The God Delusion

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The God Delusion

Postby Brandon » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:15 pm

I just finished reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. To be frank, I saw nothing really new. It consists, as far as I can tell, of the same old arguments against the existence of a theistic creator deity. Overall, it is an interesting read if you want to better understand the arguments of the militant atheist as explained by one of their most intelligent members. Peace.
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

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Postby mattchand » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:15 am

I understand that University of Notre Dame philosophy prof Alvin Plantinga was a tad underwhelmed by Dawkins' latest.
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Postby Rich Douglas » Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:51 am

Why bother "proving" a non-existing phenomenon? (Even through philosophical argument.) The onus is on those who propose that such supernatural beings exist. I'll wait until they can provide sufficient support for their hypothesis. (Which I would find absolutely thrilling.)
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Postby Siniestro » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:36 am

Rich Douglas wrote:Why bother "proving" a non-existing phenomenon? (Even through philosophical argument.) The onus is on those who propose that such supernatural beings exist. I'll wait until they can provide sufficient support for their hypothesis. (Which I would find absolutely thrilling.)


Ha! I was thinking the same... :lol:

They have problems acepting evolution theory, Big bang or quantum mechanics but find absolutely reasonable that Adam and Eve story, among thousand others.

I think we are living now a postmodern, nihilist world as every one knows since Nietzsche. Now find arguments to contradict him and making us believe in that God.

Let's suppose there is no god, etc. and let's look at religion history, how the whole thing started (I think they first had fertility gods in Mesopotamia and Egypt, not sure how it was in prehistoric times) and look into what it has developed. What does it say about us as a species? :oops:
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Postby Brandon » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:06 pm

Actually, if I am not mistaken, the burden of proof falls on anyone making a claim. So, if one says that God does not exist, they are obligated to prove that claim. If one says that they are not convinced that God exists, no burden of proof falls on them. Something about positive and negative assertions or some darn thing. I don’t really remember.
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

- 1 Peter 5:8

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Postby Jonathan Whatley » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:15 pm

This is why I am an empirical agnostic.
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Actually no

Postby DTechBA » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:11 pm

Brandon wrote:Actually, if I am not mistaken, the burden of proof falls on anyone making a claim. So, if one says that God does not exist, they are obligated to prove that claim. If one says that they are not convinced that God exists, no burden of proof falls on them. Something about positive and negative assertions or some darn thing. I don’t really remember.


Actually, you are incorrect in that the burden of proof rests on anyone making a claim. The burden of proof generally rests only on those making a claim of somethings existence, be it a physical existence or a theory. The evidence for a nonexistence is already present as it has not yet been proven to exist in the first place. The argument that someone must prove non-existence is actually a very common fallacious argument.
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Postby Siniestro » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:30 pm

DTechBA, actually Brandon is right. There is a fallacy called "argument from ignorance" which takes place when it is argued that a propositition (that God exists, that God doesn't exist, existence, non existence, whatever) is true (or false) because it hasn't been proved false (or true). So if one argues that there does not exist God because it hasn't been proved his existence then that is a fallacy of this type. If someone makes a proposition. And you are actually falling in this type of fallacies by stating that "evidence for a nonexistence is already present as it has not yet been proven to exist in the first place." Conversely, the type of error could be someone saying UFOs exist because they have never been disproved. Brandon is right in saying that burden of proof falls on anyone making a proposition, whatever proposition even it is trivial.
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Postby Siniestro » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:33 pm

Jonathan Whatley wrote:This is why I am an empirical agnostic.


I like your views, Jonathan. From the link you added (very interesting, thanks!):

Simply, if a person makes a statement A and claims that it is true, then he must prove that it is true. Similarly, if another person makes a statement A' (not A) and claims that it is true (or rather A is false), then he too must prove that it is true (or A false).

Which shows that Brandon is right.
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Postby SteveFoerster » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:50 pm

Siniestro wrote:Which shows that Brandon is right.

Doesn't it show that they're both right, i.e., that whether you assert that there is a god or asset that there is no god that as the one making the assertion you've assumed a burden of proof?

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Postby Johannes_Kostaja » Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:53 pm

Jonathan Whatley wrote:This is why I am an empirical agnostic.


I would make a further distinction between subjective weak agnosticism and intersubjective weak agnosticism. The former just states that the view "the existence or nonexistence of deities is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable" as describing his or her own thinking on the matter, whereas the latter makes the further claim that such view can be demonstrated to be the most rational position, given the current evidence. The latter view would thus need to bear its own share of the burden of proof.

PS. I see no good reason to call the view in question empirical agnosticism, as the view could be adopted by a non-empiricist as well.
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Postby Siniestro » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:08 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Siniestro wrote:Which shows that Brandon is right.

Doesn't it show that they're both right, i.e., that whether you assert that there is a god or asset that there is no god that as the one making the assertion you've assumed a burden of proof?

-=Steve=-


I don't think so. He stated that The evidence for a nonexistence is already present as it has not yet been proven to exist in the first place. That is the falacy I was referring to. He proves nonexistence by stating that existence hasn't been proved yet, an argument from ignorance (not to call anyone an ignorant, just that this type of fallacies take place when there is very little knowledge to verify a proposition. In any case, my two cents. There are here philosophers who could probably clarify it for us.
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Postby Hungry Ghost » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:27 pm

Siniestro wrote:They have problems acepting evolution theory, Big bang or quantum mechanics but find absolutely reasonable that Adam and Eve story, among thousand others.

I don't think that religous beliefs are typically held because of evidence or logical proofs.

Evidence and proof enter subsequently when need is felt to justify beliefs that were already held for very different reasons. Proof and evidence serve as rhetorical tools in defending beliefs against disbelief and as an evangelical tool that hopefully will convert the unbelievers.
Let's suppose there is no god, etc. and let's look at religion history, how the whole thing started (I think they first had fertility gods in Mesopotamia and Egypt, not sure how it was in prehistoric times) and look into what it has developed. What does it say about us as a species? :oops:

All known cultures, everywhere in the world, in every historical period, have had some kind of religion. Religion is almost a much of a human universal as speech. But the nature of that religion is amazingly diverse. Beliefs and practices take almost any imaginable form, somewhere on earth.

That creates problems of definition. Is there one thing, religion, that takes many forms? If so, then it probably makes sense to ask what the essence of religion is. Or should the word 'religion' be understood nominalistically, as a set of family-resemblances, where nothing in common is shared by all of the instances?

Whatever the answer is to that, belief in this "God" entity doesn't seem to be necessary. There are plenty of religons out there with multiple gods, mortal gods that rise and fall from the human state, abstract and impersonal transcendental principles and even flat out atheistic religions that still promise some kind of salvational changes.

At the minimum, religion seems to tell us that there's something incomplete or wrong about common-sense reality. It's influenced by hidden occult powers whether small or great, many or one. Or perhaps the world might be perceived as illusory somehow. Or perhaps there's some transcendent reality behind it, projecting it as if on a screen. Or another life beckons from beyond death.

Whatever, there are bigger plans and purposes at work than the mundane imperatives of daily life. There are nature spirits to placate and beseech. There's God's will and plan for creation to conform to. There's the inexorable wheel of karma and the ultimate goal of escaping it. There's the cosmic order to uphold, the will of heaven to satisfy.

And that implies that people should be behaving in ways different from everyday life here and now. They should be performing the traditional sacrifices. They should be practicing magic and consulting omens. They should be conforming to the revealed moral codes and precepts. They should be practicing spiritual disciplines and austerities.

I do sense that there's a subtle pattern to it, but I'm not sure what that pattern is, what it means or what explains it. Does religion fulfill valuable functions in human life and society? Does it point to something beyond itself, something real and transcendent? Or is it just some meaningless and conceivably disfunctional byproduct of our emotional and cognitive processes?
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Postby Crisper » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:27 pm

I suspect that any debate on these terms is not going anywhere. If both sides sit back and say the onus to prove is on the other side, then nothing of any interest will emerge.

Perhaps we could all accept the following:

1. Those who believe in (a) God are not going to be able to prove His existence using methods acceptable to scientific minds.
2. Those who do not believe in (a) god, are not going to be able to prove that he does not exist.

This leaves the more interesting debate about why one should believe or not.

For instance, I could put forward this opinion: the existence of a deity is not required to understand the world we experience, and therefore belief in a deity is not a reasonable position to hold.
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Postby Crisper » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:30 pm

Crisper wrote:I suspect that any debate on these terms is not going anywhere...


This is not a comment on HG's post, but to the earlier messages. I was working on mine, while HG was posting his. :oops:
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