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On AETV today

Matt’s still out sick, so it’ll be me and Tracie today. One of the things I’ll be doing is responding to an email from a young atheist viewer in Italy, who’s asked for help in arguments he’s having with a Christian professor. I thought this one would be fun to smash live for all to see, instead of just via email response. The professor makes statements in his email to this viewer reflecting such poor thinking that, if the educational system in Italy is so bad that a man this stupid can achieve a career in academia, then it frankly makes Texas look not so bad.

See you on UStream in about 4 hours! Consider this post an open discussion thread on today’s show.

Comments

  1. says

    Looking forward to the show, just pulled about 80 pounds of weeds. My back hurts like hell and I cheered up immediately when I remember it's Sunday and approaching the right time.

  2. says

    I'll watch this one with interest. I have some experience of Italy and Italians(I have a number of friends from there) and I think the problem is that the country is still profoundly dominated at an intellectual and ideological level, by the Catholic Church and Catholic thinking, even for people who claim they are not practicing or not religious. But that said, Italy does "produce" really smart and outspoken atheists.

  3. says

    How sad is this? Even the Wikipedia entry has several concepts presented as potential explanation for the Cambrian observations:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion#How_real_was_the_explosion.3FIt was very disappointing to hear Hunter's call–the boy trying to dispute evolution and big bang. As a Christian, I often believed Creationist claims, and never bothered to read rebuttals before "using" these apologetic arguments. If I'd checked those claims, I'd have saved myself years of delusion, and gained my life back far more quickly–potentially.I mean, how simple is it to just look on Wikipedia? For a person to assert Cambrian is a problem for evolutionary theory means they didn't even check the most basic general sources before believing creationist claims–which are easily rebutted with a cursory search. *sigh*

  4. Martin says

    Angry Atheist: You noticed! Thanks. ;-)Tracie: There's a simple reason creotards don't even do something as simple as hitting Wikipedia for facts. They don't want facts. Creationism has never been about discovering scientific truth, but shoring up religious ideology in the face of science. Hunter doesn't want knowledge, he wants validation of what he already believes. Remember when we took him off hold and he was just off in his own world, in mid-sentence, jabbering away? It was obvious he was just reading from some creationist website or book at that point. Creationism is nothing but an exercise in "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUUU! MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, LITTLE LAMB…"

  5. says

    >Hunter doesn't want knowledge, he wants validation of what he already believes.Yes, this is why it was "disappointing" to me. I so recall my own attitudes back then–and how much like Hunter I was. Just the slightest effort might have saved me years of wasted energy and resources in my life. I hate to see this done to another child. Hunter is just a symbol of many similar cases that seem to go on endlessly. People ask me why I do this outreach. In a word: "Hunter"

  6. says

    Tracie and co,Insh'Allah I will be able to call in next week. I apologize if my position was not clear or laid out in full. I have to admit that there was not much time for me to explain in more detail.Insh'Allah I will be able to converse with you again. Thank you for your time.

  7. Martin says

    Try to call in as close to the beginning of the show as possible. Sorry we didn't have longer. Jeff Dee is on next time, so wear your safety goggles.

  8. says

    Martin- Maybe I am just cynical, but perhaps your rants are an attempt to bait teh theists in to calling? Also, serious question: do you rehearse them or is it ad lib?Ali- I look forward to you calling the show next week.You may find the discussion about the burden of proof very short because, going by what you managed to squeeze in to the end of the last show, I smell an infinite regress in your argument. Also, philosophically, it is pretty much agreed on; regardless of your take on it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof).You way want to have a think about your reasons for belief, because that is what they're really going to be interested in. Why not bring your A game and perhaps you could say something like "this is the ultimate reason for believing in god and if this is refuted then my whole worldview is pretty much false." Now that would make good TV!

  9. Martin says

    Angry Atheist: I had written down the bulk of my responses to the Pope's quote (like the bit about God-belief letting men like the Pope consider themselves above all moral standards), because unless you have the mad skillz of a politician or stand-up comic, you usually sound better on TV when you've thought out and structured your speechmaking instead of just trying to wing it. But then you get in the zone, as it were, and it starts to flow naturally. By the time I got to "Catholic Church, you're done," I was pretty much extemporizing. I was hoping to bait some theists into calling, and said so. We got a couple, but no angry Catholics. Too bad.

  10. says

    Great show as usual! I do have a few points of advice to offer to (I think this name was) Brian, the caller whose former priest wants to meet with him soon. He said that he was afraid the priest might pull a "zinger" or two on him. The priest probably will, especially if Brian is not used to talking about his atheism and the reason(s) for it with others. Anyway, these should help:1) "I don't know" is always an acceptable answer to those interested in honest discourse. "I don't know" is just the scrupled version of "God works in mysterious ways".2) Just because you cannot immediately rebut a claim does not mean you have to concede the point. Lack of refutation does not equal validation.3) There is no shame in saying "That is a point I have yet to consider… I will have to get back to you on that". Just as with 2 above, this doesn't mean they have a valid point and if they are truely interested in honest conversation they will be happy to oblige. Be ready to do the same for them.Hope those help.

  11. says

    Martin, Thanks for the warning ;)AA,Well, I mean, that may exactly be the problem. I have a way to get around the problem so that atheists can still hold to that position. Within that short period of time I was only going through why I think such a belief is false and then I was going to offer my reasons for belief in God in general. Insh'Allah I will have more time next time and will be able to present my position in a concise manner.

  12. says

    If the default position to any claim is to accept that claim until it's disproved, then we have a real dilemma, since every claim has a negation of itself. Do we believe both in that case?Beliefs need to be compared to the evidence available in reality, and accepted after they're justified.If reality offers insufficient evidence to justify of the belief, a person should wait until there is sufficient evidence before believing.Insufficient evidence does not justify belief based on insufficient evidence–it only justifies waiting to draw a conclusion until necessary and more complete evidence is available.

  13. says

    Many theists think that the mutually exclusive position to believing in a god is believing no god exists. This is wrong.Not believing is the default position. I'm not sure why this is hard to understand.

  14. says

    Tracie,I will be sending an email shortly explaining my views, but here is the problem.When you make the claim that the default position is "disbelief until belief is warranted", you cannot exclude this very claim from the position unless you argue that it is somehow axiomatic. So it does in fact become a claim that only people who adopt the position of epistemic infinitism would dare support (though not very well). You may argue that it is more rational to disbelieve till warranted, and like many contemporary atheists you may say that since we are born without a belief in god that this justifies it to be the case, but we are also not born with the belief in default positions either. If rationality is predicated on disbelief, then you may as well claim that rocks and babies are rational (which I don't think you are willing to do). This does not mean that I don't think that there is an implicit understanding in all human beings that reasons must be given before positions are accepted (though what type of reasoning that may be is certainly subjective to the individual). I think this is naturally the case and it can be argued then that "disbelief until belief is warranted" is axiomatic, but not in the form that it is presented in by most contemporary atheists. Now, a way you can save the "default position" argument is by claiming either of the following:(1) "Disbelief in the existence of God is warranted because it is not empirically justified."or (2) "Naturally disposed beliefs are warranted until disbelief is warranted"Now, specifying the claim makes it less subject to self refutation and infinite regression, however number (1) is not an argument for all default positions, but simply that atheism is rationally justified on account of the belief in God not being empirically verifiable/warranted/justified, etc.The problem with (1) is that you will have to prove that God needs to be empirically verifiable and on what grounds you justify this position. Knowing, I believe, that the majority of you on AE are empiricists, it would seem that this is also difficult since strict empiricism suffers the same fate as the former claim that "Disbelief until belief is warranted" (infinite regression). Claim (2), from my standpoint, makes far much more sense in that it is arguing from naturally disposed beliefs, meaning, beliefs we are somehow programmed to be inclined towards from birth. We do in fact have these sort of dispositional beliefs that are considered rational regardless of the fact that they are not completely warranted. For instance, the position that our rational and sensory faculties somehow correspond with reality. You may say science shows (pragmatically) that this is true, but this is not the case seeing as scientific inquiry rests on this very principle to begin with. These sort of positions we hold we must hold and therefore that is what makes them rational (argument from consequence, but not related to the fallacy). However, I think that (2) supports theism and supernatural beliefs moreso as default positions than atheism, because people are more naturally inclined towards those positions than materialists skepticism. Which, I will Insh'Allah provide evidence for in the next show :)Thanks for listening.

  15. says

    AA,I do not believe that. I certainly believe there is a difference between a Weak/Agnostic Atheist and a Strong/Gnostic Atheist (though the technical, academic definitions are Positive and Negative atheism).The former attempts to justify itself epistemically whereas the latter tries to do so ontologically. Likewise, my theism is epistemically warranted, whereas I would not go as far as to say (at least absolutely) that it is ontologically warranted.

  16. says

    following up on AA…For example Ali, you do not believe in PazuluHopefully now you're asking "Who/what is Pazulu" and that's the point.

  17. says

    Ing,I don't think you're seeing my point. My apologies if I am not being coherent.What I am saying is that it is natural of all human beings to want reasons for believing something and thus they request for reasons (though the specific type of reasons are subjectively determined). Atheists and theists alike must provide reasons for any claims they make. If an atheist makes the claim that "the default position is disbelief till belief is warranted" then they likewise need to apply the logic of this claim to the claim itself. If the claim leads to absurdity then it needs to be rejected for the sake of rationality. If default positions are "lack of beliefs" then they aren't position at all. I agree that I have to give you reasons as to why my theism is rational (as I am attempting to do), but I do not agree that atheism is the "default", nor do I have to based on analogies that you provide me. What I need to believe this is a well reasoned argument or evidence based on the standard that atheists promote called the "default position". If they cannot, then they need to redefine what it is or let go of the argument all-together.

  18. says

    "Disbelief until warrented" Is justified…its shown to result in the fewest BS beliefs accepted. Try going without it for a day and takign everything and face value."Reduces Wrinkles""Car was only driven by an old lady to church""nice tie"etc.

  19. says

    Ali wrote: "When you make the claim that the default position is 'disbelief until belief is warranted', you cannot exclude this very claim from the position unless you argue that it is somehow axiomatic. So it does in fact become a claim that only people who adopt the position of epistemic infinitism would dare support (though not very well)."I was already going to add that instead of the phrase "default position," we should use "null hypothesis."That way, it's a lot more intuitive that if a positive claim is not justified by the evidence, you should tentatively accept the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis in this case is that no god exists. If anyone ever provides sufficient evidence, I'll change my mind and accept that, but I have been looking and I haven't come across anything credible.Also, it's hard to argue against this idea of the null hypothesis because someone would be arguing against the scientific method itself.

  20. says

    Ali:Part 1:>You may argue that it is more rational to disbelieve till warranted, and like many contemporary atheists you may say that since we are born without a belief in god that this justifies it to be the case, but we are also not born with the belief in default positions either.Correct, we are born without positions–which is a state of "not believing.">If rationality is predicated on disbelief, then you may as well claim that rocks and babies are rational (which I don't think you are willing to do).I did not say rationality is predicated on disbelief. I said that before you are presented with a claim you don't believe the claim. You can't. And a rock is irrelevant, because belief does not apply to rocks, but does to humans. A rock is no more in this discussion than it would be in a discussion on "blindness" or "baldness.">This does not mean that I don't think that there is an implicit understanding in all human beings that reasons must be given before positions are accepted…Then you don't believe the claim until you have sufficient reason–which is what I said.>I think this is naturally the case and it can be argued then that "disbelief until belief is warranted" is axiomatic,Agreed.>but not in the form that it is presented in by most contemporary atheists.I don't know if I agree with this or not, since I don't claim to know how most atheists present it. Can you supply some stats on that?>(1) "Disbelief in the existence of God is warranted because it is not empirically justified.">or >(2) "Naturally disposed beliefs are warranted until disbelief is warranted"If either of those means "I can't have belief because I've never heard the claim," then I agree. But neither of those sounds like that. Disbelief is the state of not believing. I don't even need to be presented with a claim to not believe it. In other words, before someone claimed they were abducted by aliens, I had no belief in that proposition. When presented with it, I did not "believe" as a default. I did not hold the claim as "true." I was willing to hear more once I heard it, however. Belief is active. Disbelief is passive. Denial is active.You go on to talk about 1 and 2, but I don't hold to either. So, I won't address those points.>Claim (2), from my standpoint, makes far much more sense in that it is arguing from naturally disposed beliefs, meaning, beliefs we are somehow programmed to be inclined towards from birth…We do in fact have these sort of dispositional beliefs that are considered rational regardless of the fact that they are not completely warranted.

  21. says

    Part 2:1. Religion is not a "naturally disposed" belief (demonstrated by secularly raised children)–so 2 doesn't apply to religion.And, as you note–natural disposition is not warranted as a reason for belief. In fact, babies will do a lot of harmful things if you don't stop them. They need to be taught not to eat a jar of prescription pills, for example. The fact they are naturally disposed to believe eating pills is a fine thing to do does not mean that as an adult I should not understand that "naturally disposed" beliefs, such as those, are utter crap that I should not take at face value.>However, I think that (2) supports theism and supernatural beliefs moreso as default positions than atheismIndoctrinated beliefs are not "natural dispositions."I almost want to label it the "Indoctrination Fallacy": Since I was taught this claim is true from birth, the default is to demonstrate the claim is false.While it may be a reality that an indoctrinated believer requires deconversion–the rational construct that the time to believe a claim, rationally, is when it's been demonstrated to be true, is not altered by the fact of indoctrination.When you get old enough to question, and your indoctrinated or even "naturally disposed" belief doesn't hold up to scrutiny, or appear to align with reality, then even an indoctrinated person has an obligation–if he wishes to be considered a reasonable person–to drop the acceptance of the claim if it is not supported."I was taught black people are inferior to white people" should be dropped as an idea, the moment you realize you have no better reason to believe it than "this is what I was told as an infant and a child." The idea "I'll hold onto that until someone shows me blacks aren't inferior" may be a "real" attitude people hold–but it's a disgusting attitude I would be loathe to defend–especially in myself! It's basically an appeal to justifying believing unjustified and socially harmful garbage because I was indoctrinated into it as a child. If everyone held that attitude–the world would be hard to improve or progress…and that's the point of indoctrination isn't it? To make it hard to get a person to see past the crap you drilled into their heads as infants, and look at reason.END

  22. says

    Frankly I think the "Disbelief until evidence" is an obvious outgrowth of logic…forgive me using some objectivist language…A is A (A has qualities demonstrably elemental to the state of A)A is not not A (A is not that which is contradictory to A)if B is not A then A cannot be BIf someone says A is A flying fish and you accept it you cannot accept A is a flightless bird without finding a good REASON for rejecting the first statement. If A=FF is wrong then yes correct it…but if everything you see is A=FF and someone brings you a FB saying it's A then clearly one of you is wrong. You need a good reason for believing things. In order to believe something you needa) to understand what the subject isb) to ideally have some evidence suggesting that the subject is demonstrably trueA baby or rock cannot believe in god because they lack A. Atheists do not believe in a god because either A) they are not aware of what claim you're making or B) you have not shown evidence. I don't see how this is hard. Show evidence something is true, it is fundamental to not just science but living as a not-crazy person. It's demonstrably practical in that it lets us determine reality from not-reality. The only reason I've ever seen people argue that "having a reason to believe is not valid…you should believe until its proven wrong" is for religion.Put it this way.Ali do you believe in Pazulu?If not, give me a reason.

  23. says

    "If an atheist makes the claim that "the default position is disbelief till belief is warranted" then they likewise need to apply the logic of this claim to the claim itself. If the claim leads to absurdity then it needs to be rejected for the sake of rationality. "And I said that that claim is supported by it's practicality. THERE DONE. Seriously, do I need to show you how stupid it is to go around believing things on face value? You do it all the time and just want to deny that you do so you can special plead for god.

  24. says

    Just to add one small note:Disbelieve: “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true.”Ali, you appear to reject “inability” and only accept "refusal"—which is not definitionally supported. An infant would be unable to believe a claim it doesn’t understand. That would mean that if you asked the question, for example: “Does this infant believe Big Bang?” the answer would be “No. The infant does not believe Big Bang.” The reason could be he cannot understand the claim and is therefore unable to assess it as “true” or “not true.” However, understanding he can’t believe it (accept it as true), is not an argument that he does not “not believe it”—it is merely an explanation of how it is that he does not believe it. The fact he is a being with a demonstrated capacity for holding beliefs, but that he does not hold this particular belief, means he doesn’t believe it. Whatever his reason for not holding that claim as true, he still does not hold it as true, and by definition, does not believe it.A person who does not believe a god exists is an atheist, again, by definition.There is nothing in the definition of disbelieve that would require specific reasons (such as being aware of, or understanding a claim) for not believing, in order to make it applicable.I have on the show used this definition on myself with regard to nonreligious claims, such as Big Bang. Someone called in to say that _I_, as an atheist, must believe Big Bang. I said “I do not believe Big Bang” and explained that my ignorance, on the issue and the evidence, precludes me from being capable of making an informed valuation of the truth value of that claim. Basically, I do not (because I cannot in my current level of understanding) "believe it," due purely to my own personal ignorance. In order to "believe it" I would need to learn much more about it. Otherwise a statement from me that “I believe Big Bang” would be meaningless—since I would have insufficient comprehension of what I’m claiming to believe. However, I do not believe, either, that Big Bang is not true. So, I have no belief that it is true and I have no belief it is not true. If “a person who does not believe Big Bang” is labeled XYZ, then I am, without a doubt, XYZ by definition.Arguing over the reasons why I don't believe it does nothing to alter the fact that I don't believe it.

  25. says

    I'll say it another way: The reason that "disbelief until belief is warranted" is the default position, is that this is a central idea of the scientific method.Do you need an explanation for why the scientific method is the way it is? Challenging the S.M. because you just have to take some things as axiomatic, is pretty close to post-modernism, which I don't have much patience with.By the way, I heard a couple of days ago a nice description: the scientific method is mostly a set of safeguards against the way that our "common sense" can mislead us.

  26. Afterthought_btw says

    Ali:"If an atheist makes the claim that "the default position is disbelief till belief is warranted"…"I'll cut you off here – the claim is actually:"The default position is disbelief."Whether or not belief is warranted, it never *becomes* the default belief. That would defeat the purpose of the word 'default', rather, in this sentence… ;) That, incidentally, in my opinion leads to your problem with the statement. The default position never changes, no matter how correct the other position is. You can hold the default position and be utterly, unequivocally wrong.Okay, with the offending words taken out of the following quote (it won't let me use the strike tag to do it more neatly… :():"When you make the claim that the default position is "disbelief", you cannot exclude this very claim from the position unless you argue that it is somehow axiomatic."Well, let's see what happens if you apply this statement to itself. Ok, you get this:The default position to take upon the statement 'the default position upon a statement is disbelief' is disbelief.There is nothing problematic about the above statement – there is no truth claim being made about the contained statement, and hence can be no contradiction (default does not mean 'true'). Another way of saying 'default position' is: that position which is held automatically.Before you have heard of a proposition, what is your position upon it: belief or disbelief? (Where disbelief means 'not believing in X', rather than 'believing X is false').Well, obviously you need to know of a proposition before you can believe in it – you cannot perform an operation upon something that does not exist – therefore the default/automatic position is not believing in it (i.e. disbelief).Before I heard any of the following claims, I did not believe in them:"The default position upon a claim is disbelief.""God exists.""Birds can fly.""Humans can fly.""The moon is made of cheese.""Creationists are qualified to discuss evolution."Since hearing these claims, and making judgements upon them, I believe some, and disbelieve the others, but the default position for every single one of them remains disbelief.

  27. says

    Okay, I have a few people to respond to here. Thank you for your patience, everyone.IngYou say the following:Try going without it for a day and takign everything and face value. My argument is not about taking beliefs at face value. Please re-read it.You then go on to say:"I don't see how this is hard. Show evidence something is true, it is fundamental to not just science but living as a not-crazy person.Appealing to sanity is not an argument. Furthermore, we hold beliefs that are not scientifically warranted every single day. These same beliefs are the foundation of science to begin with. For instance, you believe you can know things about the world. You do not start off thinking that this is a false or unwarranted belief, you just believe it. It's a belief that you are naturally disposed to. Weak Atheism asks for the ontological status of god to be proven, but it claims for itself rationality based on epistemic grounds alone. Likewise, I can argue for the epistemic justification of theism without having to appeal to the ontological status of deity. You then go on to say: It's demonstrably practical in that it lets us determine reality from not-reality. The only reason I've ever seen people argue that "having a reason to believe is not valid…you should believe until its proven wrong" is for religion."It's consequential, which is where its practicaltiy lies. It has nothing to do with being demonstrated. I've also seen other claims defended without the necessity of evidence and they include such beliefs as "we can know things about reality".Likewise, I think that teleological views of the universe are natural.No offense, but the atheists are the ones telling the majority of the world that what they are naturally disposed to believe from birth is illusionary. You are the ones saying there is a rabit hole. You are the ones saying there is a red or blue pill. Not the theist. You say in another post:And I said that that claim is supported by it's practicality.If that's the case, then why not argue for the acceptance of religious views since they are apparently very practical to advancing our species. Natural selection seems to think that religion is far more advantageous than atheism.And finally–another point I will also bring up to Tracie–you say the following:A baby or rock cannot believe in god because they lack A. Atheists do not believe in a god because either A) they are not aware of what claim you're making or B) you have not shown evidence.I want you to know that I set up that objection for the sake of you making this distinction. I was hoping you'd say this, because it validates my point.First off, you are correct to distinguish between a rocks lack of belief and a cognizent lack of belief. The difference is that one is merely a lack of belief and the other is predicated on a belief about what is rational, what is evidence, etc.Being that this is the case, the default position cannot merely be "disbelief till belief is warranted". It would be better that you choose either of the alternatives that I have provided. In doing so, you need to acknowledge that axioms cannot be, nor are, warranted by evidence.And if you do this, then you must accept the possibility that my theism is likely to be a default.

  28. says

    Curt,Thank you for your response. You say the following:"I was already going to add that instead of the phrase "default position," we should use "null hypothesis."That way, it's a lot more intuitive that if a positive claim is not justified by the evidence, you should tentatively accept the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis in this case is that no god exists. If anyone ever provides sufficient evidence, I'll change my mind and accept that, but I have been looking and I haven't come across anything credible.Also, it's hard to argue against this idea of the null hypothesis because someone would be arguing against the scientific method itself.The null hypothesis is a hypothesis that is accepted as true until proven otherwise, no? First off, being that a hypothesis must be something that is believed in, it cannot be a lack of belief. Secondly, I don't think it applies to axiomatic/natural beliefs, else you are correct in saying that science itself would be in jeopardy. Likewise, I am merely arguing that theism then would be more a null hypothesis than atheism, being that we are naturally disposed to theism.

  29. says

    Ali-I think you are missing the point. No one is saying the default position is active disbelief (i.e. "I believe there are no gods") but a passive non-belief (i.e. "I don't know"). Re-read Afterthought's post right above yours. I do not think I can state it any better than that.

  30. says

    Tracie,Thanks for your response and patience. My response to you will(obviously) be longer as you have many objections and things to say. You say:I did not say rationality is predicated on disbelief. I said that before you are presented with a claim you don't believe the claim. You can't. And a rock is irrelevant, because belief does not apply to rocks, but does to humans. A rock is no more in this discussion than it would be in a discussion on "blindness" or "baldness."Now wait a second. I was merely bringing in the big picture here. You obviously believe that you are rational for not believing in theism, no? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Also, I think rocks are very relevant to this discussion. They aren't presented with beliefs either. They aren't aware of particular beliefs. They lack a belief. Now, you can certainly make a distinction between an aware human being not accepting theistic claims and a rock (which you do later on), but it's going to cost you in this discussion. I purposefully set up the objection that way to get you to see that :)You then say:"Then you don't believe the claim until you have sufficient reason–which is what I said."Because accepting something based on sufficient reason to you is rational, exactly as I pointed out. So you do in fact believe this.You say:"I don't know if I agree with this or not, since I don't claim to know how most atheists present it. Can you supply some stats on that?"I apologize, I don't have any stats. This was a claim made from my own observations and the fact that there are no studies yet to establish whether there is a majority who state this. This is the sort of claim I am encountering now from atheists here on this blog and on a daily basis elsewhere.You say:"If either of those means "I can't have belief because I've never heard the claim," then I agree. But neither of those sounds like that. "So then since rocks don't hear claims then they are relevant to this discussion, no? I mean, you can't honestly tell me that you've never heard the claims for theism. I know you don't believe this. If the default position is predicated on not being aware of claims, then you do not have the default position, since you are aware of the claim. You say:"Disbelief is the state of not believing. I don't even need to be presented with a claim to not believe it. In other words, before someone claimed they were abducted by aliens, I had no belief in that proposition. When presented with it, I did not "believe" as a default. I did not hold the claim as "true." I was willing to hear more once I heard it, however. Belief is active. Disbelief is passive. Denial is active."But you agree with me that certain, natural beliefs are things that must be accepted until proven otherwise, no? We are aware of these things when we begin to understand the world around us, before people tell us anything. You certainly believe something in rationality, in evidence, and in default positions, no? I will make a seperate response for your second post. Thanks for your time.

  31. says

    Ali wrote:> "No offense, but the atheists are the ones telling the majority of the world that what they are naturally disposed to believe from birth is illusionary."We're telling you what you should already know, that lots of things people believe due to "common sense," are wrong. We developed the scientific method to overcome these things. And we're telling you that if you look at religion with the same skepticism that you already use for other subjects, there is no reason that you should come down on the side of theism.> "The null hypothesis is a hypothesis that is accepted as true until proven otherwise, no? First off, being that a hypothesis must be something that is believed in, it cannot be a lack of belief."A hypothesis is NOT something that is believed in. It's a proposed explanation that you can look for evidence for. No belief necessary, and the specific hypothesis in the case of religion is "a god or gods exist." The null hypothesis is what state you'll be in if evidence for the hypothesis doesn't come forth.> "Likewise, I am merely arguing that theism then would be more a null hypothesis than atheism, being that we are naturally disposed to theism."No. It doesn't matter what we're naturally disposed to – what matters is that you can never marshal any evidence FOR atheism. The hypothesis is that god exists; the continued lack of evidence for that claim is what gets us to the null, the default position, of atheism.

  32. says

    "Appealing to sanity is not an argument. Furthermore, we hold beliefs that are not scientifically warranted every single day. These same beliefs are the foundation of science to begin with. For instance, you believe you can know things about the world. You do not start off thinking that this is a false or unwarranted belief, you just believe it. It's a belief that you are naturally disposed to. "No, I've been convinced of it by experience.

  33. says

    Tracie (P2),You say the following:"1. Religion is not a "naturally disposed" belief (demonstrated by secularly raised children)–so 2 doesn't apply to religion.A recent paper by Deb Kelemen at Boston University suggests otherwise:http://www.bu.edu/childcognition/publications/KelemenRosset(2009).pdfYes, it's scientific and yes, it's peer reviewed. Our natural disposition is towards seeing the world teleologically, which gives credence more to religious beliefs than atheistic, materialists rationality.Further, Bruce M. Hood, a developmental psychologists has suggested the same thing in his recent book:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VPE7GK/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DERHe recently released a paper as well (though I cannot find it, perhaps you'll have better luck)http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6823229.eceYou go on to say:"And, as you note–natural disposition is not warranted as a reason for belief."? Where did I say that. I clearly stated that we must believe what we are naturally disposed to until proven otherwise. I simply stated that it cannot be warranted with evidence because we are programmed to think that way to begin with. You then say:"In fact, babies will do a lot of harmful things if you don't stop them. They need to be taught not to eat a jar of prescription pills, for example. The fact they are naturally disposed to believe eating pills is a fine thing to do does not mean that as an adult I should not understand that "naturally disposed" beliefs, such as those, are utter crap that I should not take at face value."The fact is that naturally disposed beliefs can be falsfied. Obviously. If we find one of these beliefs to be wrong it does not necessitate that we throw the baby out with the bathwater, however, as we still use many of these beliefs as foundations for discovering the world around us.Thanks for your time :)

  34. says

    Afterthought,Thank you for your response and your patience.You first say:"I'll cut you off here – the claim is actually:"The default position is disbelief.""If that's the case, then I need to disbelieve this claim, seeing as the claim itself states that the the default position is "disbelief". You then say:"That, incidentally, in my opinion leads to your problem with the statement. The default position never changes, no matter how correct the other position is. You can hold the default position and be utterly, unequivocally wrong."Seeing as I agree with you here I don't think you understood my position. My apologies for not being coherent enough.You then say:"The default position to take upon the statement 'the default position upon a statement is disbelief' is disbelief.There is nothing problematic about the above statement – there is no truth claim being made about the contained statement, and hence can be no contradiction (default does not mean 'true'). "The problem here is that it leads to an infinite regress of justifications and thus absurdity. It cannot be claimed. I am not arguing for the truth of the claim, but its validity as a "default" (its epistemic status). I would object to the rest, but I think this is enough for your central points. Thanks for your time.

  35. says

    "Likewise, I am merely arguing that theism then would be more a null hypothesis than atheism, being that we are naturally disposed to theism."Bullshit.

  36. says

    Curious,Thank you for your response. No, I don't think I'm missing the point. "I don't know" that god exists either. I presume to know to some extent and then follow through. So I don't see how that has anything to do with the default position. Atheists clearly believe many things about theistic claims, such as the following:(1) There is no evidence for God(2) Theism is irrational(3) Theistic belief does not correspond with real knowledgeI don't see how you can claim that these beliefs are part of "I don't know".

  37. says

    Curt,Thank you again for your response.You said:"We're telling you what you should already know, that lots of things people believe due to "common sense," are wrong. We developed the scientific method to overcome these things. And we're telling you that if you look at religion with the same skepticism that you already use for other subjects, there is no reason that you should come down on the side of theism."I already admitted that this is the case. Many things we believe based on common sense are wrong, but I am arguing that not all things are. Just because we can say that certain things are does not throw out everything else. It is simple fact that many things we do believe based on common sense are in fact rational to believe in. Further, I don't know what you mean by "we" in this context. I hope you aren't just saying "atheists".I've also applied the same skepticism to belief in god in general as well as my particular religious belief and I find no valid reason to reject them, even with believing evolutionary theory, big bang cosmology, etc. You go on to say:"A hypothesis is NOT something that is believed in. It's a proposed explanation that you can look for evidence for. No belief necessary, and the specific hypothesis in the case of religion is "a god or gods exist." The null hypothesis is what state you'll be in if evidence for the hypothesis doesn't come forth."I find this odd. I'm assuming you are distinguishing between belief and knowledge, but I don't see why you'd do that. There are such things as justified beliefs and unjustified ones. So if that is what you are objecting to, I am simply using "belief" in a loose sense. If not, then let me just move on to your other claim. You state that it is an explanation that is given that we can look for evidence for. I never suggested that evidence cannot be produced towards belief in god, but that, being that it is something we are naturally inclined to believe in, evidence needs to be shown to prove it illusionary, not true. These are in fact real default positions. I think when you look at knowledge purely through a scientific lens you can't make the distinction between truth and rationality. Many philosophers (myself included), do not believe that (1) Full certainty of knowledge is necessary or (2) That the existence of something be shown to be true__for the claim to be accepted as rational. For instance, I do not need to completely know it to be true that I exist in order to believe that I do. Another example: I don't need to certainly know that the external world is truly real in order to believe that it is. Likewise, I do not need to believe in other things like the "past" with certain, full knowledge and truth to accept that such thing existed. These are just a few examples. I'm sure you can come up with some more. I'm obviously not making the claim that god exist. I believe God does exist. I am making a far different claim. I am making an epistemological claim. Cont…

  38. says

    Man does pseudo-intellectualism drive me mad.Okay heres the deal Ali. You completely ignored Afterthought's point. Disbelief of disbelief is not an infinite regress. Disbelief of disbelief is still just disbelief.That being said, the argument that "you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism" is surely the most absurd thing in this whole argument.Should I even have to point this out?

  39. says

    IngThank you again for responding. You say two things:"No, I've been convinced of it by experience."You had to believe that you were able to experience before you were convinced of it. In response to me saying that theism was something people naturally were disposed to believe in, you said the following:"bullshit"Saying "bullshit" is not an argument nor an objection. I already provided evidence for this assertion in a previous response to Tracie. I will repost that same reply here:A recent paper by Deb Kelemen at Boston University suggests otherwise:http://www.bu.edu/childcognition/publications/KelemenRosset(2009).pdfYes, it's scientific and yes, it's peer reviewed. Our natural disposition is towards seeing the world teleologically, which gives credence more to religious beliefs than atheistic, materialists rationality.Further, Bruce M. Hood, a developmental psychologists has suggested the same thing in his recent book:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VPE7GK/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DERHe recently released a paper as well (though I cannot find it, perhaps you'll have better luck)http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/articleThanks for your time.

  40. says

    L,No need to insult. In fact, I highly doubt you can show that I am a "pseudo intellectual", so I don't even see why you're making the claim.This is what you say:"Man does pseudo-intellectualism drive me mad.Okay heres the deal Ali. You completely ignored Afterthought's point. Disbelief of disbelief is not an infinite regress. Disbelief of disbelief is still just disbelief.That being said, the argument that "you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism" is surely the most absurd thing in this whole argument.Should I even have to point this out?"Claiming that the default position is disbelief until belief is warranted is in fact asking for itself to be warranted. It is not the issue of "disbelief of disbelief", but the fact that one has to warrant the belief of this disbelief based on the claim itself. That's the problem.And I never made the argument that "you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism". This is just your strawman. Light a match all you like and burn away, but it doesn't affect what I've said. And no, you shouldn't have to point it out, because what you said has nothing to do with my argument. So when you can accurately present my position, then come back to me. Till then, I don't think you have the right to call me a pseudo intellectual.

  41. says

    I'm an avid watcher of this show and the NonProphets, and I often participate in the chat room when AE airs, but this is my first time posting on the blog. I feel I can add to this discussion, because there was once a time when I didn't understand the meaning of "disbelief is the default position".For the topic of the existence of god, there are two positive claims:A. God(s) existB. No god(s) existFor each positive claim, there are three positions to hold:1. I accept the claim as true2. I accept the claim as false3. I don't yet accept the claim as true or false."Believing" the claim is the same as position 1. "Not believing" or "disbelieving" is the same as position 2 OR position 3, which is where the confusion arises.I've noticed that many atheists don't seem to understand that many theists interpret "not believing" as "believing the claim is false" (or "believing the opposite claim"). While somebody who doesn't believe COULD additionally believe the claim is false, it isn't necessary.The "default" position is position 3, where the person has not yet made a determination as to whether they accept the claim as true or whether they accept it as false. But because this could also be considered "not believing" the claim, it is often incorrectly combined with position 2 when labeling it "default". NEITHER position 1 NOR position 2 is default — only position 3 is.This applies to both claims. The default position when confronted with the claim that god exists is to neither accept the claim as true nor accept it as false. Likewise, the default position when presented with the claim that NO god exists is to not accept the claim as true or accept it as false. When presented with both claims, the default position is to not accept or "not believe" both claims.Even if we are predisposed to believe in a god, the default position BEFORE being presented with a claim that god exists is to neither accept it as true or false. We can't say its true or false because we don't even know what the claim is yet.Once the claim is presented, we might automatically draw on our predispositions and accept the claim as true (or more likely to be true). Our predispositions don't negate the fact the our default position was position 3, however brief. They just allow us to quickly reach position 1 without being presented with any additional evidence from the person making the claim. Thus, even though we naturally move to accept the claim as true without any evidence, we still moved from position 3 (the default) to position 1 (the inevitable). When skydiving, the default position is inside the plane, not the ground, even though we are naturally predisposed to falling because of gravity. Of course, like most atheists, I became aware that many of my previous beliefs were arrived at only because of predispositions (whether natural or indoctrinated). When I realized that no other empirical evidence supported those beliefs, I stop accepting the claims as true, but I did NOT immediately start accepting them as false. I instead moved back to the default position and awaited more evidence to push me in either direction.

  42. says

    Ali wrote:> "Atheists clearly believe many things about theistic claims, such as the following:(1) There is no evidence for God"We might say that informally, but strictly speaking, we say that we have seen no evidence for god, even though we've diligently searched.> "(2) Theism is irrational"Given that there seems to be no evidence for theism, it clearly is irrational.> "(3) Theistic belief does not correspond with real knowledge"Well, duh. Believing something simply because you've been indoctrinated, and/or you as a human have a tendency to perceive agency even when none is present, is not real knowledge.I'm pretty impressed that you've captured the line of our reasoning so well. What I can't figure out is what is your argument against it.> "Yes, it's scientific and yes, it's peer reviewed. Our natural disposition is towards seeing the world teleologically, which gives credence more to religious beliefs than atheistic, materialists rationality."WTF?!?I think that your mindset must be so wrapped around the axle of your god-belief that you can't perceive the ridiculousness of this statement. Let's take it to a different context. Let's say that someone found good evidence that people tended to sense the presence of leprechauns, even though no leprechauns were around. Now let's take the data point that a person in some given situation says he perceived leprechauns. Would you say, in this situation, that the study would be used to support the idea that there must have been leprechauns there? Or would it be used to explain how that person's perception shouldn't carry much weight?

  43. says

    Ali-I think I understand what you're saying. If I am wrong in my understanding then please don't think I am "strawmaning" you. Would you agree with the below as your argument:1. Atheists say that the default position on a claim is disbelief. This position is to be held until evidence is provided to either believe the claim is true or false.2. If we take the default position on other claims, such as "we can have knowledge about reality" then we undermine logic and the scientific method.3. Therefore scepticism is self-defeating.I may have run with your ball a bit too far, I'm eager to see if you agree with my summary.To me, it looks like a journey in to Solipsism and anti-realism. But while this journey is interesting it is, ultimately, useless. And so we must accept some axioms to make sense of the world. I am guessing that you're saying "what is wrong with accepting theism as an axiom?" The problem, I think, is that theism is contingent upon other axioms; the very same axioms that science and logic are built on, the main one being that we can have knowledge of reality. Therefore, if we throw away the ability to know anything then all arguments are null; theism, scepticism, epiricism… everything.Am I rambling yet?

  44. says

    "If an atheist makes the claim that "the default position is disbelief till belief is warranted" then they likewise need to apply the logic of this claim to the claim itself.""Likewise, I am merely arguing that theism then would be more a null hypothesis than atheism, being that we are naturally disposed to theism." Im sorry, but it was indeed you who brought up infinite regress. It was also you that claimed theism is a null hypothesis. In context, a perfectly valid summery of your augment would be "you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism".Perhaps you are thrown off by the use of the word skepticism. But a position of doubt or disbelief until evidence is given is exactly what skepticism means. Perhaps you are perturbed at my omission of what you think humans are naturally disposed to.But the fact of the matter is that humans can and will be naturally disposed to all sorts of nonsense. That does not make it true. Arguments stand or fall on their merits. You cannot dismiss a useful and reasoned mindset such as skepticism via logic games. And even if you did, you certainly couldn't replace it with theism which is inherently illogical and does indeed smack of pseudo-intellectualism.

  45. says

    NonDefaultist,I appreciate your response. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.What I would like to say is that I understand that when the atheist says that they have the "default position" that they are saying that they do not know that god(s) exist. At the same time, however, I am simply attacking what a "default position" is.I do not agree that a default position is predicated on a lack of belief. I think that this is illogical and incoherent. I think that the atheist makes just as many claim as the theist and must support their claims with reasons if they wish to convince the other side. Simply applying the burden of proof to the the other side of the debate because you disagree or don't know what to believe with them does not make it the case. I am a firm believer that if there were such things as "default positions" (which I believe there are) that they would be beliefs that were axiomatic or foundational to all knowledge. They would be beliefs that were predicated on natural dispositions. For instance, we have a natural disposition to automatically seeing what is around us as real, and we therefore believe that to be the case. We do not need evidence for this, because this belief precedes and supports that evidence is even possible.This does not mean, however that all beliefs we have from these natural dispositions are warranted because they can be falsified and shown to be irrational at times, but not all times. I am arguing that theism is one of those times where it is rational. The consequence of this? Merely that theism is rational and that it need not provide evidence for the basic belief of "god(s) exists". What needs to be shown is not that god(s) do not exist necessarily, but that there is no necessity for them to exists. Some atheists do think this is the case, such as when they explain that evolutionary theory (which I believe in) discredits the perception of design in the universe.I happen to disagree.Thank you for your time.

  46. says

    Curt,Thanks again for the civil response. You say this:"Well, duh. Believing something simply because you've been indoctrinated, and/or you as a human have a tendency to perceive agency even when none is present, is not real knowledge."I agree, however, I disagree that the perception of agency is accurate. Why? Because (1) I am naturally inclined to think this and (2) Because it has yet to be proven otherwise, hence I must still hold to this position.This is not the only reason I believe in god, but it's one of them.You then go on to say:"I'm pretty impressed that you've captured the line of our reasoning so well. What I can't figure out is what is your argument against it."Thank you. I fleshed out the reasons for my objection and what I believe in my previous response with NonDefaultist. I don't wish to paste it here because then it might turn into two posts. If you'd like, you can read it.You then go on to say:"WTF?!?I think that your mindset must be so wrapped around the axle of your god-belief that you can't perceive the ridiculousness of this statement. Let's take it to a different context. Let's say that someone found good evidence that people tended to sense the presence of leprechauns, even though no leprechauns were around. Now let's take the data point that a person in some given situation says he perceived leprechauns. Would you say, in this situation, that the study would be used to support the idea that there must have been leprechauns there? Or would it be used to explain how that person's perception shouldn't carry much weight?"I'm confused with something. I presented scientific research that has been peer reviewed to prove my point that we have the natural tendency to perceive agency in the universe. I don't see why you are (1) Rejecting this and (2) saying that it is ridiculous. You go on to compare by saying that people might have a natural tendency to sense leprechauns, but I don't see how this has anything to do with sensing teleology. I'd say that sensing leprechauns is a belief that comes from this tendency, but not the tendency itself. The tendency may lead credence to the belief in leprechauns initially till the claim is shown to be irrational. I want to note that I have never stated throughout the entirety of this discussion that the perception equates to the belief being true. I have only say that it makes it rational. Further, I have never stated that naturally disposed beliefs cannot be wrong. For example, we have the naturally disposed belief to believe that our senses correspond with reality. Does this make everything we see the case? No, because we can also detect when something is an illusion. This does not mean, however that we should throw out the belief that our senses do in fact correspond with reality just because we've seen a couple times where it was wrong. Likewise, it does not mean that we should throw out the naturally disposed belief in agency and certain beliefs that follow just because we've found to be wrong at times. What it does mean is that we should be skeptical, but this is far different from saying "I don't believe". You don't believe for two reasons: (1) When the belief you possess has been shown to be wrong or (2) When the belief has not been shown to be justified.In this case we can skip (2) because naturally disposed beliefs do not fall under this category.

  47. says

    Ali wrote:> "I think that the atheist makes just as many claim as the theist and must support their claims with reasons if they wish to convince the other side."What claims do atheists make?The only claim that I make is that evidence for the existence of a god, so far as I have seen, does not justify a belief in a god. That's it.> "I'm confused with something. I presented scientific research that has been peer reviewed to prove my point that we have the natural tendency to perceive agency in the universe. I don't see why you are (1) Rejecting this and (2) saying that it is ridiculous." The part that's ridiculous is the conclusion you draw from that research. You said that this study supports the idea that a god really exists. In fact, the opposite is true – it explains why belief in god is persistent in our culture in spite of the lack of evidence. It tells us that the fact that so many people believe a god exists cannot be used as evidence for anything, because people demonstrably will have that belief when it's not justified.> "Likewise, it does not mean that we should throw out the naturally disposed belief in agency and certain beliefs that follow just because we've found to be wrong at times."You shouldn't throw out all your beliefs just because it's been shown that some beliefs can be unjustified, but it does tell us that we must look even harder at those beliefs that humans tend to have when we shouldn't.

  48. says

    Switching gears, NonDefaultist wrote:> "When I realized that no other empirical evidence supported those beliefs, I stop accepting the claims as true, but I did NOT immediately start accepting them as false. I instead moved back to the default position and awaited more evidence to push me in either direction."So if you were in that position #3, where you don't yet accept the god-claim as true or as false, then what evidence could there possibly be to push you towards disbelief?There is no positive evidence for the non-existence of god. What we have is a profound lack of evidence where we would expect it to be. This is what I was saying earlier about the null hypothesis (or default position). You've set up the argument as being symmetrical – you can believe yes, you can believe no, or you can simply not yet come to a belief.But the problem is that there is an inherent asymmetry – it's logically impossible to show that god does not exist. On the other hand, it's easy to imagine possible evidences for its existence. The positive claim that god does exist therefore gets the burden of proof, and the null hypothesis of its non-existence has to be the default position.

  49. says

    Ali, I appreciate you taking the time to answer so many responses. Especially when you are outnumbered. I hope you will continue with this discussion. I think I have gained some understanding into your position, but I still think you are wrong. In your response to me you said the following:So I don't see how that has anything to do with the default position. Atheists clearly believe many things about theistic claims, such as the following:(1) There is no evidence for God(2) Theism is irrational(3) Theistic belief does not correspond with real knowledgeI don't see how you can claim that these beliefs are part of "I don't know".While I personally accept these claims, they are not needed to be an atheist. All one needs to be an atheist is to not accept that gods exist. The default position on any claim is to obstain from making judgement.Here is an example: A friend hands me a piece of paper and says "This paper is blue". I am predisposed to believe him because the paper looks blue to me. This does not change the fact that the default position is to withhold judgement. If I accept the claim that the paper is blue I am no longer in the default position, I have decided to trust my friend, and to trust my eyes.

  50. says

    AliOk, say your right and I accept "I can know stuff about the universe" as a practical axiom. HOW does that make theism more likely? It is still as unlikely and necessary to prove if we're working on a practical observation. Saying there's no absolute certainty in our senses is…saying there's no absolute certainty. PEROID. that does not make God claims immune from this certainty. Saying "we can't be sure so evidence is not necessary" is bullshit. You haven't argued FOR theism you've argued that no one knows anything. I accept "I can find out things by testing them, ie my senses are not 100% reliable but I can reduce %error via redundancy and repeatability ie: different sense+more tests" There accepted. From THAT I build "disbelief until evidence" The evidence for this belief is that a) we see it works, science gets info and practical resultsb) we see it works in every day life as it reduces the false things we believec) it not being so would require we throw out the logical axioms and thus be unable to discern or think anything. Therefore it is at least valid in terms of a practical model. Also might I point out the *censored* hypocrisy of you arguing "Evidence is irrelevant to rational beliefs" and then citing what you claim to be a peer reviewed paper? So you want the evidence based research to be practical FOR your belief but not against. Yeah…no. What you're doing is dis-earnest and masturbatory naval gazing. "Evidence is not necessary" is a claim people only make when they have no evidence. To make this claim you are admitting "I have no evidence so I have to butcher the principles of logical thought, science and evidence, to bring in a back door justification. And again, you don't respond to my question DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT BELIEVE IN PAZULU? I'm curious to know. I KNOW who/what Pazulu is but you don't….you also lack any evidence against Pazulu, so how do you rectify this? Do you or do you not believe?

  51. says

    Also I called bullshit on Ali, cause from my observation there's no way the discussion can go any further. He's going to keep bringing it back to infinite regress, no matter how much other people explain or provide evidence (odd he doesn't take our insistence that there is no infinite regress or that it's a practical axiom on faith until it's proven wrong). We're going to be spinning wheels since he's created a brand new form of insane troll logic where we only disbelieve with evidence…except things that are probably not true, that we need evidence for, except god since that's a null hypothesis because….he's redefined null hypothesis to include positive claims. Ali needs to go and read what logic/reasoning is about, cause I think it's unfair for him to basically force everyone else to educate him against his will.

  52. says

    I know I'm breaking my own promise but…"In this case we can skip (2) because naturally disposed beliefs do not fall under this category."NO WE CANNOT. THAT'S THE POINT!If we fucked with a kids development so he never developed a theory of mind (ie he thinks people disappear when he can't see them) that does not mean his belief is beyond skepticism. No, his natural inclination leads to a false belief that can only be broken by leading him towards evidence. An autistic person is not "right" about the universe because it's their natural inclination to not realize other people are independent agents. Shorter answer: naturalistic fallacy…look it up.

  53. Afterthought_btw says

    Ali"If that's the case, then I need to disbelieve this claim, seeing as the claim itself states that the the default position is "disbelief"."and in response to:"That, incidentally, in my opinion leads to your problem with the statement. The default position never changes, no matter how correct the other position is. You can hold the default position and be utterly, unequivocally wrong." You say: "Seeing as I agree with you here I don't think you understood my position. My apologies for not being coherent enough."These two quotes are actually contradictory! If the second quote was true, you would not have made the first one. :)Let's try it this way.Applying the statement 'the default position is disbelief' to itself does not mean you 'need' to disbelieve the claim. All it means is that your default position is disbelief in the claim. Once you have assessed the claim on its merits, you can then move from the default position to belief in the claim, or remain at the default position of disbelief.Moving to the claim of an infinite regress:The only way an infinite regress could be a problem is if a truth claim is being made within the statement about the statement itself. There is quite simply no infinite regress of justifications for the simple reason that there are no justifications in the regress whatsoever. (Remember that the default position says nothing about the truth of a statement).The statement 'the default position for any given claim is disbelief' is not a truth claim – rather it is a descriptive statement (like: 'The cat is black') – and as such, all the justifications come from outside the statement.

  54. says

    L,Thank you for your response.You say:"Im sorry, but it was indeed you who brought up infinite regress. It was also you that claimed theism is a null hypothesis. In context, a perfectly valid summery of your augment would be "you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism"."The fact is that I brought up that this reasoning leads to an infinite regress. Further, your characterization of my position is horribly simplistic. Being skeptical of the claim is not what makes my theism valid. I merely (1) Deconstructed your position and then (2) Replaced it with something better. Your position being invalid does not necessitate mine. The fact that your position is invalid should give you reasons, however, to look at what I have to say.You then go on to say:"Perhaps you are perturbed at my omission of what you think humans are naturally disposed to.But the fact of the matter is that humans can and will be naturally disposed to all sorts of nonsense. That does not make it true. Arguments stand or fall on their merits. You cannot dismiss a useful and reasoned mindset such as skepticism via logic games. And even if you did, you certainly couldn't replace it with theism which is inherently illogical and does indeed smack of pseudo-intellectualism."I already admitted that human beings can and are usually disposed to nonsensical beliefs, but this does not mean that all beliefs that they are naturally disposed to are wrong because of this. Slippery slope fallacies are not justifiable reasons to reject a claim.Further, I never said that theism was "true" simply because we are naturally disposed to it. I have clearly laid out that it is, however, rational to believe. The fact that you say that I am merely committing to "logic games" and pseudo intellectualism without any valid reason other than strawmen is not enough to make a solid objection. I'm sorry, but you are still mischaracterizing my views.

  55. says

    Also more importantly, Ali has to show us that infinite regress automatically makes a stance invalid. I'm not saying it IS an infinite regress or not here, just why that would automatically invalidate a stance. For example if the universe does work under big bounce than there is indeed an infinite regress of our universe. Also yeah the Pazulu thing…

  56. says

    Ali saidI am a firm believer that if there were such things as "default positions" (which I believe there are) that they would be beliefs that were axiomatic or foundational to all knowledge. They would be beliefs that were predicated on natural dispositions.Different people have different natural dispositions, so those beliefs could not be axiomatic or foundational.For instance, we have a natural disposition to automatically seeing what is around us as real, and we therefore believe that to be the case. We do not need evidence for this, because this belief precedes and supports that evidence is even possible.Our beliefs that what we see is real come from experience, a form of evidence. We use this evidence, albeit sometimes subconsciously, to move us to accepting a claim as true. Because no conscious thought process took place, it might seem like accepting the claim is the default position, but the fact remains that we moved from "not yet accepting the claim" to "accepting the claim". If a really trustworthy friend tells me that his favorite color is blue, I instantly believe him, but that is not the default position. I believe him because he has demonstrated himself over time to be trustworthy, and I have no reason the believe that he would lie, especially about something so trivial. In fact, I trust him so much, that it doesn't even occur to me to think about how much I trust him. I am subconsciously predisposed to trust him, and to accept his claim as true.However, if a third party then asks me, "Is it possible your friend is lying?", then I have to consciously analyze how much I trust him. I temporarily move back to the true default position (not yet accepting my friend's claim as true or false), then probably move back to accepting the claim as true because I realize I trust him (even though I acknowledge that there is a slight possibility the claim is actually false). The point is, the natural inclination for belief in a god is a form of evidence that we immediately and subconsciously use to accept the claim "god exists" once it's presented to us. If I look outside and see that it is daytime, and then someone says, "It is daytime", I immediately accept the claim. Even though the person does not provide any evidence, I accept the claim because I was aware of the essence of the claim before hearing it. Given my experience, I in essence already accepted the truth of the claim at the time it was presented to me. But someone else who did not look outside (and maybe had just woken up), might not accept the claim right away.Accepting the claim "god exists" might feel like the default position because we might already believe in the essence of the claim (on our own) before hearing it (i.e., we already felt that there was an objective purpose to everything). But there was a point where we did not yet accept the essence (nor accept the opposite), and that was when we held the default position, even if we were unaware. When developing as infants, there was a point before we started having "feelings" that there was a god. That was the default position. Just because we accept a particular claim by the time we first learn about logic and rationality does not mean that accepting the claim is the default position. The default position is NOT necessarily the position we hold at the time we become cognizant of what constitutes evidence for or against a claim.

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    Curt Cameron saidSo if you were in that position #3, where you don't yet accept the god-claim as true or as false, then what evidence could there possibly be to push you towards disbelief?For vague definitions of god, nothing could push me towards absolute certainty of nonexistence. For the vaguest (yet still coherent) definition — that which purposely created the universe — I personally have not left the default position.However, as a god becomes more and more defined, I believe it's nonexistence more and more, even if I can never be absolutely certain that I'm right. Remember, there is a difference between belief and knowledge. To know means I also believe, but I can also believe without knowing. For me, absence of evidence can be evidence of absence, just not conclusive evidence.For some definitions of god, I can actually downright be certain of nonexistence when given certain evidence such as a logically contradictory definition, evidence that the religion was purposely fabricated, evidence that the religion evolved and combined from other religions, or a definition predicated on the truth of an incorrect scientific claim, an incorrect historical claim, or a detailed prediction that did not come to pass at the specific time predicted.…the null hypothesis of its non-existence has to be the default positionThe null hypothesis is NOT non-existence, since non-existence is itself a claim. The null hypothesis is not accepting either existence or non-existence as true or false. We know that one of those claims has to be true, and the other false, but the default position is to not make a claim as to which is which.

  58. says

    Ali:Your paper link:http://www.bu.edu/childcognition/publications/KelemenRosset(2009).pdfHere is what I said:"1. Religion is not a 'naturally disposed' belief (demonstrated by secularly raised children)–so 2 doesn't apply to religion.This paper is only one paper—research bears repeating. But, where does it say religion is naturally predisposed? I have a friend who has a toddler who saw wind chimes for the first time in a walk around the neighborhood. That child heard the chimes in the tree, but didn’t see them. She said: “Mommy, the trees are singing.” She perceived agency, and purpose and intent in the noise that wasn't there–certainly. That's god? That's religion? No, but it is misreading purpose and intent into something that demonstrates no purpose and intent. If you only meant to say "people have a capacity to misread intent into things," I would have easily agreed. But that's not a natural predisposition toward god or "religion." It may be a role-player in what leads to religions later–but the tendency in itself is NOT a natural predisposition to religion, but to intent where none is evident.As the paper suggests, "the trees are singing" is a purpose based explanation from the mind of an anthropomorphizing child. But to jump to “god” from a "singing tree" is a little pushing it, don’t you think?To call this a preset for belief in god is greatly stretching the results. Could it explain why some people go on to posit a god? Yes. Are these people reasonable? No, they’re extending a three-year-old’s reasoning capacity into adulthood, which is really not a good idea; but it may be understandable in cultures where education is lacking and understanding of the universe is slim to none.>The fact is that naturally disposed beliefs can be falsfied. Obviously. If we find one of these beliefs to be wrong it does not necessitate that we throw the baby out with the bathwater, however, as we still use many of these beliefs as foundations for discovering the world around us.Yes, and how long should we hold onto the belief the "trees are singing"–since that is, in essence the anthropomorphic tendency that leads a child to think such silliness. To hold onto god belief because of faulty three-year-old anthropomorphic perspectives (of things such as "trees sing")–which necessitate neither god or religion—is ridiculous.

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    Curt,Thank you for another response. I am sorry this is taking so long, but it seems that I am getting more and more opponents to my position so I'm having to respond more frequently.Here is what you say:"What claims do atheists make?The only claim that I make is that evidence for the existence of a god, so far as I have seen, does not justify a belief in a god. That's it."Yes, so that's a claim. Many atheists also make several other claims, like theism is irrational, like empirical evidence is necessary for things to be believed in, etc. This is not necessarily a product of their atheism, but their atheism does not make them immune to somehow making claims just because they don't believe in god. They obviously have reasons for not believing and those beliefs can be examined and critiqued. "The part that's ridiculous is the conclusion you draw from that research. You said that this study supports the idea that a god really exists. "Had you read my argument carefully you would have noted that I never said anything of the sort. I merely stated that belief in god is rational because of this, not that god exists. There's a difference. You go on to say:"In fact, the opposite is true – it explains why belief in god is persistent in our culture in spite of the lack of evidence. It tells us that the fact that so many people believe a god exists cannot be used as evidence for anything, because people demonstrably will have that belief when it's not justified."It's justified on the basis that it's a naturally disposed belief that has yet to be shown to be false. You need to show why there is no good reason to believe in god. I do not have to necessarily show you why there is good reason because we as human beings were preprogrammed to think that way to begin with. I certainly can doubt my beliefs, but until you give me good reasons to abandon them, then I don't have to."You shouldn't throw out all your beliefs just because it's been shown that some beliefs can be unjustified, but it does tell us that we must look even harder at those beliefs that humans tend to have when we shouldn't."I agree, but you are asking me to throw out one of my beliefs for no justified reason.

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    I should also note humans are not the only animals that do this. Chimpanzees in the wild have been observed to demonstrate threatening and intimidating postures when foul weather approaches. They appear to be trying to scare off the storm in the same way they would intruders or challengers. And in Golden Bough, the old custom of people doing the same thing–trying to use methods to scare off storms–is described.While a person can move from a malevolent storm cloud to a god, it's not a necessary step. Conscious clouds are not gods. If anything, perhaps animism _at best_. But if this sort of fallacious, magical thinking is the basis for religion and the modern god, then absolutely that's sufficient reason to leave it behind, despite the preset to insert agency.

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    AngryAtheist,Than you for your patience. There are quite a few individuals I need to respond to and I skipped over you accidentally. You first ask:"Ali- please explain how not believing that "knowledge of reality is possible" leads to theism?thanks"Such a thing does not lead to theism, rather it is a naturally predisposed belief, much like theism. This is really my argument. Let me give you an example of myself. I was born with natural dispositions towards particular beliefs. For instance, I am naturally disposed to seeing agency in the world around me. The beliefs that come from this can either be rational or irrational. What I am arguing (but have yet to go into full detail because I am first trying to argue about what a real default position is) is that theism is one of these rational beliefs. Now, if we say that naturally disposed beliefs are all irrational, then we undermine other beliefs that we consider rational, such as all the beliefs we have that are predicated on the scientific method, since in order to believe such things are rational we have to naturally believe that we can be rational to begin with or that our senses correspond with reality.You go on to say:"I think I understand what you're saying. If I am wrong in my understanding then please don't think I am "strawmaning" you. Would you agree with the below as your argument:1. Atheists say that the default position on a claim is disbelief. This position is to be held until evidence is provided to either believe the claim is true or false.2. If we take the default position on other claims, such as "we can have knowledge about reality" then we undermine logic and the scientific method.3. Therefore scepticism is self-defeating.I may have run with your ball a bit too far, I'm eager to see if you agree with my summary."I appreciate you trying to make sense of my argument and I will not claim that you are strawmanning my position as I know this is an honest attempt.I have to disagree with this summary (not in full, however). If the default position is "disbelief until belief is justified", then certainly we must admit that the default position is to not accept the default position. So the claim is in fact absurd because it can lead us down an infinite regress of justifications. What I am saying is that one should not believe this. I agree that there is an implicit understanding of wanting reasons to believe things, but I would not call it "disbelief". If anything, naturally disposed beliefs should be accepted until warranted irrational. That seems a much better definition of what a "default" is. You then say:"To me, it looks like a journey in to Solipsism and anti-realism. But while this journey is interesting it is, ultimately, useless. And so we must accept some axioms to make sense of the world. I agree. This is why I don't think we should accept this definition of default positions."I am guessing that you're saying "what is wrong with accepting theism as an axiom?" The problem, I think, is that theism is contingent upon other axioms; the very same axioms that science and logic are built on, the main one being that we can have knowledge of reality. Therefore, if we throw away the ability to know anything then all arguments are null; theism, scepticism, epiricism… everything."In a sense I am arguing that theism is not so much an axion as it is a default position. I should have been more clear about this before. The axiom would probably better be the belief in agency.At the same time, however, after thinking of this issue I came up with a more advanced argument (taking from Descartes) that would argue for simultaneously held beliefs that were not necessarily contingent on one another. But that's for another time I suppose :)

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    Curious,Thank you for your patience and your support. I will try my best to continue this discussion. You say:"While I personally accept these claims, they are not needed to be an atheist. All one needs to be an atheist is to not accept that gods exist. The default position on any claim is to obstain from making judgement."Perhaps so, but they certainly can only come from an atheist. As I stated before, the problem with the claim that "the default position on any claim is to abstain from making judgment" is that in order to accept this I first have to abstain from making judgments (I can't believe it). So how am I supposed to accept it if it tells me that I can't?That's the issue.You go on to say:"Here is an example: A friend hands me a piece of paper and says "This paper is blue". I am predisposed to believe him because the paper looks blue to me. This does not change the fact that the default position is to withhold judgement. If I accept the claim that the paper is blue I am no longer in the default position, I have decided to trust my friend, and to trust my eyes."This is an interesting example. So you are predisposed to believe him because it looks blue. You are correct.Now please tell my why'd you'd hold judgment on this predisposition? What reason do you have to do that? Because other predispositions were wrong? But how can you know if other predispositions were wrong if you first start out by doubting all predispositions? That's why I think defaults should never be skepticism. Now, this does not mean that we should not be skeptical. I am simply arguing that the default position is not skepticism, not that there isn't reason for skepticism. In fact, naturally disposed beliefs as default positions validate skepticism more than skepticism being the default validates skepticism. Think about it ;)

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    Ing,You seem to be the only individual here with an attitude problem. I'm just going to say this once: if you continue to insult me then I will no longer respond to you. I don't like being labeled things I am not, nor do I like being psychologically profiled as a troll or whatever else have you just because you're frustrated with my argument. I have not attacked you once. You don't have to respect my beliefs, but I would think that you can at least respect me as a person. Further, I may not be a master at logic and reasoning, but I am not someone to be talked down to that way. I have credentials and I am well educated in my field, so please keep your degrading comments to yourself. Now allow me to go through your objections:"Ok, say your right and I accept "I can know stuff about the universe" as a practical axiom. HOW does that make theism more likely?"It doesn't because I was merely mentioning that as an example of a naturally disposed belief. "It is still as unlikely and necessary to prove if we're working on a practical observation. Saying there's no absolute certainty in our senses is…saying there's no absolute certainty. PEROID. that does not make God claims immune from this certainty. Saying "we can't be sure so evidence is not necessary" is bullshit. You haven't argued FOR theism you've argued that no one knows anything."Well, that's good and all that you think that way, but it's not what I am arguing. Once again, I implore you to actually read what I've written or ask me questions if you don't understand.You go on to say:"Also might I point out the *censored* hypocrisy of you arguing "Evidence is irrelevant to rational beliefs" and then citing what you claim to be a peer reviewed paper? So you want the evidence based research to be practical FOR your belief but not against. Yeah…no." First off, I never ever stated that "evidence is irrelevant to rational beliefs". I clearly stated that evidence is irrelevant to naturally disposed beliefs (only evidence to the contrary was relevant in this case). Because if evidence was necessary for naturally disposed beliefs, then we'd have to have evidence for the naturally disposed belief that there is such thing as evidence.Further, it is a peer reviewed paper. Look it up yourself if you don't believe me. I obviously have to provide reasons for my claim that you do not believe if I am going to convince you. I never admitted otherwise. What I have admitted, however, is that our naturally disposed beliefs do not require evidence to be considered rational. That is all.You go on to say:"What you're doing is dis-earnest and masturbatory naval gazing. "Evidence is not necessary" is a claim people only make when they have no evidence."Or are Epistemic Foundationalists, such as myself, who don't like infinite regression and find it to be absurdYou then say:"To make this claim you are admitting "I have no evidence so I have to butcher the principles of logical thought, science and evidence, to bring in a back door justification."Obviously not the case. And if you believe otherwise, go ahead and provide a sufficient argument.You then say:"And again, you don't respond to my question DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT BELIEVE IN PAZULU? I'm curious to know. I KNOW who/what Pazulu is but you don't….you also lack any evidence against Pazulu, so how do you rectify this? Do you or do you not believe?"Because your analogy is predicated on the faulty reasoning of what constitutes as a "default position". I don't need to respond. But if it makes you feel better, I do not believe because I have no idea what Pazulu is, first of all, and secondly I don't know how you know.

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    Ing (P2),Skipping over your second response because it was just all ad homs, I'll go on to the third one, which has some substance:"I know I'm breaking my own promise but…"In this case we can skip (2) because naturally disposed beliefs do not fall under this category."NO WE CANNOT. THAT'S THE POINT!"Here we have an inconsistency in your thinking. You stated before that we needed some axioms, but the go to to say that naturally disposed beliefs are not immune to having to justify themselves with evidence. Hence, you are non purposefully justifying an infinite regress."If we fucked with a kids development so he never developed a theory of mind (ie he thinks people disappear when he can't see them) that does not mean his belief is beyond skepticism. No, his natural inclination leads to a false belief that can only be broken by leading him towards evidence.If we did this with a kids development then we'd know that his beliefs would not be naturally disposed since we tampered with the development of them. You then say:"An autistic person is not "right" about the universe because it's their natural inclination to not realize other people are independent agents.We do not consider autistic individuals normal functioning human beings. You then say:"Shorter answer: naturalistic fallacy…look it up."And here's mine: I'm already aware of it and it doesn't apply here.

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    Okay, I am beginning to think I am being trolled hard now.First you call my summary a strawman, and say things like;"Further, your characterization of my position is horribly simplistic."Then later in the SAME POST;"I merely (1) Deconstructed your position and then (2) Replaced it with something better."Yes I know. That is what I said you were doing. That was my argument!whatever. The point is moot. "I already admitted that human beings can and are usually disposed to nonsensical beliefs, but this does not mean that all beliefs that they are naturally disposed to are wrong because of this. Slippery slope fallacies are not justifiable reasons to reject a claim."I never postulated a slippery slope argument. I said that because we are predisposed to nonsense that we need a way to weed out what ideas are more likely/useful. Not just reject them out of hand. Which brings us to skepticism, but since you argued against that with infinite regress and no one here seems to want to challenge that logic game, lets move forward. What is your criteria or standard for deciding the veracity of a claim? Or to tie it in with my fellow posters:DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT BELIEVE IN PAZULU?

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    Afterthought,Thank you for your response. You say:"These two quotes are actually contradictory! If the second quote was true, you would not have made the first one. :)"I believe you have caught me and I am embarrassed to say that I must have misread your comment and responded incorrectly. I ask for your good graces in this regard to please acknowledge that I do not accept that position as true and to please allow me to continue on with my argument. My apologies. You then go on to say:"Applying the statement 'the default position is disbelief' to itself does not mean you 'need' to disbelieve the claim. All it means is that your default position is disbelief in the claim. Once you have assessed the claim on its merits, you can then move from the default position to belief in the claim, or remain at the default position of disbelief.You almost got me here. I was thinking about it and I thought you could be right. I then assessed it further and realized that there may still be a problem. The fact is that I have to disbelieve the claim that "The default position is disbelief till belief is warranted", because this claim has yet to be warranted. But if you warrant this claim with a belief, then I have to ask you for warrant for that claim, ad infinitum. So my disbelief in the default position being disbelief is in fact the default position, but then it seems there will never be any way to justify the claim itself.You then say:Moving to the claim of an infinite regress:The only way an infinite regress could be a problem is if a truth claim is being made within the statement about the statement itself.Not necessarily true. You are arguing that A (the default position) is B (disbelief until belief is warranted). If A is B, then in order to have A I must be B first, but if B, not A.Therefore A cannot be B, because B needs to be warranted, etc. etc.You then say: "There is quite simply no infinite regress of justifications for the simple reason that there are no justifications in the regress whatsoever. (Remember that the default position says nothing about the truth of a statement)."I agree that the default position says nothing about the truth of the statement itself. "The statement 'the default position for any given claim is disbelief' is not a truth claim – rather it is a descriptive statement (like: 'The cat is black') – and as such, all the justifications come from outside the statement."This is where it gets more advanced. The default position may not make the claim true (this I agree with), but that it is more rational to believe. The acknowledgement of there being a default position, however, must be considered true if we are to rely on the position that is contingent on it to begin with. For instance, if I say there are such things as "default positions", I need to consider that this is truly the case, else whatever is a default is not in fact a default in my belief. Default positions themselves do not have to be true, I agree. They are merely positions that are mandatory to believe in for the sake of rationality, and in a sense they must be considered true because of this, but they do not make the proposition true just because.I hope I made sense. That was a little more difficult for me to explain than I thought.

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    NonDefaultist,Thank you for taking the time to respond, once again.You say:"Different people have different natural dispositions, so those beliefs could not be axiomatic or foundational."What do you mean here by "different people"? I would agree that not all persons have the same natural disposition, but not because our natural dispositions are somehow subjective or predetermined differently in every human being. I think difference comes into play when someone is not born with a normally functioning brain. You then say:"Our beliefs that what we see is real come from experience, a form of evidence.This is only possible because we have a naturally disposed belief to believe that our experience corresponds with reality."If a really trustworthy friend tells me that his favorite color is blue, I instantly believe him, but that is not the default position. I believe him because he has demonstrated himself over time to be trustworthy, and I have no reason the believe that he would lie, especially about something so trivial. In fact, I trust him so much, that it doesn't even occur to me to think about how much I trust him. I am subconsciously predisposed to trust him, and to accept his claim as true."Your default position would be gullibility, but since you have seen that people can be wrong at times, it is no longer rational to believe that everyone is telling you the truth, but it is still rational to believe your friend in this regard.Likewise, I argue that we are naturally disposed to seeing agency in everything, but since we have been shown that not everything is an agent, it is irrational to believe that everything is an agent thing, however, this does not mean that we throw out our natural disposition all-together and claim that all beliefs that follow from this are irrational.Hence, why I am arguing that theism is still a rational position."However, if a third party then asks me, "Is it possible your friend is lying?", then I have to consciously analyze how much I trust him. I temporarily move back to the true default position (not yet accepting my friend's claim as true or false), then probably move back to accepting the claim as true because I realize I trust him (even though I acknowledge that there is a slight possibility the claim is actually false)."I was really excited at first because you were almost completely with me on this. Except I still reject that the default is disbelief in the claim. You are naturally disposed to believing people, not the other way around.You then say:"The point is, the natural inclination for belief in a god is a form of evidence that we immediately and subconsciously use to accept the claim "god exists" once it's presented to us." It could be considered a form of evidence for another claim, yes. I would disagree that humans are actually presented the claim that "god" exist as though it were some outside consideration absent from that which we are naturally inclined to. Obviously we are presented with this claim, however, I believe that humans naturally draw this conclusion.

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    Tracie,Good to hear from you again. You first say:"This paper is only one paper—research bears repeating. But, where does it say religion is naturally predisposed?Well, first off I didn't think you needed multiple peer reviewed sources for suggestive evidence, however, if I happen to recall, I did in fact provide you with another source (Dr. Bruce M. Hood), a link to his findings, as well as a book link.Also, the paper says the following:"…recent findings hint that ‘‘promiscuous teleology” may not be a passing stage of immaturity. For instance, research using child-assessment materials that compared Alzheimer’s patients to healthy controls found that teleological intuitions reassert themselves when the coherence of causal knowledge is eroded by disease (Lombrozo, Kelemen, & Zaitchik, 2007). This raises the possibility that rather than being part of a childhood stage, teleological explanation remains an explanatory default throughout development." (pg. 138-139)Further, it states:"Research has found that elementary school children’s teleological intuitions about nature correlate with their view of natural phenomena as caused by God (Kelemen & DiYanni, 2005)." (pg. 141)Though, to be fair, there is some difference between a child's and an adult's views of teleology:"Specifically, prior research has revealed thatelementary school children’s teleological beliefs about nature are linked to explicit notions about an extrinsic intentional designer (Kelemen & DiYanni, 2005). By contrast, no link between belief in God and unwarranted teleological ideas was found in the present research (see also Lombrozoet al., 2007). Is this evidence of a developmental discontinuity, suggesting perhaps that children’s and adults’ promiscuous teleological tendencies are, at some level, dissimilar phenomena?" (pg.143)This still, however, supports my argument (seeing as we go back to the children here for default positions), that teleology naturally leads to such beliefs like God. You go on to say:" I have a friend who has a toddler who saw wind chimes for the first time in a walk around the neighborhood. That child heard the chimes in the tree, but didn’t see them. She said: “Mommy, the trees are singing.” She perceived agency, and purpose and intent in the noise that wasn't there–certainly. That's god? That's religion? No, but it is misreading purpose and intent into something that demonstrates no purpose and intent. If you only meant to say "people have a capacity to misread intent into things," I would have easily agreed."I admitted that this was the case, but not the case for all things. You are the one arguing that my belief in god is a misreading. That's a claim you have to support.You then say:" But that's not a natural predisposition toward god or "religion." It may be a role-player in what leads to religions later–but the tendency in itself is NOT a natural predisposition to religion, but to intent where none is evident."I made a distinction between a natural disposition (to see agency) and naturally disposed beliefs (beliefs that come from these dispositions).

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    L,Please do not think I am trying to troll you. That is not my intention. You say:"First you call my summary a strawman, and say things like;"Further, your characterization of my position is horribly simplistic."Then later in the SAME POST;"I merely (1) Deconstructed your position and then (2) Replaced it with something better."Yes I know. That is what I said you were doing. That was my argument!whatever. The point is moot.Actually it was a strawman because you said the following and I quote:"you must be skeptical of your skepticism, therefore theism""No. I stated that you must be skeptical of your skepticism, yes, but that it does not therefore validate theism. So you did in fact misrepresent my argument. I was deconstructing the position to show that these are not what default positions are. I then went on to describe what a real default position was. Then I claimed that theism was a default position. Big difference from what you said. "I never postulated a slippery slope argument. I said that because we are predisposed to nonsense that we need a way to weed out what ideas are more likely/useful. Not just reject them out of hand."If that's the case, then why do you not accept the possibility that theism is one of the ones that is more likely? You are asking me to simply reject it because other beliefs that I was predisposed to were wrong. You then say:"Which brings us to skepticism, but since you argued against that with infinite regress and no one here seems to want to challenge that logic game, lets move forward."Some have indeed challenged it. And it's not a "game". It's called logic. If you don't like it, fine, but then don't ever claim to be logical or tell theists that they are being illogical with their propositions. You then ask:"What is your criteria or standard for deciding the veracity of a claim? Or to tie it in with my fellow posters:DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT BELIEVE IN PAZULU?"Depends on the claim being made.If the claim can be empirically verified then I will call for empirical evidence, plus the interpretation of that evidence as logically valid and sound. I will also have to assess whether the evidence points to the claim as rationally justifiable either indirectly or directly. For instance, if you tell me that there is a tree in my front lawn and that I can verify it with my own two eyes, then that is what we call direct evidence. If you tell me that someone was only two seconds ago on the beach, I can verify that by looking to see if there were footprints in the sand.If the claim is more abstract, then I will simply stick to abstract reasoning and logic. So, like I said, it depends on the claim being made.

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    Okay guys, I've responded ALOT. It looks like there are only 73 comments right now and there should be like 80 or so after all the other responses I made. I'm kind of spent today (wrote all this while at work, lol). So, I hope I clarified myself enough and I apologize if I don't find time to come back. This was mentally tiring.Take care and thanks for listening.

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    Ali,Perhaps so, but they certainly can only come from an atheist. As I stated before, the problem with the claim that "the default position on any claim is to abstain from making judgment" is that in order to accept this I first have to abstain from making judgments (I can't believe it). So how am I supposed to accept it if it tells me that I can't?That's the issue.Who made the claim is irrelevent to the default position. The "who" only matters when justifying claims.The default position on the statement "the default position on any claim is to abstain from making judgment" is indeed to abstain from judgment. It is through logical exercise and experience that it is proven useful and true. This is an interesting example. So you are predisposed to believe him because it looks blue. You are correct.Now please tell my why'd you'd hold judgment on this predisposition? What reason do you have to do that? Because other predispositions were wrong? But how can you know if other predispositions were wrong if you first start out by doubting all predispositions? That's why I think defaults should never be skepticism. Predispositions are justifications for believing claims, not default positions. You nearly state this yourself when you say (Paraphrasing) "I am predisposed to believe in God, therefore it is rational". In my example I was inclined to accept the claim that the paper was blue because of my predisposition to believe my eyes. The predisposition is used as evidence and justification for moving beyond the default position of withholding judgment.We know that our predispositions can be (but not necessarily) wrong. For simple claims such as "This paper is blue" we could probably do well in not re-examining our predispositions. But for larger, more important claims (i.e. "This man is the murderer." or "There is a God") the consequences of being wrong are far greater and warrant a much deeper examination.None of this changes that the default position is always to abstain from judgment, however.

  72. says

    Curious,Thank you for your response. I'm about to go to bed and I'm rather tired so I hope I can make a decent response. You stated the following:"The default position on the statement "the default position on any claim is to abstain from making judgment" is indeed to abstain from judgment. It is through logical exercise and experience that it is proven useful and true. "I still don't see how this escapes the problem.Let's start again and I'll give a scenario. You first claim that "The default position is to abstain from judgment when a claim is presented". So, on the basis of this, I abstain from judging this claim. You then offer evidence or reasons to support it. The problem starts here in that now I have to abstain from judging the evidence or reasons you gave me until you can warrant those as well. And so it goes on ad infinitum. What you are asking for with the default position is that claims not be believed till they are justified. But this includes every claim, so I can never believe in default positions."Predispositions are justifications for believing claims, not default positions. You nearly state this yourself when you say (Paraphrasing) "I am predisposed to believe in God, therefore it is rational"."I agree. What I am predisposed to justifies the belief. I did in fact, however, make a distinction between predispositions and predisposed beliefs. I apologize for the confusion in my response. The predisposed beliefs would be considered defaults, not the predispositions themselves. "In my example I was inclined to accept the claim that the paper was blue because of my predisposition to believe my eyes. The predisposition is used as evidence and justification for moving beyond the default position of withholding judgment."This is where we fundamentally disagree. You do not start with withholding judgment. You start off with predisposed beliefs.Let me ask you a question to make my point more clear. When you first start looking at the world, do you automatically think "I don't know" or do you have to experience error first? When you come upon a mirage for instance without ever having heard of a mirage or seen one in your life, do you first think "that's not really water", or do you believe there is actually water there before you begin to question? Do you believe in illusions first or the reality of things?Thanks for your patience and time with me. Insh'Allah I may continue this discussion in the future.

  73. says

    Ali saidI would agree that not all persons have the same natural disposition, but not because our natural dispositions are somehow subjective or predetermined differently in every human being. I think difference comes into play when someone is not born with a normally functioning brain.I personally wouldn't use the term 'predetermined', since that implies an agent, but I also would disagree with your position, which appears to be that there are universal natural dispositions. Even in otherwise normal (a subjective term itself) brains, there are differences in what we are naturally inclined to believe. If a particular disposition isn't universal, it can't be the default.You mentioned to someone else in an earlier post that if humans messed with the mind of a developing child in order to create a bizarre disposition, then that wouldn't be "natural". But humans are a part of nature, so that child's dispositions would still be natural and, according to you, would allow him to claim as default the acceptance of ridiculous claims. Anyway, for the sake of argument, let me accept your premise that our natural dispositions to believe in agency makes belief in god the default position. You have said that the existence of these dispositions is not evidence that god exists. So once you become aware that you have these dispositions, you become aware that you have no actual evidence for the position. You would then have to move to the position of not yet accepting the claim as true or false, whether or not you call that the default position.You could then move back to the theist position once you gather evidence (as you interpret it). But since dispositions themselves are not evidence, once you become aware of them, it is not rational to stay a theist until you have evidence.In other words, it might make sense to say that common dispositions of which we are unaware make belief in god the usual default position (if default means first). However, once we are cognizant that we have dispositions and that they are not evidence themselves, belief in god cannot be the default position, and it cannot be rational to hold belief in god without positive evidence.

  74. says

    "But if it makes you feel better, I do not believe because I have no idea what Pazulu is, first of all, and secondly I don't know how you know."THANK YOU!. that's the fucking point! How is that different than God now? That is exactly WHY we have a default position. Also calling you an idiot is not an ad hom. It's an ad hom to say "what you say is wrong cause your an idiot" I'm saying "you're an idiot because what you're saying is insanely stupid" But fine, go ahead and dismiss me because I'm mean, I clearly cannot have any valid points, that's entirely not an ad hom. For the record Pazulu is the 31kst emperor of the multiverse. He lives in a crystal palace and hosts gladiator fights. Why do you not believe in him, what evidence do you have against him?

  75. says

    "So, I hope I clarified myself enough and I apologize if I don't find time to come back. This was mentally tiring."There's something we agree on.

  76. says

    When I heard Ali on the show, his question immediately reminded me of a caller named César who called back in the Dillahunty International Studios era of AETV. His main point was basically a complaint about the unfairness of having the burden of proof as a theist. "How convenient that you say you're only disbelieving the claim of the existence of a god. Well, two can play at that game, I could say I'm an 'A-Materialist' and then you'd be one who had to give evidence." It was one of those times I was at home regressing to my primary school days of Hermione-like overeagerness: "Oh, Oh, Sir, Sir, I know, Sir." I thought I had a good response then(I'll post it at the end[2] so I can give my opinion on his actual points), and I imagined I could've given the same one to Ali… then I came to read the comments. Man, I was not expecting post-modernist trash like questioning whether we can know things about the universe.Let's see, where to start?. I guess I should first warn everyone that I'll be 21 in August and I only have so far a high-school education. Soooo, I'm not under any delusions that I'm greatly qualified to discuss matters of philosophy, epistemology or those kinds of newfangled thingamajigs. I will be giving only my opinion, feel free to skip it. On the supposed infinite regress: I don't see it. "Disbelief is the default position until there's evidence to support the claim" and you say, Ali, that this is a claim that should itself be subject to disbelief. Ok. To disbelief, NOT smug, "LMAO teh infeenit regreshun iz invalid", outright dismissal. I'll start not believing the claim:-. "Disbelief is the default position until there's evidence to support the claim" – I don't believe it. I need evidence. -. Well, if disbelief is not where we start, then we'd have to believe everything until each and every possible erroneous belief is falsified. Or, we could arbitrarily believe SOME things(like say, those that are claimed to be "natural predispositions"[1]) until proven wrong but not others(I'm assuming you don't believe in Allah AND Yahweh AND Mitras AND Odin AND Zeus AND…). -. Ok, so the way I see it, the most parsimonious path to take is disbelief as default. By only giving credence equal to the level of evidence in favour of a claim and making the least amount of unsupported assumptions, I'm more likely to believe true things(those that end up conforming with reality) and less likely to believe falsehoods. -. But how can I be sure that this way is the most effective?. Because it's the very basis of the scientific method, which throughout history has been the single, most consistent means for discerning reality. And anyone who disagrees doesn't deserve to enjoy the benefits(Medicine, appliances, technology).-. So there, I've now reached the conclusion that the claim "disbelief is the default…" and so on and so forth, deserves to be held as true. I didn't fall into some paradoxical trap that rendered the proposition laughable and ludicrous. I may have just missed it, though. I hope someone points it out for me if this is the case.(continues…)

  77. says

    [1] I don't buy for a second that argument. We're not all predisposed to believe in Jesus or in {Insert pet deity}. If, regardless of culture, geography, education, etc., all kids at a certain age starting getting this nebulous feeling that they needed to accept "someone" as their personal "something" or that "blank" is a great and true X and Y is its prophet, that'd be something. Instead, what we seem to be predisposed for is things like little kids believing that rain is "people on the clouds or on a plane dropping water." The whole "agency" dealie. It's only after we've been indoctrinated with the superstitions of our parents or guardians that we say "oh that thing I feel sometimes, that must be god."A couple of loose points:A) The vast majority of people are not predisposed to "theism," this is the old fallacy of "a kajillion people believe in god, you're saying you guys know more than 90-something percent of the Earth's population LOL." See also, "the world's biggest faith is Christianity." No they don't; no, it isn't. A kajillion people believe a jillion different things. One could argue that there are as many versions of god as there are believers. And they ALL happen to be TEH ONE TRUE RELIGION. As for the other one, try to get a Catholic priest to say that a Protestant has it right, or that Mormons are correct too, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or Anglicans… then we'll see how unified they are in this alleged all-encompassing "Christianity" they claim when it's convenient. You can't say that you're rational in believing in your god because you feel it's true, just like you feel you exist and you feel your senses are an accurate representation of reality. Everyone believes and lives their lives under the assumption that they exist and that what they can perceive is reality. Everyone DOESN'T believe in the same god, same characteristics, same definition, even same number. The only thing more pathetic to me than "my god is the true god" is "dude, it's the same god, we all just worship him differently." Unlike our own existence and confidence in our perception of reality, belief in a god is not a necessary axiom we can rationally assume as a matter of pragmatism. B) The evolutionary fallacy: "It's survived, therefore it's awesome." I see no evidence to believe that religion provides an evolutionary advantage. It's possible that it did once, but we've far since out-grown it and nature hasn't gotten rid of it yet. Perhaps religion is merely the by-product of the actual advantageous feature. I don't know, but until I see a reason to believe it… well, you know.[2] I would've said to Cesar: "Ok, so you're an a-materialist, you're unconvinced and therefore, disbelieve a materialistic universe. I'll put aside the fact that atheism makes no claim about a material universe and grant this. So you don't believe in materialism. FULL STOP. The second you try to go: 'ok, so then, god/the Bible/Jesus…' *buzz* say good-bye to your 'HAHA I've bested you at your own game' a-materialism gambit and hello once more to the burden of proof, 'cause you've just made a positive claim which needs to be supported with evidence. It's not our fault that the reasonable and easily-defensible position happens to be ours. That's pretty much why we hold it. Theists are the ones making insane, unsupported claims, they're the ones who have to make their case. But what do I know? I could be dead wrong. :)

  78. says

    Ali,Thanks for responding to so many people. Although I have a feeling no one is going to be convinced on either side, I enjoy these exercises. You seem really stuck on this infinite regress problem. Let me answer your scenario:Let's start again and I'll give a scenario. You first claim that "The default position is to abstain from judgment when a claim is presented". So, on the basis of this, I abstain from judging this claim. You then offer evidence or reasons to support it. The problem starts here in that now I have to abstain from judging the evidence or reasons you gave me until you can warrant those as well. And so it goes on ad infinitum.Some claims are accepted axiomatically, such as "I exist." This does not change the fact that the default position on all claims is to withhold judgment. We accept these axiomatic claims because our presuppositions validate them at a subconscious level. Just because you are not conscious of your movement from the default to acceptance of a claim does not change what the default is.What you are asking for with the default position is that claims not be believed till they are justified. But this includes every claim, so I can never believe in default positions.We tend to believe claims based on varying levels of justification. Your infinite regress problem is spiraling toward non-materialism. We accept that there is an objective reality because there appears to be one. We then make logical inferences from that position. To regress any further than that is to enter into solipsism and all useful conversation will cease.I agree. What I am predisposed to justifies the belief. I did in fact, however, make a distinction between predispositions and predisposed beliefs. I apologize for the confusion in my response. The predisposed beliefs would be considered defaults, not the predispositions themselves.There are not predisposed beliefs, just beliefs which we accept fundamentally due to our presuppositions. The fact that I accept that there is an objective reality is not a predisposed belief, just one that is justified on a very basic level. All of my senses have been telling me that there is one my entire life. I am predisposed to believe this, but it is not a predisposed belief.This is where we fundamentally disagree. You do not start with withholding judgment. You start off with predisposed beliefs.This is not true. My friend holds up a piece of paper and says "This paper is blue". The first thing I do is look at the paper. Think about that. ;-) Let me ask you a question to make my point more clear. When you first start looking at the world, do you automatically think "I don't know" or do you have to experience error first? When you come upon a mirage for instance without ever having heard of a mirage or seen one in your life, do you first think "that's not really water", or do you believe there is actually water there before you begin to question? Do you believe in illusions first or the reality of things?If you spend some time around babies, you will notice they do a lot of learning by trial and error. So I would have to argue that yes, you do automatically think "I don't know".

  79. says

    NonDefaultist,Thank you for your response. You say:"I personally wouldn't use the term 'predetermined', since that implies an agent, but I also would disagree with your position, which appears to be that there are universal natural dispositions. Even in otherwise normal (a subjective term itself) brains, there are differences in what we are naturally inclined to believe. If a particular disposition isn't universal, it can't be the default."Are you saying that there is no such thing as human nature? Should we throw out psychology, psychiatry , etc.?You then say:"You mentioned to someone else in an earlier post that if humans messed with the mind of a developing child in order to create a bizarre disposition, then that wouldn't be "natural". But humans are a part of nature, so that child's dispositions would still be natural and, according to you, would allow him to claim as default the acceptance of ridiculous claims."Clever retort, but when humans usually mess with things we call it artificial. Certainly human beings are part of the natural world, but you can clearly make the distinction between natural selection and direct human intervention. To mess with a human beings development is to naturally imply that there is something to mess with, which otherwise would turn out normal.You then say: "Anyway, for the sake of argument, let me accept your premise that our natural dispositions to believe in agency makes belief in god the default position. You have said that the existence of these dispositions is not evidence that god exists. So once you become aware that you have these dispositions, you become aware that you have no actual evidence for the position. You would then have to move to the position of not yet accepting the claim as true or false, whether or not you call that the default position."Why? I become aware at some point as well that there is such a thing as "evidence". Do I need to support this with evidence?"You could then move back to the theist position once you gather evidence (as you interpret it). But since dispositions themselves are not evidence, once you become aware of them, it is not rational to stay a theist until you have evidence."Why? There are many things we do not support with evidence because what we consider evidence is based on these foundational principles. Should we abandon those principles first? Is it not rational to believe them?"In other words, it might make sense to say that common dispositions of which we are unaware make belief in god the usual default position (if default means first). However, once we are cognizant that we have dispositions and that they are not evidence themselves, belief in god cannot be the default position, and it cannot be rational to hold belief in god without positive evidence."Why? Where do you get this position? How is it warranted?

  80. says

    Ing,You are persistent with talking more than listening. That much I can tell when you ignore everything in favor of your rhetoric. This is what you say (all you say, in fact):"THANK YOU!. that's the fucking point! How is that different than God now?"I already showed the difference in previous posts, which you don't bother to read because it appears to me you are more concerned with being right than being truthful. I suppose dogmatism isn't exclusive to our lot. "That is exactly WHY we have a default position. Also calling you an idiot is not an ad hom. It's an ad hom to say "what you say is wrong cause your an idiot" I'm saying "you're an idiot because what you're saying is insanely stupid" But fine, go ahead and dismiss me because I'm mean, I clearly cannot have any valid points, that's entirely not an ad hom."It's not that you can't, it's that you don't. "For the record Pazulu is the 31kst emperor of the multiverse. He lives in a crystal palace and hosts gladiator fights. Why do you not believe in him, what evidence do you have against him?"I'm predisposed to believe in a supreme intelligence beyond the universe. Pazulu would fit in with that. The problem is that I find Islam to be supported by evidence, hence by the law of non contradiction I cannot accept Pazulu. If you actually took the time to read my arguments you would notice that (1) I do not disregard disbelieving things as rational and (2) I still think things require evidence and reason for belief.I'm only arguing for what are real default positions, which you continue to miss.

  81. says

    Adrael,Thank you for your response. You say:"I thought I had a good response then(I'll post it at the end[2] so I can give my opinion on his actual points), and I imagined I could've given the same one to Ali… then I came to read the comments. Man, I was not expecting post-modernist trash like questioning whether we can know things about the universe."That's interesting since I never supported any sort of post-modernists trash. I clearly argued that the reasoning used to support atheism as the "default position" was what led to post-modernists trash. I'm the one trying to avoid that trash. You're the ones trying to hold on to it, wrap it up in pretty paper, and sell it like it's new.You go on to try and show how the default position can be warranted. I thank you for doing this because it gives me a chance to show why it's impossible in its current form:". "Disbelief is the default position until there's evidence to support the claim" – I don't believe it. I need evidence."Good start. ". Well, if disbelief is not where we start, then we'd have to believe everything until each and every possible erroneous belief is falsified. Or, we could arbitrarily believe SOME things(like say, those that are claimed to be "natural predispositions"[1]) until proven wrong but not others(I'm assuming you don't believe in Allah AND Yahweh AND Mitras AND Odin AND Zeus AND…). "First, this is not "evidence". Secondly, if you did provide evidence, under the same logic of the "Default Position" I would have to disbelieve your evidence till it is justified. THAT is where the infinite regress occurs. This is what it logically leads to, because the default position tells us to disbelieve everything. What it naturally leads to is disbelief and lack of warrant for everything. If we reject this concept of a default position, does it logically entail that we must accept every claim we hear? No. All you need to do is redefine the default position (as I have done) to include the natural disposition to wanting reasons for claims (which is true of all persons). If you do this, however, you need to also accept other possible naturally disposed beliefs as rational. That is what I was arguing.

  82. says

    Adrael (P2),You say:"1] I don't buy for a second that argument. We're not all predisposed to believe in Jesus or in {Insert pet deity}. If, regardless of culture, geography, education, etc., all kids at a certain age starting getting this nebulous feeling that they needed to accept "someone" as their personal "something" or that "blank" is a great and true X and Y is its prophet, that'd be something. Instead, what we seem to be predisposed for is things like little kids believing that rain is "people on the clouds or on a plane dropping water." The whole "agency" dealie. It's only after we've been indoctrinated with the superstitions of our parents or guardians that we say "oh that thing I feel sometimes, that must be god.""Well, for one, I've provided evidence for my claim that to see agency in the universe is a natural disposition and anything founded on this is a naturally disposed belief. This does not necessitate that particular varieties of theism are therefore the natural disposition, just the general belief. The fact that you admit to this feeling is good enough.You then say:"A) The vast majority of people are not predisposed to "theism," this is the old fallacy of "a kajillion people believe in god, you're saying you guys know more than 90-something percent of the Earth's population LOL." See also, "the world's biggest faith is Christianity." No they don't; no, it isn't. A kajillion people believe a jillion different things. One could argue that there are as many versions of god as there are believers. And they ALL happen to be TEH ONE TRUE RELIGION. As for the other one, try to get a Catholic priest to say that a Protestant has it right, or that Mormons are correct too, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or Anglicans… then we'll see how unified they are in this alleged all-encompassing "Christianity" they claim when it's convenient. You can't say that you're rational in believing in your god because you feel it's true, just like you feel you exist and you feel your senses are an accurate representation of reality. Everyone believes and lives their lives under the assumption that they exist and that what they can perceive is reality. Everyone DOESN'T believe in the same god, same characteristics, same definition, even same number. The only thing more pathetic to me than "my god is the true god" is "dude, it's the same god, we all just worship him differently." Unlike our own existence and confidence in our perception of reality, belief in a god is not a necessary axiom we can rationally assume as a matter of pragmatism. "Actually it is, because the majority of people are theists and have been theists for perhaps all of human history. This is not an ad populum fallacy because I am not arguing for the truth of religion, but for the truth that religious inclinations are natural to human beings. There's a difference. "B) The evolutionary fallacy: "It's survived, therefore it's awesome." I see no evidence to believe that religion provides an evolutionary advantage. It's possible that it did once, but we've far since out-grown it and nature hasn't gotten rid of it yet. Perhaps religion is merely the by-product of the actual advantageous feature. I don't know, but until I see a reason to believe it… well, you know."It's not about providing an evolutionary advantage, it's about the fact that natural selection has always chosen those who believe in the supernatural (moreso theists), which goes on to give more evidence to the natural disposition being more towards theism than atheism.Thank you for your time.

  83. says

    Curious,I feel you are the closest to understanding my position and I think we agree more than you think.You say:"You seem really stuck on this infinite regress problem. Let me answer your scenario:Some claims are accepted axiomatically, such as "I exist." This does not change the fact that the default position on all claims is to withhold judgment. We accept these axiomatic claims because our presuppositions validate them at a subconscious level. Just because you are not conscious of your movement from the default to acceptance of a claim does not change what the default is."Exactly. This is what I believe, that certain claims are axiomatic and we must accept them because we are naturally disposed to them. I am arguing that if you want to justify "disbelief until belief is warranted", you need to accept that this is a naturally disposed belief. That is is. Of course, if you do this you have to accept the possibility that my theism is one of those naturally disposed beliefs as well.You then say:"We tend to believe claims based on varying levels of justification. Your infinite regress problem is spiraling toward non-materialism. We accept that there is an objective reality because there appears to be one. We then make logical inferences from that position. To regress any further than that is to enter into solipsism and all useful conversation will cease."Precisely! We accept that there is an objective reality because there appears to be one. I accept that there must be an intelligence behind the universe because of the same type of appearance :)You then say:"There are not predisposed beliefs, just beliefs which we accept fundamentally due to our presuppositions."I think we're using different language, but we agree here." The fact that I accept that there is an objective reality is not a predisposed belief, just one that is justified on a very basic level. All of my senses have been telling me that there is one my entire life. I am predisposed to believe this, but it is not a predisposed belief."Aside from the difference in terms, I too have been, throughout my entire life, unable to abandon a belief that there is an intelligence behind the universe. "This is not true. My friend holds up a piece of paper and says "This paper is blue". The first thing I do is look at the paper. Think about that. ;-)"And you are predisposed to seeing something (blueness), which then comes with it an automatic realization (the belief that there is something blue). This is what I call a "naturally disposed belief". You then say:"If you spend some time around babies, you will notice they do a lot of learning by trial and error. So I would have to argue that yes, you do automatically think "I don't know"."Trial by error includes making error first. You can't make error unless you make a judgment call in favor of what you see or think.

  84. says

    Ali wrote:> "That's interesting since I never supported any sort of post-modernists trash."Several of us here thought you did. But wait, just a couple of paragraphs later, you say:> "Secondly, if you did provide evidence, under the same logic of the 'Default Position' I would have to disbelieve your evidence till it is justified. THAT is where the infinite regress occurs."THIS is the postmodernist trash that we're all talking about. Thanks for placing it so conveniently right after your denial of doing it.The stereotype of the postmodernist says "you science types, always wanting evidence, always wanting to get to some objective reality, but you can't ever get there because first you'd have to show evidence that you need evidence in the first place!"That's pretty much what you're doing here. Adrael did a pretty good job of deriving for you why disbelief is the proper default position. The reason is that the alternative is unworkable.

  85. Afterthought_btw says

    AliNo problems for the misunderstanding. You have a lot of different conversations going on, so quite understandable."The fact is that I have to disbelieve the claim that "The default position is disbelief till belief is warranted", because this claim has yet to be warranted. But if you warrant this claim with a belief, then I have to ask you for warrant for that claim, ad infinitum. So my disbelief in the default position being disbelief is in fact the default position, but then it seems there will never be any way to justify the claim itself."Same problem as originally, actually. :) Firstly, you went back to using 'default position is disbelief until belief is warranted', and this may be what is leading to the problem. Well, I'm virtually sure it is, because your arguments seem to rely upon it. As such, I won't comment upon your points individually, but merely try to address the point more clearly, so that you can hopefully view the matter without including those extra words.Okay. As you state the claim, it is a prescriptive claim, which indeed leads to truth claims, and infinite regression (Aside: although whether that automatically leads to the claim being false, I am unconvinced regardless). However, as I said before, the 'until belief is warranted' part actually defeats the purpose of the word 'default' in 'default claim', for it says that the default position can change depending upon the validity of the claim. In an effort for clarity:The default position isn't the most rational position, or the position most likely to be true, it is merely the position that anyone has, before hearing any evidence or logical argument for a claim. Anyway, fixing the wording of the claim, gives us once again:(D) The default position for any given claim is disbelief.Once evidence has been heard and assessed, the person may move from the default position of disbelief to the position of belief, or else reject the claim, and remain at the default position. (Note that moving to the position of not believing in the claim, rather than back to the default position, would be illogical, for it may just be the argument for the claim that is faulty, not the claim itself).Note that D is a descriptive claim. It doesn't tell you that you must take a certain position, but rather it describes your position when you first hear a claim (and also after you have dismissed claims for being false and returned to the default position). This being the case, your attempted infinite regression merely leads to a regression of descriptions of your initial position upon hearing each of the claims. Each description has no bearing upon the truth of the initial claim.i.e. You can create an infinite regression, but because nothing in the regression has any bearing upon the truth of the statement, the infinite regression also has no bearing upon the truth of the statement.Hopefully this helps. I don't want to keep feel like I am restating the same thing, so if you can't accept that the default position is not 'disbelief until belief is warranted', then I suggest we concentrate upon that disagreement in any future posts.Cheers,Afterthought_btw

  86. says

    Ali:(P1)>Well, first off I didn't think you needed multiple peer reviewed sources for suggestive evidence…Suggesting something is not the same as claiming it is so. You said: "Naturally disposed beliefs are warranted until disbelief is warranted." And unless I'm mistaken, your entire argument keeps coming back to the claim we are, in fact, naturally disposed to religiosity. Have I misunderstood?You seem to be taking a "suggestion" as reality, and asking us to as well.>a link to his findings, as well as a book link.Yes, a book, not further peer reviewed research.>"…recent findings hint that ‘‘promiscuous teleology” may not be a passing stage of immaturity.Yes, "hint" do you see that? You cannot use this as a given. And again, "agency" is not god or religion, even while religions may come out of those.>"Research has found that elementary school children’s teleological intuitions about nature correlate with their view of natural phenomena as caused by God…But where did these elementary-age children even learn the word "god" if they were not indoctrinated? And how does indoctrination into religion potentially contaminate results?>"Specifically, prior research has revealed that elementary school children’s teleological beliefs about nature are linked to explicit notions about an extrinsic intentional designerAnd I challenge these children at the elementary level have been contaminated as subjects by religious indoctrination which makes the appearance of religious links questionable.>that teleology naturally leads to such beliefs like God.I actually would agree that god is likely coming out of these sorts of beliefs. I disagree that the basic belief is anything close to a god or a religion.I think those beliefs can be turned to religion via indoctrination–which holds adults into child-like beliefs. But you can only claim belief in "agency" or "intent" (even where none exists), as natural disposition–not disposition toward "supernature" or "god" or "religion"–but toward agency, even in demonstrated form of misattribution. The chimes sound like music–ergo it is music–ergo the tree "sings." To turn that into supernature, religion or god requires indoctrination–religious or social.It may be that some people would independently come up with god concepts on their own. But now that indoctrination has been systematically applied to children around the globe starting at birth, it's impossible to know how much "god" would come out of these misattributions without indoctrinating populations. You can't use religious ideas of "elementary age" children–because I submit they wouldn't have religious ideas at all if they weren't exposed to them earlier. Show me a group of kids discussing god who never heard the concept of god from anyone else, and THEN you've got something interesting.>I admitted that this was the case, but not the case for all things. You are the one arguing that my belief in god is a misreading. That's a claim you have to support.I am supporting it by demonstrating to you how foolish this "agency" idea in toddlers really is–and the errors it leads to–such as believing in agency where there is demonstrably none.Do you think wind chimes are the "trees singing" or is that silly to you? Cute yes, but silly. Now that you see this is the demonstration of the natural disposition toward agency and where it leads–how can you defend we should accept the trees ARE singing until it's otherwise demonstrated? Surely you should recognize that to avoid this error, the rational approach is to withhold belief in the agency of the singing trees, until we can identify a demonstrable cause?Wouldn't that be more intelligent than making the same demonstrable error as a three-year-old?

  87. says

    Ali,I feel you are the closest to understanding my position and I think we agree more than you think.I also think I have a fairly good understanding of your argument. I still feel there are flaws in your thinking, however.Exactly. This is what I believe, that certain claims are axiomatic and we must accept them because we are naturally disposed to them. I am arguing that if you want to justify "disbelief until belief is warranted", you need to accept that this is a naturally disposed belief. That is is. Of course, if you do this you have to accept the possibility that my theism is one of those naturally disposed beliefs as well.Axiomatic beliefs are merely beliefs we accept as foundational. They are what we build other arguments on. That is not to say that they are naturally disposed beliefs. The default position on axiomatic beliefs is still to withhold judgment. We just have a wealth of experiential evidence which we take as evidence that they are correct.Precisely! We accept that there is an objective reality because there appears to be one. I accept that there must be an intelligence behind the universe because of the same type of appearance :) Then it is not your default position. If you are accepting that there is an intelligence behind the universe because of how you perceive the universe, you are justifying the move from the default position to acceptance.I said:"There are not predisposed beliefs, just beliefs which we accept fundamentally due to our presuppositions."and you replied:I think we're using different language, but we agree here.Here is where we have our fundamental disconnect. You seem to be saying that due to our predisposition to believe certain claims, this makes the default position on those claims to be "Acceptance". This is incorrect.The predisposition to believe certain claims does nothing to change the default position. It only serves to provide unjustified evidence to move from withholding judgment to acceptance. These predispositions can come from a variety of sources. But they all have the same effect: Circumventing more rigorous evidence based assessment.Aside from the difference in terms, I too have been, throughout my entire life, unable to abandon a belief that there is an intelligence behind the universe.I think you missed my point there. See my above paragraph.And you are predisposed to seeing something (blueness), which then comes with it an automatic realization (the belief that there is something blue). This is what I call a "naturally disposed belief".Well call it whatever you like, my default position was no judgment on whether the paper was blue or not. The predisposition to trust my eyes only serves as evidence to move from withholding judgment to accepting that the paper is blue.Trial by error includes making error first. You can't make error unless you make a judgment call in favor of what you see or think.Trial and error was just a quaint term I used (perhaps in err) to get my point across. Babies investigate the world around them, building a wealth of experiential knowledge. They seem to be answering questions such as "Can this fit in my mouth? Let's find out!" They do not have to believe it can, or disbelieve it before trying it. That is the essence of the default position.

  88. says

    Tracie,I don't get you. You and the others on AE are always asking for peer reviewed evidence of claims, yet here you are being skeptical about peer reviewed evidence. I find that odd, especially in light of the fact that you have yet to provide even one peer reviewed source for your counter claims.You say:"Suggesting something is not the same as claiming it is so. You said: "Naturally disposed beliefs are warranted until disbelief is warranted." And unless I'm mistaken, your entire argument keeps coming back to the claim we are, in fact, naturally disposed to religiosity. Have I misunderstood?"I said suggestive evidence because science does not make one certain about a claim. It is not absolute proof. It still supports my conclusion. People are naturally disposed to seeing agency in the world, therefore naturally disposed beliefs (Theism), which then other beliefs are contingent on (Religion). "You seem to be taking a "suggestion" as reality, and asking us to as well."You seem to use peer reviewed papers when it's in your favor, but are critical of them when it supports your opposition.You then say:"Yes, a book, not further peer reviewed research."And a link with news of new research, which you either ignored or didn't see. I also asked you to search for it if you could, but I guess you didn't want to. Fine, I'll do the work for you:(1) Religious thought and behaviour as by-products of brain function Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 7, Issue 3, March 2003, Pages 119-124 Pascal Boyer(2) The neuropsychology of spiritual experience Handbook of Religion and Mental Health, 1998, Pages 75-94 Andrew B. Newberg, Eugene G. D'Aquili(3) Casler, K., & Kelemen, D. (2008). Developmental continuity in teleofunctional explanation: Reasoning about nature among Romanian Romani adults. Journal of Cognition and Development, 9, 340–362.(4) Rosset, E. (2008). ‘‘It’s no accident”: Our bias for intentional explanations.Cognition, 108, 771–780.(5) Lombrozo, T., Kelemen, D., & Zaitchik, D. (2007). Inferring design: Evidence of a preference for teleological explanations in patientswith Alzheimer’s disease. Psychological Science, 18, 999–1006.(6) Lombrozo, T., & Carey, S. (2006). Functional explanation and the functionof explanation. Cognition, 99, 167–204.Shall I go on or how much will be enough till you go and research this to validate it for yourself?You go on to say:"Yes, "hint" do you see that? You cannot use this as a given. And again, "agency" is not god or religion, even while religions may come out of those.Picking on the word "hint", huh? I guess we should reject all scientific inquiry and peer reviewed papers since they are only really hinting towards the truth of something. You should know, as an avid believer in the scientific enterprise that science can only "hint" so far and doesn't ever claim to establish something with certainty. Further, I never argued that agency was "god or religion". I argued that the natural disposition to see agency is what creates naturally disposed beliefs, like God. You say: But where did these elementary-age children even learn the word "god" if they were not indoctrinated? And how does indoctrination into religion potentially contaminate results?"No offense Tracie, but come on. So you mean to tell me that it's all indoctrination because they haven't been taught the words? We may as well claim that everything is indoctrination then since we had to be taught their labels. I'm sorry, but I was never taught that there was a super intelligence that was behind the world. I accepted the label of "god" for that belief, however.

  89. says

    Tracie (P3),You then say: "You can't use religious ideas of "elementary age" children–because I submit they wouldn't have religious ideas at all if they weren't exposed to them earlier. Show me a group of kids discussing god who never heard the concept of god from anyone else, and THEN you've got something interesting."Please, tell me how the paper suggests that the were talking about "religion" and not an extrinsic creator, because the last time I read it it suggested the latter."I am supporting it by demonstrating to you how foolish this "agency" idea in toddlers really is–and the errors it leads to–such as believing in agency where there is demonstrably none."Telling me "Hey look, this is a wrong belief" does not necessitate that another belief is wrong. You may as well say that when a bear is chasing me because it wants to eat me that I shouldn't believe this to be the case because I was wrong about trees "singing". "Do you think wind chimes are the "trees singing" or is that silly to you? Cute yes, but silly. Now that you see this is the demonstration of the natural disposition toward agency and where it leads–how can you defend we should accept the trees ARE singing until it's otherwise demonstrated? Surely you should recognize that to avoid this error, the rational approach is to withhold belief in the agency of the singing trees, until we can identify a demonstrable cause?Wouldn't that be more intelligent than making the same demonstrable error as a three-year-old?"Wouldn't it be more intelligent not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and to provide me with peer reviewed research that doesn't merely "hint" at things?

  90. says

    Tracie (P4),You go on to say:"Then you admit that we aren't naturally disposed to god, religion or supernature? But that rather these are simply add-ons to silly childhood misattributions, such as is demonstrated by singing trees and angry rain clouds?I clearly made the distinction between natural dispositions and naturally disposed beliefs. Natural dispositions are not beliefs in and of themselves. Naturally disposed beliefs are, hence why they are default positions. The disposition to see agency is to believe agency, which automatically includes an agent. Thinking that there is a supreme agency behind everything = believing in God at a very basic level. This is theism. The more advanced attributes are reasoned through later.Atheists (for the most part), and in particular, the anti-supernaturalists breed, such as yourself, do not believe in agency behind the world.Hence, theism is more a default than atheism." There is _no_ difference. The singing tree IS the demonstration of belief in agency. You're saying that sort of seeking of agency leads to theism–are you not? The "singing tree" belief is then the basis for "god" according to your linkage. You're saying agency belief–such as the singing tree demonstrates–is where we get things like god and religion ultimately. I agree. But I see this as a reason to disbelieve rather than believe–since the foundation–the presumed agency belief–is demonstrated silliness–unless you think the "singing trees" is an intelligent perspective. I would say it's creative and cute–but not smart (perhaps "smart" for a toddler? Certainly not for an adult)."Predisposition to see agency and thus believe it is there includes many things. I was never arguing that the belief that trees sing = belief in god. That was your characterization. I said the general view of agency = belief in god. That is very much a difference.

  91. says

    Tracie (P6)I already answered much of your objections so let me jump ahead:"You say in your reply to Adreal that you aren't appealing to ad populum, because you understand natural inclination toward X is not sufficient to use as a reason to believe X is true. If you accept that then why bring up natural predisposition at all?"Because just because it does not establish the truth of the claim it still establishes the rationality of holding it. Just like you don't believe that god doesn't exists you still don't believe the position on the basis that you think it is more rational to do so. You then say:" If I'm naturally predisposed to believe X, but know that's not sufficient cause to believe X, then the default is still disbelief. If natural disposition were cause to believe, then you would not have said this:"Now wait a second. Here you're jumping claims. I agree that naturally disposed beliefs are not sufficient reason to think that said belief is true, but I never said that it means that there is no sufficient reason to believe it. You asserted that, not me. You then say:""I am not arguing for the truth of religion, but for the truth that religious inclinations are natural to human beings." What you're then saying is that even if it is a natural disposition, that doesn't make it true. I agree. That is, we know a natural disposition then is not valid basis for belief (to accept the disposition as true)."Non-sequitor. You then say:"Additionally, above you said "that teleology naturally leads to such beliefs like God." It may in some people. However agency–even where none exists–is not religion or god."Actually it does in the majority of the human race. Last time I checked, the majority of people throughout history were not atheists or non-supernaturalists.Furthermore, agency comes from an agent. God is an agent. I don't think I need to explain that further. You then go on to say: "A religion or a god could be built upon that–but angry clouds and singing trees are not gods or religions."Well, if you count Animism then you certainly do have a religion."To say that evolution selects for supernatural beliefs or inclination is an error. It selects for seeking hard for cause (as it promotes effect). In other words, we look for a cause or purpose or a reason for X, because there is definite advantage to identifying real causes. Thinking "sound from the trees" is intended by the trees is just a misattributed cause due to the tendency to anthropomorphize and jump to unfounded conclusions. Presuming a cause where none is demonstrated by evidence, in other words, is a demonstrated reasoning error that leads to wrong conclusions. So why are you promoting that?"I'm not. I'm stating that if you're are naturally inclined to see agency then there is no reason to abandon everything you see agency in or about. "Finally, if belief in god was as naturally disposed, there would be no need of religious indoctrination of children. If we stopped indoctrinating tomorrow, I'd be willing to see just how many people came up with "god" on their own, as adults, in the modern age."You're assuming that the general belief in god is indoctrinated. Besides not providing any good reason or evidence of your own, it raises the question of where the idea comes from to begin with if apparently everyone is indoctrinated. If that's the case, then how did the very first humans who were capable of knowing about this concept, learn about it? I don't see what is so complex about thinking that there is one agent behind everything (minus many complex attributes later revealed in history). You need to explain that. Not me.

  92. says

    Curt,You say the following:"THIS is the postmodernist trash that we're all talking about. Thanks for placing it so conveniently right after your denial of doing it."Me pointing out the flaws in your own reasoning is not an endorsement of that reasoning. Your take on the default position leads down this path. I don't believe anything even close to what post modernism advocates. "Adrael did a pretty good job of deriving for you why disbelief is the proper default position. The reason is that the alternative is unworkable."I beg to differ.

  93. Afterthought_btw says

    AliActually, I think I can show that an infinite regress is not a problem, and thus saving any need to continue to argue.The following is a trivially true statement, from which you can create an infinite regression."All claims must be either true or not true."Now that claim either has to be true or not true, and that claim also has to be true or not true, and that claim also has to be….This follows from the laws of logic – the law of excluded middle to be precise. Now, you might immediately claim something like: 'But that is axiomatic, you have to prove that (D)the 'default position is disbelief' is also axiomatic'. However, this would rather miss the point – anything in logic follows from the logical axioms, so if the claim D is logically true, then it would be in a identical situation to the above statement. The claim that infinite regression disproves D, could only be valid if you already assume that D is false.

  94. says

    Ali–I'll give you a quick example to illustrate the point: "I have $20 in my wallet."Do you or do you not accept the claim as true?The problem of having a default position of "the default position is Belief until Disbelief is warranted" (with regards to naturally disposed claims) is that i puts one in a position to believe mutually contradictory claims. You missed the point about the singing trees–by your standards, you should believe the trees are singing as a default position.Default Disbelief itself is NOT A TRUTH CLAIM. It describes a position, and to whatever degree that position needs to be defended, you have been given ample reasons.You said something very telling, though, "I find Islam to be supported by evidence." You haven't shared one shred of such with us; you have simply gone on the attack as though "we don't believe you" is some unsupportable and unreasonable position to have.It tells me you're not interested in actually demonstrating any claim of your own; this is nothing but a contemptible and dishonest effort to shift the burden of proof. "Claims should be accepted until disbelief is warranted" is semantically identical to "guilty until proven innocent."You shouldn't convict someone of a crime if the prosecution can't make its case, you shouldn't believe I have money in my wallet until I open it and show you, and you sure as hell shouldn't believe in a god until justification is provided. Incidentally, quoting a peer-reviewed string of sources about how agency detection is somehow "naturally disposed" is NOT evidence that god exists, not when there are perfectly sound naturalistic explanations that DON'T require throwin an ommipotent bodiless immortal into the equation. You have only asserted without support that "naturally disposed" beliefs should be given credulity until disproved.

  95. says

    Afterthought,Sorry for taking so long. I've been busy. You say:"Actually, I think I can show that an infinite regress is not a problem, and thus saving any need to continue to argue."Okay."The following is a trivially true statement, from which you can create an infinite regression."All claims must be either true or not true."Now that claim either has to be true or not true, and that claim also has to be true or not true, and that claim also has to be…."I have no problem with this statement. I would only have a problem with it when inferring justification. For instance, if you said instead, "All claims must be either true or not true to be accepted" then we have issues. All the that the statement you have provided me with is a tautology. "This follows from the laws of logic – the law of excluded middle to be precise. Now, you might immediately claim something like: 'But that is axiomatic, you have to prove that (D)the 'default position is disbelief' is"Not at all. I reject that it leads to an infinite regression because the claim is not forcing us to accept the belief on the basis of whether or not it is true. It's just a tautology. You then say:"However, this would rather miss the point – anything in logic follows from the logical axioms, so if the claim D is logically true, then it would be in a identical situation to the above statement. The claim that infinite regression disproves D, could only be valid if you already assume that D is false."The problem with the claim "The default position is disbelief until belief is warranted" is that it forces us to warrant every claim. Even if you try to claim it is merely "descriptive" and not "prescriptive" (though I still don't see how you can do this), it still forces us to disbelief every single claim for the sake of the "default".

  96. says

    Skeptical Rationalist,Thank you for your response. You say:I'll give you a quick example to illustrate the point: "I have $20 in my wallet."Do you or do you not accept the claim as true?I don't know. Therefore, I don't have a position.You then say:"The problem of having a default position of "the default position is Belief until Disbelief is warranted" (with regards to naturally disposed claims) is that i puts one in a position to believe mutually contradictory claims. You missed the point about the singing trees–by your standards, you should believe the trees are singing as a default position."How is this the case? First off, I claimed rather early in this discussion that default positions can be abandoned if they are proven to be incorrect, so I don't have to believe singing trees at all. Secondly, please point out where naturally disposed beliefs are mutually contradictory claims. "Default Disbelief itself is NOT A TRUTH CLAIM. It describes a position, and to whatever degree that position needs to be defended, you have been given ample reasons."Disbelief without a claim isn't a position at all. If someone ask you "What is your position on X" you don't say "My position is 'I don't know'" you say "I don't know what my position is"."You said something very telling, though, "I find Islam to be supported by evidence." You haven't shared one shred of such with us; you have simply gone on the attack as though "we don't believe you" is some unsupportable and unreasonable position to have."I don't see how it's "telling" since I haven't been arguing for Islam, but just for general belief in God. "It tells me you're not interested in actually demonstrating any claim of your own; this is nothing but a contemptible and dishonest effort to shift the burden of proof. "Claims should be accepted until disbelief is warranted" is semantically identical to "guilty until proven innocent.""That would be a nice assessment of my methods if it were what my methods were. Unfortunately, that's not my position, because I never was arguing for Islam. I think you've forgotten that a specific religious belief is not the same as a general belief in God. You then say:"You shouldn't convict someone of a crime if the prosecution can't make its case, you shouldn't believe I have money in my wallet until I open it and show you, and you sure as hell shouldn't believe in a god until justification is provided."Of course, but we don't call "I dont know" a position."Incidentally, quoting a peer-reviewed string of sources about how agency detection is somehow "naturally disposed" is NOT evidence that god exists, not when there are perfectly sound naturalistic explanations that DON'T require throwin an ommipotent bodiless immortal into the equation. You have only asserted without support that "naturally disposed" beliefs should be given credulity until disproved."Once again, you either don't understand my position or you're intentionally making a strawman. I never argued for the truth of gods existence, only that belief in god is a naturally disposed belief that doesn't require evidence.Big difference.

  97. says

    Ali,I think you misunderstand one fundamental part of the argument (or you just don't want to hear it). You just claimed that 'I don't know' is no position at all. Throughout this debate many people have tried to tell you that the default position is 'I don't know', and that this is a position of disbelief. For example, in the aforementioned example of the 20 bucks which might or might not be in a wallet, you quite reasonably say I don't know. This implies that you don't believe anything about the contents of the wallet until you have actually looked inside the wallet and see whether there is or is not 20 dollars in there. So you lack believe that either there is or there isn't any money inside the wallet until you have further data to confirm whether either claim is true. This is a position of disbelief. You don't believe anything about the contents of the wallet cause you don't have enough data to make a useful judgment about it (which you acknowledge by stating 'I don't know'). I don't think I can make it clearer than this, and honestly, if you truly cannot follow this logic, I think you are either not very smart (which I don't believe to be the case) or your motives for misunderstanding this point are suspect.FritsP.S. please excuse any grammatical or spelling errors since english is not my native language.

  98. says

    Ali: Look up the Law of the Excluded Middle. In essence, valid Truth Statements either are True OR False.For a truth statement such as "I have $20 in my wallet," if your position is "I don't know," then you are not accepting the claim as true. Congratulations, if God were a $20 bill, you're an atheist."Disbelief" as a default position does not mean that you necessarily believe the claim *is* false. That's why, even though the colloquialism is "innocent until proven guilty," that the jury votes on the claim of guilt: either guilty or not guilty. Not, I repeat, NOT, Guilty/Innocent. I'll easily give you naturally disposed beliefs that should not be believed–go read Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson. It's not a religious book by any means, it's about how cognitive dissonance and self-justification lead to an absolute carnival of mental adjustments and beliefs with only a passing relationship to reality. Jacques Duvalier, the dictator for life, literally thought himself the man who brought Democracy to Haiti. George W. Bush, unable to even see his errors in the face of concrete evidence he was dead wrong about Iraqi WMD. Divorcing spouses, each with a laundry list of reasons why the other is at fault. The list of "naturally disposed," false beliefs is endless.I am hard-pressed to come up with a worse standard for truth than what we are "naturally disposed" to believe. It's a ludicrous standard. Knowing how pathetically unreliable natural dispositions to be, it is far more reasonable to withhold your belief to claims until you have *good* reasons to assent.

  99. says

    Ali,Then naturally I have to disbelieve you :) Cute :-P ;-)You seem to have missed my previous response to you (understandable, given the volume of responses you are dealing with).The main thrust of my argument is thus:You seem to be saying that due to our predisposition to believe certain claims, this makes the default position on those claims to be "Acceptance". This is incorrect.The predisposition to believe certain claims does nothing to change the default position. It only serves to provide unjustified evidence to move from withholding judgment to acceptance. These predispositions can come from a variety of sources, but they all have the same effect: Circumventing more rigorous evidence based assessment.This is sufficiently fundamental that I see no point in arguing further until we come to some agreement on this point.

  100. says

    Frits,Thank you for your response. You say:I think you misunderstand one fundamental part of the argument (or you just don't want to hear it). You just claimed that 'I don't know' is no position at all. Throughout this debate many people have tried to tell you that the default position is 'I don't know', and that this is a position of disbelief. For example, in the aforementioned example of the 20 bucks which might or might not be in a wallet, you quite reasonably say I don't know. This implies that you don't believe anything about the contents of the wallet until you have actually looked inside the wallet and see whether there is or is not 20 dollars in there. So you lack believe that either there is or there isn't any money inside the wallet until you have further data to confirm whether either claim is true. This is a position of disbelief. You don't believe anything about the contents of the wallet cause you don't have enough data to make a useful judgment about it (which you acknowledge by stating 'I don't know')."The fact is that no one ever claims to have a position of "I don't know". People do, however claim to believe that they may not have a position on a particular claim. As one of our other friends pointed out previously about the Law of the Excluded Middle, a statement is either true or false and can only be accepted as such. A position on the statement cannot be "I don't know". If this were the case, then we'd likewise have to admit that rocks, trees, etc. also have positions because they don't know either. Lack of knowledge is not a position, a stance, it's a state. And if we want to show that the default position is a state of "I don't know", then we need to reject the belief in default positions themselves for the sake of this state."I don't think I can make it clearer than this, and honestly, if you truly cannot follow this logic, I think you are either not very smart (which I don't believe to be the case) or your motives for misunderstanding this point are suspect."I appreciate the compliment, but at the same time I don't think my motives are somehow negative. I understand quite well what is being argued against me and I reject it because I do not see "I don't know" as a position (rather it is a lack thereof). Further, I do not acknowledge that rationality or any sort of default stance can be predicated on a lack of a position or stance because no argument or belief can be supported by a lack of belief.

  101. says

    Skeptical Rationalist,You say:"Look up the Law of the Excluded Middle. In essence, valid Truth Statements either are True OR False."I'm already aware of it."For a truth statement such as "I have $20 in my wallet," if your position is "I don't know," then you are not accepting the claim as true. Congratulations, if God were a $20 bill, you're an atheist."It's interesting that you tell me about the Law of Excluded Middle, yet try to provide a middle position for a proposition (the "I don't know" position). You then say:""Disbelief" as a default position does not mean that you necessarily believe the claim *is* false. That's why, even though the colloquialism is "innocent until proven guilty," that the jury votes on the claim of guilt: either guilty or not guilty. Not, I repeat, NOT, Guilty/Innocent."Besides the fact that legal theory is not a determinant for what is rationally acceptable or not in philosophical discourse, I never claimed that the default position (as proposed by atheists) necessarily renders the claim false. I don't know why you keep objecting to positions I never adopted. "I'll easily give you naturally disposed beliefs that should not be believed–go read Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson. It's not a religious book by any means, it's about how cognitive dissonance and self-justification lead to an absolute carnival of mental adjustments and beliefs with only a passing relationship to reality. Jacques Duvalier, the dictator for life, literally thought himself the man who brought Democracy to Haiti. George W. Bush, unable to even see his errors in the face of concrete evidence he was dead wrong about Iraqi WMD. Divorcing spouses, each with a laundry list of reasons why the other is at fault. The list of "naturally disposed," false beliefs is endless."Besides that fact that some of the examples given are questionable as naturally disposed beliefs, I have clearly stated throughout this discussion that naturally disposed beliefs can be wrong, but not all naturally disposed beliefs are.You then stated:"I am hard-pressed to come up with a worse standard for truth than what we are "naturally disposed" to believe. It's a ludicrous standard. Knowing how pathetically unreliable natural dispositions to be, it is far more reasonable to withhold your belief to claims until you have *good* reasons to assent."Okay, let's do a test then to see how "ludicrous" this really is. You are naturally disposed to believing that your rational faculties and sensory faculties actually correspond with reality. Now tell me, are you going to not accept this out of hand till this is proven to you to be the case? Be careful how you answer. If you say that you will not accept this at first until it is proven to you then you've basically shot yourself in the foot because you are assuming that somehow this evidence can be rationally apprehended. If you've already called into question this naturally disposed belief, then you have no foundation by which to judge it. Naturally disposed beliefs do not require evidence to support themselves. They do, however, require evidence to be proven incorrect (which they can be).

  102. Afterthought_btw says

    AliNo problem for the wait.You say: "Not at all. I reject that it leads to an infinite regression because the claim is not forcing us to accept the belief on the basis of whether or not it is true. It's just a tautology."So you should see why your contention about the default position is not valid. Claim D also does not force us to accept the belief on the basis of whether or not it is true. This, to an extent, is what I have been getting at with prescriptive and descriptive statements. (Aside: also, you can only say that it is a tautology, because of the laws of logic. You have in essence actually agreed with me by calling it such.)Claim D does not tell us what we should do, it tells us what is the case (the same way a statement must be true or not true). It does not require us to do anything, nor does it give any information upon whether or not the claim is true.You are caught up with trying to create an infinite regress by saying things like 'we must disbelieve the claim D' or 'we have to apply D to itself' (paraphrasing), which are prescriptive statements. D, however, says no such thing. (This is why your response to D: "In which case I have to disbelieve it" is wrong. D doesn't say you must disbelieve it, it merely says that until you come to a conclusion upon the validity of D you don't believe it. Which is a truism/tautology, really.)You keep re-adding the words I keep taking out. Please stop doing that, it will make things so much clearer for you! :) Plus, as I said last reply, it is really rather frustrating from my point of view. I will bold the words in the following quote from you that you are basing your argument upon. These words turn the statement from a descriptive statement, into a prescriptive statement. "The problem with the claim "The default position is disbelief until belief is warranted" is that it forces us to warrant every claim. Even if you try to claim it is merely "descriptive" and not "prescriptive" (though I still don't see how you can do this), it still forces us to disbelief every single claim for the sake of the "default"."The above may be correct. I'm not necessarily convinced it is, but let's say it is. I don't really care too much either way. The thing is you are continuously arguing against a strawman whenever you include the bolded words above. It's not a position anyone I know holds. I know (of) people who hold that you should only believe a claim if it is warranted to do so, and I also know (of) people who accept that the default position upon a claim is disbelief, but I know no-one who mish-mashes those two things together as one.The former is a pragmatic belief, the latter a descriptive logical statement. One does not lead to the other.Also, you said to Skeptical Rationalist:"Of course, but we don't call "I dont know" a position."Actually, not only is "I don't know" a position, it is also merely a subposition of disbelief. This should be obvious:If you don't know something, then you can not believe in that something. If you do not believe in something then you disbelieve in it. "Do you believe?" is a binary question – you either believe, or you don't.

  103. says

    AliI made a very long post adressing yours. when I posted however my internet connection failed. I have no way of knowing if I actually posted yet so if my answer doesn't show up you might have to wait for me to re-post it. just a heads up.

  104. says

    It's interesting that you tell me about the Law of Excluded Middle, yet try to provide a middle position for a proposition (the "I don't know" position).No, no, no, no, no. True and False are the two possibilities of the truth value. This is the fundamental misunderstanding you are exhibiting and every time I try and clarify this for you, you claim I'm mischaracterizing your argument. Positions are nearly infinite. If you believe the claim is true and are willing to say "Yes, SR has a $20 bill in his wallet" then we will call this position "Theism."Anything else, including but not limited to:"I don't know""SR has a *check* for $20""SR has two $10's""SR has a debit card and $20 in the bank"…are disbelief positions and are properly classed, being "not Theistic" as Atheistic. The fact that you can believe anything you want is irrelevant to the True/False dichotomy.You are naturally disposed to believing that your rational faculties and sensory faculties actually correspond with reality. Now tell me, are you going to not accept this out of hand till this is proven to you to be the case? I love how believers love to trot out the "rational faculties" argument. In point of fact, the correspondence of our rational faculties to reality is marked by how little they correspond with reality. That is the very reason we have such mechanisms as peer-review, trial by jury, the scientific method, even the revolutionary technology of written language, all making a concerted effort to boil out the biases and overcome the shortcomings of humans' flawed, merely-adequate faculties of sense, cognition, judgment and memory. They are replete with shortcuts, inaccuracies, improvisations, extrapolations, and it's a fascinating area of neuroscience that studies them. Again I recommend Mistakes Were Made if you want an accessible read on the foibles of cognition.Naturally disposed beliefs do not require evidence to support themselves. They do, however, require evidence to be proven incorrect (which they can be).Repeating an assertion does not make it true. You're so fractally wrong on this point that it beggars belief. Naturally disposed beliefs are about the *last* claims you should accept without at least token corroboration, the evidence required being commensurate with the claim being made. What may be confusing you is that quite often, the corroborating evidence is so effortlessly obtained that it may even be unconscious–if it looks like a duck AND quacks like a duck, you're fairly justified in thinking it's a duck–if you notice that it's not moving on its own, and there's a man in the reeds with a shotgun and a big wooden kazoo, then perhaps not. But there's an entire universe between the claim "That is a duck" and "An invisible bodiless immortal is responsible for all of existence." I'm going to need more to go on for that last one. Just because people who grow up in religion-steeped societies have an irrational tendency to believe that does not make it deserve the benefit of the doubt on its own.

  105. says

    Curious,You say:"The main thrust of my argument is thus:You seem to be saying that due to our predisposition to believe certain claims, this makes the default position on those claims to be "Acceptance". This is incorrect."This is exactly what I'm saying, because we are forced to in order to function in this world and to obtain knowledge. These are foundational beliefs that if not accepted off the bat render knowledge and survivability impossible. "The predisposition to believe certain claims does nothing to change the default position. It only serves to provide unjustified evidence to move from withholding judgment to acceptance. These predispositions can come from a variety of sources, but they all have the same effect: Circumventing more rigorous evidence based assessment.This is sufficiently fundamental that I see no point in arguing further until we come to some agreement on this point."The problem is, as I stated before, that no one is born with believing in default positions either. So if "I don't know" is the default, then we must necessarily claim "I don't know" for the default position claim itself. We cannot make a "default" that which is nothing.

  106. says

    Afterthought,You state the following:"So you should see why your contention about the default position is not valid. Claim D also does not force us to accept the belief on the basis of whether or not it is true."This is true, but it does tell us we have to disbelieve all claims since that is the "default".You then say: "This, to an extent, is what I have been getting at with prescriptive and descriptive statements. (Aside: also, you can only say that it is a tautology, because of the laws of logic. You have in essence actually agreed with me by calling it such.)"A tautology and an infinite regress are two different things. A tautology does not tell us that we have to provide justification for something. This is a problem of justification. You then say:"Claim D does not tell us what we should do, it tells us what is the case (the same way a statement must be true or not true)."But in this situation I don't see how that changes anything. It is necessary and the case that certain things need to be justified. The claim being made is that the default position is disbelief for claims. If this is not telling us what we should do, then what's the point of this statement? Why should I accept this to be the case? "The above may be correct. I'm not necessarily convinced it is, but let's say it is. I don't really care too much either way. The thing is you are continuously arguing against a strawman whenever you include the bolded words above. It's not a position anyone I know holds. I know (of) people who hold that you should only believe a claim if it is warranted to do so, and I also know (of) people who accept that the default position upon a claim is disbelief, but I know no-one who mish-mashes those two things together as one."To be honest, I don't see the difference. To say that "the default position for claims is disbelief" is no different than saying "Claims need to be justified in order to be believed". "The former is a pragmatic belief, the latter a descriptive logical statement. One does not lead to the other."What I'm trying to figure out is how making it a descriptive statement somehow takes away from the real problem here. The fact of the matter is that atheists say that the "default position" for any claim given to them is "I don't know". But this is clearly false simply on the basis that not all claims are approached in this manner. No one says "I don't know" about axioms. No one goes around claiming "I don't know" for the simple claim that "we can know things about the world", because if they really believed this then they would never be able to really justify it. Like I said, it seems to me that making the "default position" a mere descriptive statement makes it pointless to claim in a rational discussion where one person is asking for evidence. I never see atheists using it in the descriptive sense. Ever.You then say:" Actually, not only is "I don't know" a position, it is also merely a subposition of disbelief. This should be obvious:If you don't know something, then you can not believe in that something. If you do not believe in something then you disbelieve in it. "Do you believe?" is a binary question – you either believe, or you don't."I do happen to believe that there are two different forms of disbelief: One predicated on a lack of knowledge and one predicated on some other position. A lack of knowledge is not something, however. Rocks, trees, etc. also lack knowledge. I don't see how they can have "positions".

  107. says

    Skeptical Rationalist,You state the following: "No, no, no, no, no. True and False are the two possibilities of the truth value. This is the fundamental misunderstanding you are exhibiting and every time I try and clarify this for you, you claim I'm mischaracterizing your argument. Positions are nearly infinite. If you believe the claim is true and are willing to say "Yes, SR has a $20 bill in his wallet" then we will call this position "Theism."Anything else, including but not limited to:"I don't know""SR has a *check* for $20""SR has two $10's""SR has a debit card and $20 in the bank"…are disbelief positions and are properly classed, being "not Theistic" as Atheistic. The fact that you can believe anything you want is irrelevant to the True/False dichotomy."The fact that you think "I don't know" is part of that dichotomy is what I find incorrect. The Law of Excluded Middle states the following: P ∨ ¬P (P or not P). So it's either yes/no (active) or true/false. Each are active forms of belief or disbelief, not I don't know. The I don't know "position" you keep referring to doesn't exist in this formulation. The blunt fact is, "I don't know" is not a position. It is a state where someone is still trying to decide whether their position is P ∨ ¬P.In fact, arguing that it is a position of disbelief renders it under the false stance, which is exactly what you are not arguing for. You then go on to say:I love how believers love to trot out the "rational faculties" argument. In point of fact, the correspondence of our rational faculties to reality is marked by how little they correspond with reality. That is the very reason we have such mechanisms as peer-review, trial by jury, the scientific method, even the revolutionary technology of written language, all making a concerted effort to boil out the biases and overcome the shortcomings of humans' flawed, merely-adequate faculties of sense, cognition, judgment and memory. They are replete with shortcuts, inaccuracies, improvisations, extrapolations, and it's a fascinating area of neuroscience that studies them. Again I recommend Mistakes Were Made if you want an accessible read on the foibles of cognition."I think you've given up the argument here. It's clear that none of the above examples would be possible (peer review etc. ) if we did not think that something could be obtained to begin with through those faculties. Obviously we are prone to error, but we believe we can fix these errors because we believe (without evidence) that our rational faculties are somehow reliable. This is not proven in science or anything else for that matter. It's just something we accept for the sake of knowledge."Repeating an assertion does not make it true. You're so fractally wrong on this point that it beggars belief."You haven't shown me that I am "factually wrong". You simply keep repeating yourself. "Naturally disposed beliefs are about the *last* claims you should accept without at least token corroboration, the evidence required being commensurate with the claim being made. "The very fact that you even believe in evidence without needing evidence for that belief should be evidence enough for you that you're incorrect here. That's all that need be said. When you present an argument (as the others have attempted to do), then I will reconsider your statements.

  108. says

    Skeptical Rationalist (P2),Also, if you're attempting to plug in the positions of theism and implicit atheism into the formulation of the Law of Excluded Middle, I'm afraid that isn't going to work.In the case of the formula (P ∨ ¬P), P is the same. The distinction is with "¬" being an active negation.So you can't say (Theism or "I don't know" Theism). It's (Theism or ¬ Theism), as in whether the claim is true or false. From Wikipedia:"In logic, The Law of excluded middle, also known as the Principle of excluded middle or Excluded middle is the principle that for any proposition, either that proposition is true, or its negation is."I'm not a big fan of wikipedia, but since it's the fad these days I didn't think you'd mind me using it as a reference. If you'd like a better one later on, feel free to ask.

  109. says

    Ali,This is exactly what I'm saying, because we are forced to in order to function in this world and to obtain knowledge. These are foundational beliefs that if not accepted off the bat render knowledge and survivability impossible. You seem to be having a terminology failure. Accepting that the world around us is real has immediate and tangible benefits. Accepting that it is real based on these benefits does nothing to change the default position. We are assaulted with evidence every moment of our lives that the world around us is real. It is this feedback that causes us to accept that there is an objective reality. The problem is, as I stated before, that no one is born with believing in default positions either.Not believing is the default position. Being born without belief in default positions is entirely what one would expect.So if "I don't know" is the default, then we must necessarily claim "I don't know" for the default position claim itself. We cannot make a "default" that which is nothing. "I don't know" is not nothing. I feel as though you have not read a single thing I wrote… As has been explained to you before, the default position does not lead to infinite regress because it has no inherent truth statement about itself. It is a descriptive phrase. You began your argument by saying that our predisposed beliefs are the default position. My rebuttal to that is that predisposition serves as a substitute for evidence when choosing whether to accept a claim. Do you have a response to this?

  110. says

    Curious,You say:"You seem to be having a terminology failure. Accepting that the world around us is real has immediate and tangible benefits. Accepting that it is real based on these benefits does nothing to change the default position. We are assaulted with evidence every moment of our lives that the world around us is real. It is this feedback that causes us to accept that there is an objective reality."I think this is a fundamental flaw in your perception of naturally disposed beliefs. The fact is, that the whole concept of evidence itself is predicated on the belief that the world around us is real. You cannot show this to be the case. If you start off believing that that the external world may not be real and that you need evidence of this, you've already shot yourself in the foot because the external world includes the very thing you call evidence.It's something you must assume."Not believing is the default position. Being born without belief in default positions is entirely what one would expect."Then why do you have a belief regarding the default position, since by definition of the default, this is not a default?You then say:""I don't know" is not nothing. I feel as though you have not read a single thing I wrote… "I have. I just don't understand how you can claim that a lack of a position is a position in and of itself. Like I asked others, do you believe rocks and trees have positions since they too "do not know"?To say "I don't know" is to not say anything in regard to the claim being made; it is merely an acknowledgment of not knowing what to believe.

  111. says

    Ali:Reread my post. It is you who are mischaracterizing.You are conflating two things and treating them as though they were the same: – that there are two possibilities for the truth value (P and ~P)AND – positions one may have regarding that statement.I can't say it more clearly: if you are willing to sign on to the truth of the claim, and say YES, I believe "P" is true, then that is one position.It does not follow that the only other position possible is "I don't know" or affirmatively believing the negation, if you don't know, then "I don't believe it" is an accurate description of your position. It is therefore properly classed in the "disbelief" category. That is why the default position is necessarily some flavor of disbelief. It seems to me that the rest of your argument hinges on this statement:But this is clearly false simply on the basis that not all claims are approached in this manner. No one says "I don't know" about axioms. No one goes around claiming "I don't know" for the simple claim that "we can know things about the world", because if they really believed this then they would never be able to really justify it.I addressed this point, you just either glossed over it or ignored me.The fact that we grant some basic axioms about our environment and our ability to understand it does not mean that all naturally disposed beliefs should be taken as true until proven false. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Mundane and simple claims require mundane and simple evidence.It seems to me that your argument basically boils down to "because you have to accept your senses and cognition as naturally disposed, other naturally disposed beliefs are equally valid, such as theism." If this is an accurate assessment of you position, I'll continue the next time I'm able to post.

  112. says

    Ali, I think this is a fundamental flaw in your perception of naturally disposed beliefs. The fact is, that the whole concept of evidence itself is predicated on the belief that the world around us is real. You cannot show this to be the case. If you start off believing that that the external world may not be real and that you need evidence of this, you've already shot yourself in the foot because the external world includes the very thing you call evidence. It's something you must assume.We believe reality exists because from the second we are conscious we are bombarded with sensory evidence that it exists. I would have to assume someone born with no senses would have a very different view of reality. We have a lifetime of evidence to believe that the world is real, and oftentimes evidence that what we thought was real was not so. Then why do you have a belief regarding the default position, since by definition of the default, this is not a default?Because it has been shown true in every single instance of acceptance or rejection of a claim. I have. I just don't understand how you can claim that a lack of a position is a position in and of itself. Like I asked others, do you believe rocks and trees have positions since they too "do not know"? To say "I don't know" is to not say anything in regard to the claim being made; it is merely an acknowledgment of not knowing what to believe.Acknowledging that you do not know what to believe is a valid position. Just as I pointed out with Skeptical Rationalist, even the Law of Excluded Middle does not count "I don't know" as a position of negation of P. (P or not P) does not include "I don't know". Either P is true or the negation of P is true. Nothing is true about lacking knowledge. …But that's not what the formula is saying. It is saying that P is NOT the case because something contrary to it is.You are confusing the truth of a claim with your position on the claim.P is either true or not true. However, my position on P can be "Yes, it's true", "No, it's false", or "I don't know". The problem I have here is that if it is a descriptive phrase (as I have pointed out with AfterthoughtM) then it is false, because axioms are excluded from this. They're really not… we just choose to accept them because the alternative is unworkable.If you are just saying "Hey, when we are born we don't believe anything", then I'd agree, but I don't see how that has anything to do with claims or beliefs having to be verified to be believed in. It seems pointless to say this. I can just as easily say that "The belief in default positions is disbelieved at birth". Okay? So what? Making it a descriptive statement makes it useless. What's the point then?Being aware of how we come to accept our beliefs is not useless. It is only through this knowledge that we can have any real assurance that what we believe is true. I do. I say it does not serve as a substitution for evidence because it is believed before evidence is even considered. Meaning, without these beliefs, "evidence" doesn't make any sense. One paragraph ago you acknowledged that we are born with no beliefs. When presented with a claim you do not instantly accept of reject it. You examine it first. Your predispositions may push you towards acceptance or rejection based on what "feels" right, but this is merely a cognitive shortcut to avoid time consuming investigation.I'll give you an example: My car is red. Do you accept or reject that claim. Pay attention to your cognitive process while you are deciding.

  113. Afterthought_btw says

    Ali,I suspect this may be my last post, because I honestly feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall. That is one of the reasons I have not replied before now. That and I've been (and still am) ill."This is true, but it does tell us we have to disbelieve all claims since that is the "default"."No it does not. Honestly, if we haven't got past this point yet, it's not surprising I'm losing my patience.Whether or not D says anything is irrelevant to what we 'have to' or 'should' believe. This is because it is not a prescriptive statememnt. Prescriptive statements tell you what to do. Descriptive statements tell you what is the case. How much more do I have to say this?Example of a prescriptive statement:"I should put the kettle on."Example of a descriptive statement."The kettle has boiling water inside."A tautology and an infinite regress are two different things. A tautology does not tell us that we have to provide justification for something. This is a problem of justification. Err… what? Please, go back and read what I wrote. This does not address anything I said. Look, I'll sum up what's been said:You claimed that the trivially true statement with an infinite regress that I offered did not pose a problem because it was a tautology. I pointed out that you can only claim it is a tautology by utilising the tools of logic. What you were actually saying, in its simplest form, was: 'this statement is logically true, therefore infinite regress does not pose a problem'.Or in other words, to assume that an infinite regress causes a problem for a statement is to presuppose that it is logically untrue.That's circular reasoning.Now you could apply the regress problem to the entirety of epistemology, and hence also logic (and thus also invalidating your claim that being a tautology saves the trivially true statement from an infinite regress), but you obviously don't want to do that, because that would also strip away any possible justification for believing in a god. It strips away any justification for believing in anything."But in this situation I don't see how that changes anything. It is necessary and the case that certain things need to be justified. The claim being made is that the default position is disbelief for claims. If this is not telling us what we should do, then what's the point of this statement? Why should I accept this to be the case?"I'm really starting to wonder if you understand what the phrase: 'default position' actually means. Another way you could describe the default position would be the automatic position. That is, the position that is held without any information known about a claim.Once you are given possible information about a claim, you examine the information. If the information is valid, then you change your position accordingly, if the information is invalid, then you discard it, meaning that you are once more in a position of knowing no information about a claim – the default position.The reason you should accept that the default position is disbelief is simple, and I have mentioned before.It is logically impossible to perform an action upon a nonexistent thing. Therefore it is not possible to believe a statement before you have knowledge of its existence. (Unless the statement exists, you are trying to perform an action (believe) upon a nonexistent thing. Or, if you prefer, the act of belief requires a target. If the target does not exist, you cannot believe in it.)

  114. Afterthought_btw says

    part 2To be honest, I don't see the difference. To say that "the default position for claims is disbelief" is no different than saying "Claims need to be justified in order to be believed". There is a huge difference. For one thing, the claim: 'Claims do not need to be justified in order to be believed' does not contradict the statement 'the default position is disbelief'.You can believe in something with absolutely no justification whatsoever – that makes no difference to what the default position actually is.A lack of knowledge is not something, however. Rocks, trees, etc. also lack knowledge. I don't see how they can have "positions".A 'position' in the sense you are using it is one that requires cognitive ability. The reason, then, that rocks lack 'positions' is not because they lack knowledge, but because they lack cognitive faculties.Because I am not expecting to reply again, I do not expect you to reply again. Honestly, I feel like this is going nowhere, and that nothing I can say will alter that.Thanks for the conversation, and apologies for my irritability in this post.Bye,Afterthought_btw

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