Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Ad hominem circumstantial

"You think you have reasons to believe in God. But actually, you only believe it because you can't stand the idea of going out of existence when you die. You don't have reasons, just rationalizations."


How many times have you heard this?

108 comments:

ingx24 said...

Of course, this argument doesn't work anyway because there's no reason why God needs to exist for there to be life after death. The two issues are entirely logically separate.

Victor Reppert said...

Ducasse and McTaggart were atheists who believed in life after death.

However, there seem to be few such.

ingx24 said...

Why is life after death considered so "unlikely" if God doesn't exist? Is this another result of the false dichotomy between theism and materialism?

Karl Grant said...

Well, If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, or some variation thereof, I could solve the US budget crisis.

Walter said...



It's also quite annoying when we skeptics are told that the only reason we refuse to believe is because we love our sin and autonomy too much to bend the knee and submit to Jesus as our master.

Karl Grant said...

Walter,

I can imagine. Circumstantial ad hominem is not an effective recruitment tool, no matter what form it takes, since it usually triggers a knee-jerk defensive reaction from your debate opponent. Kind of defeats the purpose.

unkleE said...

I've heard it. It doesn't worry me. It may be true, just as the stereotype Walter referred to may be true also for all I know. None of it changes what the truth is. I have chosen what I think is right, and I can't do better than that. People say all sorts of things and life's too short to worry about most of them. In the time I have, I'd rather listen to substantial arguments and evidence rather than nonsense like this.

Steve Lovell said...

I've heard it plenty of times. Indeed, Brian Cox (current flavour of the month in UK popular science) said very much this in his BBC documentary on Sunday night. To be fair, I'm not sure he was using it as argument, though the tone was rather condescending.

B. Prokop said...

As for the "Argument from Emotion", the mood I'm in right now, I say "Bring it on!"

Having just become a grandfather 4 days ago (Baby girl, mother and daughter doing just fine), I can now with confidence say after looking into that infant's eyes and holding her for a couple of hours, that not only do I believe in God, I know there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God. And NOTHING anyone can say could possibly convince me otherwise!

Steve Lovell said...

Congrats Bob

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Life has its moments of joy. Happy grandfatherhood.

Papalinton said...

Yes, as you say most assuredly an 'argument from emotion'. And I congratulate you and share with you the wonderful experience of grandfatherhood.

But to leave your statement,

"Having just become a grandfather 4 days ago (Baby girl, mother and daughter doing just fine), I can now with confidence say after looking into that infant's eyes and holding her for a couple of hours, that not only do I believe in God, I know there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God. And NOTHING anyone can say could possibly convince me otherwise!"

unchallenged would be tantamount to tacit approval or acknowledgement. It would be remiss of me to let it go through to the catcher. That would be a wrong perception indeed.

I too have grandchildren, four, the youngest a girl just turned two, and I simply marvel at the beauty and sheer wonder of the natural cycle of life of which we are an integral part. I am so moved by the fact that our children were ours by dint of dipping into the lucky dip of life, knowing and understanding the almost countless possibilities, or none, for us of having very different people [children] with very different personalities and temperaments, than the ones we had, should the circumstances had been different. What of all the myriad 'potential' children we could have had, had we tried at different times to the different years we had our children? It was just pure luck and random chance that gave us our children. The process of giving birth to a healthy baby or sadly, a baby that will struggle with their life, is a journey fraught with potential mishap and misadventure, genetically, environmentally, psychologically, medically, physically. No god is required here, and there would be few believers here who would want their god to be responsible for the terribly misfortunate child, or even to thank their god for that misfortune. But like all people, believers pretty much only score the positive hits. Somebody or something else is responsible for the misses. [This is called 'externalizing the problem'.]

To recall the personal experience of my coming of age, to experience the birth and watch with joy the growing-up of my children, who in turn now share that experience with us [me and my wife, Papa and Grandmum], in the birth and growing-up of their own children. It is a beautiful happenstance. Anywhere along this road there could have been disastrous, tragic outcomes for ever so many reasons. That in itself is a cause of great celebration, for quiet repose and self-reflection about how fortunate we are.

Eric said...

"You think you have reasons to believe in God. But actually, you only believe it because you can't stand the idea of going out of existence when you die. You don't have reasons, just rationalizations."

This is easily turned back on the atheist, too:

"You think you have reasons to reject belief in God. But actually, you only reject it because you can't stand the idea of being judged when you die. You don't have reasons, just rationalizations."



Papalinton said...

"You think you have reasons to reject belief in God. But actually, you only reject it because you can't stand the idea of being judged when you die. You don't have reasons, just rationalizations."

You seems to be a guy in the know, Eric. Do you have a snoop in the inside, or do you have a direct party line to the Big Cheese hisself? C'mon, don't hide your revelatory powers behind the bush. Give us the scoop. How does this work? And what happens?

Apart from a little bit of mild parodying, I'm genuinely interested to know where you got your information from. Is this information universally acknowledged as fact or proofs? And is it universaly recognised as the same for all Christian believers?

Eric said...

Pap, I wasn't making what I took to be a true claim, but merely showing how useless the original claim is by turning it back on the atheist in a rather obvious way. That is, I suspect I have as much warrant for taking the reformulated claim to be true as the atheist has for taking the original claim to be true, i.e not much, if any at all.

im-skeptical said...

Eric,

This is just the kind of thing that atheists are subjected to constantly. (Certainly much more often than I have heard this phrase invoked.) Like "Atheism is just another religion" or "You are willfully rejecting God". If you ask me, it's a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

Actually, I think the main reason people believe is that they had it drilled into them while they were growing up, and before they were mature enough to question what they were being taught.

ingx24 said...

Actually, I think the main reason people believe is that they had it drilled into them while they were growing up, and before they were mature enough to question what they were being taught.

Since everyone seems to think that atheism necessarily leads to naturalism/materialism, are you implying that, absent religious indoctrination, all (or at least most) basically educated people would believe that:

(1) Science is the authority on what exists, and we should only believe in what science deems necessary for explaining the physical world

(2) All of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences are nothing more than electrical impulses and chemical reactions in our brains

(3) We do not (and cannot) have free will

(4) There is not (and cannot be) any kind of life/existence after death

(5) There is no meaning or purpose to life or the universe whatsoever

(6) Anything that seems to contradict the above 5 statements is simply a false intuition created by millions of years of natural selection.



im-skeptical said...

ingx24,

In answer to your questions:

1: No. Science is not the only source of knowledge. There are other sources of knowledge as well. I have said here that I believe philosophy is an important source of knowledge, as long as it is informed by science.

2: Not exactly. Thoughts and feelings are something that we experience subjectively. They are caused by physical phenomena, not by any supernatural or non-material phenomena.

3: Correct. Free will is an illusion. Our behavior is influenced by many things, but experimentation has shown that we make decisions in our brain before there is any consciousness of making the decision.

4: Well, not for us as individual persons, anyway. Our mind and our consciousness cease to exist when we die. But don't worry - it doesn't hurt. There is no feeling of want or deprivation.

5: I disagree. Atheism does not imply nihilism. Life is what we make of it. There are many people who came before me who have impacted my life in a meaningful way, and I might influence the lives of others. There are people who love me (believe it or not). I can be happy during the time I have to live. Our one shot at life may be wasted if we spend it pursuing phantoms, or the hope of better things to come.

6: Your ideas about what it means to be an atheist are sadly misinformed. Kind of like the people who only listen to Fox news and then refuse to believe that the black guy won the election. They don't want to know the truth. They live in a bubble. These things are true, even if you don't think so: consciousness and rational thought are possible without the help of immaterial entities; so is happiness and meaning; so is morality; animals are sentient beings who are capable of both suffering and joy.

ingx24 said...

You didn't answer my question. My question was, are you implying that everyone would believe those things if they were not religiously indoctrinated. Because I've outgrown my religious indoctrination (as miniscule as it was) and I don't believe in naturalism/materialism.

I think this might be relevant: http://ingx32.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-false-dilemmas-of-western-culture.html

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

How exactly is Atheism is just another religion a circumstantial ad hominem?

Free will is an illusion. Our behavior is influenced by many things, but experimentation has shown that we make decisions in our brain before there is any consciousness of making the decision.

Recent developments in Neuroscience have something to say about that:

"Libet argued that our brain has already decided to move well before we have a conscious intention to move," says Schurger. "We argue that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity."

So what does this say about free will? "If we are correct, then the Libet experiment does not count as evidence against the possibility of conscious will," says Schurger.


More to the point, if free will is an illusion why are you on this blog bothering to try and change our minds?

Kind of like the people who only listen to Fox news and then refuse to believe that the black guy won the election. They don't want to know the truth. They live in a bubble.

And you are complaining about ad hominems, correct?

ingx24 said...

I can't remember exactly where I heard this, but I heard that the "readiness potential" in Libet's experiments that was supposed to be pre-conscious decision-making was later found to be a result of the subject monitoring the clock.

im-skeptical said...

ingx24,

I'm sorry if I incorrectly stereotyped your beliefs, but you do seem to be suffering from some misunderstanding of what people like me think. From what I can see, you seem to equate materialism with a nihilistic world-view. And you must admit it is unusual to find someone who is non-materialist and also non-theistic. Did you actually say? When you make a statement like "there is no logical reason why the mind should simply disappear after death", it indicates to me that you reject scientific understanding in favor of theistic philosophy. I have never heard anyone but theists make such a case, but I guess there may be some. My position is that if you are non-materialist, you believe in some kind of supernatural entity, whatever it may be, and that's not much different from believing in god. It's just a question of what properties you attribute to that entity.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

Did you actually say? When you make a statement like "there is no logical reason why the mind should simply disappear after death", it indicates to me that you reject scientific understanding in favor of theistic philosophy.

Ahem, The Atheist Afterlife Summary of the book:

THE ATHEIST AFTERLIFE describes an afterlife that is consistent with known law and requires nothing more than physics. It demonstrates that an afterlife is possible based on reason, and supports the probability of an afterlife with an original and testable support for dualism -- the proposition that our mind and body are separate.

I mentioned this book the last time I had a chat with you on this blog. So why would you make a statement like I have never heard anyone but theists make such a case?

ingx24 said...

When you make a statement like "there is no logical reason why the mind should simply disappear after death", it indicates to me that you reject scientific understanding in favor of theistic philosophy.

No. Contrary to what many materialists would like to believe, science has not established that mental activity is identical to brain activity, or that it existentially depends on the brain for its existence. The close connection between brain activity and mental activity, as well as the effects of drugs and brain damage on the mind, are exactly what we would expect if interactionist substance dualism were true. The findings of neuroscience are compatible with many different stances on the mind-body problem. The only stance that the findings of neuroscience are NOT compatible with is the strawman position that minds and brains only interact for sensory input and behavioral output, which no dualist in history has ever held or maintained.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

I think the jury is still out on Shurger's findings. He certainly hasn't proved the notion of free will - only raised a doubt.

Why do I bother trying to change people's minds? Because there are influences on behavior.

And no, I wasn't complaining about ad hominems. I was pointing out hypocrisy.

im-skeptical said...

" science has not established that mental activity is identical to brain activity, or that it existentially depends on the brain for its existence."

I like that. Science has given us absolutely no reason to believe otherwise. The immaterial part could possibly be compatible with science, but it's not based on any scientific evidence.

Karl,

Sorry, I forgot you mentioned that book. Ok, there are some people in that category, but not many, I think.

ingx24 said...

The immaterial part could possibly be compatible with science, but it's not based on any scientific evidence.

Of course the immaterial part isn't based on scientific evidence. It's based on personal experience - the thoughts, feelings, mental images, etc. that we encounter in introspection are not the same as the electrical processes that neuroscientists observe in the brain. And it will not do to simply suggest that our introspection is deceiving us - for at that point, you have undermined that which gives us access to scientific data in the first place (that is, you have undermined the first person perspective through which the third person perspective of science is possible).

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

I think the jury is still out on Shurger's findings. He certainly hasn't proved the notion of free will - only raised a doubt.

Shurger's work isn't the only thing that has called this into question. Remember ingx24's comment about the "readiness potential" was later found to be a result of the subject monitoring the clock. And if scientific research is saying there are doubts don't act like the jury's been decided.

Ok, there are some people in that category, but not many, I think

Really? You didn't realize there were people who even existed in this category and promptly forgot about it after this fact was pointed out (by your own admission just now). How could you even make a reasonable guess of demographic information concerning this subject?

Papalinton said...

See HERE

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All,

Even though it would not demonstrate the truth or falsehood of atheism either way, it is interesting to note that there exists a not-insubstantial amount of empirical evidence for the idea that atheism is motivated, at least in part, by a "wish-fulfillment" impulse to avoid accepting/dealing with the personal human consequences that would naturally follow given the acceptance of the existence of a morally judgemental being such as a theistic God.

For example, both I and other theists--who have, in one form or another, shared their experiences with me--know a number of atheists who readily admit that even if it could be shown to their satisfaction that, say, Christianity were true, they still would not become Christians. They say that they would just rebel against such a position. Next, we have the self-admittance of certain atheists, such as Nagel, who readily admit that their atheism is motivated, at least in part, by wish fulfillment tendencies. Finally, this idea is also supported by the fact that, when push comes to shove, many atheists admit that a case can be made for deism, and further that deism is not irrational. But what is interesting is that the primary difference between deism and theism is a moral one: namely, the deistic deity is not concerned with human activity while the theistic deity is. And so, it becomes interesting to note this relative atheistic warmness to deism but near universal repuditation of theism.

In fact, it would be very interesting if some type of social science study could be conducted in order to determine the strength and prevalence of this "wish fulfillment" aspect of atheism. For example, a part of the hypothesis of such a study could be: if atheists are willing to admit to the rationality of deism, and also show no personal dislike or disgust at the idea that deism was true, but at the same time the same atheists showed strong dislike and disgust at the idea of the truth of theism, then this gives grounds to suspect that the motivation of atheists against the theistic position is not rationality based, but has more to do with psychological factors.

Finally, and perhaps the most important point, is that regardless of the existence of this "wish fulfillment" aspect of atheism, it is demonstrably the case that atheism as a position is irrational. It always has been and always will be and this is quite easy to see upon reflection. And so, that idea of atheistic "wish fulfillment" in light of atheism's irrational, is interesting, but ultimately besides the point.

Take care,

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

RD

That was straight out of Karl Rove's playbook. Attack your opponent's strength and project your own weaknesses upon him. Wish fulfillment? What do you call your own belief in life after death? The hard truth, I suppose. Irrational position? Like believing there's some invisible guy pulling all the strings, even though the only evidence you have is a feeling? Why can't he manage to convince someone like me that he exists?

Please tell me about this empirical evidence regarding wish fulfillment. I always thought the atheist based his beliefs on evidence.

B. Prokop said...

"Why can't he manage to convince someone like me that he exists?"

As I must have said multiple times before on this site, He doesn't want to "convince" you, as long as that word implies that any choice in the matter has been removed.

I agree with RD on deism. Such a belief has no appeal to me whatsoever - it is absolutely bloodless. It demands nothing of you, makes no case for reforming one's life, has no skin in the game.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"I always thought the atheist based his beliefs on evidence."

When you say such patently absurd things, you are just proving RD Miksa's point.

B. Prokop said...

By the way, everyone... apropos of a conversation about the Jewishness of Superman we had here a few weeks back, check out what I found this morning on the Drexel University website:

1) Superman was created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, two Jewish boys from Cleveland.

2) Superman’s name on Krypton was “Kal-El," which means “Voice of God” in Hebrew.

3) Superman was sent to Earth as a baby by his parents to save him from destruction; he was adopted by people not his own. This was like Moses, sent out in his basket to escape death and plucked from the bulrushes by the Pharaoh’s daughter.

4) "Kent" could be an Americanization of "Cohen".

5) Superman in his disguise as Clark Kent sought to assimilate into American life, much as Jewish immigrants of the time tried to do.

6) Clark Kent, with his studious demeanor and thick glasses was, let’s face it, the embodiment of a Jewish stereotype of the period.

7) The destruction of the planet Krypton can be taken as a metaphor for the destruction of European Jewry during World War II, occurring near the time that Siegel and Shuster launched the series.

8) Man is a popular suffix in a Jewish name. "Superman" has this suffix and can be pronounced to emphasize the fact — say Superman in the manner of Lieberman or Klingerman.

9) Superman’s cape can be construed as a tallit; his spit curl as a displaced pais; and the triangle on his chest as half of a Star of David.

Walter said...

Prokop says: I agree with RD on deism. Such a belief has no appeal to me whatsoever

In other words you reject deism for emotional reasons.

Not all deists believe in a completely amoral God. Here are a few quotes:

Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion. -Benjamin Franklin

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
- Thomas Paine

Historically, deism's defining characteristic was simply a rejection of alleged divine revelations. the earliest deists did not believe in an amoral and "bloodless" God.

B. Prokop said...

"In other words you reject deism for emotional reasons."

As long as you allow for there being other reasons as well... yes.

But I, as I have so often asserted here, do not automatically look down upon emotional arguments (as well as "arguments" from art, literature, science, music, personal experience, etc.). We discern Truth by many means.

Walter said...

As long as you allow for there being other reasons as well... yes.

Fair enough. And I reject orthodox Christianity on both intellectual and moral grounds. Since moral outrage is an emotion, then I share your conclusion that emotional arguments should not be ignored when seeking Truth.

B. Prokop said...

"emotional arguments should not be ignored when seeking Truth"

No disagreement there. But rather than turning the emotional landscape into some sort of "no-fire zone", it makes it fair game for debate.

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RD Miksa said...

Dear im-skeptical:

You said:

“That was straight out of Karl Rove's playbook. Attack your opponent's strength and project your own weaknesses upon him.”

Oh, please. Did you even read what I wrote? My very first line read: “Even though it would not demonstrate the truth or falsehood of atheism either way, it is interesting to note that...” This clearly demonstrates that I take this issue of “wish fulfillment” motivations—from either end, by the way—to be an interesting discussion, but not anything that can even come close to determining truth or rationality. For it is, after all, from a philosophical perspective, just the genetic fallacy in fancy terms. But it is an interesting discussion nonetheless.

And by the way, atheism, as a philosophical position, has no strengths.



You said:

“Wish fulfillment? What do you call your own belief in life after death? The hard truth, I suppose. Irrational position?”

First, it is interesting to see—at least to me—how un-skeptical you are, even if your profile name-sake professes you to be skeptical (and this is something I notice with many self-professed skeptics). After all, how do you know that I believe in life after death? How do you know what type of afterlife position I hold? Why have you made such an assumption? What is your evidence for it?

But anyway, yes, I hold that an afterlife exists (so your assumption is ultimately correct, even though it’s initial basis is questionable and arguably irrational). And further, I hold that it is the hard truth demonstrable by reason. Finally, it would be hard to see my afterlife as motivated by “wish fulfillment” for three reasons: 1) As a Catholic, my soul is in peril till the very end of my life, so I have no guarantees of salvation; 2) Even if I am “saved” (to use the popular terminology), I will certainly be going to Purgatory, which is a place that I would rather avoid; and 3) in all seriousness, given the Judgement that reason tells me must come, I would prefer non-existence to this Judgement—in fact, non-existence, to me, is entirely benign and unfearful. But alas, whether I wish it or not, the Judgement will come and I must face it regardless of what my desires are about it.


Con't...

RD Miksa said...

Con't...


You said:

“Like believing there's some invisible guy pulling all the strings, even though the only evidence you have is a feeling?”

Again, try to be a bit more skeptical: how do you know the only evidence I have is a feeling. And by the by, it is generally naturalists (and some atheists) who are determinists, not theists.



You said:

“Why can't he manage to convince someone like me that he exists?”

Being skeptical, I have no idea! Maybe you have analyzed the arguments incorrectly. Maybe you have not even read the arguments. Maybe you are stupid. Maybe you are hard-headed. Maybe you are seduced by demonstrably false metaphysics like scientism. Maybe you are emotionally attached to your alleged atheism. Maybe—and understandably—you just cannot overcome the problem of evil. Maybe there is a communication barrier between us. Maybe you are a closet theist that is just playing devil’s advocate. Maybe you are actually an anti-theist but see your alleged atheism as easier to profess.

But regardless of all this, and regardless of whether you are convinced or not, it is demonstrably the case that atheism is irrational. It always had been and always will be.



You said:

“Please tell me about this empirical evidence regarding wish fulfillment.”

I just did...in my previous post. Did you actually comprehend it? If so, then I am happy to discuss the meat of it if you like, but don’t ask me for the empirical evidence when I already gave it to you.


You said:

“I always thought the atheist based his beliefs on evidence.”

Let me repeat myself yet again: follow your profile name-sake and actually be skeptical! If you do so, you will see that you as a skeptic, you should be very leery of using words like “always” or “I always thought...”


In fact, given all of the above, perhaps—and I am sincerely not trying to be rude but rather precise and direct—you should change your profile name from “im-skeptical” to “im-trying-to-be-skeptical.” The latter would definitely be more accurate than the former, and it would also sound less pretentious.

Take care,

RD Miksa

ozero91 said...

Ad homs. Ad homs everywhere.

The only time I think an ad hom might be permissible is if the person hold contradictory views. Like perhaps if a person rejects the PSR, and yet demands an explanation for evil.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Why can't he manage to convince someone like me that he exists?

I've tried to show you arguments for dualism before, and you did not appear to even understand them (perhaps that's my fault), and you certainly were not able to provide any counter evidence.

As for God, I don't know about you per se, but in other forums whenever I try to present evidence like the First Way, I'm absolutely SHOCKED at how quickly people A) misunderstand it, and B) dig their heels in with their misunderstanding. As if they already have their conclusions in place ("the arguments all fail!") and simply will not be convinced otherwise. This is due in part to the large atheist echo-chamber, not unlike the Fox News one, where epistemic closure is the rule. They just bounce their "rebuttals" off each other and nothing new ever gets in.

It's amazing to watch actually. So many "skeptical" people who are not even the slightest bit skeptical about their own position, namely that "there is no evidence for the existence of God."

im-skeptical said...

RD,

Your logic seems more than a little fuzzy.

Atheists who would reject the Christian God do so mainly because they find such a god abhorrent. They say they would rather face his wrath than go along with his apparent immorality. It has nothing to do with wish fulfillment.

If Nagel says his atheism is motivated by it, I think he is in stark disagreement with most atheists. He certainly doesn't speak for me.

Atheists who find deism more rational than Christian theism undoubtedly see a deist worldview as being much more closely aligned with an atheist worldview. Again it has nothing to do with wish fulfillment.

Regarding my reasons for not being convinced in the existence of your god, would you make the same callous remarks about everyone else who has similar beliefs? It isn't just me and my stupidity. And why shouldn't an atheist say the same things about you? After all, theism is not based on any empirical evidence. Just read through what has been said here. As far as I can tell, the single biggest reason people have for believing is emotional (ie. irrational). Then they try to build a philosophical fortress around their beliefs, using arguments that are based on unsupported premises.

You say atheism is demonstrably irrational? Why? Because atheists don't swallow the lame arguments for your religion? Go right ahead and demonstrate.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I can't say I understand all the arguments for dualism. I can't say I understand all the arguments for theism. They premises like "No thought is valid if it can be fully explained as the result of irrational causes", which uses contorted wording to state something as fact when it isn't a fact at all. But that's the kind of stuff they seem to accept without question, and then go to use it as the basis of proof of their case. And then they accuse people like me of not being skeptical.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

Atheists who would reject the Christian God do so mainly because they find such a god abhorrent. They say they would rather face his wrath than go along with his apparent immorality. It has nothing to do with wish fulfillment.

So atheists deny the existence of something they find abhorrent? That certainly sounds like wish fulfillment or do people normally wish for things they find abhorrent to exist?

As far as I can tell, the single biggest reason people have for believing is emotional (ie. irrational).

And you just admitted you are in the same boat; rejecting the existence of something because you find it abhorrent is an emotional act. Just because you find something to be distasteful has no bearing on the existence of something. Most people consider the Holocaust to have been abhorrent, you gonna deny it existed?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

See what I mean? Perfect example. You actually used this very concept earlier in this very thread, when you said: "I think the main reason people believe is that they had it drilled into them while they were growing up, and before they were mature enough to question what they were being taught."

Implicit in this statement of yours is the idea that if a belief was formed by non-rational causes, such as the religious beliefs of the family one happens to be born into, then that belief is not formed from reason and evidence.

It's the very premise you say is false! So you believe it to be false, and yet believe it to be true. Both at the same time.

????

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

Zach,

The very blog you are on right now is in fact centered around that argument. Dr Reppert's book "C.S. Lewis' Dangerous Idea" is a book-length treatment of the argument from reason.

The terminology is not difficult. A rational cause and effect would be something like: all men are mortal + Socrates is a man, which causes the belief that Socrates is mortal.

Those are rational causes. The belief "Socrates is mortal" has rational causes for its coming to be.

Non-rational causes would be like when the rock rolls down the hill and causes the tree to break in half. Or when beta decay occurs. Those are non-rational. Or if someone believes in God only because they were raised that way. Their beliefs were formed, not via rational causes like evidence and reason, but by non-rational causes like the location they happened to be born in.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

That line is from Craig (after Lewis). He is talking about material causes as being "irrational". That's why I refer to it as contorted - because we use the word "irrational" in a different way.

Karl,

"rejecting the existence of something because you find it abhorrent is an emotional act"

That's not what I said - it's now why I reject your God. The statement is in reference to a hypothetical.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

I didn't say "irrational", and if you would read the sister book of this blog you would know that that was Anscombe's criticism of Lewis' original argument. Blind forces of nature are not "irrational", which would mean they are capable of being rational but are not right now, but rather non-rational, which means they are not mental at all.

And I note that you didn't dispute my point that you agree with the premise in question. You want evidence? There it is. Why the refusal to look or understand?

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I still think you're using contorted language. If you mean material or immaterial, why don't you just say that? Rational thought can and does come from material causes. But that disagrees with the premise of Lewis and Craig. They use the contorted language to state it in a way that sounds reasonable, but is in fact false (according to the operative definition of the words), at least until they can provide a convincing proof.

So, no I don't agree with the premise in question. Speaking about rational/irrational is not the same as speaking about material/immaterial. But you are conflating those things, and I'm not. We went through this discussion earlier.

im-skeptical said...

I meant to say rational/irrational/nonrational.

RD Miksa said...

Off to work. Will answer tomorrow.

RD Miksa

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

That's not what I said - it's now why I reject your God. The statement is in reference to a hypothetical.

Next time make that a little more clear. And why do you reject God?

Rational thought can and does come from material causes.

And do you understand what question begging is?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

> If you mean material or immaterial, why don't you just say that?

Because that's not the premise. That would be the conclusion from premises, but it would be question begging to assume either one, as you have done when you say: "Rational thought can and does come from material causes."

The premise is that if a belief forms from non-rational causes, such as a belief in God based on how one was raised rather than rational evaluation of the evidence, then that thought is not rationally inferred.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

"Next time make that a little more clear. And why do you reject God?"

I assumed you had read the thread. I reject your god because I find no convincing evidence that it exists, and the logical arguments for it are flawed, as I have said. For example, the argument from reason is built upon a false premise.

"And do you understand what question begging is?"

It's a simple statement. What is your question?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

What specifically is flawed about, for example, the First Way of Thomas Aquinas?

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

I assumed you had read the thread. I reject your god because I find no convincing evidence that it exists, and the logical arguments for it are flawed, as I have said. For example, the argument from reason is built upon a false premise.

Yeah, I read the thread. I keep seeing a lot of bold assertions with little to no evidence or argumentation to back them up. I was hoping for some elaboration.

It's a simple statement. What is your question?

Okay, begging the question means you assume the thing to be true that you are attempting to prove; as you have done with Rational thought can and does come from material causes. More to the point you admitted earlier in this thread that recent research had raised doubts about Libet's experiment, one of the things you are using as evidence for your positions. Think about that for a few seconds.

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Karl
"Ahem, The Atheist Afterlife Summary of the book:
THE ATHEIST AFTERLIFE describes an afterlife that is consistent with known law and requires nothing more than physics. It demonstrates that an afterlife is possible based on reason, and supports the probability of an afterlife with an original and testable support for dualism -- the proposition that our mind and body are separate."


No, it does not demonstrate that an afterlife is possible at all. Philosophy cannot demonstrate, it can only allude to the possibility, through a reasoning process. [Reasoning is a 'process' not an outcome.]

This is the one fundamental mistake that is most made. Philosophy is the linguistic art of illustrating the possible, not the validation or evidence of the possible, let alone anywhere near a stretch toward the probable. Only science can do that. That is the reason it is necessary to predicate all philosophy with being scientifically informed. To do less is sophistry.

Staume's admits there is no evidence for an afterlife:

"There is no evidence of an afterlife. For some that becomes the end of the matter, but for others – like me – the question becomes: Is there any good reasoning in the absence of evidence that would make us keep the question alive?" See HERE, at Staume's first comment in the commentary section.

For Staume it is an intellectual exercise. He is after all a philosophy student, wanting to exercise his new skills. His argument is purely [I should say, merely] philosophical, based on a philosophical premise, the derivation of which is often interpreted as a 'proof of the truth' of his resulting expression [the great mistake theists are apt to perpetuate]. And as we know, philosophical arguments can be deductive, but different deductive systems can yield other and different abstract propositions depending on the meanings and understandings of the derivation used.

But one thing is sure, Staume is adamant that no sniff of a god can be inveigled into his proposition by the theist. Few philosophical musings [particularly religious philosophers] offer any evidence for their propositions, especially of the scientifically validated kind. [Read Feser, Plantinga] The best they have ever been able to do is muster up anecdotes, personal revelations, first-person experiences, or simply steer clear. [Even Aquinas looks good on paper, but his treatise remains existentially stuck within the pages of a book.] These simply do not cut the mustard as supporting evidentiary material for either the existence of a god or the reality of an afterlife. Apart from theology and philosophy, I cannot recall gods and afterlives figuring in any of the countless other fields of study or disciplines of an investigative nature.

ingx24 said...

It's all fun and games until Papalinton enters the comments section. ;)

Martin said...

>Philosophy is the linguistic art of illustrating the possible, not the validation or evidence of the possible, let alone anywhere near a stretch toward the probable. Only science can do that.

I LOVE watching people make philosophical statements that philosophy can't tell us anything.

And completely oblivious, he is. And he'll never know it. Just as bad as any creationist fundie.

Karl Grant said...

Ingx24,

It's all fun and games until Papalinton enters the comments section. ;)

Does anybody even pay attention to him anymore? It's been over a half-a-year since I even read one of his comments.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"I LOVE watching people make philosophical statements that philosophy can't tell us anything."

Philosophy tells us heaps. Clearly you haven't read my comment. Philosophy points the way, it doesn't substantiate the way.

"The Enlightenment begins with the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rise of the new science progressively undermines not only the ancient geocentric conception of the cosmos, but, with it, the entire set of presuppositions that had served to constrain and guide philosophical inquiry. The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles." HERE

You must keep up, boys, otherwise you will be downgraded in class. The Feser/Plantinga class of philosophy is 13thCentury scholasticism. Not much interest for mainstream philosophy there, a somewhat eccentric and idiosyncratic sub-set of diminishing returns under the rubric of the wide tent of General Philosophy.

Victor Reppert said...

I think it's time to go over what I put in my original post. I wrote:

"You think you have reasons to believe in God. But actually, you only believe it because you can't stand the idea of going out of existence when you die. You don't have reasons, just rationalizations."

In other words, this response is addressed to a believer who thinks he has reasons for being a theist.

Now, I am perfectly willing to point out that there are POSSIBLE non-rational motives working in both directions. But to think that we know that actual motives of other people assumes powers of mindreading that I am afraid we all lack.

Walter said: It's also quite annoying when we skeptics are told that the only reason we refuse to believe is because we love our sin and autonomy too much to bend the knee and submit to Jesus as our master.

Of course it is. It is also annoying when skeptics assert that they couldn't have psychological motives undergirding their beliefs.

I'm skeptical wrote: Please tell me about this empirical evidence regarding wish fulfillment. I always thought the atheist based his beliefs on evidence.

Well, we all think the evidence is on our side. We all at least try to believe based on evidence. How well we do it is precisely what's at issue. I don't know if he was thinking this, but sometimes atheists really talk as if atheistic naturalism is so emotionally repulsive that only evidence could persuade anyone that it is true. That strikes me as extremely naive. If you'll buy that, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona, from my front porch you can see the sea.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All:


i-m skeptical said:

“You say atheism is demonstrably irrational? Why? Because atheists don't swallow the lame arguments for your religion? Go right ahead and demonstrate.”


My pleasure! It is quite easy, after all.


Point 1: A rational position is, at its core, defined as a position which is supported by evidences and arguments, while an irrational position is defined as a position which is not supported by any evidences or arguments.

Point 2: In terms of the theism/atheism debate, there exists a spectrum of beliefs ranging from a full-blown theism on one end, agnosticism in the middle, and atheism at the other end.


So, given the two above points, here is the “Atheism is Irrational” Argument:


Premise 1: None of the evidences and arguments that atheists present for their position defeat or even weaken a deistic position; in essence, all atheistic arguments are compatible with deism and thus, even if these atheistic arguments are successful against a strong theistic position, they have no force against a deistic position.

Premise 2: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence until and unless certain evidences that would be expected given the truth of a particular position are shown to be absent, thus giving one a reason to see the absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

Premise 3: But if a deistic deity existed, no specific evidences or arguments for his existence would be expected. If fact, a deistic deity, if he wished to do so, could purposefully make it so that no such evidences or arguments existed for human beings to find.

Therefore, given the above, it is thus the case that atheism actually has no arguments or evidences in favor of it as a philosophical position. In fact, even if the existence of a deistic deity is denied, atheistic arguments and evidences cannot rationally take a person past straight agnosticism. Indeed, given all this, the only possible rational positions are those that move from agnosticism to theism along the atheism/theism spectrum. And thus, it is clear that atheism is ultimately an irrational position to hold.

Take care,

RD Mksa

RD Miksa said...

And note, the agnosticism that I am speaking of in the concluding paragraph of my argument is not the Dawkins-like "almost a full atheist" agnosticism that he speaks of repeatedly, but rather a straight, middle-of-the-road agnosticism that is situated right between atheism and theism.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Finally, as a last aside to my above post, I can note that a supplemental argument in favor of deism over agnosticism can even be added to my argument above.

In essence, this addition would be articulated as follows:

It has been shown that atheism is an irrational position and that the only rational positions to hold are those ranging from straight agnosticism to theism. However, there do exist arguments and evidences in favor of deism that give rational weight to that position; and again, no atheistic-style arguments harm deism in any way. Therefore, given this, and given our definition of rationality, it seems that a weak deistic position is even more rational to hold than straight agnosticism. And therefore, deism is more rational than agnosticism (and is obviously more rational than atheism).

Take care,

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

I don't pretend that I have no psychological motivations. We all do. But I make an effort not to rely on emotion as a basis for believing something. Some theistic arguments are obviously emotionally based. For example, the argument from beauty.

It seems to me that the wish to live is deeply embedded in human psychology, and this strong emotional need is fulfilled by the notion of an afterlife. That's wish fulfillment, and you don't have to be a mind reader to see it.

But I have made no claims of the nature to which you allude. on the contrary, I believe life is worth living, and I have said that it would be a shame to waste it on something that doesn't exist. So that's my emotional need. I'll stick with what I feel is the best evidence.

Martin,

What's the matter with the first way? Same thing: faulty premise. Who says everything must have a mover? I don't buy it. If you claim it's true, prove it.

In my view, the whole notion of causation as used in arguments like this is invalid. What causes an acorn to grow? The parent oak tree? The soil, the moisture it contains, the air? What made those things come together at the same place and time? I think everything interacts with everything else. There is nothing you can call a mover, and no identifiable point at which you can say a chain of causation begins.

im-skeptical said...

RD,

Thanks for your response. It was a nice try. How are you going to prove your first premise?

Martin said...

um-skeptical,

>Who says everything must have a mover?

Not the First Way, certainly.

>I don't buy it. If you claim it's true, prove it.

This illustrates my point. If you are "skeptical", then you should adjudicate all the evidence. You claimed that the theistic arguments are logically flawed. Yet you clearly have no idea what the premises actually say, nor do you seem to be aware that Aquinas does offer lengthy defenses of them in his writings.

So how are you able to make the claim you did without actually knowing anything about the argument?

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

I didn't think it was necessary to summarize the argument. But it is all about what causes "movement". It rests on the faulty idea that things that are moved have a mover.

"It is certain, and evident to our sense, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be moved from a state of potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality... it is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is moved must be moved by another. If that by which it is moved must itself be moved, then this also needs to be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and consequently, no other mover, seeing as subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are moved by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at the first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God. (Aquinas)"

What about this did I not understand?

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

You said that the argument is faulty, and your contention was that the second premise "whatever is changing is being changed by something else" is false or unproved.

But right there in the argument itself, Aquinas makes his proof, although I noticed you or the place you got it from cut out the entire portion where he proves it. Interesting.

I also note that this is a summary, and not a full explanation. You can find the full defense of the argument in the Summa Contra Gentiles.

Whether the argument is sound or not is really not my point. My point is that the typical "new atheist", "skeptic", whatever you want to call them are the exact opposite of skeptical, because it is clear that they have already made up their minds about such arguments and are simply seeking to handwave them away without actually sinking their teeth in. You pronounce the argument faulty because the premise is unproved, then you copy and paste an example of the argument that cuts out the part where the premise is argued for, and seem to be oblivious to the fact that this is a very brief summary and not the full argument.

If you are worried about confirmation bias, I would start with the "new atheists" and "skeptics".

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

It seems to me that the wish to live is deeply embedded in human psychology, and this strong emotional need is fulfilled by the notion of an afterlife. That's wish fulfillment, and you don't have to be a mind reader to see it.

One, how exactly is a belief in Hell wish fulfillment? Two, getting into Heaven is supposed to require adhering to certain guidelines (Ten Commandments ring any bells). Who exactly wished for restrictions on personal conduct? Three, can't the lack of any final judgement or accountability serve just as much as a wish fulfillment?

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

Some good points. belief in hell is not what I would call wish fulfillment. It's more of a threat. You better keep in line or else... And the other side of the coin, heaven, is the carrot that goes along with the threat. But people believed in an afterlife long before their religious leaders formulated the ideas of heaven and hell. Is it my wish to avoid judgement? I don't think so. It never occurred to me, and I certainly don't derive comfort from the idea.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

It's more of a threat.

So is prison but that doesn't stop it from being real or necessary.

But people believed in an afterlife long before their religious leaders formulated the ideas of heaven and hell.

Most versions of afterlife throughout history, in fact I would say the overwhelming majority of them, have contained punishment/justice for misdeeds in this life. Look at the Hindu and Buddhist views on reincarnation. If you didn't realize that you obviously haven't read up on the subject.

Is it my wish to avoid judgement? I don't think so. It never occurred to me, and I certainly don't derive comfort from the idea.

That's nice, but I don't know that for sure and you could be lying. After all, if you actually did wish to avoid judgement and derived comfort from the idea you certainly wouldn't admit to it because of how damaging it would be to your position. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. And before you say anything, this statement is just a variation of your previous statements like That's wish fulfillment, and you don't have to be a mind reader to see it.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

You asked what's wrong with the first way, and I gave you an answer. I am skeptical about a claim that is prominent in the argument, and I explained why. Did you bother to read what I said? I know there have been all kinds of objections to the argument and defenses. This is my own take on it, (which I didn't copy from anywhere). I'm not sure what your definition of skepticism is, but I feel no obligation to adhere to it in any case.

Karl,

If I actually did wish to avoid judgement, I would be a theist.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

If I actually did wish to avoid judgement, I would be a theist.

You just revealed profound ignorance of basic theology in that statement. The traditional theological view of Christianity - and of Islam, Judaism, etc... - is full accountability and final judgement of everybody. Believer and non-believer alike. Being a Christian does not grant you a free pass on God's Judgement.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

You didn't understand what I said, so I'll spell it out. The idea of judgement is part of your theistic belief, as you just said. I don't dispute that. What I dispute is that there is any judgement, because it requires a god to do the judging. But I have nothing to fear because there is no judgement, and nothing that I need to avoid. If I thought that there was a god who would pass judgement on me, I would be a theist.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day i'm skeptical:

Proving the first premise is easy. Examine every atheistic argument that is offered--such as the Problem of Evil or Divine Hiddeness--and note that they have no force against a deistic deity.

So the argument stands, and you have done nothing to undermine it.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

But I have nothing to fear because there is no judgement, and nothing that I need to avoid.

When someone says they have Nothing to fear that is usually a red flag indicator of wish fulfillment. Also, I am gonna agree with Martin here; when you say things like there is no judgement that indicates their mind is already made up about the subject. It does not indicate a true skeptical, i.e. neutral, position so I'm Skeptical is a misnomer for you.

If I thought that there was a god who would pass judgement on me, I would be a theist.

That is not what you said. Your exact words were If I actually did wish to avoid judgement, I would be a theist. That statement and this one are not even close to being similar. In the first one you saying that if you wanted to avoid, as in not undergo or partake in, judgement you would be a theist. That is nowhere near the same thing as saying If I thought that there was a god who would pass judgement on me, I would be a theist.

Now I can think of a couple of reasons for this discrepancy in these two statement. The first one being that your communication skills are somewhat poor. That is the most charitable reason I can come up with. The second reason I can think of is that you fired off the first statement as an attempted snide gotcha statement, only for it to backfire on you and now you are trying to weasel your way out of it.

im-skeptical said...

RD,

Try this: There is not a shred of empirical evidence that any god exists, whether deistic or otherwise. This is, of course, no proof. But it at least weakens the case for deism, don't you think? I think there are many arguments much better than mine that need to be addressed.

So the argument does not stand, until you can prove it.

im-skeptical said...

"Now I can think of a couple of reasons for this discrepancy in these two statement. The first one being that your communication skills are somewhat poor. That is the most charitable reason I can come up with. The second reason I can think of is that you fired off the first statement as an attempted snide gotcha statement"

Probably guilty on both counts. But I stand by what I said. Let me try again. If I wanted to avoid judgement, I would first have to concede that there is a god judging me. So the idea of disbelieving in the existence of god as a means to fulfill my wish to avoid his judgement logically implies that I both believe and I don't believe at the same time. I think that's pretty silly. My communication skills lacking as they are, I don't know how to make the point more clearly. Nevertheless, I think it's a valid point.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

If I wanted to avoid judgement, I would first have to concede that there is a god judging me. So the idea of disbelieving in the existence of god as a means to fulfill my wish to avoid his judgement logically implies that I both believe and I don't believe at the same time.

Now you are just being stupid. You don't have to concede that there is God judging you, you just merely have to dislike the idea that there is a God/gods judging you and deny the validity of said idea for it to be wish fulfillment. By your reasoning someone who believes in the after-life would have to first concede that materialism is true and oblivion awaits us at death for belief in life after death to be wish fulfillment.

im-skeptical said...

"when you say things like there is no judgement that indicates their mind is already made up about the subject. It does not indicate a true skeptical, i.e. neutral, position so I'm Skeptical is a misnomer for you."

Is this yet another case of the pot calling the kettle black? Sure, I have made my own judgements about the way things are. Haven't we all? But I am willing to listen to evidence, and if I hear something that I find convincing, it will affect what I believe to be true. Note that this is in contrast to faith, which implies that the answer is not dependent upon the evidence. Don't lecture me on what it means to be skeptical. The hallmark of religious faith is to accept your belief unconditionally, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

im-skeptical said...

"By your reasoning someone who believes in the after-life would have to first concede that materialism is true and oblivion awaits us at death for belief in life after death to be wish fulfillment."

No. You have a deep-seated psychological need to live (as do most people). Hence, your belief. I don't have any deep-seated psychological need to avoid judgement. Do you know of any evidence that I do?

ingx24 said...

In my personal view, the question of what happens after you die is still open. There is no prima facie reason why a person should or should not disappear when their body dies unless you assume materialism. Since most ordinary people are not materialists (for reasons more related to common sense than to belief in an afterlife), the question remains open for most people. Religion is just what fills in that gap and gives them an answer (even if that answer doesn't end up being true).

im-skeptical said...

ingx24,

If evidence is contrary to what you call common sense, I go with the evidence. When the brain stops functioning, so does the mind. The evidence for an afterlife is non-existent. It may be comforting to most people to think that they live on, but that doesn't make it true. Argumentum ad populum is a fallacy.

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

Is this yet another case of the pot calling the kettle black? Sure, I have made my own judgements about the way things are.

No, it is not the pot calling the kettle black because I never said I was a skeptic. To quote Marcello Truzzi, a true skeptic takes an agnostic position in a debate in which neither claim has been proved or disproved. The minute you endorse a claim you cease to be a skeptic and become a believer/advocate of one side.

which implies that the answer is not dependent upon the evidence. Don't lecture me on what it means to be skeptical. The hallmark of religious faith is to accept your belief unconditionally, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Excuse me? That statement shows you know next to nothing about Christian theology and the Christian view of faith. If that statement was true we wouldn't have Bible verses like:

Proverbs 14:15: A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

Proverbs 19:2: It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.

1 Thessalonians 5:21: Test everything. Hold on to the good.

And one look at the works of many great Christian thinkers (Augustine, Aquinas, etc...) would put lie to that claim real quick.

Hence, your belief. I don't have any deep-seated psychological need to avoid judgement. Do you know of any evidence that I do?

Well, let's see typing "fear of being judged" into Google generates 17,300,000 results including several psychology articles that contain little gems like this To a certain extent, all human beings fear being judged about something. No matter how old, wise, mature a person becomes a small part of them will always be concerned about what others think and especially how others will see what they perceive as their own weaknesses.

Considering how you are using deep-seated psychological need to live (as do most people) to dismiss belief in the after-life as wish fulfillment the above statement, and the millions of others like it, are all I need to label your denial of God as wish fulfillment by your own standards.

im-skeptical said...

OK Karl,

Bible quotations aside, if you believe in an afterlife, you do so without any real evidence, and you will continue to do so until the day you become skeptical.

And fear of judgement by my fellow human beings is certainly not why I am atheist. For that matter fear of divine judgement isn't either, because it's not a fear that I have.

Karl Grant said...

Alright I'm Skeptical,

Bible quotations aside, if you believe in an afterlife, you do so without any real evidence, and you will continue to do so until the day you become skeptical.

Funny, Dr. Pim van Lommel and Jeffrey Long have something to say about that. Dr. Peter Fenwick and Dr. Sam Parnia would also like to have a word with you. In fact, most medical professionals seem to believe in God and the afterlife for some reason. So I can point to scientific, peer-reviewed articles that say yes, there is evidence for an afterlife. I can even point to something of a majority scientific consensus in the medical field about this.

Now you can dispute this evidence and any other evidence I dredge up but you cannot say with a straight face that there is no evidence. Also, you seem to be operating under the assumption that I haven't researched or even thought about my beliefs despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary in the last few discussions. I suggest you ditch that assumption real quick.

And fear of judgement by my fellow human beings is certainly not why I am atheist. For that matter fear of divine judgement isn't either, because it's not a fear that I have.

Why should I believe that statement? I have no way to empirically verify it and like I said before I can easily think of a reason or two about why you would lie concerning this subject. And you said I should practice more skepticism, well considering those two things (cannot be verified and potential motive for dishonesty) and the fact that psychology tells me that most people have a fear of being judged; I will not accept that statement at face value. If you say anything I will point out that it is by your own standards and modus operandi that I have made said decision and that if you don't like that maybe you should rethink your reasoning here a bit.

RD Miksa said...

Dear i-m skeptical:

You said:

“Try this: There is not a shred of empirical evidence that any god exists, whether deistic or otherwise. This is, of course, no proof. But it at least weakens the case for deism, don't you think?”

Did you even read Premise 2 and 3 of the argument? If you did, you would realize that your above claim—fallacious, and questionable, and question-begging as it is, but let’s leave that aside—does not weaken the case for deism. And besides, my argument in no way rests on a “case” for deism; it simply shows the irrationality of atheism. You need to separate these two issues to think straight about the argument. After all, all my argument shows is that atheism is irrational, while agnosticism (even concerning deism) is still rational. It is an argument against atheism, not an argument for deism.


You said:

“I think there are many arguments much better than mine that need to be addressed.”

There is not, in principle, any atheistic-type argument that could weaken the deistic position. Why? Because, in principle, it would be entirely possible for a deistic deity to so arrange the world, if he wished to, as to make it appear as if we lived in an atheistic universe. And so, no atheistic type argument defeats the deistic position in principle. This, of course, does not mean that it is necessarily rational to be a deist, but it does mean that along the spectrum of unbelief only agnosticism is rational, not atheism.


You said:

“So the argument does not stand, until you can prove it.”

Actually, it does, whether you wish to see it or not. The fact is, while agnosticism is arguably a rational position to hold, atheism—if you are actually following the evidences and arguments where they lead—is not. The argument stands and nothing you have said so far undermines it in any significant way.

Take care,

RD Miksa

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

The "evidence" you cite is about near-death experiences, in which people who are still alive have some kind of feeling, from which they conclude that there is life after death. Such feelings have been induced also by drugs and by brain stimulation. Sorry to disappoint you, but that's just not convincing. And physicians believe in god, so I should too? Now that's skepticism for you.

Regarding fear of judgement, it was specifically about judgement in the afterlife, not about whether I have made a good impression on the guys at the pub. I don't deny that I have fears like everyone else. But I asked if you have evidence that I fear judgement, meaning divine judgement, and you switched the topic.

So you think I'm being dishonest. It seems I may have struck a nerve, and I'm sorry. I was just enjoying a bit of debate. I'll call it quits for now. Perhaps we can talk again later.

RD Miksa said...

Dear i-m skeptical:


You said:

“...if you believe in an afterlife, you do so without any real evidence, and you will continue to do so until the day you become skeptical.”

I have to ask: What the heck do you even mean by the above sentence?

Are you trying to say that Karl needs to become skeptical in order to properly evaluate the evidence for an afterlife? Or are you saying that a skeptic can only be someone who does not believe in an afterlife, and thus Karl is no skeptic? Because if you are saying the former, then, to write what you did, you would have to be assuming that Karl has not been skeptical; but such an assumption is unwarranted for a real skeptic, and thus calls your own skepticism into question, and thereby potentially calls into question your own “skeptical” assessment of the evidence for an afterlife. By contrast, if you making the latter claim, then you are labeling a skeptic as someone who must believe that an afterlife does not exist; but no real skeptic would make such a claim in the name of skepticism given what skepticism actually means, and this thus also calls your own understanding of skepticism into question, and makes me wonder how skeptical you actually are when you make these obviously un-skeptical pronouncements.

Either way, your above comment essentially undermines your own claim to “skepticism”, so you might wish to re-phrase it or explain it.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Dear i-m skeptical:


You said:

“The "evidence" you cite is about near-death experiences, in which people who are still alive have some kind of feeling, from which they conclude that there is life after death.”

Sweet Jesus you need to change your profile name for actual skepticism is not one of your traits! If it was, you would research the material and realize that in many cases, the people who have had Near-Death Experiences were clinically dead, some-times had no observed brain activity whatsoever while they had their NDE (even though their brain activity was being monitored), and yet they were still able to have veridical empirical experiences, not just feelings, that were then confirmed by other parties.

Now, this does not mean that life-after-death in the sense of an eternal after-life is true, nor does it even factor directly into the atheism/theism debate. However, the point is that your pathetic attempt at a dismissal of this evidence shows both a lack of knowledge about the subject matter and a lack of understanding of the fact that, as a self-professed skeptic, one should not speak about what one is clearly and demonstrably not knowledgeable in.

Take care,

RD miksa

RD Miksa said...

Sorry, but I could not resist!

i-m skeptical said:

"And physicians believe in god, so I should too? Now that's skepticism for you."


I say:

"And biologists believe in neo-Darwinian evolution, so I should too? Now that's skepticism for you."


RD Miksa

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

RD,

Maybe you should be a little skeptical. When you die, you don't come back and tell about it. That's why these things are not called post-death experiences. All those people were alive.

Now everyone tells me that I'm not being skeptical when I dispute the evidence they offer. I suppose I should just believe it, like you believe those people were dead and then came back, and don't question the truth of it. Do you think that would make me a true skeptic?

Karl Grant said...

I'm Skeptical,

The "evidence" you cite is about near-death experiences, in which people who are still alive have some kind of feeling, from which they conclude that there is life after death.

Minor problem there as the cases in these studies point out the patient was clinically dead at the time. In other words, flat EEG lines on their brain activity. Now any activity in the brain/mind results in some EEG activity. These people reported these experiences when materialism says they shouldn't have been able to think at all. If you actually read the studies you would know this.

Such feelings have been induced also by drugs and by brain stimulation.

And you can recreate the experience of sex via drugs and brain stimulation. You gonna argue that doesn't happen?

And physicians believe in god, so I should too? Now that's skepticism for you.

Why not? You have used scientific consensus for some of your 'arguments.' Same basic underlying principal here.

Regarding fear of judgement, it was specifically about judgement in the afterlife, not about whether I have made a good impression on the guys at the pub. I don't deny that I have fears like everyone else. But I asked if you have evidence that I fear judgement, meaning divine judgement, and you switched the topic.

No, I didn't switch topics. I am trying to show your flawed reasoning when you make generic statements like You have a deep-seated psychological need to live (as do most people) and extrapolate from that belief in the afterlife is wish fulfillment. The judgement talk is the exact same thing, exact same reasoning, applied to your position. Should I point out you haven't even attempted to ascertain whither I have a fear of oblivion or not? Or the fact you haven't shown any evidence that me or anybody else you debated on this thread meets your criteria for that afterlife wish fulfillment theory of yours?

No, because you didn't think you needed to. Instead you have been content to rely on generalizations and then you lecture me for using the exact same tactic (which is what I expected you to do, otherwise you would have had to take a look in the mirror).

So you think I'm being dishonest. It seems I may have struck a nerve, and I'm sorry. I was just enjoying a bit of debate.

No, I don't necessarily think you were being dishonest nor did you strike a nerve. I was trying to show your flawed reasoning, hence the statement: If you say anything I will point out that it is by your own standards and modus operandi that I have made said decision. Obviously, reverse psychology is wasted upon you.

RD Miksa said...

Dear Zach:

First, the comment was just poking a little fun, so take it in that spirit.

However, if you wish to get serious, then...

An Argument from Authority--which all of us use everyday--is valid if the authority in question is a legitimate authority within the field under discussion. In life-and-death issues, which a Near-Death Experience would fall into, medical doctors could arguably be seen as legitimate authorities given that they are experts in what constitutes life and what constitutes death. Thus, my point still holds.

Furthermore, I agree: doctors are not scientists! In fact, many doctors are much more rigourous than some so-called scientists. For example, give me the rigourous empiricism of the medical profession to the just-so stories offered by the "science" of evolutionary psychology any day! And this is just one example amongst many that could be offered.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Dear i-m skeptical:


You said:

“Maybe you should be a little skeptical. When you die, you don't come back and tell about it. That's why these things are not called post-death experiences. All those people were alive.”

Sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! You do realize that with your above sentence you are literally assuming the truth of your position against NDEs, and then claiming that that assertion defeats the actual NDE evidence under discussion. But this is just patently fallacious! After all, it is the evidence that should dictate our position, not your assertion that “when you die, you don’t come back and tell about it.” Isn’t this the very thing under discussion? Why are you just asserting it as a certain truism? Indeed, the whole point of the evidence from NDEs is to assess whether your assertion is correct or not, but you seem to just assume it at the outset, even before the evidence is in. That is not a rational way to operate.

And just as a side-note, the term “Near-Death Experience” is just a label. One actually has to study the specific cases under discussion in order to determine if clinical death occurred or not. And as stated, in many cases, clinical death did occur (as stated by the medical experts on-scene), and yet these individuals still had experiences, and then became conscious again and could describe those experiences. So while the term “NDE” may be not-entirely accurate, that is all it is: just a term. It does not dictate the outlines of the actual experience itself. Don’t get confused by the two issues.




You said:

“Now everyone tells me that I'm not being skeptical when I dispute the evidence they offer. I suppose I should just believe it, like you believe those people were dead and then came back, and don't question the truth of it. Do you think that would make me a true skeptic?”

No, you should not ‘just believe it’. But what you should do is represent the evidence accurately, which is something that you manifestly did not do. That is what makes me question your skepticism, not the fact that you believe a certain position or not. After all, if you do not even honestly, or properly, or accurately describe the evidence that is being debated, then how seriously can I take your claim that you have truly and dispassionately evaluated the evidence before coming to the conclusion that you did. Obviously, I cannot take it seriously at all. So it’s not your position that is the problem, but rather the fact that you make bold pronouncements about other positions and other evidences that are manifestly incorrect.

Take care,

RD Miksa

ingx24 said...

I should also note that, if there is no life after death, it still does not confirm materialism. Assuming that the mind does disappear when the brain stops functioning, it does not follow that the mind is IDENTICAL to said brain activity. And all evidence we have from introspection says that brain activity is not identical to mental activity.

tombr said...

The ad hominem approach works both ways. Religious people might assert that atheists/agnostics just want the freedom to be evil, and the other side will use the line you have portrayed.

I recent read Victor Stenger's attack on religion and, in particular, his assertion that AGW skeptics are either religious nutters/corporate shills. This was not, to say the least, at all fair to those who are scientists and unpersuaded of the AGW alarmist case. It was ad hominem, big time.