Thursday, July 21, 2011

The New Aphilatelism

Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.



I've heard this a few times. Interesting statement. So, somewhere on the internet, there's got to be a site called Debunking Stamp Collecting, in which people try to get convinced stamp collectors to take the Outsider Test for Stamp Collecting. What is more, there is now a batch of writers out, advocates of The New Aphilatelism, who are attacking stamp collecting as delusional. They are authors of such books as 


The Stamp Delusion
Stamp Collecting Is Not Great
The End of Stamp Collecting
Breaking the Spell of Stamp Collecting
Why I Became an Aphilatelist
The Miracle of Stamp Collecting 
C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Stamp Collecting
The Stamp Collection that Wasn't There
Sense and Goodness without Stamp Collecting
Aphilatelist Universe
The Stamp Collecting Brain
The Stamp Collecting Debates
The Case Against the Case for Stamp Collecting
The Portable Aphilatelist
Letter to a Stamp Collecting Nation
The Blind Stamp Collector: How Evolution Shows a World Without Stamp Collecting
Debunking the Stamp Collector's Bible
The Cambridge Companion to Not Collecting Stamps


I have linked to a post by Matteo at Cartago Delenda Est making the same point. 

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the Non-Stamp Collectors meeting in Dublin recently.

Ilíon said...

As Matteo said, "Let Me Tell You--Vehemently, And In Great Detail--All About My Hobby Of Not Collecting Stamps"

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,

Not all atheists are debunkers.

Neither are all Christians apologists.

But . . . being an atheist does not involve the rituals and practices and list of specific creedal beliefs(as to what lay behind the metaphysical curtain) that have often been associated with popular religion and that people used to be warned to never stray from (at the peril of their souls).

There is no atheist nor humanist Bible. There is no necessity to believe one book is inspired from cover to cover. One can read any number of books and seek the best in each book.

There are no atheist or humanist sacraments. No specific holy food or unholy food, no body of Christ to swallow, and no fear that ingesting such a sacrament in an impious manner may lead to God judging one with an illness or death as in 1 Cor. 11:30.

There is no divine command that says "atheists" must not neglect gathering themselves together, though some do choose to form meetup groups or other organizations.

Atheism seems to consist in learning to appreciate a garden's loveliness without also trying to get everyone to believe there are specific types of fairies at the bottom of it and specific things one must do to appease such fairies (or be dubbed a heretic, or worse). Agnostics don't claim to know whether there are or aren't, some even doubt that the word "God" makes much sense. Mystics and apophatic spiritual members of religions leave room for mystery.

Thrasymachus said...

Generally, stamp collection has no appreciable impact on wider society. Religion does have an appreciable impact on wider society. So there is a motive for writing anti-religion books which is absent for writing anti-stamp-collection books.

So I don't think there's much of an argument here.

Anonymous said...

So I don't think there's much of an argument here.

There's plenty of argument here. One common refrain is 'atheists have no beliefs' and 'there's nothing that unites atheists, but theists are united'.

Vic's helping blow that all of the water.

Ed,

Atheism seems to consist in learning to appreciate a garden's loveliness without also trying to get everyone to believe there are specific types of fairies at the bottom of it and specific things one must do to appease such fairies (or be dubbed a heretic, or worse).

What a bunch of crap. What part of atheism "consists of" this? What keeps an atheist from hating the world, regarding it as so much useless trash?

There is no atheist nor humanist Bible. There is no necessity to believe one book is inspired from cover to cover.

Let's see how long you last in various atheist circles disregarding Origin of Species.

But . . . being an atheist does not involve the rituals and practices and list of specific creedal beliefs(as to what lay behind the metaphysical curtain) that have often been associated with popular religion and that people used to be warned to never stray from (at the peril of their souls).

Neither does "theism" necessarily. Yet particular atheisms - and the New Atheists in particular - do have their religious forms. Really, Dan Dennett himself argued that marxism was a proto-religion. It's not as clear cut as you think.

As I said, it's trivial to expose the bunk that is "atheists have no beliefs" or "atheists are always utterly unlike the religious in terms of their beliefs" and so on.

Anonymous said...

Since all atheists lack belief in God they believe that ALL THEISTS Everywhere At All Times Have Been Wrong About Belief In God.

Thats pretty Dogmatic.


Never Submit to Rule By Atheists

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon I think you don't know what 'dogmatic' means.

Karl Grant said...

Ed,

But . . . being an atheist does not involve the rituals and practices and list of specific creedal beliefs(as to what lay behind the metaphysical curtain) that have often been associated with popular religion and that people used to be warned to never stray from (at the peril of their souls).

Ever seen what happens when a well-known atheist, like Anthony Flew, switches camps? I remember. It was kind of funny to watch a group of atheists on a message board praise Flew as a 'true genius' with a 'sharp mind' and then two hours later, without any sense of irony, call him a 'senile old man' whose 'mind had been destroyed by the mind virus of religion.'

There is no atheist nor humanist Bible. There is no necessity to believe one book is inspired from cover to cover. One can read any number of books and seek the best in each book.

There are religions out there that don't have one definitive holy book; for example Shintoism, the traditional Japanese religion, doesn't have an equivalent of the Bible.

Atheism seems to consist in learning to appreciate a garden's loveliness without also trying to get everyone to believe there are specific types of fairies at the bottom of it and specific things one must do to appease such fairies

Bad analogy. If the Earth is a garden than God would be the equivalent of the gardener
(i.e., the Creator and the Sustainer).

Papalinton said...

@ Karl Grant
"Ever seen what happens when a well-known atheist, like Anthony Flew, switches camps? I remember. It was kind of funny to watch a group of atheists on a message board praise Flew as a 'true genius' with a 'sharp mind' and then two hours later, without any sense of irony, call him a 'senile old man' whose 'mind had been destroyed by the mind virus of religion.'"


Flew was a deist, you berk. He didn't switch camps. Flew hated christianity.

BenYachov said...

Paps he went from Atheist to Aristotelian Theist(called by the less educated a Deist).

Wow you blew that one!

Papalinton said...

Blue Devil Knight

"Anon I think you don't know what 'dogmatic' means."

G K Chesterton [I'm sure Anon will be familiar with this apologist], one of the catholic faithful, sought to discomfort non-religious folk by saying, "There are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept it and don't know it".

As AC Grayling puts it, "He is wrong. There are three kinds of people; these two, and those who know a dogma when it barks, when it bites, and when it should be put down".

Time for the long-failed christian social experiment to call it a day, methinks.

BenYachov said...

Actually Paps you are the second kind according to Chesterton because you are still a fundie at heart. Except without god belief of course.

Karl Grant said...

Papalinton,

Flew was a deist, you berk. He didn't switch camps. Flew hated christianity.

Did I say Flew converted to Christianity? No I did not. I said he switched camps; i.e. he went from atheist to deist (which is a sub-category of theism). I think I agree with Dustin, you do appear to be in the grip of illiteracy because your reading comprehension skills stink. Ben's right, you blew that one.

Papalinton said...

"deist (which is a sub-category of theism). "

Pompous arrogant nonsense. Theism is a very sub sub-set of deism.

Karl Grant said...

Papalinton,

Pompous arrogant nonsense. Theism is a very sub sub-set of deism.

Wikipedia lists deism as a sub-sect of theism. While the specific definition of theism given above may exclude deism, deism is included as a form of theism by the most general definition given above.

Furthermore:

The atheist section on About.com lists deism as a sub-sect of theism.

Atheist Nexus affirms that deism is still effectively theism.

Wow, you can't even get your own side's propaganda terminology right. It is sad, it truly is.

B. Prokop said...

Thank you, Victor! I always wondered why stamp collectors' web sites and blogs were always being visited and commented upon by non-stamp collectors. It also explains why people who don't collect stamps are constantly insulting those that do, and tirelessly try to rid them of the stamp collecting delusion. It especially casts light on the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon of folks who build their entire professional careers around the thesis that one shouldn't collect stamps!

Atheism not a belief system indeed! Swallow that one, and I have a wonderful piece of ocean front property in Kansas to sell you.

John W. Loftus said...

There are a myriad number of dead religions that we don't bother with because they are dead.

We simply say we don't believe something and that is supposed to be a belief? "I don't believe you" is a belief?

In what sense?

If I say I levitated and you do not believe me because I cannot produce the evidence then what you are saying is that the evidence does not support my claim. You don't have a belief. You have evidence. And the evidence is against that belief. That's the reasoning process. Reason tells you to reject my claim. It's not a belief. You have knowledge. You would be saying that it's probable I did not levitate.

That's why atheists are non-believers in the same sense as Christians are who do not believe in Zeus.

So is non believing in Zeus or Odin or Thor or Baal or Marduk a religion? If so then everyone is religious by default since these religions are basically dead ones. At that point the word religion has lost its meaning. Meaningless words cannot refer to anything.

A religion by definition must be about supernatural beings and/or forces. Atheism therefore is not a religion.

I really don't know how much plainer I can get.



like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Martin said...

John Loftus,

I think part of the problem is that y'all are using "religion" in different ways and hence you are two ships passing in the night.

Victor is using "religion" in the sense of a "meta-philosophy about what's really going on, fundamentally."

You are using the the word to refer only to non-naturalistic meta-philosophies.

So when non-atheists accuse you of being every bit as religious as believers, what they mean is that you assert metaphysical (not methodological) naturalism with as much faith and lack of evidence as theism supposedly is guilty of.

You really should run an Outsider Test for Metaphysical (not methodological) Naturalism and see how it fairs. There is a case that can be made that it is logically incoherent, and thus false, and this should be addressed and not ignored.

If you assume that metaphysical naturalism is the default, then you are indeed behaving quasi-religiously, in the same way you accuse others.

Matt said...

Philosophically atheism may not really be a belief. But if you build a group or community around something it will become one simply as a uniting force between people. So maybe atheism is not a belief for some atheists, but it is definitely a belief for many others.

BeingItself said...

So, Vic and his defenders here think atheism is a religion? Just looking for a yes or no answer. Thanks.

John W. Loftus said...

Martin, then the word "religion" either means a social grouping or "philosophy," or it is meaningless as a description.

I tire of this kind of discussion quickly though.

Martin said...

John Loftus,

Martin, then the word "religion" either means a social grouping or "philosophy," or it is meaningless as a description.

I think that theistic meta-philosophy would be a good definition although far from perfect. In which case, you are correct. Atheism is not that.

But it is closely associated with metaphysical naturalism, with only the slightest thread of overhang.

And in that sense, it is a meta-philosophy and hence is uniting and identifiable and a subculture and fully and entirely susceptible to your OTF.

Which should be applied.

Which you don't seem to think needs.

Which gives it so many of the features of what you think of religion (unjustified, uncritical acceptance, etc).

So ultimately, it comes back around in the colloquial sense. Atheists often use the term "religion" as a derogatory term meaning uncritical unjustified belief.

In that colloquial sense, then, the atheist's own, ironically, naturalism is one religion among all the others.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

To "Being Itself":

No, I am not calling atheism a religion - I am calling it a belief system. But as a matter of fact, atheism does behave (in a generic sense) very much like a religion. It has its foundational core principles, its unproven and unprovable presuppositions, its own orthodoxy, and its own apostasy.

However, a case can be made for agnosticism (defined as the proposition that Objective Truth is inherently unknowable) as not being a belief system. Although I am most definitely not an agnostic (I think the idea is fundamentally and fatally flawed), I have far more respect for an agnostic than I have for an atheist. At least the agnostic does not make the ridiculous and frankly infantile statement, "There is no God", and then expect us to take him seriously.

Martin said...

B Prokop,

At least the agnostic does not make the ridiculous and frankly infantile statement, "There is no God", and then expect us to take him seriously.

Don't ever say this! They will now come out of the woodwork like zombies, screaming "LACKOFBELIEF!!! LACKOFBELIEF!!! LACKOFBELIEF!!!! ATHEISMMAKESNOCLAIMS!!! ATHEISMMAKESNOCLAIMS!!!!"

It's like saying "Betelgeuse" or "Candyman" three times. Nice goin'...

Brace yourselves...

BeingItself said...

B. Pokrop,

I find nothing more boring than arguing about definitions . . . but every atheist I have ever interacted with is an agnostic. As are most honest theists.

BeingItself said...

B Prokop,

Oh and I have to add I am not using 'agnostic' in the bizarre idiosyncratic way you are.

Ilíon said...

"At least the agnostic does not make the ridiculous and frankly infantile statement, "There is no God", and then expect us to take him seriously."

True, in a way. Rather, what the so-called agnostic asserts is "It is impossible to know anything at all" (after which he carries on as though he knows all sorts of things, and beginning with that God is not), and then he expects us to marvel at, and bask in the glow of, his profundity.

B. Prokop said...

Dictionary.com - Agnosticism: "an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge."

My definition is hardly bizarre or idiosyncratic. It's what the word means.

BeingItself said...

"It's what the word means."

Words do not have inherent meanings.

I am not going to argue a definition.

In most situations (in my experience), folks use the term 'agnostic' only about particular claims, not as some meta-position on epistemology.

I'm already bored.

Anonymous said...

We're bored with you. Go away.

One Brow said...

Not to mention the Non-Stamp Collectors meeting in Dublin recently.

Considering that teachers try to get kids into stamp collecting at achool, that neighbors extol stamp collecting as the source of al morals, that politicians exaggerate or invent the stamp collecting habits of the nation's founders, that non-stamp-collectors are considered the least trustworthy group of society, that local governments celebrate stamp holidays by putting up symbols of stamp collecting all over the town (often as much as a month ahead of StampBirthDay), etc., I think it important for non-stamp-collectors to occasionally remind people that not collecting stamps is an acceptable and prope way to live.

Anonymous said...

Papalinton, you are an overweight old man.

Nothing personal, but it looks like YOU will soon be calling it a day, methinks.

And if you don't think atheists are dogmatic, you are stoopid.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
There's plenty of argument here. One common refrain is 'atheists have no beliefs' and 'there's nothing that unites atheists, but theists are united'.

That's silly. There is nothing inherent to atheism that unites atheists, but there are plenty of external factors to unite them.

Let's see how long you last in various atheist circles disregarding Origin of Species.


What's the relevance of an outdated science book? It deserve the historical admiration you might also give to Einstein's 1905 papers, but it has has little scientific relevance today. I took a couple of years of biology and was ever asked to read from it.

One Brow said...

Martin said...
There is a case that can be made that it is logically incoherent, and thus false, and this should be addressed and not ignored.

Yes, but there is no sound case that can be so made. Rather, making usch a case requires the assumption of ideas that are counter to reality. I can make a great case that you needto duck your head at 9 pm every niht to avoid dragon flame coming from the moon, but that doesn't mean you will believe it.

One Brow said...

[Atheism] has its foundational core principles,

What are they? Keep in mind that I've met atheists who believe in ghosts, so if you say any sort of naturalism, you'll just be marking your own lack of knowledge on the subject.

its unproven and unprovable presuppositions,

The mere act of engaging in reasoned dialogue requires the use of unprovable and unmprovable assumptions.

its own orthodoxy, and its own apostasy.

Who are the orthodox, and how are they empowered to maintain orthodoxy?

Anonymous said...

John Loftus, if you made an extraordinary claim the first reason I would not believe you is because you are an admitted liar.


Any other questions/

One Brow said...

Martin said...
But it is closely associated with metaphysical naturalism, with only the slightest thread of overhang.

Except for the athiests that are Buddhists. Or believe in ghosts. Or accept homeopathy. etc.

And in that sense, it is a meta-philosophy and hence is uniting and identifiable and a subculture and fully and entirely susceptible to your OTF.

The only uniting feature of atheism is the desire to be accepted at a fully capable, moral citizen. This feature is provided externally, not from atheism itself.

Martin said...

One Brow,

Except for the athiests that are Buddhists. Or believe in ghosts. Or accept homeopathy. etc.

Yes, and as you'll note I said: "...with only the slightest thread of overhang." The vast majority of atheists are naturalists, and they tend to shun their members who believe in ghosts and junk.

That tiny, itsy bitsy shunned minority is their escape clause, so they can point to them and say that atheism is NOT about metaphysical naturalism.

B. Prokop said...

No matter how a person self-identifies, anyone that believes in ghosts is not an atheist, by definition. (Unless they explain ghosts by purely materialist means, in which case, what's your point?) As for homeopathy, why is that relevant? One can be a materialist denier of the supernatural, and still believe in homeopathy.

BeingItself said...

"No matter how a person self-identifies, anyone that believes in ghosts is not an atheist, by definition."

What part of your definition of atheism involves ghost disbelief?

I have a friend that does not believe that any gods exist, but she does believe in ghosts.

B. Prokop said...

"What part of your definition of atheism involves ghost disbelief?"

The disbelief in the supernatural.

You seem to have some weird hangup about definitions. If you can't clearly define the terms you use, then it is no use dialoging with you. without a clear mutual understanding of what a word means, all attempts at conversation, debate, discussion, etc., are futile. Sloppiness in definition results in sloppiness in thinking, results in spreading around "darkness visible".

BeingItself said...

I agree completely that we must define our terms.

Your definition of 'atheism' is again bizarre and idiosyncratic.

More commonly, atheism pertains to belief in gods, not belief in the supernatural.

But you are free to speak your own private language if you wish. Just don't expect anyone to know what the hell you are talking about.

Tony Hoffman said...

B Prokop: "You seem to have some weird hangup about definitions. If you can't clearly define the terms you use, then it is no use dialoging with you. without a clear mutual understanding of what a word means, all attempts at conversation, debate, discussion, etc., are futile. Sloppiness in definition results in sloppiness in thinking, results in spreading around "darkness visible".

Your comment appears highly ironic. I have followed these debates for years now, and this is the first time that I've heard someone declare that atheism means a disbelief in all things supernatural. There is a reason that terms like materialist, and naturalist, are used in these discussion, and that is to distinguish the position from atheism. And so it's funny that you would chastise someone (wrongly) for behavior that you are so flamboyantly displaying instead.

But I do agree with you that definitions need to be tightened up before discussions like these can proceed. So there is that.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think, that, strictly speaking, atheism is a religion. However, it can certainly have religious characteristics, and it can certainly be defended with religious zeal. If someone were to put the kind of energy into defending Christianity that John Loftus puts into attacking it, we would have to say that that person was "on fire for Jesus."

I don't know about religion requiring the supernatural; that presupposes that we have a workable nature-supernature distinction, which I actually have some doubts about. In one sense, if there is what most people now consider to be supernatural, we could just say that the natural isn't quite what we thought it was. Science already quantifies over unobservables; God is just a little bit of a different type of unobservable. In theory, it seems to me, you could have laws of supernature, or at least what we up until now thought of a supernature.

B. Prokop said...

I recall an extended series of debates on this very website about what the term "supernatural" meant, and they foundered on the unfortunate fact that no two participants meant the same thing when using the word. Everyone was speaking at cross purposes, and even occasionally engaging in Violent Agreement. That is why definitions have to be clear and mutually agreed upon before any meaningful discussion can proceed.

As for Tony's comment, I have yet to meet (in person, face to face) an atheist who would admit to the existence of anything outside the material world. True, most of the atheists I have met were British. Maybe there's an American variant I'm less familiar with?

But my own comment stands. "Being Itself" claims to be bored by definitions, and is clearly impatient with anyone insisting on clarity of thought, or at least of expression.

Anonymous said...

"There is no atheist nor humanist Bible."

Cardinal Grayling has just fixed that omission.

BeingItself said...

""Being Itself" claims to be bored by definitions, and is clearly impatient with anyone insisting on clarity of thought, or at least of expression."

I highly regard clarity of thought.

What I find boring is when people argue about what the "right" definition of a word is. That is just confused.

But we agree that in order to have a fruitful conversation we have to nail down meaning as best we can.

If you look at the phil papers poll, 72% identified as atheists, while only 49% identified as naturalists. So, among philosophers, your conflation that atheism=naturalism is empirically false.

But you are free to keep using the word that way, and free to keep sewing confusion.

BeingItself said...

"In theory, it seems to me, you could have laws of supernature, or at least what we up until now thought of a supernature."

It seems to me most theists believe this, whether they are aware of it or not. They think that their god has a 'nature' of some sort. For example, most theists think that when their god wills that something exist, then that something will exist.

So it is a "supernatural law" that god's will is effective, theists implicitly believe. And that god's will is effective is not something that god could will, it is just a brute fact about god.

And this whole line of thought undercuts the idea that natural laws require a god of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Graylings Humanist Bible.

Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One Brow said...

Martin said...
The vast majority of atheists are naturalists, and they tend to shun their members who believe in ghosts and junk.

Do you have any sort of research to back that up? Or, are you just basing that on your own perceptions?

That tiny, itsy bitsy shunned minority is their escape clause, so they can point to them and say that atheism is NOT about metaphysical naturalism.

1) Why would anyone want or need an escape clause from metaphysical naturalism?

2) Your point is many athiests are not metaphysical naturalists, and therefore athiests using this fact to say atheism is not the same as metaphysical naturalism is a sham? INteresting reasoning.

One Brow said...

B. Prokop said...
No matter how a person self-identifies, anyone that believes in ghosts is not an atheist, by definition.

Whose definition? Yours? I am unimpressed by personal definitions of atheism.

One Brow said...

B. Prokop said...
One can be a materialist denier of the supernatural, and still believe in homeopathy.

There is no sensible material explanation for homeopathy. If homeopathy had a materialistic basis, it would invalidate almost all of our chemical knowledge.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "As for Tony's comment, I have yet to meet (in person, face to face) an atheist who would admit to the existence of anything outside the material world."

And I have yet to meet a clown who was funny. That doesn't mean the definition of the word clown is "not funny."

Victor Reppert said...

Buddha believed in a lot of supernatural entities, but maintained that either they were subject to the cycle of birth and rebirth, and hence not worthy of worship, or else they had transcended the cycle and reached Nirvana, in which case they were out of our reach and unable to respond to our worship.

Ilíon said...

"That tiny, itsy bitsy shunned minority is their escape clause, so they can point to them and say that atheism is NOT about metaphysical naturalism."

And, it doesn't matter in the least what ad hoc mish-mash of mis-matched propositions any so-called atheist believes -- the point isn't the -ists, the point is the -ism. There are two types of atheism:
1) "western" (i.e. anti-Judeo-Christian) atheism, which asserts that only matter (and relationships of matter) exists;
2) "eastern" (i.e. anti-Hindu) atheism, aka Buddhism, which asserts that nothing at all exists.

John W. Loftus said...

There is a world, a cosmos. There isn't any supra-world or super-cosmos, Victor.

One need not have a conception of the supernatural at all to have the conception of the natural world or the cosmos.

These are languages games I reject. The only reason I use the word supernatural is to communicate with people who think it refers to something. Surely you know this, right?

The same thing goes for my so-called religious zeal, my being on fire for not-Jesus. I have passion. There is no supra-passion.

You might as well say I share the same thing as Victor Reppert in that I am a man, or that I wear pants as he does. That two ideas share something similar does not entail saying that they are similar in the relevant sense, and so a fortiori most emphatically does not entail them being equivalent.

Anonymous said...

Notice that Mr. Loftus does not stick with the easy definition of atheism as simply lack of belief, but that he makes definite claims about the comsos.

By which he assumes some burden of proof.

Which he has not even come close to meeting.

I find his asswertions unconvincing, and his knowledge of science weak.

It is very puzzling as to why this guy is getting so much attention.


Jeremy Mancuso

Mr Veale said...

Papalinton

I'm not a trained philosopher. I merely dabble in it a little.

So, I wonder...can you clarify what a very subset is? I wasn't aware that sets came in flavours. Are there "kinda" subsets? "Looks-a-bit-like" a subset?

Graham

Victor Reppert said...

John: You don't have a concept of the natural world unless we know what the constraints are in calling something natural. So then, something that falls outside of those constraints would have to be, I guess, supernatural. So I don't see how you can have an idea about what the natural is without having some idea about what would be supernatural if it were to exist.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
Notice that Mr. Loftus does not stick with the easy definition of atheism as simply lack of belief, but that he makes definite claims about the comsos.

Note also Mr. Loftus did not attempt to define atheism at all, but expressed his personal beliefs.

Papalinton said...

Hi Graham
"So, I wonder...can you clarify what a very subset is? I wasn't aware that sets came in flavours. Are there "kinda" subsets? "Looks-a-bit-like" a subset? "

Yeah. Funny isn't it? Pure persiflage, Graham, pure persiflage.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Victor
Your comment to Lohn L: "John: You don't have a concept of the natural world unless we know what the constraints are in calling something natural. So then, something that falls outside of those constraints would have to be, I guess, supernatural."

How do you know when something falls outside the constraints [of natural explanation]? The continued projection onto a 'supernatural' explanation is just a varied form of the 'god of the gaps' concept. Because something may not be able to be explained in a natural manner at this time of science development does not make it 'supernatural'. That is just jumping far too quickly into god-gap logic.

It is fair to say, the fantastic reliability and power of scientific explanation, demonstrably illustrated throughout the history of modern science, clearly puts an end, even at the very simple probability level, that the existence of any supernatural world is pure speculative, superstitious nonsense.

Indeed there appears to be much accumulative evidence that 'supernaturalism' is simply a conceptual construct established in the brain as a function of categorizing elements of the natural world that yet require a natural explanation.

Some illustrative examples of this process: Epileptic fit = Possession by the devil; Hallucination=personal revelation; Haitian earthquake=Haitians signing a pact with the Devil in the 18th C.; Asian Tsunami=god's anger with Muslims.

Those that have yet to be resolved: The moment of the 'big bang'= god did it; Supernatural world=where god lives; Fine tuning of the Universe=god as the knob-tweaker; miracles=god's work; to mention a few.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Contra Bob, I know many atheists who are not naturalists. They believe in abstract objects usually. Usually b/c of mathematics/logic.

Ilíon said...

BDK: "Contra Bob, I know many atheists who are not naturalists. They believe in abstract objects usually. Usually b/c of mathematics/logic."

Is that kind of like saying, "I know many 'Christians' who are not 'supernaturalists'. They believe in only physical and/or material entities. Usually because they believe that 'Science!' is the only means by which to discover truth and aquire knowledge."

While it is no doubt of some degree of psychological interest to speculate or explore for reasons why an 'atheist' who has thought about atheism a bit more deeply than the typical 'atheist', deeply enough to see that atheism entails propositions we know to be false, might choose to "fix" that philosophical problem by adding some ad hoc propositions as an axioms to his personal version of "atheism", and thereby render its incoherency obvious from the get-go, such psychological issues do not touch upon the philosophical issue of what propositions *must* be true of reality if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality.

Pointing to some self-identifying atheist who asserts some mish-mash of disjointed, and even contradictory, propositions as being some sort of "personalized atheism", doesn't get athesim itself off the hook for being contrary to what we know to be true of reality, and of being seen to be incoherent once one properly understands it and its entailments.

Jesse Parrish said...

Yeah, atheism is (almost always, though not in general) a belief. I don't think that should bother us.

I gave my thoughts on this over the course of thirty trillion comments over at Debunking Christianity. (I am jparris8)

I think the fire over the `belief' thing is due to a desire to set atheism as a sort of default position, manoeuvrings which I find more than a little distasteful. So on a related point, here are my thoughts on the OTF. The latter link is jargony, but the former should be accessible. Since I haven't seen this objection yet - I'm new around here - I am curious as to whether or not it has been made. I pursue some (largely irrelevant) responses in the aforementioned thread.