"You are not really an atheist"

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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:29 pm

Lausten wrote:What you are calling Premise 2 is not a premise at all. It is a collection of data.


Data can serve as a premise. In fact, premises are the data of logical argument.

And the parenthetical (you have heard) part is a joke.


I agree. I only included it because that is what BloodRedLegend actually said, and I didn't want to misrepresent what he said. My words directly above my breakdown of his argument were:

"Your argument for "a god probably does not exist" (if I read and understood your words correctly) is the following"
-Me, 9/5 @ 8:49

They are all still unproven; that is lacking the lowest standard of evidence and containing giant logic problems, effectively false.


I was with you until you jumped to "effectively false". Two things:

1) What does it even mean to be "effectively false"? A proposition is either true, false, or unintelligible. If it is effectively false, it is the same thing as being actually false.

2) Is it your position that a lack of evidence and a lack of an argument's validity (logic problems) indicates that the argument's conclusion is FALSE? If you do, I would argue that such a position is illogical.

I'm not reading much of the rest of the details of what you have to say anymore because it is just gish-gallop around the idea of "you can't prove a negative".


Well I never expected that you should have to read much of what I say, but I am thankful that you read any of it at all.

Regarding the idea of "you can't prove a negative":

1) Yes you can

2) The proposition "you can't prove a negative" is a negative one. If you can prove that proposition as true, congrats, you just proved a negative. But then, my condolences, in proving this particular proposition "true", you have made the statement self-contradictory, and therefore, FALSE.

You already know that you can prove a negative. I am sure you have done it many times, in fact you referred to it in a way. Take the following argument:

Premise 1) If unicorns existed, there would be observable evidence

Premise 2) There is no observable evidence of unicorns

Therefore, unicorns do not exist.

All I am asking for is acknowledgment of this fact. If you assert that "a god probably does not exist", it must be because you accepted some argument in its favor.

As for burden of proof being on the theist:

I agree, anyone who makes an assertion has the burden of proof. So if you assert that "a god probably does not exist", you ALSO have a burden of proof. The only person who does not have the burden of proof is the person who has no assertion to make.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:11 pm

GrammarOfAssent wrote: Premise 1) If unicorns existed, there would be observable evidence

Premise 2) There is no observable evidence of unicorns

Therefore, unicorns do not exist.

All I am asking for is acknowledgment of this fact. If you assert that "a god probably does not exist", it must be because you accepted some argument in its favor.

The above portion wasn’t addressed to me, but isn’t the above given syllogism a different argument altogether?

If it’s going to be the same kind of argument, it should read “Therefore, the unicorn probably does not exist.”

I myself find it odd that the argument doesn’t remain on the subject of the existence of a god in the first place. The comparison (the unicorn, having nothing to do with the existence of a god, the subject at hand) goes off track and is a misapplication.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:29 pm

dobbie wrote:If it’s going to be the same kind of argument, it should read “Therefore, the unicorn probably does not exist.”


Either way, both are negative propositions. If you can prove either one, then it is possible to prove a negative.

I myself find it odd that the argument doesn’t remain on the subject of the existence of a god in the first place. The comparison (the unicorn, having nothing to do with the existence of a god, the subject at hand) goes off track and is a misapplication.


Actually, the subject is, "You are not really an atheist", not god's existence.

It is one thing to withhold judgment on the proposition "a god exists/probably exists", and quite another to judge the proposition, "a god probably does not exist" as true. If the latter is judged as true, then (by the law of contradiction) the former has been judged false. Call yourself whatever you'd like, atheist, agnostic atheist, agnostic, strong atheist. That doesn't really matter to me and it is your right to choose your own label, but try not to be so surprised when someone says "you aren't really an atheist".
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:15 am

GrammarOfAssent wrote:
Either way, both are negative propositions. If you can prove either one, then it is possible to prove a negative.

Well, it's not about proof. It's about a proposal. Namely, it's about whether the proposal (proposition) satisfied the hearer. In this case there was no evidence for the existence of unicorns. So there were probably no unicorns as far as the hearer was concerned.

Returning to the real subject, the hearer saw no good evidence for the existence of a god. So it followed that there was probably no god as far as the hearer was concerned. I don't understand how the topic got on the business of proof.
Last edited by dobbie on Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:24 am

GrammarOfAssent wrote:
Actually, the subject is, "You are not really an atheist", not god's existence.

The topic under discussion was about the six propositions. At least that is what the topic morphed to, after the introduction of the six propositions, and a request (or an invitation) to hear reactions.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:33 am

GrammarOfAssent wrote:
It is one thing to withhold judgment on the proposition "a god exists/probably exists", and quite another to judge the proposition, "a god probably does not exist" as true. If the latter is judged as true, then (by the law of contradiction) the former has been judged false.


You successfully lost me there. "To withhold judgment" is to have no comment. "To make a judgment" is to form an opinion. I don't see where something contradicts something else.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:13 am

dobbie wrote: Namely, it's about whether the proposal (proposition) satisfied the hearer.


In logic, the "satisfaction" of the hearer is called a judgment. If the proposition "satisfied the hearer", then it means the hearer has judged the proposition as true.

Returning to the real subject, the hearer saw no good evidence for the existence of a god. So it followed that there was probably no god as far as the hearer was concerned. I don't understand how the topic got on the business of proof.


Lausten brought it up and claimed that it lies with the theist alone. I challenged that claim. Anyone who makes a truth claim has the burden of proof...even if it is a universal or particular negative proposition. The only way to avoid the burden of proof about a truth claim is by withholding judgment (i.e. claiming "I have not decided yet").

Sure, theists must demonstrate their logical claims...but so must atheists/agnostic atheists/strong atheists/etc. So far, the positions selected from the list I offered are logical claims that include a burden of proof. I am not asking for you to demonstrate the proof to me. I am simply stating that it is there even if you continue to deny it.

The topic under discussion was about the six propositions. At least that is what the topic morphed to, after the introduction of the six propositions, and a request (or an invitation) to hear reactions.


Indeed. Only positions 1, 2, 5, and 6 correspond to the majority of the population's understanding of "atheism". It gets extremely confusing, however, when some atheists claim that they merely lack a belief in god. They will make that claim, and then use language that, at times, outright contradicts that claim. For example, there have been few youtube TAA episodes I have viewed in which a host will claim that they merely lack a belief in god, and then later in the same episode refer to a "god that isn't there". That is fine if it is just a slip of the mind, but it certainly creates confusion.

"To make a judgment" is to form an opinion. I don't see where something contradicts something else.


Perhaps it is because the propositions are not clear. When I have been saying "a god", I have meant, "any proposed god". Because of this lack of clarity on my part, feel free to discontinue the discussion. If you have any desire to continue, perhaps you can consider the propositions again restated:

1) The proposition, "At least one god exists", is FALSE

2) The proposition, "No god exists", is TRUE

3) The proposition, "At least one god exists", can be neither TRUE nor FALSE.

4) The proposition, "At least one god exists", can not be answered at this time.

5) The proposition, "At least one god exists", is PROBABLY FALSE

6) The proposition, "No god exists", is PROBABLY TRUE
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby Lausten » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:49 pm

So, Grammar, I get the sense that your sole purpose for starting this thread is to make some point about logic and how it works. You are sort of applying it to the idea of atheism, but don't seem too concerned with belief or non-belief. Maybe you actually are, but you aren't bringing it into this conversation. Personally, I agree with Richard Dawkins, as stated in the God Delusion, that good scientists should, technically, call themselves agnostic/athiests. That is, there is not enough evidence currently to completely rule out the existence of some sort of god. He also adds, and I agree, that there is no evidence for any of the claims in the Bible about an after life or salvation or a whole slew of important Christian concepts. So, being agnostic only means that you are intellectually honest, not that you are holding out hope for a creator or worried about going to hell, not even in the slightest.

Do you have some other point, possibly one that is worth making, that I haven't covered?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:02 pm

GrammarofAssent wrote:
Sure, theists must demonstrate their logical claims...but so must atheists/agnostic atheists/strong atheists/etc.
Atheists such as the co-hosts of the Atheist Experience Show give their reasons. What else is there?

Perhaps it is because the propositions are not clear. When I have been saying "a god", I have meant, "any proposed god.”
The key is what proposed god, and what evidence or logic to support the existence of the proposed god. This key seems to have been overlooked by the six propositions.

If you have any desire to continue, perhaps you can consider the propositions again restated:


1) The proposition, "At least one god exists", is FALSE. [Me: How would I know?]

2) The proposition, "No god exists", is TRUE. [Me: How would I know?]

3) The proposition, "At least one god exists", can be neither TRUE nor FALSE. [Me: I don’t understand.]

4) The proposition, "At least one god exists", can not be answered at this time. [Me: Which god are we talking about?]

5) The proposition, "At least one god exists", is PROBABLY FALSE. [Me. How would I know?]

6) The proposition, "No god exists", is PROBABLY TRUE. [Me: How would I know?]

My final comments: I don’t know if anybody remembers, but I wasn’t satisfied with the original six, so I invented one. I thought that the original ones were too limited and ambiguous. I find the same problem with the revised ones. They leave me with the impression that they’re some kind of word tricks. They don’t seem to want to allow for anything else. That is, they’re sort like the argument of “leaving out the middle ground.” Anyway, that’s my feedback.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:39 pm

Lausten wrote:So, Grammar, I get the sense that your sole purpose for starting this thread is to make some point about logic and how it works.


1) I didn't start this thread. I have merely continued it.

2) Do you think you "get the sense" about my sole purpose because I have explicitly stated it several times now? So yes, my point is that, according to logic and how it works, it doesn't matter what you call yourself (atheist/agnostic atheist/strong atheist/etc.). What matters are the propositions and positions those names are supposed to represent. So who cares if someone (who has a different definition of atheism as you do) says, "you are not really an atheist"? It is a waste of energy to allow that to bother you. Use it as an opportunity to share your position and reasons for accepting the position as true.

You are sort of applying it to the idea of atheism, but don't seem too concerned with belief or non-belief. Maybe you actually are, but you aren't bringing it into this conversation.


Exactly.

Personally, I agree with Richard Dawkins, as stated in the God Delusion... That is, there is not enough evidence currently to completely rule out the existence of some sort of god.


That is fine...but you must understand that, at least to me, that proposition is vague. Specifically, "enough evidence" and "completely rule out" are vague terms. Perhaps, if you care to, you might clarify what those mean? For example: What is the difference between judging that a proposition is TRUE, and saying it is "not completely TRUE"?

He also adds, and I agree, that there is no evidence for any of the claims in the Bible about an after life or salvation or a whole slew of important Christian concepts.


That is fine. It is also a proposition. As you indicate, you find it true that "there is no evidence for...a whole slew of important Christian concepts". As long as you (and even Richard Dawkins) realize that this is not a "first principle", and therefore must be demonstrated AS TRUE, then that is fine.

So, being agnostic only means that you are intellectually honest, not that you are holding out hope for a creator or worried about going to hell, not even in the slightest.


Well I don't know what you mean when you say agnostic.I certainly don't think you are "holding out hope for a creator or worried about going to hell". However, if the position is, "I don't know if any god's existence is true", then you are being intellectually honest when you describe your position as "lacking belief in a god/deity" (the more modern, but not universal atheist's definition). However, as soon as you say, "there is not enough evidence currently to completely rule out the existence of some sort of god", you start having problems. For starters, it is not clear what you mean (as I have already mentioned). Secondly, the lack of clarity leads people to believe that you have made judgments on the proposition related to the existence of deity, even if they are "incomplete" judgments. It seems dishonest at worst, and confusing at best. In the end, you are still making a claim about truth. That needs proof.

Do you have some other point, possibly one that is worth making, that I haven't covered?


Fortunately, I don't live my life measuring the worth of my points by your standards, Lausten. There is no need for your intellect to descend to my lowly state. I already know that I am no genius or wise sage. If the moderators of this forum find my posts worthless, distracting, or inappropriate, they can restrict them as they please.
Last edited by GrammarOfAssent on Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:23 pm

dobbie wrote:The proposition, "At least one god exists", can not be answered at this time. [Me: Which god are we talking about?]


It does not matter which one. Is there "at least one god" I could conceivably mention that you have judged to exist or not? If there is such a "god", then you have made a judgment about at least one god's existence, and so the proposition does not apply to your position.

For example, I doubt that you would say, "I don't know yet" when presented with the question "Does the Flying Spaghetti Monster exist?". Maybe you would.

They leave me with the impression that they’re some kind of word tricks.


No word tricks. Just logic.

They don’t seem to want to allow for anything else. That is, they’re sort like the argument of “leaving out the middle ground.”


What sort of middle ground can there be for existence? A thing exists or it doesn't. What do you mean "middle ground"?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:20 pm

GrammarOfAssent wrote: What sort of middle ground can there be for existence? A thing exists or it doesn't. What do you mean "middle ground"?

Now the discussion is going in circles. I've already said that the key is to name a god and reasons for the existence of the god. The six propositions don't include the key, and so they're limited. The hearer doesn't have enough information to answer any of the six propositions in a reasonabe way. Owing to the form of the six propositions, ambiguity prevails in them.

As for logic, well, there's logic and there's logic. Who's logic are you talking about? Yours, mine, or somebody else's. In other words, logic can be faulty or relative. So it isn't enough to assert that a particular proposition is logical.

As an example, While W.L. Craig will say that his argument is the most reasonable, his argument actually has holes in the logic. But he doesn't see the holes. I think his arguments don't have anything orignal to say, and at other times they stink. But he thinks his arguments do just fine (but at the same time, in his podcast, he realizes that not all Christians agree with everything he says).

A friend of mine wants to ask if you're trying out a new argument for theism using the six propositions. He, too, has trouble with them and their logic.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:44 pm

dobbie wrote:A friend of mine wants to ask if you're trying out a new argument for theism using the six propositions.


The answer to his question is no. By asking what your position is (specifically, if your position is represented by any of the propositions), that is exactly what I would like to know and no more (at least not presently). There is no need to prepare for some "proof" based on your selection of on of the 6 propositions, HA.

As for logic, well, there's logic and there's logic. Who's logic are you talking about? Yours, mine, or somebody else's. In other words, logic can be faulty or relative. So it isn't enough to assert that a particular proposition is logical.


This is like asking: "Who's math? Yours, mine, or somebody else's?" You are right that people can make errors of logic, but they do so in the same way one makes errors in mathematics. If there is a misunderstanding, it is not due to logic, but rather in the apprehension/understanding of terms. I will attempt to clear it up below.

I've already said that the key is to name a god and reasons for the existence of the god. The six propositions don't include the key, and so they're limited.


I know you have already said that, and I already said that the "name" of the god is not logically relevant. I know that you are used to replying in that way to that question, so let me try explaining why it is irrelevant/unnecessary again:

The proposition being considered is "at least one god exists". Let me state the same thing in a manner that will help:

"At least one god is a thing that actually exists"

Now, let's call every god a person has ever/could ever ask you about (i.e. any god I or anyone else could name/propose): group [S]

Let's call all things that actually exist: group [P]

The proposition can now be restated: "There is at least one member of [S] that is also a member of [P]"

If you do not have enough information to judge the proposition as either true or false (e.g. not knowing all of the members of group [S]), then you would have to say, "I don't know", and not, "Which member of [S] are you talking about?".

While W.L. Craig will says that his argument is the most reasonable, his argument actually has holes in the logic. But he doesn't see the holes.


Just like in mathematics, if there is an error in logic, it can be proven. If W.L. Craig will not accept the logical errors present in his arguments, then it is not the fault of logic.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:58 am

Grammar wrote: I know you have already said that, and I already said that the "name" of the god is not logically relevant.

We'll have to agree to disagee on the point (that the particular god doesn't have to be identified). And it's a good example of how logic can be relative on occcasions. I didn't ask for the name of a god. I asked to name (describe) a god that exists. Providing enough description of the thing under discussion is important. Otherwise too much room is made for ambiguity.

If I had chosen any of the original six proposition I would have picked the one Lausten did. But I didn't like the form of the proposition (it was too general) and, sure enough, further discussion of Lausten's choice turned out to be some kind of semantics thing.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:02 am

Other comments: On the one hand I can understand the six propositions as being some kind of logic teaser.
But on the other hand they shouldn't be taken very seriously because of their semantic issues. What do you think?

Further, the title "You are not really an atheist" contains a semantics issue, too (about the word atheist). What do you think?
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