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Why Do Atheists Shift The Burden?


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#21 Ron

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 05:35 AM

I'm starting another thread on this subject (the one that branched off into something else) with a different twist. One a garuntee will be a huge eye opener.

I will name it: Natural selection vs H*m*s*xualality.

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Prepare for equivocation Ike!!!!

Oooops, it looks to be too late.

#22 Ron

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:00 PM

Again, there have been NO serious attempts to answer these OP questions. I wonder why that is...

#23 A.Sphere

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 10:18 AM

1- Do the attempts of atheists to dilute the meaning (or definition) of atheism stem from Bradlaugh’s assertion? What is the motive for such a shift in meaning for atheism?


Can you elaborate on what you mean by "Bradlaugh's assertion"? And can you elaborate on what is meant by "dilute"? Are you referring to the distinction between a strong atheist and a weak atheist? If so, are you suggesting that since its philosophical conception strong atheism was first and was later diluted to become weak atheism? If that is indeed what you mean I must ask why does that matter? Philosophy grows and becomes more complex. I only believe in what I can know with evidence and experiment - I don't really care if you call that atheism or something else. Besides that, the philosophical position dubbed atheism had many separate roots that grew separately in many different cultural contexts - and like most modern philosophies they combined to form a more concise and specific meaning.

2- Is it an attempt to shift the burden of proof regarding the existence of God to the theist?


Are you asking whether or not this is the motive for the distinction between the strong and weak atheist position? This is a personal case by case question - not a group motive. Atheism does not have a group of followers that adhere to similar principles. I choose to characterize my belief based on the following categorization:

1. Gnostic atheist
2. Agnostic atheist
3. Agnostic theist
4. Gnostic theist

If given these choices I choose #2 because I have to have knowledge (meaning the ability to perceive through experiment) of the subject to believe in the subject - If I am without knowledge then I am without belief in it.

3- Shouldn’t anyone who claims, "God does not exist," have the same responsibility to shoulder a burden of proof just as much as anyone who claims, "God exists." http://www.thedivine...org/athart3.htm


Absolutely. That is why I do not claim this. According to the categorization scheme above a person who claims this falls in line with #1. I simply say I am without belief in God, but I would never say that I know there isn't a God.

4- Could this shift of Bradlaugh be due to the lack of a origins foundation for atheism, and therefore the need to shift the goal posts due to a lack of said foundations?


Again, perhaps you could clarify how Bradlaugh contributed to the gnostic (strong) and agnostic (weak) positions of atheism. He certainly did not come up with those distinctions. They have been around in one form or another in both ancient Greek philosophies and ancient East Asian philosophies for a long time. I think Huxley was the first to formalize them in a modern context.

However, I still do not see the relevance. Atheism is not a group mentality. People become atheists, or in my case stay atheists, for different reasons. There is no consensus on what atheism means to an individual - there are no atheist meetings were we learn how to interpret our own concepts of belief. To argue that the difference between strong and weak positions of atheism is to "move the goal posts" is really arguing via semantics.

#24 amandarandom

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 11:55 AM

3- Shouldn’t anyone who claims, "God does not exist," have the same responsibility to shoulder a burden of proof just as much as anyone who claims, "God exists."


Yes, definitely. Someone who rationally, actively asserts that there is no god should be able to back up that claim. However, I've never met such a person, one who says "I believe there is no god"

I do know plenty of people who simply reject the claims of theists. I personally don't believe there is a god, because I have seen no proper evidence of one, like most atheists nowadays. We say "I do not believe (your claim that) there is a god".

#25 jason78

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 04:12 AM

Yes, definitely. Someone who rationally, actively asserts that there is no god should be able to back up that claim. However, I've never met such a person, one who says "I believe there is no god"

I do know plenty of people who simply reject the claims of theists. I personally don't believe there is a god, because I have seen no proper evidence of one, like most atheists nowadays. We say "I do not believe (your claim that) there is a god".

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So how exactly do you go about proving something doesn't exist? I don't just mean God, I mean how do you show that anything definitely doesn't exist?

#26 amandarandom

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:17 AM

So how exactly do you go about proving something doesn't exist?  I don't just mean God, I mean how do you show that anything definitely doesn't exist?

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Easy, show that it's logically inconsistent.

For example, I can show you a locked box in my left hand. I can't prove what's inside it because I have to evidence (prove that god exists without evidence), but I can prove what's NOT inside, because I have evidence.

The Amazon river, for example, is not inside, because it is somewhere else. I am not inside the box, because I'm holding it. It doesn't contain a cloud made out of excitement, because that makes no sense. It doesn't contain a square circle, etc. etc. etc.

So, one could prove god logically inconsistent, which would mean he can't exist.

That's why most atheists say "I believe [specific god X, Y or Z] does not exist, because [A, B or C]" but also say "I do not believe there exists any god, because I have seen no evidence".

You can potentially disprove specific gods, but not all potential gods; a god who is good, but also evil does not exist, but a deist god can not be proven either way.

#27 Ron

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:25 AM

Yes, definitely. Someone who rationally, actively asserts that there is no god should be able to back up that claim. However, I've never met such a person, one who says "I believe there is no god"

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So you’re saying God may indeed exist then?

I do know plenty of people who simply reject the claims of theists. I personally don't believe there is a god, because I have seen no proper evidence of one, like most atheists nowadays. We say "I do not believe (your claim that) there is a god".

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I have known many people who reject reality as well. They reject all the evidences of said reality. But, does reality exist regardless of their rejection of it?

And, your disbelief in God by saying; "I do not believe (your claim that) there is a god" is still a belief system. And as a obviously strongly-held belief, value, and attitude, how far are you willing to defend said belief (value and attitude)?

#28 Ron

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:26 AM

So how exactly do you go about proving something doesn't exist?  I don't just mean God, I mean how do you show that anything definitely doesn't exist?

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What are the evidences that atheism exists? How can you prove that the nothing we came from, and the nothing we go to exists?

#29 Ron

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:30 AM

Easy, show that it's logically inconsistent.

For example, I can show you a locked box in my left hand. I can't prove what's inside it because I have to evidence (prove that god exists without evidence), but I can prove what's NOT inside, because I have evidence.

The Amazon river, for example, is not inside, because it is somewhere else. I am not inside the box, because I'm holding it. It doesn't contain a cloud made out of excitement, because that makes no sense. It doesn't contain a square circle, etc. etc. etc.

So, one could prove god logically inconsistent, which would mean he can't exist.

That's why most atheists say "I believe [specific god X, Y or Z] does not exist, because [A, B or C]" but also say "I do not believe there exists any god, because I have seen no evidence".

You can potentially disprove specific gods, but not all potential gods; a god who is good, but also evil does not exist, but a deist god can not be proven either way.

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What is evil then, from an empirical atheistic worldview? If we are nothing but animals, “molecules in motion”, why worry about evil?

#30 Ron

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:35 AM

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "Bradlaugh's assertion"? 

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You may firstly, want to read what Bradlaugh had to say.

And can you elaborate on what is meant by "dilute"?  Are you referring to the distinction between a strong atheist and a weak atheist? 

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Dilute
di•lute
Transitive and intransitive verb to reduce the strength or effect of something, or become reduced in strength or effect…

#31 amandarandom

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 05:59 PM

So you’re saying God may indeed exist then?


Sure, a god may exist. Like I said, I don't claim to know that there is no god, just that I don't see any reason (evidence) to believe in one.

I have known many people who reject reality as well. They reject all the evidences of said reality. But, does reality exist regardless of their rejection of it?


Funny I have to point this out to you, but this would be equivocation. Wether you can rationally hold a position based on available evidence is not related to the validity of that position. Don't confuse the two.


And, your disbelief in God by saying; "I do not believe (your claim that) there is a god" is still a belief system. And as a obviously strongly-held belief, value, and attitude, how far are you willing to defend said belief (value and attitude)?


I don't feel much like going through all the step of this age old debate, because we both know the steps by heart and we both know we won't get anywhere.

However, I don't have much invested in my "belief system". If I have to choose between being punched in the face, or saying that there is a god, I will instantly pretend to be the most pious christian you've ever seen. I have no vested interest in my atheism, it's merely a statement of fact.

On the other hand, I will fight tooth and nail for freedom of and from religion for everyone, but that's because I believe everyone should have as much freedom as a functioning society will allow, this is unrelated from my lack of belief in a god.

In fact, pretty much everything I do is unrelated from my atheism, because it lacks all forms of dogma.

#32 A.Sphere

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 02:54 PM

You may firstly, want to read what Bradlaugh had to say.


Or you could just sum up his assertion in a few sentences. I searched around for a minute but couldn't find what his assertion was.

Dilute
di•lute
Transitive and intransitive verb to reduce the strength or effect of something, or become reduced in strength or effect…


I know what the word dilute means - however, it could be applied to atheism in many different ways resulting in many different conclusions. I just wanted you two explain exactly what you meant so we don't waste our time if we misinterpreted you.

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:19 AM

Sure, a god may exist. Like I said, I don't claim to know that there is no god, just that I don't see any reason (evidence) to believe in one.


I think it's important to point out here that there's a difference between saying that "a god" might exist and saying "the god of Christianity" might exist. Let's imagine a set G of all possible gods, and a subset of that set H containing all gods humanity has imagined. Assume* that the Christian god is in set H (and is therefore also in set G).

Set H would be an insignificant portion of set G. The Christian god represents only one option of a vast (and unknown) steadily-increasing quantity of human-defined deities.

I'm fine with the idea that there could be a god (or many, or none). I just don't see any particular reason why it is likely to be the one defined by the experiences of ancient middle-eastern goat herders.


* edit: I say "assume" here because I wish to set aside the possible discussion from atheists that the Christian god cannot possibly exist. Let us imagine that the Christian god can logically exist and resides in set H.

#34 Ron

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 10:23 AM

Sure, a god may exist. Like I said, I don't claim to know that there is no god, just that I don't see any reason (evidence) to believe in one.

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Therefore, you are basing your faith on there not being a god, let alone “God”.

Funny I have to point this out to you, but this would be equivocation. Wether you can rationally hold a position based on available evidence is not related to the validity of that position. Don't confuse the two.

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No, it’s a refutation to the equivocation you posted, there is a difference, hence your confusion. In other words, You made an equivocation “I do know plenty of people who simply reject the claims of theists” which has nothing to do with the OP, but is rather an side tracking away from said questions.

I don't feel much like going through all the step of this age old debate, because we both know the steps by heart and we both know we won't get anywhere.

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Then don’t make unfounded assertions to detract from the OP questions. Otherwise you have to explain your assertions.

However, I don't have much invested in my "belief system". If I have to choose between being punched in the face, or saying that there is a god, I will instantly pretend to be the most pious christian you've ever seen. I have no vested interest in my atheism, it's merely a statement of fact.

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Actually you have everything “invested” in your "belief system". And your attempts to posit atheism based on facts require your backing said “assertions” with the “supporting” facts.

On the other hand, I will fight tooth and nail for freedom of and from religion for everyone, but that's because I believe everyone should have as much freedom as a functioning society will allow, this is unrelated from my lack of belief in a god.

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Again, the above equivocation has absolutely nothing to do with the OP questions.

In fact, pretty much everything I do is unrelated from my atheism, because it lacks all forms of dogma.

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The dogma is in the equivocations you posted above.

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 11:26 AM

I believe the term "equivocate" and its derivatives are being used incorrectly.

To equivocate is to avoid addressing a topic directly by using language that can be interpreted multiple ways, usually with intent to do so. Failing to address a topic directly without intent is to be vague or unclear.* Confusing a topic by addressing tertiary points while ignoring the main thrust is to prevaricate.

I admit that I am confused as to amandarandom's position regarding atheism: she states that her atheism is "a statement of fact" which implies that it's unchanging or invariant. Meanwhile, previous statements indicate that her affinity for atheism is based on a rational rejection of theistic arguments and that a theistic argument suitably persuasive or compelling would change her mind.



* It is a failure of the language that no direct verb exists to describe "communicating vaguely"

#36 Ron

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 05:16 AM

I believe the term "equivocate" and its derivatives are being used incorrectly.

To equivocate is to avoid addressing a topic directly by using language that can be interpreted multiple ways, usually with intent to do so. Failing to address a topic directly without intent is to be vague or unclear.* Confusing a topic by addressing tertiary points while ignoring the main thrust is to prevaricate.

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Actually, the word "equivocation" is being used correctly as per the OP. And as one reads the OP, it isn't hard to scoop off the dross of equivocation in each post that bumps up against said OP questions.
If an assertion is being posited as factual, factual evidence must then be supplied to support the statement.

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 12:27 PM

Failing to provide factual evidence is not the same as equivocation, that would be a assertion, specifically one without basis. Equivocating is rather more subtle, and involves manipulating the lexical semantics of the language to avoid an unambiguous answer. An example of equivocation, via the Oxford American Dictionary:

[To e]quivocate implies saying one thing and meaning another; it usually suggests the use of words that have more than one meaning, or whose ambiguity may be misleading. For example, if your spouse says, “Did you take care of the taxes today?” you might equivocate by saying “Yes,” you took care of them—meaning that you finished completing the forms and sealing them in the envelope, but that you didn't actually get them to the post office.


In the above example, both parties have the same understanding of the statement "take care of the taxes," but one party is taking advantage of the inherent ambiguity in the statement to feign truthfulness.

That is equivocation.

#38 Ron

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 05:44 AM

Failing to provide factual evidence is not the same as equivocation, that would be a assertion, specifically one without basis.

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Actually, if you read the OP rules, it is the same as equivocation.

Equivocating is rather more subtle, and involves manipulating the lexical semantics of the language to avoid an unambiguous answer. An example of equivocation, via the Oxford American Dictionary:
In the above example, both parties have the same understanding of the statement "take care of the taxes," but one party is taking advantage of the inherent ambiguity in the statement to feign truthfulness.
That is equivocation.

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Equivocate:
e•quiv•o•cate - to speak vaguely or ambiguously, especially in order to mislead:

1- No equivocations on the questions, or to the questions!
2- No time wasting or side tracking to divert from the questions (i.e. tangents, or rabbit trails).
3- If you don’t know, simply say “I don’t know”! But, understand, in saying so, you give up all right to say (for example) “there is no God”; because you said “I don’t know”. This includes making statements like (for example) “there is no evidence for God, therefore there is no God” because; you said “I don’t know”. If you do attempt such, you are equivocating.
4- If you are going to make a “Negative” assertion without factual evidence for said assertion, you are equivocating.
5- If you are going to make any assertions to support your argument, insure they are factual assertions, not simply opinion. Otherwise you are equivocating.
6- Any assertions that do not deal directly with the questions are either equivocating or time wasting.
7- If you post links to other people’s opinions (regardless of their scholarship) without factual supporting evidences for said opinion, you are equivocating (and so were they).
Opinions are fine if they can be backed up by facts, but equivocations will not be allowed.

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 10:28 AM

To mislead implies intent. If you're going to throw around the equivocation term, at least show some evidence of intent.

If I say, "all swans are white." I'm making a statement. It might not be a true statement (in fact, it isn't, black swans inhabit Australia), but there's no obvious intent to mislead. If someone said, "clearly you're wrong; here's a photo of a black swan at the Perth aviary," my only response would be, "Well I guess I'm wrong!"

If I said, "Every swan I've ever seen is white, and believe me, I've been everywhere," That could be considered equivocation because I would clearly be implying that all swans are white, while not committing to the sentiment. If someone said, "you're wrong, there are Australian black swans!" I could respond, "Aha, but I didn't say all swans were white, just that all swans that I've seen are white."


Please tell me you see the difference?

#40 Ron

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 10:43 AM

To mislead implies intent. If you're going to throw around the equivocation term, at least show some evidence of intent.

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Absolutely, we’ll use your own equivocations for example:

You have not made a posting in this thread that directly addresses the questions of the OP.

The questions were:

1- Do the attempts of atheists to dilute the meaning (or definition) of atheism stem from Bradlaugh’s assertion? What is the motive for such a shift in meaning for atheism?

2- Is it an attempt to shift the burden of proof regarding the existence of God to the theist?

3- Shouldn’t anyone who claims, "God does not exist," have the same responsibility to shoulder a burden of proof just as much as anyone who claims, "God exists." http://www.thedivine...org/athart3.htm

4- Could this shift of Bradlaugh be due to the lack of a origins foundation for atheism, and therefore the need to shift the goal posts due to a lack of said foundations?

Therefore, you are equivocating.

If I say, "all swans are white." I'm making a statement. It might not be a true statement (in fact, it isn't, black swans inhabit Australia), but there's no obvious intent to mislead. If someone said, "clearly you're wrong; here's a photo of a black swan at the Perth aviary," my only response would be, "Well I guess I'm wrong!"

If I said, "Every swan I've ever seen is white, and believe me, I've been everywhere," That could be considered equivocation because I would clearly be implying that all swans are white, while not committing to the sentiment. If someone said, "you're wrong, there are Australian black swans!" I could respond, "Aha, but I didn't say all swans were white, just that all swans that I've seen are white."
Please tell me you see the difference?

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Absolutely…. There is none within the context of the conversation as pointed out in the OP. You posting is still an equivocation as per the definition of equivocation, and the rules of the Op.

But, if you wish to open a thread dealing with swan logic, you are more than free to do so.




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