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Old 02-10-2014, 11:22 AM
 
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Interesting interview in the NY Times.

Is Atheism Irrational?

What are your thoughts on the interview? What stood out for you? What points would you like to address?

Just food for thought. Enjoy!
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Old 02-10-2014, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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His argument against atheism is that the proper conclusion from absence of evidence is agnosticism, not atheism. That being the case, how does he justify his own theism? Accepting his argument, we should all be agnostics with both theists and atheist falling under the "irrational" umbrella.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
His argument against atheism is that the proper conclusion from absence of evidence is agnosticism, not atheism. That being the case, how does he justify his own theism? Accepting his argument, we should all be agnostics with both theists and atheist falling under the "irrational" umbrella.
If that's his main argument then he doesn't understand that the vast majority of atheists ARE agnostics. We keep going round and round about this, that there is much overlap between agnosticism and atheism and they are not mutually exclusive. The only time an agnostic is what this guy no doubt imagines they are, is when their level of doubt is fairly high, approaching 50%. Most of us think it's 99.9% likely there are no gods at all, so our agnosticism is a technicality but still quite valid. We don't KNOW that there are no gods but see no evidence to BELIEVE there are.

It gets even more confusing because being that there's no practical difference in how a person who is 99% sure lives their lives vs someone who is 100% sure, there's a tendency to regard both as claiming absolute knowledge. At least one fellow unbeliever on this forum is willing to call their 99% certitude "knowledge". It's unusual but not unheard-of.

As a result I think theists have a tendency to conflate anyone with low doubt levels about the nonexistence of god(s) with people who profess zero doubt. And then you get into the whole issue of the difference between confidence and doubt. A small amount of doubt need not disturb the confidence with which one assumes that they are likely correct.

There are other false equivalences in his arguments. He likens disbelief in god to disbelief that there are an even number of stars ... a belief that by definition can only have a 50% chance of being true, no more and no less, and is also by definition is completely unfalsifiable unless you can somehow demonstrate mathematically that the size of the universe and therefore the number of stars, is actually infinite.

This is far different from the case for god, which while unfalsifiable, too, is far less trivial a question about something that we cannot even be objective observers of like we can with stars -- and for which the arguments in favor of are correspondingly far weaker.

There's also a lot of intellectual sloppiness, for instance here:
Quote:
Some atheists seem to think that a sufficient reason for atheism is the fact (as they say) that we no longer need God to explain natural phenomena — lightning and thunder for example. We now have science.

As a justification of atheism, this is pretty lame. We no longer need the moon to explain or account for lunacy; it hardly follows that belief in the nonexistence of the moon (a-moonism?) is justified. A-moonism on this ground would be sensible only if the sole ground for belief in the existence of the moon was its explanatory power with respect to lunacy.
Here again is a false equivalency. The moon IS visible and we have VISITED it. So no one is suggesting that we don't believe in the moon because we know what and where it is and that it does not explain insanity. No one has ever seen any of the god(s) on offer except via personal subjective experience, if that. The SOLE reason for god was that god explained stuff we didn't understand and/or couldn't control or defend against. That he no longer is needed for that is EXACTLY what he's saying would be true of the moon if we couldn't observe and measure and visit and touch and analyze it and yet it no longer explained "lunacy".
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Where would this statement fall in the atheism/agnosticism spectrum?

"I see no reason to behave as though there is a god."
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:54 PM
 
39,203 posts, read 10,880,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
Interesting interview in the NY Times.

Is Atheism Irrational?

What are your thoughts on the interview? What stood out for you? What points would you like to address?

Just food for thought. Enjoy!
Plantiga's arguments were surprisingly poor, beside the point and even illogical. I am genuinely taken aback.

His best argument is Fine -tuning. That of course has some counters, but the main argument is that it may suggests a planning mind behind it, which could be Bramah, Shiva, Allah, Zeus or the FSM as well as Biblegod.

Mind, this about the arguments against atheism rather than about a particular religion.

I'll leave this now to see what the others say, but if I think there are points unanswered, I'll go through Plantinga's interview again.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:56 PM
 
Location: USA
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ir·ra·tion·al [ih-rash-uh-nl] adjective
1. without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.
2. without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment.
3. not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical: irrational arguments.
4. not endowed with the faculty of reason: irrational animals.Irrational | Define Irrational at Dictionary.com

Believing in something implicitly despite the fact that it violates all observation, experience and common sense is the very definition of irrational. Believing that a corpse came back to life and then flew away would be an excellent example of that which is irrational. NOT believing that corpse came back to life and flew away is an example of reason. Insofar as atheists do not believe in flying reanimated corpses, atheists are guilty of reason.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:11 PM
 
39,203 posts, read 10,880,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
His argument against atheism is that the proper conclusion from absence of evidence is agnosticism, not atheism. That being the case, how does he justify his own theism? Accepting his argument, we should all be agnostics with both theists and atheist falling under the "irrational" umbrella.
Right. And as a philosopher, he should know that the belief position when you 'don't know' is not to believe until you do know.

Of course you can believe if you want, but this is based purely on Faith, not on a rational or logical reason.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:19 PM
 
22,769 posts, read 26,236,494 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
Interesting interview in the NY Times.

Is Atheism Irrational?

What are your thoughts on the interview? What stood out for you? What points would you like to address?

Just food for thought. Enjoy!
i couldn't make it through all that

i honestly tried, though. he just fails to make a coherent point that i can understand.

i'll try to break down my thoughts line-by-line.

Quote:
Do philosophers know something here that these other academics don’t know?
No.

Quote:
What could it be?
Wait, wasn't this a question? Now he's proceeding as if he's got an answer, and the answer is "yes" ?

Quote:
Philosophers, as opposed to other academics, are often professionally concerned with the theistic arguments — arguments for the existence of God. My guess is that a considerable majority of philosophers, both believers and unbelievers, reject these arguments as unsound.
My guess is that your guess is irrelevant.

Quote:
Still, that’s not nearly sufficient for atheism.
What isn't sufficient?

And whatever it is that's allegedly insufficient, i ask: SAYS WHO, DAMMIT??

Quote:
In the British newspaper The Independent, the scientist Richard Dawkins was recently asked the following question: “If you died and arrived at the gates of heaven, what would you say to God to justify your lifelong atheism?” His response: “I’d quote Bertrand Russell: ‘Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!’” But lack of evidence, if indeed evidence is lacking, is no grounds for atheism.
Who the hell is he to decide what is and is not grounds for athiesm? It really just blows my mind that he can sit there and declare himself the authority to decide what sort of evidence constitutes acceptable grounds for athiest beliefs.

Quote:
No one thinks there is good evidence for the proposition that there are an even number of stars; but also, no one thinks the right conclusion to draw is that there are an uneven number of stars.
People think all sorts of things, who is he to say that "nobody" thinks it? And if people did think it, so what? how and why is that supposed to influence my thinking?

Quote:
The right conclusion would instead be agnosticism.
Oh, okay. *POOOF* , like magic.

Quote:
In the same way, the failure of the theistic arguments, if indeed they do fail, might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism.
I understood this! He made a point. And I understood it!!

Quote:
Atheism, like even-star-ism, would presumably be the sort of belief you can hold rationally only if you have strong arguments or evidence.
But here he's just making things up again. Whether , in the mind of a non-religious person, religion can be (A) disproven , or (B) not disproven, just disbelieved, is entirely a matter of interpretation of the facts.

This is about where I lose interest in what they're talking about.

Last edited by le roi; 02-10-2014 at 01:37 PM..
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:35 PM
 
22,769 posts, read 26,236,494 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
If that's his main argument then he doesn't understand that the vast majority of atheists ARE agnostics. We keep going round and round about this, that there is much overlap between agnosticism and atheism and they are not mutually exclusive. The only time an agnostic is what this guy no doubt imagines they are, is when their level of doubt is fairly high, approaching 50%. Most of us think it's 99.9% likely there are no gods at all, so our agnosticism is a technicality but still quite valid. We don't KNOW that there are no gods but see no evidence to BELIEVE there are.

It gets even more confusing because being that there's no practical difference in how a person who is 99% sure lives their lives vs someone who is 100% sure, there's a tendency to regard both as claiming absolute knowledge. At least one fellow unbeliever on this forum is willing to call their 99% certitude "knowledge". It's unusual but not unheard-of.

As a result I think theists have a tendency to conflate anyone with low doubt levels about the nonexistence of god(s) with people who profess zero doubt. And then you get into the whole issue of the difference between confidence and doubt. A small amount of doubt need not disturb the confidence with which one assumes that they are likely correct.

There are other false equivalences in his arguments. He likens disbelief in god to disbelief that there are an even number of stars ... a belief that by definition can only have a 50% chance of being true, no more and no less, and is also by definition is completely unfalsifiable unless you can somehow demonstrate mathematically that the size of the universe and therefore the number of stars, is actually infinite.

This is far different from the case for god, which while unfalsifiable, too, is far less trivial a question about something that we cannot even be objective observers of like we can with stars -- and for which the arguments in favor of are correspondingly far weaker.

There's also a lot of intellectual sloppiness, for instance here:

Here again is a false equivalency. The moon IS visible and we have VISITED it. So no one is suggesting that we don't believe in the moon because we know what and where it is and that it does not explain insanity. No one has ever seen any of the god(s) on offer except via personal subjective experience, if that. The SOLE reason for god was that god explained stuff we didn't understand and/or couldn't control or defend against. That he no longer is needed for that is EXACTLY what he's saying would be true of the moon if we couldn't observe and measure and visit and touch and analyze it and yet it no longer explained "lunacy".
I understood this.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:49 PM
 
40,103 posts, read 26,772,494 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Plantiga's arguments were surprisingly poor, beside the point and even illogical. I am genuinely taken aback.
I agree that this was not Plantinga's strongest presentation. But in a venue targeted at a lay audience it is virtually impossible to present the kind of arguments that are necessary to reveal the flaws in materialism and atheism. The wimpy emasculation of atheism by pretending it is some watered down lack of confidence in theism . . . has always struck me as puerile niggling. There is at least one atheist here in the forum who has the intellectual integrity to own his atheism completely.

I think Alvin inappropriately undermined his arguments by placing materialism in apposition to evolution as he did. Using absolute skepticism as a razor between them was extreme. I understand why he did it . . . but it was most unwise. The arguments from consciousness and intelligence are far stronger . . . though much more difficult to encapsulate for a lay audience . . . so that may have been his thinking.
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