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6/16/08

Hello

My name is Stan and I am a recovered Atheist.

It is an honor to be invited to contribute to this blog. Some background on myself: For 40 years I was an Atheist. During those decades I never bothered to analyze the Atheist position from a logical point of view. It seemed so obvious, so simply derived and easily maintained. It was not until my retirement that I took the time to think these things through. I discovered that despite my degrees and my career in R&D, I did not have a complete education. So I set about studying, first the source and use of logic and rational thought. Then I applied that to my chosen belief, Atheism. What I found, I now post to my own website and blog, as an analysis of Atheism from a logic and rational thought perspective, without recourse to theism or deism. If Atheism is a robust, logical philosophy, it should welcome and readily withstand such self analysis, should it not? Of course it should, but does it?

First I'd like to share some of the things I have learned about Atheism.

What is Atheism, Really?
Atheism is not just “absence of belief” in a deity, nor is it just “belief in the absence” of deity. Some Atheists have redefined Atheism to fit their own needs, just as some BOB Christians have redefined Christianity to fit their own needs. Atheism has more aspects than just these basic definitions.

I’m not here to fence an endless semantic duel with foils of definitions. I will, however, tell about Atheism from the inside and the outside. Hereafter I will assume that the term Atheism refers to an absolute knowledge that there is no deity, and that agnosticism refers to any doubt concerning the probability of the matter of a deity. But agnosticism in not the subject; Atheism is.

+/-


Reasons for Atheism
Atheism can be handed down just like Boogie-man theory and leprechaun tales. But it is usually acquired as a result of adolescent rebellion against authority. This normal youthful rebellion, when gone astray, leads to long term rejection of all sorts of authority including ecclesiastical and theological. Rebellion can become endemic and work its way into a life-long worldview. This can be accompanied by the pride of elitism and the denial of first principle based logic, resulting in logical inversion(1). So there exists a push-pull, where the push is away from authority, and the pull is elitism; the movement toward rejection is lubricated with inverted or non-rational thought processes. This is seductive to the young and impressionable because it seems to help implement their desires and overcome their insecurities. It worked well for me, on that superficial level of non-examination.

The logical inversion starts with declaring the once valued protectors to now be evil. The inversion continues through the use of rationalization in lieu of logic, where the conclusion is determined first and evidence is selected to support that conclusion. This is the point where the unspoken presupposition drives the logic, inverting it. It is irrational.

Atheism and the Developmental Environment
The protracted rebellion is especially true of the progeny of missing or weak fathers, as shown by the historical analysis done by psychiatrist Paul Vitz, in his work, “Faith of the Fatherless”. This review of famous Atheist philosophers revealed the rebellion / rejection principle at a rate of 100%: Famous Atheists(2) had weak, defective or missing fathers, and were raised under the auspices of females. The resulting feminization of the child results in anger at both the feminizing mother, and the absent father (male role model). The child angrily rejects these two authority figures and continues to reject authority throughout life. The attempt to justify this rejection of authority results in evangelical fervor in the resulting Atheism and in their lifelong anger: misery loves company. Some schools of thought relate Asperger’s Syndrome with Atheist behavior, and an informal, non-binding, non-scientific on-line poll found a higher degree of such behavior amongst self-proclaimed Atheists than non-Atheists. (3)

Atheism and Science
Atheism is camouflaged in an aura of logic from which it derives a faux respectability. Science is a favorite lever for Atheists because the voluntary materialism to which empiricism subjects itself is so similar to the philosophical materialism of Atheism. So Atheism co-opts science for its own sub-worldview and tries to act as if its own philosophy is scientifically verifiable. In actuality, science has nothing to say about those things which it cannot measure, including deities. So science does not reject non-material reality, it merely does not pretend to investigate it. It is Philosophical Materialism that rejects non-material reality.

Atheism itself is not verifiable using any empirical technique; Atheism is merely a disreputable parasite on the respectable pursuit of material knowledge, which is science.

Philosophical Materialism
Materialism as a philosophy claims that there exists no reality beyond material existence. The Philosophy of Materialism fails immediately, imploding in self-refutation. Philosophy itself is not material. How can an all-material reality require a non-material entity to describe it? So using a philosophical, non-material restriction to require an all-material reality is a self-contradiction, a paradox; it self-refutes. And never mind the “material mind” cover, claiming that ideas are material things. That one self-refutes also, choking on the issue of free will existing in a hardwired brain-mind. A hard-wired material brain-mind cannot freely produce non-material things such as philosophy, or even the abstraction of "free will".

Atheism and Hard Evidence
So we conclude that Atheism is not supported logically by either science or by materialism. What about hard, physical evidence? Well, even Atheists acknowledge that a negative existence cannot be proven. So in the total absence of supporting hard data favoring Atheism, the argument here falls back on Russell’s orbiting teapot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, elves, faeries and other obvious constructs serve to prove that there is no deity. Is it enough to create these strawmen and then by demolishing them, to claim that to be a verification of “no first cause for the universe”? Of course not, but there are other straw men, such as the “who created god?” issue.

Who Created God
This issue invariably resurfaces ever since Russell was convinced by Mill’s argument. While it is a transparent dodge to avoid the issue of a sentient first cause, it merely diverts the argument into a disputative cul-de-sac. The “who created God” strawman purports to be unanswerable and therefore proof of “no first cause for the universe”… an obvious Red Herring diversion but worth destroying. So here we go:

Since space-time and mass-energy were created at t=0 (roughly) of the Big Bang, then time, for example, did not exist at t=0(-). However, the first cause did exist then, and in a sense not comprehensible to those of us trapped in space-time. Now if time as we know it did not exist before t=0, then neither did “cause and effect” as we know it, because the principle of cause and effect contains a necessary time relationship where the cause occurs first in time, then the effect occurs later in time.

So without “cause and effect” as we know it, it is meaningless to discuss what caused what in the prior existence to t=0(-). There is no need or even way to successfully posit a prior creation, in the empirical sense with which we are familiar.

The first cause existed at t=0(-). And for all we know, in perpetuity, in the sense of timelessness. The famous “who created…” dilemma does not even exist. It is a Red Herring.

The Pathway of Logic and Rational Thought
When I discovered the logical path to thinking these problems through, I rejected Atheism on a logical and rational basis. Moreover I recognized my own history of rebellion and attempts to attain elitism through rejection of authority. And I recognized the anti-rational behaviors of Atheists in general, including the advocacy of abortion (irrational on all levels) while denying involvement in eugenics, along with attacks of all kinds on the social fabric.

The logical inversion that accompanies rebellion is obvious in the thought processes of Atheists, each of whom subscribes to his own brand of logic and morality. Since no two Atheists believe the same things, there is no case to be made as to which Atheist is right. The departure from traditional logic is apparent.

While the same case can be made for religions in general, that is beside the point: the point is that Atheism is not rational, because it has no absolute first principles to guide its thinking. In fact, that greatest of Atheists, Friedrich Nietzsche, overtly rejected all first principles in his work, “Beyond Good and Evil”. First Principles are not provable empirically; so they are rejected, and by doing so rational thought is also rejected. Thus Nietzsche derived anti-rationalism, and although it might be denied by some modern Atheists, it cannot be removed from their worldviews, despite the rational camoflage used to hide it.

This is the reason that atheists are exceedingly difficult to engage in discussions using traditional logic; they do not use traditional logic: they invert it and rationalize their presuppositions. And because the rationalized presuppositions do not connect straight on with traditional logic, the conversation rapidly devolves into ad Hominem from a position of presumed superiority and elitism on the part of the Atheist. I choose not to go there.

Atheism is not only not rational, it is also anti-rational.

Footnotes
(1) The first principles of rational thought are the bedrock truths upon which logic and rational thought are based. These include the principle of cause and effect, the identity principle, the non-contradiction principle, and the excluded principle as well as others. These principles cannot be proven to be true empirically; they are known to be true by inspection and discernment. So both the principles and the method of recognizing the truth value of the principles are non-material, transcendental, abstract meta-realities. These must be rejected in order for Philosophical Materialism to be valid; or Philosophical Materialism must be rejected if these principles are accepted without material proof.

(2) Except for John Stuart Mill, whose education was driven by his Atheist father. Mill was intensely force fed classical education and utilitarianism until he had a mental break down in his late teens. He never rejected his overbearing father’s teaching of Atheism. This father was defective in a different sort of manner.

(3) http://voxday.blogspot.com/Vox Popoli, 2007.

39 comments:

  1. "My name is Stan and I am a recovered Atheist."

    I'm glad to hear it. What illness did you recover from?

    "If Atheism is a robust, logical philosophy"

    Atheism is a conclusion based on the failure of theism to corroborate its claims. Analyzing it as a philosophy in it's own right will lead you down the wrong track from the start, as I see it has indeed done. If atheism was a philosophy, what are its tenets? There is only one: that the God worshiped by theists most likely does not exist - but this is not an axiom or a postulate, it is an empirical conclusion. Hence atheism is not a philosophy from first principles; it is a conclusion arrived at by studying the claims of theism and observing the abject failure of the latter to explain anything at all.

    "Hereafter I will assume that the term Atheism refers to an absolute knowledge that there is no deity, "

    You should not have done this, because no atheist that I have ever encountered holds this position, not even Richard Dawkins (consult ch. 2 in "The God Delusion" if you own it). So your assumption is incorrect, and if you use this as a characterization of atheism, it is a straw man. But don't let this discourage you.

    "Atheism can be handed down just like Boogie-man theory and leprechaun tales. But it is usually acquired as a result of adolescent rebellion against authority."

    You overgeneralize. In some countries people simply grow up being atheists by default, without ever needing to reflect upon this fact or having to rebel against any authority. They may not even think of themselves as atheists simply because the environment doesn't require them to, but if asked the question, they will say that they do not believe in God. This applies to the majority of the population in the country where I grew up, Sweden, so your generalization certainly doesn't apply to me or my country.

    "Atheism is camouflaged in an aura of logic from which it derives a faux respectability. Science is a favorite lever for Atheists because the voluntary materialism to which empiricism subjects itself is so similar to the philosophical materialism of Atheism."

    This is because the latter derives from the former. I can see that you might get it backwards because you characterized atheism as a philosophy above, but in reality atheism is a derivative position, a conclusion. Your inserting "faux" into the sentence doesn't make it so, this only gives away your already decided upon opinion.

    Atheism is supported from below by the pillars of science. This is what Dawkins meant with his now infamous statement that "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

    "So Atheism co-opts science for its own sub-worldview and tries to act as if its own philosophy is scientifically verifiable."

    This is incorrect, and another straw man. Atheism is not a hypothesis that requires scientific verification: it is the null hypothesis that you may attempt to refute by presenting evidence for an alternative hypothesis. Much as you might want to turn things around for the benefit of theology and claim that the existence of God is the null hypothesis, this would go against all that fabled logic and rational thought which you ascribed to yourself in the beginning.

    "So we conclude that Atheism is not supported logically by either science or by materialism."

    Huh? How did you all of a sudden "conclude" that from anything you wrote above? Non sequitur!

    "So in the total absence of supporting hard data favoring Atheism, the argument here falls back on Russell’s orbiting teapot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, unicorns, elves, faeries and other obvious constructs serve to prove that there is no deity. Is it enough to create these strawmen and then by demolishing them, to claim that to be a verification of “no first cause for the universe”?"

    Why would atheism need data to support it when there is no data in support of theism to begin with?

    You seem to misunderstand the nature of the teapot arguments. They are not presented as (straw man) arguments for the veracity atheism: they were devised in order to demonstrate how untenable and irrational the theological claims are. Just like atheism itself is not a self-contained philosophy but an empirical conclusion, these arguments are counter arguments designed to illuminate to theists a flaw in their rationale.

    "The “who created God” strawman purports to be unanswerable and therefore proof of “no first cause for the universe”… an obvious Red Herring diversion but worth destroying."

    You're destroying your own straw man, since all the counter argument ("who created God") aims to do is to reveal the flawed premise of the theological first-cause argument. It does not purport to disprove God, only to demonstrate the uselessness of the theological argument from first cause.

    Interestingly, I completely agree with the rest of your analysis of time and cause, but amusingly, you do not seem to realize (or do not care) that this is an argument against the theological first-cause argument. If we can not even define cause before the Big Bang, it is meaningless to speculate whether something like a "first cause" had to exist, and saying that it was God is just begging the question - why not the universe itself, or quantum foam, or something else?

    "the point is that Atheism is not rational, because it has no absolute first principles to guide its thinking."

    Well this is both right and wrong - it has no concrete principles because it is not a philosophy, but it is a worldview, and as such it is supremely supported and guided by science and empirical observation.

    "In fact, that greatest of Atheists, Friedrich Nietzsche,"

    In what way was he the greatest of atheists? He's certainly not a modern atheist, so why are you using him as the poster boy?

    "This is the reason that atheists are exceedingly difficult to engage in discussions using traditional logic; they do not use traditional logic: they invert it and rationalize their presuppositions. And because the rationalized presuppositions do not connect straight on with traditional logic, the conversation rapidly devolves into ad Hominem from a position of presumed superiority and elitism on the part of the Atheist. I choose not to go there.

    Atheism is not only not rational, it is also anti-rational"


    What gobbledygook.

    Well thanks for posting. Although I disagree with almost everything, it was still an enjoyable read :-)

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  2. When you were an atheist did you ever deny the Holy Spirit?

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  3. Wow, great first impression Stan. I look forward to both reading your post and watching you engage the coming 'hand to hand' with the few atheist around here who will be so bold as to stand with a logical disposition before you own... This is going to be fun...:^)

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  4. Stan: "Atheism is not only not rational, it is also anti-rational."

    Indeed. I am glad you have recovered.

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  5. Hereafter I will assume that the term Atheism refers to an absolute knowledge that there is no deity.

    What's the point of arguing against a belief that no one holds?

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  6. Adonais said: Atheism is a conclusion based on the failure of theism to corroborate its claims.

    You do realize that you've just admitted that atheism is in essense one long argumentum ad ignorantiam presented in the form of an world view. Yea, this is certainly the way to go to rebut a man like Stan who has already claimed atheism to not only be unlogical but "anti logical". Throw a fallacy at em', that'll do it!!!

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  7. "When you were an atheist did you ever deny the Holy Spirit?

    Not specifically, but probably de facto. After rejecting the idea of a deity, I rejected all the trappings that went along with it in one swoop. It was so incredibly easy, because it relieved me from any and all moral issues, it conferred the status of "intellectual" upon me (in my own mind), and it justified my rejection of anyone's authority over me (at least in my mind).

    It is interesting to me to see in many Atheists the contradictory drives, first for personal freedom from authority, second for personal eliteness and moral authority over others. The second can be seen in the first Humanist manifesto, which is the only intellectually honest version of the manifestos. Observe it for yourself and report back.

    But back to the holy spirit. I was unaware of the function served by the holy spirit and doubt that I denied that overtly. But as I said, I used a blanket rejection for all ecclesiasticism after rejecting the existence of a deity.

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  8. Judging by the response from adonais, looks like Stan was correct in his analysis of atheism!

    After reading Stans article, I knew that an atheist would post the same ol' responses (repetitions) they do. Lo & behold, I come on the comments page and adonais has done exactly that (and quoting R. Dawkins? Please... you must have a more honest athiest to quote than him!)

    Whilst the response was amusing to read, I look forwad to a more serious objection to be raised by any atheist

    Peace

    Mr. Patel

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  9. I made a protracted response to to Adonais which I then proceeded to lose in the approval cycle, which I now understand mo' bettah.

    I can't reproduce it entirely because it was stream of consciousness, but I certainly can respond again.

    Of all Adonais' comments, the one that summarizes best is this:

    Adonais said:
    "What gobbledygook".

    This statement puts the wrap on my position that atheist logic is not based on absolute first principles and is inverted. It is not possible to connect, logically, when the logics being used are not contiguous.

    Prime example: Bertrand Russell created the "orbiting teapot" specifically to shoot it down. To deny that this is a strawman is irrational.

    And, to claim that a definition to be used during the discussion is a strawman, well, you see the problem in dealing with inverted logic.

    I will address just one issue. Athesim is indeed a philosophy. It is a worldview, which is a personal philosophy concerning the universe and one's relationship to it. Atheism also spins off sub-beliefs that fit into the world view. Once a belief system gells into a fixed worldview, the beliefs become dogma. If the beliefs are not based on fact, then the dogma is not, either.

    Bertrand Russell said that nothing should be believed without proof for it. This is a firm statement of his Atheism, and of course applies to Atheism, too.

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  10. Hi Stan, so you've decided Atheism is irrational. My question is which deity do you believe after deciding that and why?

    (try not to lose this answer, I'm a little skeptical that you just "lost" your response to what I would consider a "spanking" in response to your opening statement. Maybe you should redo it.)

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  11. Well stan, I'm looking forward to hearing your arguments for God's existence then.

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  12. Peter said,

    When you were an atheist did you ever deny the Holy Spirit?

    I'm not sure why this is important - denying the Holy Spirit is not the unforgivable sin, as some suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "After rejecting the idea of a deity, I rejected all the trappings that went along with it in one swoop. It was so incredibly easy, because it relieved me from any and all moral issues"

    It released you from moral issues? Gosh. Did you put this idea to the test?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Stan: "I made a protracted response to to Adonais which I then proceeded to lose in the approval cycle, which I now understand mo' bettah.

    I can't reproduce it entirely because it was stream of consciousness, but I certainly can respond again.
    "

    Always, always, always compose your posts in a word-processing program, rather than directly in the combox. The WordPad program, which comes free with all copies of Windows, is excellent for this purpose. As an added bonus, if one wishes, one can save the content to one's computer.

    Also, when composing/recording one's thoughts in a word-processing program, one is better able to re-read and then *edit* what one has written. It's not foolproof, but it's far superior to the combox.


    Unless, of course, one is an 'atheist' or 'agnostic' -- in that case, the above was just the inane ramblings of a "godbotherer."


    Stan: "Of all Adonais' comments, the one that summarizes best is this:

    Adonais said:
    "What gobbledygook".

    This statement puts the wrap on my position that atheist logic is not based on absolute first principles and is inverted. It is not possible to connect, logically, when the logics being used are not contiguous.
    "

    From personal experience I can assure you (though, I'm confident you already know this), that your approach, while it is one of the very few proper ways to deal with irrationality and/or illogic, will piss-off not only almost all the 'atheists,' but also most of the "theists" -- they (on both "sides") will try to make the issue out to be what a meanie you are, rather than the lack of (or refusal to engage in) proper logical reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have, in fact, started composing posts elsewhere, first. Lesson learned.

    Another thing that I have come to believe is that theodicies and atheodicies are useless in the pursuit of truth. Neither side can prove anything to the satisfaction of the other side, and neither side can produce material evidence to prove their point. It is not logically necessary to posit that a first cause type diety will be available to interrogate at the bidding of material beings. Nor is it useful. Any knowledge of such a being will not be found materially, it will be found in abstractions. These can be communicated but not proven. Those who wish not to hear will reject them. Atheism is rejection.

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  16. Stan, congratulations on being so brave. Some of the things you said in there were so bang on in my own experience, with authority and my rejection and struggle with theism that began when I was around 16 (now 40). The father thing was bang on, and the "elitism" is also bang on from my experience.

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  17. I agree with you Stan.

    I actually touched up on this a little in my recent post. We're thinking on the same path.

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  18. Stan: "... It is not logically necessary to posit that a first cause type diety will be available to interrogate at the bidding of material beings. Nor is it useful. Any knowledge of such a being will not be found materially, it will be found in abstractions. These can be communicated but not proven. Those who wish not to hear will reject them. Atheism is rejection."

    The verb 'to prove' refers to some given means by which a thing (whether a physical artifact or an mental concept) is tested against some accepted standard or criterion. 'To prove' is precisely to test the thing against the standard; it is precisely to determine whether the thing measures up; it is precisely to accept it if it does and to reject it if it does not.


    Stan: "... These can be communicated but not proven. Those who wish not to hear will reject them. ..."

    The thing is, *all* knowledge is built upon "unprovables," and it cannot be otherwise. Our knowledge starts with "I-know-because-I-know" and builds upon that foundation; our knowledge starts with propositions which we know to be true but cannot (even in principle) prove to be true ... of which, in fact, the very attempt to prove would be irrational and/or illogical.

    It is ultimately, in fact, by means of this (primary) "I-know-because-I-know" knowledge that we prove concepts and propositions to determine whether they are true, and thereby extend our (secondary or derivative) knowledge.


    Now, of course, since our "I-know-because-I-know" knowledge is not infinite, the danger always exists that for one cause or another we may mistake some specific proposition for an instance of "I-know-because-I-know" knowledge when, in fact, it is not and may even be false.

    Still, is it not amazing! what we are able to do with respect to gaining knowledge if only we are carefully and logically rational? The ability to recognize and eliminate pseudo-knowledge (false propositions which we had previously erroneously judged to be true propositions) really is an amazing ability.


    Stan: "... Atheism is rejection."

    On so many levels, including rejection of 'reason' and 'knowledge.' Ultimately, atheism is the rejection of existence itself.

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  19. Stan,

    Well answered. I think you are right that some atheist are elitists and think that they have moral authority over others. I'm not sure about if most atheist are looking for personal freedom from authority. A lot of atheists the I have talked to have wondered about where the morals come from and how one should behave, but I have not seen much rebellion attitude. Anyways welcome.

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  20. Welcome Stan!

    I can already tell that your contributions are going to be a great addition to this blog.

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  21. "You do realize that you've just admitted that atheism is in essense one long argumentum ad ignorantiam presented in the form of an world view. Yea, this is certainly the way to go to rebut a man like Stan who has already claimed atheism to not only be unlogical but "anti logical". Throw a fallacy at em', that'll do it!!!"

    You're hysterical as always, netlosh. You're suggesting that it is an argument from ignorance to accept the null hypothesis as the more plausible one when the alternative hypothesis fails to establish its veracity by evidence?

    Atheism is a conclusion not about what is certain with probability=1, but about what is plausible beyond reasonable doubt. Without getting into a discussion on what this entails, the important distinction here is that it is not an absolute proof that is required for us in order to draw this conclusion. It can be a preliminary conclusion and still be completely true.

    If absolute proof is what *you* require for an argument to be safe from the argumentum ad ignorantiam critique, then by your logic everything is an argument from ignorance, including theism and atheism and everything in between, which renders your comment rather pointless.

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  22. Adonais said: You're hysterical as always, netlosh.

    I wasn't quite sure what you meant by this so I'll just give you the benefit of the doubt...:^)

    You said:You're suggesting that it is an argument from ignorance to accept the null hypothesis as the more plausible one when the alternative hypothesis fails to establish its veracity by evidence?

    It is an argument from ignorance to accept any position on the basis of a supposed lack of evidence for the opposing position...

    You said: Atheism is a conclusion not about what is certain with probability=1, but about what is plausible beyond reasonable doubt.

    Hmm...Now is it (a)the mere fact that atheism as a world view is supposed as plausible that is beyond a reasonable doubt, or is it (b)the plausibility of atheism itself that is supposed as beyond a reasonable doubt. Also seeing as facts are, to my mind anyhow, the only plausibles beyond a reasonable doubt (reasonably speaking of course), what is the difference between a fact and (b)? And whats with all the smoke and mirrors here?... Oh and I always love it when atheist sprinkle their rhetoric with jurisprudential concepts like "reasonable doubt", and "burden of proof". The problem is the lack of regard for the source of those concepts...

    You said: Without getting into a discussion on what this entails, the important distinction here is that it is not an absolute proof that is required for us in order to draw this conclusion. It can be a preliminary conclusion and still be completely true.

    I've heard this song before, and wasn't impressed then either. There is nothing about this cop out that is rooted in sound reasoning. On top of that the whole effort is inherently hypocritical (e.g.insisting that your antagonist MUST prove his position while bending over backwards, and attempting to bend logic itself, all to exonerate yourself from he same responsibility, IMHO, makes one a hypocrite). Ironic huh, aren't you the would be 'hypocrite hunter'?

    You said: If absolute proof is what *you* require for an argument to be safe from the argumentum ad ignorantiam critique

    No argument (even bad ones) need asylum from any critique a la argumentum ad ignorantiam. Fallacies pose no threat. Ok so what did you miss about my earlier post again?

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  23. Ahem. I, too, am Stan, but as you all can see, my monicker has additional descriptive information. I hope none will be confused or misled (pun intended). (For the record, both Stans -- this one, at least -- chose their monickers independently; this is not at all an attempt at beguiling.)

    That being said, I appreciated the apparently logical argument Stan the OP used, but as Adonais aptly pointed out, much of it is either misrepresentative, false, or both. Rather than rehash Adonais' response, however, I'd like to pick on one particular point, and briefly mention one or two others in passing.

    In passing, then, I'll quickly address the notion that Atheists are generally feminine men... No, that's just so absurd that I'll let it go. Sorry for the delay.

    How about the so-called "logical inversion"? Since the vast majority of atheists were once theists -- even according to your "supporting" evidence -- your statement (following) unravels this magical tapestry quite easily:

    [T]he unspoken presupposition drives the logic, inverting it. It is irrational.

    It is, indeed, irrational to presuppose the existence of a deity based on the teachings of one's parents...

    Shall we call this a draw? Does your argument here not effectively cut both ways? Where a person is raised into one philosophy and/or worldview, is that person's claim to belief not irrational unless that (set of) conclusion(s) is reached independently of one's upbringing?

    I suppose you have said, then, that both Atheism and Theism -- indeed, any system taught to a child -- is an irrational position to hold, initially. Touché.

    As to the primary point I wish to engage, the statement that Atheism is not scientific (and the implication that Theism somehow is) is exactly wrong. You said:

    Atheism itself is not verifiable using any empirical technique

    But this is not a requirement of any scientific theory. In fact, a scientific theory is instead required to be falsifiable by countervailing evidence. As it just so happens, Atheism quite nicely fulfills this requirement -- any time a deity wishes to falsify Atheism, we're ready to observe.

    The claim that "science has nothing to say about those things which it cannot measure, including deities" is an omission of a very important adverb: currently. Science will say what it can about whatever it can measure, and the realm of the measurable grows daily. To suggest that science will never have anything to say about any given deity is misleading. In point of fact, science has already said quite a lot about a great many deities, not the least of which being the Christian deity (no pun intended). It is not inconceivable that science will find a good deal more to say about deities through its progression. Of course, it is also not inconceivable that "divine" targets will also change, as is their custom, to stay safely distant from the ability of science to make claims of denial. The more things change...

    Conversely, it is Theism, and its theological cousins (e.g. Deism, Pantheism, etc.) which fail the scientific requirement or falsifiability. Theism is not falsifiable, especially since every scientific attempt to do so has merely produced a new version of Theism no longer at odds with the latest scientific discoveries.

    I can show you that no god exists in the fusion of two Hydrogen atoms to form a Helium atom. I can show you that no god exists in the addition of two and two to make four. I cannot, however, conclusively show that no god exists at all points in spacetime.

    So again, your own sabre has foiled you (pun intended)...

    Lastly, I'd like to note that for all the hand-waving done by religionists in general, especially the claims that Atheism is untenable, or that a particular version of Theism is the "one, true religion", is the pinnacle of irrational thought. The sheer ignorance to which one must intentionally subject oneself in order to bridge the gap between Agnosticism and any claim regarding the divine is mindboggling.

    As atheists are generally fond of reminding theists, there is only one difference between Atheism and Theism -- the atheist rejects one more position, for precisely the same reasons the theist rejects all but his own. Until a coherent argument is formed (other than those which beg the question) in support of a particular, specific brand of religion -- which cannot immediately be used by any other specific religion -- there is no logical reason to support any of them. It would be, indeed, irrational to do so.

    --
    Stan

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  24. "No argument (even bad ones) need asylum from any critique a la argumentum ad ignorantiam. Fallacies pose no threat. Ok so what did you miss about my earlier post again?"

    Nothing, seemingly. I just wanted to make sure that this is truly how you reason, and you just verified that.

    Just one question. Even though the argumentum ad ignorantiam might be applicable by definition to any natural phenomena, do you think it is always a relevant argument?

    And one observation. By your logic (or terminology, or however we're supposed to understand you), it would be an argument from ignorance to assume that there is NOT an invisible, levitating, incorporeal, fire-breathing dragon living in my garage because I haven't explicitly proved it.

    You're happy to make a mockery out of traditional logic and pervert it order to suit theology, but you don't take any responsibility for the implications of taking your statements to their logical conclusion. Why aren't you defending the FSM or the dragon in my garage with the same ferocity as you defend God? If you apply your own rules to these and an infinite multitude of similarly unproven propositions, but reject them all except in the case of God, isn't that just special pleading? How do you justify doing this?

    You may argue that evidence makes a difference towards which hypothetical cases we devote time and interest, and then I would completely agree - but from your reasoning here one can only conclude that you're not really interested in evidence.

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  26. Stan the Half Truth Teller said:

    "the notion that Atheists are generally feminine men... No, that's just so absurd that I'll let it go"

    That Atheists are feminine men is not the conclusion. Men subjected to feminization only, tend to rebel and seek masculinity, frequently through idealized role models, or ultra masculine warriors as did Nietzsche. This is commonly seen in gangstas who were brought up without decent role models; they become ultra-masculine woman hater/abusers if they cannot connect with reality somehow.


    "I suppose you have said, then, that both Atheism and Theism -- indeed, any system taught to a child -- is an irrational position to hold, initially. Touché."

    Indeed, ANY system, including Atheism.

    I said:
    Atheism itself is not verifiable using any empirical technique

    STHH said:
    "But this is not a requirement of any scientific theory. In fact, a scientific theory is instead required to be falsifiable by countervailing evidence. As it just so happens, Atheism quite nicely fulfills this requirement -- any time a deity wishes to falsify Atheism, we're ready to observe."

    This assertion is doubtful, since Atheists reject any non-material reality. Your need for a deity to do your bidding is actually the irrational position.

    "The claim that "science has nothing to say about those things which it cannot measure, including deities" is an omission of a very important adverb: currently.

    Adding that adverb also adds an element of faith, which Atheists reject. So it is paradoxical, under normal first principles.

    "Conversely, it is Theism, and its theological cousins (e.g. Deism, Pantheism, etc.) which fail the scientific requirement or falsifiability. Theism is not falsifiable, especially since every scientific attempt to do so has merely produced a new version of Theism no longer at odds with the latest scientific discoveries."

    The last part first: actual theism is well outside of empiricism and has no need to modifiy itself.

    Now the first part: actual theism is well outside of empiricism and has no need of either empirical falsification or verification.


    "I can show you that no god exists in the fusion of two Hydrogen atoms to form a Helium atom. I can show you that no god exists in the addition of two and two to make four."

    Actually you can't.

    "I cannot, however, conclusively show that no god exists at all points in spacetime."

    Agreed.

    "So again, your own sabre has foiled you (pun intended)..."

    Does not follow....


    "The sheer ignorance to which one must intentionally subject oneself in order to bridge the gap between Agnosticism and any claim regarding the divine is mindboggling."

    Two points here. "Any claim" includes denial of... But the point I wish to make is this: Ignorance of transcendence is an Atheist failing. Claiming Philosophical Materialism is a declaration of ignorance of any reality that is not material, and then institutionalizes it as a credo: Atheism. Atheism makes the overt claim: ignorance of a deity; it is made in an environment of ignorance of transcendence (materialism).


    "-- the atheist rejects one more position, for precisely the same reasons the theist rejects all but his own. Until a coherent argument is formed (other than those which beg the question) in support of a particular, specific brand of religion -- which cannot immediately be used by any other specific religion -- there is no logical reason to support any of them. It would be, indeed, irrational to do so."

    This is an interesting position, because it exemplifies the logical inversion inherent in Philosophical Materialism. First the claim of association is false, because many religions can be falsified due to their own materialism (I pray to the elephant, he gives it to me). But it is true that the Atheist, denying transcendence, cannot explore any transcendent reality. As Susan Blackmore has shown, Atheists seem to think that transcendence equates to a bad trip. Because of their initial denial of transcendence, they are destined to remain ignorant of any reality but materialism. And then to call others: ignorant. And this they believe with the passion of their own personally concocted wisdom.

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  27. adonais said:

    "it would be an argument from ignorance to assume that there is NOT an invisible, levitating, incorporeal, fire-breathing dragon living in my garage because I haven't explicitly proved it."

    Another strawman created to falsly associate absurdity with necessity. Doesn't fly, sorry. Try to find some sort of logic that doesn't use absurd strawmen.

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  28. "Another strawman created to falsly associate absurdity with necessity. Doesn't fly, sorry. Try to find some sort of logic that doesn't use absurd strawmen."

    You appear to be completely missing the point that these absurdities is what your logic leads to, if the skeptic always carries the burden of proof.

    I think we are done here.

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  29. This is about to get both fun and interesting...

    This assertion is doubtful, since Atheists reject any non-material reality. Your need for a deity to do your bidding is actually the irrational position.

    The assertion to which you refer I must assume to be that Atheism satisfies the requirement that scientific theories are falsifiable -- if you are instead suggesting that the falsifiability requirement is an assertion, then you know nothing of science. Rather, the "assertion" is a fact. If a deity were to perform tricks for an atheist audience, that audience would necessarily have to rethink its positions. There are any number of ways in which a deity could so convince atheists of his existence, but admittedly most atheists would seek to identify the "how" of the tricks, rather than bow down and worship the trickster.

    Curiously, if such a performance were to occur, it is the theists who would be most troubled -- each theology would attempt to claim the deity as his own, and nothing would be settled.

    Similarly, your assertion that Atheism rejects "any non-material reality" is a straw man. Per Merriam-Webster online, Atheism is defined as follows:

    2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity

    No mention of material v. non-material whatsoever. In point of fact, if a particular theist's deity truly existed, but was unable to manifest itself in a material manner (or to affect natural phenomena in any measurable way), then what differentiates this "Theism" from Deism? Furthermore, if there is no material manifestation of a deity, then how can the theist make claims regarding the deity? What would be the point of belief in such an impotent deity?

    No. I have no need for a deity to "do [my] bidding" -- rather, the theist has this need. Without it, any internally consistent competing theology has as much merit as any other -- including the FSM or CT.

    Adding [the adverb "currently"] also adds an element of faith, which Atheists reject. So it is paradoxical...

    I see. So when I, as an atheist, say that "it is not currently raining", that statement is paradoxical? What if I say, "science cannot currently precisely measure the mass of the W-boson"? Is that paradoxical?

    More straw men? Atheism rejects faith? No. Atheism rejects deities. This includes faith in deities. Faith in the progression of science is about as unfounded as faith that the tides will change later today. Have some cake while you're eating...

    [A]ctual theism is well outside of empiricism and has no need to modifiy itself.

    Excellent. Then we agree that Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., are all false Theisms, and therefore they can be rejected out of hand.

    [A]ctual theism is well outside of empiricism and has no need of either empirical falsification or verification.

    Outstanding. We also agree that there exists in theism no science, and that it is therefore analogous to the contention that there exists a Flying Spaghetti Monster, being "well outside of empiricism and [having] no need of either empirical falsification or verification."

    First, you rendered useless your own attempted straw man, as when you said "Atheism itself is not verifiable using any empirical technique..." As noted, verifiability is not a requirement (nevermind the logical paradox regarding a null hypothesis), and as you have pointed out, "theism ... has no need of either empirical falsification or verification".

    Atheism can be falsified, and is therefore scientifically valid. Theism cannot be falsified, and cannot, or so you assert, be verified -- hence Theism is not scientifically valid.

    I said:

    I can show you that no god exists in the fusion of two Hydrogen atoms to form a Helium atom. I can show you that no god exists in the addition of two and two to make four.

    To which you replied:

    Actually you can't.

    I'll concede the point if you will likewise concede that the theist cannot show that his particular deity exists in either case. Also, since the two examples given were arbitrary, I expect you to also concede that the theist cannot show that his particular deity exists in any arbitrary case.

    There exists no deity in the fusion of Hydrogen into Helium because no deity is required for the fusion to take place. There exists no deity in addition for the same reason. As I said, I'll happily make the concession contingent on your own.

    When I said:

    The sheer ignorance to which one must intentionally subject oneself in order to bridge the gap between Agnosticism and any claim regarding the divine is mindboggling.

    You responded with a series of straw men, huddled around one misrepresented truth: Atheism denies the existence of a deity. You put it as ignorance of a deity, but I'll let that slide.

    You failed entirely, however, to address the fact that the theist jumps from the defensible position that "there is a deity", to the indefensible (despite the effort) position that "the deity's favorite color is blue". The theist makes overt claims regarding the attributes and doctrines of the divine without once explaining the rationale behind such claims. I suppose it would be more amazing if a theist did explain the rationale -- it's difficult, I would imagine, to rationally explain the inherently irrational...

    As I have said, the agnostic merely says, "too many choices, so I deny choice", while the atheist says, "too many choices, so I choose to deny". Either position can be defended as wholly rational. The theist's position, however, of "so many choices, so I choose this one", is clearly irrational. Until it can be explained, rationally, logically, consistently, and coherently, why a particular theology should be selected, then Agnosticism and Atheism are the only logical choices a rational person can make.

    --
    Stan

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  30. Adonais said: I just wanted to make sure that this is truly how you reason, and you just verified that...Just one question. Even though the argumentum ad ignorantiam might be applicable by definition to any natural phenomena, do you think it is always a relevant argument?

    What are you talking about? This makes no sense when compared to what I've said concerning this. Either you don't know (or maybe even simply refuse to acknowledge) the fallaciousness of arguments from ignorance, or you've (somehow?) misunderstood my position... You probably should just tell me what it is your thinking my statements meant concerning this so I can clear that up for you...

    And one observation. By your logic (or terminology, or however we're supposed to understand you), it would be an argument from ignorance to assume that there is NOT an invisible, levitating, incorporeal, fire-breathing dragon living in my garage because I haven't explicitly proved it.

    First off, this is no observation, but sheer conjecture (try that terminology!). Secondly, there were no hidden codes to break in my logic/terminology (looking for one may be the reason you've come back with this asinine 'observation'). And lastly, whats with the straw-man? Too weak of a thinker to actually take on the real thing? Or is it that your propensity towards fallacy won't let you do any better?

    You're happy to make a mockery out of traditional logic and pervert it order to suit theology,

    I'd love to see you quote me where this it has been the case that I happily perverted and made a mockery of traditional logic to suit theology. As far as I'm concerned with this, you should put up or shut up...

    you don't take any responsibility for the implications of taking your statements to their logical conclusion.

    What 'statements', the comment about your use of arguments from ignorance?...

    Why aren't you defending the FSM or the dragon in my garage with the same ferocity as you defend God?

    You have a FSM and a dragon in your garage? Defend them yourself!

    If you apply your own rules to these and an infinite multitude of similarly unproven propositions, but reject them all except in the case of God, isn't that just special pleading?

    You mean like the rule, that arguments from ignorance are fallacious and are therefore useless? Your little drift away from the subject of you own fallacious disposition is glaring example of 'special pleading' all in itself...

    How do you justify doing this?

    Generally when I justify anything I've found it helps to do so by making use of fallacy-free reasoning... You should try it sometime.

    You may argue that evidence makes a difference towards which hypothetical cases we devote time and interest, and then I would completely agree

    I may or may not, but I haven't and this is irrelevant...

    from your reasoning here one can only conclude that you're not really interested in evidence.

    I've always suspected that if you don't reason soundly to begin with (i.e.minus the shameless use of fallacious propositions), then your ability to interpret evidence will be inherently..well...suspect.

    The original statement to which I responded, in addition to your latest comments, all demonstrate that you do NOT reason soundly (whether or not its because your an atheist is another matter). If we ever get you straighten out on those fallacies your spouting, then I'll happily engage your 'evidence' that God doesn't exist after you define 'evidence'. Oh wait!...Darn...:^(

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  31. Adonais said: I think we are done here.

    Clearly!

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  32. Sorry bout the extra post moderators. I didn't see my original post and thought it got lost in the shuffle...

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  33. netlosh: "First things first though, are you attempting to establish that your position is something more than the argument from ignorance I claimed?"

    I'm attempting to show you that your application of the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy to atheism is trivial and pointless. You know the meaning of the "trivial solution" in mathematics? Well, that's the equivalent of what you're doing here, latching onto the trivial solution that is obvious but completely uninteresting. While technically correct, its application is uninteresting because it's always true (at least for claims about nature).

    You were unable to answer the simple question whether it is always meaningful or appropriate to categorize something as an "argumentum ad ignorantiam" even if in principle the conditions for it applies, i.e., we don't have an absolute proof. Do you understand why it is not?

    I also explained to you that atheism does not make a claim for absolute truth, but a case for plausibility, and that case derives largely (but not entirely) from the failure of theism to build its own case. Unless there are multiple realities, either God exists or he doesn't. There is only one hypothesis and its complement - if one is true the other must be false. If we could write down probabilities they would be P and 1-P. If one is unlikely the other one is correspondingly more likely, they are not separate hypotheses. Hence, if theism after thousands of years has not yet build up a case that makes its claims seem plausible today, guess what happens to the plausibility of the complement, atheism?

    To accept the plausibility of atheism in the absence of evidence is not an argumentum ad ignorantiam in any interesting sense. It is a preliminary conclusion that may be revised when further (or just any) evidence is brought to bear on the case for theism.

    Whatever your disagreement with this might be, please go bother someone else, my standpoint should be perfectly clear.

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  34. I'm attempting to show you that your application of the argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy to atheism is trivial and pointless.

    Actually I don't make use of arguments from ignorance, but I do call them by name when I see then. Your opinion of the suppose triviality of my audacity is less than irrelevant as far as I'm concerned...

    You know the meaning of the "trivial solution" in mathematics?

    I'm gonna Google it right now!

    Well, that's the equivalent of what you're doing here, latching onto the trivial solution that is obvious but completely uninteresting.

    Whats obvious to me is that we can now add the equivocation fallacy to your little collection...

    While technically correct,

    Actually it would more accurately be described as 'logically sound', as opposed to the logically *unsound* displayed by your fallacious arguments.

    its application is uninteresting because it's always true (at least for claims about nature).

    Well thats the funny thing about truth, it indeed does have that obnoxiously dull habit of being consistent. I do thank you for allowing me insight into the way you think. I so get it now! The truth bores you, so you'd prefer the alternative or perhaps maybe just a little something in between. Variety being the spice of life and all... Relax, I'm sure no one's gonna to mistake any of this nonsense even remotely as being 'anti-logical'.:^P

    You were unable to answer the simple question whether it is always meaningful or appropriate to categorize something as an "argumentum ad ignorantiam" even if in principle the conditions for it applies

    My apologies, please let me get that for you. IF in 'principle the conditions for it applies' it is *absolutely* both 'meaningful' and 'appropriate to categorize something as an "argumentum ad ignorantiam"'. Not to mention *necessary* for a logically sound discourse.

    Do you understand why it is not?

    No, but I'm really interested in the spectacle that would be your attempt at establishing that load of garbage...

    I also explained to you that atheism does not make a claim for absolute truth, but a case for plausibility,

    If you recall, I'd made an inquiry for clarity on that you managed to dodge... If you want to take it up now, I'm cool with that. Lets start with the fact that you don't make a 'case for plausibility', you argue the plausibility of the case your making. But wait, if thats true, then this conversation is already over. Clearly the point of this little was to avoid having a position to defend (however plausible). In the end your effort here is just another weak attempt at an excuse to stick your head in the sand to avoid the force of sound reasoning being brought to bear on your fallacious disposition...

    that case derives largely (but not entirely) from the failure of theism to build its own case.

    You should know what I think on this by now....

    Unless there are multiple realities, either God exists or he doesn't.

    Either God exist or he doesn't despite the question of multiple realities. FYI, its not the question of multiple realities that makes this so, but the law of non-contradiction...

    There is only one hypothesis and its complement - if one is true the other must be false.

    Your use of the term 'complement' is illegitimate. Had you been a sound thinker(perhaps I should have said intellectually honest?) you would have simply said 'opposite'. I'm of course assuming this proposition is still tied to the preceding. If so, then this is about 'existence' versus '~existence', of God... After haven seen the following proposition, your verbal acrobatics could be suspected of being an attempt to poison the well a bit (which too is fallacious).

    If one is unlikely the other one is correspondingly more likely, they are not separate hypotheses.

    They are absolutely separate hypothesis. They are separated by nothing less than the law of non-contradiction. That makes this is fundamentally an either/or situation. The question of probability or the likeliness of one versus the other has no place here.

    Hence, if theism after thousands of years has not yet build up a case that makes its claims seem plausible today, guess what happens to the plausibility of the complement, atheism

    False and not surprisingly so after seeing the premises you'd been reasoning from...

    To accept the plausibility of atheism in the absence of evidence is not an argumentum ad ignorantiam in any interesting sense.

    There's only one sense that matters, the true sense. And the truth is your argument is by definition an argumentum ad ignorantiam. Whether or not you find it 'interesting' is irrelevant...

    It is a preliminary conclusion that may be revised when further (or just any) evidence is brought to bear on the case for theism.

    I may be way out there on this but I'm thinking the inherently fallacious nature of your 'conclusion' doesn't count...

    Whatever your disagreement with this might be, please go bother someone else, my standpoint should be perfectly clear.

    The only thing clear is your proclivity to fallacious argumentation

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  35. netlosh: "Either God exist or he doesn't despite the question of multiple realities. "

    netlosh: "They are absolutely separate hypothesis."

    netlosh: "That makes this is fundamentally an either/or situation."


    If read in sequence, that's two contradictions in three sentences. Good job.

    I'm somewhat glad to see that your last reply is so far gone that nobody could mistake your bellicose ravings for sanity.

    I don't think there's much for me to add but wishing you to be fruitful and multiply.

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  36. Adonais said: If read in sequence, that's two contradictions in three sentences. Good job.

    Yea right fallacy boy! Dream on!!!

    I'm somewhat glad to see that your last reply is so far gone that nobody could mistake your bellicose ravings for sanity.

    LOL!!! YEA RIGHT FALLACY BOY! DREAM ON!!!

    I don't think there's much for me to add but wishing you to be fruitful and multiply.

    You too!

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  37. Netlosh,
    Adonais is what is commonly referred to as a "troll." And you tend to respond to his "trollish" behavior just as he wants you to.

    So ... and especially now that you're a member of this blog ... are you going to continue to dance as though you were his puppet? Or, are you going to realize that there are no strings?

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  38. Illion,

    I'll take it under advisement. It has started turning a rather puzzling corner. But lets not forget, you once accused me of being a 'troll' as well (no lingering hard feelings though).

    If indeed he is a 'troll' that would certainly explain a lot. However, I think I'm gonna do a little more research before I totally write the guy off. At this point it still cost me no skin off my back to do so...

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  39. Netlosh: "I'll take it under advisement."

    One can't expect much more.


    Netlosh: "But lets not forget, you once accused me of being a 'troll' as well (no lingering hard feelings though)."

    Did I? How interesting: I'd forgotten all about you. Well, perhaps I'd "written you off."

    If you are interested, or anyone else for that matter, I can tell you *exactly* how the exchange went, quote-for-quote, and which shows *why* I decided that the most probable explanation for your behavior is "troll."


    And, after reviewing how you operate, I can see that you'll certainly be an asset to this blog [In case it's unclear, that sarcasm is about Netlosh's behavior, not about the blog].


    Netlosh: "If indeed he is a 'troll' that would certainly explain a lot."

    Admittedly, I long ago gave up on trying to read Adonais' posts. When I do happen to catch one of of them, all I ever see is someone engaging in various logical fallacies and/or trying to needle someone (as with you in this thread). I *never* see someone actually trying to engage what he wishes to dispute, but I do see someone "refuting" strawmen of his own construction.

    All in all, "trollish" behavior.


    Netlosh: "However, I think I'm gonna do a little more research before I totally write the guy off. At this point it still cost me no skin off my back to do so..."

    If one has the patience to interact with another who behaves and "argues" as Adonais does, then great. But, I gotta tell ya, going by your recent posts showing up in my inbox, I really don't think you're up to it.

    While having a pissing contest with Adonais may be no skin off your back, I really do have to wonder what it contributes. Sure, the two of you may be having fun, but to what end?

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