Jump to content

Informal Debate: Why Are You An Atheist?


Asimov
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey guys, so I've been thinking...in an endeavour to help any new atheists or old atheists who want to challenge their beliefs, I've decided to set up a casual debate where the atheist brings up reasons for disbelief...thus defending their atheism.

 

Although I know this is kind of a shifting of burden of proof, it's always a good idea to try and challenge yourself, especially with people who share the same belief system as you.

 

So, the first person who replies to this question will be the first person that I deal with...any subsequent posts from other people will have to be put aside, since i want to evaluate one person.

 

This is an experiment for both me and the "opponent".

 

Questions:

1. Why do you not believe in the existence of a maximal being? (God = Maximal Knowledge, Maximal Power, Eternality, Incorruptibility)

2. Why do you not believe in the idea of God as the Universe?

3. Do you think that because there is no evidence for such a being, that the assertion that such a being exists is false?

4. Why is the Cosmological argument invalid? (1. Everything that begins to exist, must have a cause for it's existence. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. The universe has a cause for it's existence)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey guys, so I've been thinking...in an endeavour to help any new atheists or old atheists who want to challenge their beliefs, I've decided to set up a casual debate where the atheist brings up reasons for disbelief...thus defending their atheism.

 

Although I know this is kind of a shifting of burden of proof, it's always a good idea to try and challenge yourself, especially with people who share the same belief system as you.

 

So, the first person who replies to this question will be the first person that I deal with...any subsequent posts from other people will have to be put aside, since i want to evaluate one person.

 

This is an experiment for both me and the "opponent".

 

Questions:

1. Why do you not believe in the existence of a maximal being? (God = Maximal Knowledge, Maximal Power, Eternality, Incorruptibility)

2. Why do you not believe in the idea of God as the Universe?

3. Do you think that because there is no evidence for such a being, that the assertion that such a being exists is false?

4. Why is the Cosmological argument invalid? (1. Everything that begins to exist, must have a cause for it's existence. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. The universe has a cause for it's existence)

Hello Asimov…

 

I’m not sure I want to limit the discussion to just the two of us as I am interested in hearing more that one take on this (or two between you and me), but I was intrigued to answer the questions because they have merit being discussed. I’ll just answer my thoughts to these questions, but would like to hear others answers.

 

1. The reason why I don’t believe in an ultimate being is because nothing in the universe indicates that. Nothing in nature works by virtue of inexplicable magic. There is no need for a God for things to work. There is also no need for a God on a social level to dictate morality. There is also no necessity for a God on a person level for individual fulfillment. If there were an ultimate being, and I use the term being intentionally, it serves no purpose and would be irrelevant to life as it is.

 

2. God as the Universe still suggests an external mind and will, or some force of intention. Again, even if somehow this unseen, immeasurable, “force”, exists, it really serves more as a symbolic idea than anything that has a measurable impact on life. People’s belief in it, tapping into some universal force, is really tapping into new areas of awareness in their own minds. The “universal” nature of experiences of tapping into this is more about common human physiology, IMO. Beliefs in any transcendent ideal eventually all lead to these sorts of responses. For me it’s simply of a choice of language systems and personal ideals, and has nothing to do with any scientific reality.

 

3. Yes, short and simple. I wouldn’t necessary say those who assert it are being false, but I would put it that the assertion of such a being is a belief being taken as fact.

 

4. I agree with cause and effect. But those are truths that apply to this physical universe. Prior to the Big Bang, none of those are relevant. Cause and effect in a pre-universe condition are non-existent. Think the sound of one hand clapping. All bets are off before the universe came into existence as we have it– including conscious thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest waxwings

Actually, I think there is plenty to support the claim that there is no god, in addition to just the lack of evidence of one.

 

First and foremost while we have no evidence of any gods, we do have many different accounts which purport to be of divine or divinely inspired authorship (e.g. the Bible and the Koran). These books make claims that we can test and compare to the real world. The fact that they miserably fail to have an acceptable concordance with our world is a good indication that there is no omniscient god authoring or inspiring them. Thus, we are able to rule out specific gods.

 

This leaves us with the question of 'generic' gods. What are we to make of this 'generic god' with no information though? Having ruled out any specific gods, why on Earth would we rule in a non-specific one? The non-specific god is a product of the failure of a specific god to pass any test we can construct. Being that it is a product of a flawed premise, we can very reasonably assert that there is no god.

 

I would cite the anthropomorphic fallacy as my second reason to be able to positively assert that there is no god. Gods arose as explanations for natural phenomenon. The further back in human history we go, the greater the degree of anthropomorphizing such things as the sun, the rains, etc. As we move forward through history, we find a pattern in which each anthropomorphic (god based) explanation is ruled out. The rain, we discover, does not fall because of an intention or design. The sun rises and sets as a result of a perfectly non-intelligent rotation of the planet.

 

Thus we have determined that the vast, vast, vast majority of the operations taking place within our field of observation are not anthropomorphic in nature. It would be unreasonable to conclude that this non-anthropomorphic universe is the result of an anthropomorphic god, given the ratio of non-intelligence to intelligence. Further, we are able to explain the anthropomorphic fallacy as the product of a narrow, self-centered worldview held by primitive peoples, rather than the much more complex and natural worldview which increasingly conforms to our understanding. Even intelligence itself appears to be a result of non-intelligent forces, not the other way round.

 

Finally, and on a related note, is the classic 'god of the gaps' fallacy. The fact that god's domain is forever being whittled away by science is a strong argument that no god exists. If, for example, certain mysteries of the world were attributed to some divine force and remained mysterious, we would at least have cause to consider the possibility of god, but when this phenomenon or that is initially attributed to some 'god', then later shown to be natural, the theist community simply moves the bar again; the next mystery in the tier becomes god's sole domain (I could write a whole article on how this concept alone is destructive to science and our efforts to learn about the world).

 

If god were a concept with an validity, we ought to at least be able to expect some consistency in what exactly it does. The continuous moving of the bar and reassignment of god to the next tier of 'gaps' in our understanding supports the conclusion that no god exists, and that the theist community is instead backpedalling in order to avoid having to admit they're wrong. At this point in our history, the 'gaps' wherein god must reside are a joke compared to his previously omnipresent and active role in the world.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Asimov…

 

I’m not sure I want to limit the discussion to just the two of us as I am interested in hearing more that one take on this (or two between you and me), but I was intrigued to answer the questions because they have merit being discussed. I’ll just answer my thoughts to these questions, but would like to hear others answers.

 

Sure, I'll open the discussion up to anyone then.

 

1. The reason why I don’t believe in an ultimate being is because nothing in the universe indicates that. Nothing in nature works by virtue of inexplicable magic. There is no need for a God for things to work. There is also no need for a God on a social level to dictate morality. There is also no necessity for a God on a person level for individual fulfillment. If there were an ultimate being, and I use the term being intentionally, it serves no purpose and would be irrelevant to life as it is.

 

Who says that God works through inexplicable magic?

 

1. What things?

2. There is a need for a God to establish an objective moral law, compared to that we have chaos.

3. And just because there is no necessity for a God to be personal for individual fulfillment doesn't mean that some humans don't desire that fulfillment.

 

I think that is an invalid reason to discount God. We haven't established that a Universe doesn't need God to exist, we haven't established that life can exist without being directed by a God. What about the idea that the universe itself indicates that a God exists? Wouldn't life be a testament to the existence of God?

 

DNA itself is a highly coded, complex information system. The only coded information systems we know of that exist are designed by intelligent agents. It's not that far of a stretch to then conclude that DNA is designed by an intelligent agent.

 

2. Beliefs in any transcendent ideal eventually all lead to these sorts of responses. For me it’s simply of a choice of language systems and personal ideals, and has nothing to do with any scientific reality.

 

Scientific reality? What's that? There are a lot of things that we don't know about the universe...for instance this dark energy. If this dark energy didn't exist, the universe would stop expanding and begin to crunch in on itself, wouldn't that kind of suck for humans? Doesn't that type of mysterious energy kind of show that the universe wants life to exist? Or maybe it's a self-sustained perpetual system that is always growing and learning and humans are just one of many different observers in the universe that help the universe as a whole grow and learn?

 

3. Yes, short and simple. I wouldn’t necessary say those who assert it are being false, but I would put it that the assertion of such a being is a belief being taken as fact.

 

That's an argument from silence. You're indicating that lack of evidence proves that a claim is false.

 

4. I agree with cause and effect. But those are truths that apply to this physical universe. Prior to the Big Bang, none of those are relevant. Cause and effect in a pre-universe condition are non-existent. Think the sound of one hand clapping. All bets are off before the universe came into existence as we have it– including conscious thought.

 

What? How is cause and effect negated in a pre-universe condition?

 

Actually, I think there is plenty to support the claim that there is no god, in addition to just the lack of evidence of one.

 

How does lack of evidence indicate that there isn't a God?

 

First and foremost while we have no evidence of any gods, we do have many different accounts which purport to be of divine or divinely inspired authorship (e.g. the Bible and the Koran). These books make claims that we can test and compare to the real world. The fact that they miserably fail to have an acceptable concordance with our world is a good indication that there is no omniscient god authoring or inspiring them. Thus, we are able to rule out specific gods.

 

No, we are able to rule out the books as being divinely inspired. I don't think your statement really follows.

 

This leaves us with the question of 'generic' gods. What are we to make of this 'generic god' with no information though? Having ruled out any specific gods, why on Earth would we rule in a non-specific one? The non-specific god is a product of the failure of a specific god to pass any test we can construct. Being that it is a product of a flawed premise, we can very reasonably assert that there is no god.

 

Again, how is it reasonable to assert that because we cannot come up with any Gods that a god does not exist? That seems like another argument from silence.

 

I would cite the anthropomorphic fallacy as my second reason to be able to positively assert that there is no god. Gods arose as explanations for natural phenomenon. The further back in human history we go, the greater the degree of anthropomorphizing such things as the sun, the rains, etc. As we move forward through history, we find a pattern in which each anthropomorphic (god based) explanation is ruled out. The rain, we discover, does not fall because of an intention or design. The sun rises and sets as a result of a perfectly non-intelligent rotation of the planet.

 

What if the natural phenomenon we DO see IS a result of intelligent design? Wouldn't a perfectly designed system not indicate the existence of a designer? That would speak of a pretty good design. Even humans have created self-sustaining systems like "the game of life", which just needs you to start it and it goes on in perpetuity. We've created entire virtual worlds that could in theory run on its own.

 

It would be unreasonable to conclude that this non-anthropomorphic universe is the result of an anthropomorphic god, given the ratio of non-intelligence to intelligence. Further, we are able to explain the anthropomorphic fallacy as the product of a narrow, self-centered worldview held by primitive peoples, rather than the much more complex and natural worldview which increasingly conforms to our understanding. Even intelligence itself appears to be a result of non-intelligent forces, not the other way round.

 

So, if we rule out anthropomorphism, then we must conclude that God's identity is that of something nonanthropomorphic. Intelligence appears to be a result of non-intelligent forces only through the great design of the system!

 

The fact that god's domain is forever being whittled away by science is a strong argument that no god exists. If, for example, certain mysteries of the world were attributed to some divine force and remained mysterious, we would at least have cause to consider the possibility of god, but when this phenomenon or that is initially attributed to some 'god', then later shown to be natural, the theist community simply moves the bar again; the next mystery in the tier becomes god's sole domain (I could write a whole article on how this concept alone is destructive to science and our efforts to learn about the world).

 

You're saying that because people commit the fallacy of an appeal to wonder that God does not exist? That's the 'fallacy' fallacy.

 

If god were a concept with an validity, we ought to at least be able to expect some consistency in what exactly it does. The continuous moving of the bar and reassignment of god to the next tier of 'gaps' in our understanding supports the conclusion that no god exists, and that the theist community is instead backpedalling in order to avoid having to admit they're wrong. At this point in our history, the 'gaps' wherein god must reside are a joke compared to his previously omnipresent and active role in the world.

 

You're just showing the inability of humanity to comprehend the scope of God's actions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll give it a shot, Asimov, if I may...

Questions:

1. Why do you not believe in the existence of a maximal being? (God = Maximal Knowledge, Maximal Power, Eternality, Incorruptibility)

2. Why do you not believe in the idea of God as the Universe?

3. Do you think that because there is no evidence for such a being, that the assertion that such a being exists is false?

4. Why is the Cosmological argument invalid? (1. Everything that begins to exist, must have a cause for it's existence. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. The universe has a cause for it's existence)

 

1. This one I would answer based on evidence. From my own perspective, I simply do not see a compelling reason to believe in the existence of a maximal being with these attributes. Although the existence of such an entity cannot be ruled out, neither is there sufficient evidence to conclude beyond doubt that the entity exists. The maximal being, therefore, is theoretical.

 

2. Based on the attributes of (1), knowledge is the acquiring, retention, and manipulation of information. We know that this occurs by a physical-chemical process within life forms that are based on the element carbon. For the universe itself to be the maximal being, it would have to have a way of retaining information (knowledge) by a process other than what is known. Although such a method may exist, we cannot say it does based on the information we have. Therefore, although it may be said that the universe could meet the last three attributes, it would be speculative to conclude that the attribute of maximal knowledge has been met.

 

3. No. The issue here lies in the interpretation of the evidence. Whereas I might observe the universe and the movements of the bodies within, the physical and chemical processes taking place therein, the process of life on this planet, and so on, and conclude that it is a marvelous reality, but does not in itself prove the existence of the entity in (1), others may interpret differently. Many other people have observed these same phenomena and concluded that this wondrous system could not have come about by random chance, but had to be at least conceived by an intelligent designer beyond our understanding. However, my observation that the universe is simply what it is does not in itself rule out the existence of the maximal entity. Therefore, while there are certainly those who base their belief in god on such observations, I cannot make that leap. My interpretations of the evidence don't allow for it.

 

4. I would focus on #2. My thinking goes to the laws of conservation of matter and energy, to wit that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, if the universe is composed of matter and energy, and neither can be created or destroyed, it would follow that the universe has eternality. It has always existed in some form. Therefore, it would be my observation that the first and second attributes are not met, since there was no "beginning" of the universe, only changes in form as required by the laws of conservation. Without these two attributes, the third need not be considered, i.e. the universe has no demonstrable cause for its existence.

 

Thanks for the discussion opportunity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest waxwings

How does lack of evidence indicate that there isn't a God?

 

Given that one of two possible conclusions can be drawn regarding the existence of god, and further that the lack of evidence does not support the conclusion that he/she/it does exist, and still further that positive assertions are baseless without some kind of evidence, I classify lack of evidence as supporting the 'does not exist' conclusion, rather than being just neutral (unless you want to spend time refuting claims that everything we can imagine exists in reality).

 

Be that as it may, if you prefer to see a lack of evidence as neutral, feel free. My arguments certainly don't rely on that.

 

No, we are able to rule out the books as being divinely inspired. I don't think your statement really follows.

 

It's not sufficient to just say that my conclusion doesn't follow. A reason why would be nice. If, for example, every instance we observe of a phenomenon is fraud, and no instances are not fraud, we should quite reasonably conclude fraud. You must explain why we should reject that conclusion.

 

Again, how is it reasonable to assert that because we cannot come up with any Gods that a god does not exist? That seems like another argument from silence.

 

See above. It is not argument from silence. Silence implies we have no examples to look at for comparison. With god, we have numerous examples. Moreover we can trace their origins and lineages, so to speak. This is positive evidence which exists in the real, physical world and can be objectively verified and falsified.

 

Note further that the 'generic' god concept follows the specific god concept, i.e., the idea of just some vague undefined god (a concept which in and of itself cannot exist for reasons I discuss below) arises as a result of specific god concepts being refuted. Since this 'generic god' originates from the already established as false 'specific gods', we are quite within reason to rule it out as well.

 

What if the natural phenomenon we DO see IS a result of intelligent design?

 

The burden of proof rests on you. When I see evidence of 'intelligent design' (a clear method of testing for this phenomenon would be nice), we can discuss it.

 

Wouldn't a perfectly designed system not indicate the existence of a designer? That would speak of a pretty good design. Even humans have created self-sustaining systems like "the game of life", which just needs you to start it and it goes on in perpetuity. We've created entire virtual worlds that could in theory run on its own.

 

Very sloppy. I'm surprised you so flagrantly contradict yourself, Asimov. Bruce led me to believe you were formidable :grin: . You'll have to do better.

 

Your first claim, that a designed system would not let on that it was designed has no logical support I can think of, and you've provided none. Conversely, I can imagine many reasons why, in fact, this god would make its presence known; especially if, as the theist community maintains consistently, it wishes to be known and worshipped.

 

Further, you then draw an analogy between human designed systems and organic life. But don't those human designed systems all self-identify as human designed? If not, what are all those logos and loading screens about? If we consistently apply your analogy, we should expect to see god's logo somewhere in our own design, thus your analogy conflicts with your first claim, that god would wish anonymity.

 

So, if we rule out anthropomorphism, then we must conclude that God's identity is that of something nonanthropomorphic. Intelligence appears to be a result of non-intelligent forces only through the great design of the system!

 

LMAO! I'm almost hesitant to respond to this. However, for the purposes of this 'debate', I classify as 'god' an anthropomorphic being; i.e. one that has intelligence, feelings, thoughts, and purpose which are analogous to our own. Some mysterious, non intelligent force would not qualify as god to me, as, at the very least, it would not expect us to worship it. If you want to argue the existence of 'mysterious non intelligent force', feel free, but don't call it a 'god' and don't feel insulted if I decline to debate it.

 

You're saying that because people commit the fallacy of an appeal to wonder that God does not exist? That's the 'fallacy' fallacy.

 

You're misrepresenting my argument. I am not refuting some appeal to wonder. I'm refuting the god of the gaps, wherein god is not held to any standard that can ever be tested; the fact that theists make claim X about god, then fail to reject god when claim X is shown to be false, is strong evidence against the existence of god, as it is evidence for the claim that their belief is instead rooted in cognitive dissonance.

 

You're just showing the inability of humanity to comprehend the scope of God's actions.

 

Actually, I'm showing the inability of humans to say, even in vague terms, what the hell god is. We cannot say with any validity that an undefined concept exists because its existence relies on having some scope or parameters which we can use to say 'this is where X begins and X ends'. Without those parameters, X can be anything; thus without them, it's no more valid to say X is god than it is to say X is a dog, or a banana (see Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron for more on bananas).

 

Hope you're having fun taking the theist position. I'm sorry to say I don't feel that you've made me your bitch just yet :wink: .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gimme a break, waxwings...I've so owned your ass with my superior theistic ideas.

 

Lol....this is hard, man...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In all fairness to the amount of effort you have put into this discussion, waxwings, I'm going to end the goofiness and try a little harder.

 

Given that one of two possible conclusions can be drawn regarding the existence of god, and further that the lack of evidence does not support the conclusion that he/she/it does exist, and still further that positive assertions are baseless without some kind of evidence, I classify lack of evidence as supporting the 'does not exist' conclusion, rather than being just neutral (unless you want to spend time refuting claims that everything we can imagine exists in reality).

 

Well, waxwings, the point of what I'm trying to say is that the old adage "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence". This points true in scientific circles as well as philosophical circles. We cannot base our conclusions of the truth or falsity of a claim in absence of evidence.

 

Personally, I don't think that something exists until proven not to or that something does not exist until proven to.

 

It's not sufficient to just say that my conclusion doesn't follow. A reason why would be nice. If, for example, every instance we observe of a phenomenon is fraud, and no instances are not fraud, we should quite reasonably conclude fraud. You must explain why we should reject that conclusion.

 

Well, to say that because religious books who claim divine inspiration are fallacious shows that a divine entity does not exist is a non sequiter. The lack of divinely inspired religious books only point to a lack of divinely inspired religious books. It's not a requirement for God to inspire books, nor is it necessary for him to inspire humans at all.

 

This is positive evidence which exists in the real, physical world and can be objectively verified and falsified.

 

Note further that the 'generic' god concept follows the specific god concept, i.e., the idea of just some vague undefined god (a concept which in and of itself cannot exist for reasons I discuss below) arises as a result of specific god concepts being refuted. Since this 'generic god' originates from the already established as false 'specific gods', we are quite within reason to rule it out as well.

 

Could you establish for me what you mean by undefined? How does one go about defining something?

 

Further, you then draw an analogy between human designed systems and organic life. But don't those human designed systems all self-identify as human designed? If not, what are all those logos and loading screens about? If we consistently apply your analogy, we should expect to see god's logo somewhere in our own design, thus your analogy conflicts with your first claim, that god would wish anonymity.

 

Assuming that God is a corporate entity... :scratch:

 

I'm not trying to create a correlation between human systems and organic life. I'm saying that if we observe the idea of language within life itself (DNA), and language is a concept of intelligence and information...what else are we to conclude except that DNA itself is a coded information system designed by a maximal being?

 

I classify as 'god' an anthropomorphic being; i.e. one that has intelligence, feelings, thoughts, and purpose which are analogous to our own.

 

How is intelligence anthropomorphic? How are feelings and thoughts and purpose anthropomorphic? They are concepts that are created by humans, but they are shared by all sentient beings.

 

You're misrepresenting my argument. I am not refuting some appeal to wonder. I'm refuting the god of the gaps, wherein god is not held to any standard that can ever be tested; the fact that theists make claim X about god, then fail to reject god when claim X is shown to be false, is strong evidence against the existence of god, as it is evidence for the claim that their belief is instead rooted in cognitive dissonance.

 

What would you say would be indicative of a God existing?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. This one I would answer based on evidence. From my own perspective, I simply do not see a compelling reason to believe in the existence of a maximal being with these attributes. Although the existence of such an entity cannot be ruled out, neither is there sufficient evidence to conclude beyond doubt that the entity exists. The maximal being, therefore, is theoretical.

 

Would not the very existence of the universe itself point to something necessary to start the universe going? What about the fact that without a God, human beings are purposeless entities? Purpose implies creation with intent and a specific design. Without God, we weren't created to fulfill a certain need or goal...we just are and we just function.

 

2. Based on the attributes of (1), knowledge is the acquiring, retention, and manipulation of information. We know that this occurs by a physical-chemical process within life forms that are based on the element carbon. For the universe itself to be the maximal being, it would have to have a way of retaining information (knowledge) by a process other than what is known. Although such a method may exist, we cannot say it does based on the information we have. Therefore, although it may be said that the universe could meet the last three attributes, it would be speculative to conclude that the attribute of maximal knowledge has been met.

 

Knowledge is a justified true belief. A being would only need to be sentient in order to have a justified true belief.

 

3. However, my observation that the universe is simply what it is does not in itself rule out the existence of the maximal entity. Therefore, while there are certainly those who base their belief in god on such observations, I cannot make that leap. My interpretations of the evidence don't allow for it.

 

Would that not just point to your own hindrance and not an objective statement?

 

4. I would focus on #2. My thinking goes to the laws of conservation of matter and energy, to wit that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, if the universe is composed of matter and energy, and neither can be created or destroyed, it would follow that the universe has eternality. It has always existed in some form. Therefore, it would be my observation that the first and second attributes are not met, since there was no "beginning" of the universe, only changes in form as required by the laws of conservation. Without these two attributes, the third need not be considered, i.e. the universe has no demonstrable cause for its existence.

 

The Thermodynamic Laws can be broken in quantum events and in the instance of small closed systems where we see a decrease in entropy or random particles popping into and out of existence. The Laws are only general observances, not absolutes. There was a beginning of the universe...waht do you think the Big Bang was?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would not the very existence of the universe itself point to something necessary to start the universe going? What about the fact that without a God, human beings are purposeless entities? Purpose implies creation with intent and a specific design. Without God, we weren't created to fulfill a certain need or goal...we just are and we just function.

Given that the universe as we know it had an origin, that would indeed imply a trigger mechanism. That is not saying the trigger has to have intelligence.

The second question addresses a different subject. If there were a god, what then is the purpose if a human being? What purpose did this god have in mind? The purpose, rather, of a human being can be imposed, for example by a parent or a slaveowner, or can be self-defined. Creation of a human being is simply the result of the process of sexual reproduction, and the design is determined by molecular structure. But as to purpose, even a deeply god-believing person, whose stated purpose may be to "serve god and do his will" is still determining his/her own purpose.

 

Knowledge is a justified true belief. A being would only need to be sentient in order to have a justified true belief.

 

That still does not establish that a being with sentience, and therefore capable of knowledge, can exist outside of a molecular framework.

 

Would that not just point to your own hindrance and not an objective statement?

Rather than a hindrance, I would use the term "limitation", although admittedly a self-imposed one. My threshold for an acceptable level of confidence in a conclusion is then set at an obviously different level than an individual for whom the evidence supports the conclusion (that a deity exists)

 

The Thermodynamic Laws can be broken in quantum events and in the instance of small closed systems where we see a decrease in entropy or random particles popping into and out of existence. The Laws are only general observances, not absolutes. There was a beginning of the universe...waht do you think the Big Bang was?

The laws still imply that there is a finite amount of matter and energy in the universe. The Big Bang is the generally accepted model for the cosmology, but it still suggests the universe originated from a primordial mass, not from nothing. It indicates that physical and chemical processes were at work, not intelligence. We know that the universe as we observe it had such an origin, and that it is expanding. We do not know if it will at some point begin to collapse, which will take even more multi-billions of years to accomplish, and start the whole process over. (The "heartbeat of reality" if you will) But there is nothing here that suggests the whole thing to be conceived as a design by an intelligent entity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to throw my two cents in and describe what makes me an Atheist. I suck at debate, so I will just throw out my position. K?

 

Yes, I am an Atheist and up to this point I have been ambiguous concerning my beliefs or lack there of. I am not a theist, which makes me an Atheist. I do not have a belief in god/s. Does that mean that I am not open to the possibility that there may be one? No. Does that mean that I can without a doubt prove that there is no god/s? No Does it mean that I can read Asimov's posts here and consider the possibility that there may be something? Yes.

 

I do not have beliefs in god/s. Do I have leanings toward beliefs? Sometimes. They change all the time. I spent many years of my life believing in the Christian God and discovered it didn't exist. Even after my deconversion searching in other beliefs (mostly New Age). I hoped to get confirmation for my own there was something. I was and am a finite being searching for the infinate and all I know in terms of life and all existance, including the universe itself, points to it being finite. Could I be wrong? Absolutely, and I hope I am. So, I'll just spend the rest of my life looking for answers to my question that in all probability will never be answered. It's just that now, I'm at peace with that realization.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given that the universe as we know it had an origin, that would indeed imply a trigger mechanism. That is not saying the trigger has to have intelligence.

 

No, that's true, it definitely doesn't imply that. Yet we can look at the certain probabilities of the universe coming to be and the fine-tuning needed in order for it to be exactly the way it is and you still say that doesn't imply an intelligence?

 

If there were a god, what then is the purpose if a human being? What purpose did this god have in mind? The purpose, rather, of a human being can be imposed, for example by a parent or a slaveowner, or can be self-defined. Creation of a human being is simply the result of the process of sexual reproduction, and the design is determined by molecular structure. But as to purpose, even a deeply god-believing person, whose stated purpose may be to "serve god and do his will" is still determining his/her own purpose.

 

A parent didn't "create" a child. Creation would imply design for a specific function. A parent did not design the child, and did not make it for a specific function. A slave-owner is the same, and you did not create yourself so you cannot define purpose for yourself. You can define and create goals in order to make yourself happy, but that's not assigning purpose.

 

God imposes the purpose on human beings if he created them, and we are fulfilling that purpose because we are created for a purpose. People saying that their purpose is to "serve God and do his will" are only stating their desire.

 

That still does not establish that a being with sentience, and therefore capable of knowledge, can exist outside of a molecular framework.

 

No, but that doesn't mean that God wouldn't be molecular anyways.

 

The laws still imply that there is a finite amount of matter and energy in the universe. The Big Bang is the generally accepted model for the cosmology, but it still suggests the universe originated from a primordial mass, not from nothing.

 

No, and I am not implying that it originated from nothing. I'm just saying that the Laws of Thermodynamics aren't absolute. You seem to contradict yourself though, by first stating that there was no beginning, and then stating that there was a beginning. Could you clarify?

 

Was there a beginning or not?

 

But there is nothing here that suggests the whole thing to be conceived as a design by an intelligent entity.

 

Not even the probability of the universe coming into existence the way it is?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, that's true, it definitely doesn't imply that. Yet we can look at the certain probabilities of the universe coming to be and the fine-tuning needed in order for it to be exactly the way it is and you still say that doesn't imply an intelligence?

That is correct. Although we may be able to determine probabilites for these events that have transpired over billions of years, wherein lies the element of "fine-tuning"? That would imply that an entity oversaw the event and manipulated the development of the universe so that its outcome would be as it is now. There is no evidence for that, nor is there any allowance that the universe has come to be as we observe it simply in response to random chance, or at the very least, in response to natural physical-chemical processes. It does not imply intelligence.

 

A parent didn't "create" a child. Creation would imply design for a specific function. A parent did not design the child, and did not make it for a specific function. A slave-owner is the same, and you did not create yourself so you cannot define purpose for yourself. You can define and create goals in order to make yourself happy, but that's not assigning purpose.

 

God imposes the purpose on human beings if he created them, and we are fulfilling that purpose because we are created for a purpose. People saying that their purpose is to "serve God and do his will" are only stating their desire.

 

I would say two parents, male and female, do indeed "create" a child as a result of sexual reproduction; "procreation". They may not have done so with a specific purpose in mind other than to fulfill an instinctive function, that is, to contribute to the survival of the species. Beyond that, the parents may define the purpose of the child to be a contributing member of the community, and all that follows. (As to more specific functions, the endpoint of genomic research points to the ability to literally design children with certain predetermined attributes and talents, but that's for the future) A slaveowner it seems would buy or develop a slave for a purpose, i.e. to supply labor pursuant to the maintenance of the manor.

 

I don't follow the thinking in the second paragraph. How has any divinity imposed a purpose on the human race, and just what is that purpose and the evidence thereof?

 

Perhaps my problem here is my understanding of what is meant by the term "purpose" for purposes of this discussion.

 

No, but that doesn't mean that God wouldn't be molecular anyways.

That is true. Although a deity need not be molecular, we have not observed a living being that was not. Therefore, one cannot assume such a being exists.

 

No, and I am not implying that it originated from nothing. I'm just saying that the Laws of Thermodynamics aren't absolute. You seem to contradict yourself though, by first stating that there was no beginning, and then stating that there was a beginning. Could you clarify?

 

Was there a beginning or not?

By way of clarification, let me state that there is consensus that the universe had a beginning. It began as an explosion, the "big bang", of a primordial mass. That primordial mass itself has not been observed. What has been observed, is the universe as we know it. So, I do acknowledge that the universe as it appears now, had a beginning.

 

We must also remember that what we can observe of the universe has limitations. For example, events recorded by the Hubbel telescope are actually events that happened long ago. We have no way to observe what is going on in deep space right now, in real time within our frame of reference. There is no mechanism by which we can see events that are occuring light-years away.

 

Not even the probability of the universe coming into existence the way it is?

What exactly is the probability of the universe coming into existence the way it is, and if there is a methodology to calculate that, is that methodology valid? In other words, could the universe's presentation as it is simply be the result of a series of random events? If not, why? After all, if the big bang be true, that chaotic event would certainly set up innumerable "rolls of the dice", would it not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to throw my two cents in and describe what makes me an Atheist. I suck at debate, so I will just throw out my position. K?

 

Yes, I am an Atheist and up to this point I have been ambiguous concerning my beliefs or lack there of. I am not a theist, which makes me an Atheist. I do not have a belief in god/s. Does that mean that I am not open to the possibility that there may be one? No. Does that mean that I can without a doubt prove that there is no god/s? No Does it mean that I can read Asimov's posts here and consider the possibility that there may be something? Yes.

 

I do not have beliefs in god/s. Do I have leanings toward beliefs? Sometimes. They change all the time. I spent many years of my life believing in the Christian God and discovered it didn't exist. Even after my deconversion searching in other beliefs (mostly New Age). I hoped to get confirmation for my own there was something. I was and am a finite being searching for the infinate and all I know in terms of life and all existance, including the universe itself, points to it being finite. Could I be wrong? Absolutely, and I hope I am. So, I'll just spend the rest of my life looking for answers to my question that in all probability will never be answered. It's just that now, I'm at peace with that realization.

 

 

Thanks for sharing your ideas, Taph. I appreciate that.

 

Can I ask a question?

 

Why do you hope you're wrong?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is correct. Although we may be able to determine probabilites for these events that have transpired over billions of years, wherein lies the element of "fine-tuning"? That would imply that an entity oversaw the event and manipulated the development of the universe so that its outcome would be as it is now. There is no evidence for that, nor is there any allowance that the universe has come to be as we observe it simply in response to random chance, or at the very least, in response to natural physical-chemical processes. It does not imply intelligence.

 

Well, the idea of fine-tuning is the basic idea that were certain aspects of the universe to be any different (the laws of physics - for instance), that none of this would be here. We would have an empty universe. Being that all of this is here, and the probability that it would be like this is extremely low...it indicates an intelligent being behind the creation.

 

I would say two parents, male and female, do indeed "create" a child as a result of sexual reproduction; "procreation". They may not have done so with a specific purpose in mind other than to fulfill an instinctive function, that is, to contribute to the survival of the species. Beyond that, the parents may define the purpose of the child to be a contributing member of the community, and all that follows. (As to more specific functions, the endpoint of genomic research points to the ability to literally design children with certain predetermined attributes and talents, but that's for the future) A slaveowner it seems would buy or develop a slave for a purpose, i.e. to supply labor pursuant to the maintenance of the manor.

 

In order for something to have purpose, it would have to be:

 

1. Designed.

2. Created with that design in mind.

 

Procreation is just the generation of offspring.

 

How has any divinity imposed a purpose on the human race, and just what is that purpose and the evidence thereof?

 

It was just hypothetical thinking. I'm indicating that we have no purpose if God does not exist to create us.

 

That is true. Although a deity need not be molecular, we have not observed a living being that was not. Therefore, one cannot assume such a being exists.

 

Very true.

 

By way of clarification, let me state that there is consensus that the universe had a beginning. It began as an explosion, the "big bang", of a primordial mass. That primordial mass itself has not been observed. What has been observed, is the universe as we know it. So, I do acknowledge that the universe as it appears now, had a beginning.

 

We must also remember that what we can observe of the universe has limitations. For example, events recorded by the Hubbel telescope are actually events that happened long ago. We have no way to observe what is going on in deep space right now, in real time within our frame of reference. There is no mechanism by which we can see events that are occuring light-years away.

 

Ok, understood.

 

What exactly is the probability of the universe coming into existence the way it is, and if there is a methodology to calculate that, is that methodology valid? In other words, could the universe's presentation as it is simply be the result of a series of random events? If not, why? After all, if the big bang be true, that chaotic event would certainly set up innumerable "rolls of the dice", would it not?

 

I can't speak of the probability off the top of my head, but I do have a few videos on hand that talk about this fine-tuning a bit more.

 

I don't know, it might be the result of random events, but it's extremely unlikely that we are here, at least that's what the math seems to indicate. Would you agree that it might be putting the cart before the horse to advocate a probability event that really has no goal?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being that all of this is here, and the probability that it would be like this is extremely low...it indicates an intelligent being behind the creation.

If you were to drop a group of 100 marbles on the ground from a height of four feet, the probability of the marbles landing in the pattern they did would be small. If you dropped 1000, it would be smaller still. No intelligent being is evident in that scenario. Now, given the pattern of the universe after the bang, with its distribution of millions of galaxies comprised of billions of celestial bodies, that would certainly be a low probability...but still, it turned out as it did. That does not in itself seem to constitute evidence of intelligence, but rather that it simply happened as it did.

 

In order for something to have purpose, it would have to be:

 

1. Designed.

2. Created with that design in mind.

 

I'm indicating that we have no purpose if God does not exist to create us.

 

This for me has been the most difficult point to frame a response to, and I think that is because it's not something I can be objective about. Based on earlier discussions, I cannot say that human beings seem to be designed and created (by a god) to fulfill some purpose. Therefore, under the defining parameters you've given it would thus appear we have no objectively defined purpose originating from outside ourselves. However, we both know that others would differ, based on subjective feelings of belief that such a purpose exists.

 

I don't know, it might be the result of random events, but it's extremely unlikely that we are here, at least that's what the math seems to indicate. Would you agree that it might be putting the cart before the horse to advocate a probability event that really has no goal?

 

It's also unlikely that a given person with a mega-millions lottery ticket will be the winner. But it is possible, and winners of course do happen, despite the low probability. I don't see how it's putting the cart before the horse to say simply that the universe is here, but we can't determine what, if any, goal exists for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest waxwings

In all fairness to the amount of effort you have put into this discussion, waxwings, I'm going to end the goofiness and try a little harder.

 

Groovy :grin: I realize you're fighting quite an uphill battle here. And to think people think playing the devil's advocate is hard!

 

Well, waxwings, the point of what I'm trying to say is that the old adage "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence". This points true in scientific circles as well as philosophical circles. We cannot base our conclusions of the truth or falsity of a claim in absence of evidence.

 

Personally, I don't think that something exists until proven not to or that something does not exist until proven to...to say that because religious books who claim divine inspiration are fallacious shows that a divine entity does not exist is a non sequiter. The lack of divinely inspired religious books only point to a lack of divinely inspired religious books. It's not a requirement for God to inspire books, nor is it necessary for him to inspire humans at all.

 

We're not looking at the absence of evidence here, though; we're looking at the only evidence we have for this thing called god. These sources have all the attributes and patterns that would conform to a myth, so we have a positive assertion here that god is a myth. We have no positive assertion that withstands scrutiny that he is anything but a myth.

 

To say that because our only sources indicate that god is a myth, and we should therefore conclude that god is a myth is not a non sequitur; that conclusion quite reasonably follows that premise. Now if you could just provide some sources that gave us evidence that god was anything but a myth, we might have basis for drawing another conclusion.

 

Could you establish for me what you mean by undefined? How does one go about defining something?

 

Yipes. I'll leave that to Socrates. In the meantime, the 'undefined' nature of god means we have no information on which to say what he is or is not (or even if he is a he), unless of course you go to mythical sources (see above).

 

Assuming that God is a corporate entity... :scratch:

 

I'm not trying to create a correlation between human systems and organic life. I'm saying that if we observe the idea of language within life itself (DNA), and language is a concept of intelligence and information...what else are we to conclude except that DNA itself is a coded information system designed by a maximal being?

 

Now this I would call a non sequitur. The problem here seems to be that you have ruled out, a priori, the possibility that intelligence can arise from non intelligent processes, in spite of the fact that all observations to date support this conclusion.

 

Also, it is worth noting that while intelligence is something we see resulting from these forces, it is not something we see resulting with any intelligent purpose. For all our complexity, our sole purpose, if it could even be called such, is to copy ourselves. To paraphrase Dawkins, an elephant is just an elephant's genes very roundabout way of replicating themselves.

 

That DNA could be described as a coded information system does not mean that it was designed. We might well look at the geological record, with its layers of sedimentation and conclude that they are some 'coded history' of earth, but we can also quite easily see that no intelligence need to design the geological record.

 

How is intelligence anthropomorphic? How are feelings and thoughts and purpose anthropomorphic? They are concepts that are created by humans, but they are shared by all sentient beings.

 

When other sentient beings speak up for themselves in a way we can understand, perhaps we can redefine the term 'anthropomorphic' to include them. But the fact remains that early peoples did not see the sun as a great fusion reactor in space around which the Earth revolved. They saw it as a man in a chariot, with a job to do. It was out of this sort of reasoning that gods arose. We should not recognize the anthropomophization of the sun without also discounting the claim that the sun is a god.

 

What would you say would be indicative of a God existing?

 

I confess that I can't even think of evidence that would convince me, hence my atheism. Nor is it for lack of trying; being an atheist is wildly unpopular. Even if some being appeared and claimed to be god, how would I know if it was really god, or just some amazingly powerful alien? Would accepting that being as god mean I was now indebted to it for creation, and must worship it? Here again, we see the undefined nature of god makes proving its existence problematic, to say the least. This is not to say that I reject any and all evidence that might be submitted, but only that I lack the imagination to know how god might manifest itself in such a way as to be convincing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're not looking at the absence of evidence here, though; we're looking at the only evidence we have for this thing called god. These sources have all the attributes and patterns that would conform to a myth, so we have a positive assertion here that god is a myth. We have no positive assertion that withstands scrutiny that he is anything but a myth.

 

To say that because our only sources indicate that god is a myth, and we should therefore conclude that god is a myth is not a non sequitur; that conclusion quite reasonably follows that premise. Now if you could just provide some sources that gave us evidence that god was anything but a myth, we might have basis for drawing another conclusion.

 

Cool, I'd agree with that, waxwings. Very well articulated.

 

I'm going to try and clarify what you're saying:

 

The only evidence we have for God are holy books.

Holy books that are written establish that God exists, but each holy book is fallacious.

The holy book points to God being nothing but a myth.

God is nothing but a myth.

 

Is that a sufficient summary?

 

 

Yipes. I'll leave that to Socrates. In the meantime, the 'undefined' nature of god means we have no information on which to say what he is or is not (or even if he is a he), unless of course you go to mythical sources (see above).

 

Would you agree that something with a definition must have:

 

1. Primary Attributes

2. Secondary Attributes

3. Relational Attributes

 

That DNA could be described as a coded information system does not mean that it was designed. We might well look at the geological record, with its layers of sedimentation and conclude that they are some 'coded history' of earth, but we can also quite easily see that no intelligence need to design the geological record.

 

But the geological record doesn't contain syntax.

 

I confess that I can't even think of evidence that would convince me, hence my atheism. Nor is it for lack of trying; being an atheist is wildly unpopular. Even if some being appeared and claimed to be god, how would I know if it was really god, or just some amazingly powerful alien? Would accepting that being as god mean I was now indebted to it for creation, and must worship it? Here again, we see the undefined nature of god makes proving its existence problematic, to say the least. This is not to say that I reject any and all evidence that might be submitted, but only that I lack the imagination to know how god might manifest itself in such a way as to be convincing.

 

Those are some good answers.

 

I hope all you atheists are reading this stuff. This is exactly what I was looking for. Discussion between atheists about why they disbelieve and the best reasons for that disbelief.

 

Dissemble your beliefs, analyze the logistics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, and because there's no reason to believe in God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Asimov,

I'd be the last one here to argue with you, but you said...

 

 

"I hope all you atheists are reading this stuff. This is exactly what I was looking for. Discussion between atheists about why they disbelieve and the best reasons for that disbelief".

 

Doesn't it seem a bit silly to ask 'atheists' what they 'disbelieve' in? I mean, by definition, does the atheist believe in anything (Godwise and etc.)? How can a person who doesn't believe, disbelieve?

 

Sometimes, too much big city learning seems a bit much to a country boy, ten dollar words and all.

 

No offence... :grin:

 

Duder

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Asimov,

I'd be the last one here to argue with you, but you said...

 

 

"I hope all you atheists are reading this stuff. This is exactly what I was looking for. Discussion between atheists about why they disbelieve and the best reasons for that disbelief".

 

Doesn't it seem a bit silly to ask 'atheists' what they 'disbelieve' in? I mean, by definition, does the atheist believe in anything (Godwise and etc.)? How can a person who doesn't believe, disbelieve?

 

Sometimes, too much big city learning seems a bit much to a country boy, ten dollar words and all.

 

No offence... :grin:

 

Duder

 

Hehe...jerk. It's semantics.

 

The atheist does believe in something. He believes that God is not there. Or he disbelieves in the presence of God. Same thing, change the words, take a shit, woo!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't believe in any gods because there is no reason to. There is not one shred of evidence that any of the gods found in any human literature exists anywhere outside of that literature. The very concept of a god is based on mythology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't believe in any gods because there is no reason to. There is not one shred of evidence that any of the gods found in any human literature exists anywhere outside of that literature. The very concept of a god is based on mythology.

 

 

What about people who don't have literature but believe in God? Religion came before literature.

 

Mythology is based on actual events...does that mean that the God concept is based on actual events?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't believe in any gods because there is no reason to. There is not one shred of evidence that any of the gods found in any human literature exists anywhere outside of that literature. The very concept of a god is based on mythology.
What about people who don't have literature but believe in God? Religion came before literature.
Non sequitur.
Mythology is based on actual events...does that mean that the God concept is based on actual events?
Mythology is based on mythology. It does mean that the gods mentioned there in are myths, and not real. They are not based on actual events and most likely based on misconceptions of perceived events by a scientifically ignorant people.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.