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6/17/08

Atheistic Empiricism or Irrational Induction?

Really I'll try not to hog the blog, after just one more. The empiricism thing needs to be addressed, so here goes.

The Atheist’s claim that Atheism is an ”empirical decision” is incorrect. Here’s why. There are very few if any literate people in the western cultures who have not heard of the concept of a deity. Now suppose we find a pocket of truly reclusive folks who have not ever been introduced to the concept. These folks might be considered a-theistic, assuming they do not worship a deity on their own. Now, take these folks and tell them about the idea of a deity. At that point the decision is forced to be made: accept or reject. The decision to become an Atheist is one of rejection, pure and simple. If one knows about the deity, one can’t just "be without"; either one accepts it, or one rejects it.

And the decision basis absolutely cannot be empirical, unless one changes the meaning of the word, empirical. Empiricism might be taken in a classical sense to mean sensory input. In this sense, if I stick my finger in a flame I can ascertain first hand that flames are hot. If I do it several times I can extrapolate that all flames are hot, and this is induction at work. Inductive logic is part of empiricism, but not all, because it has limitations that can be fatal.
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Induction is subject to the “black swan issue”, which is this: “Every swan I see is white, therefore all swans are white”. But this is not true because I have not yet observed black swans, which do in fact exist. Similarly, I cannot say that “Fred does not exist, because I have never seen one”. Nor can one say that “this thing you describe does not exist, because I have not seen it”.

If “empiricism” is taken to be the modern form, then it means that experiments are devised that will both isolate and induce the hypothesized effect that is desired; the experiments will be conducted under controlled conditions, and the results analyzed objectively; the results will be screened using peer review; and other experimenters will attempt to replicate the entire thing. Plus it must be falsifiable, or it is just a tautology.

It is doubtful that any Atheist has used this procedure to eliminate the possibility of the existence of a deity. When an Atheist claims empiricism, what he generally seems to actually mean is that he, personally, sees no material evidence of a deity, and therefore the odds against are overwhelmingly against such an existence. But this of course is merely the induction talking, and the logical flaw is obvious… except to the Atheist, it appears.

One might think that if 88% of the population claims knowledge that Fred does exist, then the denier might reconsider. But it doesn't work that way with Atheism, because Atheism is based on denial and emotional issues, not on classical logic.

The college freshman daughter of an acquaintance recently told him that she had looked through the telescope all over outer space, and saw no god; therefore he does not exist. This is a crashingly poor piece of thinking. One does not see the carpenter when looking at a house, nor the engineer when looking at a cell phone, nor the biochemist when looking at an aspirin.

It appears that the study of science these days does not address the issue of the limitations of science. When an Atheist says that philosophical materialism is a subset of voluntary materialism, something is just very wrong. So I will point out again: empiricism voluntarily restricts itself to material subjects because that is what it can measure; it cannot measure non-material items (I’m going slow here on purpose…). This restriction is self-imposed due to inability to measure, not because there is nothing there. Empiricism says nothing, NOTHING about the existence or non-existence of entities outside its material purview.

On the other hand, Philosophical Materialism is the philosophy that nothing exists that is not material. This is not an subset of voluntary materialism, it is an unwarranted extension, a gratuitous extrapolation beyond the boundaries of empiricism. As I showed before, it collapses immediately into self-contradiction and paradox; it is false. Except of course to the Atheist, who doesn't use such restrictive, absolute, logical constructs.

Atheists use logic that is inverted. Because there is no grounding, no absolute basis for their thoughts, then their thoughts are free to be selected in favor of the perpetuation of their worldview dogma. In other words, it is the opposite of rational, it is rationalized.

26 comments:

  1. Stan, in case you misunderstood, what I meant is that atheism is supported more by the Bayesian approach to science than the Popperian one. It is not a question of proving or disproving God (except for theists, who like to place the burden of disproof on atheists it this way), but a matter of establishing whether the concept is plausible. This is what the teapot/FSM arguments are meant to illustrate. Atheism is one consequence of this analysis, adopted by those who examine the alleged evidence for God and find it unconvincing. It is not completely devoid of empirical testing, we can conduct prayer experiments and investigate various religious claims (miracles, revelations etc), examine the track record of prophets and compare the relative successes of science and theology in explaining natural phenomena, etc etc.

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  2. As far as Bayesian probabilism goes, there is no objective measurement for the necessary calculations to be performed. Regardless of the so-called 'objective" school, Bayesian decisions are subjective, based on subjective input, and are meaningless except to defenders of worldview philosophies that cannot be proved any other way.

    The fact remains, Atheism is a rejection decision; it is based on non-provable statements; so the rejection is not based on fact, empirical or any other kind. At best it is personal conjectures, which, if one chooses, can be assigned values and used to calculate "probabilities". These calculations do not show real probablities, they show personal bias. The resulting calculation result cannot be either verified or falsified.

    Moreover the proponent is free to reject any non-congruent input, and thereby heavily bias the calculation in favor of the desired result. So it boils down to another process of rationalization.

    This is not a rational decision-making process.

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  3. Bobbled another one; moderator, please remove the redundant comment, thanks!

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  4. The fact remains, Atheism is a rejection decision; it is based on non-provable statements; so the rejection is not based on fact, empirical or any other kind.

    This is the whole point of the teapot. We can't prove there is not teapot. Do you think there is a teapot?

    The empiricist claim itself is not (A) that there is evidence that there is no god, rather it is (B) that there is no evidence that there is god.

    You are right that (A) is not provable. This is the nature of the postulated omniscient deity. But this is not empiricism. It would imply that every deity, supernatural being and orbiting teapot must be assumed to exist, since you can never bring any evidence that can disprove it... Allah, zeus, vishnu, baal, etc. It doesn't provided any evidence that any of them actually exists. Empiricism says that these things should be assumed not to exist. By the same token, empiricism tells us that neon green swans do not to exist.

    As for (B), you claim there IS evidence of Fred. But i still doubt Fred. When 98% of the world thought the world was flat, did that amount to evidence that the world was flat? When 88% of Ancient Greeks thought Zeus existed, was that evidence that Zeus existed? When 30% of the world thinks Allah exists, is that evidence that Allah exists?

    As adonais says, there is other evidence that would suffice to meet the empirical standard - evidence much simpler and more reliable than a global survey of personal opinions.

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  5. franith said:
    "Empiricism says that these things should be assumed not to exist. By the same token, empiricism tells us that neon green swans do not to exist."

    Empiricism does not tell us what to assume. Induction tells us what to assume, and that is what I said.

    Empiricism allows any postulate to be made, experiments to be designed and implemented to attempt to prove the postulate, and then the results are objectively analyzed regagrding data pertaining to the postulate, and then the experiment is repeated for verification. If verification is not acheived, the entire process can be repeated, ad nauseum.

    Empiricism cannot ever determine the non-existence of anything, unless it has tested each and every nook and cranny of the universe, over all instances of time; moreover, the subject at hand is the existence prior to the fabrication of space-time, which empiricism cannot reach to test. Empircism does not and can not deny anything about that prior existence, nor does it try.

    Both the teapot and the neon green swans are objects that are constructed specifically to be absurd so as to be "destroyed"; in other words they are strawmen.

    The strawman is a fallacy that is used to make a false comparison between the argument and the absurdity. This is used when the argument cannot be approached in rational terms by the opponent.

    Continuing to argue strawmen even when the fallacy is pointed out is an exercise in rationalization and irrationality. The same goes for false attributions to the capabilities of empiricism.

    Oh yes, you are free to doubt Fred. And I am free to doubt the rationality of your doubt. Doubting Fred on the basis of the absurd Flat Earth is of course another strawman.

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  6. sigh!

    What a weak arguement.

    Atheism means lack of belief in a god. Thus anyone without knowledge oif any religion, such as a baby or your hypothetical reclusive people, is by default an atheist, since they do not believe in a god. Thats it.

    Atheists don't claim atheism is an empirical decision but a number of us do claim to make the decision based on empirical examination of the arguements for and against religion. I myself was an atheist after de-converting while reading the bible (i'd been a church goer in my youth, read the bible and was horrified at all the messed up violence and primitive savagery), but i didn't really examine the arguements of either side until later in my life.

    When i did examine the arguements I judged them, on the basis of my superior (compared to the bible) morality, scientific knowledge and through comparison of atheist and theist arguements.

    So on to your further arguements. Actually the black swan problem is a bad example here. If i see only white swans why should i assume that there ar black swans? i should operate on the principal that only white swans exist. If presented with a black swan, i must change my hypothesis on swan colour and allow for black swans.

    To illustrate the limitations of your swan problem, do you believe that pink swans exist? I'm guessing not. why? because you've never seen one or heard of one.

    I've never seen or heard of god. Plenty of people tell me about god but when it comes time for me to see him, theres no evidence and personal testimony all comes down to a warm fuzzy feeling. Oddly people of mutual exclusive religions have the same warm fuzzy feeling. Please explain that? or is your feeling of glory and divine light superior to that of muslims or hindus. If so, please explain how you know this?

    As an atheist i do not compose full experiments to disprove god, nor to any other scientists i know. However, there are plenty of recorded experiments into specific religious phenomena, biblical history, psychology of believers, gossolalia, textual criticism of the bible, power of prayer, etc, etc.

    All of these have been done objectively, studiously and peer reviewed and surprise surprise, we find not hint of the divine in them, prayer doesn't work, gossolalia isn't the langauge of heaven (indeed, gossolalia sounds different depending on your language and accent), archaeology finds no trace of the Jews escaping Israel or global floods, geology debunks genesis, physics destroys the biblical arrangement of the cosmos outside our planet, biology in fact shows that we aren't made of clay but are descended from the same ancestors as apes. And so on and on and on.

    As for 88% of people claiming that atheists are wrong and that god is real, well this has several answers.
    Firstly, an appeal to popularity is itself a logical fallacy. Funny that you use that in an article ABOUT logical fallacies.
    600 years ago most people believed that if you sailed west far enough, you'd hit china. We know know that they were wrong. You hit North or South America first. 200 years ago white people thought it was acceptable to treat blacks like cattle and believed they were less than human, today, thats also not the case. 100 years ago the smallest thing in the world was an atom. We know know that atoms are themselves composed of smaller particles. Imagine what we'll know tomorrow. Arguements from popularity are never acceptable.

    Although about that 88%. Is that people in the USA that are christians? or the world that are theists? because you know that those 88% percent don't all agree with you. In fact many of them have mutually exclusive religions to yours. They are as much against christians as atheists.

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  7. Just a note on a comment.

    The celestial teapot is not a strawman. It is an instructive analogy to show the foolishness of one particular arguement for gods existence that DOES get used.

    Namely that if one cannot disprove something, then it is perfectly fine to believe in that thing. The point is that we have no evidence for teapots orbiting our planet. Thus we do not believe in them. We have no evidence that the judeo-christian god exists. Therefore we do not believe in him.

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  8. I should make one last point here.

    franith said:
    "The empiricist claim itself is not (A) that there is evidence that there is no god, rather it is (B) that there is no evidence that there is god."

    This statement taken by itself is valid...for empiricism. However, when it is combined with Atheism, the combination is not valid. The assertion was that Atheism is an empirical decision. It is not. Agnosticism is the empirical decision.

    Atheism is a firm postion that there is no diety. I have spelled out the reasons why. In these comments we see the manner in which Atheism is conflated with agnosticism. This is a false assertion.

    The agnostic postion is that there is not and cannot be any material proof for a deity, so the agnostic cannot decide the issue. The agnostic requires firm material proof in order to believe.

    The Atheist postion is that a deity does not exist. Period. This has nothing to do with evidence, material or otherwise.

    When an Atheist argues probabilities, usually from a strawman and always from materialism, he is arguing from an agnostic position. This is a ploy, whether conscious or unconscious, to pull material evidence into the argument where it does not belong. In other words, it is obfuscation.

    Again, Atheism is merely the assertion that "no deity exists". No empirical, material evidence required.

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  9. For those that believe that Atheists have no positive position...refer to my previous post called "New Atheism: A Quest of Confusion Part I".

    Further, the Atheist is not entitled to shift the burden of proof simply because they accept their concept of evidence without question and don't allow others to question it.

    Many Theists don't agree with this sort of Empiricism.

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  10. Celestial teapot denialism again. Russell created an absurdity in order to destroy it and to attempt to associate the first cause with that absurdity, making it "absurd by association" in the mind of the casual non-analytic. This only works for predisposed Atheists who want it to serve as logic.

    And a correction on your assumption that I was talking about 88% religion: I was referring to Fred. Now of course Fred was my own strawman construct, which you could have called me on but didn't; Atheists don't really know what a strawman is, from what I have seen.

    And finally, elitism:

    "When i did examine the arguements I judged them, on the basis of my superior (compared to the bible) morality, scientific knowledge and through comparison of atheist and theist arguements."

    I doubt that your "superior" morality can be shown to be the case. After all, Atheist morality is an individualistic, personal construct that is based on ... what? There is no common basis between Atheists by which to compare the value of their miscellaneous moral constructs. So your moral constructs are doubtless just as low on validity as those of any other Atheist.

    Your self-inflated air of superiority is not recognized as a valid value judgement by anyone but yourself.

    But it interesting that you claim superiority in a comment to a series of articles that points out just that: Atheists judge themselves to be elite; superior. Just because they say so.

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  11. Regarding a specific reply by Stan the OP, I have a couple questions:

    1) Since you insist that Russell's Celestial Teapot analogy is a straw man, does this mean that all analogies are straw men?

    You said that "[a]theists don't really know what a strawman is, from what I have seen", but it really seems as you are the one who is confused -- at least regarding the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Celestial Teapot, and other such [absurd] constructs.

    Nay, these are A-N-A-L-O-G-I-E-S. A straw man is a ploy used to misrepresent an opponent's position. The CT (Celestial Teapot is tedious, and I suspect it shall be used later) is not a misrepresentation -- no one claims that theists believe in it. Likewise, no one needs to verbalize its absurdity -- it is intuitively absurd. It is merely an analogy, which serves its purpose quite well. The CT shows that the lack of evidence is indeed used as evidence of absence in every imagined monster-under-the-bed, and any number of other similarly imagined objects.

    No, the CT is merely a construct with which all parties agree. It does not exist. Its power as an analogy, which is obvious even to you, is that it illustrates the inconsistency of religion, by denying one artifice in favor of another, with equal evidence in each case.

    Unless you are claiming that all analogies are straw men, your claim that Russell's CT is a straw man is invalid.

    2) Am I an atheist or an agnostic, in your estimation?

    I disagree with your claims that Atheism is "a firm postion that there is no diety", and that Agnosticism is "that there is not and cannot be any material proof for a deity".

    Instead, I consider Agnosticism to be that there is not proof for a deity, and as such I shall abstain from choosing one. That is, the Missouri state motto: Show me.

    Atheism, on the other hand, I consider to be the position that there is not proof for a deity, and as such I shall deny all. The difference is subtle, but I have no doubt that one such as yourself can see it: Agnosticism implies a denial of choice; Atheism implies a choice of denial.

    Neither position, in my view, says anything about the future possibility that the position might be destroyed. According to your definition of Agnosticism, all agnostics should instead be atheists -- since your version claims that there cannot be proof.

    I'm curious, because I do consider myself an atheist, but one who recognizes that my position is not concrete -- it is based on the available evidence. Since none exists for any god, I deny all gods.


    Lastly, an aside:

    I am not an elitist. I am just better than everyone else.

    --
    Stan

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  12. Hi Stan,

    I am interested to know if you think empirical methods or reasoning can show that the existence of Zeus is absurd? Or should the burden of proof be on non-pagans to 'prove' that Zeus does not exist? Obviously you have heard of Zeus and yet I think you assume he does not exist. Yet your positivist assertions of his non-existence require proof. By your own definitions, you can never prove he does not. Are there other methods to determine the Zeus question?

    Of course empirical evidence might determine the question. For example, if you reply to my post with 'Zeus is a strawman', and then you are hit and killed by lightning, that might be evidence of the existence of Zeus.

    If you think God is a special case and is totally different to Zeus, please explain a little more time explaining why, now that you have so kindly explained what strawmen are, and also referred to teapots, flat earths, various powerful deities, and even chunks of your own arguments as strawmen.

    And i think i follow your reasoning, that god is somehow outside the bounds of the 'materialist' empiricism. This is indeed true, if the claim was that god had nothing to do with the material world. But all religions, including christianity, claim that god does, in fact, interact with the material world.

    If god does interact with the material world, it would be empirically demonstrable. If god does not interact with the material world, that's deism. If god does not interact with the material world in any way but then later punishes souls with eternal hellfire for not acknowledging he exists then that's dystheism.

    And if you think i am unemotional, soulless and lacking in concepts of transcendence, eternity and "spirituality" in a broad sense, and that materialism has crippled and narrowed my view, you should explore some theories of mind that are far more poetic than free will and eternal souls. Try Hofstadter's Eternal Golden Braid, a rumination on black swans, music, recursion and the human mind.

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  13. "Further, the Atheist is not entitled to shift the burden of proof simply because they accept their concept of evidence without question and don't allow others to question it."

    Would you explain to me how you determine upon whom the burden of proof rests in the dragon in my garage scenario, the claimant or the skeptic. There are three cases that I'd like to hear your verdict on:

    1) an unsubstantiated claim by a single person
    2) an unsubstantiated claim by several people
    3) a partially substantiated claim

    (I'm sure you can guess what my answers would be, but here's a cheat sheet anyway: claimant, claimant, skeptic)

    Certainly the burden of proof can shift from the claimant to the skeptic when evidence is collected, but let's all apply the same rules for where it starts out and when it might be reasonable to shift the burden.

    Concerning a "concept of evidence," what do you suggest that we adopt? Is it not quite reasonable to adopt the same concept as used elsewhere, for instance from law or science? Why does this hypothesis require us to modify the concept of evidence in order to evaluate its plausibility fairly? Or phrased differently, if we have to modify the concept of evidence for evaluating the God hypothesis, does not that weaken the credibility of the evaluation?

    I'm not saying that it's impossible that our standard concepts of evidence could be inadequate in this case, but if you are right and they are, then you should be able to argue very convincingly for this fact. I have not seen such an argument yet.

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  14. "Atheism means lack of belief in a god. Thus anyone without knowledge oif any religion, such as a baby or your hypothetical reclusive people, is by default an atheist, since they do not believe in a god. Thats it."

    Technically, they would be agnostics. Why? Because knowledge presupposes belief, or lack of belief. Agnosticism = without knowledge.

    If I say that I *lack belief* that the Edmonton Oilers will make the playoffs, it is because of my *knowledge* of certain factors. Such as, my knowledge that many of their top players are injured, my knowledge that they are last place in the standings with only 6 games to play in the regular season, or my knowledge that their coach is an idiot. I would not be able to *disbelieve* that they would make the playoffs without this *knowledge*.

    Thus, belief, or disbelief, requires a certain amount of knowledge pertaining to a particular issue. In this case, babies cannot be atheists because they lack knowledge, which is required if one is to lack belief.

    "If i see only white swans why should i assume that there ar black swans? i should operate on the principal that only white swans exist."

    I think you missed his point. He's not saying that you should believe that black swans exist if you only see white swans. What he is saying is that if you only see white swans, it is logically invalid to automatically conclude that no black swans exist.

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  15. franith

    Zeus, is not a very good candidate, for the definition of "GOD"~Timeless, Immaterial, Eternal and Unchanging, Transcendent.

    I think, Zeus needs some better properties.

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  16. "No, the CT is merely a construct with which all parties agree. It does not exist. Its power as an analogy, which is obvious even to you, is that it illustrates the inconsistency of religion, by denying one artifice in favor of another, with equal evidence in each case."


    Analogies can be strong to prove a similarity, or weak to prove a dissimilarity, or absurd to attempt to misassociate. The orbiting teapot is of course absurd. The evidence referred to is Philosophical Materialist evidence, which is foisted as being the totality of reality, position which it cannot prove. The teapot, if given credibility, also destroys its own basis, Philosophical Materialism. It is an irrational combination of positions.

    "all comes down to a warm fuzzy feeling."

    From an Atheist viewpoint this is true, as I know from experience. From a rational stanpoint it is not. It comes from accepting that there exist transcendentals that are unquestionably true, even outside space-time, such as math, logic and the first principles. These are non-material.

    "Atheism, on the other hand, I consider to be the position that there is not proof for a deity, and as such I shall deny all."

    As an Atheist you are free to define whatever you wish however you wish; there are no absolutes to ground your mental meanderings. Since you are free to change these at any moment, there is no point in discussing things that are just your current constructs.

    Burden of Proof
    The challenger has the burden of proof in western societies, using western logic. If you challenge a position, such as the existence of a first source, then the burden of proof is upon you.

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  17. Sorry, Stan, but you have overstepped your bounds, and you over-generalize (a common error, for you).

    Analogies can indeed be strong, weak, or absurd, but it does not follow that strong analogies are only meant to show similarities, weak for dissimilarities, and absurd for misassociation. For one, there is nothing preventing an analogy from being absurd in addition to being strong or weak.

    Furthermore, the CT analogy is not misassociating anything. The notion of a deity is every bit as "provable" (or unprovable, if you prefer) as Russell's CT. I'm curious as to just what sort of analogy you would accept for some arbitrary situation...

    No, the CT analogy is "strong", in your parlance, and it is also absurd. You despise it not because it is ineffective or because it is absurd, but because it rings so true, and exposes a fundamental flaw in the "reasoning" of religionists.

    Of course, I noted the fact that you backed away from the claim that the CT is a straw man, but I also noted with no small amount of irony your dismissal of my definitions of Agnosticism and Atheism:

    As an Atheist you are free to define whatever you wish however you wish; there are no absolutes to ground your mental meanderings. Since you are free to change these at any moment, there is no point in discussing things that are just your current constructs.

    "As an Atheist"? Really? Why the unnecessary implication that atheists are free to define things as they wish, but that theists are not? Are you deliberately attempting to mislead the audience here? Do you not concede that your own (again) over-generalized definitions of Atheism and Agnosticism are the straw men you so noisily oppose?

    Atheism, generally, is not a certainty (or a "firm position") that there exists no deity, and Agnosticism, generally, makes no claim regarding the notion that there "cannot be any material proof" for a deity. Your claims to the contrary are, therefore, straw men. You, it seems, are guilty of defining terms as you choose.

    Burden of Proof

    You said:

    The challenger has the burden of proof in western societies, using western logic. If you challenge a position, such as the existence of a first source, then the burden of proof is upon you.

    Is this meant as a joke? If not, it's terribly funny. "If you challenge a position ... then the burden of proof is upon you." Really? Why do you insist that such falsehoods are true? Do you accept the claims of thousands of Americans that they have been abducted by aliens? On whom lies the burden of proof regarding such claims? Am I erecting a straw man by using an "absurd" analogy?

    Come on, man, cut the nonsense. The burden of proof is on the one whose claim is the more unlikely, given the average experience of the "jury". Only where the claim and its denial are on equal footing (or where the denial is more unlikely) does the burden fall on the challenger, but the more detail given by the claimant, the easier the challenger's task:

    If I claim that I got into an automobile accident, the burden of proof lies on you to discredit my claim, due to the frequency of automobile accidents.

    If I further claim that the offending driver in my accident was a Catholic priest, the situation is effectively the same, though I have offered additional detail.

    If I claim further still that the Catholic priest was also a cross-dresser (make-up, dress, jewelry -- everything but a wig), then now my claim is strange enough that the burden of proof lies with me, rather than the challenger.

    Sure, I may produce a damaged vehicle, supporting the primary claim, but this means nothing in the determination of the entire story's truth. I may even be able to produce the name of a Catholic priest, and the name of his insurance company ("Catholic Mutual" -- insures the diocese), and while this further supports my claim, I have not satisfied the burden of proof for the outrageous claim that the priest was dressed as a woman.

    As Carl Sagan prominently said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". I did indeed get into an accident with a cross-dressing Catholic priest, but I cannot prove he was dressed as a woman. If I left that detail out of my story, I would need no evidence whatsoever, but then the story would be incomplete.

    Religionists -- especially theists -- may argue that withholding detail detracts from the completeness of their tale, but the fact is that the inclusion of so much detail, much of which has been proven inaccurate, has destroyed their position more thoroughly than any intentional ambiguity ever could.

    Since the religionist's claim is necessarily that the whole theology is true, and since in virtually every case certain elements of those theologies have been shown to be false, then we can safely dismiss them. Despite the fact that the burdens of proof for these extraordinary claims quite clearly lie at the feet of the religionist, the detail included in their claim makes it a trivial matter to discredit individual aspects. In those theologies in which the claim is made that the whole is true, where any individual aspect (or a great many, as it were) has been shown to be false, the correct choice is clearly to deny the whole theology.

    It is absolutely true that there exists a possibility that the aspects of any particular theology which haven't been proven false may be true, but taken as a whole, the theology should logically be rejected if any aspect is found to be false. Since the claims made by theologies are so extraordinary ('outrageous' sounds better), the burden of proof lies with them to show the truth of their claims. Compound this fact with the sheer number of competing theologies, none of which have produced evidence supporting their whole claims, and we have even more reason to deny them.

    Agnostics are merely athiests who avoid confrontation, or who are afraid to make [that] conscious decision:

    Agnostics recognize their ignorance without embracing their intuition and knowledge.

    Atheists recognize their ignorance while embracing intuition and knowledge.

    Deists recognize their ignorance while embracing intuition, but avoid their knowledge.

    Theists deny their ignorance while embracing intuition, likewise avoiding knowledge.


    To me, recognition of one's ignorance is a major indicator of one's integrity. Denial of one's knowledge is conversely an indicator of one's dishonesty. Intuition cuts both ways -- it is immensely helpful in day-to-day life, but it is disadvantageous in those situations outside "normal" experience. Coupled with one's knowledge, it is a powerful tool. Absent one's knowledge, it is powerfully destructive.

    --
    Stan

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  18. Your use of a sliding scale of your devising for burden of proof does nothing to alleviate the observation that you choose whatever you want to be the case. Of course with alien abductions it is still the challenger that is burdened; the question becomes one of the value of one's time to do it.

    "As Carl Sagan prominently said, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. "

    If this is the case where is the proof that there is no deity? Claiming that Atheism is a position of probability just leads directly to subjectivity and relativism; probability of a first source cannot be calculated nor can it be besmirched by comparison with absurdities, regardless of the Atheists attempts to do so.

    "Since the religionist's claim is necessarily that the whole theology is true, and since in virtually every case certain elements of those theologies have been shown to be false, then we can safely dismiss them."

    None of this is true. According to your definition of Atheism, Theology merely means that a deity exists; you cannot disprove this. You dismiss it without proof. Your only defense of your position is to try to smear the concept of a first source as absurd.

    "taken as a whole, the theology should logically be rejected if any aspect is found to be false. "

    This goes counter to the claim for empiricism, which allows theories to be modified based upon new information. Your refusal to allow this to what you call "Theology" makes me wonder what you think it is. If Theology means merely that a "deity exists", then you are off base. If however you believe that church doctrine is theology, then you are correct. But church doctrine is ecclesiasticism, it is dogma, it is human interpretation and subject to error. Your argument is with the wrong entity, if your argument is against the human institution.

    Again for clarity,

    "As Carl Sagan prominently said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

    and,

    " Since the claims made by theologies are so extraordinary ('outrageous' sounds better), the burden of proof lies with them to show the truth of their claims. Compound this fact with the sheer number of competing theologies, none of which have produced evidence supporting their whole claims, and we have even more reason to deny them."

    You are conflating theology with ecclesiasticism again. As for the Carl Sagan saw, it is very true that claims for transcendence do in fact require transendent evidence which is by your standard, extraordinary; in fact it is non-material and you will not find it, being restricted to materialism by your choice of worldviews. However, what Sagan meant was that transcendent claims must be demonstrable with material evidence, clearly a logical impossibility, and intended to support his own materialist worldview. Again Materialism is simple to deflate, unless one uses it as their faith.


    "Theists deny their ignorance while embracing intuition, likewise avoiding knowledge."

    You do not understand, obviously. Theists believe that there is a first source for the universe which is found to be rational. They can't claim material knowledge of anything else about the first source, because they are not that source; it requires transcendental evidence. Because the universe is rational, they can explore it to their heart's content, developing knowledge of the material; and they know we will not find a deity embedded in its own creation. By accepting that there are transcendentals and truth without proof, theists are free to explore beyond the material mass that imprisons the materialist.

    Your declaration of that which you think comprises intellectual honesty rings true (unless you change your mind). But your application is misguided. Materialism is the demonstrably false, paradoxical position. And Materialists can legitimately say nothing about a realm that they deny exists...without any material proof, which materialism requires.

    It is not rational to charge illegitimacy from a base that is paradoxical. And non-rational charges are not a mark of intellectual integrity.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I wonder why you harp so much on the notion of Materialism? I have not once used the term, except in the preceding sentence, in any post on this blog, and I have never held this position anywhere else, either.

    My position is hardly irrational, and hardly paradoxical. Since you cannot apparently argue your position, though, you focus on perceived straw men where there are none, and you erect straw men of your own while ignoring the accusations of their use. Now, in your most recent response, you have resorted to ad hominem.

    Your arguments are a façade -- they are dressed in logic, but in actuality the apparent logic is illusory. You have claimed that my position, and that my arguments, are paradoxical, yet you insist that I produce evidence for a null hypothesis. Do you not realize that your question is a paradox?

    Pshaw.

    I find your arguments both repetitive and tired. They are not effective, and where this ineffictiveness is exposed, you cry foul, claiming straw men and red herrings are everywhere.

    I said:

    As Carl Sagan prominently said, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'.

    You replied:

    If this is the case where is the proof that there is no deity?

    I wonder if this qualifies as one of your "absurd analogies", which you also categorize as straw men? If you insist that I produce evidence that something does not exist, then why do you not accept the existence of the FSM or CT? Explain to me the difference.

    I said:

    "Since the religionist's claim is necessarily that the whole theology is true, and since in virtually every case certain elements of those theologies have been shown to be false, then we can safely dismiss them."

    You replied:

    None of this is true.

    Then you need to clarify your position, as I'm quite certain that my own is clear. If "none of this is true", then the conclusion drawn is also false, leading to the converse, which is that we cannot safely dismiss theologies. Are you a polytheist, then?

    Really, a religionist -- specifically, a theist -- maintains that a specific doctrine embodies his deity, and that the whole doctrine is true. Where any aspect fails a truth test, the whole theology is dismissed, even if a reformed theology takes its place (a fact to which I alluded in my following paragraph, allowing for the refinement of a theory).

    Really, in virtually every case, at least one aspect of a given theistic doctrine has been proven false, and this is precisely the basis for our mutual rejection of that doctrine.

    Sorry, Stan, but everything I said in that paragraph was true. Asserting that none of it is true, without attempting to argue any of the points I made, does not make it so. Following this assertion with deliberate misrepresentation of my position is tantamount to willful deception.

    According to your definition of Atheism, Theology merely means that a deity exists; you cannot disprove this. You dismiss it without proof. Your only defense of your position is to try to smear the concept of a first source as absurd.

    I wonder, how might my definition of Atheism have impacted the definition of Theism? Are you assuming that Atheism is the perfect opposite of Theism? But you know this is not true! I agree that I cannot prove that no deity exists, just as you must admit that you cannot prove that any deity exists. If you are honestly peddling this statement as a reason to support Theism, then it can just as well be used to support Atheism, for precisely the same reason.

    You say that I dismiss the existence of a deity without proof, but you must know this is a misrepresentation! I dismiss the existence of a deity because there is no proof.

    You have suggested that the challenger to a claim bears the burden of proof in any given scenario -- even that of an alien abduction claim -- yet you have ignored the logical implications of this position. Do you prefer a legal system which agrees with your perspective? Guilty until proven innocent?

    No, the U.S. legal system doesn't work this way, and neither should any other. The burden of proof, in a legal sense, most assuredly falls on the claimant. In a civil case, the burden of proof can shift from side to side, based on the nature of the claim, but even then, the burden rests with the more outrageous -- be it the claim or the rejection of the claim.

    So pay attention now: Atheism is the rejection of the set of hypotheses which claim the existentence of a deity. It is a null hypothesis. Null hypotheses cannot be proven, but they can quite easily be disproven. If you would reject Atheism because it harbors no proof of its truth, then you must also reject Theism for the same offence.

    I said:

    Theists deny their ignorance while embracing intuition, likewise avoiding knowledge.

    You replied, and I interjected:

    You do not understand, obviously.

    No?

    Theists believe that there is a first source for the universe which is found to be rational.

    You mean that the "first source" is rational. The belief is not, and cannot, be rational.

    They can't claim material knowledge of anything else about the first source, because they are not that source; it requires transcendental evidence.

    Yet they do. Every theistic doctrine does precisely that and more. Unless you deny this, you are apparently no theist, but perhaps a pantheist or a deist.

    Because the universe is rational,

    Assertion

    they can explore it to their heart's content, developing knowledge of the material;

    Which they subsequently deny in favor of their chosen dogma

    and they know we will not find a deity embedded in its own creation.

    Because none exists?

    By accepting that there are transcendentals and truth without proof,

    And exactly how is this acceptance rational?

    theists are free to explore beyond the material mass that imprisons the materialist.

    By using their imaginations?

    Once again, I am not a materialist. I readily admit the possibility of both a deity and of transcendent realities, but with evidence of neither, I must not tarry on, guessing at what they might be like, where they might be (in transcendent space, of course), or what their favorite color is. Instead, in the absence of any evidence in support of a deity or transcendent reality, they are rejected alongside the FSM and CT.

    Cry all you will, but the analogy holds. It is neither a misassociation nor a straw man. Theistic viewpoints are analogous to belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. To claim that something of this nature exists, without any supporting evidence -- material or transcendent -- is intellectual dishonesty. It is a denial of one's ignorance, an assertion of knowledge one does not possess, and an irrational exaltation of one's misguided intuition (for intuition sans knowledge and respect for one's ignorance is always misguided).

    Unless you wish to further misrepresent my position, and unless you wish to identify your particular brand of Theism, I wonder what more is to be said. Your arguments to this point have failed, and failed miserably. You claim to be a theist, but unless you choose to identify your version of Theism more specifically, then you are no different than a moral relativist or pantheist.

    At best, your position to this point appears to be Deism with an Agnostic slant. Theism implies a definition of the divine, at least partially, yet you have offered nothing but weak arguments against Atheism, all of which have proven either to be riddled with fallacies or to be outright misrepresentations.

    Try again.

    --
    Stan

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  20. You demand material proof of a nonmaterial entity. That is materialism at work. Do you deny that a first cause is plausible? That a first cause fits into cause and effect? That the concept is not an absurdity made up to appear ridiculous? That is what CT and FSM are: made up to look ridiculous, and what the first cause is not. If you continue to disregard the obvious there is not a whole lot of point continuing with this.

    BTW, a null hypothesis requires material evidence for its disproof. It is a part of the voluntary materialism of empiricism. Using it against non-material entities is yet another indicator of Philosophical Materialism at work.

    Let's stick to the point: there is no first cause; or is there?

    "You say that I dismiss the existence of a deity without proof, but you must know this is a misrepresentation! I dismiss the existence of a deity because there is no proof."

    No material proof. You reject all other source of proof. Denying your materialism is... well, disingenuous.

    "No, the U.S. legal system doesn't work this way, and neither should any other. The burden of proof, in a legal sense, most assuredly falls on the claimant."

    "Guilty until proven innocent?"


    Sorry that is incorrect; presumption of innocence applies because the challenger (plaintiff) has the burden of proof. The defendant does not.


    "I said: theists are free to explore beyond the material mass that imprisons the materialist.

    you said:
    "By using their imaginations?"

    "Once again, I am not a materialist. I readily admit the possibility of both a deity and of transcendent realities, but with evidence of neither, I must not tarry on, guessing at what they might be like, where they might be (in transcendent space, of course), or what their favorite color is. Instead, in the absence of any evidence in support of a deity or transcendent reality, they are rejected alongside the FSM and CT."


    By insisting on material evidence for transcendence and non-material entities your statement places you firmly within the Philosophical Materialism camp. You do not really "accept the possibility" because your personal requirements for material evidence place an impermeable barrier between you and it.

    "To claim that something of this nature exists, without any supporting evidence -- material or transcendent -- is intellectual dishonesty. It is a denial of one's ignorance, an assertion of knowledge one does not possess, and an irrational exaltation of one's misguided intuition (for intuition sans knowledge and respect for one's ignorance is always misguided).

    (1)You do not know what transcendent evidence exists. I did not know when I argued your perspective for 40 years. You pretend to accept transcendence but you cannot conceive of non-material evidence... can you?

    Failure to claim ignorance? This is a charge concerning something you can't possibly know; you assume it based on Philosophical Materialism which is your mental restriction, enforcing ignorance upon yourself. This charge is a convolution of actuality.

    Claiming that someone is ignorant because they claim to know something you don't know, that must be one of the unnamed fallcies.

    (2)Is a first cause plausible? y/n.

    (3)Is the issue of a first cause colored by religious doctrine? y/n.

    (4)Can the first cause question be addressed without ecclesiatic baggage? y/n.

    "you have offered nothing but weak arguments against Atheism, all of which have proven either to be riddled with fallacies or to be outright misrepresentations."

    You have charged fallacies yet proven none, at least that I can recall.

    Lastly, let's talk theism.
    (1) Is your position that you don't believe in churches? Doctrine? Dogma? Preachers? Beleivers?

    (2) Is your position that you don't believe in a first cause?

    (3) If it is both, can you separate the two for discussion? If not why not?

    I do not argue from the first position. I argue from the second. The plaintiff, yourself, bringing charges against the defendant, myself, is obligated to show proof of his claim if he firmly believes it and wishes to argue it. From an evidentiary standpoint you will need material evidence if your argument is from materialism.

    Perhaps you can see that absurd analogies have no place in this, just as they would be thrown out of a court of law.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Just because you prefer that I am a materialist does not make it so, just as your insertion of the adjective 'materialist' before 'evidence' does not negate the possibility of "transcendent" evidence. As I said, I do not deny the possibility of transcendent evidence, transcendent reality, or even a deity, but until evidence of such can be shown, it is absolutely analogous to belief in the FSM or CT.

    Sorry, but you cannot escape those valid analogies so easily. For all we know, there may exist transcendent evidence for the FSM, about which each of us is ignorant.

    Once again, if the transcendent evidence you allege exists, but cannot be shown to anyone but the chosen few to whom it has been revealed, then what convincing power does it have? What power does it have to sway an argument?

    The reason atheists rely so heavily on material evidence is not because they deny transcendence so broadly, but because those who embrace transcendence acknowledge the simultaneous existence of material things, and no special pleading needs to take place to describe material evidence to another person. Your notions of transcendent realities, transcendent evidence, and deities beyond the realm of materialism are wonderful fantasies, but again, until the veil which separates the "enlightened" from the "unenlightened" is lifted, then I have absolutely no reason to accept your claim, especially when I have experienced transcendence -- both through religion and through hallucinogenic drugs -- and my own experience, while fascinating, was not in agreeance with your claims.

    In effect, the acceptance of illusive transcendent evidence (that is, the evidence available only to the few), is more problematic than you acknowledge -- since there are so many competing forms of transcendent evidence, and so many mutually exclusive transcendent realities, the truth cannot be discovered except by personal experience.

    If everyone can experience these transcendent realities, or the transcendent evidence, or visit the transcendent deity, and if these experiences all agree with only expected variations as with witness testimony, then your point may well be valid. If not, however, then the selective nature of it suggests that one crowd or the other is somehow defective. The lack of congruity amongst transcendentalists likewise suggests that many transcendentalists are somehow defective. Occam's razor being an easily wielded device, the simplest explanation is that all transcendentalists are somehow defective, or that their experiences, while possibly valid experiences, are not necessarily representative of the transcendent reality in question.

    If you cannot show me your evidence, whether it is material, transcendent, or of a category we have yet to have discovered, then it has no value. Just like the possible evidence for the FSM.

    Let's stick to the point: there is no first cause; or is there?

    I. Don't. Know. (And neither do you.)

    As you are wise to admit, there is no point describing cause-effect relationships prior to the Big Bang, but as you inexplicably fail to grasp, there is also no point describing quantum cause-effect relationships after the Big Bang, either. Spacetime is indispensable for large creatures such as ourselves, but it does not follow that all particles value it so highly.

    Sure, our intuition says that all events have a cause, but our intuition also tells us that the sun revolves around the earth, that the earth is flat, ad nauseum. We already know that quantum events need not have causes which "precede" them in normal spacetime, and since the Big Bang is undoubtedly the analogue to a quantum event (if not an actual quantum event itself), we have no reason whatsoever to postulate a "first cause".

    Anyway, why is that "the point" to this discussion?

    (1)You do not know what transcendent evidence exists. I did not know when I argued your perspective for 40 years. You pretend to accept transcendence but you cannot conceive of non-material evidence... can you?

    I do not know what the interior of a black hole is like. I did not know black holes existed for the first twenty years of my life. I accept the existence of black holes, and the existence of their interiors, despite my conceptual limitations. Is this so different from accepting the possibility of something I have not experienced?

    Who do you think you are, anyway, suggesting that I cannot accept something as possible, with an up front recognition of my own ignorance on the subject? You "did not know [what transcendent evidence exists]", but do you seriously mean now to imply that you are familiar with all of the transcendent evidence? My goodness, I apologize for all of my debate, then. I didn't realize I was in the presence of the Transcendent Omniscient Stan.

    Get over yourself, man, there are plenty of people who claim access to transcendent evidence, whose claims are mutually exclusive from your own. Without access to either form of evidence, how am I to determine who is correct? Without access to all transcendent evidence, how are you to "rationally" decide which explanation is best?

    Failure to claim ignorance?

    Exactly.

    (2)Is a first cause plausible? y/n.

    Yes, as is a lack of a first cause. In any case, the question is irrelevant to the discussion, which involves Theism versus Atheism. A simple first cause is not Theism unless...

    (3)Is the issue of a first cause colored by religious doctrine? y/n.

    No, not necessarily. If it is, then the issue at question is not the "first cause", per se, but the doctrine in question. Since the assignment of doctrine to a deity is necessary for Theism, and since Theism is at the heart of the discussion, I'd say the unspoken answer to this question, virtually anywhere on this blog, is 'yes'.

    (4)Can the first cause question be addressed without ecclesiatic baggage? y/n.

    Yes again, but not by Theism.

    You continue to have your cake and eat it, too, but per the adage, this is not permissible. You claim that the burden of proof lies on the challenger, universally. You then claim that the plaintiff in any legal proceeding is the challenger. You use this twisted "logic" to suggest that the atheist is somehow obligated to proove his case, while the theist is allowed to have his case assumed to be true.

    That this is ridiculous is an understatement.

    First, your convenient swapping of the terms "claimant" and "challenger" to suit your needs is dishonest. Is the challenger the one who challenges a claim, or the one whose claim challenges the status quo?

    Your statements to this point have all implied that the person challenging a claim bears the burden of proof, yet you have now changed positions, in what seems a brazen attempt at avoiding embarrassment, such that the burden now falls on the person claiming a disruption of the status quo. Initially, of course, this person would have been the claimant, but now, conveniently (or so you think), this person is the challenger... but it is not so simple as that.

    You seem to be under the delusion that either of these positions helps your case, but they do not. The first position, that the person challenging a claim bears the burden of proof, obviously leads to presumed guilt, which you rightly reject. The second position, that the person challenging the status quo bears the burden of proof, means that the theist bears the burden of proof (and it, too, leads to presumed guilt, if the suspect is a known criminal).

    As you have admitted already, it is irrational to hold a position based upon one's upbringing (without external challenge), and also as you have stated, the standard human condition at birth suggests "a-theism": belief in no gods. Therefore, it is Theism (and its cousins, Deism, Pantheism, etc.) which must proove their case against "A-theism". If you insist, I will even allow that [modern] Atheism falls into this same category, and that Agnosticism is the default position.

    This cannot be an acceptable compromise for the theist, however, as it necessitates a stark denial of one's chosen belief system, unless adequate proof can be shown. Call it material proof, transcendental proof, ethereal proof, or magical proof -- I don't care. But proof it must be, or the position is invalid. When only one (or a few) have access to the evidence, people start drinking Kool-Aid.

    As I described myself, I am an atheist who recognizes that a deity could at any time make an appearance, which would require a re-tooling of my position. I guess that means I win.

    You have charged fallacies yet proven none, at least that I can recall.

    Actually, I have shown them in many places. If you have read my posts, you will have seen them. Since your replies imply that you have read my posts, and comprehended them, I must assume that you have deliberately ignored the identifications I've made or that you have an extreme memory problem. You, on the other hand, have cried "straw man" from the beginning, "red herring" a few times, and even resorted to ad hominem at least once, despite your clear misunderstanding of these terms. I do not make baseless accusations.

    Lastly, let's talk theism.
    (1) Is your position that you don't believe in churches? Doctrine? Dogma? Preachers? Beleivers
    (sic)?

    (2) Is your position that you don't believe in a first cause?

    (3) If it is both, can you separate the two for discussion? If not why not?


    1. I believe all of these things exist.

    2. My position is that I have no information concerning the existence of a first cause, and as such I make no overt claims regarding it. I acknowledge both the possibility that a first cause may exist, and that a first cause may not exist, but I thought we were talking about Theism?

    3. Can I separate theology from the notion of a first cause? Of course. It is only the theist, the deist, or the pantheist who has this failing. If you want to talk about the origins of the universe (or multiverse/megaverse, if you prefer), separate from theological constructs, then perhaps we should take this discussion up at the Astronomy & Cosmology blog.

    --
    Stan

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  22. You have rung the ad hominem bell twice now, so I 'spose I should point out that it was you that first foisted the accusation of lack of intellectual integrity, to which I answered...and you then cried ad hominem.

    Plus I carefully explained several times the actual definitions of strawman and red herring fallacies, to which you cry foul, did not, did not.

    So at this point you have created a contest of fallacy flames, based on your rejection of actual definitions of actual fallacy references which I provided. You even claim that the original definition I proposed was a strawman, yet it is exactly what Atheists claim to believe, your personal distress notwithstanding.

    There is no point in continuing this discussion. You have become angry which merely decorates one's irrational positions. I used to let angry Atheists get to me and make me angry also, but I no longer take the bait. This also allows the Atheist to calm down some, although many never do.

    I will be around for future posts, so tune up your flamethrower, and come on back in.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Neither a flame-thrower nor a flame-retardant are necessary, unless you seek to use the former. If you can't read sarcasm, then you probably won't last long online...

    At any rate, since you apparently insist, I'll outline your logical fallacies, and thereby give you an opportunity to defend yourself.

    1. Straw man fallacy

    Both the teapot and the neon green swans are objects that are constructed specifically to be absurd so as to be "destroyed"; in other words they are strawmen.

    The strawman is a fallacy that is used to make a false comparison between the argument and the absurdity.


    According to every reference to the Straw man fallacy, your characterization is incorrect. A true straw man involves a misrepresentation of the opponent's position. Neither neon green swans nor Celestial Teapots are misrepresentations. Rather, as I've noted, they are analogies. In fact, they satisfy the requirements of a refutation by analogy, and by claiming them to be straw men, you are in fact guilty of falsely charging users of these analogies with a fallacy.

    Now of course Fred was my own strawman construct...

    And here the pot recognizes it shares its color with the kettle, even though the Fred construct was not an actual straw man, but a false analogy (indeed, a red herring). In the case of Fred, we presuppose Fred to be a human, and we presuppose familiarity and interaction with other humans, so the assertion of Fred's existence, despite testimony as the only evidence, is not extraordinary. The analogy fails, because it fails to share the distinctive characteristic with the subject at hand.

    2. Ad hominem fallacy

    Your self-inflated air of superiority is not recognized as a valid value judgement by anyone but yourself.

    This statement is ad hominem, and is itself based on a misrepresentation of the atheist's position: that Atheism de facto supports moral relativism. It is also an appeal to popularity. Fallacies upon fallacies, as it were.

    You reject all other source of proof. Denying your materialism is... well, disingenuous.

    A straw man wrapped in ad hominem. Not once have I denied any potential source of evidence, so long as it can be shown to me. I deny materialism because I do not embrace materialism -- continuing to misrepresent my position, and resorting to ad hominem when I correct your misrepresentation is... (no, not disingenuous) insulting.

    3. Negative proof fallacy

    [W]where is the proof that there is no deity?

    Your request here belies the fact that you utilize the Negative proof fallacy both to scorn Atheism and to promote Theism. You dismiss Atheism because of a lack of proof (which atheists are quick to point out, there is no proof if there is no deity), yet you simultaneously promote Theism despite a lack of proof. As I have recommended, a simple application of Occam's razor will prove quite liberating.

    Shall I go on (I hope not -- it is tiresome to sort through each and every such fallacy in your posts...)?

    I carefully explained several times the actual definitions of strawman and red herring fallacies, to which you cry foul, did not, did not.

    Heh. I'm tempted here to reply merely with something childish, but I'm afraid the sarcasm might be lost on you. Certainly, you have "carefully explained... the definitions of strawman and red herring fallacies", but your definitions are inaccurate, and as such your accusations of their use are invalid.

    So no, I "did not, did not" claim (forgive the smirk) that you hadn't defined the terms you so cavalierly tout, but I do claim that you have either defined them inaccurately, used them improperly, or both. You gave yourself away when you mis-identified your own fallacy regarding the "Fred" analogy. If you can't correctly identify your own fallacies, your ability to correctly identify those of other arguers is suspect.

    Worry not about upsetting me -- I am frustrated that you change positions (with regard to the burden of proof), that you claim fallacy where none exists, and erect fallacies of your own as counter-points, and I only hope to see you admit error where it has been exposed, and admit that as irrational as you claim Atheism to be, it is far less irrational (assuming I grant that it is at all irrational) than Theism. Frustrated, then, though I may be, I am not upset or angry. I chide, and I smirk, and I even utilize sarcasm (ahem... Transcendent Omniscient Stan), but if it is anger you read, then you misunderstand.

    I said, "Good day"!

    :)

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have no more time to put into this, but I will address the fallacy issues; first the straw man, from your own source, wiki:

    "A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw man argument" is to describe a position that superficially resembles an opponent's actual view but is easier to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent (for example, deliberately overstating the opponent's position)."

    You must read the whole thing to get the gist. "Easier to refute" covers absurd concotions, created specifically in order to be refuted. That is precisely what the CT and FSM are. Also Fred which I concocted for the same purpose, showing that Atheists tend not to recognize one when they encounter it. You have shown that to be the case.

    That which you call "ad Hominem" was truly made in respect to a commenter who explicitly claimed "superior morals". Perhaps I could have been gentler with the poor fellow.... But it was not name calling, he called himself superior. (was it you?)

    And you said,
    "You dismiss Atheism because of a lack of proof (which atheists are quick to point out, there is no proof if there is no deity), yet you simultaneously promote Theism despite a lack of proof."

    First I attack Atheism due to their presumed superiority of Atheists' logical process, which is patently false. Second, the bold portion of your defense is the tu Quoque fallacy to which I referred before. For your entertainment here it is:

    Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. This is a classic Red Herring since whether the accuser is guilty of the same, or a similar, wrong is irrelevant to the truth of the original charge. However, as a diversionary tactic, Tu Quoque can be very effective, since the accuser is put on the defensive, and frequently feels compelled to defend against the accusation.

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/tuquoque.html



    You cannot prove a point by invoking a fallacy. The point remains that you cannot prove a negative, and you believe something you cannot prove. End of subject. Since Atheists historically demand proof, then where is it? A tu Quoque is not an answer. I have not pretended to prove the existence of a deity to you. There is no need for material evidence of a non-material entity (repeated for the nth time). But I must say that the logical probability for there being a first cause for the first effect is quite high due to the following first principles: uniformity of the universe; cause and effect. You may deny this if you wish, and you undoubtedly do wish to do so, but denial does not affect the validity of the first principles.

    You said:
    " If you can't correctly identify your own fallacies, your ability to correctly identify those of other arguers is suspect."


    Yes, I agree totally with that statement. See the above, reading the entire description.

    But I'm on to other things now.

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  25. I'm sorry that you are at a loss to continue this discussion, but in case you are still reading it...

    [A straw man] superficially resembles an opponent's actual view but is easier to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent (for example, deliberately overstating the opponent's position)

    Ironically, your [mis]understanding of a straw man is itself a straw man (despite the clear definition you quoted above), in that you attribute an overstated definition of the fallacy to its description. On top of that, your refusal to allow me (or any atheist, it seems) to deny a dogmatic acceptance of Materialism is a straw man, but this doesn't slow you down.

    It's a bit cumbersome to debate with you, since apparently any analogy to which you object can be labelled as a straw man... In truth, there are legitimate analogies which are not straw men, which category includes both the Celestial Teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Belief in them is analogous to belief in a deity, when no proof -- material, transcendent, ethereal, magical, etc. -- can be offered.

    Your Fred example, however, is also not a straw man, per se -- it is a false analogy, to be sure, and a red herring (the umbrella under which straw man fallacies fall), but it fails the straw man test again because it does not misrepresent the opponent's case. It does not sufficiently resemble the opponent's view (another reason it fails as an analogy), and it says nothing whatsoever about the opponent's position. Additionally, as I and another pointed out, it was based on an argument from popularity -- itself another fallacy, yet still you are unphased.

    Your assertion of the Tu quoque fallacy is another example of a false accusation. The atheist's reminder to the theist that each denies all deities, save the set of deities encompassed by the theist's chosen theology, does not fall under this fallacy because no argument is being made by it. The statement is merely an observational point of fact, and its illustrative value lies in the fact that if the theist asserts that the atheist has committed a fallacy by way of Atheism, then the theist is likewise guilty of the same fallacy. No assertion is made that a fallacy has actually occurred, necessarily, and if such an assertion is made, purely on the basis of this similarity, then yes, Tu quoque has been committed. Unfortunately for your case, this is not true.

    Immediately following your treatise on Tu quoque, however, you plunge directly into committing another fallacy of the Negative proof, and ignore the fact that the theist's entire claim is based on this fallacy. You also continue to beat on your straw man of Materialism, pleading that you need not provide material proof of a deity -- a requirement no one has made. Indeed, if you can provide non-material proof of a deity, then by all means, do so.

    Because there is no proof of its falsehood, the theist would claim, then we must conclude it to be true. Obviously, however, this position cannot hold water, and a simple absurd example -- the Celestial Teapot -- shows us why. If you prefer, I can cease the reliance on the CT, and instead choose to claim that Zeus exists, based on the same principle. Not Zeus? Perhaps Allah? Obviously, we accept the notion that things which are not experienced, or whose experience cannot be shared, do not exist, at least until they can be somehow experienced. This disbelief is precisely the position of Atheism, as you are well aware, and it is the standard position all humans hold regarding a great many imagined phenomena.

    As I said, arguing with one such as you has quickly proven overly tedious. I prefer not to get into a contest of accusations of fallacy, but since your initial post you have cried that every atheist's argument is a straw man, yet that apparently most despised fallacy is also your favorite to use. I have asked you before, and I here repeat myself (in the absence of an answer, initially), whether you believe every analogy is a straw man, if it is successful.

    I would also ask if you consider every temporal statement of fact by a professing atheist to be paradoxical, as you did when I suggested that 'currently science cannot precisely measure the mass of the W-boson'. Since this question is rhetorical (or at least it should be -- though it should also serve the double purpose of exposing yet another flaw in your "logic"), I should also ask if you consider faith of any kind to be paradoxical in an atheist. You have already answered this, in the affirmative, but my compassion dictates that I offer you a chance to correct yourself and/or clarify your position. Faith in the recurrence of a common experience, I should think, differs widely from faith in something never experienced whatsoever.

    --
    Stan

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