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

  1. #31
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    >>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.<<

    Yes, I know that it is extremely hard to eliminate bias from experiments and interpretation. Nevertheless, science is doing a good job trying to explain reality through natural "cause and effect" means. We've come quite a long way ever since the first people gazed up at the stars and peopled it with Gods of Thunder, Fertility etc.

    >>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 never suggested that science is in any way "perfect", since this is not possible because science is done by PEOPLE. Yes, peer-review is done by scientists and hence is biased, but science is MUCH faster in the uptake of new ideas and the rejection of old ideas proven wrong. It only took about 20-25 years for General Relativity to replace Newton's description of gravity, and slight less for Quantum Mechanics (which is extremely counter intuitive from a laymans perspective) to replace the "billiard balls" approach to small particles.

    >>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.<<

    Well, as lenzes go, "distord" is indeed a very good description since some lenzes do "distord" reality. Some do so more than others. Now, science is very good at trying to get a view of reality that does NOT involve lenzes or distortion. And this is why most religions but Christianity in particular don't like science.

  2. #32
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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Zakath


    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.

    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.
    I respect your position - it is clearly well thought out and makes sense to you. I am willing to 'reasonably' and 'logically' defend my beliefs. But if the only 'reasonable defense', in your mind, is absolute proof of God's existence, I'm afraid the conversation would be rather dull. I cannot offer you 'proof' of God.

    I can say that the likelihood of the existence of the Universe in its present form, and the life supporting characteristics of our planet within that universe, are so mathematically improbable (virtually zero) if left to chance, that I reject the hypothesis that they exist by pure chance. The overwhelming impression is one of design.

  3. #33
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Flipper,

    I think history bears this out by the devotion of people to their nation state in non-religious societies like China and the old USSR.

  4. #34
    Resident Fiend Gerald's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Neophyte
    I can say that the likelihood of the existence of the Universe in its present form, and the life supporting characteristics of our planet within that universe, are so mathematically improbable (virtually zero) if left to chance, that I reject the hypothesis that they exist by pure chance. The overwhelming impression is one of design.
    Why is it that religionists keep falling back to the origin of the universe? Is that the last place they can make a stand?

    Even if the universe is the result of Divine Artifice, that says nothing about the Artificer. It is a very big leap to say "Divine Artificer = the God of Abraham".

    Many religionists claim that there exists an invisible, immaterial, volitional being (or beings) who regularly interacts with the material world. However, they have yet to demonstrate that this is so.

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    Originally posted by shima
    Well, as lenzes go, "distord" is indeed a very good description since some lenzes do "distord" reality. Some do so more than others. Now, science is very good at trying to get a view of reality that does NOT involve lenzes or distortion. And this is why most religions but Christianity in particular don't like science.
    Agreed. And yes, I think you are right that a great many Christians fear/loathe science. I hope you'll be pleased to know that there is at least one Christian out there (namely me) who happens to love science. I have never believed that religion and science are mutually exclusive - that is of course, until the day we have 'absolute proof' (in the sense demanded by most atheists) of the existence or nonexistence of God. Since this hasn't happened in all the history of the human race I don't think we are anywhere near such a state.

    What amazes me about most scientists, is that they are every bit as closed-minded and 'dogmatic' about their particular 'lense' as Christians are about theirs. But most scientists refuse to acknowledge they are wearing a lense at all. (I freely admit that most Christians also refuse to acknowledge they are wearing a lense). Many scientists tout their ability to 'correct' and 'criticize' their interpretations yet are remarkably unwilling, even in their own communities, to actually do so.

  6. #36
    Resident Atheist Zakath's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Neophyte
    What amazes me about most scientists, is that they are every bit as closed-minded and 'dogmatic' about their particular 'lense' as Christians are about theirs.
    It shouldn't be amazing, really. Humans are closed-minded, dogmatic, etc. Scientists are just human beings, afterall.

    But most scientists refuse to acknowledge they are wearing a lense at all. (I freely admit that most Christians also refuse to acknowledge they are wearing a lense). Many scientists tout their ability to 'correct' and 'criticize' their interpretations yet are remarkably unwilling, even in their own communities, to actually do so.
    Anyone who's studied the history of science knows how resistant to change many theoretical positions have been. It's just their humanity showing.

    History does point to one difference between science and religion: one normally doesn't get burned at the stake or driven out of their town for holding a differing scientific viewpoint.

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    >>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. <<

    Ah, but this isn't true. There is virtually NOTHING outside our own solar system that is poised to support life on THIS planet, and THIS planet ONLY. The circumstances of our Solar system are far from unique. We have already detected planets outside our solar system, making the arguement that this could be the ONLY star with planets moot.

    >>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.<<

    And HOW would he arrive at those numbers? The numbers could easily have been:
    Paint 1/2 of them in different colors of your choise. Now, what is the chance of picking out the exact RED one? Extremely small ofcourse, but the chance of picking a COLORED one is 1/2.

    Every arguement that tries to "calculate" the CHANCE of our universe existing is moot, because chance doesn't work this way. For chance to have the meaning we normally use (like: the CHANCE that a 6-sided die comes up a 6 in one throw) we need MULTIPLE events, or enough knowledge of the circumstances outside our universe. Since we have neither, any calculation is no more than speculation.

    >>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.<<

    What I find fascinating is that, even though all design arguements are extremely flawed, nevertheless people believe in those arguements as if they are really meaningfull. Einstein and Hawking and many others like them reject the Design arguements not because they don't like the conclusion, but because the arguements are flawed into the extreme and they know it. And btw, Einstein was religious.

    >>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.<<

    Please do. He's probably spouting things like: "its all hypothetical" but since he cannot prove that life MUST be formed from Carbon atoms his arguements are moot.

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

    Originally posted by Gerald
    Why is it that religionists keep falling back to the origin of the universe? Is that the last place they can make a stand?

    Even if the universe is the result of Divine Artifice, that says nothing about the Artificer. It is a very big leap to say "Divine Artificer = the God of Abraham".
    I never even came close to trying to make the leap you are suggesting here - namely, that "Divine Artificer = God of Abraham" -- the point I was trying to make was that if (and it's a BIG IF in these circles) one accepts the existence of a "Divine Artificer" one cannot continue to be an atheist.

    As for why religionists 'keep falling back to the origin of the universe', its probably because atheists insist on scientific proofs for everything. If someone wants 'proof' of God, you can't just retort w/biblical passages or personal experiences -- atheists want hard science and evidence. If the evidence suggests a Divine Artificer - that's a clear indication that maybe (just maybe) there is some Prime Mover out there. And isn't that what atheists are complaining about anyway? I don't understand why someone would complain they need scientific evidence of God, then reject any evidence of God as being a 'last place to make a stand.'

    Incidentally, it isn't the "last place to make a stand." I'm just trying to move in your circles since you are clearly unwilling to move in mine.

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    Smile

    Originally posted by Zakath

    History does point to one difference between science and religion: one normally doesn't get burned at the stake or driven out of their town for holding a differing scientific viewpoint.
    True 'nuff! It's just their humanity ....(wait! Their 'inhumanity') showing!

  10. #40
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    >>Incidentally, it isn't the "last place to make a stand." I'm just trying to move in your circles since you are clearly unwilling to move in mine.<<

    This is correct. Other places to stand are:
    - Absolute Morality
    - The origins of Life
    - The origins of Love
    - The existence of Good and Evil
    - Heaven and Hell
    - The existence of a Soul

    None of these places are hard, solid evidence for Gods existence (from the viewpoint of the atheist) but neither are they disproven by cold, hard science (yet).

  11. #41
    Resident Fiend Gerald's Avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Time to wake up from your nap...

    Originally posted by Neophyte
    Incidentally, it isn't the "last place to make a stand." I'm just trying to move in your circles since you are clearly unwilling to move in mine.
    And what would those "circles" be?

    Regarding the question of Divine Artifice, I can only respond with a shrug and say "I dunno".

    I'm much more intersted in seeing this:

    There exists an invisible, immaterial, volitional being (or beings) who regularly interacts with the material world

    demonstrated.

    Note that "volitional being" doesn't necessarily mean "god". It could just as easily mean "ghost" or "demon" or "fairy".

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

    Originally posted by Gerald

    And what would those "circles" be?
    You're right, that sounded totally snotty. My apologies. I just meant I was confining my discussion to scientific evidence since that was where the atheist arguments were coming from and that aspect of my response (proof of a divine beginner) was what you were taking exception to.

    Regarding the question of Divine Artifice, I can only respond with a shrug and say "I dunno".

    I'm much more intersted in seeing this:

    There exists an invisible, immaterial, volitional being (or beings) who regularly interacts with the material world

    demonstrated.
    I too would like to see it physically demonstrated, right here before my eyes. As I'm typing this message in fact. Fortunately, I don't always get what I want. I say fortunately b/c I don't think too many of us would enjoy having our world turned upside down by such an experience - we would have to concede that 1) we don't have all the answers, and 2) we are not in total control. A hard pill to swallow.

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    Resident Fiend Gerald's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Neophyte
    I say fortunately b/c I don't think too many of us would enjoy having our world turned upside down by such an experience - we would have to concede that 1) we don't have all the answers, and 2) we are not in total control. A hard pill to swallow.
    I dunno, I easily concede 1 and 2; no bitter pill for me, as the truth of 1 and 2 do not address the issue of a supernatural dimension to existence.

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    Originally posted by Gerald

    I dunno, I easily concede 1 and 2; no bitter pill for me, as the truth of 1 and 2 do not address the issue of a supernatural dimension to existence.
    Yes...1 and 2 do not address the issue of a supernatural dimension to existence - I merely meant that they are potential reactions to it (by many people ... not you, perhaps) if we had a present physical demonstration of the kind you were describing.

    I wasn't trying to be litigious....just pondering.

    ...**darn it!*** I did it again...somehow sent the post before I was done typing.....see below (obviously I've figured out the edit function but I couldn't figure out how to delete)
    Last edited by Neophyte; March 19th, 2003 at 12:10 PM.

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    Originally posted by Gerald

    I dunno, I easily concede 1 and 2; no bitter pill for me, as the truth of 1 and 2 do not address the issue of a supernatural dimension to existence.
    Yes...1 and 2 do not address the issue of a supernatural dimension to existence - I merely meant that they are potential reactions to it (by many people ... not you, perhaps) if we had a present physical demonstration of the kind you were describing.

    I wasn't trying to be litigious....just pondering. Incidentally, I was using the term "we" to refer to humanity in general - I didn't mean to imply that either one of us believes we "have all the answers", etc.

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