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Thread: The Ever Present Problem of Atheism (HOF thread)

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    Originally posted by Jefferson
    If you have ever taken LSD (20 years or so ago when LSD actually existed) you can only imagine how fascinating life will be with (not just a redeemed body) but also a redeemed mind. I can't wait.
    What?! Heaven is like being on LSD????? Think bigger than drug-induced mania.

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    >>I have shown that these aspects of human experience are predicted by the theistic hypothesis.<<

    Nope, you haven't shown anyhting.

    >>Martin's alternatives to my arguments are highly speculative, extremely improbable, and very unconvincing.<<

    Given that Martin looks at the arguements from an atheistic perspective, he finds the arguements much more convincing than yours.

    >>It is apparent that he is willing to entertain absurdities (such as the universe evolving into existence from nothing, an infinite number of unverifiable universes, the rejection of eternal and unchanging prescriptive moral laws, etc.) in order to escape the conclusion that the theistic God does exist. <<

    Actually, atheists find the probability that the Universe came from "nothing" (not that there is any proof that "nothing" exists outside our universe) much higher than the probability that it was done by God as described in the bible.

    >>In short, Martin fails to explain why atheism is a superior hypothesis to that of theism. <<

    Well, that depends on your definition of "superior". Most christians would agree with you, while most atheists disagree. After all, if they think that the theistic hypothesis is superior, they wouldn't BE atheist.

    >>He is willing to attack theism, but does not even attempt to show that atheism offers a better explanation for the nine aspects of human experience I discussed in my opening statement. <<

    Human experience is EXTREMELY subjective to the beliefs of the person involved. If a human believes in God, he will most likely see the existence confirmed in almost every aspect of life. An atheist will NEVER see the existence of a God confirmed in human experience, simply because he interprets the world DIFFERENTLY.

    The problem is that the theist has the burden of proof, not the atheist. Since it is impossible to prove a negative, the theist must prove that the God hypothesis is more believable than the atheistic hypothesis. This requires proof that God exists, which in 2000 years no one has been able to do without at some point relying on the bible as "The Word of God" which leads to circular arguementation.

    >>Martin unsuccessfully attacks the explanatory power of theism while failing to show that atheism has any explanatory power.<<

    I think its the other way around. Atheism has great explanatory power, including why christians think God exists. Theism also has explanatory power, but only when it comes to Christians. The explanation of why there are atheists in the first place fails rather apallingly.

    >>My thesis remains intact. It is more reasonable to be a theist than it is to be an atheist.<<

    Depending on the definition of "reason".

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    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Freak
    Zakath you asked: Provide three examples of eternal, unchanging truths and explain how you can be absolutely certain they are eternal.

    Love, goodness, and Jesus are all three examples of "eternal, unchanging truths" that you are looking for.

    *Since God is love therefore love is eternal for God is eternal.
    *God is good therefore goodness is eternal since God is eternal (His attributes never change).
    *Jesus is the truth and we know Jesus is God so Jesus is eternal.

    How can we be absolutely sure they are eternal? The answer is because the Holy Scriptures declare it. I know you are a atheist that denies the inerrancy of Scripture. But that is your problem not mine because there is ample evidence to believe the Scriptures are divine in origin. That is why we can say these are eternal, unchanging truths....
    Thank you for your response.

    Unfortunately, as you admit, it is useless to me since you cannot prove
    • - the existence of your deity
      - the goodness of your deity
      - the eternality of your diety
      - the inerrancy of the Bible
      - or the continued existence of and truthfulness of Jesus of Nazareth.


    But, for once, you did actually respond with information.

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    Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Zakath


    Thank you for your response.

    Unfortunately, as you admit, it is useless to me since you cannot prove
    • - the existence of your deity
      - the goodness of your deity
      - the eternality of your diety
      - the inerrancy of the Bible
      - or the continued existence of and truthfulness of Jesus of Nazareth.


    But, for once, you did actually respond with information.
    Zakath, neither can *you* prove the nonexistence of God, so what is the point of this banter? Matters of spiritual belief and faith cannot be 'proved' in a scientific sense anymore than your starting premise (there is no God) can be 'proved' in a scientific sense. I fail to see how your retort strengthens your position.

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    >>But that is your problem not mine because there is ample evidence to believe the Scriptures are divine in origin.That is why we can say these are eternal, unchanging truths....<<

    Ofcourse, what one person sees as "proof of God" someone else sees as "proof of evolution". The main problem is to prove the existence of God for someone who doesn't believe that the bible is the Word of God.

    In essence, ALL "proofs" of the existence of God depend on believing that the bible is the Word of God. So, all arguements for God are circular arguements. There is no proof that does NOT depend on belief in God. After all, if there was proof all people (including those of other faiths) would already be Christians. The fact that they are NOT means that Christians cannot prove that God exists.

    >>Love, goodness, and Jesus are all three examples of "eternal, unchanging truths" that you are looking for.

    *Since God is love therefore love is eternal for God is eternal.
    *God is good therefore goodness is eternal since God is eternal (His attributes never change).
    *Jesus is the truth and we know Jesus is God so Jesus is eternal.<<

    Ocourse, believing that these are eternal truths depends on belief in God. If you don't believe in God, then you don't believe these are eternal truths.

    Belief is a way of coping with all the data pouring into the brain every second. Belief shapes the interpretation of those signals, and the signals shape your belief. Thus, it is a feedback-loop, much like all other signal processing-modelling activities. Ofcourse, some beliefs shape the interpretation more than others, and some beliefs shape the interpretation so strongly that contradictory information is "weeded" out of the signals such that only belief-confirming data remains. Thus, belief shapes (or rather: distords) your view of reality.

    And this goes for all beliefs, even belief in Santa or the Tooth Faery. Some are just stronger than others, and some have so much "fail safe devices" that every contradictory signal can be explained in such a way that it seems to confirm that belief (ie: The Devil did it!) rather than contradict it.

    However, to eliminate unwanted beliefs from shaping the interpretation, science has devised ways to do away with beliefs and biases which might distord data interpretation. This has been a very powerfull way to detect the working mechanisms of reality, although no matter what belief is still powerfull and cannot be dismissed that easily. Nevertheless, peer-review, double-blind experiments, discussion conferences and other mechanisms do well in exposing/eliminating beliefs/biases from data interpretation.

    This is why religion fears science so much, since science is a way to interpret data without the influence of belief. And ALL religions rely on belief to shape the interpretation and safe-guard that belief from being destroyed by contradictory data. When you take away all those safe-guards, all those "collored glasses" and those "blindfolds", what is left is ususally less than nothing.

    Ofcourse, some religions are far better at avoiding taking off those "blindfolds". These religions are the ones who survive longest because followers are very hard to convert from their chosen religion. Nevertheless, atheists and other non-religious groups are gaining numbers FAST. I just hope that those religious groups are NOT going to start a fight about it, because the LAST thing this world needs is another Holy War, resulting in the banning of science by those religions. We NEED science, because our world can no longer survive without it.

    Face it, most of this world would be better off without religious influences determining peoples choises.

  6. #21
    Over 3000 post club Freak's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Neophyte


    Zakath, neither can *you* prove the nonexistence of God, so what is the point of this banter? Matters of spiritual belief and faith cannot be 'proved' in a scientific sense anymore than your starting premise (there is no God) can be 'proved' in a scientific sense. I fail to see how your retort strengthens your position.
    Exactly! Zakath is getting there.... but still fails to understand this elementary fact.
    Jesus Loves You

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    Originally posted by shima

    In essence, ALL "proofs" of the existence of God depend on believing that the bible is the Word of God.

    Actually, this isn't so. If you can stomach loads of chemistry and physics I highly recommend 'The Creator and the Cosmos', by Dr. Hugh Ross -- most astrophysicists these days, based on scientific evidence, are concluding that there is a Divine Creator.

    This is why religion fears science so much, since science is a way to interpret data without the influence of belief.

    Again, I would contend that science fears religion - (see above referenced book -- I personally don't believe the two are mutually exclusive.

    I just hope that those religious groups are NOT going to start a fight about it, because the LAST thing this world needs is another Holy War, resulting in the banning of science by those religions. We NEED science, because our world can no longer survive without it.

    Not all Christians are ignorant fools (any more than all atheists are ignorant fools). Do you *really* think 'religious' people will ban science? Just because people espouse a faith does not mean they will strap bombs to themselves or start burning books.

    Face it, most of this world would be better off without religious influences determining peoples choises.
    ....hmmmm, religious influences were instrumental in founding the United States. I, for one, don't think we'd be better off w/o this great nation.

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    Dang it! I haven't quite mastered this 'quote' function....(hence the name 'Neophyte' on this board). Sorry folks....not all of the above 'quoted' material was from Shima. (Sorry Shima for giving the appearance I've put words in your mouth).

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    Originally posted by shima
    >>
    Thus, belief shapes (or rather: distords) your view of reality.

    And this goes for all beliefs, even belief in Santa or the Tooth Faery. Some are just stronger than others, and some have so much "fail safe devices" that every contradictory signal can be explained in such a way that it seems to confirm that belief (ie: The Devil did it!) rather than contradict it.

    However, to eliminate unwanted beliefs from shaping the interpretation, science has devised ways to do away with beliefs and biases which might distord data interpretation. This has been a very powerfull way to detect the working mechanisms of reality, although no matter what belief is still powerfull and cannot be dismissed that easily. Nevertheless, peer-review, double-blind experiments, discussion conferences and other mechanisms do well in exposing/eliminating beliefs/biases from data interpretation.

    This is why religion fears science so much, since science is a way to interpret data without the influence of belief.
    You are joking, right? As a former scientist (and now law student) I can tell you that science is MOST DEFINITELY influenced by the bias and belief of the scientist conducting the experiment.

    Indeed, science is merely a *method* for observing the world around us, not a *truth*. It is not fail safe, and it is most definitely influenced by bias --- even when attempting double-blind experiments, peer-review (which, by the way, is heavily biased), and criticizing data interpretation.

    I also take exception to your contention that belief 'distorts' one's view of reality -- belief (including scientific theories) are lenses through which we view the world; 'distort' is a loaded term that suggests the particular view is wrong.
    Last edited by Neophyte; March 19th, 2003 at 08:28 AM.

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    Don't worry, most people will have guessed which parts are yours and which are mine.

    I personally haven't read the book, but if I were to hazard a guess: its about things like the electric charge constant, the dielectric constant and how if they would only be slighty slighty different life probably wouldn't have formed here.

    I know the arguement, and it fails to hold water because of the lack of imagination on behalf of the writer. If, so goes the arguement, the ratio of the two were slightly different, no stars would be able to form, or those stars able to form would burn all their fuel in a few million years. However, suppose that no stars form at all, would that mean that there would NOT be anthing else in that universe? The basic assumption underpining his arguement is that he cannot imagine that life would look completely different. While we might not have life based on Carbon atoms, we might have life based on Nitrogen bonds, or how about life based on hydrogen cristal deposits? I can understand that if there are no stars, then life might look completely different (perhaps even unrecognizable to our eyes) but that doesn't mean that NO life is possible there.

    Basically, ALL arguements involving science try to prove that life/planets/solar systems could NOT have formed by purely natural means, suggesting that the process REQUIRED a Creator. Ofcourse, as any scientists/philosopher will tell you, it is not possible to prove a negative, and thus all those arguements can be dismissed. This includes the "Intelligent Design" and the "Irreducably Complex" arguements.

    And since the proof for the existence/absence of God lies firmly on the shoulder of the theist (after all try to prove the absence of this god: the All Powerfull, Invisble Pink Unicorn), we atheists are still waiting (its been about 4500 years now) for the definite proof of God.

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    it's so nice to see that there are some actual intelligent people ou there.

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    Shima,
    Point taken..although I do think the book goes into much greater detail than what you've described here.

    Again, as I said earlier in response to Zakath - ultimately the crux of the atheist/theist debate comes down to belief -- on both sides of the argument - since neither side can 'prove' their starting premise!

  13. #28
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Neophyte
    Zakath, neither can *you* prove the nonexistence of God, so what is the point of this banter?
    From my perspective, the "point of the banter" is an attempt to get religionists (most frequently some flavor of "Christian" on this site) to think about what they believe by asking them to reasonably and logically defend those beliefs.

    From the perspective of the religionists, it's basically apologetics, the branch of theology concerned with proving the truth of or defending doctrine.

    Matters of spiritual belief and faith cannot be 'proved' in a scientific sense anymore than your starting premise (there is no God) can be 'proved' in a scientific sense. I fail to see how your retort strengthens your position.
    My position is not one needing strengthening. It's been said many times, even on this site, that "extraordinary claims require extratordinary evidence to be believable."

    Christians make many extraordinary claims. I, and others like me, merely ask them for evidence. As you have correctly noted, much of what is provided is far from compelling from my point of view.

    While I cannot prove that Jay Bartlett's deity doesn't exist, neither can he prove that Bhrama, Vishnu, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn don't exist. This is a crippling flaw of his apologetic since his religious beliefs require the existence of but a single deity. That's why he must people his universe with an increasingly broader panoply of disincarnate alien beings masquerading as one another and possessing or influencing humans to work their will.

    What I can demonstrate, within reasonable certainty (reasonable for me, anyway), is that such entities are so unlikely to exist that, for all intents and purposes, the likelihood of their existence approaches close enough to zero for me to discard the hypothesis of their existence as useless.

    Since, during the last ten years, not a single religionist of the hundreds I've questioned from a wide variety of religious backgrounds has been able to directly demonstate the existence of their deity and its alleged impact on the universe which we occupy, I remain an atheist.

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    Originally posted by shima

    I personally haven't read the book, but if I were to hazard a guess: its about things like the electric charge constant, the dielectric constant and how if they would only be slighty slighty different life probably wouldn't have formed here.

    I know the arguement, and it fails to hold water because of the lack of imagination on behalf of the writer. If, so goes the arguement, the ratio of the two were slightly different, no stars would be able to form, or those stars able to form would burn all their fuel in a few million years. However, suppose that no stars form at all, would that mean that there would NOT be anthing else in that universe? The basic assumption underpining his arguement is that he cannot imagine that life would look completely different. While we might not have life based on Carbon atoms, we might have life based on Nitrogen bonds, or how about life based on hydrogen cristal deposits? I can understand that if there are no stars, then life might look completely different (perhaps even unrecognizable to our eyes) but that doesn't mean that NO life is possible there.
    Actually, the thrust of the book is the concept of a finite beginning for the Universe which is increasingly being supported by scientific evidence - the author does discuss the incredibly delicate balance - but not just of the electric charge constant and the dielectric constant - virtually every aspect of the universe seems poised to support life on this planet.

    The analogy (in terms of probabilities) is something like this: Imagine a pile of dimes, the width of which is the size of North America, stacked from here to the moon. Now, multiply that pile by about 1 billion. Paint ONE dime red. Blindfold a friend. Have that friend pick out the one red dime --- the probability of him getting it on the first try is like the probability of this Earth/Universe existing as we know it today by pure chance.

    What is fascinating is HOW the scientific community is responding to such findings -- even Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein could not escape the conclusion of design - but were unwilling to accept it b/c they didn't like the consequences of accepting it.

    The author also addresses your last point -- ie, just because life exists as we see it now doesn't mean it couldn't have existed in some other form --- but not having the book in front of me (and having read it some time ago) I can't remember his retort.....I'll see if I can dig it up and get back with you.

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    Over 750 post club Flipper's Avatar
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    Shima:

    Face it, most of this world would be better off without religious influences determining peoples choises.

    See, I disagree. I don't believe that people are wholey rational creatures. Religion is one lightning rod for this tendency but there are many others, ranging from the small superstitions that people have day-to-day, to their unwarranted faith in fad pseudoscience or in lottery tickets, or Nigerian email scams.

    If it weren't religion, it would be something else. Nationalism, perhaps.

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