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Does Atheism Have A Truly Convincing Argument Yet?


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#41 Adam Nagy

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 10:09 AM

Sorry I just wanted to bold 2 statements so you see them together.  I know this is a rather blatant use of quote mining.  Sometimes people don't realize when they have a cognitive dissonance.  You allow Creationism to argue for the negative, but do not allow Atheists the same arguments.

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You need to reread what the actual contention is. Arguing from the negative is not essentially faulty but how you use it and what it means can be faulty. Let me use a parallel example regarding skepticism.

This is one of the best quotes regarding a solution to how one should approach the use of skepticism:

"While skepticism is not defensible as an epistemological position, it is of value. It acts like a burr in the epistemologist's saddle, demanding that any claim to knowledge is based upon adequate evidence and is free from contradiction and absurdity."


Many arguments between skeptics and Christians may give the impression that a Christian could fundamentally disagree with skepticism (which I would contest as unreasonable). Also the position of skepticism and arguing from the negative have essentially the same perspective. While a person is being skeptical about something there is no logical demand that an alternative needs to be offered, it is sufficient to demonstrate that a position is ridiculous based on its own merit without even offering a solution to fill its place.

Here is the sticky part and the thing that turns a rational activity (skepticism) into an irrational foundation (being a skeptic). Just like skepticism, atheism can not supply an epistemological foundation because it makes no positive claims. So when someone says they are fundamentally an atheist or a skeptic they are entering an irrational mode, just as much as it would be irrational for me to say that my basic worldview is as an anti-evolutionist.

Do you see the difference yet? If not answer this question; How would you react if I told you that my basic worldview was anti-evolutionist? Would you think it is rational to build my basic foundation of reality off of the initial belief that evolution isn't true (which, by nature, is arguing from the negative)? While I certainly believe that evolution isn't true, don't I have to find something else to start with to stake a claim to what the nature of reality actually is (a positive argument for why things are the way they are)?

#42 Adam Nagy

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 10:32 AM

Let me add one more comment to clarify and the atheist knows what I'm saying in essence when they do claim what they believe by arguing for evolution rather than for atheism. Evolution is of the utmost religious importance to the atheist because evolution is the supposed positive foundation from which intellectual atheism flows. However, if this is acknowledged, then evolution's religious nature may be exposed and we know that in our political climate this must remain forbidden.

Edit: So Javabean, back to your contention that these two comments...

There is nothing logically wrong with arguing from the negative. Creationists do it all the time.

...

....you can't make a positive conclusion from arguments that are all in the negative.

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...should generate cognitive dissonance. Do you see now why they aren't mutually exclusive?

#43 Guest_Tommy_*

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 08:45 PM

http://en.wikipedia...._strong_atheism

This page describes some distinctions of which I hadn't been aware: strong and weak atheism, implicit versus explicit. Dawkins has used the phrase "de facto atheist". It seems that "atheist" can describe varying levels of mental effort and commitment.

#44 Adam Nagy

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 12:19 AM

http://en.wikipedia...._strong_atheism

This page describes some distinctions of which I hadn't been aware: strong and weak atheism, implicit versus explicit.  Dawkins has used the phrase "de facto atheist".  It seems that "atheist" can describe varying levels of mental effort and commitment.

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I would say that the use of weak and strong atheist is an equivocation tool to avoid the implications that atheism has no ability to provide an epistemological foundation, in spite of the numerous people who are willing to amend 'atheist' to a description of their basic foundational belief.

#45 Ron

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 06:02 AM

I would say that the use of weak and strong atheist is an equivocation tool to avoid the implications that atheism has no ability to provide an epistemological foundation, in spite of the numerous people who are willing to amend 'atheist' to a description of their basic foundational belief.

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Evolution, it seems, is the only game in town for the atheist. But, it still doesn't provide a foundation for them. Atheists have struggled with origins for some time now (and to their own detriment). It has gotten so bad, that they have all but given up on origins (or “foundations”).

From where do we come? This is a question the atheists have given up on.

#46 Javabean

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 06:26 AM

I would say that the use of weak and strong atheist is an equivocation tool to avoid the implications that atheism has no ability to provide an epistemological foundation, in spite of the numerous people who are willing to amend 'atheist' to a description of their basic foundational belief.

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So how is there an issue with having a Theory of Knowledge and Atheism? There is nothing about Atheism that disallows knowledge.

*ignore me - i forgot Adam described his position in an earlier post - Javabean*

#47 Javabean

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 06:35 AM

Evolution, it seems, is the only game in town for the atheist. But, it still doesn't provide a foundation for them. Atheists have struggled with origins for some time now (and to their own detriment). It has gotten so bad, that they have all but given up on origins (or “foundations”).

From where do we come? This is a question the atheists have given up on.

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Except if Evolution is proven false then I move on from thinking that Evolution explains the hows and whys life is the way it is. In fact I would say any Atheist would just as happily move on to what the next best thing is.

The funny thing is, if Evolution is true, and Abiogenesis is also true, then that means we all came from dust...sound familiar :huh:

#48 Javabean

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 06:56 AM

You need to reread what the actual contention is. Arguing from the negative is not essentially faulty but how you use it and what it means can be faulty. Let me use a parallel example regarding skepticism.

This is one of the best quotes regarding a solution to how one should approach the use of skepticism:
Many arguments between skeptics and Christians may give the impression that a Christian could fundamentally disagree with skepticism (which I would contest as unreasonable). Also the position of skepticism and arguing from the negative have essentially the same perspective. While a person is being skeptical about something there is no logical demand that an alternative needs to be offered, it is sufficient to demonstrate that a position is ridiculous based on its own merit without even offering a solution to fill its place.


Cool all this makes sense to me.

Here is the sticky part and the thing that turns a rational activity (skepticism) into an irrational foundation (being a skeptic). Just like skepticism, atheism can not supply an epistemological foundation because it makes no positive claims. So when someone says they are fundamentally an atheist or a skeptic they are entering an irrational mode, just as much as it would be irrational for me to say that my basic worldview is as an anti-evolutionist.


I am positive that there is no God. :huh: If someone is skepitical about something they are automatically a skeptic. How can someone not be a skeptic if they are skeptical about something?

Do you see the difference yet? If not answer this question; How would you react if I told you that my basic worldview was anti-evolutionist? Would you think it is rational to build my basic foundation of reality off of the initial belief that evolution isn't true (which, by nature, is arguing from the negative)? While I certainly believe that evolution isn't true, don't I have to find something else to start with to stake a claim to what the nature of reality actually is (a positive argument for why things are the way they are)?

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Creationism = Anti-evolution. You telling me that you are not anti-evolutionist but that you are a Creationist, well it means the same thing to me. Just like someone replacing any cuss word with another word. If it is used in the same context then it is the same.

See to have a rational belief means you need to have evidence for that belief. But that isn't even an issue here. Atheism is a lack of belief, a lack of faith in a divine being. It would be like a glass of water. Only instead of water its faith. If it is full you have a theist. If its empty you have atheism. That is the most correct way to describe atheism.

#49 Adam Nagy

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 08:03 AM

If someone is skepitical about something they are automatically a skeptic.  How can someone not be a skeptic if they are skeptical about something?

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This is where I'm trying very carefully to sift meanings out to avoid confusion. To be a 'skeptic', in a worldview sense, is different than being skeptical about something.


Creationism = Anti-evolution.

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Wrong. Do you recall David Berlinski? How about our very own Ryyker? Have you ever heard Eugenie Scott scoffing at the notion that creationists believe disproving evolution proves creation, which is hardly if ever argued for in the mutually exclusive sense, BTW? Again Creationism and Evolutionism are not completely mutually exclusive even though rationally they oppose each other greatly...

Maybe before I get too far, we should define creationism. Which would have to be a topic of a different thread.

The point is this: Creationism has no need of evolution to have an argument. Atheism needs God to pose its arguments.

See to have a rational belief means you need to have evidence for that belief.  But that isn't even an issue here.  Atheism is a lack of belief, a lack of faith in a divine being.  It would be like a glass of water.  Only instead of water its faith.  If it is full you have a theist.  If its empty you have atheism.  That is the most correct way to describe atheism.

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And alas you just confirmed what Ron and I have been arguing for. Atheism only argues from the negative. It has no positive argument. Without God, or at least the concept of a deity, atheism has no point of reference. If it wasn't for God there could be no Atheists.

#50 Ron

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 10:11 AM

See to have a rational belief means you need to have evidence for that belief.  But that isn't even an issue here.  Atheism is a lack of belief, a lack of faith in a divine being.  It would be like a glass of water.  Only instead of water its faith.  If it is full you have a theist.  If its empty you have atheism.  That is the most correct way to describe atheism.

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That is incorrect Java, atheism is not a lack of belief, it IS a “belief” that there is no God. I can use the same analogy in reverse. The theist has a lack of faith that there is no God, the atheist has great faith that there is no God. Therefore, if the glass is full you have an atheist. If it’s empty you have a theist.

#51 Adam Nagy

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 11:43 AM

That is incorrect Java, atheism is not a lack of belief, it IS a “belief” that there is no God. I can use the same analogy in reverse. The theist has a lack of faith that there is no God, the atheist has great faith that there is no God. Therefore, if the glass is full you have an atheist.  If it’s empty you have a theist.

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:huh: :lol: ;)

I really don't see what the problem is... most atheists who think through the implications will agree that atheism, by itself, has no positive epistemological core. Someone only needs to break down the word; atheism, itself to see that this is true.

#52 Ron

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 02:41 PM

:huh:  :lol:  ;)

I really don't see what the problem is... most atheists who think through the implications will agree that atheism, by itself, has no positive epistemological core.  Someone only needs to break down the word; atheism, itself to see that this is true.

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:lol: The misnomer that is (a)theism :o

#53 Javabean

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 03:15 PM

This is where I'm trying very carefully to sift meanings out to avoid confusion. To be a 'skeptic', in a worldview sense, is different than being skeptical about something.


I think my difficullty is the use of worldview. It seems to me that you feel that a person can have only 1 world view, where as I see it as there are no 'worldviews' They are a part of your personality.

Someone who is skeptical about something is a skeptic, it doesn't mean that they don't take everything at face value, but they have learned to trust their gut instinct. when something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.


Wrong. Do you recall David Berlinski? How about our very own Ryyker? Have you ever heard Eugenie Scott scoffing at the notion that creationists believe disproving evolution proves creation, which is hardly if ever argued for in the mutually exclusive sense, BTW? Again Creationism and Evolutionism are not completely mutually exclusive even though rationally they oppose each other greatly...


sorry does this equal 'by the way'? please continue :D

Maybe before I get too far, we should define creationism. Which would have to be a topic of a different thread.


well I'm sure that there would be some interesting discussion with this. But how much of it would boil down to 'God did it'?

The point is this: Creationism has no need of evolution to have an argument.

Atheism needs God to pose its arguments.

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I agree with the first part, and disagree with the second.

Without god then the natural state would be without knowledge of any divine being. There would be no need for the word atheist, because there would be no such thing as a theist.

#54 Adam Nagy

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 04:34 PM

Without god then the natural state would be without knowledge of any divine being.  There would be no need for the word atheist, because there would be no such thing as a theist.

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So once again, Java, you are confirming what we've been saying all along. Atheism as a position, a perspective, as a belief (or unbelief if it suits you), or as a foundational epistemology, has no positive claims. It is, by its very nature, only capable of arguing from the negative. You seem to understand this in essence, based on your own arguments, but for some odd reason you are hesitant to acknowledge the plain truth of it.

When you finally see it, I hope you start to consider what it is that you actually believe because atheism is incapable of supplying this answer. When you are ready we can fire up this thread again:

http://www.evolution...?showtopic=2241

Consider this:

If you said that you were a materialist or a philosophical naturalist, and were willing to defend the position, we could have a thread where you defend the ideology that only matter exists which has the implication that there never was, or is, or ever will be an immaterial personal or impersonal creator. At the end of the day you know as well as we do that you would have to intellectually back peddle to the position of an agnostic which itself is an irrational position incapable of making positive claims.

#55 Adam Nagy

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 04:49 PM

:lol:  The misnomer that is (a)theism  :o

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:D

There is no nice way of exposing this, is there? When words like 'misnomer' and 'irrational' have to start being used, I have to admit that this is when posts can seem mean, when they are used correctly (out of necessity, I might add) to describe a position.

Don't get me wrong, its gotta be done, but it is when emotions can run high. I'm glad we've got a cool collected person like Java to engage in this case. :)

#56 Guest_Tommy_*

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 07:37 PM

I would say that the use of weak and strong atheist is an equivocation tool to avoid the implications that atheism has no ability to provide an epistemological foundation, in spite of the numerous people who are willing to amend 'atheist' to a description of their basic foundational belief.

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Positivist theories of knowledge have been rooted in language analysis without need for metaphysical foundations. No one would bother to imply a link between atheism and epistemology (and in any case the strong and weak distinctions attempt to reduce ambiguity in describing different shades of a phenomenon and are thus the opposite of equivocation). However, it’s conceivable that a capable thinker could build upon atheism – Sartre characterized his brand of existentialism as flowing from a “consistently atheistic position”.

#57 Ron

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 10:39 PM

But how much of it would boil down to 'God did it'?

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Or "evolution" did it... How is the statement any different?

#58 Ron

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 10:41 PM

:D

There is no nice way of exposing this, is there? When words like 'misnomer' and 'irrational' have to start being used, I have to admit that this is when posts can seem mean, when they are used correctly (out of necessity, I might add) to describe a position.

Don't get me wrong, its gotta be done, but it is when emotions can run high. I'm glad we've got a cool collected person like Java to engage in this case. :lol:

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If the truth hurts, you still have to show it. It's not being mean to put it out there, its being mean to gloss over it.

#59 Javabean

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 07:47 AM

:D

There is no nice way of exposing this, is there? When words like 'misnomer' and 'irrational' have to start being used, I have to admit that this is when posts can seem mean, when they are used correctly (out of necessity, I might add) to describe a position.

Don't get me wrong, its gotta be done, but it is when emotions can run high. I'm glad we've got a cool collected person like Java to engage in this case. :lol:

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Thank you Adam. I think the most important thing to remember when you are discussing issues with someone who has a different view than you to NOT take it personally, but you certainly have to take it seriously. Each person has had different experiences in life and will come to different conclusions. So you are welcome to your opinions and thoughts, just like I am. It goes all the way back to the argument thread you started a while ago.

#60 Javabean

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 07:53 AM

:D  The misnomer that is (a)theism  :lol:

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I know i am responding to this post and Adams response in opposite order, but I felt it was important to do it this way.

When talking about 2 opposite ideas or things, or whatever. You need the one in order to have the other.

Such as light and dark. You need a light source to 'know' what dark is, there wouldn't even be a word for dark. It would be the state of everything.

Good/Evil, God/Satan, Left/Right, and of course Theism/Atheism.


While I agree that you need the idea of a divine being to be an Atheist, but you also need it to be a Theist. I think Atheism is more reactionary in the list of opposites. I think the idea of divine beings came first, and then someone somewhere said "eh I just don't buy it". Maybe they asked the same questions any Atheist has asked? It doesn't really matter though.




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