Skip to main content

Topic: The Problem with Atheism (Read 126722 times)

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
The Problem with Atheism

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #125
Krauss is not my caricature, but of his own making. Or did you have something else in mind by straw men? What did I overlook? You keep accusing me randomly. I keep asking for examples, but none are forthcoming. I guess I will just disregard any such remarks from now on. Without proper examples, it's just hot air.

Well, here's a couple of specific examples.
https://thedndsanctuary.eu/index.php?topic=33.msg911#msg911
https://thedndsanctuary.eu/index.php?topic=33.msg2445#msg2445

In the first link you speak of "the physicist" as a generality, while apparently you only mean your particular interpretation of one physicist. In the second you write a giant wall of text based on barely reading one paragraph. It reminds me of what Dawkins wrote about The Selfish Gene.
Quote from: Richard Dawkins
Let me begin with some second thoughts about the title. In 1975, through the mediation of my friend Desmond Morris I showed the partially completed book to Tom Maschler, doyen of London publishers, and we discussed it in his room at Jonathan Cape. He liked the book but not the title. 'Selfish', he said, was a 'down word'. Why not call it The Immortal Gene? Immortal was an 'up' word, the immortality of genetic information was a central theme of the book, and 'immortal gene' had almost the same intriguing ring as 'selfish gene' (neither of us, I think, noticed the resonance with Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant). I now think Maschler may have been right. Many critics, especially vociferous ones learned in philosophy as I have discovered, prefer to read a book by title only. No doubt this works well  {viii}  enough for The Tale of Benjamin Bunny or The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I can readily see that 'The Selfish Gene' on its own, without the large footnote of the book itself, might give an inadequate impression of its contents. Nowadays, an American publisher would in any case have insisted on a subtitle.


Three questions:

- How did you arrive at this conclusion? (i.e. show that both halves of the statement have evidential support)
- What is a fact of nature? An example.
- If reason is ruled out, how do you detect facts of nature?

Reason is not ruled out.
Empiricism provides the anchor to reality and truth that unbounded reason does not. While contradictory is the wrong word, the fact that they restrain each other is precisely the point.


How does one arrive at such a conclusion? Seeing how you like to keep talking about physics, classical mechanics held out quite well, did it not? And Aristotelian physics held up quite well until Galileo. So if you really can't think of an example yourself, try on craters for size.

Which way is it? Simple or not? Make up your mind.

Is it simple or not to say that a particular color is red? If you said it unequivocally isn't, you'd be just as wrong as if you said it unequivocally is.

I have had my own phase of denialism, so I know somewhat what you mean here. Hopefully you understand me too: running away from answers won't make the answers non-existent.

Why is the sky blue? Apple pie. Oh, if only I could quit running so the answers would be all over me.

First, I have not detected any coherent philosophical system behind your statements. Ah, well, reading a bit about "enactivism" reveals why. In fact I shouldn't

If you say so. I find coherence with reality a tad more important than an alleged lack of internal coherence.

Second, your statement was "Simply put, the universe is not an object inside the universe". The concept of subject has everything to do with it, because, logically, inasmuch as the universe cannot be considered an object, it must be considered the subject.

I didn't say the universe can't be an object. The various parts that make up a plane can't fly, but you'd be wrong if you therefore concluded a plane can't fly. Ascribing the same properties to the universe as to an object inside the universe may very well be a category mistake. Wikipedia presents the somewhat cruder but perhaps clearer example of saying bananas are atheists.

Empirically, the object is that which is observed, and the subject is that which observes. The subject itself cannot be observed, but it cannot be denied either. Insofar as observation occurs, the subject is a logical necessity. Metaphysically it's at least half of reality. The problem with atheism is to deny or forget the subject. It's a serious thing to overlook a half of metaphysical reality.

The subject is a part of reality, not opposite from it. The subject is also an object.

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #126
According to my grammar classes, the subject can be "nobody" quite well.

And just who's doing the raining in "it's raining"? ;)

  • ersi
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #127

Krauss is not my caricature, but of his own making. Or did you have something else in mind by straw men? What did I overlook? You keep accusing me randomly. I keep asking for examples, but none are forthcoming. I guess I will just disregard any such remarks from now on. Without proper examples, it's just hot air.

Well, here's a couple of specific examples.
https://thedndsanctuary.eu/index.php?topic=33.msg911#msg911
https://thedndsanctuary.eu/index.php?topic=33.msg2445#msg2445

In the first link you speak of "the physicist" as a generality, while apparently you only mean your particular interpretation of one physicist.

No. In that post I had physicists in mind as a generality, what I consider as a regular physicist. I brought up Krauss when you expressed your disbelief that such physicists exist. Krauss is not a caricature to me. He represents ordinary physicists trapped in preconceived notions imposed on them by their own science. And this image of physisicts is not mine alone. There's growing body of philosophical literature about scientism. You are welcome to bring up someone who represents ordinary physicists for you, if Krauss seems a caricature for you.

In the second you write a giant wall of text based on barely reading one paragraph. It reminds me of what Dawkins wrote about The Selfish Gene.
Sorry, but did you have something to say about what I actually wrote? Not just the length, but the contents, you know... 

Three questions:

- How did you arrive at this conclusion? (i.e. show that both halves of the statement have evidential support)
- What is a fact of nature? An example.
- If reason is ruled out, how do you detect facts of nature?

Reason is not ruled out.
Empiricism provides the anchor to reality and truth that unbounded reason does not. While contradictory is the wrong word, the fact that they restrain each other is precisely the point.


How does one arrive at such a conclusion? Seeing how you like to keep talking about physics, classical mechanics held out quite well, did it not? And Aristotelian physics held up quite well until Galileo. So if you really can't think of an example yourself, try on craters for size.
So, reason is not ruled out. This means that in your statement "[An illogical leap in reasoning] might be detectable through reason alone, but [a fact of nature] unfortunately is not" you actually have reason operative in both cases, while physicality is operative only in one case. This in turn means that dualism or idealism is a more practical philosophical perspective than physicalism, yet you expressed your reservations towards Platonic or Cartesian outlooks. Coherence does not seem to be your strong point.

Which way is it? Simple or not? Make up your mind.

Is it simple or not to say that a particular color is red? If you said it unequivocally isn't, you'd be just as wrong as if you said it unequivocally is.
Okay. From a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant to colour red. Coherence is definitely not your strong point.

In the current meaning of simple, your examples are inappropriate to me. The question for me is not if colour red or a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant are simple concepts. The real question is if they are relevant concepts. I don't care how simple they are. I care what they are about.

I have had my own phase of denialism, so I know somewhat what you mean here. Hopefully you understand me too: running away from answers won't make the answers non-existent.

Why is the sky blue? Apple pie. Oh, if only I could quit running so the answers would be all over me.
Resorting to irrationality when faced with facts of life undermining their world view is endemic among atheist physicalists these days. Vide Krauss. He is not the only example of course. Also, he is not a caricature. He is not a funny case to me. He is a sad case. I actually care about rationality. Rationality of scientists should matter more generally too, as a proof of quality of our civilisation or such.

First, I have not detected any coherent philosophical system behind your statements. Ah, well, reading a bit about "enactivism" reveals why. In fact I shouldn't

If you say so. I find coherence with reality a tad more important than an alleged lack of internal coherence.
I see. Yet another remark of the "coherence/rationality/truth is overrated" type. Yet coherence, rationality, and truth determine what reality is, not the other way round. If you think it's the other way round, then you can dedicate your life to the study of sky-scraper-sized pink elephants. As a joke or a dream-object, a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant is real enough, while coherence matters less according to you.

Ascribing the same properties to the universe as to an object inside the universe may very well be a category mistake.
Is this how you answer my point about the subject? By saying that mentioning the subject means ascribing the properties of the object to it? By implying that the subject just means the universe to you and consequently it's me making a category mistake? Coherence really is not your strong point, but I am already for a while under the impression that this is intentional.


The subject is a part of reality, not opposite from it. The subject is also an object.
The subject is a part of reality alright, but serves as a perfect example that not everything in reality is an object. The properties ascribable to them are a world apart. The object can be detected and observed, the subject only logically inferred. The subject is always conscious and alive, the object only sometimes, depending on the particular case or on the particular definition of conscious and alive. The object is an empirical reality in space and time with physical characteristics such as shape, size, etc., while the subject is a metaphysical reality with none of the physical features. By saying that the subject is also an object, you made a category mistake.

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #128
Sorry, but did you have something to say about what I actually wrote? Not just the length, but the contents, you know...

Quite simply, yet also rather surprisingly, you seem to have a hard time taking context into account. The few sentences I quoted did have a footnote or two in the form of the rest of the article. Most of your reply in essence regurgitated what he was responding to in the first place. Something similar applies to Russel's Teapot. It's part of a larger narrative, some of which I quoted to make that point. You then called it an awesome quote while both implicitly and explicitly rejecting that e.g the introduction might have much bearing at all on what followed.

This in turn means that dualism or idealism is a more practical philosophical perspective than physicalism, yet you expressed your reservations towards Platonic or Cartesian outlooks. Coherence does not seem to be your strong point.

I don't know if Cartasianism is more practical, although superficially it sure doesn't sound right. If mind and body are two distinct substances, and remember Descartes does support (pre)classical mechanics, how can they even act on each other? It sounds rather unpractical and incoherent. It stands to reason that Descartes was not incoherent and meant a logical distinction, i.e. different ways of describing what we experience, in which case it might be coherent and practical after all. But that aside. I suspect an enactivist-like reinterpretation of Descartes is hardly what you had in mind.

Much more important, what's practical and what's true are not the same thing. Of course something needs to be sufficiently true within certain parameters order to be practical, but that's a rather important distinction.

Okay. From a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant to colour red. Coherence is definitely not your strong point.

If the color analogy is such an incoherent shock without the inclusion of a giant elephant, just think of a pink elephant and a red elephant before you start thinking about when you'd start calling it one color or the other.

Resorting to irrationality when faced with facts of life undermining their world view is endemic among atheist physicalists these days. Vide Krauss. He is not the only example of course. Also, he is not a caricature. He is not a funny case to me. He is a sad case. I actually care about rationality. Rationality of scientists should matter more generally too, as a proof of quality of our civilisation or such.

Facts of life such as what? It's hardly my fault the answers I'm "running away from" consist of wishful thinking. Would I like to believe in kamma or some related concept? Of course! Do I like to feel cared for? Naturally. Would I like there to be easy answers? Occasionally.

I see. Yet another remark of the "coherence/rationality/truth is overrated" type. Yet coherence, rationality, and truth determine what reality is, not the other way round. If you think it's the other way round, then you can dedicate your life to the study of sky-scraper-sized pink elephants. As a joke or a dream-object, a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant is real enough, while coherence matters less according to you.

The Maxwell equations are incompatible with classical mechanics. I'm not completely sure how because I never went into those differential equations or what they represent in-depth; that's (mostly freshman-level) university-level physics. In any case, if you value coherence over accuracy, you'd be doing what exactly? Deny the way electromagnetism works just because it lacks coherence with your existing model? Stop investigating as soon as you've reached a coherent explanation for what you already know? My argument is that you should accept for now that things might seem somewhat incoherent, but everything that happened so far seems to indicate that you or someone else will figure out a way to make things coherent again in the future. And that will not happen by ignoring the facts.

NB By facts I don't mean one anomaly that seems to contradict a well-supported model, for that would be most likely to be some kind of fluke. If the anomaly is observed multiple times, however, it starts to become a problem.

As for the skyscraper-sized pink elephants, I believe whole branches of psychology already specialize in that sort of thing, not to mention theology departments.

While coherence matters less to me than truth, truth clearly doesn't matter much to you:
Quote from: ersi
Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: ersi
If you insist that this is circular logic or that the distinction is irrelevant, then I don't call you a moral relativist any more. I call you moral nihilist.

Neither of those labels bother me, although they no more than partially apply. Just because there are no intrinsic moral values doesn't mean we can't come up with objective, universal moral values.
If moral definitions only partially apply, then what is objective and universal to you? It's becoming clear that you do not bother with objective and universal values yourself. This means you leave it to others. Then it shouldn't bother you when I "come up" with the values for you, as I consistently demonstrate better capacity to formulate ethical principles.

You seem to think calling someone a moral nihilist is an insult or something. I don't. Now, what could it mean when something partially applies? Since we're talking about sex and gender already, we could superficially examine what makes up a woman. She's got bones, nipples, hands, a head, a mouth, feet, hair, a uterus, and a vagina. The attributes of a woman don't just partially apply to me; they mostly apply to me. Yet somehow, I'm not a woman.

Your ethical principles mostly deny reality, so unfortunately they are worthless insofar as they do even if they often come to the right conclusions. "Coming up" with values "for me" illustrates that you value neither accuracy nor truth sufficiently. If I had no values I'd have no values. I certainly wouldn't have your made-up values.

Is this how you answer my point about the subject? By saying that mentioning the subject means ascribing the properties of the object to it? By implying that the subject just means the universe to you and consequently it's me making a category mistake? Coherence really is not your strong point, but I am already for a while under the impression that this is intentional.

What part of the universe is not an object inside the universe is so hard to understand? It's not my fault you decided to ignore half the noun phrase. Moreover, it's your own definition of a subject that precludes the universe from being one: the universe has characteristics like shape, size, et cetera. All I'm saying is that to think the same facts necessarily apply to the universe as to an object inside the universe is quite likely to be a category mistake. And that's why asking what caused the universe may not be a meaningful question at all.

The subject is a part of reality alright, but serves as a perfect example that not everything in reality is an object. The properties ascribable to them are a world apart. The object can be detected and observed, the subject only logically inferred. The subject is always conscious and alive, the object only sometimes, depending on the particular case or on the particular definition of conscious and alive. The object is an empirical reality in space and time with physical characteristics such as shape, size, etc., while the subject is a metaphysical reality with none of the physical features. By saying that the subject is also an object, you made a category mistake.

True, I did phrase that inadequately. Nevertheless, it seems clear now that your subject ("always conscious and alive") is just a synonym for God.

Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #129

According to my grammar classes, the subject can be "nobody" quite well.

And just who's doing the raining in "it's raining"? ;)

A little bit off topic:
I'm not sure. In English, it seems that the subject is "it", while "it" is just a placeholder for an implicit inexistent subject. If I recall correctly, in German there's even a word for an inexistent subject: "es", so that the sentence would be like "'es' is raining", where "es" is a placeholder for an explicit inexistent subject. In Portuguese the sentence is constructed like "is raining": it just doesn't have a subject at all.
Finally, whether the subject can be inexistent, either implicitly or explicitly, or it can be "nobody", such a discussion about an object requiring a subject is pointless.

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #130
in German there's even a word for an inexistent subject: "es", so that the sentence would be like "'es' is raining",

That's not necessarily any different from "it". The child looks hungry; give it food. As you said the difference in both cases is that the antecedent is missing, but es is not a dedicated word. It's simply a neuter indeterminate pronoun. A construction like "The girl went shopping. It came home with a new hat."*  is quite ordinary. "She came home..." would be ungrammatical in this context.

* Das Mädchen ging einkaufen. Es kam Zuhause mit einem neuen Hut. Or something like that; I don't get to practice my German nearly enough.

Finally, whether the subject can be inexistent, either implicitly or explicitly, or it can be "nobody", such a discussion about an object requiring a subject is pointless.

You may have touched on something I overlooked. If an object was implicitly defined as needing a subject, rather than using those words descriptively to differentiate between our perceptions and what they relate to, that seems like it would be begging the question.

  • ersi
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #131

Sorry, but did you have something to say about what I actually wrote? Not just the length, but the contents, you know...

Quite simply, yet also rather surprisingly, you seem to have a hard time taking context into account. The few sentences I quoted did have a footnote or two in the form of the rest of the article.

The rest of the article is additional material, not context. The context is our discussion here and now, which is already massive enough to keep track of. Looks like we disagree on pretty much every new concept that shows up.

This in turn means that dualism or idealism is a more practical philosophical perspective than physicalism, yet you expressed your reservations towards Platonic or Cartesian outlooks. Coherence does not seem to be your strong point.

I don't know if Cartasianism is more practical, although superficially it sure doesn't sound right. If mind and body are two distinct substances, and remember Descartes does support (pre)classical mechanics, how can they even act on each other? It sounds rather unpractical and incoherent.

For practical purposes, Cartesianism sounds right enough. There's object and subject, body and mind. These are self-evident concepts. On the surface the system looks perfectly workable. In fact, it is workable, because e.g. sociology and psychology are based on this distinction. It works just fine. The question about how body and mind can interact is already going beyond the surface, but why would you go there? There's no reason to replace a workable concept system with something unworkable just to get rid of the interaction problem that presents no practical obstacles.

Here I don't really mean to defend Cartesianism (even though I would choose Cartesian dualism over materialist monism any day). This is just a point illustrating my bewilderment at your philosophical priorities. Namely, you place some obscure interaction problem above the general applicability of the concepts of body and mind, you get rid of the concept of mind, leaving just the body, and consequently ending up with highly distorted ideas about the subject. Why? How is this move practical, realistic, or true? These values don't seem to be guiding you here.

Much more important, what's practical and what's true are not the same thing. Of course something needs to be sufficiently true within certain parameters order to be practical, but that's a rather important distinction.

Yes, the distinction is important, but let's see you make some practical use of the distinction.

Resorting to irrationality when faced with facts of life undermining their world view is endemic among atheist physicalists these days. Vide Krauss. He is not the only example of course. Also, he is not a caricature. He is not a funny case to me. He is a sad case. I actually care about rationality. Rationality of scientists should matter more generally too, as a proof of quality of our civilisation or such.

Facts of life such as what? It's hardly my fault the answers I'm "running away from" consist of wishful thinking. Would I like to believe in kamma or some related concept? Of course! Do I like to feel cared for? Naturally. Would I like there to be easy answers? Occasionally.
How do you define wishful thinking? I suppose you will get as stuck here as when defining reality. You have not defined these crucial concepts, yet you have strongly entrenched opinions about them. This is how irrational minds operate, first get all fanatic/antagonistic about something, then later maybe, if ever, look what it actually is.

I see. Yet another remark of the "coherence/rationality/truth is overrated" type. Yet coherence, rationality, and truth determine what reality is, not the other way round. If you think it's the other way round, then you can dedicate your life to the study of sky-scraper-sized pink elephants. As a joke or a dream-object, a sky-scraper-sized pink elephant is real enough, while coherence matters less according to you.

The Maxwell equations are incompatible with classical mechanics. I'm not completely sure how because I never went into those differential equations or what they represent in-depth; that's (mostly freshman-level) university-level physics. In any case, if you value coherence over accuracy, you'd be doing what exactly? Deny the way electromagnetism works just because it lacks coherence with your existing model? Stop investigating as soon as you've reached a coherent explanation for what you already know? My argument is that you should accept for now that things might seem somewhat incoherent, but everything that happened so far seems to indicate that you or someone else will figure out a way to make things coherent again in the future. And that will not happen by ignoring the facts.
Agreed, but why are you contrasting coherence and accuracy? You see, in metaphysics, in logic, and in humanistic sciences coherence *is* accuracy.

In your example here, by coherence you seem to mean the internal coherence of the explanatory model, and by accuracy you mean the model's relation with observable facts. In physics these may have a variance, but in logic, concepts themselves are the only facts and, consequently, internal coherence equals accuracy. And what are we talking about here? We are talking about world views, philosophical systems, not some this or that empirical fact in isolation.

This is what I mean by coherence. When you understand the topic, then finally by the end of the day you may also be able to bring an example that is actually relevant to the discussion. And relevance is another aspect I have been emphasising along with coherence. A philosophical system may be internally coherent, but irrelevant due to, e.g. oversimplification, so that it's not applicable to a situation. This is so with any theory. No physical theory can explain e.g. the impact of a press release on the population. Why? Because physical theories are not about it. They lack the relevant concepts and dynamics. Your example from physics is simply not relevant. Accuracy in physics is different from accuracy in sociology and logic. In sociology and logic, accuracy is not about minute precision, but about relevant distinctions and nuances.

While coherence matters less to me than truth, truth clearly doesn't matter much to you: [snip]

You mean this bit: "Then it shouldn't bother you when I "come up" with the values for you, as I consistently demonstrate better capacity to formulate ethical principles." Do you notice how I put "come up" in quotes? Who was I quoting? I was quoting you! Looks like you have a hard time distinguishing mere rhetorical points from philosophical argumentation (this would explain why you think Russell's teapot is a philosophical argument, while in truth it would be pretty unfortunate for Russell if he really meant it this way). I am not into inventing values for other people to follow. This just demonstrates your incapacity to distinguish a rhetorical point from philosophical argumentation that really represents the opponent.

Also, without defining the concept of truth you are really not making any point of your own. You are not being convincing in your commitment to truth when truth remains undefined. Definitions are very important in our discussion, because we represent diametrically opposite points of view philosophically. The list of things that you don't believe in or that you think are worthless or where we disagree is long and serious already (reality, existence, matter, God, rationality, subject, context, accuracy). Now I have to see with astonishment that somehow you believe in truth. So, please define truth so that I can see what it actually is you believe in.

You seem to think calling someone a moral nihilist is an insult or something. I don't.
No, I didn't mean it as an insult. I meant it as an accurate description applicable to someone who is ready for wanton social engineering without considering the consequences.

Now, what could it mean when something partially applies? Since we're talking about sex and gender already, we could superficially examine what makes up a woman. She's got bones, nipples, hands, a head, a mouth, feet, hair, a uterus, and a vagina. The attributes of a woman don't just partially apply to me; they mostly apply to me. Yet somehow, I'm not a woman.

Your ethical principles mostly deny reality, so unfortunately they are worthless insofar as they do even if they often come to the right conclusions.

I see the literal point that man and woman share most organs yet man is man and woman is woman. Man and woman share most organs because they are of the same species, but they do not share the organs distinctive of their respective gender - which is what it means to be of different gender. This is all trivially true, so I have to ask why are you making this point and how does it relate to your statement about me denying reality. If it relates at all. In several ways, you are again making no point here. You are saying something trivially true in itself, but it relates to nothing else you are saying.

When you say "Your ethical principles mostly deny reality", what reality do you mean? Was my emphasis on the biological definition of family as the core reproductive unit of species somehow unreal? All along, there was no definition of family from you, so of course we had to go by my definition. How was my definition unreal? What is your definition of reality? If you mean the reality that you defined once as "independent from mind", then how do you arrive at any ethical principles independently from the mind (i.e. do ethical principles go under "reality" or not)? What is the reality that I am "mostly" denying? Examples and definitions, please, and be specific.

"Coming up" with values "for me" illustrates that you value neither accuracy nor truth sufficiently. If I had no values I'd have no values. I certainly wouldn't have your made-up values.
As I already said, this was a rhetorical point. Imposing values on other people is not what I would want to do. It's a simple thought experiment for you to consider: When you have no values, and considering that having no moral values is by itself often sufficient to get you in jail or in a lunatic asylum, and I assume you'd agree it is hardly demonstrative of any pragmatic life skills when you end up in those places, then why not, for practicality's sake, borrow some values from where they are readily available for learning and emulating? You don't have to borrow from me, but lacking values of your own, you'd have to borrow somewhere, anywhere. And, without values, who are you to say it's worse to borrow from me than from anyone else?

What part of the universe is not an object inside the universe is so hard to understand? It's not my fault you decided to ignore half the noun phrase.
I was not ignoring anything. I understand each and every word in line here, but they raise questions like: Why are they in line here? What is their purpose? How does it relate to the concept of subject?

It looks like your statement presupposes that the empirical universe is the only reality, there's no reality beyond it. This is a highly arguable preconception that you would do well to acknowledge. It would be nice of you to be open about your preconceived notions to yourself first, so you would not blame them on me, as you tend to do lately. It's important to make you aware of the presupposition embedded in your statement. You were supposed to be free from preconceived notions and I am all for being free from misinterpretations, misunderstandings and misrepresentations for both of us.

So, are you presupposing that the empirical/physical universe equals total reality? Yes or no.

Moreover, it's your own definition of a subject that precludes the universe from being one: the universe has characteristics like shape, size, et cetera.
By "one" you mean "object"? Is it again my fault when you fail to acknowledge the normal mainstream definition of the subject. You use your own nonstandard preconceived notions that turn the normal concept on its head, making it mean its logical opposite, and then you accuse me of a category mistake and redefinition? This is an especially queer form of projection.

The subject is a part of reality alright, but serves as a perfect example that not everything in reality is an object. The properties ascribable to them are a world apart. The object can be detected and observed, the subject only logically inferred. The subject is always conscious and alive, the object only sometimes, depending on the particular case or on the particular definition of conscious and alive. The object is an empirical reality in space and time with physical characteristics such as shape, size, etc., while the subject is a metaphysical reality with none of the physical features. By saying that the subject is also an object, you made a category mistake.

True, I did phrase that inadequately. Nevertheless, it seems clear now that your subject ("always conscious and alive") is just a synonym for God.
Right. So you know where this is heading, and you refuse to follow through with the logical conclusion due to your preconceived notion that "subject is just another object - must be!" But for me, when there's no logical or practical problem with the conclusion, then there's no problem with it, period. For all practical purposes, this is how it is.

  • Belfrager
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #132
Nevertheless, it seems clear now that your subject ("always conscious and alive") is just a synonym for God.

It seems in no way clear to me.

Regarding God, I see two possibilities, God as the definitive overcome of the logical cleavage subject/object or God as the demonstration of the non existence of object, everything being Subject.
Both would sustain the completeness and perfection of God but by two different ways.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #133
ersi, this has been fun, but it's starting to take up too much of my time and I don't think we'll get much more out of it for now. I'll try to keep things a lot shorter than I'm inclined to, which I hope will aid clarity rather than reduce it.

We do seem to disagree on a great many things. That might mean I was wrong to disregard your insistence on defining reality more precisely, although I still think I can't do much better than the two or three tentative definitions I already gave you, and even those come with a slew of explicit and implicit constraints. For instance, when I use the word mind I mean it as a description of the way we experience the world, and not as something separate from it. Next time I'll make sure not to imply the mind is separate from reality. Perhaps better than to define reality more precisely in isolation, I'll paraphrase what I already said about epistemology. That is, how we can learn about reality: our knowledge of reality is limited to that which we can perceive or indirectly derive from such through the appropriate use of reason.

Indeed, this means that an ant's experience of reality is not the same as our own. Through the use of reason, measuring instruments, analogies, etc. we might manage to form a reasonable approximation. I believe such an approximation can only be considered valid if we assume an independent reality that exists with or without a human or an ant to experience it. That is what I mean when I say that reality is that which occurs outside your mind, even if your mind is smack dead in the middle of it, and when I say reality is that which doesn't go away no matter how much you might want it to. Perhaps the Buddhist story There Is No Ego will illustrate better how I define mind.

As for the practicality of Cartesianism, I could refer to the quite practical and very recent advancements in neurosurgery that allow the removal of brain tumors without e.g. impairing the patient's speech ability, which was impossible even just a decade ago. I could talk about how stimulating certain areas of the brain can evoke sensations or disrupt certain higher functions, or how the brain seems to store memories rather than receive them. However, I don't believe I have to refer to the modern era in order to find this issue not very obscure at all, and I can simply refer to experiences common to (almost) all people who ever lived. After a hard day of physical activity, I'm generally not in the mood to read the likes of The Sound and the Fury, or to think particularly sophisticated thoughts. Why should my mind be tired when I only used my body?

Let's see, I seem to disagree with your definition of definition itself. That is, I often don't even see the need. If I say that a heterosexual couple and child are a family, a single parent and child are a family, and a homosexual couple and child are a family, I have implicitly already stated that, in the context of child-rearing, a family consists of at least one adult and one child. In both cases you should ask about particular concerns or unclarities if there are any. I'm not sure if this means that your definitions are more prescriptive while mine are more descriptive, whether it's more directly related to some kind Platonic idealism, or whether it's just an internalized philosophical reflex that's not always appropriate. (Regarding the definition of wishful thinking; there are websites that can explain what atheists tend to mean with such terms. A word of warning, that particular website might display some snarky humor. They also have an article on reality.)

In your example here, by coherence you seem to mean the internal coherence of the explanatory model, and by accuracy you mean the model's relation with observable facts. In physics these may have a variance, but in logic, concepts themselves are the only facts and, consequently, internal coherence equals accuracy. And what are we talking about here? We are talking about world views, philosophical systems, not some this or that empirical fact in isolation.

That's what I've been saying all along, isn't it? That's all perfectly fine, glorious even, so long as it's understood that philosophy is restricted only by our mental capacity, not by reality. The reality-check I keep going on about is what you off-handedly wiped under the table, even if elsewhere you speak of irrelevance due to oversimplification. Science, in contrast, is a specialized branch of philosophy which is restricted by reality.

You say that coherence is accuracy in the humanities, but I reject that because I can say the exact same thing about e.g. a grammar as I can about any other scientific model.

So, are you presupposing that the empirical/physical universe equals total reality? Yes or no.

I live my life under the assumption that physicalism in a broad sense is true, using what essentially comes down to Richard Carrier's definitions of natural and supernatural. Please do read the entire piece. However, that assumption is emphatically not embedded in what I wrote about the nature of the universe. My presuppositions about what can be meaningfully said about reality, of course, are.

I'll try to clarify more if you have any further questions about my views, but I hope to end the discussion by agreeing to disagree. If that's not something you wish to do, I'm afraid I'll have to leave you hanging. ;)

  • Frenzie
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Administrator
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #134
I split off the grammatical discussion.

  • ersi
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #135
So finally I have earned some kind of half-recognition with reference to lack of time. Thanks, Frenzie. I understand your constraints and I truly appreciate the time and effort you have put into the discussion. This must have become possible by means of a fair amount of sincerity. In return, I will try my best not to touch on your incoherence this time. Rather, let's note two common points that I think you agree we share.

Point #1. We both seem to be after truth. You have expressed your honest take on things as best as humanly possible and I hope you see that I did exactly the same, not something different. I am not distorting my stance. I am not making things up on the go. Everything I say is backed up by evidence, examples, and logical proof. We both do this because we are after actual truth, not some convenient half-explanations.

Point #2. We both seem to believe we are pretty close to some kind of final truth. We think we only require some minor revisions in our respective overall world views, if at all. This is a common point that drives us to disagreement. Still, it is a strong common point that could in its own way to help us surmount the differences, if we play it with some more humility, willingness to learn, and continued sincerity in the quest after truth.

...our knowledge of reality is limited to that which we can perceive or indirectly derive from such through the appropriate use of reason.

Glad to see that you have a place for "the appropriate use of reason" after all, even though the exact formulation of course calls for further clarification. To me it's self-evident that empirical knowledge about objects is not the only knowledge, and that it's actually the lowest kind of knowledge. The mind is so crucially indispensable in all interpretation, sorting and correlating of the sensory data, so that in the end of the day, zen-like statements like "all is mind" seem much less off target than the supposedly scientific but impermissibly reductionist "we are just atoms".

A trivial example. We have five separate commonly recognised sensory channels. Let's say we observe a barking dog. The vision operates through the eyes. What the eyes actually see is a dog opening and closing its mouth rhythmically. The eyes don't hear anything. It's ears, whole different organs, that do the hearing. But the mind correlates vision and hearing and concludes it's the dog barking, even though the eyes don't hear and the ears don't see the dog barking. There, already this trivial level is not free from the intervention of the mind. It's an example of inductive correlation, the simplest form of reasoning. And we both know how important it is to have this little mental function constantly operative in our everyday lives.

The same way as this example illustrates the vital importance of the inductive reasoning, I also award other mental operations, such as deduction and logical inference, a high place in the temple of knowledge and truth, a place far above mere sense-perception. Physical facts exist, but they are absolutely worthless without coherent logical organisation. Logic tells me, for example, that causality implies destiny (i.e. based on your potentials and the current situation you can calculate your likely future); broken destiny (such as a child's death or other fatal accidents) implies afterlife; broken destiny and afterlife together imply pre-life, and this way the logical support for the law of karma is complete. It's a law of nature, non-different from causality, and very relevant to us from moment to moment both in small time-scales and large. No wishful thinking involved at all.

I won't go into more details for now. It's good enough that we got as far as we got. It will be good to continue from here some other year or century or so.

Regarding God, I see two possibilities, God as the definitive overcome of the logical cleavage subject/object or God as the demonstration of the non existence of object, everything being Subject.
Both would sustain the completeness and perfection of God but by two different ways.
It's nice of you to uphold the transcendental view of God, but for us mere mortals the relative view is more accessible. Particularly when talking to atheists, the relative view is the only view that is likely to be given some thought by them. I don't deny that the path via the object, the empirical way can lead to the transcendental point of view in the end, but I don't believe it can be recommended with the same success as the path via the subject. Namely, the objects are far and wide, in innumerable confusing shapes, never as completely and immediately accessible as the subject. The subject, on the other hand, is always with us wherever we go, and it's always immediately accessible in its totality. This is why the path via the subject is the direct path, while the path via the object is a detour.

  • Belfrager
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #136
It's nice of you to uphold the transcendental view of God, but for us mere mortals the relative view is more accessible. Particularly when talking to atheists, the relative view is the only view that is likely to be given some thought by them.

Atheists will never give any attention to anything that shocks the illusion that they are in domain. That's why they reject any idea of God, they consider God to be some sort of feudal master idea and atheism something alike democracy, equality, non discrimination, gay rights, that kind of trendy illusions they like so much.
Curiously, they forget that many sinister and bloody regimes were exactly atheists.

The above introduction it's meant to remember that religion is not only the philosophical quest. In fact, for the majority of people all over the world, religion has nothing of philosophical. What atheists pretends to fight is the culture, tradition, rituals, organization and practices associated with any religion.
Philosophy, they have no clue about what it is and regarding spiritual aspects, they see it as pre-historic mambo jambo, an obstacle to modernity.

It's at the sociological, cultural and political field that theism and atheism clashes. In philosophy, I never saw any consistent defense of atheism.
  • Last Edit: 2013-12-30, 11:38:00 by Belfrager
A matter of attitude.

Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #137
Back to topic: The problem with Atheism.

Some nice insights have been given here. I'd like to address them.

But remember:

Pick any group of living humans that is non-trivial in size, you're guaranteed to find your share of idiots, psychos, assholes and so on. Why would atheists be any different in that regard?


1.
The Problem with Atheism is that they can never disprove the existence of God, so they attack everyone of faith with hate.

I don't see why this is a problem. Atheists don't have to disprove anything - unless required by some nutty theist. The inability to disprove the undisprovable isn't a bug - it's a feature.

2.
The Problem with Atheism is that hate is the only answer they have to the existence of God.

Hate? This can be applied to some nutty atheists, of course, but Atheism (if it exists at all) isn't about hate, and the existence of God isn't even a question that should be answered.

3.
The concept of immaterial is worth taking seriously.

This one has taken a lot of posts. In my point of view, the concept of immaterial isn't necessarily denied by atheists; they just don't see a reason to take it seriously, or even to take it at all. When someone comes up with arguments that the "immaterial" should be taking seriously, some problem arises.

Personally, I don't deny that something immaterial - or God, or gods - COULD exist, and I obviously can't disprove such things; but I have reasons to personally believe that they don't exist at all. This doesn't apply to all atheists, or agnostics, or whatever.

  • Banned Member
  • [*]
  • Banned
Re: The Problem with Atheism
Reply #138
    The Problem with Atheism

    The author should demonstrate, that

    • there IS a problem
    ,
    • there is only one problem
    with - what? - atheism.
    [/list]Because otherwise, there can't be any "the" in the title.
    Am I ?

    • Frenzie
    • [*][*][*][*][*]
    • Administrator
    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #139
    This one has taken a lot of posts. In my point of view, the concept of immaterial isn't necessarily denied by atheists; they just don't see a reason to take it seriously, or even to take it at all. When someone comes up with arguments that the "immaterial" should be taking seriously, some problem arises.

    Oh, but I do take metaphysics quite seriously. Metaphysics is what you infer from what you think science has proved. As ersi said, "You use [metaphysical concepts] daily and they are indispensable." However, I have an issue with ersi's use of the word "immaterial" to describe metaphysics, because I hold metaphysical naturalism to be true.

    Am I ?

    Nope. :P It's short for the most important problem, not the only problem. The problem with fishing in the wrong time of year is that you're severely diminishing next year's population, but problems like destroying the bottom of the ocean remain no matter when you fish.

    • ersi
    • [*][*][*][*][*]
    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #140

    Atheists will never give any attention to anything that shocks the illusion that they are in domain.

    No need to be too dismissive. The same way as most religious people are religious simply out of convenience or inertia, atheists also are mostly people who haven't given these matters any deeper thought. Every thinking person experiences a few events in life that shake her out of complacency and provide another point of view to the way of life and the order of things. A small realisation, an experience of a broader perspective is in store for all of us.


    In philosophy, I never saw any consistent defense of atheism.

    Now, this is quite true, and this implies that atheists are unphilosophical, i.e. haven't given any deeper thought to the basis and implications of their own world view, exactly as I said. Another example is right here:


    The concept of immaterial is worth taking seriously.

    This one has taken a lot of posts. In my point of view, the concept of immaterial isn't necessarily denied by atheists; they just don't see a reason to take it seriously, or even to take it at all. When someone comes up with arguments that the "immaterial" should be taking seriously, some problem arises.

    Personally, I don't deny that something immaterial - or God, or gods - COULD exist, and I obviously can't disprove such things; but I have reasons to personally believe that they don't exist at all. This doesn't apply to all atheists, or agnostics, or whatever.

    You say that gods COULD exist, you can't disprove them, but you still don't believe they exist. If you were an investigative skeptic, you'd keep inquiring until a proper solid answer is found, instead of staying at mere belief. For the enquiry to be meaningful, you can't presuppose that gods depend on your belief. It's the other way round: Gods reveal themselves to you (or not) as they please, regardless of your beliefs. Gods may have mercy on you and show themselves when you investigate seriously enough.

    There's nothing extraordinary in this view. It's so with all reality, all facts: Reality is what it is regardless of popular belief. Reality reveals itself for those who undergo thorough enough investigation. In any scientific or skeptical enquiry, if you mean to find out the true answer, you consider your hypothesis as a fact and investigate it as such, seriously and conscientiously.

    When you take sides based on mere belief, your stance does not fulfil even the scientific criteria, not to mention the philosophical criteria, which are stricter, though also subtle enough so that they are useless to explain to someone who doesn't care to pay attention. As Belfrager said, there's no philosophical defence for atheism. Atheism is only a hasty generalisation from the failure to detect a skydaddy, flying spaghetti monster or cosmic teapot.

    May the next year bless your quest for truth.


    • string
    • [*][*][*][*][*]
    • Forum Staff
    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #141
    Apart from daydreams, where is the evidence for the existence of a god, let alone gods?
    • Last Edit: 2014-01-01, 14:44:33 by string

    • Frenzie
    • [*][*][*][*][*]
    • Administrator
    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #142
    Here's a video that might be relevant to this thread: Is Philosophy Stupid?

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #143
    If you were an investigative skeptic, you'd keep inquiring until a proper solid answer is found, instead of staying at mere belief.

    I was an investigative believer, and no proper solid answer was found. Enough for me.
    In any scientific or skeptical enquiry, if you mean to find out the true answer, you consider your hypothesis as a fact and investigate it as such, seriously and conscientiously.

    I think it's the other way around: you consider your "fact" as a hypothesis and investigate it to see if it works out as a fact (I'm not speaking too strictly here, just to show the idea).
    Happy new year!
    • Last Edit: 2014-01-02, 12:10:14 by Barulheira

    • Belfrager
    • [*][*][*][*][*]
    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #144
    Bah...
    Theism/Atheism is not a matter of "investigation" but about how we were born.
    Destiny it's what counts.
    A matter of attitude.

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #145
     
    Theism/Atheism is not a matter of "investigation" but about how we were born. Destiny it's what counts.

    I was born head first, feet last. Is that the sign of an atheist?  ;D

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #146



    See? when atheists don't speak, there's absolutely no problem with atheism... :)

    Isn't this valid for both directions? :)

    Valid in any direction if you don't have anything to support your position.

    There's nothing under the sun that can meaningfully support any religious position, and the same is true of atheism, agnosticism and drink preferences.

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #147
    Roughly speaking, agnosticism is the lack of faith, that is, the lack of something... = nothing. There's actually nothing to support. Hence, this is the simplest "religious" position.

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #148

    Theism/Atheism is not a matter of "investigation" but about how we were born. Destiny it's what counts.

    I was born head first, feet last. Is that the sign of an atheist?  ;D


    That would make most people atheists.  Hmmmmmm.....
    When I was born, I didn't know anything about religion. As is true for every other human being.  Does that mean anything?

    Re: The Problem with Atheism
    Reply #149
    That would make most people atheists.  Hmmmmmm.....When I was born, I didn't know anything about religion. As is true for every other human being.  Does that mean anything?

    Perhaps, but as any religionist will tell you, the Spirit of the Lard was watching over you at that time and all the way back to fertilization.