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Old 03-13-2014, 11:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
These are questions we can't answer and maybe never will. 'We don't know' would be fine and an end of the matter were it not that the god believers leap in as though this was an admission that God mustha dunnit.
This is obviously nonsense, but it doesn't seem that way to the believers- we know exactly how they think.
'God's existence is Fact until you disprove His existence'. That is not the way it works, but you just cannot get theists out of this mindset. I cannot tell you how often I have seen a theiopologetic argument beginning
"Let us begin from the premise that God exists..." I respond with 'Why should we?'
'Why shouldn't we?'
'Because there is no evidence for it.'
'Yes there is - if not God, who made everything then, Eh?'
And if you then say 'We don't know'. They really believe they have proven that God exists..
You know what my response to this is, Arq. You can NOT therefore claim the default because that IS asserting that there is "No God" responsible for our reality. That IS a positive claim about the unknown . . . much as you seek to deny it. You prefer to say we don't need to assign responsibility for the existence of our reality . . . it is OK to not know. That is a preference . . . NOT a default. God as the reason for our reality is also a preference. BOTH are a priori presumptions based on preference. If you claim either one as default . . . you are making an unsubstantiated positive assertion, period.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirina View Post
Actually, I don't think it is all that justified. I brought this up in another thread, but I'll reiterate it here in short form, if I can.
There are a lot of things a rational adult does not believe in and, in fact, would categorically deny the existence of. Santa Clause is one such example as would be the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny.
And those rational adults aren't sitting around saying "no one really knows" if there's an Easter Bunny or not, so the concept is valid. No, they simply say, "There is no such thing as the Easter Bunny."
While sure, we can wax philosophical on this matter and claim there could be an Easter Bunny out there somewhere; we could throw around the claim that an infinite universe would make the existence of an Easter Bunny a certainty. But in our day-to-day lives, our day-to-day thinking, we are not afraid to patently reject the idea that the Easter Bunny exists and he is hopping along laying colored eggs and hiding baskets of candy for children to find.
And while there is no more evidence for God than there is the Easter Bunny, many people seem almost afraid and timid to actually say there is no god. Few people can patently reject the existence of god in the same way we can so easily reject the Easter Bunny.
People caught in this limbo called "agnosticism" should really ask themselves why they sit on the fence about the existence of gods but not about other "unknowable" things.
Normally you are more astute than this, Shirina. They are NOT comparable "unknowables." There is nothing that actually exists that needs to be accounted FOR BY the existence of Santa or the Easter Bunny. That is not true about God. There IS something that actually exists (reality) that needs to be accounted FOR and is currently unknown (or unknowable). That is NOT a minor difference. That is why BOTH the God and No God presumptions are preferences only. NEITHER can be substantiated. To claim EITHER one as default is to make an unsubstantiated positive claim.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopOnPop View Post
Rather than posting his own thread, a theist poster chose to rudely attempt to hijack an existing one with an unrelated post. So I thought I'd help him out by starting the thread he was too spineless to start himself. His point (paraphrased) was:

The response is painfully simple. While his point was technically true, it doesn't mean atheism doesn't remain a superior assertion over any theistic one.

[b]Since no one can know the unknowable, theism remains entirely incoherent, by definition.

So, until a theist exists who can demonstrate God, rather than simply making excuses why this can't be accomplished, ANY other assertion -- including the atheist one -- remains decidedly more plausible.

Thoughts? Disagreements?
No theist is claiming to be able to show you incontrovertible proof of God so your challenge is incoherent by definition. You are demanding we accept a challenge which isn't coherent with our beliefs.
God doesn't want to be proven so we have to go on Faith as God wants it.
This is not The Age Of Miracles (although there are Miracles), this is The Age Of Faith.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:13 PM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmking View Post
To equate the easter bunny and Santa Clause as akin to God is not a good comparison. Most know those are fictional. But God? Not so fast.
But that's my point. Why should we suddenly put on the brakes when dealing with gods? Why should we suddenly give credence to a belief that, by all rights, possesses no more evidence than Santa or the Easter Bunny? (I know, I don't like being prosaic and cliché with Santa comparisons but ... ).

Yes, most know that Santa is fictional, so why do so many think that god is real when both Santa and god have the same amount of evidence for their existence?

The answer is that a belief in God is encouraged right on through adulthood whereas a belief in Santa is discouraged after a certain age. Children usually stop believing in the Easter Bunny before they stop believing in Santa, and they stop believing in the tooth fairy before they stop believing in the Easter Bunny. It all depends on how strongly the prevailing culture encourages belief.

Thus, when an adult can easily admit that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist but has trouble with the existence of gods, it comes from cultural bias. It is difficult to espouse a belief that flies in the face of the dominant paradigm, so we're far more cautious when it comes to our opinions about gods. In reality, though, it shouldn't be so difficult to reject the existence of gods until such time that evidence appears to change one's mind. I suppose if the Easter Bunny hopped up onto my porch and rang the bell, I would have to admit I was wrong about the Easter Bunny. But with gods, we're willing to wait and sit on the fence until the evidence arrives; we're willing to say "maybe" about gods, but we'll categorically deny Easter Bunnies until the evidence is shown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmking View Post
Whether God exists or not, the perception of a god is ingrained in every culture on earth, be it relatively new or ancient. This concept built cities, empires and universities and cultures. So, to dismiss or equate god as the tooth fairy is not fair.
Are you sure? Because if a culture believed in the tooth fairy as fervently as many believe in God, then the tooth fairy concept would have built cities, empires, universities, and cultures too ... even though there is STILL no evidence for tooth fairies - just as there is no real evidence for gods. A concept is not valid simply because lots of people believe in it and it spurred some people to do great things. No matter how many cities and empires are built in the name of some god or other, there is still no more evidence for those gods than there is for the tooth fairy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmking View Post
I don't mean that God exists but that mankind seems to be hardwired for it, and perhaps for a reason we just have not grasped yet.
I agree that we do seem to be hardwired for it. My guess is that it is an evolutionary necessity, being the only creatures that we know of that is aware of its own mortality. Perhaps a belief in a "better place" beyond this life is necessary for the majority of people to get through the day, to prevent a fear-induced paralysis caused by the fear of death.

Who really knows for certain? But it IS certain that stimulating certain parts of the brain can cause a person to have artificial religious experiences. That, to me anyway, indicates that the concept of gods is all in the mind, not out there in the cosmos creating universes and sending us Bibles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmking View Post
It could be man's desire for answers and God fit nicely. It could be man's desires for power etc. But for sure its much more complex, I believe, than the face of a hardwired god.
Yes, I do believe that gods were a nice and easy fit when confronted with mysteries. Don't know? Then a god did it. Or maybe the tooth fairy did it - if a culture had as much confidence in the existence of tooth faries as there is for God.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirina View Post
Who really knows for certain? But it IS certain that stimulating certain parts of the brain can cause a person to have artificial religious experiences. That, to me anyway, indicates that the concept of gods is all in the mind, not out there in the cosmos creating universes and sending us Bibles.
I have dealt with your other nonsense in other posts . . . but this one needs attention. It is true that the brain can be artificially stimulated to interpret experiences of the presence of God or OBE's. The God Helmet used low level EM fields to elicit these experiences that were sensed and interpreted by the brain as the presence of God or whatever. You see this as tricking the brain. I see this as discovering another sensory capability of the brain. Clearly our brain is sensitive to fields. Since our reality is at base myriad field phenomena . . . that is not particularly surprising. But to me that suggests that there IS some kind of field phenomenon that our brain is supposed to sense and interpret as the presence of God. In fact . . . the instruction to "be quiet and know that I am God" seems particularly relevant. I am a meditator and my atheism was completely erased by such an encounter in deep meditation (without any artificial stimuli) . . . so I am particularly inclined to credit this new sensory capability.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmking View Post
To equate the easter bunny and Santa Clause as akin to God is not a good comparison. Most know those are fictional. But God? Not so fast. Whether God exists or not, the perception of a god is ingrained in every culture on earth, be it relatively new or ancient. This concept built cities, empires and universities and cultures. So, to dismiss or equate god as the tooth fairy is not fair. I don't mean that God exists but that mankind seems to be hardwired for it, and perhaps for a reason we just have not grasped yet. It could be man's desire for answers and God fit nicely. It could be man's desires for power etc. But for sure its much more complex, I believe, than the face of a hardwired god.
Again, you are assuming (though admittedly with the qualifier "perhaps", at least) that we are "hardwired" for a "reason" which in turn implies some agent doing the wiring with a purpose.

The propensity toward god is well known and understood as having an evolutionary and biological basis. I will for the sake of brevity not discuss the biological side so much (the "god spot", etc) and focus on the psychological / evolutionary basis for god beliefs:

We are not "hardwired to believe" as such, but the process of natural selection has left us optimized for certain things:

1) To recognize patterns quickly
2) To have a particular bias for patterns that suggest agency
3) To have a particular bias to act on anomalous (unexpected) patterns before thinking much about it, usually by assuming it is a threat
4) To learn from and remember unpleasant events much more quickly and enduringly and easily than pleasant ones

All of these have survival benefits. Even if you don't believe in evolution, they have all been documented by psychologists and behavioral scientists, and the important thing for purposes of this discussion is that these biases exist and no supernatural explanation is required to account for them.

All of these, especially (2), explain the roots of the strong tendency of humans to subjectively feel that there "must" be a creator / god in play, to tend to have strong beliefs around that, and to build belief-systems that are strong and pervasive and enduring enough to influence politics and nation-building and start wars and such. It explains the appeal throughout history. Before we as a race understood chaos theory and the fractal nature of reality, we didn't know any better than to automatically associate complexity and scale and emergent order and ancillary characteristics like durable persistence with an aware agent (a designer / builder) -- even though such an agent would have to be unimaginably powerful.

There IS a difference between god and the easter bunny, et. al. And that is that the latter class of beliefs are far too specific and eventually that specificity and lack of primal connection to immediate needs and concerns undermines their subjective plausibility. If you are in a dark alley at midnight in a rough part of a large city, you have a strong tendency to sense you are being watched or followed (agency inference from #2 above). In such situations, the watcher or follower is always nameless and faceless -- indeed that is part of the horror of it. You do not instantly assume that someone named, say, Joseph P. Connors is watching or following; or that it is a talking rabbit or a jolly old elf named Santa. You assume it is a generic Threatening Person, the vaguer the better because you tend to imagine them as huge, malicious, well armed, and out to commit maximum harm up to and including murder. Danger, Will Robinson!! And so you hide, or run, or call someone for help, or whatever.

God is, at the point of agency inference, also a generic person -- a generic mover and shaker, if you will, a generic cause. Indeed, originally god was just another generic threat, but on a larger scale than a human one -- famine, pestilence, disease, thunder, lightning, or some other scary calamity -- which is why the early gods were angry and punishing and dangerous and needed to be placated with various rituals. Later on, as humans developed intellectually, and had more time to ruminate and imagine things about the gods, they began to embellish these gods as not simply running a mafia-like "protection" scheme to extort virgin sacrifices from us, but also providing for other needs like safety, comfort, stability, security, love, etc. As monotheism developed, and the One True God of any one monotheism was more and more imbued with various specific qualities -- tri-omni-ness, in the case of Jehovah, for example -- the current god abstractions became increasingly leakier, resulting in more and more persons such as myself.

This is why there is a trend of late toward more distant, less specific gods -- the version of Jehovah embraced by liberal and New Thought Christians, say, or god-as-vague-fuzzy-warm-principle like the Jungian "Divine" or the transcendent woo of New Age ideation. It avoids the "uncanny valley" problem with the literalist / fundamentalist gods and emphasizes the transcendent and ineffable over the concrete and specific. This causes less cognitive dissonance between the agency we are prone to infer in the gaps of our knowledge, and the Real World.

But ultimately this "sortaGod" as Arq would term it, has its own problems -- he's so wishy-washy that he's pretty clearly conforming to our whims rather than us to his, and that is a problem for us in its own right; it simply undermines the plausibility of the god in different areas.

This is a nutshell is why I believe that theism as we know it is more or less doomed in the long run.

Last edited by mordant; 03-13-2014 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
The God Helmet used low level EM fields to elicit these experiences that were sensed and interpreted by the brain as the presence of God or whatever. You see this as tricking the brain. I see this as discovering another sensory capability of the brain.
Why should we be assuming this "spot" is "supposed to" have a designed purpose, or even an evolved one? There are many possible explanations aside from it being our "god sensor" if you will. If could be a vestigal remnant of something like Jayne's "bicameral mind". It could be just another of many perceptual glitches that some people experience more than others. Its ordinary function may be quite prosaic, but when stimulated in a certain way, puts us on "tilt" and gives us a little head trip.

Here again, we don't know at this point, but it seems most rational to default to the least complex and fanciful hypotheses, or to await further research outcomes. If it were any other topic than god, we would. Why is god always the benefit of special pleading?
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteakGuy View Post
God doesn't want to be proven so we have to go on Faith as God wants it.
How do you "know" this god doesn't want to proven? It seems far to convenient that most gods are without proofs, convenient to the point of the concept being anthropogenically designed that way.
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I have dealt with your other nonsense in other posts . . . but this one needs attention. It is true that the brain can be artificially stimulated to interpret experiences of the presence of God or OBE's. The God Helmet used low level EM fields to elicit these experiences that were sensed and interpreted by the brain as the presence of God or whatever. You see this as tricking the brain. I see this as discovering another sensory capability of the brain. Clearly our brain is sensitive to fields. Since our reality is at base myriad field phenomena . . . that is not particularly surprising. But to me that suggests that there IS some kind of field phenomenon that our brain is supposed to sense and interpret as the presence of God. In fact . . . the instruction to "be quiet and know that I am God" seems particularly relevant. I am a meditator and my atheism was completely erased by such an encounter in deep meditation (without any artificial stimuli) . . . so I am particularly inclined to credit this new sensory capability.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Why should we be assuming this "spot" is "supposed to" have a designed purpose, or even an evolved one? There are many possible explanations aside from it being our "god sensor" if you will. If could be a vestigal remnant of something like Jayne's "bicameral mind". It could be just another of many perceptual glitches that some people experience more than others. Its ordinary function may be quite prosaic, but when stimulated in a certain way, puts us on "tilt" and gives us a little head trip.
I could turn the tables and ask why the other senses the brain uses to interpret reality (which are equally disconnected from the stimuli) are believed and accepted . . . but this one is deemed to be tricked or a dysfunction? Why is the interpretation of God's presence NOT an accurate one . . . but the interpretations of all the other senses are?
Quote:
Here again, we don't know at this point, but it seems most rational to default to the least complex and fanciful hypotheses, or to await further research outcomes. If it were any other topic than god, we would. Why is god always the benefit of special pleading?
Why default to the exception instead of the rule?
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Old 03-13-2014, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I could turn the tables and ask why the other senses the brain uses to interpret reality (which are equally disconnected from the stimuli) are believed and accepted . . . but this one is deemed to be tricked or a dysfunction? Why is the interpretation of God's presence NOT an accurate one . . . but the interpretations of all the other senses are? Why default to the exception instead of the rule?
People report things like a disturbing sensation of suddenly falling when they go to sleep. Clearly they are not physically falling, so this is a trick / dysfunction.

My first wife, who was mentally ill, was convinced of things like if a neighbor drove their car into the driveway, they were sending her messages, and that if she had difficulty sleeping, it was because the children and myself were sleeping, therefore hoarding what she imagined was a finite amount of sleep units for ourselves, and preventing her from getting any. By your reasoning, since we cannot conclude that the god spot or any other part of the brain is tricky or dysfunctional, I should have believed her claims.

We know that the brain functions imperfectly and we all have seen trick perspectives in contrived drawings that lead most viewers to conclude that a longer line is actually shorter, etc. So we know that some of these anomalies and quirks are pretty universal, and not just a product of pathology. We have to apply some kind of reasonable criteria to determine when the brain is serving us well and when it isn't. It is logical to assume that if the brain makes us see things that others do not see in that shared reality, that it is illusory. Or that if the brain misinforms us about something that fails actual measurement like those relative actual line lengths, that the perception is illusory.

If I put one of those tinfoil helmets your'e talking about on you and you sensed god, I would not. Either god is present, or not. Which one of us is correct?

If we both had such a helmet stimulating our god spot, I daresay that the specifics of our experience would not match, either.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:30 PM
 
354 posts, read 245,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant
If I put one of those tinfoil helmets your'e talking about on you and you sensed god, I would not. Either god is present, or not.
Or perhaps his god IS present, but you and I would not call it a god.

Great response, BTW
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