Author Topic: Need help with a debate question  (Read 509 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Iamrational

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
  • Darwins +9/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Need help with a debate question
« on: December 06, 2011, 03:05:39 PM »
I have a few debate videos recently and one of them was Craig vs Hitchens. Craig was challenging him to come up with legitimate arguments to prove atheism is true. I suspect he is trying to corner him into some circular logic argument and then go with the whole absence of evidence is not evidence of absence junk. Is there a particular argument you would use instead of the Hitchens route were says I don't have good enough proof to believe in god. It seemed more dodging to me. I would not want to get caught up like that.

However I would like to have a discussion about this argument about proof that atheism is true. It seems like Craig is trying to put atheism on trial as if it needs to prove it arguments or more so its reason for existence.

I don't believe in god mainly for 2 reasons. 1: Evolution. 2: Bible Fallacy. I don't prop one up over everything else a tout it as the main argument against. It is a combination of reasoning that has led me to feel there is no god out there. If I had to give proof that atheism is true I suppose I would use those as my reasoning. Bible is subjective and Evolution is a theory so I could see that debate going no where.

Ultimately it seems as if Theist debaters are attempting to throw the proof tactic that Atheist debaters have been using for years back in their faces and say now you prove why atheism is true. Would you dodge and go back to putting god on trial or would you simple state reasons that of course open the door for the other person to corner you with some double standard logic?

Offline One Above All

  • Professor
  • ********
  • Posts: 9429
  • Darwins +223/-30
  • Gender: Male
  • Supreme ruler of the multiverse; All In One
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 03:09:59 PM »
Define what a god is and I will punch a hole in it (unless it's a pantheist or deist god, as those are unfalsifiable).
Every god, as described by religious books, cannot exist. All we have to do to find proof is look at reality for a second. They are supposed to be benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient (some even omnipresent).
Omniscience means that we don't have free will, which means that evil is a direct result of that god's lack of interference, and therefore it means that that god wants us to cause harm to each other and/or suffer (hence, not good).
If you can get around omniscience, omnipotence is a paradox in itself, as we all know. That means that omnipotence is not a possibility and any being that incorporates omnipotence as part of its powers cannot exist.
For benevolence, see Epicurus.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 03:12:48 PM by Lucifer »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 03:18:52 PM »
My argument would be that I have no evidence for anything supernatural, much less a omni-max god as claimed in the bible or as claimed by any religion.  I would ask a theist to show me evidence that another god wasn’t real, as they don’t believe in them (usually, some idiots claim that other gods are demons). 

I’m not too afraid of some circular argument or come claim of “logic” those are easy enough to stomp on.  WLC is only a good debater in person.  He fails in written debates since he cannot use theatrics.  Many people here could beat him easily which is why he’s so shy of this medium that he won’t even evidently answer wannabee lackies who want his approval and help. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline Tykster

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 913
  • Darwins +11/-0
  • Gender: Male
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 03:26:26 PM »
^^^^^^^^^

Yeah, you would think that he'd want to come here, riding on his trusty internet steed, and pillage each and every heretic!
rhocam ~ I guess there are several trillion cells in a man, and one in an amoeba, so to be generous, lets say that there were a billion. That is one every fifteen years. So in my lifetime I should have seen two evolutionary changes.

Offline Petey

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 882
  • Darwins +11/-0
  • Gender: Male
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 03:31:33 PM »
Hitchens had the correct response.

The onus is not on the unbeliever to prove that god does not exist, just as the onus would not be on someone who did not believe me if I told them that my childhood dog is alive and well...only invisible and otherwise undetectable except through direct personal revelation.

If the person making the claim has evidence, they need to present it.  Otherwise, the default position is to not believe them (in regards to non-mundane claims).  The atheist has nothing to "prove", as they are simply saying "I don't believe you" to the theist.  See also Russel's Teapot.
He never pays attention, he always knows the answer, and he can never tell you how he knows. We can't keep thrashing him. He is a bad example to the other pupils. There's no educating a smart boy.
-– Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

Offline Traveler

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 2046
  • Darwins +142/-2
  • Gender: Female
  • no god required
    • I am a Forum Guide
    • Gryffin Designs
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 03:34:42 PM »
This might not help you at all, but this is where I stand.

Atheism is about belief, not knowledge. Agnosticism is about knowledge. I am what is sometimes referred to as an agnostic atheist. That is, I don't believe there are gods, in fact I believe there are no gods. But when pressed to the wall, I know that none of us can be certain. I would go on to say that with respect to the Abrahamic religions, I would consider myself a strong atheist. The chances of that god existing seem so vanishingly small as to be insignificant. Now, here is where belief and experience come together. I find the idea that unicorns are hiding in my back woods absurd. I've never seen one. No one I know has ever seen one. So I assume, and live my life, as if they do not live in my backyard. Ditto with lawn elves. Ditto with dragons. Ditto with Santa Claus. Ditto with gods.

I see no difference between these things. They are all things that I have never seen. They are all things that no one I know has ever seen. They are all things that are written about in ancient mythology books that seem to have no definable difference. Aesop's Fables, the bible, Greco-Roman myths ... all have the same amount of proof attached to them. Which is to say, none.

I don't honestly know which came first. My disbelief, or my thoughts on why I don't believe. I just know that back as far as I can remember into my childhood, belief in god made no sense to me. None. Any discussion about the bible is irrelevant to me because I don't accept the book as fact. Any discussion about people's subjective experiences of god is, while sometimes interesting, not relevant to the proof of their god, because I disagree with their interpretation of their experience. So-called transcendent experiences can be just as easily explained as psychological phenomenon, or by other spiritual frameworks. Is a "vision" a visit from god? Angels? Native spirit guides? Or is it our imagination, subconscious mind, or wishful thinking? Take your pick, but don't insist that one explanation is the one and only truth, because none of us can know that.

For me, personally, I see no reason whatsoever that it would matter whether a god or other spiritual being exists, except as religious institutions try to limit the freedoms of others. We live our lives as best we can, we act with compassion in order to make a better world for all of us, and we eventually die. I wish everyone would just accept our differences and stop acting as if their god belief gives them special dispensation to be ogres about it.
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline nogodsforme

  • Professor
  • ********
  • Posts: 5650
  • Darwins +677/-1
  • Gender: Female
  • Jehovah's Witness Protection Program
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 05:05:51 PM »
Gods and religions are made up by people. Nobody would ever come up with a belief in Christianity or Islam or Hinduism without being told about it by another human being who was already indoctrinated. Belief in god(s) comes from other people, not from any supernatural source.

If there was one true supernatural source that could communicate with humans, there would only be one religion. Not one or more for every human culture! And the religion would not die out or change into something else. Just as there are not different numbers of suns or moons for different cultures on earth--there is one visible sun and one visible moon that everyone agrees exist. Religions are like every earth culture claiming-- with no evidence-- that there are a different numbers of moons or suns, and trying to argue other people into believing in that.

A group of babies left to grow up on a deserted island raised by, say, kindly robots, would never develop a belief in any of the known religions. Because the gods of those religions do not exist outside of the imaginations of people who already believe.

That is what I would challenge a theist debater with: what god would a group of kids raised with no religious instruction believe in? If none, then it seems that the natural state of humanity is to be atheist.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Avatar Of Belial

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 499
  • Darwins +30/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm not an Evil person; I just act like one!
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 05:35:47 PM »
Bible is subjective and Evolution is a theory so I could see that debate going no where.

How do those two things equate each other to the point where it would go nowhere? Subjectivity provides nothing but opinions, whereas a Theory must have a host of supporting evidence to get to that level.

If the subjective Bible were to go against the Theory of Gravity, would you still say the debate would go nowhere?
"You play make-believe every day of your life, and yet you have no concept of 'imagination'."
I do not have "faith" in science. I have expectations of science. "Faith" in something is an unfounded assertion, whereas reasonable expectations require a precedent.

Online ParkingPlaces

  • Professor
  • ********
  • Posts: 5962
  • Darwins +643/-3
  • Gender: Male
  • Entropy isn’t what it used to be
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 06:12:21 PM »
How there could be no actual, indisputable evidence for a skydaddy is beyond me. That science has found both alternative explanations (such as the the creation of earth) AND totally unbiblical information (such as quantum theory) should cause most anyone to question religion.

I've told the story before of being in a car with a geologist who had never been to Oregon before. I was driving him to our destination when he asked if we had time to stop. He pointed to some rocks atop a nearby ridge and said it must be full of ocean fossils. We stopped, climbed the ridge, and started looking. It took a little while, but we finally found some fossilized sea-shell thingies, which excited him no end. His scientific training allowed him to observe the landscape, deduce a high probability of fossils, and find them.

I have never been told by a christian that "Gosh, Mrs. Smith is very ill. But that's okay. The whole congregation prayed for her in church today and she'll be fine soon." I've known plenty who hoped that would be the case, but as far as I can tell christians die at about the same rate as everyone else. I don't know if they live longer because of all the group activities they participate in or live less because of all the rumors that float around churches, but on average I'm pretty sure they're doing no better than me.

So the only benefit of religion is making a person or group feel a little bit better, via delusions, while the benefit of science is that it can learn and predict and improve and teach.

No, we can't prove there is no god. Or the aforementioned unicorns either. Nothing imagined can be disproven unless demonstrable specifics are mentioned (There is a huge bear in my bedroom can easily be disproven unless one lives in Alaska and there IS a huge bear in the bedroom). Claiming a god who cannot be seen and who requires things like belief and faith because it is all part of a big test is insane. Were I a god I would be a pretty nice guy, and take responsibility for my creation. If things were going sour in Muslimville or Catholic town or whatever, I'd show up and set the confused straight, and then tell them to go about their business with a smile on my face. It's spelled a lot like smite but conveys a very different attitude.

A god with all his hangups isn't likely to make humans who are kinder and more loving and more caring than he is. Especially if all he used is some dirt. Evolution, both genetic and cultural, makes the human world far easier to understand than any combination of Eden and flood and Jesus stories. As the various sciences find out more and more about everything they study, the need for a god diminishes logarithmically. And since it started to do that long ago, we are now so close to zero there is no need to measure that chance any more.
Never trust an atom. They make up everything!

Offline penfold

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 616
  • Darwins +41/-4
  • Gender: Male
  • ...buzz buzz buzz...
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2011, 06:15:24 PM »
Iamrational,

You can't 'prove' atheism.

If you could prove atheism the argument would have to be of one of two forms. Either an 'ontological' argument something with the conclusion "God is logically impossible." Else you could try a cosmological disproof of the form that "Evidence proves God does not exist."

Ontological variant ("God is logically impossible")

Kant gives us very good reason not to try this route: he showed (Critique of Pure Reason Pt II Div II BK II Ch III Sc IV) we cannot prove/disprove the existence of something 'in principle'. If I say that "God does not exist" is necessarily the case then I am saying that the statement "God exists" is a contradiction. In philosophical jargon we call a statement whose truth can be established without reference to evidence an analytic truth. An example of an analytic truth is: "a triangle has three angles" - the opposite would be a contradiction ie "a triangle does not have three angles". So the question is: can we show "God exists" is a contradiction just like "a triangle does not have three angles" is a contradiction?

Kant's point is that 'existence' is peculiar. In the triangle example we can separate the parts of the sentence: "a triangle" is the subject; "has three angles" is the predicate. Now the contradiction arises because I 'keep' the subject and 'cancel' the predicate: "a triangle does not have three angles". Kant pointed out that if I 'cancel' both the predicate and the subject no contradiction arises: "not a triangle does not have three angles".

If the predicate being cancelled is "exists" then we are also cancelling the subject as well so no contradiction could possibly arise. Any statement of the form "x exists" or "x does not exist" cannot be shown to contain a contradiction! In other words we can never prove the existence or non-existence of something by appealing to logic. A statement of the form "x exists" (or "x does not exist") can only be proved by evidence - what Kant called a synthetic truth.

So given that we cannot show God to be logically impossible can we prove it with reference to evidence?

Cosmological proof ("Evidence proves that God does not exist")

I should make clear that evidence can disprove particular truth claims made by religions. For example, we can be as sure as it is possible to be about anything that the universe is more than the 6000years the bible dates it as being.

However to rule out the possibility of God in general is a very high burden. In fact the task is impossible because of a mismatch between the explanatory power of God and Science. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is often called the 'first scientist'; one observation he made about the world was that everything seemed to be designed for a purpose. From our modern point of view this might seem stupid but actually it was a pretty powerful insight. He was looking at the same kinds problems as Darwin; how was it that a tooth was so good for chewing food, or an eye for seeing? To Aristotle it seemed that the cosmos was full of this purpose.

These days science deliberately strips out all purpose. The idea of a 'purpose' is subjective; science is about the objective measure of the universe. How could you possibly measure such a thing as purpose? The trouble is that while science has admirably removed the idea of purpose from its examination of the universe, it means it can't possibly comment on it. A nice example is climate science; the 'hard facts' are overwhelmingly that human activity is causing a rise in global temperature; however science alone can't tell us what to do - science doesn't give us directions - it describes things as they are and no more.

Every set of facts could possibly have a purpose. The principle of evolution itself could be seen as a process with the purpose of generating life. A scientist would (and should) wince at such a statement, however we can't disprove it because things like purpose cannot be in the realm of science - they are not subjects of scientific proof or disproof.

It is always possible that God created the universe; as long as you assume that God intended the universe to be like it is now [which may involve abandoning any notion of a good or benevolent God - but note Eurythro dilemma: if God does something is it not by definition good?].

....

Sad as it may seem you cannot definitively 'prove atheism'; but this should encourage us. We have uncertainty built into our world-view; that's what makes it so robust. Admitting that we don't know for certain is the source of all good science, just as claiming absolute certainty is the root of theism's fragility.

peace
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 06:30:25 PM by penfold »
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Online kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1210
  • Darwins +335/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2011, 06:48:50 PM »
1) Scientists are able to accurately model the behavior of reality from the tiniest subatomic scale all the way up to the scale of the entire visible Cosmos, without ever once having to incorporate a variable into their equations to account for the presence and/or action of any Invisible Magic Person.  Not just gods; this applies equally well to angels, demons, faeries, sprites, djinn, ghosts, devas, bardos, Bodhisattvas, whatever sort of IMP you'd care to name.  Any IMP that exists has to make a permanent practice of making itself more difficult to detect than a faster-than-light neutrino.[1]

2) Most believers, including Craig, already know they live in the same godless Universe we do.  They've already got theological rationalizations for why Universe behaves exactly as it would if atheism was true, ready in their back pockets.  Imagine if Christopher Hitchens had said, "Oh, we don't have to debate this at all, we can actually find out!" *snaps fingers* *assistants enter the room, carrying two plates, each with a raw steak, and set them up on stage on little tables*  "According to 1 Kings 18:16-45, it is possible to arrange a public demonstration that will show whether Yahweh is the true God, or if he is no match for science and technology as represented by this flamethrower." *assistants hand Hitchens a flamethrower*  "So, just like Elijah did in the Bible, I invite you to pray to your god to ignite your steak, and I'll use my flamethrower to ignite mine.  We'll see which is real."

Hitchens would not even get through citing the chapter and verse before Craig's mind would start filling with argumentation and explanations for why Yahweh would not answer his prayer as he supposedly did for Elijah.  How could this be?  How could Craig know, in advance of performing the test, that Yahweh would not send fire down from Heaven?  Even if he thinks Yahweh might not be inclined to, Yahweh is still (supposedly) a being of free will, and there should be a non-trivial chance that he would decide to surprise everyone.  This advance knowledge that Yahweh does nothing and cannot be detected (even as a passive object, like a rock), in principle, extends to any conceivable test anyone could ever think up.  Studies of prayer, accident and disease statistics for devout believers, etc.--all will show no evidence of Yahweh's existence and action, and the believer knows it.

Or to put it another way: when it comes to anticipating how reality will actually behave, most believers anticipate that it will behave like a godless Universe.  Even the ones who are crazy enough to bet their child's life on their preferred deity's healing powers still already have an explanation handy if their child dies.  We do not see these people saying, "Oops.  I guess that falsifies my faith then."

Nutshell: Even believers know we live in a godless Universe.  They don't believe in god[2] they believe in belief in god.  Belief-in-god makes you a good person, provides meaning and purpose to life, makes you a part of the believing community, etc..  To trick yourself into believing that you have belief-in-god, you have to make the claim that you think your god exists, while surrounding that claim with a bodyguard of explanations for why reality behaves exactly the way it would if your god doesn't exist, while maintaining constant vigilance to never hold both of those thoughts in your head at the same time.

3) Everything we know about Universe militates against the idea that it was purpose-built as a human-habitat.  Any religion professing that it was is therefore falsified by overwhelming, literally astronomical amounts of evidence.
 1. The FTL neutrino "detection" is an observation made at the very edge of our current level of sensitivity and precision of instruments, which is why physicists are busy tweaking their instruments and methods to determine whether or not they actually exist.  Note that a neutrino is something so ghostly, so incorporeal, that it can race through Planet Earth at light speed as if nothing's there.
 2. In the sense of, "I expect reality to behave as if my deity exists; if it doesn't, then I know I'm wrong."
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Online kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1210
  • Darwins +335/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2011, 07:17:38 PM »
Iamrational,

You can't 'prove' atheism.

If you could prove atheism the argument would have to be of one of two forms. Either an 'ontological' argument something with the conclusion "God is logically impossible." Else you could try a cosmological disproof of the form that "Evidence proves God does not exist."

Ontological variant ("God is logically impossible")

>snip<

This argument does apply for finite gods like Zeus or Isis.  However, I think it can be shown that the concept of an omnimax God is self-contradictory.  If God is omniscient, then it knows all of its own actions.  If it is omnipotent, then it would be able to change its mind and do something different.  If it is omnipotent, then it should be able to get lost, or place itself entirely in a single location.  If it is omniscient, it couldn't not know where it is, and if it is omnipresent, it could not place itself entirely in a single location.[1]

Thus, the attributes of God (when defined as an omnimax) logically contradict one another.  As with five-angled triangles, square circles and married bachelors, we can know--with certainty--that an omnimax God does not exist.  The contradiction is not between the subject ("God") and the predicate ("exists"), but within the definition of "God" itself--if we're talking about an omnimax capital-G God.  Otherwise, sure, Athena could be hiding in Russell's Teapot and we'd have no way to prove she's not there.
 1. Or create a location where it is not present, e.g. Hell.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline Death over Life

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 675
  • Darwins +25/-4
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 10:14:14 PM »
One thing that I will mention is concerning William Craig, he tends to use the exact same arguments over and over and over. He is a great debater, and that is why he "wins" against his' opponents. His' arguments in a non-debate and informative kind of representation, fall flat in a heart-beat. Even when I was a theist and was pointed to the great William Craig as a be-all-end-all Christian apologist making atheists look like fools, and researching his' site, I saw a big fallacy within some of his' arguments within a Q & A.

One was His' constant assertion that all 4 Gospels are independant sources of their own testimony of Jesus Christ being real. Even Craig was extremely inconsistent with the answer saying the Gospels are still independent sources, only to turn around and agree with the question that there indeed are many different sources to cause the Gospels to be created, and thus, not independent like he was claiming.

1 example from his own site:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7047

It is kind of a long read, but he starts screwing himself over at the paragraph that starts with this sentence:

Quote
Now Matthew and Luke probably knew Mark's Gospel, as you note, and used it as one of their sources.

Yeah.  &) Looks like the Gospels are Truly independent sources and not copied from other sources!

Offline Iamrational

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
  • Darwins +9/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 11:27:57 PM »
Wow this is getting deep and my concentration can't handle and this information at once. I have to go back through and read the great responses again. I have to write down some of the logical arguments because these are complex, multi-tier answers and some of it is going over my head. I do understand simpler points like can't disprove something that is not real, except to ask where is it and argue for proof until they concede it does not exist. I will get back to these. All great stuff. This thread demonstrates how supportive this community is.

AVATAR- I should have elaborated about my subjective/ theory comment. What I meant is in the situation where I dispute the fallacies of the bible with someone and they 'interpret' the way they want to make it peachy. That goes no where for me usually. The other being the strong case for TOE. They are either coached in theist responses or have not researched the subject and reject it outright. They are not the same topic but I lumped them together. Separate issues that both get argued by most theists irrationally.

Offline penfold

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 616
  • Darwins +41/-4
  • Gender: Male
  • ...buzz buzz buzz...
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2011, 03:53:11 AM »
This argument does apply for finite gods like Zeus or Isis.  However, I think it can be shown that the concept of an omnimax God is self-contradictory.  If God is omniscient, then it knows all of its own actions.  If it is omnipotent, then it would be able to change its mind and do something different.  If it is omnipotent, then it should be able to get lost, or place itself entirely in a single location.  If it is omniscient, it couldn't not know where it is, and if it is omnipresent, it could not place itself entirely in a single location.[1]

Thus, the attributes of God (when defined as an omnimax) logically contradict one another.
 1. Or create a location where it is not present, e.g. Hell.

This is fine as far as it goes. However what must be pointed out is that you are showing one particular definition of God is incoherent. You cannot move from that to the claim that therefore God does not exist.

Your argument has to be of the form:

(i) A five sided triangle is logically impossible.
(ii) Therefore five sided triangles cannot exist.

It cannot be of the following form:

(i) A five sided triangle is logically impossible.
(ii) Therefore triangles cannot exist.

Your conclusion is limited to "an omnimax God cannot exist" NOT "God cannot exist". The two are very different.

On your point about omni-max qualities is a good one, however the 'omni-max' account can be salvaged (at least in terms of logical possibility) if we talk of omni as meaning not limitless but maximal. So instead of omnipotent meaning all powerful it merely means as powerful as it is possible to be.

Thanks for the clarification :)
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 03:56:06 AM by penfold »
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Online kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1210
  • Darwins +335/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2011, 05:49:57 AM »
True, all you have to do is re-define that highly mobile goalpost called "God."  Or the "omni-" attributes, to just mean, "Really, really really super, but not actually omni-."  I had meant to imply this sort of thing in my post though, but I wasn't clear enough about it:   

Otherwise, sure, Athena could be hiding in Russell's Teapot and we'd have no way to prove she's not there.
 

This is one of the main reasons I try to avoid using the word "God" as much as possible, and use "Yahweh" (or Allah,[1] Vishnu, whatever depending on which god I'm discussing).  "God" is the ultimate silly-putty word.  Proving a negative is difficult enough.[2]  It does become impossible when the value for X in "X does not exist" is constantly changing.  Before any attempt to debate the existence of "God," the definition of "God" in the mind of the particular theist has to be stapled and super-glued to the floor.
 1. Allah does mean "God" in Arabic, but transliterated into English it does have the effect of stipulating "the god of Islam," so that it can't be shape-shifted into a Trinity or a content-less "Ground of Being" at the whim of the theist.
 2. I think it's fair to say that we have proven that Yahweh as portrayed in a "literal-infallible" reading of the Bible does not exist, at least to the extent that it's possible to prove something like "the Moon is not made of green cheese."  Of course a philosopher could shake their head sagely and say that we could be brains in vats and, to paraphrase the kid in the Matrix, "There is no Moon."  Fun for debates in college dorms, it's just not a useful way to go about trying to understand reality.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline gonegolfing

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1224
  • Darwins +23/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • God ?...Don't even get me started !
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2011, 11:46:11 AM »
True, all you have to do is re-define that highly mobile goalpost called "God."  Or the "omni-" attributes, to just mean, "Really, really really super, but not actually omni-."  I had meant to imply this sort of thing in my post though, but I wasn't clear enough about it:   

Otherwise, sure, Athena could be hiding in Russell's Teapot and we'd have no way to prove she's not there.
 

This is one of the main reasons I try to avoid using the word "God" as much as possible, and use "Yahweh" (or Allah,[1] Vishnu, whatever depending on which god I'm discussing).  "God" is the ultimate silly-putty word.  Proving a negative is difficult enough.[2]  It does become impossible when the value for X in "X does not exist" is constantly changing.  Before any attempt to debate the existence of "God," the definition of "God" in the mind of the particular theist has to be stapled and super-glued to the floor.
 1. Allah does mean "God" in Arabic, but transliterated into English it does have the effect of stipulating "the god of Islam," so that it can't be shape-shifted into a Trinity or a content-less "Ground of Being" at the whim of the theist.
 2. I think it's fair to say that we have proven that Yahweh as portrayed in a "literal-infallible" reading of the Bible does not exist, at least to the extent that it's possible to prove something like "the Moon is not made of green cheese."  Of course a philosopher could shake their head sagely and say that we could be brains in vats and, to paraphrase the kid in the Matrix, "There is no Moon."  Fun for debates in college dorms, it's just not a useful way to go about trying to understand reality.


Penfold & Kcrady....good discussion.


My question would be:-- why must we as atheists even try to define any gods at all ? Isn't it best that while in our without belief in god/s positions, we withhold our subjective definitions of what god/s possibly are and leave the definitions of any supposed god/s to those who claim they exist and then go on from there to look for the evidence that supports their claims, and/or refute the claim immediately with available evidence or logic ?

Is it not a moot point to be discussing whether it is possible or impossible to disprove an invisible entity ? I see no practical value in that type of discussion as it distracts from the real issue, that being the claim of the individual that says a "god" exists. The onus must be on them to prove so.

Setting aside the bible for a moment, all theists that I know, and myself formerly, would state that their definition of "god" is that it is first and foremost a spirit being. It is at the very least a real entity with its own consciousness, intellect and feelings, and that it exists external of the human mind and at the quantum level, and is of course all powerful and greater than the universe itself--which it/god effortlessly thought and spoke into a material existence.

I would agree that the existence of such an entity would be difficult, if not impossible, to disprove, but the question is--do I have to ? No. Not only do I not have to try and disprove such an entity, but I do not have to even consider the definition of this entity as valid. Something is only valid when it has a sound basis in logic and is reasonable and clear and persuasive. Does any definition of any "god" fall within these parameters ? Not that I can see. By definition all gods simply become abstract ideas, that at the end of the day, are not cogent and coherent. Every one of them fall completely short as a rational clarification of what the supposed entity actually is and how its essence could possibly interact with reality. They also in no way shape or form, prove or even show that such entities could possibly be the cause of physical phenomena.

This is why atheists have nothing to prove. And are not obliged to play philosophical and semantic word games with definitions or abstract ideas. We are in our godless positions because there is no tangible evidence whatsoever to move us to any other position. If there is no discernable evidence for "gods" of any kind, then we have no other statement to make but, "there are no authentic corporeal gods as far as I know and based on what I cannot perceive".

I will not take on the responsibility of twisting my mind into knots trying to understand abstract god ideas and definitions, but I will take on the responsibility of weighing the evidence, if any is ever available, if it is claimed that a god has taken on a temporal tangible existence.



Cheers

 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 11:52:20 AM by gonegolfing »
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: Need help with a debate question
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2011, 12:50:50 PM »
I'd say that we dont' have to define gods, but point out how they are defined by the various theists themselves. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/