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Old 19th November 2012, 11:29 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by truethat View Post
Why? Aren't you just pretending your life has purpose and value when you know that it doesn't? How does magical thinking and pretend make your life more meaningful?

Isn't the meaning of life in and of itself a gift that encourages you to live every day as if it were your last, because it well could be. Atheists understand this. They aren't "waiting for the magic" they are making it now.
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
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Old 19th November 2012, 11:36 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
When no one can produce one bit of evidence that god doesn't exist, well...
When no one can produce one bit of evidence that Harry Potter doesn't exist, well... that is not evidence that Harry Potter does exist
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Old 19th November 2012, 11:39 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
What I find interesting is that people who don't have religion in any form can accept that the universe is purposeless and valueless, and still live their lives as if they had purpose and value.
What does the universe being purposeless and valueless have to do with what I find purposeful or of value in my life? Are you implying that the universe must mirror humans for them to find value?
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Old 19th November 2012, 11:42 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
Nonsense. You appear to be taking 'matters' to mean 'matters to someone/thing else'.
It doesn't.
The universe has no purpose. Until you provide positive evidence that it does, I am happy to make that blanket statement.
My life has purpose and meaning to me (and possibly to others).
The two statements are not mutually exclusive.
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Old 19th November 2012, 11:43 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic...
.
Our lives are a 'gift' from Daddy and Mommy bumping uglies.
Many times with the purpose of making a person.
Looking at the 18 month spacing between me and my older and younger siblings, it was deliberate.
"magic in a young girl's smile"... yes, we can make that.
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Old 19th November 2012, 11:44 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.

You seem determined to expound on what atheists do and don't believe* in spite of the fact that atheists have told you different. Why is that?


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Old 19th November 2012, 11:49 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
... Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
Absolute nonsense! Why can you not believe that a universe which is impersonal and therefore "meaningless" on the largest scale nevertheless contains living beings whose lives possess meaning and significance on the scale in which they live?

Quote obviously the universe has no consciousness of me or regard for me, but my friends and family have such regard. And my life is meaningful in terms of the society in which I exist. Why this should seem to you to be incompatible with the observation that "the universe" and "life" in the most general terms have no purpose, I simply cannot see or understand.

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Old 19th November 2012, 12:03 PM   #88
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Why would a skeptic believe that there is no global warming? There are lots of thigns that people belive in for various reasons. If someone is msart then they are smart enough to fool themselves. I was fairly young when I began to think there was no god. But as I grew older and had numerous experiences that weren't easily explained in any strictly logical manner. Now this doesn't mean that there is a god however after much thought I realized that if there were some all powerful, all knowing creature then they could easily hide from anyone or reveal themselves to anyone. So I became a agnostic instead of an atheist.
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Old 19th November 2012, 12:12 PM   #89
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Truethat

Quote:
I've discussed this before and have been accused of being a "Closet Christian" so I'll give up halfway through if it starts going that way again.
You, too? It seems to be the go-to thing around here. I thought it was just newbie hazing.


Ginger

Yes, I saw Hans' answer. So, as I said, you and I have both seen what pittance of evidence there is. We disagree about its bearing, as can hardly be surprising, since it had already been said and there was surely nothing new in Hans' presentation of his opinion.

To each of your other points, I append "in Ginger's opinion, which is noted with thanks." I have no idea why you brought up evolution, nor have I ever asked you to prove anything. On the contrary, I have said that the questions before us here are uncertain contingenices. They ae not, and cannot become, the subject of proof. I wouldn't ask of you what you cannot give.

What's left? Oh, yeah. Deism isn't my own view, so there's not a lot of point in me offering a deist apology.

Speaking of which, just so we're clear. Your sentence (at post 32) containing apology was

Quote:
So when people say they believe and come up with apologies like NOMa and Deism, that may be their prerogative, but that doesn't shake my conclusion about what the evidence supports.
I took your NOMa to be an abbreviation for Gould's "Non Overlapping Magisteria."

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html

Perhaps you meant something else. In any case, deism is a religious belief, not an apology for a relgious belief. NOMA, if that was what you meant, isn't an apology for a religious belief, either.

Thus, I inferred incorrectly that you meant the homonym, and that you were gently disparaging these views, maybe with a pun on the religious meaning. It never occurred to me that you were simply mischaracterizing an opposing opinion. I'll remember from now on. Thanks for the info.


Hans

You're pretty well covered in my answer to Ginger above.
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Old 19th November 2012, 12:13 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
A gift as in you got it. You managed to get born. Thank you mom and dad.

But your contradiction is in your own head. Reality demonstrates that we're here and there's a lot to do. Plenty of options, plenty of things to see and do. Your life becomes rewarding in each and every moment. In the here and now. I wrote something about this in the thread Atheists, Alzheimers and Thank You Betty.
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Old 19th November 2012, 12:25 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
Except we know who the authors are and they have never claimed these were real.
Yes, but you can't prove that they weren't (A) privy to some special information, maybe through some revelation or vision, even if they don't claim one (I'd be weary too of claiming wizards or ancient great old ones are real these days, even if I believed they existed), or (B) accidentally right by sheer chance alone, like the argument is sometimes done for the historical Jesus.

I mean it may be improbable that Lovecraft actually secretly had a copy of the Necronomicon, or that he was basing it on information from a historical Francis Wayland Thurston, and it certainly it would be more probable that he was honest when he said it's fiction. But you can't actually disprove the historical Francis Wayland Thurston, or not easily.

So if you're going to tell me to keep an open mind for Yahweh just because he's not fully disproven -- whatever limited meaning of open mind you may mean by that -- then I'm going to ask you to keep the same amount of open mindedness for Cthulhu. It seems only fair.

Plus, if known authorship throws a spanner into it for you, we have plenty of anonymous ancient stories too. You should definitely keep an open mind for Inanna, the murderous serial rapist goddess, lest... well, you get the idea

Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
I understand what your saying about people tip-toeing around religion. I've met a few atheists I've had to tiptoe around too. I have witnessed some truly massive freak outs from both sides. Mostly they are hilarious

I think some people avoid saying for definite because they don't want someone trying to convert them.
Some people phrase it more definitely, and some don't, but I don't think there is anyone so schizophrenic that they'd deny something exists if it stood in front of them. Just because they don't list a tome-sized addendum with what evidence would take to convince them that God exists, doesn't mean one should assume that they are clinically insane and wouldn't accept something if it were provably real.

So, really, how much more open-mindedness than that is owed to any claim?

Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
I usually try to avoid religious topics because it fills me with rage. People calling themselves 'good christians' have done a lot to my family. I'm fine with people beliving in whatever they want but once they start trying to control the way people act and think I see red

I think that's part of some peoole's need for religion too. They need someone else to tell them what to do and think or they will feel lost. Someone to say "If you do X and Y everything will be ok".
Well, you definitely have my sympathy there.
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Old 19th November 2012, 12:28 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
I'm an atheist and I hope my viewpoint is useful to you:

My life is important to me just because it is. I don't need to believe it, because it's a survival instinct that has an effect in my behavior. I don't have a choice, I care.

On the other hand, I don't think that, objectively, my life is more important than any other life.

This is not inconsistent.
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Old 19th November 2012, 01:05 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by Darth Rotor View Post
The conventional 10.
Catholic, protestant and jewish people don't have the same "conventional 10". And I am not even counting potential cults.
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Old 19th November 2012, 01:19 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
When no one can produce one bit of evidence that god doesn't exist, well...
welll..... then the null hypothesis then hold : no gods. That is how it works for pretty much every domain where human do not have a strong emotional interrest into ignoring logic/rationality.
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Old 19th November 2012, 01:22 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
I haven't met an atheist saying his/her life matters. That smells strongly of strawman. What I met is atheist saying they enjoy their life, even if it is puprposeless without greater meaning /universe /god /faery whatnot.

Waaaay different to what you pretend.
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Old 19th November 2012, 01:30 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
When no one can produce one bit of evidence that god doesn't exist, well...
...then you're even with the evidence that he does, and that puts the burden on the person saying there's something beyond what others can experience.

REsponding to Aepervius above, a little late.... absolutely. I am of course glad my life has happened even though if it hadn't I'd never know. It's a gift to the extent that it is gratuitous, not because there's a giver. Just because the universe has no overall purpose does not mean that an individual life can have no purpose. Saying that at some long future point it all will all go poof does not mean there is nothing worth doing in the meantime. The world is bounded and finite, but it is still a very big place, and anyway, it's all we have.
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Old 19th November 2012, 02:58 PM   #97
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
I haven't met an atheist saying his/her life matters. That smells strongly of strawman. What I met is atheist saying they enjoy their life, even if it is puprposeless without greater meaning /universe /god /faery whatnot.

Waaaay different to what you pretend.
Atheists don't say their life matters, but they consistently behave as if their life matters - and for that matter, as if other peoples' lives mattered as well.

One could reasonably riposte that the religious don't live as if they were guaranteed eternal life either.
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Old 19th November 2012, 03:38 PM   #98
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
What I find interesting is that people who don't have religion in any form can accept that the universe is purposeless and valueless, and still live their lives as if they had purpose and value.
Why do I need the Universe to have values in order for me to have them as a human being?
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Old 19th November 2012, 03:40 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
When no one can produce one bit of evidence that god doesn't exist, well...
You have to ignore all the evidence that gods are mythical, they are fictional if you want to claim there is no evidence gods don't exist.

We know what gods are, they are fictional beings. Why do you also need proof of what they are not before you can accept what they are?
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Old 19th November 2012, 03:43 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
Except we know who the authors are and they have never claimed these were real.
Then you must be agnostic about Zeus and Thor. I'm pretty sure the originators of those myths did not say they were fiction.
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Old 19th November 2012, 03:45 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
Yeah you can't prove a negative (IIRC. It's been ages since I took Philosophy).
So you can't prove cats are not cats then?

You can't prove Harry Potter is not a real wizard.

Generally, when you know what something is, you don't need to prove it isn't something else.
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Old 19th November 2012, 04:06 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
Catholic, protestant and jewish people don't have the same "conventional 10". And I am not even counting potential cults.
.
I was wondering along these lines today... Did any of the Donner party eat their mother?
It's kinda boiling a kid in its mother's milk.. a deadly sin that is... with some folk.
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Old 19th November 2012, 04:07 PM   #103
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
...I said, you and I have both seen what pittance of evidence there is.


Thousands of known god myths, including some that were observed developing and you call that a pittance?

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
... I have no idea why you brought up evolution,
Then you totally missed my point.

Let me try again. At some point the evidence becomes clear, you look at genome after genome and you know the living creatures you have not examined are going to have similar genomes. You don't need to test every single one to draw a conclusion about genomes.

You look at god myth after god myth and you can at some point conclude the god myth you have not yet tested is going to also be a myth.

Such is the nature of evidence.


Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
...

Speaking of which, just so we're clear. Your sentence (at post 32) containing apology was...

I took your NOMa to be an abbreviation for Gould's "Non Overlapping Magisteria."

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html
Yes, that is correct.


Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
Perhaps you meant something else. In any case, deism is a religious belief, not an apology for a relgious belief. NOMA, if that was what you meant, isn't an apology for a religious belief, either.
You still don't get what people mean by apology.

Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
...Thus, I inferred incorrectly that you meant the homonym, and that you were gently disparaging these views, maybe with a pun on the religious meaning. It never occurred to me that you were simply mischaracterizing an opposing opinion. I'll remember from now on. Thanks for the info.
You lost me here.
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Old 19th November 2012, 04:12 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.
Not sure I follow you. Life isn't a gift from anyone. It's a self sustaining process that seems to have been spun off by inorganic chemistry. It's quite fascinating. The organic processes running in you and me right now are directly continuous from a process that started maybe as little as 300 million years after the planet formed. You don't think that's mind blowing?
Then I must assume your life must be enviably exciting. Great.
Life is important. In particular, mine is very important to me and I hope yours is to you. But the fact it's the same life, going all the way back to the same event is hugely amusing, no?
Quote:
Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
No it's not. But that's because importance is a relative value chosen by the person evaluating it. I value your life, but less than mine. Both are important. To us.
But 150 years hence, we will just be memories. Tough. But there it is.

I ask you one indulgence. Please don't tell me what I think, or what value things have. The first, you cannot know and the second is a personal value judgement, different for us all. Your POV is of interest and I'm happy to read about it, but keep in mind it is no more privileged than any other.

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Old 19th November 2012, 04:32 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm all in favour of atheists living their lives as if life were a "gift" (who from?), and believing that they can make magic. I still consider that there's a conflict between their professed beliefs and the way they behave, whereas a person who thinks that his life is important and that it does matter what he does is at least being consistent when he acts based on that belief.

Of course, there are atheists who manage to combine a belief in a purposeless universe with a conviction that their own life somehow matters. That's a different issue - they are living consistently with their second belief, but that second belief is incompatible with their first belief.
You know, for all that Christianity is a bunk of malarkey, they do on occasion have a good story to tell. One that I remember hearing in church was the story of someone who happens upon an old man walking the beach and returning starfish caught high and dry by the lowering tide to the ocean. He asks the man "why do you bother with this when there will simply be more of them stranded come the next low tide. None of what you're doing matters." The man simply finished placing another starfish in the ocean and said "It mattered to that one".

Of course, it's not really a "Christian" story, just one of those chain stories that shows up everywhere in slightly different forms that in all likelihood never happened, and is one of those saccharine stories that I typically find disgusting, but this one actually has a core of truth to it. It's a shame you likely won't understand, but I suppose I should make the effort anyway, on the off chance that it will actually matter to you.

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Old 19th November 2012, 05:06 PM   #106
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
What I find interesting is that people who don't have religion in any form can accept that the universe is purposeless and valueless, and still live their lives as if they had purpose and value.
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Old 19th November 2012, 08:42 PM   #107
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I always find it amusing to hear theists who not only think they know what atheists think or believe better than the atheists themselves, but who also think they are somehow qualified to pass value judgments over those supposed "beliefs".
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:17 AM   #108
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@Eight Bits:
Actually, it is evidence against Gods via inductive reasoning. Which is rather limited, and can't provide definitive proof, but it's a start to claim evidence, like Skeptic Ginger does. In fact, all that's been said on that topic is induction, just without calling it by name so far, unless I've missed anything.

In essence, if every pig we've seen so far is clearly incapable of flight, let's say a billion of them, when someone comes and says their celestial pig, let's call it Pigasus, flies... there is no reason to just assume that yeah, that one surely flies. Unless they show the evidence.

Doubly so when you also have some understanding on the anatomy and evolution of a pig, like we have for God myths.

Does it say that absolutely there is no God out there? No. But it says that there probably isn't. And especially that for any given God story, the probability is very very very low to be true. Even if there is one, whatever particular God you're thinking of is probably not the one. And this time I'm using "probably" as in actual probabilities.

Now that was just simple induction. We could go a bit more rigorous with Bayes and go for example, "what is the probability that a god exists, given that he has attributes X, Y and Z". That will actually give you an even lower probability for stories which rehash elements only associated with Gods known to be made up.

And again, doubly so when you understand the anatomy and evolution of such myths, just like in the flying pig example.

Interestingly, though, it would give you a higher probability -- worst case, just the prior -- for divine being that run contrary to normal divine expectations and don't quite fit our understanding of divine myths, like for example Yog Sothoth. (Well, Cthulhu too, but Yog Sothoth is an actual god ) I mean, come on, who makes up a Son Of God as lame as Wilbur Whateley? Though for example his mom Lavinia Whateley may well have been a virgin, as no actual sex is mentioned or arguably even possible between her and the loose collection of giant glowing globes that is Yog Sothoth, so that would be a common myth element.

So I guess the distinguished scholar Abdul Al Hazred might have been onto something

But even simple induction is still a strike against any particular God myth being true. And at the very least to make it even clearer that the one going against all existing evidence is the one who has the burden of proof.
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:24 AM   #109
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As for deism, I don't think I need any evidence against some crazy idea that even its proponents tell me that it has no evidence, CAN'T have any evidence by definition, and they CAN'T, by definition, base it on any actual information.

It's like if I told you that I know there is a race of invisible elves in my fridge that not only are invisible, but don't interact with normal matter in any way, so they're just impossible to detect. Really, they don't turn the light bulb on and off, they don't drink my beer, they don't bump into my groceries, they don't even have a tiny gravity field, and they don't talk to me, their prophet, even in dreams. In effect I just told you that I can't possibly have any information on which to base that claim. Would you think there is any point at all in keeping an open mind about the ancient and noble race of Fridge Elves? Or would you just say that I'm fundamentally talking crazy stuff?

Well, that's about how much open-mindedness I owe to the insanity that is Deism.

That said, I'll agree with eight bits that deism is not apologetics per se. It's just a delusion worthy of the finest schizophrenia. Believing you know something (including details like what it thinks or what it's done) about an entity you just called unknowable, actually even more underpants-on-head pencils-up-the-nose insane than a bona-fide belief in Cthulhu. At least Cthulhu is said to send crazy dreams about underwater cities, so one could at least theoretically have received those dreams as information to base their beliefs on. Whereas the deism God doesn't even do that, by definition, and thus by definition there is even less information than that -- in fact NO information at all -- on which to base such a belief.

Anyone who actually believes the deism nonsense, well, they should ask their doctors if anti-psychotics are right for them
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:48 AM   #110
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I Ratant

Sorry, I missed your post yesterday.

Quote:
Actually, it's the lack of evidence that is most obvious relating to the existence of the supernatural.
Agreed. In modern domain-independent accounts of uncertain belief, that renders the question prioristic. People might still form an opinion about the uncertain matter, but its foundation is its consistency with other beliefs the person holds.

Beliefs like that are prone to interpersonal disagreement. Evidence, something that objectively happened, is the usual avenue for overcoming initial opinionated disagreement.

On gentle assumptions, an indefinitely persistent stream of evidence which adds some independent weight over previously known evidence makes eventual agreement almost certain. In the special case of a probabilistic representation of belief, that phenomenon has the lovely name, "The approach to certainty through experience," given to it by Leonard Savage, who proved a theorem on point.

The supernatural isn't at all like that. Apparently people in the 19th Century thought it could be, but I think we all know how that worked out.

I don't expect much evidence bearing on God ever to arrive, so I am unsurprised that religious differences of opinion among rational people persist. Since mainstream Protestantism is consistent with scepticism about almost anything other than the Nicene Creed and Paul's epistles, I am unsurprised that some devout Protestants might be hardline skeptics about "everything else" on prioristic grounds. And just like everybody else, they are also qualified to participate fully in any evidence-based consensus, since enough bearing evidence makes any uncertain prior belief irrelevant to the conclusion.


Ginger

So, just to recap, S.J. Gould was an apologist for religious beliefs, the evidence bearing on the question of God enjoys similar weight with the evidence bearing on evolution, and your personal opinions about religion aren't opinions, but rather "We know...."

OK, then. Thank you for clearing all that up. Good luck with it.
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Old 20th November 2012, 02:18 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
What I find interesting is that people who don't have religion in any form can accept that the universe is purposeless and valueless, and still live their lives as if they had purpose and value.
Why on earth does the Universe have to have purpose and value other than it's own physical actions?

And why does this lack of purpose and value, other than physical activity, have any bearing on how I choose to view my own life?

I guess instead of drinking too much beer and having fun with my friends I could be sitting in a pew feeling horrible cuz I farted under the sheets (and held my girlfriends head under the covers and made the boogeyman mad,and he's probably already mad cuz I had a lass in my bed without an official sanction ) but that seems like I'm putting LESS value and purpose in MY life and instead handing it all over to some deity. That sounds like it sux.

it's also a convenient excuse for when you screw things up "don't blame me, it's all God's plan!"



I don't understand how a lack of a God gives anything less value and purpose? Hell, I think it gives it much more! Live your life to the fullest, have fun! Cuz one day the movie ends and you don't wanna walk out of the theater with just buttery hands and an empty cup......
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Old 20th November 2012, 03:12 AM   #112
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Gould was trying to make a truce with the religious crazies (he's pretty clear about that) by giving away something that wasn't his to give in the first place.

AT BEST, the domain of ethics belongs to philosophy. Religious figures may of course also be into ethics philosophy, but they don't have a monopoly. And it's not up to Gould to just roll back THOUSANDS OF YEARS of rational thought on the topic, and decree that the delusional nutcases WITHOUT any rational argument ("my imaginary friend says so in my fairy tale" isn't a rational argument) should be the ones giving morals. If he's not into the philosophy of morals, he should just stay out of it, not decree that the whole domain should be rolled back into the stone age.

But even then, is it outside the domain of science? No, we can at least test if certain actions produce the predicted (and desired) outcomes, and testing predictions IS science, not religion. Just because it doesn't use microscopes and test tubes, doesn't mean that for example social sciences aren't science.

And when we actually test that stuff, we find that religion is batting nearly zero for effective keeping the society how we want it. It's been wrong about just about everything it tried to give as a rule.

E.g., religious nutcases supported and in many cases were the driving force behind price fixing attempts in the middle ages, but since Adam Smith we know that that doesn't keep food cheap for everyone, but causes shortages and famines. It's not the outcome we want.

E.g., religious nutcases thought that washing oneself is pure vanity, and after all even Jesus himself said that eating with dirty hands is ok because whatever goes into your mouth gets destroyed and doesn't make you impure. And went so far at times as to demand and get punitive taxes on soap. And it was a rule about morals: you don't want people being that vain, and think they're better than their unwashed brethren. Now we know that's a bad idea and probably millions died needless deaths in illness because we let religion give that rule.

E.g., religious nutcases were for not mixing grains and whatnot, in the name of purity. Now we know that that's a recipe for malnutrition, in a society which mostly lived on bread and water. Mixing all available vegetals is a way to get a healthier mix of proteins.

E.g., religious nutcases were always for extreme punishments, and definitely for the capital punishment. Now we know it's a bad idea, because if you're going to be hanged for robbery anyway, there is no reason to not kill the victims who are witnesses. We also know that past a point escalating the punishment does less than a good system that makes it unlikely to get away.

E.g., religious nutcases were against coveting or even desiring better stuff than your station entitles you too (e.g., peasants wanting fine clothes), again, as the deadly sin of vainglory. Now we know that desiring and even coveting stuff drives the economy.

E.g., religious nutcases supported totalitarian monarchies, because those rulers are appointed by God. Luther even called for putting down revolting peasants like rabid dogs, for not knowing their place and disobeying their betters. Needless to say, we found out we're better off living in a democracy. And we're better off when workers and peasants have human rights.

E.g., religious nutcases still are vilifying stuff like pornography. And it may not be a nice thing, but actual correlations show that it reduced RAPE incidence by about 6 times. Without it we'd be back to the times where women were almost certain to be raped in her lifetime.

E.g., speaking of rape, religious nutcases wanted raped women punished too. Read the OT. It doesn't have the "unless she screamed" clause for married women. Now we're pretty sure it does nothing to deter rape.

E.g., religious nutcases supported slavery. The OT even mandates it, and the NT says nothing against it. Now we know not only that it's inhuman, and a cause for hostility and war if the neighbours you took slaves from can do anything about it (just ask the Barbary states how they liked USA's retaliation for their taking slaves) but it actually produces worse economic results. Motivated workers are more productive than slaves still bleeding from the last whipping.

E.g., religious nutcases historically supported judicial divination and/or trial by ordeal. Nowadays we know that it doesn't work, and it's a recipe for injustice.

E.g., religious nutcases historically supported campaigns of terror and purges against conversos and women to keep them in line, and eliminate such threats to proper morals and behaviour as witchcraft. Nowadays we know that not only there is no such thing as witchcraft, but it actually nearly eliminated such useful professions as midwife.

Etc, etc, etc. I could write pages with the stuff which was tested and found to be wrong, and to not produce the outcomes we want and that it predicted it will have.

Do you understand that? We can actually scientifically test that kind of stuff. Giving it up to religious loons and clowns is as justifiable as giving astronomy back to astrologers. Doubly so when we can know they were wrong almost every time.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:49 AM   #113
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I'm a sceptic - most of the time. I'm sceptical of woo when it tries to move in on science, therefore I don't believe in homeopathy, acupuncture, clairvoyants, etc because it has been proven scientifically that it doesn't work.

I was raised Catholic but left the religion years ago because the statements of the institution of the church were incompatible with my own morals and ethics. I'm now a member of a small religious group where I am very happy and spiritually fulfilled. We generally see the myths pertaining to our religion as symbolic explorations of the nature and character of our deities; not as descriptions of actual provable events. We also have no Holy Book of any kind.

Science and religion have never had any overlap for me, one is fact, the other is belief.
It's very hard to make a coherent case for something that is mostly made up of feelings, belief and mysticism.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:37 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Why do I need the Universe to have values in order for me to have them as a human being?
If you exist in the Universe, and you have value, then the universe is not value-free. Even if you are the only thing in the entire universe that matters.

You can of course act as if you (and others) have value, while considering that really you don't. That seems to be the basis of existentialism.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:41 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
I ask you one indulgence. Please don't tell me what I think, or what value things have. The first, you cannot know and the second is a personal value judgement, different for us all. Your POV is of interest and I'm happy to read about it, but keep in mind it is no more privileged than any other.
I'm not trying to assign beliefs to anyone. I'm just listing the alternatives that are available. Either there is inherent value in the universe, or there isn't. Either somebody considers that his life is of inherent value, or he doesn't. I don't insist that anyone picks one or the other, but I can't see any alternative options.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:44 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
I always find it amusing to hear theists who not only think they know what atheists think or believe better than the atheists themselves, but who also think they are somehow qualified to pass value judgments over those supposed "beliefs".
Yeah, that never happens with atheists commenting on what theists believe.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:45 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
Why on earth does the Universe have to have purpose and value other than it's own physical actions?

And why does this lack of purpose and value, other than physical activity, have any bearing on how I choose to view my own life?
Well, you live in this universe. I presume.

Quote:
I guess instead of drinking too much beer and having fun with my friends I could be sitting in a pew feeling horrible cuz I farted under the sheets (and held my girlfriends head under the covers and made the boogeyman mad,and he's probably already mad cuz I had a lass in my bed without an official sanction ) but that seems like I'm putting LESS value and purpose in MY life and instead handing it all over to some deity. That sounds like it sux.

it's also a convenient excuse for when you screw things up "don't blame me, it's all God's plan!"



I don't understand how a lack of a God gives anything less value and purpose? Hell, I think it gives it much more! Live your life to the fullest, have fun! Cuz one day the movie ends and you don't wanna walk out of the theater with just buttery hands and an empty cup......
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:46 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If you exist in the Universe, and you have value, then the universe is not value-free. Even if you are the only thing in the entire universe that matters.
Have value to whom? Matters to whom?
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:53 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Have value to whom? Matters to whom?
It depends. If you think that somebody else's view that you have no value is of equal weight with your own opinion that you in fact do, then value is a purely subjective matter, and not intrinsic.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:08 AM   #120
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Yeah, that never happens with atheists commenting on what theists believe.
Tu quoque fallacy noted. I was commenting on your posts in this thread, and what I've observed many theists similarly doing when they attempt to criticize atheist thinking.

If you've observed atheists pretend they know what theists think or believe, while being incorrect, feel free to point that out.
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