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Old 01-25-2007, 06:48 AM   #16
Nicato
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #11):
What you're really defining are traits of the Christian God...
And the Muslim God, Jewish. The God of Abraham, Yahweh, upon which all three religions are based; yes that is the god of which I speak. That is the god which slightly more than half of the world's human population believes in.

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...and your use of certain terms seems to have implicit assumptions that Christians might not agree with.
Do I? Most Christians generally agree that their god cares about them, listens to prayers, is all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly moral. What assumptions are objectionable here?

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But a personal god need not be incompatible with the world the way it is.
This is true. A hypothetical personal god need'nt necessarily be incompatible with the ways of the world, but the god which I defined--the one which billions of people believe in--clearly is.

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And, there are not an "infinite number of equally plausible possibilities." This only occurs when you start arbitrarily defining traits of this higher power...it's erroneous to think that this is between Jesus and the Invisible Pink Unicorn. It's between the concept of a creative god and a self-perpetuating universe.
I don't think you've demonstrated my assertion of infinite regression to be false. The simple fact is that there is as much evidence for a "creative god" as there is for the Invisible Pink Unicorn--which is to say: none. If it is not reasonable to believe in something without evidence then it is not reasonable to believe in any deity, even a one as vague and inconsequential as a "creative god."

(Further, any defining traits of any unfalsifiable entity are by definition arbitrary.)

---

Also, how are you defining agnosticism? Do you think of it as some kind of Limbo between atheism and theism; do you think that agnosticism and atheism are necessarily mutually exclusive? I can only infer from your blog entry that both answers are "yes" but I'd rather you answer these questions directly.

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Old 01-26-2007, 06:52 PM   #17
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
Do I? Most Christians generally agree that their god cares about them, listens to prayers, is all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly moral. What assumptions are objectionable here?
Specifically, your definitions of God's omnipotence and omniscience may not be congruent with what many people believe. And even if they are, they're not necessarily incompatible.

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I don't think you've demonstrated my assertion of infinite regression to be false.
Other than the fact that an infinitely self-perpetuating universe violates the known laws of physics or that matter and energy do not magically appear out of nothing, what do you want me to say? I don't think the idea of a creative God stretches the imagination any more than the idea of self-perpetuating multiverses or the notion of "chance" allowing the perfect balance of the infinite variables required for our existence.

Keep in mind also that the purpose of the "first cause" argument isn't to say "everything has a cause." It's to say, "everything that exists in our universe has a cause". For example, if I asked you to count back from infinity to zero, could you do it? Of course not. It's impossible to traverse an infinite series. The very fact that our universe exists within a dimension of time is shows that our universe is not infinite. There is no such thing as "infinite past." Since an infinite universe is a mathematical impossibility, there must have been something eternal, something without a cause, that brought our universe into existence.

So really, I think the burden of proof is on you to explain how an infinite regress is even possible, or how a self-perpetuating infinite universe could exist without violating the laws of physics.

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The simple fact is that there is as much evidence for a "creative god" as there is for the Invisible Pink Unicorn--which is to say: none.
There's a simple distinction you fail to make here. You could say that the creator of the universe is an invisible pink unicorn or Jesus or a guy named Joe, but you're still talking about the creator of the universe.

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Also, how are you defining agnosticism? Do you think of it as some kind of Limbo between atheism and theism; do you think that agnosticism and atheism are necessarily mutually exclusive? I can only infer from your blog entry that both answers are "yes" but I'd rather you answer these questions directly.
To answer both questions, no. You assume that nothing you can empirically quantify is worth concerning yourself with, and I'm not about to tell you that point of view is wrong, since I could obviously never prove it. But faith is by definition intuitive. The whole point of faith is believing in things that can't be quantitatively known or proven.

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Originally Posted by avptallarita
(regardless of the fact that we haven't done so just yet; in terms of knowledge, atheistic belief doesn't imply closure, while theistic does).
I don't think theism implies closure. I think it's reasonable to alter our perspective of theistic concepts as we learn more about the universe. But fundamentally, theism isn't so much concerned with "how". It's concerned with "why". The atheist has no choice but to suggest that "why" is an irrelevant concept. A theist views intuition as a valid and valuable tool for understanding our world and our place in it.

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you cannot postulate a being which transcends our faculties of reason, because to postulate is itself an act of reason.
I don't think your conclusion follows your premise here. Faith needs our faculties of reason, but is not reducible to it.
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Old 01-27-2007, 08:26 AM   #18
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
Specifically, your definitions of God's omnipotence and omniscience may not be congruent with what many people believe. And even if they are, they're not necessarily incompatible.
I'm sure there exists some liberal monotheists with less definitive conceptions of the god of Abraham, but it has been my experience that that is the exception and not the rule.

And the god which I defined is most definitely incompatible with the reality of the world. (Problem of Evil.)

Quote:
Other than the fact that an infinitely self-perpetuating universe violates the known laws of physics or that matter and energy do not magically appear out of nothing, what do you want me to say? I don't think the idea of a creative God stretches the imagination any more than the idea of self-perpetuating multiverses or the notion of "chance" allowing the perfect balance of the infinite variables required for our existence.
I have to agree with you on one point. Believing in a "creative god" isn't any more unreasonable than believing in a multi-verse. That said, both are just two of an infinite number of equally plausible possibilities. As to the relevance of "chance" when speaking in terms of a habitable universe...it is debatable and I'll show you why:

My father has discarded billions of sperm throughout his lifetime, yet only three went the distance (resulting in myself and my two sisters), so to speak. Now, is it meaningful to ask of all the possible biological mothers available in 1984, of all the possible instances for my conception, and of all his billions of discarded sperm, what are the chances of my existing as I do? What if I were to put all four of my grandparents into the mix, and there grandparents and so on? If I were to compose a statistic going back only six generations, factoring all the possible unborn ghosts that could be in my place, it would surely show my existence to be so improbable that just the fact that I am here could be considered a bona fide miracle; if I included the billions of years to the origin (or origins) of life, the equation would show my existence to be so improbable that I, in fact, don't exist. Yet here I am. And so too may we be in such a universe.

(Also, the fact that we live in a universe with gravity is a much more consequential "what are the chances?" than the fact that we live in a universe capable of spawning life. Gravity is one of, if not the driving force of the universe, life is quite literally a relatively insignificant byproduct (as far as we know)--we are made of star stuff, as Sagan and Moby would say.)

(Also, one could argue how meaningful it to declare that there is no "infinite past," seeing as time as we know it didn't start but 13-15 billion years ago. (Was there a time before time?))

Anyway, I think the only reasonable position to claim is that of ignorance. We just don't yet know what happened before the big bang. We may never know. I think people who actively believe in your "creative god" are doing so sans evidence and thus unreasonably. (Further, I think it is a clear cut case for positing god in the gaps of known knowledge.)

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So really, I think the burden of proof is on you to explain how an infinite regress is even possible, or how a self-perpetuating infinite universe could exist without violating the laws of physics.
Your examples are infinite regressions because any explanation for the origin of the universe are without evidence, thus equally plausible, thus all unfalsifiable. The big bang could just as well be the aftermath of a fart of a celestial bunny or the money shot of an alien unicorn as it could be the result of a "creative god."

Or your example is infinite regression because the laws of the universe which you've defined (in particular, it's being finite) leave no room for an eternal anything, let alone creator. (If said creator exists outside the universe and time, then why can't the farting bunny, the ejaculating unicorn, or so on?)

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You assume that nothing you can empirically quantify is worth concerning yourself with, and I'm not about to tell you that point of view is wrong, since I could obviously never prove it. But faith is by definition intuitive. The whole point of faith is believing in things that can't be quantitatively known or proven.
You've got my number, dead to rights even. I, however, would add that just because something is intuitive doesn't make it right. It may be perfectly intuitive for me as an adult male to fuck anything that walks (and it is), but it doesn't mean I should (yet I do).
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Old 01-28-2007, 02:40 AM   #19
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
I don't think your conclusion follows your premise here. Faith needs our faculties of reason, but is not reducible to it.
Well, to me this argument seems circular. The bases of reason are logical equivalences, deductions, analyses, syntheses, etc. which are necessarily rooted in language. Your claim that reason is insufficient to knowledge boils down to the idea that there is a kind of knowledge which transcends language, something which seems by definition impossible to me.

I agree that there are feelings and sentiments which are experienced prior to language. But the way they are processed and understood (in order to infer a knowledge from them) is through functions of reason and language, and they cannot therefore be considered knowledge in and of themselves. Your very distinction of the questions "how" and "why" is a linguistic construction, and likewise, the claim itself that reason is insufficient to knowledge (or whichever definition you give of faith) is based on language and reason - the functions you're claiming to transcend.

You can definitely have a "feeling" that precedes language, but it cannot be a specific feeling-of-a-creator-God, because the concept of a "creator God" is based on language.

EDIT: Actually, scrap all that. Since you seem to think there are feelings in us which point to the existence of God, and since I'm not feeling anything that I recognise as such (which is not to say that I have no perceptions or inspirations of beauty, by the way - I just don't call them spirituality), then I'd appreciate your suggestions on how to start feeling them or what to do to work on their perception. I might have been "closed" to spirituality when I was an adolescent, but I don't think I am anymore, and provided the suggestions are reasonable I'll try and pursue them (if not now, then this summer).

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Old 01-28-2007, 03:15 AM   #20
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
I'm sure there exists some liberal monotheists with less definitive conceptions of the god of Abraham, but it has been my experience that that is the exception and not the rule.

And the god which I defined is most definitely incompatible with the reality of the world. (Problem of Evil.)
Honestly Nic, if you think the Problem of Evil argument is an inescapable conundrum for the faithful, you need to do more homework. Counterarguments are littered all over religious apologist sites, and if you read Eastern philosophy, which is the perspective I generally align myself with, you'd see perspective that believes in a distinct need for what you call "evil". Yin/Yang and the Buddhist concept of suffering might be good places to start.

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Your examples are infinite regressions because any explanation for the origin of the universe are without evidence, thus equally plausible, thus all unfalsifiable. The big bang could just as well be the aftermath of a fart of a celestial bunny or the money shot of an alien unicorn as it could be the result of a "creative god."
I felt your points about chance were tangential, and not something I was really disputing anyway, but I thought this is worth discussing as I really think you're missing the point.

The notion of an eternal universe or a self-perpetuating universe is not a mere "God of the Gaps" argument; on the contrary, such a thing actively violates known laws of science. See for example the Oscillatory Universe and the Cyclic Universe of String Theory. The former has been abandoned entirely since the 50s, and the latter, introduced in 2001, is disputed not only due its inherent conundrums, but its roots in string theory which is itself controversial.

But if you're an atheist, you have no choice but to believe the universe is infinite. Otherwise, you're forced to explain how the universe just suddenly "happened" and spacetime just "popped" into being without cause. You'd still be stuck though, because that in itself would violate the laws of physics even more obviously than the idea of an infinite universe.

For the universe to bring itself into existence (self-causing) or exist infinitely (self-perpetuating) violates the laws of physics and mathematics. There had to have been something outside our universe, something that transcends any physical laws as we know them, that brought us into existence. If I postured some sort of theological musing that actively violated the laws of physics, you'd jump all over it in criticism. Yet you, the purportedly more "rational" person, would have me believe that the universe is either self-causing or self-perpetuating, two things which in themselves violate the laws of physics. I only ask that you hold yourself to the same standard as you would hold a theist.

All you're doing with the tired old "pink unicorn" stuff is ascribing meaningless and arbitrary traits to this creative being that brought us into existence. Maybe God is a pink unicorn. It's irrelevant. Saying the pink unicorn brought the universe into existence is just saying that god is a pink unicorn, not that there is a magical pink unicorn but no god.



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You've got my number, dead to rights even. I, however, would add that just because something is intuitive doesn't make it right. It may be perfectly intuitive for me as an adult male to fuck anything that walks (and it is), but it doesn't mean I should (yet I do).
Really Nic, is it necessary to fill every post with something about shitting, fucking and coming? Incidentally, I've posted a new blog that covers all this stuff in some amount of detail (including a lot of the stuff I've already said), from creation to purpose to the pragmatic value of faith. I believe the idea of creation is intrinsically connected to things we feel intuitively, which manifest themselves in common behaviors such as altruism. I'd explain it all, but between writing it all and being on the TOS forums all night, well... I can only take so much theological discussion in one day.

Since you seem to eat this stuff up, you might check out the theologyonline.com forums. It's fun, partly just to fuck with the biblical literalists. But you'd certainly find some company for your views.
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Old 01-28-2007, 03:17 AM   #21
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Avptallarita View Post
EDIT: Actually, scrap all that. Since you seem to think there are feelings in us which point to the existence of God, and since I'm not feeling anything that I recognise as such (which is not to say that I have no perceptions or inspirations of beauty, by the way - I just don't call them spirituality), then I'd appreciate your suggestions on how to start feeling them or what to do to work on their perception. I might have been "closed" to spirituality when I was an adolescent, but I don't think I am anymore, and provided the suggestions are reasonable I'll try and pursue them (if not now, then this summer).
Check out my latest blog at the apostasies.blogspot.com site. I try to at least give a general outline of how I feel that creation, purpose, and faith are all connected.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:40 AM   #22
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #20):
Honestly Nic, if you think the Problem of Evil argument is an inescapable conundrum for the faithful, you need to do more homework.
Like I've said repeatedly, I'm defining a very specific deity here. Of course, POE is only valid if the god in question is omniscient, omnipotent and morally perfect but there is evidence to suggest that that is the predominate conception of god. I'm not positing the argument as an end-all against faith (or "the faithful"), just as a damn good argument against a certain god which the majority of theists just happen to believe in.

To put it another way: whether or not it is ever reasonable to believe in any god, all gods are not created equal. Some, like your "creative god" are at least compatible with the universe, but most are not; the god of Abraham is not.

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Counterarguments are littered all over religious apologist sites...
Not good enough. If you don't have a counterargument, then the (very) least you could do is give me a specific link to such an apologist site. Making vacant deferments does not a proper rebuttal make.

You say I need to do my research? Well, methinks you need to show your work. What/where is the counterargument?

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But if you're an atheist, you have no choice but to believe the universe is infinite. Otherwise, you're forced to explain how the universe just suddenly "happened" and spacetime just "popped" into being without cause.
Are you actually claiming that the onus is on the atheist to prove that your "creative god" doesn't exist? Because that is three kinds of audacious.

Atheism presupposes no forced positive beliefs; I'm an atheist and I choose to be agnostic as to the cause of the universe.

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There had to have been something outside our universe, something that transcends any physical laws as we know them, that brought us into existence.
The laws of physics exist inside a vacuum which we call the universe (mathematics, however, exist independent of our universe). Yes, whatever happened before the Big Bang doesn't necessarily have to conform to the rules of physics, gravity, or time because those laws only exist (as we know them; as far we know) inside our universe. We are not disagreeing on this point so stop acting like we are.

The issue is (A) whether or not whatever caused the Big Bang can be considered a "god" and (2) whether or not it is reasonable to actively believe in such a "god" when there is no evidence to support that belief. This is why infinite regression isn't just a handful of pink unicorns, rather an underlying problem with hypothesis of a "creative god." (More on that below.) A "Creative god" supposes planing or design when the cause of the Big Bang could have been as random and aimless as a farting bunny.

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Saying the pink unicorn brought the universe into existence is just saying that god is a pink unicorn, not that there is a magical pink unicorn but no god.
Mike, you don't get it. I'm saying that god gave the pink unicorn a hand job. (I'm being ironic.)

That the "creative god" is just one of an infinite number of equally plausible explanations does not lend any credence to the notion that all equally plausible explanations are the "creative god." (It's generally not considered good logic to hold a static conclusion no matter what the variables which precede it are.) Your notion that the pink unicorn is god is flawed.

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Old 01-28-2007, 07:37 PM   #23
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #17):
I don't think theism implies closure. I think it's reasonable to alter our perspective of theistic concepts as we learn more about the universe. But fundamentally, theism isn't so much concerned with "how". It's concerned with "why".
Science is a self-checking process that demands testable evidence. This is why science is just so damn good at ascertaining "how."

What is the criteria by which theism ascertains "why?" By what process do we dicipher the false claims from the factful?
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:45 PM   #24
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
whether or not it is ever reasonable to believe in any god, all gods are not created equal. Some, like your "creative god" are at least compatible with the universe, but most are not; the god of Abraham is not.
I'm not really in the business of defending the Christian God. I suggest you raise the issue with Christians if you wish to discuss their specific theological beliefs.

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Not good enough. If you don't have a counterargument, then the (very) least you could do is give me a specific link to such an apologist site. Making vacant deferments does not a proper rebuttal make. You say I need to do my research? Well, methinks you need to show your work. What/where is the counterargument?
All you did was post a link to a popular argument against theism. You could have posted a link to the Paradox of the Stone or any number of other anti-theistic arguments. What do you want me to do, post you a link to a Christian apologist site? Try existence-of-god.com. But when you have issues with what's said there, you'll have to raise them with the author of the site. The problem here is that you're not presenting an argument; you're just telling me what someone else said.

I'm more than willing to share my views with you Nic, but it's not my job to provide you with a basic theological education. I'd be more than happy to tell you about my own perspective of God and how I think the "problem of evil" is not a problem at all, but it's not my job to defend theologies I don't agree with. The problem of evil is a great topic, but the way you "threw it out there" and presented it as though I were supposed to just say, "Oh, I guess you're right" tells me that it might do you well to spend a little more time hearing what Christians and Jews have to say about that before posturing it as some sort of bullet-proof argument.

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Are you actually claiming that the onus is on the atheist to prove that your "creative god" doesn't exist? Because that is three kinds of audacious.
Of course not. There are an infinite number of unprovable things. The onus is on the atheist to justify their own faith in positivism. You simply have to be consistent with your own ideas. A self-causing and self-perpetuating universe cannot co-exist with the known laws of science.

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The laws of physics exist inside a vacuum which we call the universe (mathematics, however, exist independent of our universe).
Elaborate on how mathematics can exist independently of our universe?


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The issue is (A) whether or not whatever caused the Big Bang can be considered a "god" and (2) whether or not it is reasonable to actively believe in such a "god" when there is no evidence to support that belief. This is why infinite regression isn't just a handful of pink unicorns, rather an underlying problem with hypothesis of a "creative god." (More on that below.) A "Creative god" supposes planing or design when the cause of the Big Bang could have been as random and aimless as a farting bunny.
So not only do you believe in a universe that is self-causing and/or self-perpetuating, but you believe that the very fabric of spacetime, the perfect harmony of the laws of physics, the right materials needed to sustain life for billions of years, etc... are just as likely to have been brought on by an extra-dimensional fart as a creative god? That this infinitely complex world could just randomly "pop" into existence?

If that's how you feel, then I think we're at an impasse. You've chosen randomness as your god. There's a deeper issue here as well that makes me feel we're at an impasse. You are, by choice, completely closed off to the idea of the spiritual. Unless someone can lay it at your feet or stick it right under your nose as indisputable fact, you'll maintain that you have no reason to have faith. You have to have "hard evidence" of spiritual things, which is a self-contradicting concept. Since you're not receptive to the idea of spirituality, then we can only be having this conversation because you either want to convince yourself you're correct by presenting me with an irresolvable conundrum (impossible, since we're speaking from divergent perspectives), or you're simply interested in learning about faith. Since you spend more time citing popular atheistic arguments than asking questions or doing your own research, I can't assume it's the latter.


Incidentally I received a PM on another forum from someone who read my blog, and I thought it was a brilliant summation of some of the key issues of spirituality. It won't "prove" to you that spirituality is real (nothing will), but it should at least help you understand a spiritual perspective. This is what he said:

I like the concept that the material is a self-contained construct that is superficially imposed on the spiritual, which is timeless and spaceless. We, as material beings cannot perceive spiritual realities, but we can understand the "reverberations" of underlying spiritual meanings through their material representations. There is always a series of translations and distortions between the spiritual and the material. There is the argument that we are connected to spiritual realities on the highest level of our being - sometimes called the superconscious. Hence we have the human dilemma - we are largely material and evolutionary, but we have a spark of divinity, spirituality that pulls us. Therein lies the source of much of our personal inner conflict and challenge. If we were entirely spiritual or entirely material we would be at peace with ourselves. Instead, as individuals, we must constantly struggle to harmonize these two often conflicting aspects of ourselves as we evolve towards some undetermined future.
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Old 01-28-2007, 09:09 PM   #25
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #24):
I'm not really in the business of defending the Christian God. I suggest you raise the issue with Christians if you wish to discuss their specific theological beliefs.
The only reason why I brought the god of Abraham into this discussion (as an aside, no less) was to demostrate that your assertion that "belief in a God isn't unreasonable" is in most cases false. (Well, in all cases it is false, but in this case it's really false.)

Part of The problem is that you've hijacked "God" (with a capital g) and placed him as simply a first "uncaused cause." (I say hijacked because this is not where "God" has historically been.) My point is that "God" (with a capital g), for most people who believe in it, is not so inconsequential a figure, rather a being that has direct influence on us today (for example, people praise "God" for their "blessings"). Thus, for most purposes and more for most people, belief in a god is unreasonable.

Quote:
All you did was post a link to a popular argument against theism. You could have posted a link to the Paradox of the Stone or any number of other anti-theistic arguments. What do you want me to do, post you a link to a Christian apologist site? Try existence-of-god.com. But when you have issues with what's said there, you'll have to raise them with the author of the site. The problem here is that you're not presenting an argument; you're just telling me what someone else said.
What I did was refrence a very specific and well known argument. What you did was say, in so many words, "Go search the internet for a counterargument." What I want you to do is provide or advocate a specific counterargument, not simply say that they exist.

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I'm more than willing to share my views with you Nic, but it's not my job to provide you with a basic theological education.
There is no need for phrases like "you need to do your homework" or "it's not my job to provide you with a basic theological education." If what I am saying is false then it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate how so, not call me a dumb-ass.

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The onus is on the atheist to justify their own faith in positivism. You simply have to be consistent with your own ideas. A self-causing and self-perpetuating universe cannot co-exist with the known laws of science.
As I've said before, atheism presupposes no positive beliefs it all. You can have no opinions as to the validity of scientific knowledge and still be an atheist. The onus is on advocates of positivism to prove their philosopy, not necessarily atheists.

Secondly, you have to define what you mean by "faith" as there is a difference between a religious faith and one came about by reason.

Thirdly, and hopefully for the last time, no one here is saying that the rules of this universe have to be applied before it came into being.

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So not only do you believe in a universe that is self-causing and/or self-perpetuating...
The only possible way you could have came to that conclusion was to ignore the following:
  • "Whatever happened before the Big Bang doesn't necessarily have to conform to the rules of physics, gravity, or time because those laws only exist (as we know them; as far we know) inside our universe"
  • "I choose to be agnostic as to the cause of the universe."
  • "I think the only reasonable position to claim is that of ignorance. We just don't yet know what happened before the big bang. We may never know."

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....but you believe that the very fabric of spacetime, the perfect harmony of the laws of physics, the right materials needed to sustain life for billions of years, etc... are just as likely to have been brought on by an extra-dimensional fart as a creative god?
I believe that if we lived in an alternative dimension were farting bunnies were in place of all historical mentionings of god, you'd believe in your hijacked farting bunny hypothesis and look down upon my equally plausible "creative god" alternative.

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If that's how you feel, then I think we're at an impasse. You've chosen randomness as your god.
Well, and see this is the thing, that is not how I feel it all. I don't believe in a self-causing and/or self-perpetuating universe so you can stop beating that straw man. All you've done was assign all those beliefs toward me just so you could ascend your soapbox and preach your ready-made argument against atheism.
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Old 01-28-2007, 09:50 PM   #26
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Dawkins, brilliant as ever.
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:46 PM   #27
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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The only reason why I brought the god of Abraham into this discussion (as an aside, no less) was to demostrate that your assertion that "belief in a God isn't unreasonable" is in most cases false. (Well, in all cases it is false, but in this case it's really false.)
In that case, I don't think you've demonstrated anything.

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Part of The problem is that you've hijacked "God" (with a capital g) and placed him as simply a first "uncaused cause." (I say hijacked because this is not where "God" has historically been.) My point is that "God" (with a capital g), for most people who believe in it, is not so inconsequential a figure, rather a being that has direct influence on us today (for example, people praise "God" for their "blessings"). Thus, for most purposes and more for most people, belief in a god is unreasonable.
I'm not reducing God to a creative power. I believe that God as a creator is an integral part of God's subsequent qualities. All religions begin with a creator God. Creation is directly tied into what is defined as our sense of purpose and meaning. If you don't understand creation, attempting to understand things like "the problem of evil" will be futile.

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What I did was refrence a very specific and well known argument. What you did was say, in so many words, "Go search the internet for a counterargument." What I want you to do is provide or advocate a specific counterargument, not simply say that they exist.
You didn't apply it any relevant context, you just tossed it out there as a catch-all. You could have referenced any of the popular atheist arguments, all of which I am familiar with incidentally. And so I told you that if you are really interested in discussing how the God of Abraham is compatible with a logical world view, then you should discuss that with Christians. If you want to know my own views on suffering, then ask.

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There is no need for phrases like "you need to do your homework" or "it's not my job to provide you with a basic theological education." If what I am saying is false then it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate how so, not call me a dumb-ass.
I'm not calling you a dumb-ass. I'm asking that you present your own thoughts and arguments in a valid context, not just tell me to read Wikipedia. So yeah, the problem of evil. What about it?

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As I've said before, atheism presupposes no positive beliefs it all. You can have no opinions as to the validity of scientific knowledge and still be an atheist. The onus is on advocates of positivism to prove their philosopy, not necessarily atheists.
If that's your perspective, then what you're describing is not atheism; or, it can best be described as "weak atheism". Atheism is an outright rejection of the existence of anything spiritual. Atheism and positivism are congruent philosophies, because the atheist believes that since there is no spiritual reality, all that is relevant to our existence is quantitative knowledge.

If you're posturing that our faculties of reason are the only kind of knowledge that we can meaningfully possess, and simply hold that God's existence is thus unknowable, then you're defending agnosticism.

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Secondly, you have to define what you mean by "faith" as there is a difference between a religious faith and one came about by reason.
What difference?

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I believe that if we lived in an alternative dimension were farting bunnies were in place of all historical mentionings of god, you'd believe in your hijacked farting bunny hypothesis and look down upon my equally plausible "creative god" alternative.
Once again you are confusing qualities of God with actions that define God as a "God".

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Well, and see this is the thing, that is not how I feel it all. I don't believe in a self-causing and/or self-perpetuating universe so you can stop beating that straw man. All you've done was assign all those beliefs toward me just so you could ascend your soapbox and preach your ready-made argument against atheism.
I've done no such thing, and you're not accomplishing anything by resorting to personal attacks. Look, if you want to believe that whatever "popped" us into existence is unknowable, that random chance could account for our existence or whatever it is you choose to believe, I'm not trying to stop you. You keep making this out to be some sort of theological war and it's nothing like that. I don't give a shit what you believe. If you choose not to believe in God and that life has no intrinsic meaning, hell, your loss as far as I'm concerned. But the issue I take is that you seem completely unwilling to even step into the shoes of the faithful; you want matters faith to be something that can be laid out before you like anything else tangible. It just doesn't work like that.
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:02 AM   #28
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Heh. I like Dawkins, but I'm not as impressed. I applaud Dawkins for clarifying what natural selection really is, for challenging dogmatic religious doctrine, and for encouraging people not to be brainwashed by religion.

But his views on religion's value in society, and his adamant dismissal of faith I do not find persuasive. Like a lot of religious theologians, he's preoccupied with doctrine and in the process misses some important points about spirituality.
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:45 AM   #29
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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The onus is on the atheist to justify their own faith in positivism. You simply have to be consistent with your own ideas. A self-causing and self-perpetuating universe cannot co-exist with the known laws of science.
I haven't had the chance to read your blog yet (academia is drowning me, seriously), but can you please stop attributing to us your notion that not to believe in God means claiming to know how the universe came into existence? The atheist believes that the universe can be explained through reason (and hopes that eventually it will be), not that our present knowledge of the universe is enough to make sense of it.

I realise it's pretty comfortable to your world-view to claim that everybody is believing in unreasonable stuff anyway, but that's simply not what atheists do. We don't know how the universe came into being and we admit to that, period.
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:10 AM   #30
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #27):
If that's your perspective, then what you're describing is not atheism; or, it can best be described as "weak atheism". Atheism is an outright rejection of the existence of anything spiritual. Atheism and positivism are congruent philosophies, because the atheist believes that since there is no spiritual reality, all that is relevant to our existence is quantitative knowledge.
Even the position of so-called "strong atheism" doesn't necessarily say anything of a person's belief in any other feild of inquiry. An atheist is simply a person would does not believe in any gods.

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What difference?
The difference is between having faith that your car won't explode when you start the engine and having faith in the existence of an afterlife. Or to put anyother way, the difference is between having faith in something or someone based on past experience or evidence and having faith in something simply because a some dogma says so.

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Once again you are confusing qualities of God with actions that define God as a "God".
I am attempting to demostrate how arbitrary the concept of a "creative god" is by substituting it with a logical extreme. As I'm saying for a third time, any definition of any unfalsible entity is by definition arbitrary. So, when you're describing the god which you've hijacked like so much fan fiction, you are essentially describing nothing.

See, Mike, we debate about many things. When I make positive claims, I try to provide evidence for for them--not simply say that because there are no alternatives, my argument is valid. When you posit your "creative god" just out of the eyeshot of known knowledge (or gap) and give it any characteristics, all you've done is describe an imaginary friend. And I'm not being rhetorical. You've provided no positive evidence for your "creative god," only chosed it from an infinite number of equally plausible entities because it was most intuitive. This is why I, as a person who believes in evidence (more on that below), find your god unreasonable.

If you were a scientist demonstrating a theory for the "uncased-cause" you would be required to provide an extraordinary amount of evidence to back up your claim, but because it's your imaginary friend, all it needs to be is just outside the reach of knowledge and vague enough. You should be honest and admit that your belief is anything but reasonable, or provide positive evidence for it.

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...you want matters faith to be something that can be laid out before you like anything else tangible. It just doesn't work like that.
As I've said before:

"Science is a self-checking process that demands testable evidence. This is why science is just so damn good at ascertaining "how."

What is the criteria by which theism ascertains "why?" By what process do we dicipher the false claims from the factful?"

I want any "matter of faith" which makes an objective claim about the universe to be subjected to the same scruntiny of any scientific claim about the universe.

A universe in which prayers are answered is a different universe than one which isn't. A universe which allows for an afterlife is a different universe than one without. A universe with a "creative god" is different than one with none. It isn't simply enough to take these "matters of faith" at face value. Either there is evidence or there is not.

I know you don't give a shit, but I'll tell you anyway: I believe in demostrating evidence. If there is compelling evidence for a god or gods, I'll believe in gods; if there is compelling evidence for an afterlife, I'll believe in an afterlife. My standing as an atheist and a naturalist are both conditional; my standing as a skeptic is permenant.

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