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Constantine XI View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 07:21
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:


I don't follow what your trying to do here.

But I would be very hesitant when suggesting that we can mathematically determine convenience, or the census data really reflects a nations religion, let alone who an individual mixes with.


You suggested that it would be more convenient for a person to go along with an atheist position if they were outnumbered significantly by atheists within their social groups. While I do not disagree with this, my hypothetical above demonstrated that even one of the most atheism prone countries in the world in the conditions mathematically applied to ensure maximum atheist dominance in social groupings, that for the vast bulk of people they would never find themself in the position you suggest. So my point stands that is it generally more convenient for a person to go along with the majority if they are a theist.

Yes, I did use the census data. It won't be 100% accurate, but for the question on religion I doubt it would be less than 95% accurate. If you have a better source, please provide it.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Your confusing the doctrine of a religion with the religion. The same can be said about most religious books written about Islam & Christianity. The Quran and the Bible are not the only religious books in Islam & Christianity. All your saying here is that the God Delusion doesn't claim to be a book of revelation.
I am claiming atheism is a faith, and the book does endorse atheism.
There is plenty of literature of which this book is a part from an atheist point of view, that teaches an atheist outlook on life, that has virtually no value whatsoever to the non-atheist except to learn what atheists believe.


Actually the book largely confines itself to examining why people believe in God and how these beliefs are a result of human rather than divine origin. It does not "teach" atheism, as you claim.

You have claimed atheism is a faith over and over, without really substantiating how. First you attempted to list a series of behaviours which atheists engage in and characteristics of atheist thought which are equivalent to religion. For these claims, you either did not provide any evidence, or you did provide examples which upon closer scrutiny turned out to be invalid (ADHD cure, people ignoring Lamarck, preference for mainstream over homeopathic medicine).

You claim atheism is a faith. But faith, by its definition, contains dogma and continues to exist even when all evidence and convenience is to the contrary. Which makes your next statement likewise invalid:

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Dawkins preaches atheism, and upholds atheist values, one of which is the idea that if superior proof is provided they'd change their beliefs.


Now to your other points:

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Empiricisim has nothing to do with the non-existance of God.
The non-existance of God is not a scientific hypothesis, referring to science is just to use peoples faith in science to justify faith in atheism. The two actually have nothing to do with each other.


Why does empiricism have nothing to do with the existance of God? All theist belief systems record manifestations of divine power which we should be able to develop measures of to engage in understanding variables. So we should be able to verify the existence of divinity through the use of science.

But the point is redundant. When you claim something exists and evidence is not on hand to prove the claim, the person making the claim must provide evidence. If you claim we are being invaded by Papuans, it is not my job to systematically scour every square kilometer of Aussie territory in an attempt to nullify your claim. It is up to you to provide evidence of battles, destroyed property, and a Papuan presence to prove yours.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:


I brought up faith in science as one of the pious duties of atheism.

Mentioning science in ads works because of faith in science in the community [regardless of whether the faith is justified or unjustified]


Science has credibility. So do celebrities. That is entirely different from faith.

Neither of these things has dogma nor a system of extreme rewards and punishments as religious groups do.

Also, science is not a duty (you have claimed there are many, but provide evidence of none) of atheism. Many atheists don't believe in god because they have never seen anything that qualifies as evidence of his existence. There are plenty of atheists who have a very poor understanding of science and do not use it to verify their beliefs. And no atheist chastises them or looks down upon them for it (and certainly not in the way a pious Muslim family tells off their son for drinking alcohol, or a pious Catholic wife berates her husband for eating chocolate during Lent). This differs from a person who goes through a long educational process in the natural sciences and then makes the belief.

So no, scientific education is no duty of an atheist as you claim.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

You just provided me with the example. The motivation worked equally well on atheist and christian alike. Its not like atheists showed any sort of resistance to fear from the religious 'other'.


Did it really work equally well? As I recall, it was the more rural and religious communities which made up the 'base' of the Republican party that took the US into those wars. And it was typically urban intellectuals and secular individuals who opposed the Bush administration (on almost every issue, not simply the war).

If US atheists opposed either war, I doubt their rather paltry numbers would have made much of a difference in the polls anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 10:11
Originally posted by Constantine Constantine wrote:

You suggested that it would be more convenient for a person to go along with an atheist position if they were outnumbered significantly by atheists within their social groups. While I do not disagree with this, my hypothetical above demonstrated that even one of the most atheism prone countries in the world in the conditions mathematically applied to ensure maximum atheist dominance in social groupings, that for the vast bulk of people they would never find themself in the position you suggest. So my point stands that is it generally more convenient for a person to go along with the majority if they are a theist.

Scrolling back to the start of the thread ,
Your claim was it was more convinent to be theist because it requires less intellectual effort. I said that the convience is not with how much study one does, but rather what circles one mixes with. Which is a position you seem to agree with now. I have no problem saying that if the majority is theist for the majority its more convinent to be theist.

However we are missing two things in this discussion;
1) While some do, many people don't make their belief choices based on what's convinent.
2) One social circle is not equivilient to another. For example a persons family is more important than work collegues. A person may find it more convinent to go along with their best friends beliefs than anyone elses.
We cannot mathematically determine a persons social circles, nor use statistics to determine what is convinent for an individual.
Quote Yes, I did use the census data. It won't be 100% accurate, but for the question on religion I doubt it would be less than 95% accurate. If you have a better source, please provide it.

In Aus, a pretty big chunck of answers would be fairly non-religious I expect. Just because Catholics were the biggest religion doesn't mean that everyone who answered Catholic is practising Catholic beliefs. I don't know of any statistical survey which gives a good indication of what people actually believe.
Quote Actually the book largely confines itself to examining why people believe in God and how these beliefs are a result of human rather than divine origin. It does not "teach" atheism, as you claim.

Those two sentences are a contradiction.
Quote You have claimed atheism is a faith over and over, without really substantiating how. First you attempted to list a series of behaviours which atheists engage in and characteristics of atheist thought which are equivalent to religion. For these claims, you either did not provide any evidence, or you did provide examples which upon closer scrutiny turned out to be invalid (ADHD cure, people ignoring Lamarck, preference for mainstream over homeopathic medicine).

Then you appear to have missed the point of the examples.
The reason I brought up Lamarck was to show one aspect of people ascribing to Darwin a position greater than that of any other revolutionary scientist. You in fact, showed that yourself when you asked me, personally, to "provide strong evidence to resurrect its credibility as a superior theory to Darwin's".
Its not me, but Ted Steele who has the show the results of Lamarck's theory. Neither you nor me are in a position to determine the validity of biological theories and we have to go off the words of experts. The radio transcript was proof in itself that Darwins position in evolution is not at all rock solid.

The purpose of the other two examples was to show that people believe in alopathy because they think that science favours it. I don't think that has been invalidated. The third example is really just to bring up a field where there is significant debate in research.
All I really want to show is that things are far more complicated than they are believed to be. People simplify a complex field by putting faith in certain experts or persons.
Quote
You claim atheism is a faith. But faith, by its definition, contains dogma and continues to exist even when all evidence and convenience is to the contrary. Which makes your next statement likewise invalid:

Actually the whole time I basically just been answering your challenges, even though, I have to admit I think the characteristics you are demanding a faith or religion posses aren't really justified.
From the dictionary, faith is;
1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

Atheism is the confident belief in the truth of the non-existance of God. If you are not confident, your agnostic.
The non-existance of God does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. You could say atheism rests on the lack of logical proof or material evidence of God, but then so do many religions. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Just by 2 unless you can prove to me God does not exist atheism is faith based.

If you are going to argue over the use of belief in 1. Then belief means;
Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something
Its a matter of definition to say that atheists accept there is no God, and therefore to say that atheists believe there is no God. Atheists therefore have faith there is no God unless they can prove it, which they can't, because such a thing is impossible.

A religion is;
A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Especially one connected with the super-natural.
While it is not possible to go as far as to say that all atheists practice it as a religion. It is still fair to say that people like Dawkins, who have published how many books on the subject, are practicing a religion. For them convincing others of their views on the supernatural is an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. It is safe to say that there are atheists who practice atheism as a religion, and therefore there is a religion of atheism.

Furthermore I offered one other piece of evidence, that of a body of religious knowledge. That is, (A) knowledge that is specifically about the faith of atheism, or (B) knowledge that atheists like to read because of their views on the supernatural. Note that having an opinion that there is no God is a view on the supernatural.
An example of (A) is the God Delusion. Or rather, I expect it is an example, because as I said before I haven't actually read it. Now unless the God Delusion is not about atheism at all it remains an example of (A), however since you have already said that it largely confines itself to examining why people believe in God and how these beliefs are a result of human rather than divine origin, you can't really tell me its not about atheism. A book that did the exact opposite, said how beliefs are a result of divine origin and not human, it also a religious book. It only becomes a secular book if it completely ignores the whole issue and just says what happened when.
An example of (B), as I have discovered during this thread, is the origin of species. Which is clearly shown in the further reading list at the end of my own copy*. Even through the book itself is entirely secular** the publishers think the reader will be interested in other, modern books, which are from category A. They don't, for example, think I'm interested in 19th century science.

So all that really remains to be said, is unless you can prove that God does not exist with the strength to cause any theist to change his position then atheism is a faith. Even if you are convinced with the proof of atheism, as I am with the proof of Islam, unless you can hold the blue led up as it were and convince everyone in the room who's proof is correct, atheism remains a faith.


(I don't think its necessary to reply to the rest of your post at the moment, it would seem to be a sidetrack and detract from my point)

* CRW Publishing, 2004, London
** Except that Darwin actually does ascribe his theory to God.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 11:14
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Faith in Atheism => Faith in science; but,
Faith in science does not => Faith in atheism.
I don't even think the first implication is valid.
 
Faith in science and faith in atheism are independent of each other - that is to say they can co-exist but they don't have to.
Quote
I brought up faith in science as one of the pious duties of atheism.

Mentioning science in ads works because of faith in science in the community [regardless of whether the faith is justified or unjustified]
I wouldn't call that faith in science, any more than avoiding black cats is faith in religion. The kind of 'faith in science' used in advertising is really just faith in mumbo-jumbo, like having faith in spurious prophets or faith in postulated entities like 'gnomes of Zurich' or the 'invisible hand of the market'.
]


Edited by gcle2003 - 12-Jun-2009 at 11:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 17:05
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Your claim was it was more convinent to be theist because it requires less intellectual effort. I said that the convience is not with how much study one does, but rather what circles one mixes with. Which is a position you seem to agree with now.


Not true. I agreed that one factor of convenience potentially is what circles you mix with. I did not abandon my contention that absorbing the basic literature on the topic of the natural sciences was less convenient than that of theist belief texts.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:


However we are missing two things in this discussion;
1) While some do, many people don't make their belief choices based on what's convinent.


I didn't say it was the sole factor which determined a person's belief, only that it was a significant factor. And most people do tend to go along with what is convenient.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

2) One social circle is not equivilient to another. For example a persons family is more important than work collegues. A person may find it more convinent to go along with their best friends beliefs than anyone elses.
We cannot mathematically determine a persons social circles, nor use statistics to determine what is convinent for an individual.


I am not talking about what applies to every individual, only what applies to the majority. And if a vast majority of the population is theist, the vast majority of a typical person's best friends, family members and other important peers will also be theist. So your observation reinforces what I said - that for a majority of people it is convenient to go along with one's peers, and those peers are more likely theist rather than atheist.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

In Aus, a pretty big chunck of answers would be fairly non-religious I expect. Just because Catholics were the biggest religion doesn't mean that everyone who answered Catholic is practising Catholic beliefs. I don't know of any statistical survey which gives a good indication of what people actually believe.


The number of non-religious for the last census was 18.7%. You don't need to be a practicing Catholic to qualify as theist, you merely need to honestly believe in its basic tenets of a divine power. So we can accept that no less than 19 out of 20 people who filled in the census probably answered this question honestly and correctly and move on.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Actually the book largely confines itself to examining why people believe in God and how these beliefs are a result of human rather than divine origin. It does not "teach" atheism, as you claim.
Those two sentences are a contradiction.


It would seem so on the surface. However, there is a difference between discrediting theist belief systems and outright contending that atheism is the answer. A subtle difference, but still a difference.

Kind of like if one went around saying everyone else is stupid. One wouldn't be saying one is smart necessarily, only that other people are stupid.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Then you appear to have missed the point of the examples.
The reason I brought up Lamarck was to show one aspect of people ascribing to Darwin a position greater than that of any other revolutionary scientist. You in fact, showed that yourself when you asked me, personally, to "provide strong evidence to resurrect its credibility as a superior theory to Darwin's".


No, you claimed that people thought more highly of Darwin's theory of Lamarck's even though Lamarck's was superior from our ability to measure it (empirical evidence). You claimed this was evidence of faith based belief rather than evidence based belief among atheists. I demonstrated that Darwin's theory is far better backed up by empirical evidence and testing. That is actually what happened there.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Its not me, but Ted Steele who has the show the results of Lamarck's theory. Neither you nor me are in a position to determine the validity of biological theories and we have to go off the words of experts. The radio transcript was proof in itself that Darwins position in evolution is not at all rock solid.


If you wish to prove your point then you may have to dig up the evidence. I have quoted experiments where Darwin's theory has proven compatible with modern genome research, while Lamarck's theory has proven itself very much flawed and has been neatly discredited.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

The purpose of the other two examples was to show that people believe in alopathy because they think that science favours it. I don't think that has been invalidated.


What you said specifically is that people continued allopathic medicine because they saw science as 'favouring' it. This was supposedly evidence of a faith based belief system. However, conventional medicine (I will not use the term allopathic as it was a term invented by a homeopath with negative overtones towards conventional medicine) is responsible for curing far more illnesses far more thoroughly than homeopathy. So people are using a results based system, by relying on conventional medicine as it generally is more appropriate. This invalidates your argument about use of conventional medicine being based on a faith system rather than results.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

The third example is really just to bring up a field where there is significant debate in research.


No, your third example was meant to be evidence that people pursue science just for the sake of it and ignore the cures it produces. But when subjected to scrutiny this was clearly shown to be wrong.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

All I really want to show is that things are far more complicated than they are believed to be. People simplify a complex field by putting faith in certain experts or persons.


That was not what you wanted at all. You created the contention that atheists pursue a faith based belief system comparable to theist belief systems. These examples you provided were evidence of a faith based belief system at work to back up your contention. You claimed atheists had enforced duties, and when I asked for evidence these examples were your evidence of that.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Actually the whole time I basically just been answering your challenges, even though, I have to admit I think the characteristics you are demanding a faith or religion posses aren't really justified.
From the dictionary, faith is;
1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

Atheism is the confident belief in the truth of the non-existance of God. If you are not confident, your agnostic.The non-existance of God does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. You could say atheism rests on the lack of logical proof or material evidence of God, but then so do many religions. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Just by 2 unless you can prove to me God does not exist atheism is faith based.

If you are going to argue over the use of belief in 1. Then belief means;
Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something
Its a matter of definition to say that atheists accept there is no God, and therefore to say that atheists believe there is no God. Atheists therefore have faith there is no God unless they can prove it, which they can't, because such a thing is impossible.

A religion is;
A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Especially one connected with the super-natural.
While it is not possible to go as far as to say that all atheists practice it as a religion. It is still fair to say that people like Dawkins, who have published how many books on the subject, are practicing a religion. For them convincing others of their views on the supernatural is an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. It is safe to say that there are atheists who practice atheism as a religion, and therefore there is a religion of atheism.


I think you need a better dictionary, or otherwise you are merely quoting only a couple of the many definitions. There are ones which fit more precisely with what we are discussing, which has a religious element to it. So here are some more appropriate ones:

1. Belief in a religious doctrine
2. A system of religious belief

As we have discussed, atheism does not contain a belief system. It is merely a singular belief. Which brings us to the use of the word religious. I think your definition here will suffice.

While atheism may be a principle pursued with zeal by some, it rarely is by its adherents. If we accept atheism as a religion, then we must also accept corporations as religions, sports as religions, music as a religion, infact any simple thing in the entire world which has ideas that make people passionate. We end up applying the word 'religion' so liberally that it loses any disctinctive character and suddenly everything becomes equivalent to everything else. A hot dog salesman is a priest, according to your definition, because he expounds a belief in the quality of his company's food with zeal and tries to convince others of such a view. Clearly such a way of thinking is absurd.

Instead, we must look at what typical characteristics and behaviours make up theist belief systems, and then compare these traits to other concepts. This is something you have attempted to demonstrate, but alas your attempts at likening behaviours and features unique to religious groups to atheism have so far proven unconvincing.

You claim atheists have a belief on the supernatural. They do. But they don't believe in the supernatural, at least so far as that of a divinity. Theists do believe in the supernatural. That is the distinction that needs to be made.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Furthermore I offered one other piece of evidence, that of a body of religious knowledge. That is, (A) knowledge that is specifically about the faith of atheism, or (B) knowledge that atheists like to read because of their views on the supernatural. Note that having an opinion that there is no God is a view on the supernatural.
An example of (A) is the God Delusion. Or rather, I expect it is an example, because as I said before I haven't actually read it. Now unless the God Delusion is not about atheism at all it remains an example of (A), however since you have already said that it largely confines itself to examining why people believe in God and how these beliefs are a result of human rather than divine origin, you can't really tell me its not about atheism. A book that did the exact opposite, said how beliefs are a result of divine origin and not human, it also a religious book. It only becomes a secular book if it completely ignores the whole issue and just says what happened when.


This does not make it a religious body of knowledge. It explains a theory based on scientific and historical evidence. As I have mentioned it is open to be updated and revised according to evidence. It is not dogmatic. Which makes it distinctly different from religious texts. You have also failed to demonstrate how atheism is a faith comparable to typical theist belief systems, though you have tried.

Having a belief about the supernatural does not mean believing in the supernatural.

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

An example of (B), as I have discovered during this thread, is the origin of species. Which is clearly shown in the further reading list at the end of my own copy*. Even through the book itself is entirely secular** the publishers think the reader will be interested in other, modern books, which are from category A. They don't, for example, think I'm interested in 19th century science.


Origin of Species is a book people will read because they wish to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the natural sciences to better make up their mind on the existence of divinity. This does not make it part of a religious body of knowledge except in your definition where everything pursued with zeal and conviction equals religion. The characteristics of a faith based belief system are not present in the publisher's recommendations.

[quote=Omar]
So having answered all your questions, as I do my best to, I can only reiterate that despite your efforts you have not managed to demonstrate how atheism is the equivalent of theist belief systems. Little evidence was provided, and that which was has been proven to be without merit.

You have fallen back on the traditional argument, asking me to prove a null hypothesis (that God does not exist). As has been exhaustively explained many times, it is up to the person claiming someone exists to demonstrate the validity of their claim, not the person who does not claim something exists and especially when no evidence is present to support the claim of existence. This is called burden of proof.

Demanding someone convince everyone of their claim for it to be considered truthful is simply devoid of merit. Fact is not a comfortable idea which is democratically decided upon. It is created with correct burdens of proof and provision of evidence.
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 02:17
Ok Constantine, I'll keep this very simple for you.

By the definition of faith if atheists cannot provide logical proof or material evidence to support their beliefs, there beliefs are faith based.

There is no logical proof or material evidence to support, refute, or shed any light on, God that is sufficent to convince any particular, or every, person, therefore any opinion about the existance of God is faith based.

Therefore, as the English language as my witness, I say again, atheism is faith based.
Quote I think you need a better dictionary, or otherwise you are merely quoting only a couple of the many definitions. There are ones which fit more precisely with what we are discussing, which has a religious element to it. So here are some more appropriate ones:

1. Belief in a religious doctrine
2. A system of religious belief

A religion is a system of religious belief!
No shit sherlock.
Arguing with the dictionary and providing circular definitions isn't the wisest thing to do.
Quote You have fallen back on the traditional argument, asking me to prove a null hypothesis (that God does not exist). As has been exhaustively explained many times, it is up to the person claiming someone exists to demonstrate the validity of their claim, not the person who does not claim something exists and especially when no evidence is present to support the claim of existence. This is called burden of proof.

Irrelevant (and also blatently incorrect but that is a different topic). I'm not asking you to prove anything. I know you can't. There is absence of evidence. ANY extrapolations made without evidence is faith.

Futhermore, I think you should apply some thought to the difference between me not contesting a claim that you made because pursuing it would go off topic, and demostrating something to be wrong. All of the examples I brought up were about how people treated something, mostly in the process of trying to refute them you showed everything I want to show, but you didn't see it. Just read your reply about the Origin of Species. It confirms everything I claimed. Because you believe that your actions don't rely on faith, you are not recognising the faith you are using in you're everyday life, or your replies to me.
Even if you still dispute after this post, I don't think I need to provide any more arguments, your posts are my evidence, and if you don't see it after this post, I think its beyond my ability to show it to you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 02:20
Originally posted by gcle gcle wrote:

I don't even think the first implication is valid.
 
Faith in science and faith in atheism are independent of each other - that is to say they can co-exist but they don't have to.

Strictly, I agree, but I do expect there would be a correlation.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 03:28
Edit: I think it right to respond to this one comment first, then sum up

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Futhermore, I think you should apply some thought to the difference between me not contesting a claim that you made because pursuing it would go off topic, and demostrating something to be wrong. All of the examples I brought up were about how people treated something, mostly in the process of trying to refute them you showed everything I want to show, but you didn't see it. Just read your reply about the Origin of Species. It confirms everything I claimed. Because you believe that your actions don't rely on faith, you are not recognising the faith you are using in you're everyday life, or your replies to me.


People will read Origin of Species to find out more about a non-theist theory of creation, certainly. And they may do this as part of researching an understanding of the world which is non-theist, part of which will be a belief in atheism. But how exactly does this qualify it as a religious body of knowledge?


Omar I do think we are now at the stage, having scrutinised the evidence provided by both of us, where we can sum up the end result of our dialogue in point form.

1. I brought up the topic of convenience. You suggest it was more convenient to go along with atheism because of what one's close peers believed. However, I have demonstrated using statistical data from a fairly reliable source that in practice what you suggest is rarely what actually occurs in the real world. So convenience, both in terms of social affiliation and literal study of the two bodies of knowledge, is against someone taking up an atheist perspective, just as I first postulated.

2. You have attempted to rebutt my claims by likening the belief of atheism to a theistic belief system. You attempted to do this by picking out characteristics and behaviours of atheists and likening these to ones which are distinctly theist. However, as I demonstrated, the few examples you did provide were wholly wrong and unconvincing in backing up your argument.

3. The other means you attempted to liken atheists to theists was through a literal dictionary definition of religion and faith. However, this definition was so unspecific as to prove absurd. The definition of a religious body or religious behaviour can be applied be applied to hot dog salesmen, literature students, children playing with waterguns - anyone who zealously holds a belief and seeks to convince others of it. It is entirely without utility in determining things which as equivelent to theist belief systems and structures.

Your attempts to portray atheism as a faith based belief system which is equivalent to contemporary theistic belief systems has proven wholly unconvincing through the arguments you have employed. The evidence used to back up these arguments, inititally stated with confidence, has been shown through analysis of them to - and it must be put flatly - be wrong.


Edited by Constantine XI - 14-Jun-2009 at 03:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 14:56
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

The definition of a religious body or religious behaviour can be applied be applied to hot dog salesmen, literature students, children playing with waterguns - anyone who zealously holds a belief and seeks to convince others of it.
There's no reason why you cannot do that. The difference between 'religious' and 'non-religious' (empirical) has nothing to do with subject matter but with attitude to the belief concerned. If you want to substitute metaphysical for religious in that sentence I won't quarrel, but I'll need to ask for a useful definition of 'religious'.
 
If the attitude is such that it is unshakable by any evidence to the contrary then it is religious, whether that is because the belief is inherently non-falsifiable (e.g. 'everything that happens is the will of God') or because the believer is always prepared to explain it away.  
 
If of course you want to define 'religious' as 'believing in God' then atheism would not be religious. But if you do that you are blurring the important issue (and moreover you would be leaving out many belief systems that are usually considered religious, like Buddhism and Confucianism). If 'religious' only means 'theist' then why need both words?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 16:51

As to go back to the original question: why believe in God? Yes, one can wonder, why beleive in something that you cannot register in any tangible or repeatable way?

Why do people believe in God? Mostly because other people have told them there is a God.

Such faith in other peoples statements has during the history of mankind turned out to be rather dangerous, for example in the witch processes in the 15th to 17th (or in some places even into the 18th century) centuries many people were killed just because some persons said that they had seen them fly on a broomstick to Bold Mountain and fornicate with the Devil.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 17:26
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

As to go back to the original question: why believe in God? Yes, one can wonder, why beleive in something that you cannot register in any tangible or repeatable way?

Why do people believe in God? Mostly because other people have told them there is a God.


It seems to me that we are discussing the original question, and have been fleshing out the context.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 17:59
Yes one can flesh it out but the main question still is why the majority of people beleive, is it because they have been taught to do so, or is it because they actually themselves experienced supernatural events and seen supernatural forces?

Edited by Carcharodon - 14-Jun-2009 at 18:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 22:05
I think I'd probably agree that most people believe in a specific God (or pantheon) because they have been told to as children - or, more accurately perhaps, because they simply ape adult beliefs.
 
However, I don't think that really answers the basic question which is why do/did people start believing in God.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 22:21
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

The definition of a religious body or religious behaviour can be applied be applied to hot dog salesmen, literature students, children playing with waterguns - anyone who zealously holds a belief and seeks to convince others of it.
There's no reason why you cannot do that. The difference between 'religious' and 'non-religious' (empirical) has nothing to do with subject matter but with attitude to the belief concerned. If you want to substitute metaphysical for religious in that sentence I won't quarrel, but I'll need to ask for a useful definition of 'religious'.
 
If the attitude is such that it is unshakable by any evidence to the contrary then it is religious, whether that is because the belief is inherently non-falsifiable (e.g. 'everything that happens is the will of God') or because the believer is always prepared to explain it away.  
 
If of course you want to define 'religious' as 'believing in God' then atheism would not be religious. But if you do that you are blurring the important issue (and moreover you would be leaving out many belief systems that are usually considered religious, like Buddhism and Confucianism). If 'religious' only means 'theist' then why need both words?

But wouldn't stretching the definition of religion like that also include agnosticism? After all, usually agnostics don't just refrain from forming an opinion about the existence of God, but believe that the existence of God is something that cannot be proven or disproven. Basically agnostics argue that the existence of God is neither necessary (if they believed it would be they'd be theists) nor impossible (if it they believe it would be they'd be atheit). Atheists have developed arguments against the existence of God, theists have developed arguments for the existence of God. In order to be an agnostic one has to rebut both types of arguments. So rather than just an absence of belief agnosticism is the (positive) claims that:
- Humans are not capable of determining whether God exists or not
- Arguments for both the existence and non-existence of God are false
- God's existance is possible and unnecessary
which are every bit as much statements of belief as 'God exists' or 'God does not exists'.

If you use such a broad definition of religion that would make almost every belief or opinion a person could possibily have would religious. The only position on God's existance that would not be religious would be pure apathy.

In other words: if Dawkins' writings of atheism are religious, wouldn't Russell's or Huxley's writings on agnosticism be religious as well?


Edited by Mixcoatl - 14-Jun-2009 at 22:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 11:46
Originally posted by Mixcoatl Mixcoatl wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

The definition of a religious body or religious behaviour can be applied be applied to hot dog salesmen, literature students, children playing with waterguns - anyone who zealously holds a belief and seeks to convince others of it.
There's no reason why you cannot do that. The difference between 'religious' and 'non-religious' (empirical) has nothing to do with subject matter but with attitude to the belief concerned. If you want to substitute metaphysical for religious in that sentence I won't quarrel, but I'll need to ask for a useful definition of 'religious'.
 
If the attitude is such that it is unshakable by any evidence to the contrary then it is religious, whether that is because the belief is inherently non-falsifiable (e.g. 'everything that happens is the will of God') or because the believer is always prepared to explain it away.  
 
If of course you want to define 'religious' as 'believing in God' then atheism would not be religious. But if you do that you are blurring the important issue (and moreover you would be leaving out many belief systems that are usually considered religious, like Buddhism and Confucianism). If 'religious' only means 'theist' then why need both words?

But wouldn't stretching the definition of religion like that also include agnosticism? After all, usually agnostics don't just refrain from forming an opinion about the existence of God, but believe that the existence of God is something that cannot be proven or disproven. Basically agnostics argue that the existence of God is neither necessary (if they believed it would be they'd be theists) nor impossible (if it they believe it would be they'd be atheit). Atheists have developed arguments against the existence of God, theists have developed arguments for the existence of God. In order to be an agnostic one has to rebut both types of arguments. So rather than just an absence of belief agnosticism is the (positive) claims that:
- Humans are not capable of determining whether God exists or not
- Arguments for both the existence and non-existence of God are false
- God's existance is possible and unnecessary
which are every bit as much statements of belief as 'God exists' or 'God does not exists'.
The point of my formulation is to avoid the pointless exercise of arguing over who believes what. Everybody believes something, and you're of course right that believing you do not know is also believing - which is why it's a pointless argument.
 
What matters is not what you believe or whether you believe but how you believe.
 
Incidentally though I disagree with your three assertions. I certainly don't believe that humans are not capable of determining whether God exists or not. I also don't believe that arguments for the existence or non-existence of God are false. What I believe is that teh statements that God exists and that God doesn't exist (or that thousands of gods exist, for that matter) are not disprovable empirically.  If someone comes up with a disproof of any such statement  however, then I'll accept it because I'm not particularly committed to that belief.
 
Basically that's because I think the existence or otherwise of God doesn't matter to any issue of importance so I'm indifferent to it.
 
You're third point is a little different because it involves logical alternatives rather than empiricism. I don't believe God is necessary. That does not imply (logic 101) that I believe God is unnecessary. Similarly I don't believe God is impossible. That is not the same as believing God is impossible.
 
X does not imply Y does not mean that X implies not Y.
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If you use such a broad definition of religion that would make almost every belief or opinion a person could possibily have would religious. The only position on God's existance that would not be religious would be pure apathy.
Close. Pure apathy would certainly lead to agnosticism. I'd phrase it a little differently and say that the agnostic's position on God's existence is that it doesn't matter. It can be an interesting subject to listen to various people's views though, so that's not really apathy.
Quote
In other words: if Dawkins' writings of atheism are religious, wouldn't Russell's or Huxley's writings on agnosticism be religious as well?
Huxley: "Give me such evidence as would justify me in believing in anything else, and I will believe that."
That's not a religious attitude.
A religious belief survives evidence against it. Someone anonymous once said "Religion is what enables you to continue believing in spite of the facts'. That is neither Huxley nor Russell.  
 
I honestly think that whatever evidence pointing to the existence of a God you confronted Dawkins with he would reject it.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 13:25
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"I honestly think that whatever evidence pointing to the existence of a God you confronted Dawkins with he would reject it. "
 
I disagree. After all Dawkins is a trained scientists and used to evaluate evidence. His position against belief in God is based on that he not yet has seen any proof of the existence of such an entity, and his dislike of religion emmanates from the the observation that religion in many cases has been a negative force in the history of mankiind.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 13:55
Originally posted by gcle gcle wrote:

There's no reason why you cannot do that. The difference between 'religious' and 'non-religious' (empirical) has nothing to do with subject matter but with attitude to the belief concerned. If you want to substitute metaphysical for religious in that sentence I won't quarrel, but I'll need to ask for a useful definition of 'religious'.
 
If the attitude is such that it is unshakable by any evidence to the contrary then it is religious, whether that is because the belief is inherently non-falsifiable (e.g. 'everything that happens is the will of God') or because the believer is always prepared to explain it away.  
 
If of course you want to define 'religious' as 'believing in God' then atheism would not be religious. But if you do that you are blurring the important issue (and moreover you would be leaving out many belief systems that are usually considered religious, like Buddhism and Confucianism). If 'religious' only means 'theist' then why need both words?


Metaphysical is probably a good substitute.

Religion as it is commonly understood is, however, usually a belief system which offers some notion of how the world works, and describes a supernatural deity. Commonly incorporated are dogma and doctrines on the afterlife.

To be honest, despite Omar's and my own efforts at looking through the dictionary, neither of us found a truly holistic dictionary definition which captures its key features and nature as people in our world understand religion. This is a significant impediment in exploring the topic.

Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:

If scripture already states certain results prior to investigation and bears results proven by research what else is there to do other than test for a statsitical significance? Now I have not personally conducted such research. I would need to scour the web and Uni libraries for that. But I would not be so hasty dismissing the possibility that a scripture may contain predicitive value, is consistant under scientific scrutiny and attests that the designer of said scripture is Divine (even though we may not have any idea who the Creator is other than through self-attestation). The work of such a designer would be representative of his existence.


It would certainly be impressive to uncover understanding of the natural world which was recorded long before we could estimate people living in the time period the work was written had any idea of these facts. But this brings us to a few needs for scrutiny.

We would have to ensure the text has remained unaltered from that time period.
We would have to be absolutely certain that people living in that time period, even under the guidance of geniuses, could not have discovered these facts.
We would need to see these facts presented in intelligable language, not vague ramblings which could be easily interpreted into many things.

Even then, provided we secure these things, what we would have left is a text which proclaims the existence of a divinity while simultaneously producing fantastically impressive facts about other subjects. The facts would lend weight to the crediblity of the text in producing valuable information, but may not necessarily automatically verify the claims it makes about the existence of a divinity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 15:16
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

gcle2003
"I honestly think that whatever evidence pointing to the existence of a God you confronted Dawkins with he would reject it. "
 
I disagree. After all Dawkins is a trained scientists and used to evaluate evidence. His position against belief in God is based on that he not yet has seen any proof of the existence of such an entity,
But he attacks it quite viciously even though he has no evidence that the theirs are wrong.
 
There are many 'trained scientists' who religiously hold beliefs that no amount of evidence will shake them from. What changes the minds of people like Dawkins on issues like this are psychological trauma, but that's a different matter.
Quote
 and his dislike of religion emmanates from the the observation that religion in many cases has been a negative force in the history of mankiind.
It has also been a positive force. So why does he choose the negative and dislike it, rather the choose the positive and like it?
 
Or just accept the fact that the argument is pointless, which is what science would really teach (as indeed did Gautama in effect, he being pretty agnostic - i.e. uncaring - about gods, though not about other things).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 15:30
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Religion as it is commonly understood is, however, usually a belief system which offers some notion of how the world works, and describes a supernatural deity. Commonly incorporated are dogma and doctrines on the afterlife.
The difficulty with the first clause there ('belief system which offers some notion of how the world works') is that it applies equally to science. Otherwise I would agree. The rest are things a particular religion may or may not do.
 
I'd suggest a religion is something that reassures people, and gives them a sense of community with other believers, defining it by its goal, but again of course science does that too.
 
Which underlines my point that if you want to distinguish between religion and science the thing to concentrate on is how the beliefs are held, not what the beliefs are.
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To be honest, despite Omar's and my own efforts at looking through the dictionary, neither of us found a truly holistic dictionary definition which captures its key features and nature as people in our world understand religion. This is a significant impediment in exploring the topic.
'People in our world' understand 'religion' in different ways.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 15:44
gcle2003: But he attacks it quite viciously even though he has no evidence that the theirs are wrong.
 
The term viciously can be debated, maybe he just thinks that people claiming and beliveing in the existence of the unregistered are somewhat gullible.
 
gcle2003: It has also been a positive force. So why does he choose the negative and dislike it, rather the choose the positive and like it?
 
Maybe it´s in some extent based on personal experience or maybe he just thinks that the negative sides of religion has a larger impact than the positive.
 
gcle2003: Or just accept the fact that the argument is pointless, which is what science would really teach (as indeed did Gautama in effect, he being pretty agnostic - i.e. uncaring - about gods, though not about other things).
 
Maybe he just think that too many religious people want to govern other peoples lives (not least their own childrens) in the name of their religions (which is based on unproven statements).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 16:07
Obviously whatever he does it's because of something he thinks. I don't suggest he writes and acts at random.
 
The point is not that he doesn't have beliefs underlying what he does and says (as you suggest he has reasons): the question is how does he arrive at and hold those beliefs, and as fas as I can see he does so in a religious manner - i.e. he discounts evidence that goes against what he believes, and those beliefs are based on emotional reactions.
 
With regard to the bit about people wanting to govern other people's lives, then if he attacks all people who want to govern other people's lives, then fine. But he doesn't. He singles out theists, and there's no objective reason to do so. Atheists and theists alike are guilty of that, and atheists and theists alike are also innocent of it. But that's not Dawkins' message.
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