Author Topic: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]  (Read 367 times)

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Offline DL

The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« on: April 12, 2009, 07:23:43 PM »
An especially well-worded comment from the blog:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/blog/?p=472#comments

---

The logic of the Atheist Belief (at least within the framework of this website: “Why Wont God Heal Amputees”)

(An interesting 2:48 minute clip. Not comprehensive in the arguments put forward but I understand it was only a brief clip. I will think through and investigate her position.)

I have been on a bit of a journey through the website to get an idea of its underlying presuppositions and premises. I am a Christian who is attempting to use logic and reason as the website exhorts me to. I am not going to put forward my arguments FOR God here to meet every point in the “book” presented on the site. I simply do not have the time. If I did have the time I honestly would, since I find the discourse fascinating. Moreover, many of the non-theists who blog here strike me as very intelligent (at least within a western intellectual framework) who presumably have access to all the literature and arguments I would put forward. It really is up to them to assess the evidence. My stance is more on the offensive (I am not assuming an arrogant posture here, just applying reason to the websites own propositions) than defensive, specifically looking at the literature of the website.

The literature is profoundly normative, absolute and puts forward an authoritative posture. It, in places, is almost creedal and dogmatic in its propositions for no god. Here are some of the absolute claims. Textually and grammatically these are not proposed as opinions but foregone conclusions.
• “There is neither heaven nor hell. These two places are fairy tale worlds that spring from the human imagination.”
• “You do not have an “everlasting soul.” The concept of a soul is completely imaginary.”
• “People do not have “eternal life” after their deaths. The whole notion of eternal life is a fantasy.”
• “People do not meet back up with dead friends and family members in the afterlife, nor is there any reincarnation.”
• “There are not 72 virgins waiting for you in heaven if you martyr yourself in a suicide bombing.”
And:
• “All of it is imaginary. The truth is this simple: When you die, you die.”

Indeed, so convinced is it (it = the website and its proponents) of its proposition of “Truth”, it seeks to engage in discourse, not as an exchange of ideas to come to truth, but to bolster and confirm its predetermined Truth. This is not open discourse (note the underlined portion, added by me): “It is time for Americans, both religious and non, to openly discuss the evidence showing that God IS (capitals added)imaginary.”(the discussion is not open here. The conclusion has already been reached that God is imaginary)It does in places imply a certain “canon” bound up in scientific research and literature, which constitutes this “evidence”. However, as I put forward below, the “evidence” pronounced by the website is grounded in a methodology that is, by its very nature and process, ill-equipped to demonstrate the metaphysical thesis of “no god”.

Furthermore, the website cleverly sets a up a dichotomy between the non-theist who rationally trusts in science, and the theist who irrationally trusts in an imaginary god. It is clever, because the website recognizes the power of lexical choice in discourse and rhetoric. Very persuasive but when deconstructed, is benign. Within a western cultural epistemology (at least within a tertiary educated framework) vocabulary such as “science” and “rational” are valued entities, whereas “irrational”, “imaginary” and “faith” are less valued as means to ascertain truth claims within this same framework. I am asserting below, however, that the non-theist view presented in the website literature is not the “logical” outcome of scientific inquiry, but a faith-based presupposition imposed on the scientific data.

It is my assumption here that the science put forward is based on a western empirical, scientific method. This scientific inquiry hypothesizes based on observable phenomena, tests the hypothesis for physical verification and forms a hypothesis for the cause of the previously discovered physical event and so on…. Necessarily, it is an epistemological framework which operates on “seeing is believing”. Natural causes, then, are the only causes this framework can address. It is internally ill-equipped to test for “supernatural” or “metaphysical” causes (or non causes-if I can state it like that) and phenomena. To assert in absolute terms that there is god or no god (as this sight asserts) is by its nature a metaphysical or philosophical proposition. Such a proposition can be imposed on the scientific data, but the data itself neither proves or disproves the metaphysical claim. The methodology cannot do this. Nevertheless, this is used by the website as one of its fundamental groundings for its claims of the non existence of a deity. In this sense it moves from science to “philosophical naturalism” which is an abstract construct, not a scientific phenomenon. Again, it is not a considered approach (based on reason and logic) to use science (which the website does)to then assert these tenets below(content in parentheses are added by me to confirm my assertions in this paragraph):
• “ There is neither heaven nor hell. These two places are fairy tale worlds that spring from the human imagination.” (metaphysical proposition and “leap”, NOT a scientific finding)
• “You do not have an “everlasting soul.” The concept of a soul is completely imaginary.” (metaphysical proposition and “leap”, NOT a scientific finding)
• “People do not have “eternal life” after their deaths. The whole notion of eternal life is a fantasy.” (metaphysical proposition and “leap”, NOT a scientific finding)
• “People do not meet back up with dead friends and family members in the afterlife, nor is there any reincarnation.” (metaphysical proposition and “leap”, NOT a scientific finding)
• “There are not 72 virgins waiting for you in heaven if you martyr yourself in a suicide bombing.” (metaphysical proposition and “leap”, NOT a scientific finding)

And:

“All of it is imaginary. The truth is this simple: When you die, you die.” (metaphysical proposition, NOT a scientific finding)

And:

“You are a collection of chemical reactions (finding based on a modern, empirical, scientific methodology). When these chemical reactions cease, you die(finding based on a modern, empirical, scientific methodology). When you die, “you” cease to exist (metaphysical proposition and “leap”). Imagining eternal life and creating a fantasy called “heaven” does not change anything. When you die (physical, observable event), you are dead (metaphysical proposition and “leap”).”

And:

“We can look at all of this evidence (these evidences are grounded by the website in two foundations: the Christian canon (which the site claims are deficient, deceptive and fallible to start with), and the western scientific method) and we can see that God is imaginary. Christianity is a delusion. Religion in general is a delusion (metaphysical proposition, NOT a scientific finding).”

Please remember, I am not attempting here to put forward the case FOR god. I am endeavoring to put forward the case that the methodology used by the writer of the text is not compatible (indeed flawed) in terms of his/her absolute conclusions. The scientific process and methodology cannot necessarily show “there is no god”, however, the website explicitly sites this methodology as its driving framework. The above dot points are extraordinary claims which imply a comprehensive (metaphysical and physical) knowledge of the cosmos (in terms of what is seen and unseen), asserted in a dogmatic, absolute nature, and are not, necessarily, borne out by scientific method. Indeed, the non-theist position, as presented by the website is exclusive, absolute and implies an omniscience possessed by the non-theist observer. So, (in my reasoning) unless the non-theist observer is positioned outside the cosmos, he/she necessarily cannot make the omniscient claim of “no god” through a temporal, restricted scientific methodology. The positions held by the website are philosophical hypotheses. By extension (I wouldn’t go so far to say that they are “imaginary” , there is a closed reasoning here) they are human constructs being implied as Truth with a capital “T”.

It is for the above reasons that I am not convinced by this website that there is no god, at least through the western scientific framework. My reasoning, therefore, informs me that it is a leap of faith (or indeed doubt).

In conclusion, for me, the western scientific method cannot by its very nature demonstrate god or no god. Moreover, the proponents on this website (although they cleverly attempt this) cannot use the Christian canon of scripture to refute the existence of a deity in absolute terms, since by the site’s own admission it is fallible, indeed, “imaginary” and not compatible within the current western construct of morality and ethics (which themselves could be considered cultural constructs).

Therefore in terms of (my) faculty of reason, if both these methodologies (the Christian canon (as depicted by the website’s proponents) and scientific method) are deficient, my inquiring mind requires that the burden of proof lies as much with the atheist to demonstrate the absolute claim that there is NO deity. Since such a claim is indeed as metaphysical, “extraordinary” and “supernatural” as that of the theist.

Ultimately, if the methodology is deficient, one necessarily has to reconsider his/her foundational hypothesis (i.e. “there is no god”) or seek another methodology. That is of course if one works within this western epistemological framework, which this site seems to. This website does not logically or rationally convert me to belief in no god. It is not logically or rationally convincing for the reasons outlined above.

I hope the above makes sense. If not my apologies. I am not presuming to know everything on the issue (I am only finite). I am simply taking the implied challenge of the website to employ my finite reason and logic and not operate as anancient “primitive” man(again the lexical choice of “primitive” is a clever, emotive employment in the website’s rhetoric).

Thank you sincerely for the opportunity this site affords in terms of a free discourse and exchange of ideas. I have really found it thought provoking. However I am not converted to its thesis based on the exercise of reason.

Offline none

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2009, 07:28:06 PM »
...In conclusion, for me, the western scientific method cannot by its very nature demonstrate god or no god...
thus, enter the no disposition scientific method.

Offline Nick

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2009, 09:22:45 PM »
Question: Which is longer (1) this OP post or (2) War and Peace?
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline Nam

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 09:27:44 PM »
Question: Which is longer (1) this OP post or (2) War and Peace?

Dude, that's a toughie.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline deconvertedone

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 09:33:13 PM »
Do you work for the government?
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstition of the Christian religion.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Offline Hermes

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 10:47:58 PM »
Thank you for your detailed analysis.  Depending on the deity, it either can be disproven or is not possible to disprove.

The deity that most Christians say they worship is disprovable, and has been since before the NT was written.  This is not the same deity that all Christians worship, and once it is shown that the deity they say they worship can be disproven, I don't doubt that many Christians would change what they say they worship, yet most of the time they attempt to have it both ways; keep the deity they say they worship, while mangling the meanings of common words to the point that they no longer mean what they normally mean.

In sum;

The Riddle of Epicurus

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEkJJidVjGU[/youtube]

Quote
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
     Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
     Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
     Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
     Then why call him God?

Basically, an omnimax deity -- one that is all powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and all-good (omni-benevolent) -- contradicts reality.  As such, that deity does not exist.  If any deities (or a single deity) exist, it must by necessity not be an omnimax.  Most Christians say they worship a deity that is in the omnimax category; those Christians are wrong.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 10:55:33 PM »
I've attached my standard comment on why souls and an afterlife are not possible.  If you see gaps or errors, feel free to point them out.  I already know a few weak spots that need to be looked into, but I don't think at this time they would cause fatal problems for the cumulative evidence provided.



"Where will I go when I die?"

I know the answer to that.  When I'm alive, I am -- when I'm dead, I am not.

Here's the long version;

Summary: There is no such thing as a soul.  Because of that, there is no existence for us after our lives are over.  That's why it's called death.

How can I write that with any confidence?

Think about what we know -- what we can actually check and examine.  Think about what we do not need to speculate about -- on both life and death.

1. Death is not a clear line; on one side alive, on the other completely dead.

Death happens in stages as individual cells no longer retain integrity for a variety of reasons, often because of oxygen starvation from organ failure or trauma that prevents the blood from circulating.  Parts of us are dying and new cells are being made all the time.

2. Organ transplants.  Even when 'we' cease to be, parts of us are still coherent, allowing organ transplants.  There is even a method of blood extraction from corpses that is used occasionally.

3. All of our thoughts while we are alive are contained in a structure of neurons.  This can be seen in a variety of well documented cases from Phineas Gage through to the impacts of severing the corpus colosum and the impacts of traumas such as strokes and alzheimers as well as the structures found that map nerves to a variety of tasks and thoughts.

4. When people start to die, the brain is frequently one of the last organs to be starved of oxygen.

5. The 'tunnel of light' is caused by the visual cortex losing oxygen and the remaining parts of the brain attempting to deal with that.  The same 'tunnel' can be simulated.  Pilots experience this when they use a centrifuge under high G forces for training or to test new gear.  Both these are documented and can be duplicated with the proper equipment and/or circumstances.

6. People who live after being through this oxygen starvation tell stories based on their brain's attempt to deal with the stress.  They talk about 'flash backs', they talk about 'stepping outside' of themselves and seeing themselves.  The same thing the pilots in the centrifuges report.

7. The more time the brain or any organ is starved, the more damage.

8. People don't act any differently from more damage (that brings them closer to complete death and thus an 'afterlife') then other victims of brain damage.

9. When people 'come back' from 'the dead' their bodies have not suffered complete cell death; they weren't completely dead.

10. When cell death is complete, there is no place for 'us' to stand; there is no way to 'see the other side' and return to talk about it.

11. Think back to #3.  Now, with that in mind, where do 'we' go if our brains suffer a stroke or other damage?  Are there surpluses of souls hanging around, waiting for brain damage before they can be inserted into a live body?
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: The logic of the Atheist Belief [#1269]
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2009, 11:10:36 PM »
One more comment ... you titled your message "logic of the Atheist Belief", making it look like you were saying that you were covering all atheists and that atheists were all the same.  This is not the case.

You might want to look at one thread on the forums here that goes over this issue in some detail;

What is your religious position?
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=833

Specifically, the results of the survey (found at the top of each page) plus the following posts (they include off-site links and videos);

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=833.180
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=833.120

The point is that atheism is a basic lack of theism.  Theism (various types) is an active belief in one or more deities.

As general categories, neither atheism nor any of the types of theisms (not religions!) address knowledge claims.  They only address belief claims.   Knowledge claims tend to range from claims of knowledge through to certain claims knowledge can't be gained, to apathy and ignorance of any possible knowledge.  So, for example, I'm an agnostic atheist in regards to the general idea of one or more deities existing, yet I am a gnostic atheist for specific claims (such as the omnimax example given in an earlier message).  The poll defines these two types of religious positions as follows;

Agnostic Atheist - I do not know for certain, but I think there are no gods.
Gnostic Atheist - I know for certain that there are no gods.
(and some others ...)

There are equivalent categories for monotheists (including but not limited to Christians);

Gnostic Monotheist - I know for certain that only one specific god exists.
Agnostic Monotheist - I do not know for certain, but I think only one specific god exists.
Ignostic Monotheist - While the concepts of god(s) are meaningless, it is likely that only one specific god exists.
Apnostic Monotheist - I don't care if there are any gods, but I guess only one specific god exists.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 11:12:33 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer