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35 comments | Thursday, August 17, 2006

Introduction

Atheists differ in many ways. To attempt to say that atheists believe “X” is most likely painting with a wide brush. We often try to put the atheist into a conforming box that may not comport with their specific presuppositions. Moreover, atheist may argue differently on subjects like morality, logic and other things that ground their unbelief. However, being an ‘atheist’ means a certain thing—namely that they deny the existence of God or gods.

Often, when I engage an atheist concerning God’s existence, I am often told that the person making the claim bares the burden of proof. However, what the atheist fails to realize is that we are both making a claim on the subject. The Christian claim is (1) God exists and the Atheist claim is (2) God does not exist; thus, both the atheist and theist hold a position on the proposition of God’s existence. Therefore, each side of the debate shoulders a burden for their own position and does not exclusively rest on one side.

There is a primary tactic that the atheist may try to avert their side of the burden. Primarily, they redefine the term “atheism” to “no belief” in God. In this post, I will demonstrate the classical definition of “Atheism” and how the evasion to shoulder their burden is fallacious.

‘Atheism’ as the “absence of belief” in God

Many atheists are stating that they “lack a belief in God” or have an “absence of belief in God” or they state that they have “no belief in God”, or they state that they are ‘without a belief in God”. In fact, it’s becoming more popular the more it’s tossed out. No thanks to Gordon Stein, he states the position as follows (emphasis mine):

The average theologian (there are exceptions, of course) uses 'atheist' to mean a person who denies the existence of a God. Even an atheist would agree that some atheists (a small minority) would fit this definition. However, most atheists would strongly dispute the adequacy of this definition. Rather, they would hold that an atheist is a person without a belief in God. The distinction is small but important. Denying something means that you have knowledge of what it is that you are being asked to affirm, but that you have rejected that particular concept. To be without a belief in God merely means that the term 'god' has no importance or possibly no meaning to you. Belief in God is not a factor in your life. Surely this is quite different from denying the existence of God. Atheism is not a belief as such. It is the lack of belief.

When we examine the components of the word 'atheism,' we can see this distinction more clearly. The word is made up of 'a-' and '-theism.' Theism, we will all agree, is a belief in a God or gods. The prefix 'a-' can mean 'not' (or 'no') or 'without.' If it means 'not,' then we have as an atheist someone who is not a theist (i.e., someone who does not have a belief in a God or gods). If it means 'without,' then an atheist is someone without theism, or without a belief in God. [Gordon Stein (Ed.), "An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism," p. 3. Prometheus, 1980.]

Definition Problems

The “lack of belief” definition of atheism is a problematic definition for several reasons. You will not find this definition of atheism (at least now) in any reputable dictionary. The lack of belief definition is far too broad in scope. A “lack of belief” (arguably) can be attributed to agnostics, babies, aardvarks, goldfish (name your animal/pet) and perhaps even rocks. Come to think of it, my old shoe on the patio has a “lack of belief” in God. Besides, none of those would identify as an ‘atheist’ [—though my shoe is not talking to me right now (I’ll update)]. You see, the “lack of belief[ism]” brush is far too wide.

Even if the “lack of belief” definition was adopted, who would know what someone meant when they said they were an atheist? One wouldn’t be able to tell if they never thought of the proposition “God does [or does not] exist” or if they were undecided on God’s existence, or if they thought God’s existence cannot be known, or affirmed that God does not exists. Hence, the “lack of belief” definition is entirely inadequate in identifying what the hell an ‘atheist’ is.

Grammatical Efficacy

Another deficiency with a “lack of belief in God” is the grammatical structure. What you find is that atheists who abide in “lack of belief” are simply *shifting the location of the negative* in this sentence. So, the atheist is basically stating that they *don’t believe* in the existence of God—thus, they still have a *negative* within the statement. (See Kenneth G. Wilson’s demonstration of the grammatical shift of the negative in The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Under the explanation of “raising.”

One can demonstrate that the change in definition still does succeed in averting a *position.* For example, take a look at the following examples:

(i) “I don’t believe my wife is at work” is equivalent to “I believe my wife is not at work.” It doesn’t follow that I don’t have *any* beliefs about my wife being at work.

(ii) “I don’t believe they made reservations for dinner” is equivalent to “I believe they did not make reservations for dinner.” It doesn’t follow that I don’t have *any* beliefs about their reservations for dinner.

(iii) “I don’t believe he ran the entire way home from practice” is equivalent to “I believe he did not run the entire way home from practice.” It doesn’t follow that I don’t have *any* beliefs about him running home from practice

(iv) “I don’t believe ‘atheist’ means ‘lack of belief’” is equivalent to “I believe ‘atheist does not mean lack of belief.” It doesn’t follow that I don’t have *any* beliefs about atheists ‘lack of belief’

(v) “I don’t believe in the existence of God” is equivalent to “I believe that God does not exist.” It doesn’t follow that I don’t have *any* beliefs about the existence of God.

As demonstrated, ‘Atheists’ are not approaching this issue with a blank slate, they come to the table *with a belief* about the existence of God—not the lack of one. Stating that they “lack belief in God” will not avert their own standpoint on God’s existence. They have a belief about the proposition of God’s existence; if they had “no belief” they wouldn’t self identify as “atheists.”

What’s interesting, is that you will even find the lack of belief definition and etymology on wikipedia and answers.com (but if answers.com [which usually just uploads wiki] says it--it *must* be true, right?—wrong and wrong again). Wikipedia and answers.com are good resources, but they both have their limitations and set backs. Before I examine the etymology of ‘Atheism,’ lets take a look at how *reputable* dictionaries and encyclopedias define the term.

Classical ‘Atheism’

Despite the popularity of a “lack of belief” definition for atheism, there is a more formidably understood and classic definition of Atheism—one that is held by the majority of the population. Atheism is the: “belief that there is no God.” You will find this definition in the following dictionaries and encyclopedias:

  • Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology
  • Etymological Dictionary of English Language
  • The Academic American Encyclopedia
  • Random House Encyclopedia
  • Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
  • Oxford Companion to Philosophy
  • The World Book Encyclopedia
  • Encyclopedia Americana
  • The Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Encyclopedia of Religion
  • The Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia.

To illustrate some online examples as well:

  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition states that Atheism is: “denial of the existence of God or gods and of any supernatural existence, to be distinguished from agnosticism, which holds that the existence cannot be proved. The term atheism has been used as an accusation against all who attack established orthodoxy, as in the trial of Socrates. There were few avowed atheists from classical times until the 19th cent., when popular belief in a conflict between religion and science brought forth preachers of the gospel of atheism, such as Robert G. Ingersoll. There are today many individuals and groups professing atheism. The 20th cent. has seen many individuals and groups professing atheism, including Bertrand Russell and Madalyn Murry O’Hair.”

  • Merriam-Webster Online states that an Atheist is: “one who believes that there is no deity.” And Atheism is: “a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity.” And Disbelief as: “the act of disbelieving : mental rejection of something as untrue”

  • Dictionary.com states that Atheism is: 1“Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. 2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.” And an Atheist is: “One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.” And Disbelief as: “Refusal or reluctance to believe.”

As it can be seen, the classic understanding of “Atheism” and Atheist” is a denial that God exists—Not a “lack of belief” in God.

Etymology

Atheists like Stein and much of the online community also like to argue the etymology of “atheism”. What’s stated, roughly, is that ‘a’ means ‘without’. By attaching ‘a’ to ‘theism’; one is ‘without-theism.’ After arguing this position, then, an ‘atheist’ is just someone who is ‘with the absence of theism.’ Another prominent atheist, George Smith makes the same argument in Atheism: The Case Against God, when he writes, ". . . the term 'a-theism' literally means 'without theism,' or without belief in a god or gods. Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief . . . If we use the phrase 'belief-in-god' as a substitute for theism; we see that its negation is 'no-belief-in-god.'"

From the Online Etymology Dictionary, ‘a’ is: “prefix meaning "not," from Gk. a-, an- "not," from PIE base *ne "not" (see un-).” In addition, ‘no-gods,’ or ‘godless’ is the more logical outworking of the etymology of atheist/atheism. And it makes no sense for an “-ism” to be a based on a lack of belief.

Atheist Theodore Drange, in his article, Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism, describes the problems of the alleged “without” etymology of ‘atheism.’

Sometimes the use of the term "atheism" to mean "lack of theistic belief" is supported by an appeal to etymology. For example, Martin, in [Atheism: A Philosophical Justification.], says the following:

"In Greek a' means without' or not' and theos' means god.' From this standpoint an atheist would simply be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots, then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence of belief in God.[4]"

This argument is rather unsatisfactory for at least two reasons. First, it is not completely clear that the correct translation of the Greek prefix "a" is "without." It might also mean "no," in which case "a-the-ism" could be translated as "no-god-ism," or "the view that there is no god." Note that there is no "ism" in Greek. Second, even if the etymology of the word "atheism" did indicate that it once meant "without belief in God," that is still not a good guide to current usage. It is quite common for words to acquire new meanings over time. It seems far more important what people mean by a word today than what it once meant long ago.

Another argument sometimes put forward is that we should ascertain what the word "atheist" means by taking a poll among atheists. But that is an unclear suggestion. How are we to decide who is an atheist (and thus to be polled) prior to ascertaining what the word "atheist" means? Let us assume that the poll is to be taken among all those native speakers of English who are not theists. It is still not clear what the result of such a poll would be. I have never seen any statistical result presented on the matter. My conclusion here is that no good case has ever been made for using the word "atheist" in the sense of "one who is without belief in God."

So again, we see that ‘atheism’ is not the absence of theism, but the denial of it.

Equivocating Definitions

In order to avert the burden of proof, some atheists have changed the definition of atheisms to a ‘lack of belief.” This attempts to put the atheist in a non-affirming position and shifts the burden *to the person making the claim.* However, as we have seen, both the atheist and theist are bringing claims to the table and each must defend those claims.

The problem with the “lack of belief” position is that it conceals the atheist’s true position. While asserting that they “lack belief”, they are truthfully holding to the classical position in their philosophy (see above). In their writings, they are demonstrating their rejection of Gods existence (sometimes dogmatically); however, when challenging their position, out comes their ‘sudden’ lack of belief on the issue. In one side of the mouth their parading their disbelief, and on the other side of their mouth their denying *any* belief. For people who are in “absence of belief in God”, they sure do have plenty of ‘opinions’ about the matter. In other words, their equivocating the two definitions of atheism to suit their purpose of evading the burden of proof. This method of argumentation is dishonest and should be pointed out.

The Logical problem of ‘Atheism”

Now that we have cut through the language game, we should note that the classical definition of atheism can put the atheist in a predicament. Some might assert that to be an atheist, you must be in the position to prove a universal negative. Now, I happen to think there is a way out for the atheist. But for dogmatic atheists who pontificate the non-existence of God (there out there), there is a logical dilemma. If all possibilities for the existence of God can be exhaustively enumerated; you can prove the universal; however, you can’t do this when dealing with the proposition of Gods existence.

The atheist then, is philosophically naïve to assume that they can disprove Gods existence. However, the atheist does not have to assert a universal negative to maintain their atheism. An atheist can maintain that while God's existence *cannot be logically or empirically disproven*, it is nevertheless *unproven.* With this qualification, the atheist is not committing a logical fallacy and still maintains their atheism. However, as we can see, the atheist as well as the theist both has a position on the proposition of Gods existence—and therefore, both shoulder the burden of proof for their position , since the Law of the excluded middle does not apply in this situation.

Conclusion

It’s common today to see atheists avert their own burden of proof. One tactic the atheist has done to is to re-define atheism from the “belief that there is no God” to the “lack of belief in God.” However, the re-definition of atheism is fallacious and still fails on its face to avert their burden of proof.

If the atheist says that God’s existence cannot be proven, he’s assuming that the Christian has no proof or that all his proof is wrong, which is the very thing the atheist would need to prove (and thus he’s begging the question). In addition, for the Christian theist, to deny the idea of God is to deny the actual existence of God no matter what language game you want to play. It isn’t good enough for the atheist to say that they ‘lack belief’ of God *therefore* they are denying nothing about "Gods" actual existence. By self definition (no matter how you slice it) atheists must examine all of reality (within their epistemological realm) to evaluate the concept of God. In summary, neither the atheist nor the Christian is “neutral” in their approach to the question of God’s existence.

In summary, neither the atheist nor the Christian is “neutral” in their approach to the question of God’s existence.

The question of God’s existence is not acontextual. Atheism and theism arise from alternative systems of belief. Each system of beliefs includes presuppositions about reality, knowledge, and how we live our lives. Thus, each system of belief must be argued for—no language game will change that.

Some atheists do acknowledge that both the atheist and theist bare a burden of proof when arguing the existence of God. Jeffery Jay Lowder comments in the article Is Atheism Presumptuous? A Reply to Paul Copan (2000):

In a recent article, Paul Copan challenges Flew's presumption of atheism, calling it "presumptuousness." According to Copan, "the atheist also shares the burden of proof" because "atheism is just as much a claim to know something ("God does not exist") as theism ("God exists")."[3] I agree with Copan that anyone who claims, "God does not exist," must shoulder a burden of proof just as much as anyone who claims, "God exists."

Both atheist and theist have knowledge claims that must be argued for. Evading the burden of proof demonstrates the weakness of ones own position. It’s high time that atheists who ‘lack belief’ own up on their burden as well as the theist.

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35 Comments:

Blogger GooseHenry said...

BF

Right on. The problem seems to be that we are considered to be the ones that bring extraordinary claims to the table.

To me, claiming that morality is just behaviour and that trustworhty reasoning has come from non-rational causal processes seems extraordinary.

Stay blessed. As TIO mentioned earlier, there are things way more important in life than blogging.

8/19/2006 1:14 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi BF
Seems the atheists' "lack of belief" definition of choice for atheist is "folks in denial". They are admitting that they can't say whether God exists or not, just that they don't recognize Him. Not only do they avoid their own burden of proof, they refuse to look at theistic proofs. In the old days, they used to call that "ignorance".

The Bible comes to life yet again in our modern age as it predicted those who don't recognize God will lose their minds "progressively" (Romans 1:21-23).

Great post!

8/21/2006 1:52 PM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

Brutha, that was sweeeet! I just finished up my own posting of "belief", "faith", "lack of", and of course only one side having to bear "the burden of proof".

You'll know what I mean when you stop by. It never ceases to amaze me how Christians, no matter where they are in the world, can even be posting on like minded topics at the same time.

It truly is a God thing.

8/21/2006 6:50 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

I'm sorry, BF, but bollocks to that.
You can quibble over word usage all you like (BTW, that Columbia Encyclopedia entry is incorrect: Ingersoll was an avowed agnostic and a humanist, not necessarily an atheist), but the language changes, on a nearly daily basis. At one point, 2 yrs. ago, the definition also meant 'immoral' (which has since gone).
& no, I will not share the burden of proof, that's bollocks too.
I'll tell you the same thing I've told Goose in the past: you want me to buy that car? You need to sell it to me.
It’s common today to see atheists avert their own burden of proof. One tactic the atheist has done to is to re-define atheism from the “belief that there is no God” to the “lack of belief in God.” However, the re-definition of atheism is fallacious and still fails on its face to avert their burden of proof.
Hey, you got concrete proof of the supernatural? I'll look at it.

Jim:
Not only do they avoid their own burden of proof, they refuse to look at theistic proofs.
Then bring it, you ageist.

8/22/2006 12:36 AM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

RA:

"I will not share the burden of proof, that's bollocks too."

What I got from BF's post was exactly the response you give. You do not "believe" God exists. For the sake of argument, let's put aside the terminology, at this point.

Where the double standard comes into play is the atheist requires "proof" of God's existence in order for him/her to accept. If they feel it is not there they say they cannot believe.

YET, they will "believe" that there is no life/existence after death. But again, in their own words, no evidence to substantiate the claim is offered. It becomes a "belief" that there is nothing beyond this life.

For some reason the atheist feels they owe no proof or evidence as to why they believe that humans just "push up daisy's" when all is said and done.

It is one thing to make the claim that there is no life after day but you lack the burden of proof as well.

C'mon RA, sell me your car! ;)

8/22/2006 10:58 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Jim,

Thanks for stopping by. You nailed with Romans 1. That chapter kept popping into the mind when I was writing the post.

TIO,

Thanks buddy. The ‘lack of belief’ line is a terrible method of aversion. I’ll stop by your blog when I get a chance.

8/22/2006 10:58 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

RA,

Welcome

“I'm sorry, BF, but bollocks to that.”

I’m sorry RA, but I call bollocks to your bollocks ;-). You failed to even engage my post, which offered my line of reason for the atheist side of the burden. QED!!!

“You can quibble over word usage all you like”

I did not quibble; I corrected the erroneous redefinition and equivocations. Which, you fail to address in your disagreement. It’s more that your are the quibbling one.

(BTW, that Columbia Encyclopedia entry is incorrect: Ingersoll was an avowed agnostic and a humanist, not necessarily an atheist), but the language changes, on a nearly daily basis. At one point, 2 yrs. ago, the definition also meant 'immoral' (which has since gone).& no, I will not share the burden of proof, that's bollocks too.

And I demonstrated how the ‘language change’ was both evasive, dishonest and did not provide a basis for the position. It is a semantic game. Again, you have not even engaged my arguments—I doubt you even read the entire post; had you; you would not have made the repeated errors.

“I'll tell you the same thing I've told Goose in the past: you want me to buy that car? You need to sell it to me.”

Whether or not you ‘buy the car’ or ‘come to belief in God’ is out my hands. It’s not my prerogative to ‘convert you.’ However, if we are going to have a discussion, it should be mutual. I am not trying to ‘convert you.’

“Hey, you got concrete proof of the supernatural? I'll look at it.”

Here is the part were we both have a burden. If this were a conversation of Gods existence, I would ask you to convey your criterion for ‘proof’ (or else how would I know what to give you?). Following, if you state that it must be empirical, we would have to discuss why empirical knowledge is necessary. In other words, you would have to support the premise that only knowledge can be known empirically (if that was your position, for example).

Shouldering your burden does not mean that I’m asking to ‘prove’ there is noGod (unless your making the affirmation).

Oh, and one more thing:

Then bring it, you ageist.

Jim is my guest. And I will not tolerate your unfounded ad hominem attacks. You can defecate on your blog all you want, but wipe your feet before you come here.

8/22/2006 11:05 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Yah, what TIO said. Or he could just read the post.

8/22/2006 11:16 AM

 
Blogger KA said...

BF:
BF:
I’m sorry RA, but I call bollocks to your bollocks ;-). You failed to even engage my post, which offered my line of reason for the atheist side of the burden. QED!!!
That’s because there is no atheist side of the burden.
I did not quibble; I corrected the erroneous redefinition and equivocations. Which, you fail to address in your disagreement. It’s more that your are the quibbling one.
Hey, I’m quibbling over common usage.
And I demonstrated how the ‘language change’ was both evasive, dishonest and did not provide a basis for the position. It is a semantic game. Again, you have not even engaged my arguments—I doubt you even read the entire post; had you; you would not have made the repeated errors.
I did read the entire thing – & what I find foolish, is that the atheist seems to be the last 1 anyone wants to go to for the actual definition. My other point is that the language changes – sometimes gradually, sometimes overnight. To accuse the atheists of deliberately changing the definition of avoiding your alleged ‘burden of proof’ is painting w/a broad brush. It’s irritating.
& what errors, BTW?
Whether or not you ‘buy the car’ or ‘come to belief in God’ is out my hands. It’s not my prerogative to ‘convert you.’ However, if we are going to have a discussion, it should be mutual. I am not trying to ‘convert you.’
Discussion mutual? Thass cool. Burden of proof? I’m not the 1 w/ the negative proof fallacy.
Here is the part were we both have a burden. If this were a conversation of Gods existence, I would ask you to convey your criterion for ‘proof’ (or else how would I know what to give you?). Following, if you state that it must be empirical, we would have to discuss why empirical knowledge is necessary. In other words, you would have to support the premise that only knowledge can be known empirically (if that was your position, for example).
Of course it’s empirical. Scientific method & all that.
Shouldering your burden does not mean that I’m asking to ‘prove’ there is noGod (unless your making the affirmation).
Hey, lack of evidence to the contrary usually has weight in a court of law.
Jim is my guest. And I will not tolerate your unfounded ad hominem attacks. You can defecate on your blog all you want, but wipe your feet before you come here.
I’m sorry, but A. I don’t think that’s an ad hom, B. as to unfounded, & I quote: “Oddly enough, on one side were the clean-cut kids and on the other were a small group of raggedy-looking, washed up, white-haired hippies” in re: the Battle Cry post he made here http://moralscienceclub.blogspot.com/2006/06/rebels-without-cause-old-hippies-in.html, only place I know of where there was a counter-protest was in S.F, and I know those people, none of them are ‘raggedy’, or ‘washed up’. A ponytail doesn’t a hippie make, & C. yeah, it’s your blog, but trust you me, if you thought I was slinging feces, well, I have the capacity to be far more misbehaved than that. It was more of a loud raspberry.

In short, I say there’s no such critter. As they say in Missouri, “Show me.”

TIO:
C'mon RA, sell me your car! ;)
Nah, you get to drive anything you like.

8/22/2006 1:05 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Relucty,

“That’s because there is no atheist side of the burden.”

That my friend is an assertion; NOT an argument. I offered reasons why the atheist does have a burden, what are the reasons the atheist does not have a burden?

“Hey, I’m quibbling over common usage.”

I laid out the classical usage and the ‘lack of belief’ usage. Moreover, I gave multiple reasons why the ‘lack of belief’ definition his problematic. However, you offer nothing.

“I did read the entire thing – & what I find foolish, is that the atheist seems to be the last 1 anyone wants to go to for the actual definition.”

(i) There are many atheists who still hold to the classical definition. (ii) the ‘new’ definition is to broad and problematic. I gave multiple reasons why the new definition is incoherent; however, you refuse to engage them.

“My other point is that the language changes – sometimes gradually, sometimes overnight. To accuse the atheists of deliberately changing the definition of avoiding your alleged ‘burden of proof’ is painting w/a broad brush. It’s irritating.& what errors, BTW?”

Language changed when the perception of the term changes. When people say there an ‘atheist’ what comes to mind is a person who rejects the idea of ‘God.” Not ‘lack of belief’. Atheist Alonzo Fyfe touches on that here I never challenged that definitions change, I challenged what the change means, its implications, and it’s purpose. The fact that you find it irritating is irrelevant.

What errors? Affirming ‘lack of belief’ when you have a belief (God does not exist—don’t make me quote you! =)) and the fallacy of shifting burden of proof in order to expunge your self from defending your position.

“Discussion mutual? Thass cool. Burden of proof? I’m not the 1 w/ the negative proof fallacy.”

You are the master of the strawman argument ra ;-). If it was my argument that because atheist have not disproved God, or defend atheism; therefore, God exists—then I would be committing the fallacy. However, that is not my argument

My argument is that both the theist and atheist have to shoulder their burden of proof in matters of arguing about God’s existence. I made it as clear as possible in my post.

“Of course it’s empirical. Scientific method & all that.”

My point exactly. Your position on empiricism has a direct effect on how you approach the subject of God’s existence. This would be something we would have to ‘hash out’ in a mutual discussion, both offering reasons why or why not empiricism and/or other sources of knowledge are acceptable or unacceptable.

“Hey, lack of evidence to the contrary usually has weight in a court of law.”

Again, you reveal your atheistic position. Namely “There is no proof for God.” The criterion for proof would need to be established in order to offer reasons for Gods existence. Moreover, you would need to defend the position that all the arguments ever given for “proof” of Gods existence are some how flawed. Which would make you a highly knowledgeable atheist =) Rather, I think you would argue that thus far, any arguments for God’s existence have failed because of X, Y, and Z.

“I’m sorry, but A. I don’t think that’s an ad hom,”

You attacked his character. I would respectfully ask that you take up any “beef” you have with his on his own blog. I am sure he can hold his own against you. The appropriate thing to do would to convey your disagreement with him respectfully; not call him out here (me casa) were it’s not relevant. Fair enough?

Ciao

8/22/2006 2:40 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

BF:
That my friend is an assertion; NOT an argument. I offered reasons why the atheist does have a burden, what are the reasons the atheist does not have a burden?
Simple: there’s no proof. Why should I then entertain the notion?
I laid out the classical usage and the ‘lack of belief’ usage. Moreover, I gave multiple reasons why the ‘lack of belief’ definition his problematic. However, you offer nothing.
Oh please. The difference between ‘without’ & ‘not’.
(i) There are many atheists who still hold to the classical definition. (ii) the ‘new’ definition is to broad and problematic. I gave multiple reasons why the new definition is incoherent; however, you refuse to engage them.
Incoherent? You need to look up that word, I think. Many? Like whom?
Language changed when the perception of the term changes. When people say there an ‘atheist’ what comes to mind is a person who rejects the idea of ‘God.” Not ‘lack of belief’. Atheist Alonzo Fyfe touches on that here I never challenged that definitions change, I challenged what the change means, its implications, and it’s purpose. The fact that you find it irritating is irrelevant.
Let me fill you in on what I find ‘irritating’:
“The problem with the “lack of belief” position is that it conceals the atheist’s true position. While asserting that they “lack belief”, they are truthfully holding to the classical position in their philosophy (see above). In their writings, they are demonstrating their rejection of Gods existence (sometimes dogmatically); however, when challenging their position, out comes their ‘sudden’ lack of belief on the issue. In one side of the mouth their parading their disbelief, and on the other side of their mouth their denying *any* belief. For people who are in “absence of belief in God”, they sure do have plenty of ‘opinions’ about the matter. In other words, their equivocating the two definitions of atheism to suit their purpose of evading the burden of proof. This method of argumentation is dishonest and should be pointed out.”
So now all atheists are hypocrites, & are dishonest. Disbelief = denying any belief = lack of belief. All 3 of those are the same damn thing Who’s accusing whom of equivocating here? You can juggle the words all you like to impress your friends, but that’s crap, pure & simple.
What errors? Affirming ‘lack of belief’ when you have a belief (God does not exist—don’t make me quote you! =)) and the fallacy of shifting burden of proof in order to expunge your self from defending your position.
Hey, I’ve supplied plenty of it.
You are the master of the strawman argument ra ;-). If it was my argument that because atheist have not disproved God, or defend atheism; therefore, God exists—then I would be committing the fallacy. However, that is not my argument
No, your argument is that we should share the burden. Sorry, that’s your cross to bear. Strawman? Doubt it.
My argument is that both the theist and atheist have to shoulder their burden of proof in matters of arguing about God’s existence. I made it as clear as possible in my post.
Which I understood completely. It’s an underhanded manuever at best. How am I to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist, w/o proof that it does? Besides which, that means I have to presuppose your deity exists.
My point exactly. Your position on empiricism has a direct effect on how you approach the subject of God’s existence. This would be something we would have to ‘hash out’ in a mutual discussion, both offering reasons why or why not empiricism and/or other sources of knowledge are acceptable or unacceptable.
That sounds…intriguing (he said warily). Lemmee think about that 1.
Again, you reveal your atheistic position. Namely “There is no proof for God.”
Thought I revealed that long ago.
The criterion for proof would need to be established in order to offer reasons for Gods existence. Moreover, you would need to defend the position that all the arguments ever given for “proof” of Gods existence are some how flawed. Which would make you a highly knowledgeable atheist =) Rather, I think you would argue that thus far, any arguments for God’s existence have failed because of X, Y, and Z.
Here’s the problem w/that approach. The moment I agree to your hypothesis (said existence), you have the advantage.
Words are just that: words. I think you know what I need, for proof.
You attacked his character. I would respectfully ask that you take up any “beef” you have with his on his own blog. I am sure he can hold his own against you. The appropriate thing to do would to convey your disagreement with him respectfully; not call him out here (me casa) were it’s not relevant. Fair enough?
Yeah, fair enough. Sorry about that.

Here’s the thing that’s getting up my nose lately:
I keep getting told that I’m religious, I keep getting told what I believe, what I don’t, get accused of dishonesty (intellectual or otherwise), in short, I get dictated to, no matter how patiently I explain it, I can refute it rationally a 1000 times, & then someone ELSE comes along & repeats the process. It angers me. Quite a bit, too much probably.

Now, my question:
What do you have against atheists? I mean, you obviously have a chip on your shoulder. So do I, but I think our MO’s are very, very different. You come blasting out accusing us en masse of dishonesty, insisting on the other side shouldering the burden: if you’re so sure you’re right, why does our existence make you so insecure? The entire post was an ad hominem – be honest. If you’re so spot on, you shouldn’t even need to insist on an even playing field, right?
I have a chip on my shoulder, because I feel religion was & is destructive to our species. I want EVERYONE to survive - & that includes everyone on the other side of the fence.
Religion is not the man – history shows us this, past & present.

Now let me point something out here: if I were to insist you were a Mormon (or a Catholic, or whatever), for instance, when you're a Baptist, & no matter how often you denied it, refuted it, insisted on it, & I continued to pester you about it, pointing out little nuances in scripture, I think you'd be more than a little irked, wouldn't you?
Think about that.

Ciao

8/22/2006 8:52 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

RA,

“Simple: there’s no proof. Why should I then entertain the notion?”

The statement “there’s no proof” is the exact notion in contention. It reveals that you do not simply “lack belief” in God, but hold a position that God does not exist. If you’re going to make a blanket assertion, you need to support it. For example, there are contemporary philosophers such as J. P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, William Lain Crain, John Frame and many others who have spent most of their life giving arguments for the existence of God. When your state ‘there is no proof’ you’re saying that everything they have offered does not prove God’s existence. All the theist is asking is on what basis (and why) do they fail? And the theist likewise can support the positive position. I don’t see why that is so unreasonable.

“Oh please. The difference between ‘without’ & ‘not’.”

The mention of these differences is brought us by atheists like Smith and Stein not me. I was just taking their argument and offering reasons why it’s flawed.

“Incoherent? You need to look up that word, I think. Many? Like whom?”

Think some more. The grammatical framing is confused. Again, I made the argument in my post that you keep ignoring. I already named Drange and Fyfe, but dropping names is a waste of time. If you want to hold to a ‘lack of belief’ position, you should engage the problems with it I listed. Is it too much to ask for you to do that?

“So now all atheists are hypocrites, & are dishonest.”

Another strawman argument. I did not say that ‘all atheists are hypocrites, & are dishonest.’ In the context of the post itself, my contention is with those who affirm that God does not exist, then when a challenged state that they have no belief. As if they came to the table with a blank slate. It is dishonest for someone to claim in one statement that God does not exist, and then later affirm that they have no beliefs about God.

“Disbelief = denying any belief = lack of belief. All 3 of those are the same damn thing. Who’s accusing whom of equivocating here? You can juggle the words all you like to impress your friends, but that’s crap, pure & simple.”

(i)That is exactly what my post says. Since you either didn’t read it, or lack reading comprehension let me quote myself: Another deficiency with a “lack of belief in God” is the grammatical structure. What you find is that atheists who abide in “lack of belief” are simply *shifting the location of the negative* in this sentence. So, the atheist is basically stating that they *don’t believe* in the existence of God—thus, they still have a *negative* within the statement.

(ii) If your going to accuse me of equivocation, you will have to demonstrate as much. Secondly, you emotional ranting rings hollow. Take notice that you are substituting adjectives for arguments.

“No, your argument is that we should share the burden. Sorry, that’s your cross to bear. Strawman? Doubt it.”

Each side carries a position. The theist (1) There is a God and The atheist (2) there is no God. You have said as much many times. After all, they are logically equivalent. "X exists" and "X does not exist" are convertible. Negate them and they switch places. They can be plugged into the same logical formulas.

“Which I understood completely. It’s an underhanded manuever at best. How am I to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist, w/o proof that it does? Besides which, that means I have to presuppose your deity exists.”

You can discuss God as a hypothetical even if you deny His existence. Nobody is assuming you need ‘prove’ God doesn’t exist (unless you’re dogmatically affirming the position). All that’s is being asked is for you to state the reasons in which you believe it’s more likely that God does not exist. Stating that there is ‘no proof’ is just a blanket statement. The problem is what’s proof to person A is not proof to person B.

“Here’s the problem w/that approach. The moment I agree to your hypothesis (said existence), you have the advantage. Words are just that: words. I think you know what I need, for proof.”

(i) I don’t follow regarding an advantage point. Arguing against X doesn’t give the person who holds to X an advantage. You lost me on that one.

(ii) Atheist vary about their standards of proof. I said in the beginning of the post that it’s difficult to state that atheist believe X and they argue differently. I suppose I can guess that you personally, from my experience dialoging with you, is that in order for you to believe in God, He would have to come down and have tea and crumpets with you or something to that nature. So why bother asking for proof?


“Here’s the thing that’s getting up my nose lately:
I keep getting told that I’m religious, I keep getting told what I believe, what I don’t, get accused of dishonesty (intellectual or otherwise), in short, I get dictated to, no matter how patiently I explain it, I can refute it rationally a 1000 times, & then someone ELSE comes along & repeats the process. It angers me. Quite a bit, too much probably.”


Well, there are 6 billion people on the planet. I share your frustration with the same experiences, but as long as the two sides of the fence have tension and are antithetical this issue will be difficult to resolve.


“Now, my question:
What do you have against atheists? I mean, you obviously have a chip on your shoulder. So do I, but I think our MO’s are very, very different. You come blasting out accusing us en masse of dishonesty, insisting on the other side shouldering the burden: if you’re so sure you’re right, why does our existence make you so insecure? The entire post was an ad hominem – be honest. If you’re so spot on, you shouldn’t even need to insist on an even playing field, right?”


(i) My post was not an ad hom against atheists. That's only when you dismiss the argument by attacking the person, whereas I obviously offered argument with several points, saying that an action was ‘dishonest’ in no way was presented as a "refutation". Had I only written in this post, "You atheists are dishonest liars who eat babies," and, "therefore, their position is obviously is wrong and invalid..." THEN, the logic books say it is a logical fallacy.

(ii) I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. Let me put my M.O. on the record. I have nothing against atheists. The reason I spend so much time on atheism is because atheism challenges what I believe. I enjoy the intellectual exercise that (some) atheism offers. Atheism challenges me to think about what I believe and why I believe it. It motivates me to study harder and grow intellectually. The more I challenge my self the more I confidant I become in Christ. I don’t want to be the Christian who checks his brain at the church door, that’s not me and it never was. So that’s the gist of my motivations. There is no malice I assure you.

“I have a chip on my shoulder, because I feel religion was & is destructive to our species. I want EVERYONE to survive - & that includes everyone on the other side of the fence. Religion is not the man – history shows us this, past & present.”

Your right, our M.O.’s are much different.

“Now let me point something out here: if I were to insist you were a Mormon (or a Catholic, or whatever), for instance, when you're a Baptist, & no matter how often you denied it, refuted it, insisted on it, & I continued to pester you about it, pointing out little nuances in scripture, I think you'd be more than a little irked, wouldn't you?
Think about that.”


Yes. But that is dis-analogous to my post. If you want to demonstrate how its equivalent be my guest. Remember, I didn’t just quibble here and there, I offered a line of argumentation. You admitted that you fall under the classical definition of Atheism. So what’s the big problem with me stating that “you belief that God does not exist?” Is that a mischaracterization of your position?

8/23/2006 12:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O' intolerant one. While your wordplay in entertaining in a narcissitic kind of way, it really just makes mountains of mole hills. You can define 'atheism' any way you like. Just forget the word for a moment. I don't believe in your supernatural god. I see no objective, testible evidence of it and only recycled myths from earlier god-myths. Philosophical evidence is not testible and therefore of no use. I have no evidence of the absence of your god, but neither do you have any physical, objective evidence of its existence. So, if I have anything more to prove, then you must also prove why you disbelieve in every other god-myth on earth, for which you have professed a negative belief in.

8/23/2006 9:42 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Anonymous said:

“O' intolerant one.”

That’s a good start. Start right off by poising the well.

“While your wordplay in entertaining in a narcissitic kind of way, it really just akes mountains of mole hills.”

This is an unsupported assertion. So we can see you modus operandi here is you resort to a rhetorical gimmick in lieu of a real argument.

“You can define 'atheism' any way you like.”

If you notice, I did not “define atheism the way I like.” Contrary to your assertion, I defined atheism the way reputable dictionaries and encyclopedias do. I did reference at least 11 well known dictionaries and encyclopedias and provided an additional 7 online sources. So, rather than define atheism how “I like” it, I backed up my claim with 18 references. Where is your supporting argument?

“Just forget the word for a moment. I don't believe in your supernatural god. I see no objective, testible evidence of it and only recycled myths from earlier god-myths.”

Again, these are just assertions. If you want empirical evidence for God, you won’t find it. God is non-physical and so obviously not subject to empirical detection. To deny God's existence on the grounds that He is not tangible, then you need to deny the existence of logic. Have you stubbed your toe on the laws of logic lately?

“Philosophical evidence is not testible and therefore of no use.”

That is a philosophical statement and therefore ‘not testable’. Where is your empirical proof for that? Are you excluded from your own standard?

“I have no evidence of the absence of your god, but neither do you have any physical, objective evidence of its existence.”

You seem be assuming that the empirical world is all there is. If so, you will need to account for consciousness and abstract objects consistent, the laws of logic, and morality with your materialism. You have a position to defend. That is the topic of the post. Let’s stay on topic.

Evil is not an empirical property. Do I stick with materialism and deny morality? Or do I stick with morality and deny materialism? Is goodness or badness a visible, tangible, or otherwise empirically detectable property? What does goodness taste like? What does it sound like? What is the color of badness? How much does it weigh? What is its chemical composition? Is goodness round or square? Soft or prickly?

“So, if I have anything more to prove, then you must also prove why you disbelieve in every other god-myth on earth, for which you have professed a negative belief in.”

My negation of other Gods is in direct relation to my Christian faith. I have applied critiques on other “god claims’ and found them to be internally inconsistent. However, Christianity does not suffer from the internal critique because it is consistent. So, until someone cares to bring forth a counter-argument that is actually internally consistent, I see no reason to doubt the consistent belief system that I already have. It would be like giving up a ton of gold because someone said that somewhere there might be another ton that I don't know about.

Moreover, here is no onus on the Christian to disprove an “alternative” which neither the Christian nor his opponent takes seriously. Hence, there is no burden of disproof on the Christian to rule out a hypothetical which his own opponent equally denies. Unless, of course you want to take up a position for other gods and defend it.

You’re taking this off topic. You obviously have a position to defend, just as the theist does.

Cheers.

8/23/2006 11:37 AM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

RA
I've been trying to figure out your "bring it, ageist" remark but I just noticed your follow up post re: the Battle Cry kids. Just for the record I was describing what is clearly the case on the video, which is 6 minutes long (if you have time). I'm sorry if that was your Dad in the white pony-tail.:) I love old people BTW.

As for "bringing it" I'd hate to disappoint you but I think BF is doing fine without my help.

Take care

8/23/2006 3:41 PM

 
Blogger Brian said...

Partial agreement from an athiest at the Right of Reason

8/26/2006 11:15 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Brian, thanks for dropping by the blog and offering a critique. I think we are in agreement, with only a technical misinterpretation. I dropped a comment on your blog about it. I have to say, an occasional agreement is refreshing. But I wont count on it being a pattern :~}

8/27/2006 10:42 AM

 
Blogger Brian said...

BF,

I like your site. Thanks for the note on mine.

Let me ask you something because I'm intrigued, what did you mean when you said that the law of excluded didn’t apply? You seem to have some training in logic and I’m almost more curious about that remark than anything else in your entry.

Brian

8/27/2006 11:16 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Brian,

Thanks again for the comments. I have no formal training in logic; however, I have tried to teach myself the basics. I find it’s a necessary skill for articulation my thoughts clearly. Though, I have much learning to do in this area.

Regarding my statement of the Law of Excluded Middle, let me clarify:

The statement was in regards to the “Logical Problem of Atheism” in the post. That is, an affirmation of a universal negative. There are generally two positions an atheist might take. These propositions are logically different: (1) God does not exist. (2) God probably (or highly probably) does not exist (or with variations such as: God is un proven). If an atheist takes proposition (1) ‘God does not exist’ then their stuck with the horns of the dilemma. Moreover, LEM applies. This law stipulates that with any proposition, it must be either true or false; a "middle" option is "excluded." Something is either A or not-A; there is no third option.

However, with proposition (2), the atheist is not affirming P V ¬P; rather, this atheist is speaking in probabilities. Atheist Kai Neilson says “To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false….All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists”(Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice, New York: Harper & Row, 1971, 143-44).” [I haven’t read his book, but I picked that quote up from somewhere.] Hence, if the atheist is not affirming proposition (1), but (2), or a similar variant, then the law of excluded middle does not apply. Thus, the atheist has maintained his/her atheism without having to prove a universal negative.


That can be cleaned up, but I hope it clarifies some. If there is a flaw in my thinking let me know. I am always open to correction, especially on inconsequential maters :-}. At worst, a correction would just make my knowledge of the subject matter stronger.

Thanks again.

8/27/2006 1:49 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

Jim:
I've been trying to figure out your "bring it, ageist" remark but I just noticed your follow up post re: the Battle Cry kids.
Well, that was actually the Philadelphia protest. I don't know any of those people.
Just for the record I was describing what is clearly the case on the video, which is 6 minutes long (if you have time). I'm sorry if that was your Dad in the white pony-tail.:) I love old people BTW.
Well, 1st off, I saw 2 older people, neither of whom were anything near what I consider a hippie. Which 1, the fellow in BDUs, or the octegenarian? 2nd off, my dad died about 15 yrs. ago. 3rd, I sport a pony tail myself, & I ain't no hippy. 4th, there was nary a ponytail in sight. 5th, none of those folk were raggedly looking.
As for "bringing it" I'd hate to disappoint you but I think BF is doing fine without my help.
That's all a matter of perspective.

8/27/2006 10:24 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

The statement “there’s no proof” is the exact notion in contention. It reveals that you do not simply “lack belief” in God, but hold a position that God does not exist. If you’re going to make a blanket assertion, you need to support it. For example, there are contemporary philosophers such as J. P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, William Lain Crain, John Frame and many others who have spent most of their life giving arguments for the existence of God. When your state ‘there is no proof’ you’re saying that everything they have offered does not prove God’s existence. All the theist is asking is on what basis (and why) do they fail? And the theist likewise can support the positive position. I don’t see why that is so unreasonable.
I need physical proof. I don’t see why that’s so unreasonable myself.
The mention of these differences is brought us by atheists like Smith and Stein not me. I was just taking their argument and offering reasons why it’s flawed.
Well, I think your argument is flawed.
Think some more. The grammatical framing is confused. Again, I made the argument in my post that you keep ignoring. I already named Drange and Fyfe, but dropping names is a waste of time. If you want to hold to a ‘lack of belief’ position, you should engage the problems with it I listed. Is it too much to ask for you to do that?
I gave you the short answer. Do you really want the long answer?
Another strawman argument. I did not say that ‘all atheists are hypocrites, & are dishonest.’ In the context of the post itself, my contention is with those who affirm that God does not exist, then when a challenged state that they have no belief. As if they came to the table with a blank slate. It is dishonest for someone to claim in one statement that God does not exist, and then later affirm that they have no beliefs about God.
NO, but you affirmed as much. Unless you’re dyslexic, you named the post ‘burned of proof’ & used the same phrase in the post. The inference is there. As well as this:
”In their writings, they are demonstrating their rejection of Gods existence (sometimes dogmatically); however, when challenging their position, out comes their ‘sudden’ lack of belief on the issue. In one side of the mouth their parading their disbelief, and on the other side of their mouth their denying *any* belief. For people who are in “absence of belief in God”, they sure do have plenty of ‘opinions’ about the matter. In other words, their equivocating the two definitions of atheism to suit their purpose of evading the burden of proof.”
Now reinterpret yourself out of those inferences.
(ii) If your going to accuse me of equivocation, you will have to demonstrate as much. Secondly, you emotional ranting rings hollow. Take notice that you are substituting adjectives for arguments.
We’ll see about that.
Each side carries a position. The theist (1) There is a God and The atheist (2) there is no God. You have said as much many times. After all, they are logically equivalent. "X exists" and "X does not exist" are convertible. Negate them and they switch places. They can be plugged into the same logical formulas.
Which changes the entire result of said equation.
You can discuss God as a hypothetical even if you deny His existence. Nobody is assuming you need ‘prove’ God doesn’t exist (unless you’re dogmatically affirming the position). All that’s is being asked is for you to state the reasons in which you believe it’s more likely that God does not exist. Stating that there is ‘no proof’ is just a blanket statement. The problem is what’s proof to person A is not proof to person B.
That’s entirely contingent on whether one uses faith, or reason.
(i) I don’t follow regarding an advantage point. Arguing against X doesn’t give the person who holds to X an advantage. You lost me on that one.
Simple. It’s a dictation of the premise.
(ii) Atheist vary about their standards of proof. I said in the beginning of the post that it’s difficult to state that atheist believe X and they argue differently. I suppose I can guess that you personally, from my experience dialoging with you, is that in order for you to believe in God, He would have to come down and have tea and crumpets with you or something to that nature. So why bother asking for proof?
Tea & crumpets? What are crumpets? I don’t even like tea. I get your drift, though. I need something more subtantial than intricate arguments and poor compilations, is all.
Well, there are 6 billion people on the planet. I share your frustration with the same experiences, but as long as the two sides of the fence have tension and are antithetical this issue will be difficult to resolve.
Agreed.
(i) My post was not an ad hom against atheists. That's only when you dismiss the argument by attacking the person, whereas I obviously offered argument with several points, saying that an action was ‘dishonest’ in no way was presented as a "refutation". Had I only written in this post, "You atheists are dishonest liars who eat babies," and, "therefore, their position is obviously is wrong and invalid..." THEN, the logic books say it is a logical fallacy.
So you don’t come out & say it directly? C’mon, re-read your own post.
(ii) I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. Let me put my M.O. on the record. I have nothing against atheists. The reason I spend so much time on atheism is because atheism challenges what I believe. I enjoy the intellectual exercise that (some) atheism offers. Atheism challenges me to think about what I believe and why I believe it. It motivates me to study harder and grow intellectually. The more I challenge my self the more I confidant I become in Christ. I don’t want to be the Christian who checks his brain at the church door, that’s not me and it never was. So that’s the gist of my motivations. There is no malice I assure you.
I dunno, I’ve seen some malice in the undercurrents of your statements on a few occasions.
Yes. But that is dis-analogous to my post. If you want to demonstrate how its equivalent be my guest. Remember, I didn’t just quibble here and there, I offered a line of argumentation. You admitted that you fall under the classical definition of Atheism. So what’s the big problem with me stating that “you belief that God does not exist?” Is that a mischaracterization of your position?
I’m really starting to dislike allegory. 1 needs to dissect this and that, hoping for some buried treasure.
In your quote from Drange:
” "In Greek a' means’ without' or not ' and theos' means god.' From this standpoint an atheist would simply be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots, then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence of belief in God.[4]"
So just diagramming that last sentence alone, it’s a negative view characterized by an absence.
& The logical fallacy of false dilemma (also known as falsified dilemma, fallacy of the excluded middle, black and white thinking, false dichotomy, false correlative, either/or dilemma or bifurcation), involves a situation in which two alternative points of view are held to be the only options, when in reality there exist one or more alternate options which have not been considered.
Kinda like Democrats & Republicans, ey? What’s the third option? What other options do the two of us have, in order to avoid the fallacy? Otherwise, according to your logic, we are both committing a fallacy.
You got a 3rd/4th option?

8/27/2006 10:58 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

KA, What’s up with the name change? I have been swamped and unable to go by your blog in quite a while. First of all, I am glad you keep stopping by, even though my posting is far and few in between.

“I need physical proof. I don’t see why that’s so unreasonable myself.”

You’re asking for something I cannot give you. I can’t give you god residue in a test tube. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask for. Perhaps we can have that discussion another day.

“I gave you the short answer. Do you really want the long answer?”

If you want to go ahead, but I don’t think it’s beneficial at this point.

“NO, but you affirmed as much. Unless you’re dyslexic, you named the post ‘burned of proof’ & used the same phrase in the post. The inference is there.”

I might be dyslexic. Anyway, my post obviously says that the theist has a burden as well. It’s not a one-sided shift. The contention is when the atheist make it a one sided burden when it’s not.

“That’s entirely contingent on whether one uses faith, or reason.”

That’s entirely contingent on how one defines faith and reason. I suspect you would define then antithetical. And I would not.

“Simple. It’s a dictation of the premise.”

Premises are the very thing to be challenged not dictated. The atheist and theist have premises on why they dis/believe in Gods existence.

“I dunno, I’ve seen some malice in the undercurrents of your statements on a few occasions.”

The undercurrents? You’re reading more into my statements than are there. There is a difference between being passionate about something and having malice about something.

“So just diagramming that last sentence alone, it’s a negative view characterized by an absence.”

Drange was describing the absence view, and then he followed by arguing against it, not in support of it.

"Kinda like Democrats & Republicans, ey? What’s the third option? What other options do the two of us have, in order to avoid the fallacy? Otherwise, according to your logic, we are both committing a fallacy.
You got a 3rd/4th option?"


I have no idea what you are talking about. First what exactly was the false dilemma? If it’s not, and you’re making the accusation, then you need to demonstrate it’s a false dilemma by providing the alternative. Otherwise, it’s not a false dilemma.

Take care.

8/28/2006 10:25 AM

 
Blogger KA said...

BF:
KA, What’s up with the name change? I have been swamped and unable to go by your blog in quite a while. First of all, I am glad you keep stopping by, even though my posting is far and few in between.
I got tired of being called a hypocrite by theist bloggers who assumed I was a waffler, & hadn’t made up my mind (& then they found I had teeth!). I posted on this recently
You’re asking for something I cannot give you. I can’t give you god residue in a test tube. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask for. Perhaps we can have that discussion another day.
Perhaps we can. I’m formulating a set of parameters: there is a litmus test.
If you want to go ahead, but I don’t think it’s beneficial at this point.
Probably not.
I might be dyslexic. Anyway, my post obviously says that the theist has a burden as well. It’s not a one-sided shift. The contention is when the atheist make it a one sided burden when it’s not.
Well, shoot, been trying to avoid this comparison, ‘cause it’s usually met w/a lotta anger (& it’s getting kinda old), but leprechauns, unicorns, bigfoot, etc. I can’t believe in any of those 3 things unless I have something of substance. Sorry.
That’s entirely contingent on how one defines faith and reason. I suspect you would define then antithetical. And I would not.
I usually go by the common definitions of the language.
Premises are the very thing to be challenged not dictated. The atheist and theist have premises on why they dis/believe in Gods existence.
Exactly. I disagree on the atheist side, though. You come to me w/words about the supernatural, rhetoric, and long involved discussions. I ask that I have something put in the palm of my hand, something, anything of substance. All I have is a source document that’s spotty at best, & centuries of people arguing over it. That’s just not enough.
The undercurrents? You’re reading more into my statements than are there. There is a difference between being passionate about something and having malice about something.
I could dig out all sorts of statements on my blog alone to point this out. But you strike me as someone who has some character: so it’s your call. All I can ask, is that you be honest w/yourself. We’re both only human, & I know I’ve been guilty of it myself on occasion.
Drange was describing the absence view, and then he followed by arguing against it, not in support of it.
Valid point.
I have no idea what you are talking about. First what exactly was the false dilemma? If it’s not, and you’re making the accusation, then you need to demonstrate it’s a false dilemma by providing the alternative. Otherwise, it’s not a false dilemma.
Well, the Demos vs. Repubs: how often have we heard that a vote for anyone other than these 2 parties is a lost vote?
Now, you say:
”However, as we can see, the atheist as well as the theist both has a position on the proposition of Gods existence—and therefore, both shoulder the burden of proof for their position, since the Law of the excluded middle does not apply in this situation.”
The false dilemma, as I understand it, is another interpretation of the fallacy of the excluded middle.
Here, I’ll repeat myself:
”The logical fallacy of false dilemma (also known as falsified dilemma, fallacy of the excluded middle, black and white thinking, false dichotomy, false correlative, either/or dilemma or bifurcation), involves a situation in which two alternative points of view are held to be the only options, when in reality there exist one or more alternate options which have not been considered.”
You say there is a deity; I say there isn’t.
I find agnosticism to be an invalid viewpoint, as I value the litmus test of ‘show me’.
& every year, more & more evidence is compiled that contradicts your source document. I know we’re trying to leave it out of the discussion, but it’s near impossible to do so.
Anyways, is there a fourth, fifth option?

Ciao

8/28/2006 6:03 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

KA,

“I got tired of being called a hypocrite by theist bloggers who assumed I was a waffler, & hadn’t made up my mind (& then they found I had teeth!). I posted on this recently”

Oh. I had to shorten my moniker from ‘Brain Fry’ to BF. Some took much poetic license with it if you know what I mean. I have been meaning to update as well.

So do you prefer you’re pray meaty or thin? For me, it depends on the mood. Sometimes I like the sound bones and teeth grinding. On other occasions I am just looking for something to chew on ;-)

“Well, shoot, been trying to avoid this comparison, ‘cause it’s usually met w/a lotta anger (& it’s getting kinda old), but leprechauns, unicorns, bigfoot, etc. I can’t believe in any of those 3 things unless I have something of substance. Sorry.”

The comparison is fairly common, especially in autobiographical atheism (or story-time deconversions). It doesn’t bother me. It does show a strange obsession you atheist have in these fictional characters. Especially that Santa clause guy. This is quite all right, it’s known and diagnosed as the Freudian santa clause-complex, where the atheist is obsessed with santa and leprechauns, and purple winged unicorns. This is treatable with small doses of logic injected directly into the blood stream to help overcome these strong episodes of fallacious comparisons. Soon, after proper treatment, it can be realized how un-parallel these comparisons are.

“Exactly. I disagree on the atheist side, though. You come to me w/words about the supernatural, rhetoric, and long involved discussions. I ask that I have something put in the palm of my hand, something, anything of substance. All I have is a source document that’s spotty at best, & centuries of people arguing over it. That’s just not enough.”

As of now, we are probable at an impasse as far as the atheist shouldering their burden of proof. However, I will call you when the lab sends the God residue. Last time UPS went on strike so the samples went bad. Nevertheless, you would be amazed what you can find on eBay.

“I could dig out all sorts of statements on my blog alone to point this out. But you strike me as someone who has some character: so it’s your call. All I can ask, is that you be honest w/yourself. We’re both only human, & I know I’ve been guilty of it myself on occasion.”

I will keep it under advisement.

“Well, the Demos vs. Repubs: how often have we heard that a vote for anyone other than these 2 parties is a lost vote? Now, you say”:

However, as we can see, the atheist as well as the theist both has a position on the proposition of Gods existence—and therefore, both shoulder the burden of proof for their position, since the Law of the excluded middle does not apply in this situation.” .

“The false dilemma, as I understand it, is another interpretation of the fallacy of the excluded middle”

You did see my explanation of the law of excluded middle above in the comments right? What I was stating is that it doesn’t apply to the atheist because he/she does not have to affirm the either/or to maintain their atheism. The atheist can affirm the *unproven* rather that *disproven* so their not stuck with a universal negative.

As far as the burden of proof. The atheist either has a burden of proof, or doesn’t have a burden of proof.

Atheism is either an informed position, or a uniformed position. It seems to me, that most atheist want to say their position is an informed position. If it’s an informed position then there are reasons why they are atheists. You might state that the reasons are only for the lack of positive reasons; however, the atheists still have reasons why they deny the sufficiency of the positive reasons or, reasons why they stipulate lack of reasons. Are you reasoning with me? You want some of this?

“You say there is a deity; I say there isn’t.
I find agnosticism to be an invalid viewpoint, as I value the litmus test of ‘show me’.
& every year, more & more evidence is compiled that contradicts your source document. I know we’re trying to leave it out of the discussion, but it’s near impossible to do so.
Anyways, is there a fourth, fifth option?”


Depends on what type of agnosticism you’re refereeing to. I don’t see how I have made a false dichotomy.

8/28/2006 10:42 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Correction: I don’t see how I have made a false *dilemma.

8/28/2006 11:28 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

Oh. I had to shorten my moniker from ‘Brain Fry’ to BF. Some took much poetic license with it if you know what I mean. I have been meaning to update as well.
I can well imagine. So you were 'Brain Fry'. Well, tickle me pink, I hadn't made the connection. You know what else BF stands for, I bet.
So do you prefer you’re pray meaty or thin? For me, it depends on the mood. Sometimes I like the sound bones and teeth grinding. On other occasions I am just looking for something to chew on ;-)
I’m more of a vegetarian in my old age. ;) I only bite that hand that teases me. Hehehehe.
The comparison is fairly common, especially in autobiographical atheism (or story-time deconversions). It doesn’t bother me. It does show a strange obsession you atheist have in these fictional characters. Especially that Santa clause guy. This is quite all right, it’s known and diagnosed as the Freudian santa clause-complex, where the atheist is obsessed with santa and leprechauns, and purple winged unicorns. This is treatable with small doses of logic injected directly into the blood stream to help overcome these strong episodes of fallacious comparisons. Soon, after proper treatment, it can be realized how un-parallel these comparisons are.
Well, actually, I don’t use it as often as most. Mostly it’s ‘cause I’m not obssessed w/those fictional folks (I found out there weren’t no Santa at a very early age).
As of now, we are probable at an impasse as far as the atheist shouldering their burned of proof. However, I will call you when the lab sends the God residue. Last time UPS went on strike so the samples went bad. Nevertheless, you would be amazed what you can find on eBay.
LOL! How can a piece of the ‘infinite’ possibly spoil?
You did see my explanation of the law of excluded middle above in the comments right? What I was stating is that it doesn’t apply to the atheist because he/she does not have to affirm the either/or to maintain their atheism. The atheist can affirm the *unproven* rather that *disproven* so their not stuck with a universal negative.
Yes, I did. Unproven, however, makes the coin stand on its edge, not on either side. Unproven = agnostic.
As far as the burden of proof. The atheist either has a burned of proof, or doesn’t have a burned of proof.
I vote for ‘doesn’t’. Ain’t democracy wunnerful? (P.S – you’re still using ‘burned’. Were you aware of that?)
Atheism is either an informed position, or a uniformed position. It seems to me, that most atheist want to say their position is an informed position. If it’s an informed position then there are reasons why they are atheists. You might state that the reasons are only for the lack of positive reasons; however, the atheists still have reasons why they deny the sufficiency of the positive reasons or, reasons why they stipulate lack of reasons. Are you reasoning with me?
Well, here’s the thing: most atheists I know have devoted a great deal of time & effort researching their position. I know I did. I spent months looking into it, before I came to my conclusion. An agnostic simply shrugs, says “I don’t know 1 way or another.” I have a fairly interesting take coming up on this: stay tuned.
Love that video, BTW. There are plenty of those folks on both sides of our fence.
Depends on what type of agnosticism you’re referring to. I don’t see how I have made a false dichotomy.
It’s the either/or thing: yes or no. How many types of agnosticism are there? Apatheist or ignostic? Secular hominidist? ;)
I understood the *dilemma* thing. My reading/retention comprehension is actually purty good. ;)

8/29/2006 4:09 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hey KA
I guess we disagree on whether the old folks in that video were raggedy looking. "Raggedy-ness is in the eye of the beholder", I guess.

My questions to you are thus; what hope does your worldview have to offer? If there is no God to guide us, why would you bother "de-evangelizing" anyone else? Even if you are right, you'll never find out whether you're right. If there is something transcendant in being right, wouldn't THAT be evidence for God?

8/29/2006 5:12 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

KA,

“You know what else BF stands for, I bet.”

Yes, I already had Daniel Morgan from DC make the inference to me.

“LOL! How can a piece of the ‘infinite’ possibly spoil?”

It’s a paradox KA. The atheist wants empirical proof on a non-empirical being. When we finally cajole God to mysteriously empirisize a portion of His being for the atheist (what exactly is ‘empirisized’ will remain off the record, for now), there is a shelf life.

“Yes, I did. Unproven, however, makes the coin stand on its edge, not on either side. Unproven = agnostic.”

Or don’t know and unknowable. *Unproven* is more informed than undecided. Also, *unknowable* is close, but based on different epistemological grounds. The basis for each is distinct.

“(P.S – you’re still using ‘burned’. Were you aware of that?)”

No I wasn’t aware. I have a slight case of dyslexia, but it usually only occurs when I am doing two or three things at once. Or it might be a subconscious Freudian slip associated with atheist burning proof. :-). Anyway, it was not intentional and I made the corrections. Thanks for pointing it out, nobody else said anything.

“An agnostic simply shrugs, says “I don’t know 1 way or another.” I have a fairly interesting take coming up on this: stay tuned.”

Some agnostics say you can’t know one way or another. Their epistemological grounds are different for the former (you mentioned).

“Love that video, BTW. There are plenty of those folks on both sides of our fence.”

Hehe. You did have the audio on right (for full effect.)?

It’s the either/or thing: yes or no. How many types of agnosticism are there? Apatheist or ignostic? Secular hominidist? ;)

Help me out. Because I am slow and dyslexic. What are the ‘either or’ propositions I am stating? Is it: Atheism is either X or Y? Because the classical definition of atheist allows for some variation (strong/weak etc…) However, what I argue is that there is no such thing as tabula rasa atheism.

8/29/2006 6:45 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

Jim:
I guess we disagree on whether the old folks in that video were raggedy looking. "Raggedy-ness is in the eye of the beholder", I guess.
I'd advise you watch it again. I saw nothing raggedy. No pony tails. Not even a glimpse of a tie-dyed shirt.
My questions to you are thus; what hope does your worldview have to offer?
Simple: it's in your hands alone. Your life is a work of art: make it beautiful.
Really, us atheists aren't a bunch of doom 'n gloom cold unhappy folks. Some of us are artists, some write, some might even sculpt (I know at least 2 or 3 ladies that paint quite well).
Life is do-it-yourself. Bootstrap.
If there is no God to guide us, why would you bother "de-evangelizing" anyone else? Even if you are right, you'll never find out whether you're right.
"I know little enough about this life: nothing about any other." - Ingersoll.
I care about everyone, is why. I think religion has proven itself to be very destructive to our species. 1 has to but look at the ME for evidence of that.
If there is something transcendant in being right, wouldn't THAT be evidence for God?
Color me confused, & turn the page. Right about what, exactly?

8/30/2006 10:34 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

BF:
It’s a paradox KA. The atheist wants empirical proof on a non-empirical being. When we finally cajole God to mysteriously empirisize a portion of His being for the atheist (what exactly is ‘empirisized’ will remain off the record, for now), there is a shelf life.
It was a joke, BF.
Or don’t know and unknowable. *Unproven* is more informed than undecided. Also, *unknowable* is close, but based on different epistemological grounds. The basis for each is distinct.
I always thought unproven was pretty close to a synonym for undecided.
Or it might be a subconscious Freudian slip associated with atheist burning proof. :-). Anyway, it was not intentional and I made the corrections. Thanks for pointing it out, nobody else said anything.
Hey, de nada. Atheists burning proof? Aye caramba, I’m not going to take the cheap shot on that 1. ;)
Hehe. You did have the audio on right (for full effect.)?
Oh yeah. Hysterical.
What are the ‘either or’ propositions I am stating? Is it: Atheism is either X or Y? Because the classical definition of atheist allows for some variation (strong/weak etc…) However, what I argue is that there is no such thing as tabula rasa atheism.
Tabula Rasa atheism? Blank slate? G.K Chesterton notwithstanding, we’re all born atheists. Theism is a learned reflex.
No, it’s Theist says yes, Atheist says no. I refer you again to the definition of the excluded middle.

8/30/2006 11:13 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

K-Apostate:

“It was a joke, BF.”

So was my response. I thought it was obvious.

“I always thought unproven was pretty close to a synonym for undecided”. .

The difference is that you can *decide* based on the exposed arguments for and against [X] and that [X] has not been proved (unproven). --OR-- you can withhold judgment because you are *undecided.* So the difference is coming to a conclusion about the evidence and not coming to a conclusion about evidence. You are conflating the two.

"Tabula Rasa atheism? Blank slate? G.K Chesterton notwithstanding, we’re all [sic] born atheists. Theism is a learned reflex."

First, Chesterton has nothing to do with this. Second, it is entirely perverse to call a baby an atheist. Moreover, there is not one reputable dictionary or encyclopedia that will define atheism as an *uniformed* position,* that would comport with your unsupported assertion, as I have already demonstrated. There is a better argument that belief in God is properly basic (see Plantinga) rather than not.

"Atheism" is an informed position. One is an 'atheist' on consideration of the question of God's existence, the evidence (or lack) thereof, etc. After such consideration, they come to the informed position of atheism. Infants and babies are not informed of anything. They are non-theists, and also non-atheists. However, if you want to equivocate your own personal atheism with non-thought and an uniformed position; be my guest.

"No, it’s Theist says yes, Atheist says no. I refer you again to the definition of the excluded middle."

Atheism and Theism are a contradistinction. Ipso facto, they negate each other a fortiori by their antithesis. I don’t need your approbation, because I have already consulted 18 resources for my conclusion. Language is diachronic, but there is no indication that the populace would identify a baby, or aardvark as an atheist. Thus, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate the change in dialectic fashion. At best, as it stands, you position is esoteric.

8/31/2006 9:44 AM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hey KA,
Thanks for your thoughtful responses to my questions.

Simple: it's in your hands alone. Your life is a work of art: make it beautiful.

I agree that in a very real sense our life is a work of art. That's why the biography is the most compelling narrative in books and film. However, where does the concept of art come from, it really makes no sense for survival. (Don't most artists starve?) Could there be a divine Artist who awakens that passion in us? And since our lives are really not in our hands alone, couldn't there be something subtly steering you?

Really, us atheists aren't a bunch of doom 'n gloom cold unhappy folks.

True. Only the dogmatic atheists are the "mad at the world" types. Most are fun, happy people. But why aren't you unhappy? What force gives you the hope you need to be happy? If what you say is true, we are a mere 'species' and there is nothing more than our flesh, by all rights you should be all doom 'n gloom - or at least a candidate for severe depression.

Life is do-it-yourself. Bootstrap.

Of course people have helped you, no? Why did they help you? What motivated them?

I care about everyone, is why.
I'm sure you care about everyone, although I can't be sure why. Or can I?
I think religion has proven itself to be very destructive to our species.
Lots of questions here. By "Religion", do you mean all interpretations of a right relationship with God or those that have been paired with political power causing destruction? How did it prove itself destructive and why? Last, what's the solution to the religion problem?

(I had said) "If there is something transcendant in being right, wouldn't THAT be evidence for God?"

Color me confused, & turn the page. Right about what, exactly?

You're right, I jumped ahead there. I hit the warp drive thrusters to the case for absolute truth. If you thought something could be true always, how would you know, etc.?

You seem very rational. The most important thing is to keep one's pursuit of truth honest - as you seem to do. Dogma is the enemy of both atheist and theist. Take care.

9/01/2006 4:31 PM

 
Blogger KA said...

Jim:
Thanks for your thoughtful responses to my questions.
Hey, I’m representing here. Plus it’s how I am.
I agree that in a very real sense our life is a work of art. That's why the biography is the most compelling narrative in books and film. However, where does the concept of art come from, it really makes no sense for survival.
Sure it does. A creative hominid came up w/the right tools. It takes imagination for that.
(Don't most artists starve?)
Only the 1’s that haven’t sold out quite yet.
Could there be a divine Artist who awakens that passion in us? And since our lives are really not in our hands alone, couldn't there be something subtly steering you?
Sure there could. Just not an anthropomorphic 1.
True. Only the dogmatic atheists are the "mad at the world" types. Most are fun, happy people. But why aren't you unhappy? What force gives you the hope you need to be happy? If what you say is true, we are a mere 'species' and there is nothing more than our flesh, by all rights you should be all doom 'n gloom - or at least a candidate for severe depression.
I refer back to an old Bud commercial – “Why ask why?” I’m kinda a Taoist sort of fellow. I maintain that we spend too much time looking outside of ourselves, when everything we need’s built right in.
Of course people have helped you, no? Why did they help you? What motivated them?
Reciprocal altruism. I help folks because it’ll cause a ripple effect – I may benefit in the long run, or not at all. But you have to be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi).
I'm sure you care about everyone, although I can't be sure why. Or can I?
Is anything sure in this life? Nope. I want my species to survive.
Lots of questions here.
An old Tai Chi master once said, “Questions are like bells. Hit a small 1, a small sound. Hit a large 1, a large sound.”
GONG!!!!
By "Religion", do you mean all interpretations of a right relationship with God or those that have been paired with political power causing destruction?

All of the above. How is a relationship w/a nonexistent being beneficial? The impact of that is doubled w/the political query.
How did it prove itself destructive and why?
History is rife w/example; far too many to trot out here.
Last, what's the solution to the religion problem?
Well, it needs to be gone. Won’t happen in our lifetime, that’s for sure.
You're right, I jumped ahead there. I hit the warp drive thrusters to the case for absolute truth. If you thought something could be true always, how would you know, etc.?
I’m a materialist – 5 senses, & all that. Induction & logic.
You seem very rational. The most important thing is to keep one's pursuit of truth honest - as you seem to do. Dogma is the enemy of both atheist and theist. Take care.
Thanks. That’s a high compliment. I’ve never been big on dogma – I’ve found life is fluid, dogma not.
I'd say keep the faith - but I don't believe in faith. So just be good.

9/01/2006 5:44 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

“How is a relationship w/a nonexistent being beneficial? The impact of that is doubled w/the political query”

For you, it doesn’t make much sense. For Christians who have experienced a relationship with God, the benefits are eternal. Adding political query into the equation only distorts what Christianity is about and focuses on issues not relevant to the validity of belief itself.

9/22/2006 9:20 AM

 
Blogger Mike said...

Wow, that's a lot of effort for a complete fail. Seriously, as an atheist I'm not making any particular claim about your god or anyone else's. Theists like you come to me and say "You should believe in my god." I respond "Really? Okay prove to me that it exists and I'll believe in it." How am I making a claim?
You are starting with the assumption that *your* god is real, so you view my lack of a belief in any god as a claim that your god doesn't exist. Honestly, I'm just waiting for you or any other theist to provide me convincing evidence that there is a god or gods and I should be concerned about them. How is that a position that can be "proved?"

6/08/2010 8:57 PM

 

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