I liked the argument about philosophy best.







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I had to stop listening to this after a few minutes because there's something that this girl doesn't understand about theists. Theists are dualists: they believe in both physical and non-physical reality. Atheists, on the other hand, tend to be empiricists, believing only in physical reality. Science, as a subset of empiricism, operates under the assumption of purely physical reality, which can theoretically be subjected to proof. Non-physical reality, if such a thing exists, cannot be subjected to the notion of proof. We keep asking theists to prove their God's existence, but we are missing the point that "proof" doesn't have any rational meaning to dualists. They can't give proof because they believe in something that cannot be described by logic.


This doesn't mean they are automatically wrong; it means we are trying to pass each other on different roads. Science cannot address dualistic ideas. It cannot prove or disprove them, so why do we keep arguing with theists. Let them have their dualism. Why do we care?

I agree that demanding proof of the non-provable is futile. I also agree that belief in the non-provable is dangerous. One way that that belief is dangerous is the suppression of asking questions is fully embraced.

If we dirtect our arguments with theists to the fact that asking questions is a good thing, it will plant a seed that will itself do the work that our demanding of proof is after.

This video reminds me just how stupid (at least in a compartmentalized way) theologians and apologists are. The guy is astonishingly oblivious to reason.

Good job by the gal. In addition she might have pointed out that the burden of proof is even stronger when we have a naturalistic explanation for the origin of religion along with contradictory tenets of the various religions. Lack of consistency is damning. In other words the proliferation of organized superstition suggests confabulation. So does the appearance of projection.

To simplify, when we watch someone manufacture a lie or make up some shit, nobody in their right mind says well you cant disprove it. Instead we all require evidence, damn good evidence at that.

Evidence for an atheist convinces the atheist of what is real and what is not. But the theist does not use (even though in daily life they do use evidence) evidence to prove or disprove the question of god. So, the lack of consensus among the religions is evidence that is ignored by theists. The only way to show a theist that he/she is in error about the question of god is to argue for and introduce the idea that asking questions is a good thing.

Allow me to play Devil, then. Not just advocate, but actual Devil, lol.


Can you prove that the universe is causal and not entirely random from moment-to-moment? You might think that's such an obvious answer that you scoff at me even asking, but consider this: if you were sitting around rolling dice long enough, you would likely end up with a sequence like 1,2,3,4,5,6. If someone who had never seen dice walked in right when you did that, they might jump to the conclusion that dice always behave in this manner, coming up in ordered sequence, though of course one roll has nothing at all to do with the next. Similarly, humans, having arrived very recently on the universal scene, may simply exist in a time when all the random moments seem to be coming in a sequenced order and that each moment is causally related to the next. But we could never prove it unless we bore witness to all of time and there was never a random moment. As it is, the principal of causality (on which all of science is heavily leveraged) is unfalsifiable to us. It cannot be proven or disproven.


If theists knew anything about science, they'd be able to point out some very large blackholes in scientific theory. The core difference between theists and atheists, seems usually to be that theists are dualists, while atheists are empiricists. Neither philosophy can claim superiority over the other. Empiricists often point to the lack of proof for dualist ideas, but the entire notion of dualism is that there are some parts of reality which cannot be subjected to proof, and there's nothing an empiricist can do to invalidate that claim. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. So why try?


Ironically, even most people who claim to be scientific are closet dualists because they believe in "choice." Choice - the magical concept of being able to interrupt causality at will; of being able to cause an action which was not innevitable. This is a dualistic notion because science purports that energy cannot be created or destroyed, and yet we have these people who claim that a "will" can create the impetus for action. Dual much?

Let them have their dualism. Why do we care?

I believe their dualism is dangerous to my idea of the ideal way of life. I believe that if their dualism goes unchecked and unhampered, our current way of life will definitely change and change for the much worse. I am of the opinion that the best way to convey our atheist ideas is to sit down with a theist (one on one, or as a group) as an equal. If you sincerely think that a theist is your equal and act that you are his/her equal, you will establish a way to exchange ideas in a manner that will be given weight to each other's ideas. From that understanding comes respect and you may not agree with everything the other says, but you do make headway toward advancing the idea of asking questions is a good thing.


Can you prove that the universe is causal and not entirely random from moment-to-moment?


Science can describe what our senses are telling us about the world around us. If in fact that our perceptions were in error as far as causality is concerned, how would we know and why would we care? If what we see in the time frame of our existence is not the whole picture, how could we see this? How could we prove this? How could anyone tell us what the whole picture is if they are only existent for a short time?

If you equate this with theists' beliefs, I contend that the whole picture (if it exists) is not knowable by us, and that saying anything about the unknowable is pure fiction, thereby religion is pure fiction. On the off chance that someone guessed exactly right about the description of the whole picture, he/she could never prove it, so nobody would know he/she was right. So, what practical use of the unknowable is there?

I'm not sure what the point you made in your first paragraph has to do with anything. All of us here know, for the most part, that nothing can be proven 100 percent outside of mathematical concepts. So what?

What large blackholes in scientific theory?

The difference between theists and atheists isn't that theists are dualists and atheists are empiricists. It's that atheists don't believe in god and theists do. Some atheists are not empiricists. Some theists are empiricists but have an impressive ability to compartmentalize. All of us have it to some degree. I may agree with your take on the idea of free will. I'm not sure that I do believe in free will anymore, but the jury is still out. However, people can be amazingly inconsistent and still make it work in their head so I don't think your categorical separation of atheists and theists pans out.

John, your picture looks like the devil and at the same time the initials, JC, hmmm. The possibility of causal lapses should send no rational person to conclude that this universe and our little part of it is a result of divine planning. It is a cosmic fucking arrogance to so conclude. Of course it is a scenario which may occur throughout the universe where life gains awareness and unbridled self importance. Who can say? As an attorney if I am walking into cosmic court trying to make a prima facie claim of deity and that is all I have I will not feel any hope.

And in any event isn't it the case that religion relies implicitly on causation. How you gonna carry out a divine plan without the guidance of unbroken causation? Execute a miracle?  And by the way the overwhelming majority of adherents to western superstition will not say god is outside of reality, is not physical etc., I think. There are simply religious rationalization after the fact. And that fact renders the beliefs less credible.

Your point re choice and the obvious contradiction in an utterly mechanistic universe is emphatic when you think about MT who is otherwise a believer in a mechanistic universe and rationalizes a loophole which enables choice. If a rationalist be corrupt in whom we trust no wonder that a common man rust.

You are the science guy. So I ask you isn't it true that stringers are wondering whether matter can be "destroyed" or sent elsewhere?

Mwa ha ha ha! You caught on to the secret meaning of my initials, did you Glen? Lol.


Cane, you bring up some good points here. I don't know if introducing curiosity to people will accomplish what you think though. I've encountered quite a few people who thoroughly enjoy scientific, philosophical and religious conversations, and although they will often concede the usefulness and efficacy of the scientific method, they always still insist that there are simply too many things that science doesn't (and can't) address. And they're right. For instance, science cannot (currently anyway) address anything that happened before the Big Bang. We can hypothesize, but we cannot design tests or make observations about it, so it's a question to which proof cannot be applied. And it's an important question because science purports that energy cannot be created or destroyed, and yet it also purports that entropy prevails, so either there must have been a beginning to existence or entropy must not truly prevail (since that would mean we wouldn't be here by now if time were eternal). Either conclusion invalidates a very important scientific principal, and science simply can't address it. So we don't address it, and that's fine for a lot of us, but for a lot of people it's not fine, so they turn to the only place where that question is addressed - religion.


This, and a host of other conundrums, are why you can find a lot of scientists who are still religious. They are empiricists to the extent that science can answer their questions, but they resort to dualism to answer the rest of their questions. And, frankly, a lot of atheists are guilty of this too; I already mentioned the example of "choice." Choice requires dualist thinking. There is no empirical explanation for how a human could be responsible for their own actions, yet the vast majority of people, theists and atheists alike, still cling to the notion of choice. If we were true empiricists, we would not believe in choice, at which point we could no longer blame theists for their opinions, or hope to change them if fate had no already ordained it (plus or minus the variable of randomizing components in reality, over which we also have no control).

You also say "If in fact our perceptions were in error as far as causality is concerned, how would we know and why would we care?" And that's exactly the point I was making. We can never know either way, but science ASSUMES that reality is causal. Is this not similar to the way that theists ASSUME a non-physical reality which they can never prove? We all make assumptions in order to say that we have "knowledge," and another word for assumed knowledge is.....anyone?....BELIEF. So we're all guilty of it, not just theists (except for Pyrrhonian Skeptics, who neither assume nor deny knowledge). Your questions about the practicality of trying to answer unknowable questions can be extended to science just as easily as to religions. Science cannot KNOW the universe is causal, but in order to make any progress beyond that question, we must assume the answer. If we assumed that the universe were totally random, then our questions come to an end because logic cannot be applied to complete randomness. People have pursued science because they weren't satisfied with the dead-end created by the opposite assumption, but that doesn't mean we have any indicator that one is more or less true than the other.


Also, I don't think there's such a lack of consensus between religions. There are a lot of maxims which span many religions: the Golden Rule, for one. Also, murder is usually condemned, although each religion tends to somehow accept killing people of different religions. They all have the idea that there is some higher power, and that humans should be striving toward some higher state or goal. There are lots of consistencies. Hell, even a lot of the myths are very obviously copied from one religion to another. You and I might say that's an indicator that they are man-made, but a theist would retort that the messages are so similar because they all have a kernel of truth, or some such argument.





Glen, I'm curious how you can go into a court and ascribe to the ideas of guilt and innocence purported there. To be guilty or innocent, humans must first have some control over their own actions (i.e. choice). So, in truth, you are a closet dualist too, unless you are only practicing law by the book, and have no belief in the tenets of your profession (I realize that all sounded pretty insulting, but it wasn't my intention at all. I'm just genuinely curious, without passing judgement).


As for the many superstring theories, some of them can sound like they are purporting the a-causal creation and destruction of particles, but none of them actually is. I suspect you may be getting that indication from discussions of quasi-particles popping into and out of existence, but those discussions can be misleading. Firstly, we have never witnessed quasi particles, they are simply the logical expectation of some versions of string theory (although there is an experiment in the works to test for their existence - source below). But more importantly, current hypothesies for explaining this phenomenon are generally of the sourt that explain energy and particles as emerging from the fabric of spacetime itself, so their causation is inherent in existence. When they 'appear and disappear,' they are not thought to be appearing from nothing and disappearing into the same, but into/and from some even more fundamental aspect of reality. Holographic universe theories are of this ilk.

I forgot to post the link to the experiment I mentioned. Here it is:



Thing looks like the freakin Death Star, doesn't it? Kind of makes me uncomfortable.




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