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the "New Atheism"
Posted: 03 November 2006 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Theists constantly try to turn things back around on the atheists.  We say that they could be wrong because they don’t have proof and then they say we “could” be wrong because we can’t prove God does NOT exist…as if it is possible to prove the lack of existence of something. After all, something may not be “here” but it may be elsewhere.

Any argument based around around proving a negative is destined to be futile, therefore, it should never be constructed in the first place.  This means that the idea of proving or not proving a negative is irrelevant and should never be mentioned in argumentation.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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The arguments he used (all except the conclusion) were uncontroversial. They are basically the ones that Dawkins and others have used many times. What they show is that we have no reason to believe that god exists.

This is not the same as showing that god can’t exist.

One may wish that we could prove more, but cheerleading doesn’t change the force of an argument.

And after all, our argument against the theists is that they aren’t willing to follow the evidence where it leads. It looks more than a little suspect if we are also putting forth conclusions that go beyond our own evidence.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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That’s the ol’ head of a pin agin ain’t it?

I din’t read the word “can’t” in anythin Geoff wrote. His argument was to establish the ol’ geezer (Abe’s god that is) doesn’t and a few others don’t as well, for good measure, too, exist that is.

Doesn’t isn’t the same as Can’t, is it?

Jim

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Jimmie Keyes
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http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 03 November 2006 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Jim, it’s the 100% confidence I’m on about ... that amounts to a “can’t” in my book, unless we’re rounding off, which we apparently aren’t.

:wink:

I should add that we also have positive evidence that the standard god doesn’t exist: the existence of evil. Again, this doesn’t prove god can’t exist with 100% certainty, but it is certainly good reason against believing in him.

8)

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Posted: 03 November 2006 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Doug, I read Geoff’s statement as one that admits the possibility of a “god” as a first cause. He is simply saying that the one’s described in, ancient myth, the Greek philosophers, the bible, and now the writings of modernists don’t exist. Yes he says that the arguments for their existence are irrational superstitions.

I assume you would by taking your argument to its extreme be forced to admit Poseidon and Satan might exist.

The question, does god exist?, can be answered in the way Geoff has. He isn’t contending that no god can exist, he is saying the ones we have described up til now don’t.

And now you and I are engaging in a head of the pin discussion.
Jim

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Jimmie Keyes
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http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 03 November 2006 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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[quote author=“jimmiekeyes”]Doug, I read Geoff’s statement as one that admits the possibility of a “god” as a first cause. He is simply saying that the one’s described in, ancient myth, the Greek philosophers, the bible, and now the writings of modernists don’t exist. Yes he says that the arguments for their existence are irrational superstitions.

I assume you would by taking your argument to its extreme be forced to admit Poseidon and Satan might exist.

The question, does god exist?, can be answered in the way Geoff has. He isn’t contending that no god can exist, he is saying the ones we have described up til now don’t.

Well, I don’t interpret what he said in this fashion. What he’s saying is that (in your words) “the ones we have described up til now can’t” exist. That is, they don’t exist with 100% certainty.

But there is no logical problem with these old gods existing, and the evidence we have is fallible, so our argument simply isn’t strong enough to go that far.

I certainly agree that they don’t exist, that we have no reason to believe they exist, etc., and I would put the probability of their existence at the level of “vanishingly small”, but it’s not literally zero. It can’t be, given the strength of our evidence.

[quote author=“jimmiekeyes”]And now you and I are engaging in a head of the pin discussion.

Fair enough, us philosopher-types are known for that.

:wink:

But I do care a lot about what argument and evidence shows and how far they can be taken.

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Posted: 03 November 2006 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I’d sure like to have you on a jury so long as the other side’s evidence was circumstantial. Or if I was the defendant the prosecutor was required to prove the victim didn’t exist. Maybe I should ask all the PhD’s who show up in my panels lol what their PhD is in rotfl and take all the Dr’s of philosophy rrotfl!!
J

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Jimmie Keyes
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http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 03 November 2006 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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[quote author=“jimmiekeyes”]I’d sure like to have you on a jury so long as the other side’s evidence was circumstantial. Or if I was the defendant the prosecutor was required to prove the victim didn’t exist. Maybe I should ask all the PhD’s who show up in my panels lol what their PhD is in rotfl and take all the Dr’s of philosophy rrotfl!!

LOL

I’ve heard of philosophy professors being kicked off juries ... it used to be a joke in grad school—just tell ‘em you can reasonably doubt anything!

LOL

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Posted: 03 November 2006 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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That’s why I appended “LOL” to the showing up on my panels.
J

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Jimmie Keyes
Tavernier, FL
http://secularhumanism.meetup.com/1/
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 03 November 2006 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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... I will only point out that the relevant chapter in Dawkins is titled: “Why There Almost Certainly is No God”. So it isn’t just me who’s being head-of-pin.

:wink:

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Posted: 04 November 2006 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Firstly, all of the relevant people (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al.) explicitly state that they believe in the freedom to practice whatever religion you want ... I’m sure you know this.

And I don’t think they believe moderate religious practitioners are “evil”. They just think they are deluded. The problem with the moderates is that by supporting notions such as ‘faith’ they give cover to the truly evil folks who are the fundamentalists or radicals.

That they’re the well-educated Michael Moores of inquiry, and make us vulnerable to accusations of scientism.

More to the point:

[quote author=“advocatus”]Most of the Christians on our forum latched onto this statement, on page one—“The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it’s evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there’s no excuse for shirking.”

Their response seemed to be—“See? You atheists have been complaining about Christians taking over America—this shows you what atheists would do if they ever took over!” I could only shake my head and try one more time to explain to them that they were making a mountain out of a molehill.

advocatus, you can only prove your own intellectual decency, and point to the intellectual decency of others—

Is it reasonable to hold that:
Respect is, from the perspective of free inquiry, best given to persons, and their efforts(which I treat as consubstantial); beliefs, thoughts, concepts ought not to be guaranteed “respect”, except as they serve human beings, and as they relate to human action. Those are conceptual entities - not human beings.

The core “delusion” is that human beings -need- some sort of comprehensive and absolutely certain guide to action in order to make things better. Psychologically, we must value efforts toward comprehensiveness [where logic or rationality fails to serve adequately - take the lack of comprehensive social knowledge on the part of pro-invasion factions of the US military during the Cuban missile crisis] and certainties—as they allow us to minimise our magical thinking—or at least play enough with it until a magical course of argument [let us say, a mathematical model] hinges on certainties underpinning it—that may be verifiably true or (as much as I hate to say this) useful to moving past an aporia.

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Posted: 04 November 2006 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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[quote author=“melioristk”]That they’re the well-educated Michael Moores of inquiry, and make us vulnerable to accusations of scientism.

Scientism? Is that supposed to be an “accusation”?

I should hope we are vulnerable to such an accusation; it is one we should embrace. Just as we should embrace the accusation of rationalism, logic, evidentialism, fallibilism, humanism, atheism, etc.

Dennett and Dawkins are no Michael Moores ... Moore is a good polemicist but not terribly interested in the actual data. He cares more about making certain sorts of political points, some of which I agree with and some of which not. Harris may be somewhere in between, but it’s useless to argue generalities.

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Posted: 04 November 2006 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I refer to the second meanings of both citations.

Dennett and Dawkins are no Michael Moores ... Moore is a good polemicist but not terribly interested in the actual data.

Fair enough.

Generalisations, while useful, are indeed hard argued.  smile

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Posted: 04 November 2006 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Re. scientism, all the definitions there sound fine to me. We can quibble on the details, but in general the attitudes of the scientific disciplines are appropriate to all other careful investigative disciplines ... and by “careful disciplines” I mean all investigative disciplines worthy of the name.

In general I would view scientism as distinguished from post-modernism, for example, which has been a disaster in the academy.

NB: Clearly there are non-investigative disciplines as well, such as creative writing, painting, etc.; while I don’t see any reason why we can’t also apply scientific attitudes to those disciplines, the aim of them isn’t knowledge, but production of objects with certain aesthetic qualities ...

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