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georgewbush
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15 Jan 2011, 12:42 pm

definition of god
* often defined ambigusouly and generally to the point where it is meaningless
* best defined as intelligent, personal, creator, concerned with the affairs of man
* to call nature and the universe "god" without those properties is a misnomer
* that is not the personal intelligent being that religious people believe in.
* deists, pantheists, and ontological arguments are guilty of this.

burden of proof
* god cannot be proven ontologically since definitions used are meaningless
* god's existence cannot be proved/disproved with 100% certainty
* at a nuetral ground zero, reasoned belief is justified only by positive evidence
* there is not enough positive evidence to claim that there is a god

materialism
* the concept of the "soul" needs to be defined properly before examined
* people provide an amorphous definition to avoid having to be consistent
* if one cannot explain what it is, how can its existence be proven
* all is material, what we attribute to the soul is the physical brain
* thoughts are physical. composed of the nuerons
* how can the immaterial affect the physical world?

cultural effects of religion/non-religion
* religion serves as a placebo effect which gives hope, inspiration, motivation, and fulfillment to many people
* wars have been started in the name of religion, but that does not represent the majority of religious people who are peaceful
* just because the effects of a belief are beneficial or harmful to society does not make them true/untrue.
* whether religion has harmed or helped society is irrelevent for that reason.
* as a result, both theists and atheists should focus purely on the existence of god in their debates rather than the sociological impact of religion.

atheists
* non-believers are capable of being happy, fulfilled, tempered, and ethical
* atheism does not necessarily equal pessimism or nihilism
* all one needs to do to be an atheist is to not believe in a deity. that's all
* atheism has nothing to do with communism, marxism, anarchy, or socialism, even though some atheists do associate themselves with those things
* atheists should not be compared to stalin and mao the same way religious people do not like to be compared to the crusades.
* some atheists are intolerant and condescending toward religious people, but that is vocal minority that does not represent most atheists, who should not be attached to some of the controversial statements made by polemics.
* all people of all beliefs should be tolerant toward each other.

religion lacks objectivity
* of all the galaxies in our universe, of all the solar systems in our galaxy, of all the planets in our solar system, god has an unusual bias toward earth. and of the millions of different species on earth, he also had an unusual bias toward humans.
* likely of an earthbound human to imply that god is a human-like being, that humans are created in the image of perfection, and that what made the universe has a preference toward humans over all species.
* is the whole universe truly centered around us?
* historically, whatever humans lacked knowledge of, they attributed to divinity. mental illnesses were evil spirits that needed to escape the human brain via trephining the skull. before agriculture and medicine, if your crops did not grow well or if your child died of disease, it was witchcraft.

arguments against the god hypothesis
* god is assumed to be perfect and omnibenevolent. how could an imperfect world with so many flaws (poverty, illness, disease, murder, rape, theft, and drugs) be a product of an all-good being?
* religion advocates believe that everything must have been caused by something before it; that there must be a beginning. that argument does not prove that god is the beginning. god should not be exempted from that argument. if god made all, then what made god?

knowledge vs. belief
* belief and knowledge are two different things.
* knowledge requires complete certainty. belief does not.
* a person can be both agnostic and an atheist of theist; it is not mutually exclusive
* just because a person says they have knowledge or believes they have knowledge, doesn't automatically mean they do.
* we all either have knowledge or we all don't, but knowledge isnt only confined to those who believe they do.

feigning religion
* calling oneself a certain religion does not automatically mean one is of that religion.
* surveys/polls do not verify if a person is actually of that religion
* one cannot support the bible/creation and evolution/science at the same time
* there are incentives to feign belief in a religion: social opportunities and avoiding social repurcussions.
* pascal's wager is a fallacious argument, as it is not only between a certain god or no god, but there could be endless possibilities. believing a religion just to hedge bets is essentially trying to fool and omniscient god.

is-ought problem:
* things are what they are rather than what they should be
* logic and reasoning is superior to emotional appeals
* debates on theology should only focus on one question: does god exist? is the religion true or false?
* whether religion has been historically good or bad, or if religion helps/hurts the individual, doesn't matter.
* many religious people are guilty of wishful thinking

a world without religion?
* religion should not be forcefully removed from society. suppressing religion as the Chinese government does is not the way to go.
* i would have no problem with religion in the world as long as people are not dogmatic, are intolerant, and are peaceful.

religion and parenting
* a person's religion is largely based on where they are born rather than a divine accident.
* if you were born in afghanistan, you would likely be muslim. japan, shinto. india, hindu. etc.
* children are too young to understand a complex question of how the universe began.
* there is no such thing as a catholic or muslim child; just a child with religious parents.
* many parents force their kids into their beliefs and punish them for not believing, threatening eternal damnation
* young children will automatically accept anything their parents tell them
* young children are not capable of critical thinking yet
* those 3 above points are why religion has been passed from generation to generation successfully
* solution: parents should not forcefully impose their religious beliefs on their children
* children should learn about a wide variety of religions and religious views
* children should be taught logic and reasoning, and eventually decide what they believe in
* no force, no fear, no intimidation. free and fair choice.

dogma
* the best way to develop a reasoned belief is to research both sides of an issue; not just one
* how are we going to know if somethings right or wrong if we do not question it?
* no belief or doctrine should be authoritative; everything should be able to be questioned.
* NOTHING should be so highly as to be completely immune from being questioned

Just my observations and arguments on religion and skepticism.

Your thoughts.



AceOfSpades
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15 Jan 2011, 1:23 pm

I agree 100%. Very nicely organized too, I hate reading a million paragraphs and I'm not a fan of one liners either so I like how this thread goes in-depth yet keeps it clean and concise which makes it very efficient.



Natty_Boh
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15 Jan 2011, 1:40 pm

Just a few scattershot answers - you packed a lot into your post!

georgewbush wrote:
definition of god
* often defined ambigusouly and generally to the point where it is meaningless
* (God is) best defined as intelligent, personal, creator, concerned with the affairs of man
...
* just because the effects of a belief are beneficial or harmful to society does not make them true/untrue.
* whether religion has harmed or helped society is irrelevent for that reason.
* as a result, both theists and atheists should focus purely on the existence of god in their debates rather than the sociological impact of religion.


If God is personal and is concerned with our affairs, then the effect of a religion on society does matter as to its truth. A religion requiring human sacrifice is harmful and thus probably untrue. Of course, if society reacts badly to a "good" religion or embraces a "bad" one, and the problems result from that...that's an entirely different matter. See: objectivism vs. relativism.


georgewbush wrote:
atheists
* non-believers are capable of being happy, fulfilled, tempered, and ethical
* atheism does not necessarily equal pessimism or nihilism
* all one needs to do to be an atheist is to not believe in a deity. that's all
* atheism has nothing to do with communism, marxism, anarchy, or socialism, even though some atheists do associate themselves with those things


It's all well and good to simply 'not believe in a deity'. But then what do you believe in, what determines how you live your life and why you live that way? Even
atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens have a system of beliefs (so to speak). A lot of atheists glom onto systems like Communism and Marxism. A lot don't. But we all need something of the kind. Solzhenitysn's novel 'Cancer Ward' is a good look at this - it revolves around that question of 'what do men live by?'.

georgewbush wrote:
* god is assumed to be perfect and omnibenevolent. how could an imperfect world with so many flaws (poverty, illness, disease, murder, rape, theft, and drugs) be a product of an all-good being?


Can't say I've ever entirely figured that one out either. The Fall of course, but why did God permit that...free will of course, but... In the end, all I know is that God not only permitted the imperfection, but chose to subject Himself to it on the Cross. It's an answer. Just not the one I might want.

georgewbush wrote:
* religion advocates believe that everything must have been caused by something before it; that there must be a beginning. that argument does not prove that god is the beginning. god should not be exempted from that argument. if god made all, then what made god?


Substitute 'the universe' for 'God' and your head will hurt just as much. One or the other always existed, in some form. This is the most basic "science vs. faith" question, in my book - and one answer is just as purely rational as the other.

georgewbush wrote:
* logic and reasoning is superior to emotional appeals


The greatest display of logic and reasoning I've ever witnessed was in the movie Conspiracy. An intelligent, unemotional, utterly rational discussion among equals - that resulted in the Final Solution. Emotional appeal has its place. Rational appeal has its place. But either alone can be dangerous.



georgewbush
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15 Jan 2011, 2:21 pm

AceOfSpades wrote:
I agree 100%. Very nicely organized too, I hate reading a million paragraphs and I'm not a fan of one liners either so I like how this thread goes in-depth yet keeps it clean and concise which makes it very efficient.


yes, i lack the attention span to read a giant wall of paragraphs, so i decided to make it more organized in a list-form to make it easier to read



georgewbush
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15 Jan 2011, 2:56 pm

Natty_Boh wrote:
Just a few scattershot answers - you packed a lot into your post!

If God is personal and is concerned with our affairs, then the effect of a religion on society does matter as to its truth. A religion requiring human sacrifice is harmful and thus probably untrue. Of course, if society reacts badly to a "good" religion or embraces a "bad" one, and the problems result from that...that's an entirely different matter. See: objectivism vs. relativism.

Proving that the belief in god is unjustified is point A. Proving that religion has done harm to society is point B. Best to get to point A before going to point B.

It's all well and good to simply 'not believe in a deity'. But then what do you believe in, what determines how you live your life and why you live that way? Even atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens have a system of beliefs (so to speak). A lot of atheists glom onto systems like Communism and Marxism. A lot don't. But we all need something of the kind. Solzhenitysn's novel 'Cancer Ward' is a good look at this - it revolves around that question of 'what do men live by?'.

I never said believe in nothing. What do I believe in exactly? I don't know, but there is something. But its logically incoherent to say god is that something. All atheists share in common one thing that they do not believe in: god. That's it. Though, an atheist is not an exhaustive definition of what i am because there are plenty of other superstitious things I don't believe in. Atheists can be completely diverse in their views otherwise. Some non-atheists may see polemics like Dawkins as a flagship leader of atheism, but atheism isn't a movement that has no leader. Some of the controversial statements people like Hitchens say does not apply to all or most atheists. Most atheists, I guess, are left-wing, either liberal, socialist/marxist, and some even communist. Personally, I lean toward the right and I'm a big supporter of president Bush and the war on terrorism (Even though I am not religious). Many atheists do not really understand me in that regard, but they still treat me respectfully, whereas conservative Republicans are less welcoming to people who are skeptical of god.

Can't say I've ever entirely figured that one out either. The Fall of course, but why did God permit that...free will of course, but... In the end, all I know is that God not only permitted the imperfection, but chose to subject Himself to it on the Cross. It's an answer. Just not the one I might want.

The common argument is that god does this just to test us morally. The evils of the world (drugs, violence, rape, etc) may be a result of humans being flawed and punishment not choosing to trust god, but of course a god that is perfect would not design such flawed creatures. He's supposedly all-powerful so there is no excuse.


Substitute 'the universe' for 'God' and your head will hurt just as much. One or the other always existed, in some form. This is the most basic "science vs. faith" question, in my book - and one answer is just as purely rational as the other.

The faith answer is less rational. As beginning with a complex human-like God is less believable than beginning with simple matter.

Emotional appeal has its place. Rational appeal has its place. But either alone can be dangerous.

I would say emotions only have their place if backed by logic and reasoning.



Responses are bolded.



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15 Jan 2011, 3:02 pm

georgewbush wrote:
* deists, pantheists, and ontological arguments are guilty of this.

Deists, sometimes but not always. Pantheists, oh YES! Ontological arguments? They don't suffer from weak definition that much. They suffer from ambiguity, but that's to a degree that actually undermines the argument Ontological arguments have to be logically valid, so, anything that reduces the ability to logically judge it, makes it less of an argument. And of course, many ontological arguments have clearer definitions, or at least, definitions that are easy to contest. (Pantheists don't grant so much clarity)

Quote:
* god cannot be proven ontologically since definitions used are meaningless

I have to outright disagree. Ontological argument definitions are not meaningless. Possibly ambiguous, but not even necessarily then.

Quote:
* god's existence cannot be proved/disproved with 100% certainty

Nothing outside of mathematics has 100% certainty. We don't aim for it in practice.

Quote:
* at a nuetral ground zero, reasoned belief is justified only by positive evidence
* there is not enough positive evidence to claim that there is a god

I am not sure I agree with "neutral", but that's not my big point of contention. Theists will also disagree with it as well. I think ground zero is culturally constructed, meaning that the background knowledge of society is the starting point, and usually we start off with opinions that have to be argued against.

Quote:
* the concept of the "soul" needs to be defined properly before examined

Sort of, but the question is extent. Perfect definitions rarely if never exist, nor would they have to exist if we are exploring the idea of a less known quality.

Quote:
* all is material, what we attribute to the soul is the physical brain

I agree.

Quote:
* thoughts are physical. composed of the nuerons

Problem is that many philosophers will actually contest that. I think I would generally be put in the "agree" category, but most philosophers are some form of non-substance dualist. Theists are often substance dualists. The problem is that showing neurons and thoughts to be equivalent is very difficult, and usually the effort that is taken is to be very critical towards the substantive nature of thoughts.

Quote:
* how can the immaterial affect the physical world?

The objection is just silly. Why not? We don't really know how "gravity *can* work", or how "magnetism *can* work", we know that they do work. So, why can't we just posit that immaterial entities can, at volition, cause physical changes? I mean, if you try to say "what about the conservation of energy" you still end up begging the question, as conservation of energy is an assumption based upon inference, not something deductively proven.

Quote:
* religion serves as a placebo effect which gives hope, inspiration, motivation, and fulfillment to many people

Kind of agreed. I am not sure it is the same mechanism, but "placebo" is a good enough comparison.

Quote:
* as a result, both theists and atheists should focus purely on the existence of god in their debates rather than the sociological impact of religion.

Disagree. Christian claims on their theology can and often do include claims about the character of religious individuals. If Christian theism's sociological impact does not show signs of "moral improvement" then this is actually evidence that Christianity is false because Christianity makes claims as to the moral improvement of individuals.

Quote:
* all people of all beliefs should be tolerant toward each other.

Depends on what is meant by "tolerant".

Quote:
* god is assumed to be perfect and omnibenevolent. how could an imperfect world with so many flaws (poverty, illness, disease, murder, rape, theft, and drugs) be a product of an all-good being?

Generally agreed. We have enough basic intuitions about counter-factual arrangements that saying that all of them really can't work out just seems terribly doubtful.

Quote:
* religion advocates believe that everything must have been caused by something before it; that there must be a beginning. that argument does not prove that god is the beginning. god should not be exempted from that argument. if god made all, then what made god?

Problem: The way this argument is phrased DOES exempt God. Usually it is phrased "Everything that has a beginning has a cause". If God has no beginning, as most theists claim, then God has no cause, thus the question "What made God?" is really a weak objection that proves nothing.

Quote:
* one cannot support the bible/creation and evolution/science at the same time

Well.... what do you mean by that. Some interpret Genesis as allegorical. Others say that God's creative act used evolution. Maybe you think those theologies tend to have contradictions in them, but you can't make a statement like this too easily.

Quote:
* pascal's wager is a fallacious argument, as it is not only between a certain god or no god, but there could be endless possibilities. believing a religion just to hedge bets is essentially trying to fool and omniscient god.

Argument fail in the second rebuttal to Pascal. Believing a religion just to hedge bets is not trying to fool God. Pascal pointed out what he thought, he thought that in trying to believe for practical reasons, people will come to genuinely believe. The point about endless possibilities though is true.

Quote:
* things are what they are rather than what they should be

Ok, but irrelevant. The Is-Ought problem has to do with using how reality is to show how it ought to be.

Quote:
* logic and reasoning is superior to emotional appeals

Ok, but still irrelevant to the Is-Ought problem. Even further, not all views of morality even hold to that. Sentimentalism is a popular view, held to by theists and atheists, and it considers emotions central to ethics.

Quote:
* solution: parents should not forcefully impose their religious beliefs on their children

What do you mean by "forcefully"? The fact of the matter is that the very idea of eternal damnation will be in those parents minds as a fact regardless, so if invoking this is force, then.... your point ends up being kind of ridiculous. You end up having to tell parents not to tell their kids what those parents believe is true.

Quote:
* children should learn about a wide variety of religions and religious views

Why? There is hardly a justification for this. While it may be of some historical value, it isn't really that important from any social standpoint other than to try to fake some "neutrality" on the issue, but.... it is more clearly neutral to avoid the topic than to talk about it.

Quote:
* children should be taught logic and reasoning, and eventually decide what they believe in

I agree that children should be taught logic and reasoning.



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15 Jan 2011, 3:18 pm

I am in agreement. Skepticism is required if one looks carefully at any religion. Just learning a little about Hebrew and Aramaic (or Arabic) language has shown me that an English translation of the Bible (or Qu'ran, or Enoch, etc) leaves huge gaps in the teachings of modern Christians, Jews, etc.
Even knowing that, religion still has missing information. No religion practices what it really claims to. Most religious people end up not practicing what they preach. However, the same can be said of many Atheists.



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15 Jan 2011, 5:04 pm

Skepticism concerning religion is completely justified. There is not an iota of empirical evidence to support the claims of the various religions made in the form of declarative sentences (which are either true or false). The predictions of the various faiths including the predictions of the prophets turned out to be largely false and even when true, any random collection of declarative sentences are likely to contain some true sentences.

All it takes is one false prediction to undermine the system that produced the predictions.

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