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Apples and Oranges
Posted: 25 April 2012 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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A major problem with metaphorical stories is that they almost never translate precisely into the situation for which they are a metaphor.  This allows the presenter to arrive at conclusions from the metaphor that don’t really apply to the real situation.  Rather than discussing your apples and oranges story, I’d be more comfortable if you rewrote it using the words relating to theology and atheism that you want to discuss.  That way, I could understand much more accurately what you are trying to say.

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Posted: 25 April 2012 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Occam. - 25 April 2012 05:24 PM

A major problem with metaphorical stories is that they almost never translate precisely into the situation for which they are a metaphor.  This allows the presenter to arrive at conclusions from the metaphor that don’t really apply to the real situation.  Rather than discussing your apples and oranges story, I’d be more comfortable if you rewrote it using the words relating to theology and atheism that you want to discuss.  That way, I could understand much more accurately what you are trying to say.

Occam

Sure.


Theist:  There’s a god.
Atheist: No, there isn’t a god.
Theist: sure there is, {bible stuff}
Atheist: {science stuff}, therefore, not {bible stuff}
Theist: well, the science stuff must be wrong
Atheist: you’re not willing to accept facts!
Theist: But {theist stuff}
Atheist: {science stuff}
Theist: {theist stuff}

A lot of atheists seem to take it that the theist just doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand the {science stuff}.  But let’s consider the possibility of an underlying motivation to the theist that the {bible stuff} trumps the {science stuff}.  When the atheist says “there’s evidence on my side, no evidence on bible side”, the atheist is only referring to the {science stuff} that should trump the {bible stuff}.  The theist, on the other hand, may have a wealth of additional non-science experience that strengthens the {bible stuff}.  It’s pretty accepted that we don’t understand our own psychology very well, and so the theist will have some trouble figuring out what these experiences are, so it might be useful to the atheist to try to figure out what it is that the theist is actually considering when the theist deems that the bible outweighs scientific evidence.

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Posted: 25 April 2012 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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What you’re looking for I think is a longer exegesis on epistemology, and why experience and reason trump revelation and tradition.

There’s no question what the theist is doing. There’s no issue as to the kind of experiences he thinks are valid. There’s also no question that it is total bunk. The same experiences are used in a hundred different traditions to justify a hundred different religious belief systems. They are also used in a thousand different non-religious systems (e.g., new age and cultic ideas) to the same ends.

There’s nothing here for the atheist to try to figure out. The claims are transparently clear.

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Posted: 25 April 2012 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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dougsmith - 25 April 2012 06:20 PM

There’s no question what the theist is doing. There’s no issue as to the kind of experiences he thinks are valid.

I’m rather novice, if you could explain what these are to me I would appreciate it.

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Posted: 26 April 2012 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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wtfbbq - 25 April 2012 06:32 PM
dougsmith - 25 April 2012 06:20 PM

There’s no question what the theist is doing. There’s no issue as to the kind of experiences he thinks are valid.

I’m rather novice, if you could explain what these are to me I would appreciate it.

Sure. The theist is taking first-person reports of unrepeatable, unverifiable feelings and fantasies as evidence good enough to trump well-designed, objectively repeatable scientific experiment.

Not any feelings and fantasies qualify: only those that follow what he takes to be the implicit message in his favorite ancient book. E.g., feelings and fantasies that show Krishna to be real would be simple feelings and fantasies, without merit. But those same feelings and fantasies that showed Jesus to be savior, or Mary’s grace, would be taken seriously.

And by “taken seriously” I mean indefeasible by any conceivable evidence.

I can give more examples, but the problem with such examples is that they are perforce only about a subset of all theists. There are some theists, of course, who do not use the above argument, perhaps because they are intellectual theists who do not take personal experience very seriously.

But this is part of my concern with your points in the OP.

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Posted: 26 April 2012 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Wtfbbq, that’s certainly the way the discussion could go with some theists and atheists, however, for me there’s a different paradigm.

Theist: There’s a god.
Atheist: If that’s your belief, fine.  What do you think Romney’s chances are?
(That should end the discussion unless it goes as follows.)
Theist: There is a god and if you don’t believe, you’ll go to hell.  Come to church with me and we’ll convert you.
Atheist:  Ok, but you’ll have to prove his existence first.
Theist:  Well, can you disprove his existence?
Atheist:  The person who makes a claim has the job of proving it. 
Theist:  If you’re so sure there isn’t, you should be able to prove that.
Atheist:  I’m not sure of anything.  It’s just that I haven’t seen any evidence that needs a god to explain it so I see the probability of a god at something like 1 in 10^40.
Theist:  The bible proves his existence.
Atheist:  Can you show the bible isn’t fiction.
Theist:  I give up.  I’ll be happy when I can look down from heaven and see you suffering in hell.
Atheist: In the extremely unlikely event that that’s the case, I’ll wave at you.

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