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Strong and Weak Arguments
#31
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(30th December 2016, 11:33)BrianSoddingBoru4 Wrote:
(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

Right. If anything, it points to numerous deities all battling for power. That would be a far better explanation. The idea that it's "the same God" everywhere is absolutely ludicrous beyond belief. Unless it's a god that enjoys confusing people and watching them kill each other over differences in opinions about it.
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#32
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(30th December 2016, 11:40)robvalue Wrote:
(30th December 2016, 11:33)BrianSoddingBoru4 Wrote: 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

Right. If anything, it points to numerous deities all battling for power. That would be a far better explanation. The idea that it's "the same God" everywhere is absolutely ludicrous beyond belief. Unless it's a god that enjoys confusing people and watching them kill each other over differences in opinions about it.


The idea of a single god is absurd on the face of it both for the reasons you give and for the obvious need to maintain a breeding colony to perpetuate the species.
(16th February 2017, 18:16)TheOther JoeFish Wrote: So what you're saying is that I can harass all of the members I want for the next 168 hours, as long as I do so in my signature?
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#33
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
I'd make similar comments regarding "non-malevolent" gods, or the idea that if god were malevolent that somehow makes it "not a god".  Absurd on it's very face.

Bloodgod aint likely to be a saint.   Mars is a headcracker. Their personal interests don't make them any less of whatever they are. A malevolent person is still a person, a malevolent god is still a god. Wink
 “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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#34
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
I'm frequently confronted by theists who declare that God is the best explanation for some phenomena. I end up having to explain to them that while God is an explanation or hypothesis for that phenomena, by the standards we judge hypotheses / explanations, it is not a particularly good one. The Goddidit explanation has great scope, meaning the number of facts it can accommodate is broad -- he's omnipotent so that makes sense -- but it doesn't fare as well on other traits which we look for in a good explanation or hypothesis. The following is a list of them, for comparison purposes. (i.e. I finally found a good list of them.)

Quote:Philosophers of science have proposed a number of comparative approaches [to evaluating hypotheses], usually involving some combination of the following criteria:

Likelihood. The probability of the evidence occurring given the hypothesis in question.
Prior probability or plausibility. Our degree of belief in the hypothesis prior to observing the evidence, or assuming we had not observed it.
Predictive power. The degree to which the hypothesis determines which potential observations are possible (or probable) and which are impossible (or improbable).
Falsifiability. The degree to which the hypothesis "risks" being falsified by new evidence.
Parsimony. The degree to which the hypothesis observes the principle of Occam's razor: "Do not multiply entities needlessly."11

Other criteria often cited include explanatory power, track record, scope, coherence and elegance.

http://www.talkorigins.org/design/faqs/nfl/
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#35
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
My journey from being a Pentecostal who spoke in tongues to being an atheist took about 20 years. My initial disconnect came from reading the Bible a couple of times, but that didn't disabuse me of God, just the notion that a being that could reasonably be describes as a God with a capital 'G' would have inspired a document like that. So I wasn't a Pentecostal anymore, but I was still a sort of 'agnostic theist'. A few years later I started being skeptical of poorly-evidenced claims in general (I used to believe in ancient astronauts, ghosts, ESP, etc.) and stopped believing in a lot of things I used to believe. In my thirties, I was a de facto deist; my main sticking point was that I still had trouble wrapping my head around there not being a Prime Mover. I didn't even know there were serious proposals for a natural origin for the universe. A couple of science courses cured me of that ignorance; and I was down to keeping a space in my head for God because his existence can't be disproven and I didn't want to be close-minded like those atheists. Taking a couple of logic courses and reading Smith's 'Case Against God' made me realize that it was not close-minded to not accept something as true if you're willing to change your mind given sufficient evidence; and that the burden of proof was on those who claim God is real.

So for me, I'd say the Prime Mover argument was the one for theism (or deism) that gave me the most difficulty; and that understanding the concept of the burden of proof was the decisive factor in me giving up belief in God entirely, with understanding that 'whoever started the universe' didn't have to be a 'who' at all being important, too. The experience was sort of like 'hey, I don't detect any more belief in God within myself; I seem to have become an atheist!'.
I'm not anti-Christian. I'm anti-stupid.
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#36
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
For me, any scientific argument against religion is exceptionally weak.  I have heard atheists ask where all the water came from and went for the global flood, demanding a scientific explanation.  And I have seen theists actually try to give one (and fail miserably).  But here's the thing, it was magic.  There IS no scientific explanation for magic.  If God created the universe and set in motion the laws which govern it surely she can violate those rules at will.

The strongest argument I can think of is, "Show me the evidence".  Christians avoid trying to do this like the plague because, of course, there is none.  But if you want me to believe fantastical tales of magic, if you want to sell me eternal life, and only AFTER I die, no less, I'm going to want some proof.  I wouldn't just walk up and give you cash for a car if you didn't first give me some reason to believe it was yours to sell, and that's a normal, ordinary, mundane, completely non-magical, every day, nothing out of the ordinary thing.  My money has value and I want some evidence that I'm going to get something in return for it.  How much more value does my very life have?  Because that's what you're asking for when you try to convince me to convert to your belief system.  You are asking that I devote my life, my time, my money, the storage space in my head, all to learn about, support, worship and expand the empire of some deity.  And you want me to do this just on your word that it's true?  It'd be cheaper to hand over the money for the car and hope for the best, but I'm not doing that either!
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#37
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(My apologies in advance for the word wall)

Generally, I do not participate in threads started by believers about evolution, especially YEC. In part I don't care. I can accept pretty much any scientific finding confident that it does not undermine those doctrines which I feel are essential to the Christian faith. As the Declaration of Independence says, "...the laws of Nature and Nature's God...". I agree; the two are inseparable. I have never considered science to be at odds with faith. As such I do not see any point debating with either 1) a believer who thinks modern science (e.g. evolution) conflicts with the "clear teaching" of the Word or 2) the unbeliever who thinks science is the only means by which to attain knowledge.
I do however often take issue with the approach and/or arguments of fellow believers. I often find myself chiding them for repeating bad arguments. I can understand a certain sense of camaraderie among people with similar stances but I do wish members (believers and unbelievers alike) would call-out their compatriots more.

---

As someone with personal experience with the uncanny, I don't see personal testimony as inherently problematic. It depends on the person, how they interpret what they have experienced, and what they expect you to take away from their story. At the same time these kinds of stories are ubiquitous, part of overall human experience, so I don't think they should be thoughtlessly dismissed. It also has bearing on the so-called "weak atheist" stance, as in the following story.

My friend’s uncle was in the hospital and in critical condition. Meanwhile the uncle's truck was in my friend's driveway and the car alarm went off. Now according to my friend, the alarm sounded at the exact moment of his uncle's death. That alarm had never been known to sound before nor has it went off since then. He interpreted that as a sign. The uncle was telling the family that he had passed and that everything was alright. As for me, I caulked it up to coincidence.

My point about the story is that I didn't simply "lack belief" in his story. I was incredulous. Basically he presented me with a truth claim, specifically that his uncle's spirit had communicated with the family from beyond the grave. My "lack of belief" was in fact a judgment that his interpretation of events was not true.

The proposition that god(s) exist isn’t just a philosophical claim. It is an interpretation of the uncanny stories that have been part of human culture for as long as there have been humans. They are ubiquitous. You either believe these stories are true or not true. There is no other option. If someone believes such a story there is always a reason such as the person is honest, similar experience, cultural conformity, etc. Likewise if someone says such a story is not true he also has a reason, such as coincidence, gullibility, conflict with prior beliefs, etc.

Every mature and thoughtful person has been exposed to the proposition that god(s) exist and following that exposure no one can return to a state of innocence about the question. The minute someone says, “I don’t believe because…” they have forsaken any claim to weak atheism.

---

Now returning to my own assessment of philosophical vulnerabilities, everyone should know by now that I am a strong proponent of Thomism and the 5 Ways. Given premises , their logic is impeccable and the conclusions inevitable. So when someone says they are illogical (circularity, fallacy of composition, etc.), I know that they do not fully understand them. That does not mean they are invulnerable. These demonstrations rely on two premises: 1) the efficacy of reason and 2) the intelligibility of the world.

I am not unsympathetic to objections based on notions that could undermine either of these two premises. I take them seriously.
Looking first at the efficacy of reason, the serious objection is that human reason is simply not up to the task of discovering fundamental truths or absolutes. Since ancient times philosophers have invented many thought problems and paradoxes to demonstrate apparent shortcomings of human reason. I call this the Irrational Man stance. By its very nature this position is immune to any rational objection, just as one cannot rationally prove that reason works.

As for the intelligibility of the world, the attack has three prongs: 1) Hume’s denial of a causal principle, 2) Kant’s concept of an inaccessible noumenon, and 3) Sartre’s distinction between being-for-itself and being-in-itself. Similar to the above I think these attacks are immune to rational objection.

With respect to (1), there is no way to address the claim that some aspects of reality are simply ‘brute facts’ other than to prompt reflection on whether doing so is simply stopping short for pragmatic reasons. I think there is a legitimate debate about whether there are actually brute facts but that debate is rare on AF.

I do not think it is easy to assert that knowledge of how things actually are apart from how things appear to be is possible. That is what both (2) and (3) assert – that only what appears to be can be known. Since the 5 Ways are cosmological arguments they are extremely vulnerable to these notions even though they are mutually exclusive. The 5 Ways simply do not work if we cannot trust the evidence of the senses, i.e. that what there is an external world from which people can draw knowledge. The Thomist must refer to some ontological commitment that cannot be rationally defended. At the same time, I do not think either Kant’s or Sartre’s stance can be rationally defended either. So there is an impasse.

I do not accept the pretense that atheism is any more rational or logical that theism, given that refutation of the 5 Ways requires denying either rationality or intelligent access to a rationally ordered external reality. That doesn’t prove the reverse. It doesn’t make theism the rational option. Personally I believe that whatever philosophical stance someone takes those stances logically entail other ideas. So at root I am always left with a tacit appeal to consequences as in “if you believe X then you must accept Y as the logical conclusion of X.”
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#38
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(29th December 2016, 14:18)Neo-Scholastic Wrote: I would like to hear what AF members think are the weakest arguments supporting their position and strongest arguments against it. Believers are invited to admit the skeptical objections they find most reasonable (even if they do not sway you) and critique the worst apologetics. Skeptics are invited to admit which apologetic seems most reasonable (even if they do not sway you) and critique the least valid objections. So I’ll start…

IMO the weakest apologetic is Pascal’s wager since it relies entirely on a specific cultural context.

IMO the most reasonable objection comes from Kant. He proposes that ‘being’ is not a proper predicate and therefore the saying that God’s essence is the same as His existence is problematic.

I don't tend to deal with arguments for atheism.
I don't believe in god because I have not been convinced by the god concept not because any particular thing pulled me away.
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#39
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
"If you don't agree, then I know you don't understand", eh Neo?  That, not any of your attempts to softball Thomas' idiocy, is the vulnerability of your position, lol. How many threads are you going to sing that song in?

One needs neither deny rationality or intelligent access in order to dismiss your favorite arguments, but you think that those positions are stronger than the arguments themselves (I agree, lol)...and so you deflect to them. Any given persons atheism or theism may not be more logical (or less logical) than any other given persons atheism or theism, but that has nothing at all to do with the five ways or any shrine you've erected to worship them at.
 “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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#40
RE: Strong and Weak Arguments
(30th December 2016, 11:35)Rhythm Wrote: "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.....
It's not compelling because it's stupid.  It's like asking "what is the cause of the cause that has no cause?" or, more precisely, "what made the thing without any prior potential actualize the potential it never had?"

(30th December 2016, 11:35)Rhythm Wrote: "God's and unicorns" doesn't express any obvious category error...it only expresses your subjective valuation of unicorns respective to gods. 
It doesn't take a genius to understand that mythological creatures would be found inside of and be part of physical reality whereas, if God is the creator of physical reality then He couldn't be inside of or part of it. Duh!
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