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Strong and Weak Arguments
#21
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
I find intelligent design arguments to be the most intuitively compelling. They also happen to be some of the most shoddily constructed arguments. You need a bridging principle to get from "It looks designed," to "therefore it is designed," and I've yet to see anyone provide that bridge.

Weakest argument is the argument from personal experience. Having an unusual perception is not indicative of anything more than that human nature has quirks. "I know He exists because I've felt Him," belongs in the DSM-V, not a believer's justification.
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#22
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
Of the arguments in favor of god belief:

I find arguments from the authority of the bible to be the most baseless, though the argument from design is a very close second.  This includes all the attempts at authenticating biblical events in history, the number of eyewitnesses to and the supposed miracles themselves.

I find arguments based on a person's belief that God is speaking to them through events and signs to be the most respectable, even if not at all persuasive to even one other person.  I happen to think apprehension of the presence of God is always an effect of mistaking what is inside for what is outside along with a tendency toward literalism.


Of the arguments against belief in a god:

I find appeals to reason to be the least persuasive.  Reason can not rule on the question of whether gods exist.  Reason can't even make clear what or where a god may be.  Reason doesn't rule out God belief.  Reason is a limited tool and misapplied here.

The best reason to dismiss the existence of gods is their alleged supernatural status.  There are no exemplars of supernatural 'things', not one instance to make such a claim appealing.  If gods be supernatural, then gods are not real.
Belief .. is the insistence that the truth is what one would .. wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. 


Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.  


- Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
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#23
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(29th December 2016, 17:31)purplepurpose Wrote:
(29th December 2016, 17:21)robvalue Wrote: What peaceful religions? A religion is what people make of it, and very few indeed haven't been used for violence. Most, if not all, contain divisive literature.

There are thousands of strands of religion. And there are really good ones. Yahwe witnesses, for example, went as far as removed hell altogether. They have a very cute formula of "serve to selflessness or "free eternal sleep from God might be coming your way"". Which is one of the cutest things I heard.

That's good to hear! I'm all for removing hell from doctrine. It's about the worst feature religion has going.

(29th December 2016, 17:57)Neo-Scholastic Wrote:
(29th December 2016, 17:00)robvalue Wrote: Of course intelligent people can be religious.

I would simply say that someone consistently applying scepticism would not be a theist. Everyone fails to apply scepticism properly at some points, it's just a matter of how much, how often and whether such problems are addressed.

Simply put, theistic/religious beliefs are rooted in emotion, in my opinion. And I think people can have an emotional belief which contradicts their logical belief, on the same subject. The emotional one can very easily win out. The emotion can hold logic hostage, and even use it to rationalize the belief to one's self. I've experienced this many times regarding different subjects.

In my opinion, the emotional beliefs are less likely to be accurate regarding facts about reality than the logical ones. Of course, emotion is crucial in guiding moral decisions where pure logic can never suffice.

Are you able to give a similar analysis of at least some aspects of atheistic positions? Ya know, see some of the downsides of atheism in the same way you would expect Christians to acknowledge its own tender underbelly?

Downsides of atheism you say?

Logically, I don't see any downsides. Especially if you adopt weak atheism, which doesn't even have a burden of proof. It's a simple reaction to reality as it is presented. If you do take a more solid position, particularly gnostic atheism, you do invite having to explain yourself further. I don't generally suggest people claim to be gnostic, regarding a generic creator at least. I'd reserve it for internally inconsistent claims.

Emotionally, some people do seem to struggle. They can have a need for there to be "someone in charge", and can find it unnerving to think that there might not be. Most of the time when I've heard this, it's been from someone who started off believing and later became an atheist. I can understand how losing that "comfort blanket" could be unnerving. If you're not a sceptic atheist, you can of course have whatever woo you like to fill the void so this isn't so much of a problem; although you do then compromise your logical position of course.

Personally I've never had any emotional problems with it, since I've known no different. For those who are uncomfortable not having answers, it can be hard too. Being a sceptic means saying "I don't know", to a lot of questions. Some people really don't seem to like that.

It does have the unfortunate quality of being a very misunderstood and often persecuted position of course. And it's usually accompanied by the belief in the finality of death for the sceptic, which can be depressing to some people.

EDIT: Actually, there is one kind-of downside. It's a pre-emptive position. Due to the extremely vague nature of "God", it's never totally clear what your opinion will be about any given one until you get the details.
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#24
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(29th December 2016, 21:07)Jörmungandr Wrote: I find intelligent design arguments to be the most intuitively compelling.  They also happen to be some of the most shoddily constructed arguments.  You need a bridging principle to get from "It looks designed," to "therefore it is designed," and I've yet to see anyone provide that bridge.

Weakest argument is the argument from personal experience.  Having an unusual perception is not indicative of anything more than that human nature has quirks.  "I know He exists because I've felt Him," belongs in the DSM-V, not a believer's justification.


I anticipate Chad will want to ask you what you think are the weakest arguments for and against disbelief in gods too.  I'd also be interested in your appraisal.  At first my response was "what positive claims?"  But then I decided I can at least address my reasons for not finding god belief worthy of serious consideration since I don't.  Also, I'd be interested to hear which if any arguments in favor of strong atheism you find weak.
Belief .. is the insistence that the truth is what one would .. wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. 


Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.  


- Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
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#25
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
Here's a very simple, strong argument against a single deity that has (successful) "personal relationships" with people.

This deity tends to share the opinions of each person, while they disagree with each other.

Something is clearly very wrong with these relationships.
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#26
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
the beleievers testimonials, even the ones of the form;

person interviewed after horrific accident/fire/disaster and claiming God/Jesus/angels saved them (and let everyone else slowly crispify in the conflagration)


and yet we NEVER here from these people later after they have started their own personal experience based One True Faith Ministry. They all seem to go back to their prior lives. One might think if God Almighty had taken time out from throwing gas balls around the firmament to personally save Joe Shmoe from a gas leak that leveled his apartment building, Joe there might launch a big successful ministry. Failing that, since Joe was Saved, and whatever schism of Christianity he happened to attend on Easter for the prior 10 years MUST BE THE ONE TRUE FAITH now, why aren't the hierarchy of that church trotting him out in a nationwide ad campaign pressing their (righteous) claim ?

If these things happen, and are interpreted that way, why don't we see the follow up that should logically flow from these experiences ?


Boils down to what I don't see from these 'personal experience/witness' folks is plausible behavior afterwards that would indicate they themselves REALLY believe it. And if they did, mebbee I'd take the claim a little more seriously.
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#27
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(30th December 2016, 00:36)Whateverist Wrote:
(29th December 2016, 21:07)Jörmungandr Wrote:



I anticipate Chad will want to ask you what you think are the weakest arguments for and against disbelief in gods too.  I'd also be interested in your appraisal.  At first my response was "what positive claims?"  But then I decided I can at least address my reasons for not finding god belief worthy of serious consideration since I don't.  Also, I'd be interested to hear which if any arguments in favor of strong atheism you find weak.

I don't know that these arguments apply specifically to strong atheism, but more on that later. I'll just list several weak lines of attack first.

One of the weakest arguments for atheism I think is when people say "there is no evidence for God." I don't think this is strictly true. You may not find the evidence such as it is to be particularly good or compelling, but to deny any exists is I think an exaggeration. It's more a rhetorical posture than an argument. Even if there is no evidence for God, just what exactly are you accomplishing telling a theist this, when they no doubt are convinced that they have evidence for God? All you're doing is short circuiting the dialogue and convincing the theist that you are unreasonable. It's a losing proposition.

The second weakest argument against the existence of God is that he is a moral monster. Strictly speaking, this may be an impediment to worship, but not belief. And belief in the existence of the deity is what's at issue. The terrifying nature of God or gods has never been an impediment to belief. When the atheist makes this remark, they are doing so within the confines of an already secure disbelief. They've already shut that gate. In addition, it's vulnerable to people who have a different interpretation of God or even a different god. Arguing with a theist that he has the wrong interpretation of their god just seems a total non-starter. It's more likely to alienate than persuade.

My third in the weakest category is a flaw that many atheistic arguments share. That is that the logical conclusion one reaches from the argument is that one should not believe that the god in question exists; it doesn't conclude that God doesn't exist, just that belief in God is unreasonable and to be avoided. This leaves the central claim of the theist that God exists untouched. An example of such an argument is the claim that "there is no evidence for God" that I referenced above. Strictly speaking, absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence, so the most you can conclude from this argument is that it is unsound to profess belief in God at this time, not that God does not exist. This is the conclusion of most atheistic arguments, and it butts heads with a perennial question: Do atheists merely lack belief or do they have an active disbelief in gods? I find the first seems like something of a dodge, and even if not, in some sense it rings untrue. It seems possible to disbelieve in the existence of specific gods without having a disbelief in all gods. Yet most atheists appear to have a blanket dismissal of not just specific gods, but all gods and religion, too. This seems inconsistent. It seems that atheists do deny the existence of gods, yet most of their arguments do not support the conclusion that gods do not exist.

For the strongest atheistic argument, I'd have to go with the argument from the incoherence of God, which aims to show that some set of characteristics of God are incompatible with one another. Unlike most atheistic arguments, this one does get you to the conclusion that God, for one, does not exist. The classic argument from incoherence was stated by Epicurus:

"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?"

While I'm here, I'll state what I think is the strongest theist argument. That is, ex nihilo nihil fit. It's the backbone of three of Aquinas' five ways and the most compelling ones, as well as of any cosmological argument. It also tends to render the usual atheist response of "We don't know," sounding rather weak and inapt. If you can't be sure of this, then what can you be sure of? And if nothing from nothing comes, where but from God did all of this come from?
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#28
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
I wanted to change my answer for my weakest arguement... I think that a couple of people's comments jogged my memory, as well, my previous comment was on mind dualism, so it seems like a dodge.

I think that the weakest arguments for God are those that point to a warm and fuzzy feeling when considering God, I don't completely discount the experience, but you are weak footing, if this is a primary reason. Similarly, I think that appeals to preference are pretty weak as well. Liking an outcome more than another doesn't make it true in the least.
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#29
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(30th December 2016, 02:33)robvalue Wrote: Here's a very simple, strong argument against a single deity that has (successful) "personal relationships" with people.

This deity tends to share the opinions of each person, while they disagree with each other.

Something is clearly very wrong with these relationships.

This is largely what I meant by 'cultural norms'. Religious variants tend to cluster geographically and culturally. It strikes me that if there was a single deity who took any kind of an interest in human affairs, you wouldn't have Hindus clustered in the Indian subcontinent, Buddhists in East Asia, Muslims in the Middle East and Africa, Christians in Europe and the Americas, etc. In fact, if the determining element of religious belief was anything other than cultural inertia, an Eskimo would have the same religious views as a Kalahari bushman.

Boru
'There are people who long for immortality in the afterlife who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.' - Isaac Asimov
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#30
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(29th December 2016, 20:31)Neo-Scholastic Wrote: From your point of view, I understand your skepticism (!) about my motives. I'm asking people to take a moment to open up to each other in a somewhat kumbia kind of way that is rather unusual for the forums. It's about sharing our vulnerabilities. As a believer, I think with a little reflection I could rank most of the apologetic argument in terms of my opinion of their strength with Aquinas's 5 ways at the top and Pascal's Wager and Paley's Watch near the bottom.
You've conned yourself into god belief, I've conned myself into a great many other things.  Our vulnerabilities -are- shared, they simply haven't been applied to the same things.   Kumbaya?  

Quote:I think you took my request the wrong way. If three skeptics say they do not accept belief proposition P1 based on objections O1, O2, and O3 respectively, I do not think each skeptic would believe all the objections have the same strength. One might see his own objection O1 pretty damning to P1 whereas he might think O2 and O3 are lame.
You don't always catch the fish you want.   Personally, I think that -all- of the time and arguments people waste rationalizing their status of belief is lame.  When's the last time anyone twisted their scrotum into knots over whether or not elves were real, and whether or not they could rationally justify whatever position they held on that question? 

Quote:Personally, I find comparing God to unicorns, etc. is the lamest of lame objections. It's such an obvious category error. The second lamest is the "Who created God?" response. I mean, c'mon guys. You have to admit these are just not at the same level as Kant or Hume.
"Who created god"  is an academic nail in the coffin to a particular argument, but it's not compelling to you, whereas others find it to be so.....but does it matter at all...either way.... when the gods in question are not creator gods?  "God's and unicorns" doesn't express any obvious category error...it only expresses your subjective valuation of unicorns respective to gods.  Many gods -are- magical animals.  Many atheists share your assessment, unicorns are silly.  Kant and Hume, responding to one myopic god concept out of many might appeal to a believer or non-believer in that specific god concept...as it can offer the appearance of credibility or of dismissal....but to me, it;s no different than people arguing about the theoretical top speed of a tie interceptor. Sure, I'll join in, because I think it's fun........but I don't ascribe any meaning to it, lol.
 “I can’t even go to a goddamn potluck without having to thank some space fairy for the broccoli casserole!” -Trae Crowder


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