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Thread: Why Atheism Has a Bright Future

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baorn
    Atheists believe in God in the same way that paleontologists believe in dragons. They just call them euphemistic names and come up with their own dogmas about them. Redefinition of reality to suit bias is a common human trait. Shakespeare pointed out that a rose by any other name smells just as sweet.
    I agree, however religions are not content with you "just" believing in God. They are very keen on you following their rules and teachings, or you get burned at the stake (some times metaphorically, sometimes literally).
    The thinking man is agnostic.
    "Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want." (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

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    Senior Member Theunissen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingvaeonic
    Theists can provide "several proofs for their positions"? In other words, theists can provide several "proofs" of the existence of the god in which they believe? Really? And what might these "proofs" be?
    I'm astonished that you won't know about those Proofs, since they can be found so easily.

    Examples:
    Teleological Argument for the existence of God
    Ontological Argument for the existence of God
    First Cause argument / unmoved mover argument
    Contingency argument
    Argument from desire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jäger
    I agree, however religions are not content with you "just" believing in God. They are very keen on you following their rules and teachings, or you get burned at the stake (some times metaphorically, sometimes literally).
    The thinking man is agnostic.
    Most organized religions do require you follow their doctrine. Often do you ever wonder that people think they and their lives are so "special" that god/s even care about them? Life goes on and on with or without god/s, the only thing it gives people some comfort in feeling somebody or something actually care about them?
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    Abstract arguments are not proof! Where is the empirical evidence, i.e. proof, of the existence of any god or gods? Nowhere! When it comes to the existence of any god or gods, one needs hard, tangible empirical and conclusive proof. Your listed arguments are clearly not that! I am not convinced in the slightest of the existence of any god or gods. Show me the hard, tangible, irrefutable evidence! Show me any god or gods I can see with my own eyes! No! You cannot do that!
    Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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    Nope, abstract arguments ARE Proof. Otherwise you could also throw Mathematics and Logic out of the window.
    Demanding "empirical" evidence for non-material beings or concepts is a category mistake, hence a logical fallacy. But I doubt this matters too much to you, given that you have thrown out logic already. You are essentially a deaf man that demands visible proof for the existence of sound.
    If you were consequent you'd also have to throw out the scientific method, since it is also based on abstract arguments and makes several assumptions. For instance an orderly created universe were matter obeys the laws of nature. It also presupposes logic and intelligibility of the physical world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theunissen
    Nope, abstract arguments ARE Proof. Otherwise you could also throw Mathematics and Logic out of the window.
    I agree. I am glad you mentioned logic and mathematics, since their proof is only valid under a given premise. This premise can be false though, and even though the following proof is correct, the result will be false as well.
    Especially, Mathematics relies on Axioms (= unprovable assumptions).

    An example:

    1. Teleological Argument for the existence of God: this assumes design (as per definition) in the universe, and thus the designer follows.
    So what if I do not define "design" in the way theologists need it be to have it follow that the universe is a design?

    Incidentally, this is religion: a bag of definitions which are defined for the purpose of being true. It is tautologism.
    If I define a tea cup next to the moon as not measurable with current measuring instruments, and say that every 83652423th quantum jump results from this tea cup, I can bring you logical arguments and mathematical proof, that the tea cup must be there, and many many others.

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    While this is kinda funny, Theunissen did not respond to himself. I did.
    "Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want." (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jäger View Post
    I agree. I am glad you mentioned logic and mathematics, since their proof is only valid under a given premise. This premise can be false though, and even though the following proof is correct, the result will be false as well.
    Especially, Mathematics relies on Axioms (= unprovable assumptions).

    This is an interesting point; as it can function as an argument against or in favour of a belief in God. Kant considered the universality of the sciences to follow from the fact that they work: they appear to be true. Without being able to verify what the sciences tell us (because we cannot know the 'Ding an sich') we can still consider them to be 'true'.
    So I'm wondering what you, as an agnostic, think about his thoughts on the existence of God, which follows a similar line of reasoning. We cannot make any judgement about the existence of God, neither positive nor negative. But, given the nature of practical reason God has to exist in order for us to be ethical beings. The existence of God is a prerequisite for our ethical constitution. We have to assume the existence of God.
    To me this seems to be an answer that isn't theist in the traditional sense, as it abandons the (indeed tautological) attempts at logically proving the existence of God that were common in the Middle Ages, but it also isn't agnostic, because it does give grounds for a belief in God, rather than a disbelief, even though these grounds are not ontologically positive statements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernhard View Post
    We cannot make any judgement about the existence of God, neither positive nor negative. But, given the nature of practical reason God has to exist in order for us to be ethical beings. The existence of God is a prerequisite for our ethical constitution. We have to assume the existence of God.
    I do not follow why the existence of God is a prerequisite for our ethical constitution.

    I haven't read Kant (fully), so you need to elaborate.
    "Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want." (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

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    The idea stems from Kant's deontological understanding of ethics, i.e. ethics as duty. Ethical rules (imperatives) apply categorically, therefore the 'categorical imperative' is the center of Kant's ethics (or practical reason). This means that to act ethically correct is not about achieving anything external to the ethical rule. We obey the rule because it is our duty to do so. We do not act according to certain ethical standards in order to get something in return, in order to be liked by other people or even in order to be happy (which was rather the concern of ancient Greek, mostly aristotelian ethics). We act according to ethical standards because we have to, because it is our moral duty to do so as human beings. It is right for its own sake.
    Yet to live an ethically correct life is always a 'work in progress'. We are finite beings and we do not reach a moment where we are full ethical beings that are 100 percent just; where we reach a state of completion from which we can judge that we have acted right. Still, we act as if we will be, as if there were some position in eternity (the categorical imperative is not contingent after all) from where someone can judge our behaviour. This, says Kant, is God. God is postulated as a prerequisite for our ethical behaviour. In the same manner, there are two other postulates: Freedom and immortality (of the soul).

    The reason I brought this up is mostly its methodological relevance, not so much the argument itself (which hopefully I've done justice in explaining). The end result is an affirmation of the existence of God, but not as an ontological statement which according to Kant is impossible. After all, in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason he described the limits of reason and scientific statements and showed any rational argument that is supposed to prove the existence of God to be in violation of the rules of reason, thus being irrational and non-scientific. To me that seems to be an agnostic conclusion: there is nothing to rationally say about the existence of God. But in Kant's Second Critique (his work on ethics) he goes on to postulate the existence of God as necessary for our constitution as ethical beings, like described above. So he goes beyond an agnostic position and adopts a theist position, without grounding this position in scientific or logical reasoning and without even claiming it to be an ontological statement at all.
    Perhaps it would be a discussion of its own to what extent this is either a theist or still an agnostic position and of course the outcome of this discussion is completely dependent on whether one accepts Kant's ethical system. But again, the methodology behind it is an interesting third position in the debate between theists and atheists (or the agnostic, who is in between out of honesty).

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