Comments

  1. Lamont Cranston says

    I would just like to say that I thought the discussion with Tim was one of the better conversations between a theist and Matt & Jim (or any hosts) in a long time. I agreed with Matt that this was in the top 1% category. It was just good to hear a theist being pretty honest (he held back a little on one occasion) and actually answering direct questions. It was also clear that Matt was willing to carry on the discussion longer simply because Tim was being honest with his responses.

    Also I have a lot of respect for Tim being a father who is willing to call in at the urging of his son (and even listening when his son texted him during the call to tell him that he was talking to fast 🙂 ). That is a great example. I hope his son realizes how rare a person he has for a father. Well done sir. I do hope he calls in again in the future.

    Lamont Cranston

  2. Ronald Kyle says

    @Tim from Wisconsin…

    …I feel like I am invited to a party….

     
    One of the things that irk me is when theists tell how they think god is the best because s/he/it invited them to a party that they are now enjoying despite (perhaps) a rough start or the occasional dull moments during it.
     
    What never occurs to those selfish self-centered egotistical theists, is to give any consideration to the clearly audible and visible victims screaming and wailing and screeching in the garden shed of the serial murdering monstrous host of the party they are enjoying.
     
    All they care about is that they are having fun… no qualms or compunctions about brownnosing and genuflecting to the host who is a monstrous serial torturer and killer as they can clearly see and hear by opening the mansion’s windows and looking at the garden shed… let alone the billions of bloody mutilated corpses strewn on the sides of the road on which they drove to reach the mansion.

  3. Altitudes says

    Something that I think Matt should flesh out more is his argument that if faith can lead to both true and false conclusions then it’s inherently unreliable.The question of reliability is how often it leads us to a correct or incorrect conclusion. If faith were right 99% of the time, then we’d call it reliable.

    Science is a reliable method because it leads us to useful conclusions far more than it fails. If Matt were to ask “Can science lead you to both correct and incorrect conclusions?” then the answer is clearly yes. And if he then followed that “So science is an unreliable method and we should look for something else” then he’d be wrong.

    I know Matt knows all this, and I know he expands when pushed, but it comes across as a cheap trap when he first springs it. That faith is wrong sometimes says nothing about its reliability. That faith can’t be shown to get anything right with any frequency is why it’s unreliable.

  4. t90bb says

    #2 Ron

    So true. The self centeredness of the average theist is mind boggling. A Christian friend lost his job about a year ago when the company he worked for went out of business. The company employed several hundred. He called me one day a few months ago all excited claiming how the loss of his job made sense to him now! He said that he had been undecided about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life and he now realized that “god had taken that issue away from him” by engineering the loss of his job.

    In another words his GOD engineered the failing of his former employer just so He could steer my friend better to Its will. I asked him whether or not he considered how the companies failure impacted the other few hundred who also lost their job. He seemed stunned. A few weeks ago I met a young couple with a newborn that also had been employed by that same company. They were looking for work still and in terrible fear.

    I spoke to my friend again and asked him why he thinks his God would engineer his employers failings on his behalf when it would devastate others. I told him I thought his perspective was rather narrow and selfish. I told him what he was implying was God was taking care of him..and all other be damned! He stormed off and has not spoken to me since. Oh well.

    Many theists are terribly terribly selfish and self centered. They consider their present well being first and only!

  5. Joe says

    CREATING CHRIST

    This book delves into a theory that the Flavian’s, who destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, invented Christianity making Titus a God and the Messiah who delivered the Jews from the corruption of the Pharisees. Very interesting argument. Seems to be well researched although some points seem to be over evidenced.

  6. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    I just finished Tim’s call and besides the opening Gish gallop I love how it was handled. I think Tim is seriously open to learning more and this conversation probably opened his eyes a bit w.r.t. his epistemology. Calls like this should be required watching for anyone who wants to have a productive conversation with a theist that’s interested in one.

  7. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    On another note, how do people feel about the atheist/agnostic definition disagreements that seem to pop up everywhere? I just passed Matt’s little monologue on Braxton Hunter’s poor handling of the definition in a deliberate attempt to stawman and at the beginning of the next call Matt said he wouldn’t talk with Steve McRae about the topic. I personally have issues with both positions.

    I agree with Steve that in academic philosophy circles his definitions must be held to for consistency but I don’t agree that his definitions are the most useful colloquially or that the philosophy academia gets to top-down define words (that’s pretty clearly not how language outside of strict academic settings). I also really hate the way Matt handles this topic in debates. While he’s often right that the theist is trying to strawman him, saying “you have the definition wrong” isn’t helpful nor correct. With my old Catholic hat on, this seems like a dodge. In my opinion, he should just say “something along the lines of “I don’t care what you want to call me, here’s my position” and just sidestep the strawman/well poisoning instead of lecturing on definitions. Just my take.

    I generally hold to the “implicit” definition, where anyone who doesn’t answer the question “Do you believe a god or gods exist?” with the affirmative “Yes” is an atheist. I prefer this definition to avoid false dichotomies and because in everyday life, there’s no functional difference between a “weak agnostic” and “strong atheist”. I’d rather just chuck the agnostic label entirely in the name of clarity. What do you guys think?

  8. Lamont Cranston says

    AtheistNotAgnostic says in #5:

    I think Tim is seriously open to learning more and this conversation probably opened his eyes a bit w.r.t. his epistemology.

    I agree.

    With regard to his (admittedly self centered) view of this being at a party and feeling a need to be grateful for being invited to it, I can understand why some would be annoyed by this. However, I would much rather hear someone’s honest reasons for their belief rather than a bunch of pseudo-intellectual trash that actually has nothing to do with why they believe. Inevitably that junk is really just something they resort to in an effort to not look stupid.

    You can poke holes in the trash arguments all day long without having any affect because they really have nothing to do with their actual reasons for their beliefs.

    I could tell from his responses and attitude that Tim will be thinking about that conversation and what was said on both sides since he wasn’t just playing a game of trying to “out logic” Matt. Those who are just playing games with words or poor syllogisms are the ones I find annoying. They annoy me because they are not coming from a place of honesty and that is generally a waste of time other than repeatedly showing people the games just don’t cut it.

    Lamont Cranston

  9. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #6

    I saw that debate between Matt and Braxton Hunter and I believe that Matt was referring to the person in the audience during the Q&A who asked why Matt identifies as an atheist and not as an agnostic. Matt was not referring to Braxton Hunter. The guy who asked the question (according to Matt) was shaking his head when Matt tried to explain the difference between atheists and agnostics. The guy believed that Matt is wrong about atheism and is physically displaying his objection. Instead of asking and listening to an actual atheist what their position is the guy decided that his understanding and of atheism and agnotism is correct and that atheists are wrong.

  10. buddyward says

    With regards to Tim from Wisconsin

    In a way I feel sorry for him. The way he rationalizes the world appears to be the product of decades of indoctrination. However, I commend him for calling the show and listening to his children. Perhaps his children would be the catalyst that would at the very least push him towards thinking critically about his beliefs. Tim, (if he decides to continue with questioning his belief) would have a lot of questions and I hope that AXP and other atheist organizations will continue to answer his questions.

    If he finds this blog and would like to ask questions, I would be more than happy to accommodate him.

  11. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #8
    I haven’t rewatched that debate since it came out so I forgot the context. That theist was definitely in the wrong and his attitude showed that he wasn’t interested in actually listening, but my point about Matt was more of a general observation than one about that specific debate. Theists like that questioner might be impossible to teach but I think it’s generally better to spend time laying out your position clearly than trying to argue over labels because ultimately it’s the position that matters. In that specific case though, there isn’t much else you can do.

  12. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #10

    Yes, I agree that the positions are what ultimately matters. However, we put labels on our positions as a place holder to make conversations more concise. As long as we agree what the labels mean then we are good to go. There are some labels that matter and some that don’t. In a discussion on the existence of god, the labels atheism and theism matter. The label Christians, Muslims, Hindu, etc. matter. Changing the agreed upon meaning of these labels in mid-conversation is what derails the discussion.

    I do not recall Matt being stuck on labels but perhaps I am just biased. It would be great if I can be convinced that I am wrong so that I can correct my belief.

  13. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #11
    I agree that labels aren’t meaningless, and that people having a discussion need to agree on the definitions ahead of time. Whenever somebody is dishonestly equivocating or strawmanning they should be called out. I don’t think Matt is uniquely bad or anything on this issue, I just get frustrated with all of the effort expended arguing these definitions when nether is “right”. I think I’m letting my strong disagreement with Matt about the framing of the natural vs supernatural stuff seep into this topic too.

  14. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #12

    Aahh Natural vs. SuperNatural is an interesting topic but I think that would just derail this thread. Perhaps we can discuss this in the future on a more appropriate thread.

  15. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #13
    Yeah I don’t want to get into it now, just admitting that I have biases too. Also, my name alone should give away how I feel about the definition conversation!

  16. paxoll says

    @atheistnotagnostic
    Matt is absolutely not stuck on labels at all. He is always stuck on the argument and the belief. Which is why anytime he wastes time explaining the differences in agnostic and atheist definitions it is because the caller/opponent is crafting a strawman argument based on their own definitions.
     
    This is a fallacy that has to be acknowledged and overcome to have any constructive conversation (also probably why quite a few hosts don’t bother to host anymore), and why the hosts almost always harp on asking the caller what they believe, not if they are a christian or “believer”. This often leads to using “null hypothesis” or “default position” or even “burden of proof” to hurry through the definition and explanation on why their strawman is wrong to start with, but I dont find that to be very useful in calls because those terms need scientific and philosophical understanding that people simply don’t have. Matts courtroom “guilty of existing” is a useful example but still doesn’t bridge the understanding the person needs to know they cannot simply flip it around and say “guilty of not existing”.
     
    So typically I find Matt addresses this issue perfectly. Unfortunately, I think that unless the person is a troll intentionally making a strawman, the issue necessarily requires a long foundational explanation that is not conducive to the show if it was done every time.

  17. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll #15
    I love the courtroom analogy and Tracie’s gumballs as methods for demonstrating the position. I admit I’m being pedantic and a bit tough on Matt but IMO that this is an area where he can improve.

    I just re-watched the portion of the Braxton Hunter debate that buddyward brought up in #8 (begins at 1:33:00 in Matt’s upload of the debate). I really liked his answer, up until he asserted his definition of atheism and when the guy didn’t agree, he said he was wrong. Matt’s wrong on that, and the questioner was just as wrong as Matt when he asserted the other definition of atheism. Definitions aren’t “right” or “wrong”, they’re either useful or not. The definition of atheism has multiple usages (like Matt said in his answer), and the two usages in this exchange both enjoy widespread support, so it’s no wonder that there’s going to be confusion. What I would have liked Matt to say after explaining his position with the courtroom analogy is: “here’s how myself and many atheists use the word. Since the word has multiple common meanings there’s bound to be confusion but this is what I mean and if we still disagree on how the word is used you at least fully understand my position now.” This questioner clearly wasn’t looking for an honest discussion, but not all of them will be deliberately trying to strawman or play “gotcha!”. Going from “you’re wrong to dogmatically assert this definition” without explaining why dogmatically asserting definitions is wrong to doing it yourself is a great way to look hypocritical IMO. I know Matt’s not trying to be hypocritical and that he understands this distinction, I just wish he’d use more precise language.

  18. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #16

    I am curious as to what was wrong with Matt’s definition of atheism.

  19. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #17
    There’s nothing wrong with it at all. I was saying that he was wrong to assert his definition was correct and the other guy’s isn’t. I should have been more clear if that’s what you thought I meant. Both Matt and the questioner had “good” definitions because they both represent how the word is commonly used, they just didn’t agree on which was best. I personally find Matt’s definition more useful because it removes the also-confusing word “agnostic” but that doesn’t make it “right”.

  20. Honey Tone says

    AtheistNotAgnostic @#18

    I agree with buddy – Matt did a good job. Especially considering that Braxton Hunter defended Matt to the audience.

    I am big fan of Matt and the other hosts taking control of the terms “atheist” and “atheism” during discussions because of the burden of proof implied by minimally acceptable definitions thereof. Believers must be repeatedly reminded that their core belief in the existence of a god or gods – despite how many people they think profess to accept it – is merely a claim that *they* must establish to the satisfaction of non-believers.

    Believers are fee to define us only for themselves and their purposes, but they don’t get to define us to us or for debate purposes so that they do not have to question their own assumptions.

    BTW, I find it interesting you “put on [your] Catholic hat” when considering the effect of Matt arguing over this definition in the Braxton Hunter debate. There’s some irony in that, because that was about the existence of the “Christian” god, a somewhat ambiguous term that most members of that audience would interpret, I think, quite differently from a Catholic audience.

  21. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Honey Tone #19
    Couldn’t agree more w.r.t. the burden of proof. Using the courtroom and gumball analogies to explain the null hypothesis is super important to drive home that they have to back up their claims. I’m also a fan of the hosts of the show making their definitions clear ahead of time to avoid confusion. If enough people use Matt/the show’s definition of “atheism” to build a broad consensus, then we can attack theists for using uncommon definitions to obfuscate, much like we did with Jimmy/Kafei when he used niche definitions of common terms to fit his agenda. We need to keep showing people why our definition is more useful in describing us/people like us. I think we all agree on 90+% here, I’m just nit-picking his exact language because I’m sure somebody’s gonna quote-mine him and say “haha look at that philosophy amateur Dillahunty proving that he doesn’t know how language works!” as a smear tactic. The point about the Catholic vs Christian thing is also great at showing why we need rigorous definitions ahead of time. The word “Christian” is far less rigorously defined than “atheist”!

  22. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #18

    The other person’s definition of atheism is “The proposition that [unintelligible] gods do not exists”. I am unsure what that word in the middle is so I cannot make any assessment whether or not he is correct. If we remove the unintelligible part of the definition then I would agree that the definition is insufficient as it only addresses a subset of atheists. At the moment I cannot think of any word I can use to replace the unintelligible part to make this definition correct. Perhaps I did not hear the definition correctly and someone can clarify it for me.

    As for having an agreement on the word, I think that Matt was on point when he said, “How do you think Christians would react if I come down here and tell them that they got Christianity wrong?” What I think Matt is pointing out with this question is that he would at least have the decency to listen how Christians would define themselves and use that definition in the conversation instead of what he thinks Christianity is even though he knows what being a Christian is. There really wasn’t any time to try and compare definitions at that moment since the other person ultimately expressed that he does not care what Matt’s definition is and that is when Matt decided that there is no point in having this conversation.

    Could Matt have handled the situation differently? Absolutely. However, I do not blame him for his reaction. I probably would have reacted even worst if some theist comes up to me and tell me that they do not care how I define myself because their definition of who I am is correct and I am wrong.

  23. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @buddyward #21:

    The other person’s definition of atheism is “The proposition that [unintelligible] gods do not exists”. I am unsure what that word in the middle is

    (1:35:20) “I think it’s the proposition or belief that there is no god.”

  24. buddyward says

    @Sky Captain #22

    Thank you for that.

    That definition is a bit ambiguous. Proposing that there is no god is very different from believing that there is no god. I do not know if the person intended this but if you agree to this definition then you will be admitting that you are proposing there is no god and thus you now carry the burden of proof. In the context of their conversation if Matt agreed to this definition then he cannot claim to not know whether or not the Christian god exist. It sounds like a “gotcha” move but I cannot really make any assessment on that person’s intent.

  25. indianajones says

    I’ve seen the ep yet, but there does seem to be a bit of label vs definition stuff happening here. This is an argument I had with a friend once over binary code as it applied to transistors. He insisted that ‘zero’ in this sense had to mean a ‘no energy state’ (his term) because ‘zero’ commonly means nothing. Of course it means no such thing, it just means that it isn’t ‘one’.. I attempted to explain to him that ‘one’ and ‘zero’ were merely convenient short hand applicable to that case, and that we could just as easily use ‘blue’ vs ‘green’, say. He was confusing the label for the definition.

    It was tough. But I think it applies here with the strawmanning and getting hung up on terminology thing. Importantly, I think, commonly agreed upon definitions are crucial to communication. I see an awful lot of people saying things like ‘You call yourself an Atheist. Here’s what I mean when I say Atheist whether you agree with the definition or not. Therefore XYZ, checkmate!’ Argument from MY definition of what YOU are calling yourself (Hello trans friends!) is incredibly annoying, can be dangerous and hurtful, and I can see why folks in general want to clear up that before moving on.

  26. Ronald Kyle says

    @#3 t90bb says

    They consider their present well being first and only!

    But even there they have failed in rational thought.
     
    Every time I sit on the dunny to take a dump I contemplate the issue of God and gods… and by the time I am finished wiping, I am yet again incontrovertibly convinced that the whole delusion is a failure of human reasoning and a testament to our inability to fathom the extent of the heinousness that any such creator would INELUCTABLY have to have, given that it created reality the way it is.
     
    God concepts + reality ==> Paradoxical conclusions ==> either reality is a delusion or God concepts are delusions.
     
    The mere fact that we need to kill things and ingest them to be able to perpetuate our desultory existence as creatures, is a testament to … either the utter imbecility of this creator… or … if it intended it this way… abject villainy of this tinkerer and repugnant SADISM of this execrable intentional creator of misery and suffering.
     
    But it gets even more wicked; if indeed there is an Imbecilic Designer (ID), then we were designed biologically incomplete — we cannot biologically internally auto-manufacture all the necessary amino acids needed for our existence — consequently, we need to devour the cells of other creatures instead of, say, sunbathing for a few hours a day while just mouthing handfuls of clay. Thus, we have to kill other creatures (fauna and flora) and rob them of their amino acids and cellular materials to complete the manufacturing of our own cells.
     
    But the despicable SADISM does not end here… our digestive systems are not even close to being efficient, therefore a big percentage of the butchered creatures we ingest just pass through our tracts inefficiently utilized and go to waste… hence our killing sprees have to be carried out more frequently than would have otherwise been necessary.
     
    This of course results in all sorts of strife and misery and mayhem as a result of our continuous strive for procuring more and more cells, bloodily wrenched off of their original owners. But even more egregiously, we often have to splatter the cells of other humans while competing with them for control over the sources of cells to ravish (whether for consumption or coition).
     
    But the appalling depravity does not end there… the waste matter that results from our interminable thievery of other creatures’ cells, KILLS US by resulting in all sorts of internal diseases and failures of the digestive system itself. Furthermore, the waste matter eventually percolating through the water systems and habitations results in external diseases and plagues and all but endless suffering and torment.
     
    So as you can see, on the stage of reality, the mere act of sitting on the loo and the finale of having to scrape clean our derrières, ought to compel any rational thinker to conclude that any god delusion is something that humanity has pulled out of their arses. And just as more often than not, all those mangled remains of creatures passing through our arses result in damaging those orifices, so have the god fecal matter damaged the collective anus called humanity.

  27. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @indianajones #24:

    an argument I had with a friend once over binary code as it applied to transistors. He insisted that ‘zero’ in this sense had to mean a ‘no energy state’ (his term) […] Of course it means no such thing

    Hopefully they learned something that day. 😉
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Logic Level, 2-level logic, voltage

    High and low thresholds are specified for each logic family. When below the low threshold, the signal is “low”. When above the high threshold, the signal is “high”.
    […]
    It is usual to allow some tolerance in the voltage levels used; for example, 0 to 2 volts might represent logic 0, and 3 to 5 volts logic 1. A voltage of 2 to 3 volts would be invalid and occur only in a fault condition or during a logic level transition. However, few logic circuits can detect such a condition, and most devices will interpret the signal simply as high or low in an undefined or device-specific manner.

    * A table includes low/high ranges for TTL (Transistor-transistor logic) with a link to a dedicated article for that.
     
     
    OT: In high school, I was unfamiliar with TTL, which meant the ICs at RadioShack were mysterious. Relays, on the other hand, had voltages on the package and an intuitive mechanism… at a considerably higher price.
     
    I wound up chaining relays to build an SR NAND latch, in a larger project. IIRC, I’d inverted the inputs, too, so it was effectively an over-complicated NOR latch.

  28. indianajones says

    @Sky Captain Yeah, I went to that too. I am an electronics tech btw. But the real stumper was that all the logic, in TTL, works if ya simply swap the zero to be the 5V state. It all still works, as I am sure you realise, just the terminology changes. Mind may not have been changed, but blown and with potential for change? Perhaps. Here’s hoping! I love it when a philosophical point can be proven using known physics.

  29. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #21,23
    When it comes to the “how would a Christian feel …” line, I’m a bit conflicted. One one hand I strongly agree that we need to fight back against the theists’ desire to define us in a way that makes them comfortable. It’s not our job to conform to their shoddy thinking. On the other hand, we can’t totally dismiss them because they also use the English language, and as long as they keep repeating the other definitions, they just won’t die (it doesn’t help that we can’t even get a broad consensus in the atheist community, talk about herding cats!). Of we want to avoid interactions like that debate question, we’re gonna have to reach a consensus definition with them. I’m not sure of the easiest way to do that, but maybe it involves a little compromise. You use our definition of atheism, we use your definition of Christian/God. This stuff isn’t easy and Matt wasn’t going to resolve in in his 30-second answer but every baby step counts. I definitely am being too tough on Matt considering the debate environment, and I’m sure that after dealing with the question for 15 years it must annoy him to hear it again. Maybe he could do a scripted Atheist Debates episode on this (if he hasn’t already) where he focuses on the courtroom, why his definition is more useful and why, in the context of a debate about god existing, there’s no difference between “Not Guilty” and “Innocent” because god’s the one on trial. That would be a nice resource to link theists to.

  30. paxoll says

    @atheistnotagnostic
    Sorry, but “compromise” is not how language and definitions work, they have meaning for a person and if you are trying to have a conversation you need to understand what they mean by that word. Lets say Matt allowed their definition, than on the christians argument that atheists need to demonstrate proof god does not exist, his answer would be yes, THEN they would ask for that proof and Matt would simply say, by their definition he is not an atheist. 2 minutes and the conversation is over. What matters is what someone believes and why they believe it, which is true of the callers to the show, but also of the hosts. If it is not fair for the hosts to assume the beliefs of the caller, it is not fair for the caller to assume the beliefs of the hosts. It is why the believer automatically gets to define what god is since it is their belief, and the atheist gets to define what atheism is. If a caller wants to claim some deistic god that is completely unfalsifiable than the whole nature of the conversation is going to change from requiring them to give evidence, to asking why they believe without evidence. Much like Tim from this week.

  31. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @paxoll #30
    You’re right, “compromise” isn’t how language works. Consensus is. This is what I said, from #29:

    [I]f we want to avoid interactions like that debate question, we’re gonna have to reach a consensus definition with them. I’m not sure of the easiest way to do that, but maybe it involves a little compromise.

    I’m not saying that compromise is the only way, or the best way, to reach consensus. I was just spitballing.

  32. Ian Butler says

    Ronald Kyle, I gotta say I laughed out loud at your latest screed. Better watch out, though, you might be called a closet vegan and aspiring clay-etarian!

    This was one of my favorite episodes, it’s been awhile since Matt had an amiable theist to play the Washington Generals and let him do all the hits. I understand Matt’s arguments much better than I did a year ago,l and often know where he’s going to go before he goes there, but it’s still amazing to watch unfold. With the better audio and an engaged co-host, this is one to bookmark for that atheist-curious Facebook friend.

  33. says

    They say timing is everything. I tell you what I know from my personal experience, “timing” takes a lot longer than it used to for me, and by the TIME I figure a new technology out, my timing is shot to hell.

    Am I really here, or is this just another fanciful pain pill induced dream state?
    Cheers,
    Mark

  34. Ian Butler says

    You’re really here Mark, honest! Now that you’ve figured out the technology, anything else you’d like to share? We’re here too.

  35. buddyward says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic #29

    I believe that we, as atheist, do have a consensus on our definition of atheism. To find a compromise between our definition and the multitude of definitions that theists makes up would be an overwhelming ordeal if not impossible. This misrepresentation of atheism by theists is far too common.

    Perhaps I am being closed minded but what would be a compromise in the definition of “I do not believe that a god or gods exists.”? I believe that we can only continue to remind theists of how we define ourselves and not allow them to change our definition to suit their arguments. In the same respect I believe that we should extend them the same courtesy and accept the definition to which they hold on about themselves.

    I also believe that higher education plays a huge part in all of this. When a person knows that their arguments are not sound then it is more likely that they will seek what is true and that starts with finding whether or not their own definitions of the terms they use are true. This way of thinking is cultivated in education. Teach children how to think critically and to always seek the truth. Religion is successful because they get to the children when they are young.

  36. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #35
    That’s not the compromise I was talking about. What I was saying is that we should take the approach that you laid out in your second paragraph. Let’s compromise with Christians by letting them define “Christian” in exchange for letting us define “atheist”. Clearly that’s easier said than done. I wasn’t endorsing somehow finding a middle ground between “lack of belief” atheism and “disbelief” atheism, which doesn’t seem possible. I don’t agree that we have a consensus definition of “atheist” within the general atheist/skeptic community considering there’s still tons of “agnostics” walking around that agree with us. There’s also lots of Great Debate people that use the “disbelief” definition (probably because of Steve McRae, Christian influence, dictionaries and philosophical literature). In the general population we have way more work to do than in our own community. The fact that AXP videos still have to specify “We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.” in the description box is evidence that we’re not there yet.

  37. Pony says

    @Ronald Kyle

    Word!

    My wife and I have a little habit of saying, “It’s God’s perfect plan!” any time we observe something cruel or appalling about the way things are.

    But you’ve really just solidified that notion for me. The “god” behind our creation is, or would be, if it existed, a total fucking sadist, as you assert. What a stupid “perfect plan” that non-god has…..

    Thanks for your rant, mate.

  38. buddyward says

    @ AtheistNotAgnostic #37

    Let’s compromise with Christians by letting them define “Christian” in exchange for letting us define “atheist”.

    My experience in this scenario is that theists are the one that are not willing to accept our definition while atheist will accept the theist’s definition of themselves. You would perhaps get better results making that suggestion on a theist blog rather than an atheist blog.

    I don’t agree that we have a consensus definition of “atheist” within the general atheist/skeptic community considering there’s still tons of “agnostics” walking around that agree with us. There’s also lots of Great Debate people that use the “disbelief” definition (probably because of Steve McRae, Christian influence, dictionaries and philosophical literature). In the general population we have way more work to do than in our own community. The fact that AXP videos still have to specify “We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.” in the description box is evidence that we’re not there yet.

    When the hosts of AXP is compelled to specify the definition of atheism it (from my experience) is directed towards theists who have a different idea of what atheism is. I cannot remember a time where an atheist called the show and asserted that atheism is the proposition that god(s) do not exist and those that are unsure are just agnostics and not atheist. As Bionic Dance would say, the only requirement to be an atheist is that the number of gods you believe exists is 0. That is a consensus because atheist will say they do not believe in the existence of a god(s).

    As the show often tries to clarify, atheism refers to belief and agnostism refers to knowledge. Is it the atheist’s fault that the theists are conflating the two? No, it is not and the best that we can do is to explain to them the difference. If they refuse to listen to the correct distinction and they cannot rebutt the point with a rational argument then they are being irrational and I believe that is the time where we should end the conversation.

    Theist would not like it very much if we call them agnostics if they are not able to prove that their god exist. In the years of watching AXP as well as other atheist channels I have not once heard an atheist tell a theist that they are not theist but rather they are agnostics because they are not sure that their god exists. I often times hear atheist ask what kind of theist are you and drill down to possibly their specific denomination. It is not really a compromise if only one side is willing to accept the other sides self definition while you are not granted the same courtesy. This is the point where we get stuck on the terms and not the position but I do not see it being the fault of the atheist. In the debate between Matt and Braxton Hunter during the Q&A, I think Matt was on point when he said, “How do you think Christians would feel…”. This is Matt saying that he is not defining Christianity to Christians and so Christians (or theist) should not define atheism to atheists.

  39. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @buddyward #39
    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I think we’re just splitting hairs at this point.

  40. Ronald Kyle says

    @#38 Pony says

    Thanks for your rant, mate.

    Ta! … 🙏🙏🙏… I am very glad you found it useful.
     
    I always try to use the formula below whenever I see some theist arguing for ID (Imbecilic Design). And if they persist, I try to irritate them to no end with the full details.
     
    God concepts + reality ==> Paradoxical conclusions ==> either reality is a delusion or God concepts are delusions.

  41. defydelusions says

    Hey everyone! I didn’t know where to introduce myself. I’m an agnostic atheist, Methodological Naturalist, and who knows what else. I wasn’t particularly raised in religion though my parents did try (especially my mom) and I attended Vacation Bible School several times, which even as a kid felt like a very unconvincing story. It took a long time, and this rising recognition and conversation about atheism and the common methods that seem to lead invariably to rejecting most, if not all, god claims… before I used that label. I actually went through a 10 year or so sting of non-traditional Buddhism, attempting to focus on the practice and what could be useful to actually experiencing and discovering the truth; though, in time, Buddhism really just became a tool to recognize the patterns that perpetuate suffering/frustration/dissatisfaction, and not something to “be” per se. Mostly I don’t even go by the atheist label! Humanism or Secular Humanism seem to describe best the values that I have and seem to share with many, many non-believers.

    Anyway I’m glad to be here, and hope to be an asset to conversation. I do believe I’ve watched over a hundred AXP episodes, without even listing all the philosophy, religion, history and science literature that I’ve studied (due to caring about finding out what’s true) over the last 15-20 years. Glad to be here!

  42. Honey Tone says

    Somewhat along the lines of the definition of atheism, perhaps some of you out there with a background in academic philosophy settings can help me makes sense of the following puzzles.

    The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an article entitled “Atheism and Agnosticism” which ventures definitions for those terms. It contains some curious statements. For instance:

    Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

    I find this quite odd, as there seems to be no way to separate a theist’s attitude or psychological state of believing from the propositional content that a god exists. Does this mean that a “theist” can merely propose that a god can exist without actually believing that a god exists? If that’s the case, the proposer in my mind is not a theist since “belief” is a component of this writer’s concept of theism. In other words, how can a “belief” proposition not be a belief?

    If a god existence proposition is merely a hypothesis, without any belief commitment, I fail to see how it would be considered an important philosophical issue.

    Next, the statement that atheism MUST be a negation of theism is startling. Really? Someone proposes belief in fairies, or ghosts, or pixies, or some other fantastic entities, then creates a term to identify nonbelievers thereof, and then demands by that definition that the nonbelievers assume a burden of negation? Did this writer, this philosophy geek, just attempt to justify shifting the burden of proof?

    Further:

    This definition [of atheism] has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism. Answers like “I don’t know”, “no one knows”, “I don’t care”, “an affirmative answer has never been established”, or “the question is meaningless” are not direct answers to this question.

    While identifying atheism with the metaphysical claim that there is no God (or that there are no gods) is particularly useful for doing philosophy, …

    Seriously? Useful for “doing philosophy”? WTF is that? Does it mean exploring the various ramifications of defining or not defining at least one god into existence? Is it similarly useful to philosophy to show, say, both sides of the fairy/non-fairy or magic/non-magic controversy?

    The article seems to assume that acceptance of the proposition that at least one god exists is a priori reasonable. I fail to see how. Has philosophy proved to some degree that a god of some kind exists? If not, from whence comes the atheist burden of proof? Somebody please show me what I’m missing here.

    Last, but certainly not least, comes this strange statement:

    Global atheism is a very difficult position to justify (Diller 2016: 11–16). Indeed, very few atheists have any good reason to believe that it is true since the vast majority of atheists have made no attempt to reflect on more than one or two of the many legitimate concepts of God that exist both inside and outside of various religious communities.

    Global atheism, if I understand him, means the myriad of different ways a god concept can be or has been defined anywhere in the world or has yet to be defined (as opposed to local atheism, which are the few god concepts with which we are already familiar.) But the kicker was this idea of a “legitimate” god concept. He doesn’t attempt to identify one or more such concepts in particular, but apparently he means that it is possible to conjure a god whose characteristics are not self-contradictory or not incompatible with our cosmos.

    If that’s what it means, somebody please explain how a legitimate god concept contributes evidence as to the existence of such an entity. Just because I can conceive of it doesn’t make it so. Otherwise, Superman and the Avengers are just as real as Jesus.

    I hope there is much more depth to this article than appears to my ignorant eyes. But issues like these arising in an academic setting are why I support AXP’s people taking basic control of definitions in debates and discussions with the general public.

  43. jacobfromlost says

    @Honey Tone I find the whole website to use the least useful definitions for theism, atheism, and agnosticism, and run with those least useful definitions throughout. It also seems to come directly from a thinly veiled theistic point of view (and if we use their definition of “theistic”, it would pertain to those claiming a god exists). It also uses weaselly language, such as “theism…is best understood as….” By what standard is it “best understood” as what they claim it is, ie, the claim (and not just a belief) that a god exists? It’s just flatly claimed, and then all the rest of the (bad) definitions are stacked upon that “best understanding” of theism.

    I’ve also found the SEP site cited by theists in other debates, and on other Christian websites. I’ve never understood the impulse to redefine opposing views to your liking. It would never occur to me to tell someone else the nature and parameters of their beliefs or nonbeliefs about anything. Only they can tell me those things, and I see no reason not to take them at their word for what is in their own heads. Why they can’t take us at our word for what is in our own heads is beyond me.

    P.S. I thought I had found some other odd things on that site, but can’t remember what they were and so far haven’t found them. I’ll keep browsing and maybe it will ring a bell.

  44. RationalismRules says

    @Honey Tone #42
    I’ll give it a go, not because I have any particular facility for philosophy, but just because it’s an interesting point that I haven’t considered previously.

    In essence the point is that ‘theism’ can refer to two different things:
    1. the proposition (a god exists)
    2. whether or not one believes the proposition

    Now, ‘atheism’ is a paired word – it takes its meaning from ‘theism’. So there is some sense to the argument that it can refer to the contrary proposition, as well as the lack of belief in the proposition. This is what has piqued my interest, because we AXP’ers tend to go with the argument commonly presented by Matt D that atheism is ‘simply the lack of belief…’ (in the proposition of theism) and not a proposition in itself. However, there is an argument to be made that both meanings can apply.

    Getting back to the Standford article, the author is arguing is that philosophy deals with the proposition itself, not the belief (or otherwise) in the proposition. So philosophy is only interested in atheism as its own proposition, not simply as a response to another proposition. In that context the only coherent meaning for the ‘a-‘ is the negation (as opposed to ‘without’, which is the meaning in terms of belief). Hence philosophy deals with atheism as the proposition ‘no god(s) exist’.

    The author isn’t denying the ‘belief’ meaning, they are just saying that philosophy isn’t concerned with it. If you re-read the article in those terms it makes more sense.
     
    Hopefully that’s helpful for you. I haven’t addressed all your points individually, because I think they resolve themselves if you get that fundamental point. Happy to visit other points specifically if you want.

  45. jacobfromlost says

    There is no legitimate (philosophical or otherwise) reason to say philosophy is not concerned with (at least) the idea of theism as “a belief” and atheism as “a lack of a belief”. The SEP’s claims that philosophy is not concerned with these definitions are simply asserted.

    In doing a google search for “philosophy atheism”, the first result is wikipedia, which gives all the common definitions we are used to hearing among ourselves and on TAE. It seems to include all positions anyone could have on the god question, uses no weaselly language, and has no agenda.

    The second result is the SEP, which to my reading eyes is thinly veiled theists redefining all the terms to their liking with weasel words such as “theism…is best understood as…”, with no explanation as to WHY that is the “best” understanding. (It seems to be the “best” because it allows all the other definitions they want to include with no justification, while excluding–by ignoring–several positions many/most people indeed hold in reality today.)

    The third result is a website called “all about philosophy”, with an atheism tab. It seemed to be a legitimate philosophy website. But with a little bit of reading, and a little bit of brow furrowing, I check the drop down menu to “Journey” (which seemed an odd menu on a philosophy site). The third option down from “Journey” is “Creation”, which says, “Creationists are men and women who share a belief in God and a conviction that He created us and the world in which we live. Creation science, in its most general sense, is an effort to apply the scientific method to discover how God created the Heavens and the Earth.”

    And if one might think that is just a description of “Creationism” on a philosophy website, under the “Creation” menu, under “Discover”, it includes, “Is the Bible true?”… which says,

    “Is the Bible true? The Bible is a history book that’s supported by archaeology, and a prophetic book that has lived up to all of its claims so far. The Bible is a collection of 66 ancient texts written by 40 distinct writers over a period of approximately 1,600 years. The claim of divine inspiration may seem dramatic (or unrealistic to some), but a careful and honest study of the biblical scriptures will prove to be a profound undertaking! Start here… ”

    Several of these “philosophy” websites are little more than theistic propaganda masquerading as objective scholarship that just HAPPENS to show Jesus is Lord, the Bible is True, and Creationism is Science…if you read just a bit more into the website. Not that that is the case with SEP, but…

    Apparently many have contacted the SEP to update their definitions, at least.
    https://lastedenblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/atheist-vs-stanford-encyclopedia-of-philosophy/

    They seem to claim they are using the older usage of the word “atheism”. This seems rather disingenuous to me, as they attempt a justification for ignoring “theism as belief” and “atheism as nonbelief” by saying atheism is best understood in terms of theism, and theism is “best understood” as a claim that a god exists. Therefore, they say, atheism is best understood as the opposing claim that god does not exist. They are acknowledging these belief/nonbelief definitions, rejecting them based on “best understanding”, and that the “philosophical literature” pre-1972 (and pre- Anthony Flew’s usage) use “atheism” to mean the claim that god does not exist. NONE of this seems relevant to how actual people in the actual world today do, can, or could label themselves…which, to my mind, is anathema to philosophy itself.

    Since when do we have to use labels and ideas the way people did at least 47 years ago because that’s how most people, who were mostly theists, used the definition “in the literature” so long ago? This seems to be a tortured “appeal to OLD dictionary” fallacy.

  46. RationalismRules says

    @jacobfromlost
    I see what you’re saying, and I’ve re-read the SEP quotes in Honey Tone’s post.

    I said:

    The author isn’t denying the ‘belief’ meaning, they are just saying that philosophy isn’t concerned with it.

    I think I was wrong about that. They do seem to dismiss the ‘belief’ meaning by folding it into the ‘proposition’ meaning.

    I think what I’ve actually done is come up with my own clarification, and incorrectly attributed it to the SEP article.

  47. jabbly says

    Reading this thread just reminds me of why I’d prefer the term atheist not to exist. At best it just creates confusion and at worst it’s used as some sort of gotcha. I prefer to stick with I don’t believe in any gods as that’s a lot clearer as to what my view actually is.

  48. Ian Butler says

    My go to line is “I have no supernatural beliefs”. It doesn’t single out Gods for disbelief and says more about my belief system than simply calling myself an atheist.

  49. says

    @jabbly

    Reading this thread just reminds me of why I’d prefer the term atheist not to exist. At best it just creates confusion and at worst it’s used as some sort of gotcha. I prefer to stick with I don’t believe in any gods as that’s a lot clearer as to what my view actually is.

    I believe that’s Sam Harris’ attitude, too, he’d rather the term “atheist” not exist in the first place. There’s plenty of semantic confusion surrounding these topics. One common one that I’ve ran across is equating pantheism to atheism as though these were synonymous terms. They’re not. Tom Jump makes this same mistake. When I pointed it out to him, he retorted for me to go read SEP (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) which I have, I’ve read all the content relative to pantheism and panentheism.

    Pantheism is not a form of atheism, here’s Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on “pantheism”: The term ‘pantheism’ is a modern one, possibly first appearing in the writing of the Irish freethinker John Toland (1705) and constructed from the Greek roots pan (all) and theos (God). But if not the name, the ideas themselves are very ancient, and any survey of the history of philosophy will uncover numerous pantheist or pantheistically inclined thinkers; although it should also be noted that in many cases all that history has preserved for us are second-hand reportings of attributed doctrines, any reconstruction of which is too conjectural to provide much by way of philosophical illumination.

    A view that the cosmos as a whole is divine, that all is God is a declaration of God, and therefore contradicting to atheism. The only time atheism is mentioned in SEP is in the criticism of pantheism where Schopenhauer complains that “Pantheism is only a euphemism for atheism,” or when Dawkins says, “Pantheism is sexed-up Atheism.” This is because they don’t understand what pantheism is, they think pantheists are merely equating nature with God, and that’s not the case at all. To quote Spinoza, the most radical defender of pantheism, on pantheism, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg he states, “as to the view of certain people that I identify God with Nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken.” To think pantheists are equating nature with God is the most common misconception about pantheism.

  50. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Jimmy #49
    Looks like you avoided my questions from the last thread. Here they are again if you care to answer:

    I’ve read all of your threads here and most of the ones you’ve poster here from RatSkep but I’ve never seen you answer my fundamental question when proposed with a new hypothesis: So What?
    Why should care that your pet theory (perennial philosophy) is true? How does knowing it’s true effect my day to day life in any way? So what if all religions have the same “mystcial experiences” at the base? Even though I personally think that claim is false, My life literally wouldn’t be changed at all if it was true. Nothing you’ve proposed, if it were 100% true, would effect my atheism or decision making in any way. I’m just trying to figure out why I should care at all about this stuff.

  51. says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic I didn’t avoid your question. I was awaiting a response from heicart, but perhaps heicart was avoiding my question. If you’ve read the threads, as you’ve said, then I’ve already answered your question. You ask, “So, what?” Well, first of all, Perennial philosophy isn’t my “pet theory.” It’s been around for ages, it holds roots in Neoplatonism, and it’s the professionals which have found that these mystical states of consciousness are in accordance with the Perennial philosophy. So, if you cared about truth, then you might want to look into what the science has to say relative to these topics.

  52. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Jimmy #51
    Again, so what? There’s an infinite number of claims that may be true that have no bearing on my life. I can’t investigate every one. Why should I investigate yours? “Because it might be true” isn’t good enough if it being true doesn’t matter. Considering you’ve spent so much time researching this I’d assume it’d be trivial to explain why you devoted that time to this and not something else.

  53. says

    @AtheistAgnostic

    Again, so what? There’s an infinite number of claims that may be true that have no bearing on my life. I can’t investigate every one. Why should I investigate yours?

    If you’re not concerned with truth, then it’s completely okay to have a “so, what?” attitude towards it. Just as your life really isn’t affected by it, truth is not affected by your “so, what?” attitude.

    “Because it might be true” isn’t good enough if it being true doesn’t matter.

    I don’t think it might be true. In religion, it’s regarded as “ultimate truth,” and that’s why these professionals have recognized that these mystical states of consciousness are in accordance with the Perennial philosophy. That is to say, the highest mystical vision is one and the same at the very core of the major religions, and each of the major religions has a word to point to it. That’s what the science has established, and it really wouldn’t affect your life unless you actually had a “complete” mystical experience for yourself. This is a life-changing experience, and yes, you can definitely avoid it, but what I’ve attempted to express here with no avail is that by avoiding it is the only way to maintain your atheism.

    Considering you’ve spent so much time researching this I’d assume it’d be trivial to explain why you devoted that time to this and not something else.

    Because I’ve actually had this experience for myself, and that laid the basis for my initial interest in studying the world’s major religions. Prior to that, I was agnostic/atheist with a slight interest in philosophy, but after this experience, it became a much more of a major interest into philosophy and the major religions.

  54. AtheistNotAgnostic says

    @Jimmy #53
    I am concerned with truth but like I said, so many claims, so little time. I appreciate your response, but since it’s just the same stuff copied word for word from your bank of canned replies, I don’t think I’m going to get anything more out of a conversation with you. If you know of any short “intro” clips to your position that will help me get acclimated to it I’ll give them a listen.

  55. Honey Tone says

    jacobfromlost & RationalismRules:

    Thanks to both of you for attempting to make sense of SEP article and the sections that most puzzled me. Repeated reading of the article convinces me that it contains biases I wasn’t expecting in an endeavor associated with such a highly regarded educational institution, including a bias toward the existence of a god of some kind. Oh, well, live and learn.

    It’s intellectually dishonest to insist on converting a lack or failure of belief into an affirmative position statement (no god[s] exist). Any god proposition involves belief, and the proposition must first be established before non-belief can be tasked with the need to justify itself.

    jacobfromlost :

    They seem to claim they are using the older usage of the word “atheism”. This seems rather disingenuous to me,…

    Not just disingenuous – it’s directly contrary to the avowed purpose of the SEP as stated on its first web page. SEP bills itself as “a work that organizes scholars from around the world in philosophy and related disciplines to create and maintain an up-to-date reference work.” Yeah, sure.

    Like many others here, I chafe at the idea that atheists should have a label, but it’s the reality we live in, being vastly outnumbered by believers. But, despite how they define us, we can steer the debate/conversation to our actual positions.

    When I get in a discussion I try to get the believers to do most of the talking, because people love talking about themselves. If I get asked if I believe in “God” my first response is always to ask which one, and then somewhere in the conversation I let them know I’ve never experienced anything that might be considered supernatural, metaphysical, spiritual, god-like, religious, whatever. Then we move on to what they believe, and I basically try to get them to explain why they believe and how they attain a level of certainty that makes their beliefs comfortable to them. It’s in that ebb and flow that (I hope) I communicate why I can’t believe what they do, and that there is a different perspective from the one they are using.

  56. says

    @AtheistNotAgnostic

    I am concerned with truth but like I said, so many claims, so little time. I appreciate your response, but since it’s just the same stuff copied word for word from your bank of canned replies, I don’t think I’m going to get anything more out of a conversation with you.

    I didn’t copy and paste anything here, by the way. Sure, I’ve rephrased it I don’t know how many times among these threads, the one that you’ve referred to as coming from “canned replies” is just a nutshell way to put it. Of course, these things are much more complex than that. I consider Terence McKenna one of the most articulate speakers when it comes discussing these type of experiences, and even he has said, “No one has coined the perfect metaphor.” He was, of course, including himself in that statement. William James also concluded that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such. So, as I’ve pointed out to many of the participants here in these threads, the most convincing factor in all of this is essentially your own potential to engage a “complete” mystical experience. If you truly wanted to challenge your atheism and your understanding of truth, undergoing a “complete” mystical experience for yourself would definitely do that. If you’re simply going to sit around and tell others that the burden of proof is upon them, as though some theist is going to come along and intellectual convince you that this is so, then that’s false skepticism. You’re not really concerned with truth, then.

    If you know of any short “intro” clips to your position that will help me get acclimated to it I’ll give them a listen.

    I’ll mention a couple. I’ve done an excerpt of Wilber’s “Up From Eden” which I’ve posted in the thread for the first episode this year which you’ll find linked here for post 173. Eknath Easwaran is pretty succinct, but he’s a bit dry. There’s not much humor in his lectures. You’ve got to leaven it with humor like Sadhguru, I just recently came across this guy, but he has a very interesting way of articulating it that’s quite comical and an enjoyment to listen to.

  57. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    The author of that SEP article coined Skeptical Theism in 1996 to rebrand the “mysterious ways” excuse, which itself was straight out of the bible.

    As originally proposed by the agnostic Purdue Philosopher Paul Draper the position argues that human cognitive faculties should be insufficient to permit drawing inductive inferences concerning God’s reasons or lack of reasons for permitting perceived evils.
    […]
    Skeptical theism provides a defense against the evidential argument from evil, but does not take a position on God’s actual reason for allowing a particular instance of evil. The defense seeks to show that there are good reasons to believe that God could have justified reasons for allowing a particular evil that we cannot discern.

  58. jacobfromlost says

    @Compulsory (and others…) Sean Carroll makes the best argument I’ve ever heard anywhere about anything, and it just so happens to be for naturalism and against a creator god. He ends his argument with…

    “I know what your thinking. You’re thinking, ‘But I can explain all of that.’ I know you can explain all of it. So can I. It’s not hard to come up with ex post facto justifications for why God would have done it that way. Why is it not hard? Because theism is not well defined. That’s what computer scientists call a bug, not a feature.”

    If anyone is interested, it is right here. I tried to embed the time in the link, but if it doesn’t work, it is at 4:38 (to skip over 4 minutes of William Lane Craig’s nonsense):

    https://youtu.be/MxQOsN046HQ?t=278

  59. Ronald Kyle says

    @#53 Kafei says

    the only way to maintain your atheism

    The only reason one needs to become an atheist is to open one’s eyes and remove the pall of benightedness off of one’s brain and be intellectually honest and rational and able to think… assuming there are grey cells still remaining that have not been consumed by the religion parasite and excreted back out to rattle in the skull in lieu of brains.
     
    God concepts + Reality as we can rationally and unprejudicially see it without blinkers on the brain ==> Paradoxes ==> Gods are irrational delusions.
     
    Or reality could be the delusion ==> gods are still a delusion anyway since the whole thing is a delusion in the first place.
     
    Ergo… gods are a delusion
     
    I.e. Cogito ergo Deus falsus est

  60. says

    @Ronald Kyle

    The only reason one needs to become an atheist is to open one’s eyes and remove the pall of benightedness off of one’s brain and be intellectually honest and rational and able to think… assuming there are grey cells still remaining that have not been consumed by the religion parasite and excreted back out to rattle in the skull in lieu of brains.

    God concepts + Reality as we can rationally and unprejudicially see it without blinkers on the brain ==> Paradoxes ==> Gods are irrational delusions.

    Or reality could be the delusion ==> gods are still a delusion anyway since the whole thing is a delusion in the first place.

    Ergo… gods are a delusion

    I.e. Cogito ergo Deus falsus est

    Then, you’ve entirely missed the point I was getting at there. You see, there is nothing that you know about God that is God. There is no idea of God that you can entertain that is God. There is no possible thought that you can have about God that is God. It makes no difference what your idea may be or what your concept may be, it remains an idea or a concept, and an idea or a concept is not God. And so every person must eventually realize that he has to rise above all his concepts of God before he can have an experience of God. That’s why the mystics of the west emphasize contemplation or henosis and in the east, meditation. Even in the research I’ve cited, one of the six necessary components is this feature of the sense of “having transcended time and space” where Matt attempted to criticize as “time dilation.” No, that’s not at all what I’m talking about, what is being emphasized here is a very literal impression of there being no time at all within a phenomenon in consciousness. I manage to make it on Truth Wanted recently to discuss this, and for the first time on these atheist live streams, I wasn’t hung up on.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    William James also concluded that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such. So, as I’ve pointed out to many of the participants here in these threads, the most convincing factor in all of this is essentially your own potential to engage a “complete” mystical experience

    This is a hallmark of woo and con jobs and ONLY woo and con jobs.

    If you truly wanted to challenge your atheism and your understanding of truth

    Normally, I would say that your failure to understand that all your bullshit is irrelevant to atheism is your greatest, but you have consistently managed to outdo yourself.

    There is absolutely no evidence that a “mystical experience” has any bearing on “truth” or “the fundamental nature of reality” or anything else of that nature. There is only evidence that it’s something that happens inside your brain. That’s it. Full stop.

    You see, there is nothing that you know about God that is God. There is no idea of God that you can entertain that is God. There is no possible thought that you can have about God that is God

    This is merely your opinion (more like a parroted opinion, since you don’t seem to have original ideas) and is a total rejection of rational empiricism, skepticism, and the whole scientific enterprise. You won’t find friends here. That you continue to act shocked at being hung up on and dismissed is indicative of a failure on your part among many others. What’s even worse is that you seem to think of this adversity as evidence that your ideas have merit, which is exactly how every conspiracy theorist sees their bullshit.

    And so every person must eventually realize that he has to rise above all his concepts of God before he can have an experience of God

    You made up shit to dismiss this analogy last time, but sticking a fork in an electrical socket does not enhance our actual understanding of electricity, nor is it necessary.

  62. Ronald Kyle says

    @#60 Kafei says

    You see, there is nothing that you know about God that is God. There is no idea of God that you can entertain that is God. There is no possible thought that you can have about God that is God.

    Ah… but you are special and can have ideas that are god???
     
    This is exactly what charlatans are wont to saying… you my dear chump are nothing but a quack!!! Or a self-deluded dimwit.
     

    And so every person must eventually realize that he has to rise above all his concepts of God before he can have an experience of God

    Yes.. yes… you are the gnostic one … wow… you are using 2000 years old poppycock and gobbledygook… you are peddling trite hackneyed claptrap that has been hawked long before you by thousands of grifters and their duped.

     

    … mystics of the west…. the east…

    Goodness gracious… what pathetic hoodwinking… you are peddling nothing but ancient skullduggery and think that you have come up with a new product…. either you are an ignoramus who does not know that you are only repackaging hacky haggard twaddle … or you are a pathetic hustler who is hoping that your hucksterism will pass muster with the ignorant fools you are hoping to hook.
     

    ….what I’m talking about, what is being emphasized here is a very literal impression of there being no time at all within a phenomenon in consciousness. I manage to make it on Truth Wanted recently to discuss this, and for the first time on these atheist live streams, I wasn’t hung up on.

    You either do not know because you are a total dimwit… or you know and are an arrant swindler… but your blather is abject nonsense that has absolutely no substance or significance, as has been demonstrated by the scores of charlatans throughout the millennia whose exact same flimflam has been irrefutably exposed as nothing but mephitic bunkum.

  63. anti religion says

    I think it is stupid for religious people to try to prove that God is real. No religious person has ever proven to an atheist that God is real. It has never happened, and it never will.

  64. says

    @Monocle Smile

    his is a hallmark of woo and con jobs and ONLY woo and con jobs.

    What precisely is the con? What is exactly is the woo? Can you elaborate more than a simple accusation?

    Normally, I would say that your failure to understand that all your bullshit is irrelevant to atheism is your greatest, but you have consistently managed to outdo yourself.

    Y’ever thought there’s a reason for that? That you think I “outdo” myself each time? Have you considered that there may be something legitimate within the science I’ve cited?

    There is absolutely no evidence that a “mystical experience” has any bearing on “truth” or “the fundamental nature of reality” or anything else of that nature. There is only evidence that it’s something that happens inside your brain. That’s it. Full stop.

    This is called reductionism. Just because you see merely something happening inside the brain denies the fact that I spent emphasizing in the thread for the first episode and that is that this experience is also a fundamental transformation of perception, and your perception is not limited to that which is merely inside your mind, it encompasses how you view the external reality as well. This is known as metanoia in theology. I believe I’ve made this point before, but mystics who know that God is everywhere but is invisible to us due to our ego-centered nature, will find it easy to believe that a drug that occasionally obliterates the ego can also make God more visible.

    This is merely your opinion (more like a parroted opinion, since you don’t seem to have original ideas) and is a total rejection of rational empiricism, skepticism, and the whole scientific enterprise.

    The Perennial philosophy is nothing new, so of course, I’m no originator, but the point is no one else is. The Perennial philosophy has been around for millennia, and has implications towards this phenomenon of the mystical experience happening since perhaps time immemorial.

    You won’t find friends here.

    Not necessarily looking for friends here. Are you? Just looking for interesting discussions upon these topics.

    That you continue to act shocked at being hung up on and dismissed is indicative of a failure on your part among many others. What’s even worse is that you seem to think of this adversity as evidence that your ideas have merit, which is exactly how every conspiracy theorist sees their bullshit.

    What I’ve referenced is legitimate science. It doesn’t bother me that a small faction of people would rather ignore it. Einstein once said, “Religion without science is lame, science without religion is blind.” I would rephrase that to, “‘Science without religion is incomplete. Religion without science is naïve.” Stanislav Grof said, “Science is naïve if it doesn’t include these non-ordinary states of consciousness.” Of course, that’s what the neuroscience of religion is doing, and I don’t think there’s going to be any ceasing anytime soon unless suddenly WWIII happens or something like that.

    And so every person must eventually realize that he has to rise above all his concepts of God before he can have an experience of God

    You made up shit to dismiss this analogy last time, but sticking a fork in an electrical socket does not enhance our actual understanding of electricity, nor is it necessary.

    Why would you stick a fork in an electric socket? You know, Tracie and Matt told me something like this in a call once, Tracie said, “We all could sit in an electric chair, and we could all have the same experience.” Sure, it may be that electric chairs induce near-death experiences, of course, you may not live to tell the tale. And that’s how I’ve come to see the “complete” mystical experience, it’s basically having a near-death experience, only you live to tell the tale. In fact, this is how it’s expressed in Islam, the Sufis say “Fana” which means “to die before you die.” Of course, there’s also various degrees to which people have these experiences.

    To sort of elaborate on your criticism, Terence McKenna once asked, “How much we would understand about electricity if our method of studying it was to stand on top of high hills and wait to be struck by lightning. It seems to me that’s the position we’re in vis-à-vis UFOs.” It’s something that he said at a UFO conference once, but the point he was making from the perspective of seeing the UFO encounter as a psychedelic experience, quite literally so. He thought that UFO encounters may actually be instances where people released endogenous N,N-DMT. Perhaps someone may mistakenly assume that if they suddenly and unwittingly found themselves under the influence of DMT out of nowhere.

    Maybe that example is too far out for you. Let me tone it down a bit. Another analogy Dr. Bill Richards likes to use is the caveman who suddenly finds himself at the center of a busy metropolitan city, and he sees skyscrapers, planes, subways, smartphones, cars, etc. Then, he’s suddenly back in his cave, and his wife says, “So, what did you see?” And all he could do is croak and make gestures, and talk about how big and impressive it was, but his wife is not getting any clear picture of what actually happened. So, this experience is definitely like that, and that’s why it’s so hard to describe, and why people who haven’t had it have so much trouble finding the relevance. All those attributes that people give to the deity are inside that experience, the omnibenevolence, the omniscience, but it’s not an intellectual omniscience. It’s not as though you’re going to be able to understand partial differential equations afterwards, however, on the flip-side of that, if you already understand them, it may show you a new way to arrange them. The omniscience within the “complete” mystical experience is purely intuitive, and so as I told Matt Dillahunty before, I believe people along the way throughout history misconstrued the writings of mystics, who were having these temporary experiences of having a perception wherein which the vantage point was described as outside as space and time, just as the volunteers are describing today, they described an unconditional love, they described this perception of unity, of seeing God as One or omnipresent, etc. The majority of us lost track along the way, but the mystical traditions have been kept alive esoterically in the major religions and through shamanism, but as we lost track, we misconstrued the writings of mystics who were writing about the qualities and characteristics of these experiences, and then applied them to an anthropomorphic deity that is outside of space and time, instead of realizing it as a potential within ourselves.

    Anyway, I’m not sure if any of that will be understood, but I know it’ll be criticized.

  65. Ronald Kyle says

    @#65 Kafei says

    What precisely is the con? What is exactly is the woo?

    You saying that YOU know the way and others cannot unless they learn how to do so by following your recipe.
     
    Variations on this basic artifice have been devised by grifters and swindlers and charlatans and fraudster throughout the annals of human perfidy.
     
    Let me put it in terms you might fathom
     
    If I sell you a car and it won’t start, you ought to start suspecting something amiss if you have any common sense.
     
    If I tell you that it will only start after you clank on the engine with a spanner three times after having cleared your heart of all evil thoughts, you ought to suspect some sham if you are not an imbecile.
     
    What if you credulously follow the instruction and the engine still does not start? Do you still believe me when I tell you that you have not cleared your heart sufficiently or you did not clang on the engine with the correct spanner?
     
    Unless you are a total cretin you ought to ask for your money back at that stage… not go back to try to clear your heart even more fervently.
     
    So why is it that people are capable of applying common sense skepticism on such a transaction but not on the hawking of the gods skullduggery?
     
    And the more fascinating question is why would a flimflammer persist in repeatedly trying to swindle people on this forum when it is very evident that the marks he is trying to bamboozle are too skeptical to fall for his hucksterism???

  66. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    “It’s interesting that a lot of societies developed mechanisms of generating encephalopathy […] We’re gonna get you to go on your spiritual journey by giving you a drug that’s a hallucinogen, or by depriving you of nutrition for a couple of days, or putting you in a hot house until you get dehydrated. It’s funny, the reliable way to generate a bizarre experience is to make your brain not function properly.”
     
    -Steven Novella, Skeptics Guide Podcast #210

  67. says

    @Ronald Kyle

    You saying that YOU know the way and others cannot unless they learn how to do so by following your recipe.

    No, I never said that. I’ve repeatedly said that everyone has the potential for a “complete” mystical experience. It’s simply that most people, atheists and theists alike, have not had this experience.

    Variations on this basic artifice have been devised by grifters and swindlers and charlatans and fraudster throughout the annals of human perfidy.

    Sure, there’s been charlatans thoughout history. I don’t disagree with that.

    Let me put it in terms you might fathom

    If I sell you a car and it won’t start, you ought to start suspecting something amiss if you have any common sense.

    If I tell you that it will only start after you clank on the engine with a spanner three times after having cleared your heart of all evil thoughts, you ought to suspect some sham if you are not an imbecile.

    What if you credulously follow the instruction and the engine still does not start? Do you still believe me when I tell you that you have not cleared your heart sufficiently or you did not clang on the engine with the correct spanner?

    Unless you are a total cretin you ought to ask for your money back at that stage… not go back to try to clear your heart even more fervently.

    I don’t know how that relates, but if you’re talking about meditation, meditation definitely isn’t an easy discipline, especially if you’re a westerner who’s spent your entire life thinking thoughts. Meditation is the cessation of volition which is, of course, easier said than done.

    So why is it that people are capable of applying common sense skepticism on such a transaction but not on the hawking of the gods skullduggery?

    And the more fascinating question is why would a flimflammer persist in repeatedly trying to swindle people on this forum when it is very evident that the marks he is trying to bamboozle are too skeptical to fall for his hucksterism???

    I don’t think a “complete” mystical experience cares how much someone is skeptical, they’re going to experience the same phenomenon of which has been occurring in people since perhaps time immemorial which these researchers consider to be consistent with the Perennial philosophy, the notion that these experiences underlie the very core of all the major religions.

    Anyway, see you next thread.

  68. Ronald Kyle says

    @#68 Kafei says

    meditation definitely isn’t an easy discipline, especially if you’re a westerner who’s spent your entire life thinking thoughts. Meditation is the cessation of volition which is, of course, easier said than done.

    So what you are saying is that one has to stop thinking and give up control of one’s mind so that one can experience your repackaged hacky haggard claptrap about the god delusions.
     
    I am glad you admitted that… thanks… in other words you want people to stop thinking and relinquish control over their minds so that they can have delusions… and if they are not capable of doing that voluntarily you suggest they take mind numbing and brain smashing drugs so that they can have delusions… and these stupors whether self-induced or drug-induced you call god.
     
    Well… thanks for admitting that your god is a delusion… just like all the other god delusions throughout the chronicles of human benightedness.

  69. says

    @Ronald Kyle

    So what you are saying is that one has to stop thinking and give up control of one’s mind so that one can experience your repackaged hacky haggard claptrap about the god delusions.

    Alan Watts once said, “A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so this person is detached from reality and lives in a world of delusions.” That’s more along the lines of what I’m talking about.

    I am glad you admitted that… thanks… in other words you want people to stop thinking and relinquish control over their minds so that they can have delusions… and if they are not capable of doing that voluntarily you suggest they take mind numbing and brain smashing drugs so that they can have delusions… and these stupors whether self-induced or drug-induced you call god.

    Well… thanks for admitting that your god is a delusion… just like all the other god delusions throughout the chronicles of human benightedness.

    Just because you relinquish control doesn’t mean you’re going to fall into a delusion. In fact, meditation is like using the mind as a mirror so that it’ll accurately reflect reality as it truly is. By quieting the mind, all you’re doing is silencing the ego.

  70. Ronald Kyle says

    @#70 Kafei says

    Alan Watts once said… blah blah blah…

    Allan Watts was wrong and so are you… the one who thinks a lot is a thoughtful person who is thinking a lot… he is only divorced from reality if he is thinking stuff like you and Allan Watts… then maybe yes… he and you are better off not thinking.
     

    …meditation is like using the mind as a mirror so that it’ll accurately reflect reality as it truly is.

    No… no… meditation is looking inwards and blinding oneself to the outside reality.
     
    So if we are going to apply the mirror analogy then it is more like a kaleidoscope… reflection of a reflection of internal poorly stored mental illusions supposed to be representations of vaguely remembered neural analogue of what was previously inadequately sensed of reality.
     
    So that explains the psychedelic imagery and “thoughts” that “mystics” and “meditators” experience during meditation… nothing but kaleidoscopic distortions of poor recollections in the brain of inadequately perceived illusions of reality in the first place… and that explains a lot about their god delusions too.
     
    Imagine now if on top of looking at the above kaleidoscopic delusion you compound more distortions and hallucination of a smashed brain in a drug stupor… wow.. that would explain a lot about the insanity of the god delusion.

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