once again, good job on the article. Would love to hear more of what you have to say.
    I'm hot for pb and BadDoggie
    [ Parent ]
    duly noted (none / 0) (#420)
    by davros4269 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:52:04 PM EST

    Your simple example is duly noted - I see what you are getting at. My advantage is that terms such as atheist and agnostic are more complex than colors. Although, if we get a shade of blue-green, really close to green-blue - who knows? ;)

    Perhaps "new" definition or new word was too strong - perhaps just a "2. --" in the definition. Many words of course already have different meanings, sometimes, they are just nuances of definitions.

    I remember reading something specifically on these types of definition issues - it may have been a piece at infidels.org - I don't remember. However, if you go to atheist network.com and go to their forums and talk to people, you will see a VERY diverse crowd of atheists - it does much to alter the fundie view of, "atheist, god hating commie bastards", let me tell you! I was myself quite surprised! I no longer participate in their forums - I was addicted to the debates, etc., and spent way too much time there - a bit like I'm doing now by responding to scores of posts...in any case, if you ask them to define themselves, you will be surprised.

    I think it's probable that a god exists too, though I am certain that Christian God doesn't exist. And based on what I know, I think that probability so low that it may as well be impossible. Does that make sense? I think it does. It's probable, from what I read about quantum mechanics, that if I sit in my computer chair long enough, I will fall through and hit the floor, without damaging the chair. It's POSSIBLE. however, it's so IMPROBABLE, that I would have to sit in my chair longer than the expected duration of life of the universe itself for it to happen, by far. POSSIBLE, yes, but if it happens after my desk, chair and solar system are destroyed, I would consider that almost equal with IMPOSSIBLE.

    As for God, I think that if he does exist, he is hiding from us. I think that the logical conclusion is to not believe in him. If that's his design, so be it.

    I'm still an atheist because I don't believe in any gods but I take the above into consideration. Does that make sense - probably not ;)


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Athiest (none / 0) (#417)
    by Jumery on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:42:24 PM EST

    Unless your 100% sure that god does not exist, and no proof is ever forth coming about God's existance, then your not an Athiest.

    There is nothing wrong with saying your agnostic, or if you want say your an agnostic that stronly disbelieves in God.

    There are also agnostics that strongly believe in God as well, whether because they are compelled by one or more of the logical arguements for God's existance or what ever.

    Reject certainty / fanaticism, be agnostic.

    [ Parent ]

    incorrect (none / 0) (#481)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 03:35:33 PM EST

    I don't see the following, or even the implication of the following, in the definition of an atheist:

    ...and no proof is ever forth coming about God's existance...

    Only a fool would take on this attidude! The type of scientificaly minded skeptical atheist that I am isn't what you are describing as an atheist, nor does the "official" definition. I'm concerned with what can be shown to be reasonably correct right now, and that doesn't include God to my way of thinking.

    Even the logo for the American Atheists has an atom with the bottom open to allow for future findings.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    That definition of atheist (none / 0) (#642)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 10:45:19 AM EST

    is propagated by theists, who want to believe atheists are as closed-minded as they are, and by agnostics, who want to feel superior for not having an opinion.
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    [ Parent ]
    Hmm. I have some semantics for you. (none / 0) (#421)
    by djkitsch on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 11:01:33 PM EST

    however, don't we, as atheists, or whatever group, have some ability to define ourselves?

    You might be able to if "athiest" was a group such as "Christian". Christian, Judaism, Hindi etc are all names of religions - ie. the word was formed to describe the group.

    However, "atheism" is an adjective, not a noun - it states that you are an athiest. If you are willing to potentially alter your beliefs in the future, you are by definition not an atheist, since you are technically keeping an open mind, however small. Which exactly describes an agnostic (and there's no definition of HOW much of an open mind an agnostic must keep).

    The only way you could define yourself as a member of a group is if the adjective you choose to use for yourself does not have contradictory meaning.
    -------------------------
    sig:- (wit >= sarcasm)
    [ Parent ]
    let me correct this misconception once and for all (none / 0) (#433)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 01:13:44 AM EST

    So, you are saying that a closed mind is part of the definition of an atheist? Ridiculous, lol!

    I think that you, as an agnostic, may think that, but I doubt that any dictionary definition specifies that an Atheist cannot change his mind. If this were the case, than it would be a religion!

    Let me look some up:

    dictionary.com: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

    I don't see close minded as part of that definition, neither explicitly, nor implied. You, as an agnostic (I assume you are an agnostic), insert that because you consider that there may be a God, therefore, you consider thinking otherwise is close minded. This is your opinion and it's a very common misconception.

    I also see no implication that an atheist cannot change his/her mind, if the evidence comes along. The definition is rather simple. Based on the evidence today, I do not believe. This doesn't even rule out the possibility that there may be a God, because I can just choose to deny him!

    And I do in this sense: via my piece, if I remove attributes from the Christian God, then I am left with a massless, voidless, property less nothingness. This I DENY! The definition of "deny", one of them, is "refuse to believe". I refuse to believe in what's left - this property-less God.

    Therefore, I am an open minded atheist, who can change his mind on a whim if I so desire!

    Folks keep telling me to become an agnostic - I think many of you agnostics should step up to the plate and admit that you are atheists! Agnosticism isn't the intellectual safe ground that many of you think it is.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Theodolitic stillness (none / 2) (#330)
    by dangerbum on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 03:33:24 PM EST

    The issue of "theism" and "a-theism" is covered up with waste products and the detritus of confusion. It's a desperate thing.
    We're alone.
    Or we're in the belly of the whale, of the beast, of the mother.
    Or we're in the hands of God, who is like an insurance agent, faceless and exacting, promising great reward for our investment, or at least protection.
    All those have their exigencies, their to-do lists.
    -
    What we know is a good place to start. But we know so much, about so little, the catalog consumes whole lives of scholarship just to print.

    We do know these simple things:
    All organic life on this planet is driven by the sun's engine.
    All life is composed of matter that for all its transforming is the same stuff of which all the rest of the visible universe is composed. The amount, the measurable amount of sunlight that powers our lives, is so small I hesitate to try to find an estimate for it.
    Suffice it to say it's infinitesimal. Very tiny amounts of sunlight are the motive source for all earthly living. Very very tiny. And only half the time, the rest we turn toward the infinite reach of seemingly dark space, though that darkness is itself another illusion.
    So tiny tiny bits of sunlight, all we know of life comes from that. And all that lives is made from the same stuff as stars.
    Jump to the sun's context and you have a Saganic number of stars "out there" all spilling this wonderful powerful stuff. Keep in mind that it's a tiny tiny bit we get that runs all our doing. And there's billions of billions of those stars, each one full-bore pushing.
    Now do the interior of the self. These little neurons and synaptic connectors and the winking of electric bursts inside the brain. That's where we live, that's how we work, that's our minds and our selves; and the amount of distributed solar power that goes to that working is an almost immeasurable bit of an almost immeasurable bit of the power of one almost immeasurable bit of the mass of stars, the mass itself likely to be an immeasurable bit of a higher order of something still further, and on.
    That the organization, the consciousness within us, may be a miniaturization of the order without is certainly possible. I'm saying plausible, even likely.
    That the "teaching" of organized religions, which all seem to think they have a trademark copyright on the concept of "God", is mostly brute muttering against the dark, and thuggish seduction and promises of "security", means that for a lot of people the idea of "theos", of God, is too closely associated with violent cowards, ignorant weaklings of all stripes, and the "powers that be". This leads to nonsensical debates. And it leads directly away from what it purports to lead toward.
    You may believe the moon doesn't spin in its orbit, and you may believe that the stars are small planetary objects just beyond Jupiter, and that all heavenly bodies circle the earth.
    I won't listen to you about anything else once I know how mistaken you are about what's going on with the sun and the stars, but that doesn't mean you're wrong about the moon.

    Off the cuff (none / 0) (#363)
    by panZ on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:09:20 PM EST

    I don't think I've read such a thoughtful, eloquent musing about starting from the basics here before. Was that extemporaneous writing? I'd like to save this in my scrap book charting other's writings that follow my own thoughts on life. Thank you.
    "Some days are good days to die and some days are good days for breakfast."
    [ Parent ]
    panz (none / 0) (#595)
    by dangerbum on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 02:30:14 PM EST

    One shot through and then a few minor editing rereads; the bulk of it born, or shit out depending on your view, then picked through for cogency. Mostly I have a problem with dyslexical dipthongs. Worng letter palcemnet. My left-hand right-hand gets scrambled. Thanks for the good word

    [ Parent ]
    Negative Atheism vs. Agnosticism (none / 1) (#355)
    by carlos HRE on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:36:30 PM EST

    As it has been pointed out, your article generally confuses "I don't believe God exists" with "I believe God doesn't exist". The first position is sometimes called Negative Atheism, the second Positive Atheism.

    I'm an atheist. I do not believe God exists. This by the above brands me as a Negative Atheist, and some would say, Agnostic.

    I'm not an Agnostic. As pointed out elsewhere, a central tenant of agnosticism is "I don't know". Furthermore, the less lazy agnostics go the extra mile and say "I cannot know", for some reason or another. Agnostic, therefore, is saying "I'm ignorant, and stupid".

    You people who "don't believe" could clean the Atheist term of its baggage if you only refused to hide behind the wall of complacent ignorance. Sure, you don't know... therefore you don't believe... therefore you are atheist.

    Some say that self-proclaimed atheist makes agnostic roll their eyes. When I hear people saying they're agnostic, and proceed to show they have spent considerably less cycles on this question than on whether to get a pepsi or 7-up, it makes me roll my eyes.

    The right term for the "I don't know and I don't care" school of thought should be Apatheism.

    It doesn't matter which camp you end up in, it matters that you think about it and that it's your own choice - not a hereditary, social or geographical accident.

    Cheers,
    Carlos VI, HRE.
    PS: For a real book about Atheism, both positive and negative, and real analysis on the implications, check out "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification" by Michael Martin. Warning: this is a tough book that will grow some hair in your nuts if you read it cover to cover.

    --
    "[Nethack has] the replayability of a Denise Richards look-alike sex drone." -- MotorMachineMercenary

    Stupid? (none / 2) (#414)
    by adrizk on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 10:32:14 PM EST

    Agnostic, therefore, is saying "I'm ignorant, and stupid".

    Ignorant, certainly, basically by definition. But stupid? Stupid is a very strong and usually subjective position to take about a person, to say nothing of an entire group -- if you're going to make that kind of judgement, you should at least try to back it up.



    [ Parent ]
    You're contradicting yourself. (none / 1) (#428)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:10:31 AM EST

    As it has been pointed out, your article generally confuses "I don't believe God exists" with "I believe God doesn't exist". The first position is sometimes called Negative Atheism, the second Positive Atheism.

    You are being very sneaky. I'm sure the first position is sometimes called "Negative Atheism", but it is more often called "Agnosticism".

    As pointed out elsewhere, a central tenant of agnosticism is "I don't know".

    I'd be far more careful and point out that "I don't know whether God exists" follows from your own definition of "Negative Atheism"; since knowledge is justified belief, if somebody doesn't believe that God exists, it follows that they don't know whether He exists.

    I'm an atheist. I do not believe God exists. This by the above brands me as a Negative Atheist, and some would say, Agnostic.

    But given that your own definition of Agnosticism is a logical consequence of your definition of "Negative Atheism", by claiming you are a Negative Atheist, you commit yourself to defending the claim that you are an agnostic. But, the next thing you say is the following:

    I'm not an Agnostic.

    You've previously affirmed a statement that implies the negation of this one. You're caught.

    Sure, you [agnostics] don't know... therefore you don't believe... therefore you are atheist.

    This is a fallacious argument. First, you assumed the conclusion at the very beginning, by sneakily defining agnosticism as "Negative Atheism". Second, from "Mary doesn't not know that X", it does not follow "Mary doesn't believe that X". Mary may believe X without justification, in which case she believes that X but doesn't know that X.

    Now that I got the logic out of the way, let me advise you to lose your arrogance about this issue. You are not measuring up to it.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    No contradiction (none / 0) (#475)
    by carlos HRE on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:48:44 PM EST

    You are being very sneaky. I'm sure the first position is sometimes called "Negative Atheism", but it is more often called "Agnosticism".

    That's the point. There's no contradiction. Agnosticism and Negative Atheism are "compatible", meaning at the end of the day they believe the same thing, i.e. that there's no evidence of the existence of God. The difference is one of attitude (or semantics, if you wish).

    But given that your own definition of Agnosticism is a logical consequence of your definition of "Negative Atheism", by claiming you are a Negative Atheist, you commit yourself to defending the claim that you are an agnostic. But, the next thing you say is the following:

    >I'm not an Agnostic.

    Again, that's the point. I believe the same core thing as an agnostic does - but I choose not to join the agnostic school of thought, since Atheism is a perfectly valid and accurate word to describe it, and has none of the "I don't and can't know" connotation; Atheism in this sense merely marks the lack of belief, does not ennumerate the capabilities of my brain.

    "Atheism" is a valid word to represent the concept "There is insufficient evidence to justify a belief in god, therefore I do not subscribe to that belief". "Agnostic" is also valid, but it has limiting connotations regarding what you can and can't know, and how it makes you feel.

    My point: if you really don't believe there is a God, then put your money where your mouth is and call yourself an Atheist. Hiding behind "agnosticism", in my opinion, is more often mere intelectual laziness/cowardice than a well-thought-out position, even if the core belief is the same.

    Cheers,
    Carlos VI, HRE. Atheist.

    PS: I didn't invent the positive/negative atheism thing; it's actually pretty common in the learned circles which I'm not worthy to frequent. Some links:

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/smith.htm
    http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/672_reg_print.html
    http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/intro.html

    --
    "[Nethack has] the replayability of a Denise Richards look-alike sex drone." -- MotorMachineMercenary

    [ Parent ]

    That's no answer. (none / 0) (#480)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 03:00:30 PM EST

    That's the point. There's no contradiction. Agnosticism and Negative Atheism are "compatible", meaning at the end of the day they believe the same thing, i.e. that there's no evidence of the existence of God. The difference is one of attitude (or semantics, if you wish).

    The difference is one of cultural politics. Quite simply, somebody wants to sneakily manipulate terminology so as to "prove" that agnostics are atheists. That's a very sneaky, dishonest thing to do.

    And, you've not answered my claim that you're contradicting yourself, though you're pretending to have done so. I made an explicit argument based on the beliefs you attribute to the different positions, and jointly derived a statement and its contradiction. You can only answer by showing which of my steps you think is wrong.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    I'll Take This One (none / 0) (#588)
    by virg on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 01:46:17 PM EST

    > I made an explicit argument based on the beliefs you attribute to the different positions, and jointly derived a statement and its contradiction. You can only answer by showing which of my steps you think is wrong.

    The statement where you went wrong is:
    First, you assumed the conclusion at the very beginning, by sneakily defining agnosticism as "Negative Atheism".
    This isn't sneaky, nor are the two terms the same, by his definitions. You need to peruse the (non-)links he provided for more information, but his argument did not equate agnosticism and negative atheism. He posits that many people do define it that way, and there is overlap between the two terms, but the links provide reasoning why they aren't the same.

    Virg
    "Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
    [ Parent ]
    Agnosticism (none / 1) (#592)
    by mstefan on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 02:05:32 PM EST

    Agnostic, therefore, is saying "I'm ignorant, and stupid".

    No, it is saying that the answer to the question of god(s) is unknowable. That anything which is immortal, omnipotent, omnicient and omnipresent is so far removed from our experience in the physical world as human beings that it is something that our minds cannot comprehend. While agnostics tend to discount the anthropromorphic gods in most religious doctrine, that that doesn't mean that they're ignorant, stupid or even that they're uninterested in the larger question at hand. They simply have the intellectual honesty to say "I do not know".



    [ Parent ]
    Omnipotent (none / 0) (#640)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 10:39:57 AM EST

    If God is omnipotent, then He could let us understand, if He wanted to. So it is possible to know - but only if He wants us to.
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    [ Parent ]
    in death we understand [nt] (none / 0) (#645)
    by infinitera on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 04:22:45 PM EST

    In life, we're too puny.

    [ Parent ]
    That's as may be (none / 0) (#648)
    by Happy Monkey on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 05:36:36 PM EST

    but there's nothing so puny that an omnipotent being couldn't make it understand anything, should it want to.
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    [ Parent ]
    Don't people get tired of these (none / 2) (#357)
    by Fon2d2 on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:40:42 PM EST

    existance of God arguments, talking about the "burden of proof" and what not, somehow proving through pages of logical discussion that atheists are open minded or that religious types aren't, or that they're not as bright. Not that I'm implying the article is stating any but the first of those items on the list.. I didn't actually finish it. But when I scroll down and down and see paragraph after paragraph of the same old existance of God discussion I've read a billion times before, what's my incentive to keep reading? Personally, I think the author's point was made one paragraph (two sentences) after the introduction. And although this article isn't about the existance of God per se, it is still riddled with the phrase "burden of proof" that I'm so abhorently sick of. You can group pink unicorns along with that phrase as well. So the question for the author is this; What is this article's ultimate impact on the reader? Is it to show that agnostics should really consider themselves atheists? This probably will not happen as the subject matter is too esoteric, the details too varied, and the arguments too long to make any kind of lasting impact. In fact it's probably not worth the effort. Or is the purpose to show that atheists really are open minded and should be treated as such? This, again, is an even bigger waste of effort as it amounts to nothing more than a public service anouncement that is going to affect virtually nobody in how they judge other people.. much less how they view atheists in contrast to agnositcs, a distinction that is virtually imperceptible to the general public.

    It doesn't make sense. (none / 1) (#358)
    by Hector Plasmic on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:42:16 PM EST

    Atheism is not believing in gods.  How does that make you more open-minded than someone who does believe in gods?

    I rather strongly suspect that how open-minded you are has little, if anything, to do with whether or not you believe in gods.

    Atheism (none / 1) (#360)
    by mstefan on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 05:51:40 PM EST

    I mentioned this in a followup to a diary article, but I'll state it here too: atheism is an attempt to rationalize the non-existance of God using a logical fallacy; you cannot prove an unverifiable negative. Stating with absolute certainty that there is no God is as dogmatic as saying that it is certain that God exists.



    not quite (none / 0) (#507)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:14:39 PM EST

    A closed mind is not part of the definition of an atheist. (see below)

    Further, an atheist can change his mind at any time, based on the evidence. It's reasonable to believe what the evidence tells you at any given time. This isn't an ego thing - if the evidence changes, than change your beliefs! This isn't religion, after all - there is nothing sacred to hold onto. So then, what is the definition and what does it suggest, if anything?

    dictionary.com: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

    The agnostic claim of "atheist close mindedness" is merely an agnostic opinion, based on the idea that God may exist, and the perception that this is somehow more "open minded".

    Based on the evidence today, I do not believe. This doesn't even rule out the possibility that there may be a God, because I can just choose to deny him!

    And I do in this very specific sense: via my piece, if I remove attributes from the Christian God, then I am left with a massless, voidless, property less nothingness. This I deny! One definition of "deny" via dictionary.com is, "refuse to believe". I refuse to believe in what's left - this property-less 'god'.

    Therefore, I am an open minded atheist, who can change his mind on a whim if I so desire!

    Folks keep telling me to become an agnostic - I think many of you agnostics should step up to the plate and admit that you are atheists! Agnosticism isn't the intellectual safe ground that many of you think it is.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    i am not an atheist (none / 0) (#608)
    by infinitera on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 05:56:06 PM EST

    My belief is that reality/God are unknowable in an ultimate sense. No matter how much I use frameworks of science or faith in daily life, they are still only frameworks, not truth.

    [ Parent ]
    I can prove a negative (none / 0) (#362)
    by jynx on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:04:37 PM EST

    Everyone knows that one can't prove a negative

    Everyone is wrong.  It is most definately possible to prove a negative.

    For example, we can easily prove that there does not exist a number which is both odd and even.  With a little more effort, we can prove the non-existence of a solution to the halting problem.

    In the context of this debate, we could (in theory at least) prove that the existence of God would lead to a contradiction which cannot be resolved, and therefore that God cannot exist.

    --

    um no. (none / 0) (#365)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:14:46 PM EST

    In the context of this debate, we could (in theory at least) prove that the existence of God would lead to a contradiction which cannot be resolved, and therefore that God cannot exist.

    How does an illogical contradiction prove anything at all about God, or his existance?

    Think about that before you answer.


    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    I suppose (none / 0) (#409)
    by kitten on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 09:25:25 PM EST

    How does an illogical contradiction prove anything at all about God, or his existance?

    I think what he was getting at is that, if the concept of God could be shown to contradict some known facet of reality, one could conclude that God cannot exist. He did say this could be done only "in theory" - but his primary point was that by using such methods it might be possible to prove a negative.


    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    [ Parent ]
    This would be insufficient (none / 0) (#422)
    by mstefan on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 11:22:38 PM EST

    Disproving the existance of God by proving that its existance contradicts some aspect of known reality is flawed because you'd be using induction to assert something that is unverifiable at the time the assertion is made. In other words, it'd be like you asserting that you can prove for a fact that the sun will not go supernova tomorrow because it it has always risen and set as expected throughout recorded history. That it is an impossibility since the sun exploding without warning would contradict what we understand about stars. This is called experimental reasoning (which is a justification for induction) where specific past events which have always been observed to be true are used to prove that the general, unobservable conclusion is also true. In truth, however, this is not correct. The most that we can say is that there is a very low probablity that our sun would unexpectedly go supernova tomorrow, but that the possibility does exist. Of course, we have the benefit of the fact that our sun is observable and we have some concrete understanding of what it is and how it works. We have none of that when it comes to God, which makes the assertion that the non-existance of God can be proven by contradiction even weaker.

    In other words, you cannot disprove the existance of God by showing where said existance contradicts some known facet of reality because all of reality cannot be known. The best you can say is that the contradiction lowers the probability that God exists.



    [ Parent ]
    Proving a negative (none / 0) (#378)
    by mstefan on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:57:26 PM EST

    The issue at hand is the logical fallacy of proving an unverifiable negative. This can be tied in to Hume's Problem of Induction: you cannot accept general conclusions (ie: God does not exist) based on specific observations (ie: I have never seen God) because the general conclusions are possibly affected by other unobserved conditions. In other words, our lack of specific knowledge of the existance or non-existance of God, combined with the fact that we have no way to collect additional information about said existance or non-existance, makes it completely unverifiable.



    [ Parent ]
    Two wrongs do not make a right, but three lefts do (none / 0) (#402)
    by jabber on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:34:51 PM EST

    Proving a double-negative, and proving a negative are different things.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    on proving "negatives" (none / 1) (#426)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 11:48:43 PM EST

    Slogans such as "you can't prove a negative" don't make much sense without tying them to some specific formulation in a given system of logic. Given standard predicate logic, you indeed can't prove that a named individual does not exist; in fact there is no way to even express it. There is no predicate logic formula that corresponds straightforwardly to the sentence "God does not exist". What you can do is to prove that no individual can satisfy the scope of an existential: "There is no x such that S[x]", where S[x] is some formula with variable x free in it.

    We can thus formulate two alternative theories about the meanings of statements about God. One of them is the Proper Name theory, where "God" corresponds to an individual constant; the second one is the Predicate theory, where "God" is a predicate of individuals. Your suggestion that we may show God not to exist depends on adopting the second approach; but a believer might undermine you completely by adopting the first one.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    However, (none / 0) (#499)
    by astatine on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 04:43:55 PM EST

    can't you map the Proper Name case onto the Predicate case by defining IsGod[x] := (x = theOneTrueGod) ?

    Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.Celia Green
    [ Parent ]
    what do you mean by "mapping"? (none / 0) (#539)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 12:19:11 AM EST

    If a logic has identity, yes, you can write out a formula with x free such that it is only satisfied if x is assigned a certain individual. And if you analyse the word "God" as an individual constant, that means your logic will be able to express the property of being God with that formula. So what's your point?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Actually... (none / 0) (#479)
    by SnowBlind on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 02:59:51 PM EST

    For example, we can easily prove that there does not exist a number which is both odd and even. With a little more effort, we can prove the non-existence of a solution to the halting problem.

    all such proofs define all possiblities. Then point out that there is no place for an both even and odd number exist because they are mutually exclusive.

    Thus they prove the "not" by proving all possiblitites lie inside the problem defination.

    You are not proving that a number that is even and odd does not exist. you are proving that all numbers are either even or odd, and seeing how they are all accounted for, the "both" is non-existant. It is a corallary to "all numbers are even or odd" not an axiom itself.

    There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
    [ Parent ]
    Not really... (none / 0) (#563)
    by trimethyl on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 10:27:08 AM EST

    The inability to construct a logical model in which God can exist without contradictions is more a failure of your mental model than an indication of truth.

    After all, consider the following dictum: Something cannot be its opposite. Black is the opposite of white. Therefore, something black cannot be white. So, is a newspaper black or white? If you say white, I can point to the headline to prove you wrong; if you say black, I can point to the paper... The real problem is not that the question is framed in such a manner that any answer can be both true and false; i.e., it is non-deterministic.

    While belief in God doesn't exclude reason, there are simply some things that fall beyond our ability to understand. At some point, you become aware that your facilities for logic have only limited usefulness - most smart people are aware of at least one problem in their chosen discipline for which the answer has yet to be found. We can't possibly know everything; thus, we can't conclusively "prove" the existence or non-existence of God. However, for those of us who have had a personal experience with God, to suggest that He doesn't exist simply because He doesn't fit into an atheist's rational model is simply ridiculous.

    I understand that you probably haven't seen the evidence of God's existence that I have. But even you must understand that you believe a great many things without ever having witnessed them personally. Hollywood could have produced all of the shuttle launches, men on the moon, etc..., but we trust that it didn't. Why?

    The problem I see with most ardent atheists is that for all of their logical abilities, their ability to judge source material is seriously lacking. The news and science publications are acceptable; the Bible is not. Finding a single logical contradiction in the Bible is grounds for its rejection in entirety, but finding a logical contradiction in scientific theories is simply "science" (Early versions of evolutionary theory had some notable severe logical flaws). It seems that it never occurs to the atheist that mankind's understanding of God has improved as his intellectual capacity became greater.

    I suspect the stringent adherence to purely logical considerations of God's existence is what keeps most atheists from actually experiencing God.



    [ Parent ]
    About proof (none / 3) (#375)
    by dagsverre on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:51:43 PM EST

    I don't know who you were trying to convince... to just generally justify being an atheist, to preach to the choir, or to convert religious people, but anyhow:

    I can't really say that I've met a christian saying "I'm a christian because I believe the scientific evidence to support it". There's some lighter degrees of it, such as "there simply must have been a Creator behind this fantastic world, the world exists, thus God exists", but that argument is in no way necesarry for being a christian. Anyway, my point is that going on about it not being proovable doesn't get you that far in converting people to atheism.

    Reasons for being christian that I've heard includes stuff like generic religious experiences, getting prayers answered and other subjective reasons. Experiences such as that can have scientific explanations or they can not, in the latter case they can be supernatural or just something we haven't discovered yet... either way it doesn't make a difference for the subjective experience (it doesn't have to be a miracle to be the answer of a prayer).

    Examples of Acts of God (in this context, acts proclaimed to be of God by some human) are many, and since they are not by any standards objective or anywhere near scientific they generally won't convince anyone but the ones they involve. They do, however, convince those!

    Generally speaking, being a christian is more like developing a relationship with God than being scientifically convinced of a fact (and I guess this can to various degrees also be applied to other religions). Of course you must be subjectively convinced first, and if nothing but scientific evidence can subjectively convince you then that's a recipe for atheism (I can fully understand that stance, I just happen to disagree with it). Most people don't need scientifically prooved a lot of stuff they rely on though, relationships with other humans ("does your mother love you?") being a prime example.

    About the common "it's like believing in pink invisible elephants/santa claus" and its ilk: For starters, compare the number of believers in a god compared to the number of believers of pink invisible elephants. While that still doesn't proove anything at all scientifically, it does make the comparision laughable.

    My English isn't good enough: Prooved, proofed or what? Sorry that I'm too lazy to look it up.

    Apology (none / 0) (#379)
    by dagsverre on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 06:58:14 PM EST

    I can see now that you do state specific reasons for writing the article...not matching the ones I suggested.

    Sorry that I didn't give it a better read before posting, you can consider it a generic response to the comments here instead.



    [ Parent ]
    Re: About proof (none / 0) (#386)
    by mstefan on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:18:52 PM EST

    Most people don't need scientifically prooved a lot of stuff they rely on though, relationships with other humans ("does your mother love you?") being a prime example.

    That's true, but then again their mother physically exists and can be communicated with in tangible ways. You can ask your mother "Do you love me?" and she can answer you. When you start talk about having a relationship with God, you end up wandering close to the metaphysical divide between religion and philosophy. When you have a loving relationship with God, are you really loving yourself? What is the nature of the soul and how is it related to God? Is God within you or separate from you? And so on and so on.

    The fact is, most religions teach of God as a separate, anthropomorphic entity that can physically manifest itself. For example, the Judeo-Christian God is portrayed as a person, with human-like interests, desires and emotions. And unlike asking your mother if she loves you, you can only guess as to God's existance and motivations by inductive reasonsing (something like, "God must be looking out for you, you almost got run over by that bus"). For anyone who thinks about the question of God critically, it introduces all sorts of problems.



    [ Parent ]
    science - (none / 0) (#438)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 01:55:56 AM EST

    is observing nature and taking notes and asking questions about it and so forth.

    That we need evidence for something is self-evident - you wouldn't reach for your coffee cup if you didn't think it there, and you think it there because you see it or feel it, etc. That is a science experiment occurring naturally.

    I have good evidence that my mother loves me. This evidence I can also demonstrate to others. Further, these bonds originate as natural phenomena that we study and observe. There isn't anything mystical about love such that it has no foundation in atoms, molecules, cells, tissue and on up.

    I think your treatment of science is a bit premature and I also contend that science and religion are vastly different phenomena. Religions is the the abnormal thing, the "stretch" of reality. Having said that, I do believe that people have a need that religion can fulfill. This, however, does not prove or disprove any specific religion.

    Finally, The number of folks that believe in something has no bearing on that something. Most people once thought the world flat, for example. Therefore, if the same arguments that suggest God is real also suggest pink elephants are real, than perhaps religionists need to re-think their belief system ;) It doesn't matter, in other words, that most people don't believe in pink elephants. It's just an analogy to demonstrate the irrational nature of much of religious thought.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Science (none / 0) (#454)
    by dagsverre on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 07:27:10 AM EST

    I think my off-the-top-of-my-head interpretation of scientific proof here was "proof that could be written down and accepted just by looking on it"... stuff that would convince atheists just by looking at it. I.e. "hard sciences" like physics and chemistry...

    When referring to evidence, my point was that most christians do in fact believe that they have that kind of practical evidence that you talk about (some even have a lot of it). The reason you can openly use the coffee cup argument is that most of us have tried that experiment and found it to be true ourselves. Enter religion though, and everyone have different experiences, which makes at least scientific rigour meaningless... still, it doesn't make the evidence worthless for the subjects. I was trying to point to the difference between objective evidence (which hard science demands, ie repeatability of an experiment) and subjective evidence. Both is evidence, sure.

    Like, you may be convinced of your mothers love for you through evidence. If you try to convince me about it though, all I have is your word for it, unless you've video-taped your entire childhood. Similarily, some christian may be convinced by evidence, but all the second person have of evidence for the existance of God is the testimony of the first person. The only real difference I can see is that the the evidence of love from a mother is much more widely experienced.

    That humans have religious needs seems to be evident (why else do we care about the names of Hollywood stars, etc., etc., entertainment in general seems to point to something bigger than ourselves... and take nationalism in all forms). And I agree that that fact alone doesn't proove anything about religions being true or not (I even speculate that the human specie's advantages when led by a leader could, through evolution, lead to the worshipping-instinct).

    About pink elephants, I tried to point out what you say too. It's an ok anology if you're in a position where you need one for that exact purpose, but you see stuff like "I refuse to even discuss this because I don't waste my time discussing pink elephants either"...when people start using it to tell us something about how seriously we should take religion then it doesn't count. Something that half the worlds population believe (counting religions in all forms I believe this to be a modest estimate) should be taken seriously no matter what the reasons are. The belief that the world was flat needed to be taken seriously too in its time (no comparision beyond that point from my side though).

    Hmm... invisible pink elephants would by their nature exist in our world, and would thus be within the scope of scientific experiment. Make that supernatural invisible pink elephants and we're closer.



    [ Parent ]
    evidence and pink elephants! (none / 0) (#471)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 12:28:32 PM EST

    Hey, just wanted to say that it's always a pleasure to talk to someone who is open minded and isn't fundementalist about these topics...

    You're right about evidence, there are different types. As for proof - did I mention proof? I try to avoid proof ;) however, I think that I could much more easily show you that my mother loves me, however, I would never claim to be able to prove, nor would I try.

    You said this would work because of shared experiences. This is why I I think science is the best method for increasing our knowledge. Science must present findings that are koshwer with everyone. Anyone is welcome to look at a rock and concur that's in fact hard.

    As for personal experience, I don't downplay the signifigance but I think that in order to keep from going bonkers and second guess reality itself, we need to artificially adjust even our most personal experiences with what we know to be true (scientificaly).<pexperience and religion as I see it is as follows. A person born into a Christian area likely becomes Christi> For example, do ghosts exist? Does it matter to everyone that some people think they do? Does it matter to the people that believe in them?

    A example of a flaw with personal an. A person born into an Islamic region likely becomes Muslim - no big surprise here. Even though some people, like us, seek, most are more or less born into their belief systems.

    The Christian developes an internal, "personal experience with Jesus". The Muslim does the same with Allah. Each religion, however, specificaly contradicts the other. This means that both can't be correct. Now, of coursewe can make this "work" by stretching the meaning of God and so forth, but then we loose the greater religious context. After all, in my example and indeed in the real world, Christians don't tend to have personal experiences with Allah or general attributeless-super being types, do they?

    Given the enourmous potential for paradox, I don't cont personal experience alone as meaningful evidence, whatever that means! ;)

    Further, analogous to the pink elephant thing, we'd have to accept alien abductions, cults, etc.

    On that pink elephant thing, If I changed the analogy to pink elephants in another brane, out of reach - ie, supernatural, would it really matter? I think the idea remains mostly the same.

    As for the religious need, I agree - good conjecture. I have a book my list that discusses the origins of religion and a friend that keeps bugging me to read it!

    In any case, if take evolutionary need, lets conjecture, combined with the idea that we have thousands of religions and billions of personal experiences, I'd say that there is good evidence that any specific religion and it's supernatural findings are false.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Minor correction (none / 0) (#484)
    by mberteig on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 03:54:47 PM EST

    The Christian developes an internal, "personal experience with Jesus". The Muslim does the same with Allah. Each religion, however, specificaly contradicts the other. This means that both can't be correct. Now, of coursewe can make this "work" by stretching the meaning of God and so forth, but then we loose the greater religious context. After all, in my example and indeed in the real world, Christians don't tend to have personal experiences with Allah or general attributeless-super being types, do they?

    Although the two religions are antagonistic to each other from time to time, nevertheless, Islam actually accepts Christ as from God and asserts that God and Allah are just two words for the same Thing.

    Personally, I see any contradictions as part of a progression of truth. In school we learn things that may contradict or invalidate things we learned in an earlier grade. This does not mean that earlier knowledge was false, only that it is no longer appropriate given our maturity as a learner.

    I admit that this perspective of "progressive" revelation in religion is not a commonly held perspective.




    Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
    [ Parent ]
    C.S.Lewis held this view (none / 0) (#572)
    by dagsverre on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 11:37:46 AM EST

    ...for instance. He even used the same example.

    [ Parent ]
    Cool... (none / 0) (#623)
    by mberteig on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 12:38:45 AM EST

    Can you point me to a specific reference? I've only read a few of his different fictional works (and not just Narnia :-) which I enjoyed very much, but I haven't read anything of his for a _long_ time.




    Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
    [ Parent ]
    Not sure (none / 1) (#627)
    by dagsverre on Thu Jan 22, 2004 at 04:46:26 AM EST

    It was somewhere in "The beloved works of C.S.Lewis", which is the only stuff I read besides Narnia. It is a compendium of four books: Surprised by Joy, Reflections on the psalms, The four loves, and The buisness of Heaven. The last one again is a set of daily readings, that is 365+ excerpts from all of his books. Odds are that I read it somewhere in that last one (meaning it could be in any of his books) or the first one, most probably the last one. Without reading through it all I can't give you the exact reference.

    They are all very interesting books (or, I couldn't say for Psalms, as I haven't read it yet), christianity (and, life in general too, though non-christians would I suspect feel they would have to wade through too much crap to get to the pearls) from a very reflective angle. The first book for instance is his life-story about how he went from strong atheism to christianity. I should note that while he does agree with religions all progressively revealing the same thruth, he is very certain of christianity coming closest to that thruth.



    [ Parent ]
    Reply... (none / 0) (#485)
    by dagsverre on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 03:56:52 PM EST

    Thanks! I don't think I'm really that open-minded, it's just that I like an honest discussion and really like to avoid knee-jerk reactions and unrelevant arguments.

    we'd have to accept alien abductions, cults, etc.... no, you would not have to accept that, but you'd be much better prepared in understanding such people. It's way too easy to write off the others (whether the others are the blacks, the palestinians, the religious or whatever) as lunatics or at least as people without reasoning skills. I've heard some missionaries for instance tell stories about it being much easier for them to interact with people of foreign religions than for atheists, because they did, after all, have more common ground: The belief in the supernatural (here in the sense: More than what can discovered by the hard sciences, a superset of our reality, not necisarrily some wishy-washy alternative magic realm). It is easier for atheists to write off all religious people as fools, than for a christian to write off a muslim.

    I don't really agree that the problem of multiple religions is that great. First let me say that I think I can fully understand your argument and would just like to offer a competing argument. Then let me offer this analogy: If three people disagrees about the color of a speeding car, it doesn't mean that the car never existed. (Hmm, in fact it can mean that to a fourth person coming along afterwards, "if they don't know what car it was perhaps it was something else entirely", but of course that has no relevance for the three people who had actually seen the car with their own eyes).

    When it comes to the evidence, I was more talking about more incredible stuff than developing the inner relationship with Jesus...I was hoping not to go here because it kind of ruins a good discussion, but, like, if you get cancer as a kid, then they pray for you in church, then you get well and the doctors have no explanation then it's pretty hard to write that off as coincidence for the person who experiences it. This actually happened to a girl I know, and naturally she's a devout christian today (even if you do find a scientific explanation, the curing did happen and that in itself is an answer to the prayer...so the lack of scientific evidence is not the point, the effect of the prayer is). And I know one or two more such extreme cases personally. The point here is merely that sometimes the personal evidence is so great that a person needs nothing more. You need more, you're not that person, thus "subjective". Same with people who have "seen the light", it is much much easier for some distant relative to write it off as an illusion than the person it occured to.

    I think my only real point here is to speak against dismissing subjective experience. I don't mean to say that any subjective thruth is actually true universally (I do subscribe, like you obviously do, to there being one universal thruth), I'm just saying that there can be more to the universal thruth than what you can objectively reason. Ouch, and there I just kicked the discussion over to the "you're an agnostic, you can never be 100% sure of anything" discussion happening everywhere else...so I'll end it here.



    [ Parent ]
    a few minor flaws (none / 0) (#510)
    by davros4269 on Tue Jan 20, 2004 at 05:45:41 PM EST

    You have some good points but let me show why I think you are wrong on some points.

    First, I wasn't "writing anyone off", but trying to show that I can disbelieve someone's religion or their "fantastic" story for quite sane and rational reasons. There aren't spirits running around, or faeries. If these were as common as cats, than we'd have an extraordinary point of reference.

    That's why people look at you funny if you saw a "ghost", but not an animal. Everyone knows there are animals. Therefore, in order to understand reality, it's sane and rational to expect that, currently, ghosts don't exist and cats do. Sorry if I'm repeating myself!

    I like your analogy, but here is the problem as I see it: adherents of these other religions would claim that it was a different car all together. They would say the analogy is bad because it assumes that everyone saw the same car, but differ on the color. Some religions would claim an airplane, while others would squabble over a single digit on the license plate, etc.

    Someone else pointed out in a reply to your other post that Islam accepts Jesus. They consider Jesus one of the prophets, yes, however, the consider all of his followers flawed. Islam contradicts Christianity and vice versa. It is indeed a shame that they really do have so much in common, yet still find reason to kill each other.

    I could say that your stories are anecdotal evidence, but I won't - lets assume the girl did get cured. Folks go into spontaneous remission all the time - we just don't know enough about the human body and cancer to answer "why". It may have been god, but this isn't definitive.

    Now, you might object to applying science to religion in this manner, but your story does imply a proof your way, here's a counter my way. They have actually studied this. They had sick patients. Some of these were actively prayed over, some were not. Of course, the study found that prayer does not help. There was one group, I think, that had a spike, but it was within the statistical norm.

    The CIA did similar studies to determine whether they could use ESP to their advantage. One of their research centers showed that they could, the rest, not. The reason for doing the study in many locations and with different folks is of course to try to eliminate bias and so forth. Conclusion: ESP isn't real, at least according to the CIA. Neither is payer - or, God didn't care to be tested ;)

    As for "seeing the light", they have another study that involves writing down messages, simple and very clear, and putting them onto of dressers in the rooms of heart patients and such. The idea is, that if these patients have a near death experience and float above their bodies, they will see these messages, remember, and provide proof.

    No one has ever reported seeing the message. The Near death experience is universal, all cultures, all religions. They have been able as well to reproduce it in the lab, using techniques such as rhythmic drum beats, near starvation, drugs, etc. Besides the light and the tunnel vision, feeling a "presence" is the most common reported feature. Are we contacting God directly, or we showing that the brain produces these things?And I think I won't touch your last paragraph - my fingers are cramping at telling folks that I'm an atheist, damn it!
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Just some short point-for-point replies (none / 0) (#571)
    by dagsverre on Wed Jan 21, 2004 at 11:32:20 AM EST

    What I said was that the cure-for-cancer-episode gave that girl a reason to be a christian...the purpose was to describe that process involved for many christians, I didn't mean to imply that "hey, look here, the evidence is overwhelming, go visit your nearest church today!" (that's why I said I was sorry for introducing that element, and I guess I shouldn't have, or at least I should have been more clear). And of course it is anectdotal evidence, I brought it up as an example of such!

    The "writing anyone off" wasn't really directed at you (I'm pretty sure you can't find "you" in that sentence, I would have put it there if I meant it). Actually I had an edit of my post with "but you don't seem to be that badly affected", but that bit was connected with something else that I cut out to keep the post more on track. Sorry that it came out that way. Consider this a retractment of the statement at the very least.

    I agree about the mentality of religions vs. the car example to some extent (that is, you can find representatives or even majorities holding that view, though there will always be people of different views within a religion too). But they are not killing each other! Those are political conflicts, you'll have a hard time convincing me that the major religions are killing people over theological issues (they will say they are, but the analysts usually won't have to dig deep to find some political agenda underneath).

    About the other reply to your post, I think that is the long version of the car analogy.

    The near-death experiences is a strange phenonemon... I have no problem believing the study you told me about, I wish they included that bit in more documentaries though, most documentaries I've seen on it (not done any real study on the subject, I don't really consider it important) seem pretty speculative. I did see a documentary about a blind woman's near-death experience, where she could actually see during it, but that is a) anecdotal ;-) and b) only rules out some kinds of scientific interpretations of the phenonemon, not all. And I think she had been able to see as a kid, which has something to say.

    While we're at it let me just note down that most (major, at least) religions do claim that their thruth about life and death is universal ... the near-death experience being universal is thus not at all in conflict with religion (don't know if you were implying this).

    About the last paragraph: I was making a psuedo-quote of some of the other posts that I read through before I posted, which I didn't find too interesting. "agnostic" was their words, not mine. Again, could have been a lot more clear.

    That's about it, thanks for all. It's been interesting.



    [ Parent ]
    Supernatural (none / 0) (#708)
    by artis on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 10:11:10 PM EST

    On that pink elephant thing, If I changed the analogy to pink elephants in another brane, out of reach - ie, supernatural, would it really matter?
    Supernatural things do not exist by definition. If pink elephants exist they are natural. Whatever they can be explained or not doesn't matter.
    --
    Can you know that you are omniscient?
    [ Parent ]
    Some more reading (none / 1) (#382)
    by cristoper on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:03:03 PM EST

    While skimming this article, a paper by Theodore M. Drange came to mind: "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism." It is a good definition of the terms "Atheist" and "Agnostic".

    The essay/rejoinder by Michael Martin, "On A New Argument for Agnosticism" agrees with this Kuro5hin writeup.

    Finally this article might be of interest, excerpt:

    Atheists and agnostics differ in where they draw the line between probable but uncertain and sufficiently probable to be very certain. Because the atheist's position can never be proven, this division is unavoidable. For the theist, however, the two may as well be one since both demand the theist provide evidence for God's existence. The burden of proof is clearly on the theist.

    - Chris Burkhardt (theist, Christian)

    My answer to the last essay ... (none / 1) (#398)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 08:07:39 PM EST

    ... is that theists can say that God has inspired their thoughts and actions, and thus is working through the universe. Unfortunately, this is subjective anecdotal evidence that will be sufficient for theists, but insufficient to anyone else.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    bullshit (none / 1) (#385)
    by tuj on Mon Jan 19, 2004 at 07:14:12 PM EST

    I see alien life as a strong possibility. However, being a skeptic, I will say that thus far, there is no evidence for aliens. I might word it this way, "aliens don't exist".

    While you claim to have knowledge of science, the logic here is a fallacy.  This passage seems to suggest that lack of direct evidence for something is the basis for believing against its existance.  However direct evidence for many theories in science is distinctly lacking, especially in physics.  It took (and still continues) years for scientists to understand the implications of Einstein's theory of relativity and predict phenomena (like gravity waves) that they could try to observe.

    However, what scientists were able to do was understand the logic behind Einstein's theory and decide if the predicted consequences of such a theory made sense in light of observed facts.  If Einstein's theory suggested that gravity operated 50% of the time, its acceptance would be very low because this flies in the face of our known physical reality.  Now some theories predict rather bizarre things, such as if you were to jump up infinite times, eventually you would fly up into space rather than returning to earth.  Obviously this is a lot harder to swallow, therefore we subject it to much more scrutiny.  But if it does logically coincide with other theories that are based on reality, it becomes more likely to be accepted.

    IMHO, a skeptic, or perhaps more precisely a rational person, places their beliefs with facts when available, and probability when they are not.  Example: my door is closed, so I cannot tell if there is a psychopathic murderer standing behind it waiting to kill me.  But the odds suggest that there is not, therefore, that's what I believe.  If I was a celebrity or President Bush, I imagine that that probability would be higher and justify taking more precaution.  But I'd still wager that no one was there.

    Its the same with belief in god.  I have no evidence to believe there is a god, and I have heard no logical argument to convince me of the existance of god, therefore I have to consider the probability of god's existance as very nearly 0.  Of course, I can't disprove god either, but since I am a rational person and don't consider disproving low-probability things to be worthwhile, I make the rational assumption that god does not exist.

    But then again, what makes life interesting is that your experiences may vary.