Atheism = "Naww-uhhh!"?

Of course atheism isn’t.

The skepticism that is often used to justify atheism, on the other hand, is.

I think that the “burden of proof is on the prosecution” thing is good for legal matters, but in truth seeking philosophical circles the atheist has just as much responsibility to prove there’s not a god as the theist has to prove that there is.

Interesting concept. How might it work? How might one go about proving that something which really is nonexistent really is nonexistent?

If something exists, one way to show that it exists is to point at it; e.g., “See that chair over there beside the desk? That chair exists.”

How does pointing at a nonexistent chair distinguish it from a nonexistent desk, or for that matter a nonexistent god? What precisely is the difference in two nonexistent entities? Isn’t nonexistence only one thing, not many, and that one thing is that which lies outside of the set “Things which exist”?

I’m with Smears on this one – doubt, as well as belief, requires justification. As for this:

I’ve seen a lot of disingenuous atheists on ILP and other fora. In addition to that I see a lot of tearing down but very little put forward. It is easier to destroy than to create. I see a lot of attacks on theism, but what is there behind that? IMHO, that is where real philosophy can be found.

I actually made a thread about that a while ago. If you are interested, here it is. Worth a read.

If you want some valid arguments, Ucci has presented several that should be pretty easily found with a search. Interestingly, many of the more vocal atheists on the board were strangely silent on those threads.

But you do realize that you can’t prove that there are or aren’t unicorns on some planets in an adjacent galaxy any more so than you can prove or disprove that there is a god right?

I really like Ucci, Xun…but I wouldn’t say the bulk of his arguments are valid. Most of them are very subtle and clever sophistry. I myself avoid them for the most; part not because they’re unassailable but because they’re tedious. And because you can’t “beat” him- if you make a valid point he generally twists it, or more likely ignores it. He likes to say, “naww-uhhh” too. :wink:

No offense meant, Ucci. You are one of the more clever and subtle apologists/sophists at ILP. Occasionally you do manage to pull me out of my self-imposed semi-retirement re religion debate. :slight_smile:

Well, “sound” would have been a better word. Ucci’s arguments are sound.

Okay, I’ll buy that. They pass what a debater would call the prima fasciality test. They’re plausible if you don’t dig too deep.

Like I said, I honestly think he’s trying to convince himself more than us. I’ve told him that myself a few times. :wink:

If Ucci’s arguments are “sound” then they have to be “valid” by definition. No argument can be both sound and invalid, although arguments can be both valid and not sound.

I think you were closer the first time. Most of Ucci’s arguments, like most other arguments on this board, are valid. Whether they are sound, however, is another deal altogether.

The following argument is valid but not sound:

All men are squirrels.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, Socrates is a squirrel.

Haven’t you described yourself as an atheist? What is the reasoning (the ‘ingenuous’ reasoning, I suppose :slight_smile:) behind your disbelief in gods?

Just curious.

If one had to prove something didn’t exist to not believe in it, we would have to believe in an infinite number of things. The only workable way to live our lives is to require evidence or logical reasons to believe a certain proposition. As to the amount of evidence or that evidence’s strength - that is very much subjective. I have never gone into space and looked down on the earth to witness the fact that it is round but I still believe it is. This is due to the fact that I feel the scientists and people who tell me it is round are credible enough to warrant such a belief. (as well as my own observable evidence) The question is whether there is enough evidence or logical reasons to justify a belief in God (in this case, most likely the Christian God).

What is odd is that all theists say yes to this, but say no to other beings which have just as much valid evidence. The post in this section with the trial analogy brings this idea into light perfectly. There simply is not enough evidence to warrant a rational belief - if there was enough, there shouldn’t be any atheists or people of other religions. People just want to hold onto the idea of God so desperately that they allow themselves the one “slip up” of evidence.

Everything exists as a matter of possibility. What you’re saying about pointing things out that you see basically is a way of determining different categories of existence. When you see a chair and you know it exists, I’m sure you can imagine a world in which it would not. The philosphical burden that both sides of any debate share is that of examining and eliminating possible worlds in which an actual chair does not in fact exist. The actual chair only exists in the actual world. But even the chair which doesn’t exist in the actual world still exists in an infinite number of other possible worlds at the very least as a concept because I imagine that it does.

Anything that has logically possible existence has a metaphysical possibility of existence. This does not mean, however, that it has an epistemic possibility of existence and it is just that, the epistemic possibility of existence, that we are talking about when we talk about that which exists in the universe.

IOW, the discussion, as far as I know, is not about what possibly exists. It’s about what does exist and how we can know that it exists. Anything that anyone can imagine might possibly exist in a metaphysical sense. That, however, is not the slightest reason to believe that it does exist.

Nor to doubt it.

I’m not talking about the possibility of existence. I freely admit that it is possible for a logically possible god to exist. This metaphysical possibility, however, is not the first reason to believe that a logically possible god or anything else which has the logical possibility of existence, actually exists.

For that, i.e., to establish a basis upon which to form a rational belief that something does exist, evidence is necessary.

No, we establish what exists by gathering evidence. It is tautologically true that it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of existence for that which possibly exists.

True. It’s not a reason. But then I never said that THAT is the reason to believe that a putative entity is nonexistent. I’ve outlined the reasons why we believe that things are nonexistent and it has nothing to do with eliminating the possibility that they might exist.

As long as when you say “nonexistent”, you mean “doesn’t exist in the actual world” then I don’t think we disagree. We gather evidence and determine which world we’re actually in, and that’s the actual one.

Most atheistic arguments presented are disingenuous because they apply a level of skepticism to theism/religion that the don’t apply to their own systems of belief. You yourself made that plain when you said that we should “doubt everything” while denying universal skepticism.

The atheism that such a stance involves is usually less a philosophical stance and more a form of “I-hate-my-parents-ism” which I’m sure you can understand is upsetting to someone with my sensibilities. So, the point becomes to dig down deeper and see what lies beneath that initial skepticism and to build a worthwhile system off of some base.

In saying that bold part you are making the assumption that the “god hypothesis” is valid and/or probable. Neither you, nor anyone else has been able to provide, not only evidence to support the existence of a god, but also evidence to support why we should even consider the “god hypothesis” as a possibility.

Sure every party has to provide justification for their position, but atheists have done so time and time again. Saying “there is no proof, evidence or justification for theism” IS the atheist’s justification. Its not that the atheist is denying the existence of a god necessarily. Its that the atheist is pointing out that there is no evidence for the contrary.

If you’re looking for a one word answer, a possible on could be “naturalism”. Saying “oh we’ve got this magical idea of the universe that needs no proof, just faith” is an awfully convenient get-out-of-debate-free card isn’t it? The reason it is attacked is because it makes claims that cannot be supported. <---- That sentence right there is why people become atheists. Not because they think by default that there is no god. Do people NOT believe in unicorns because they simply think that unicorns do not exist? No. Its because the claim “there are unicorns” has not had enough evidence brought forth to support it.

If you don’t like the fact that atheists don’t come out and say “don’t believe in god, you should believe this thing here”, get over it because it is exactly that kind of thinking that put the atheist in that position in the first place. If you need an alternative, go find it yourself in a book or something. Preferably not the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or The Quran or anything like that.

But that is just it – I think that arguing for naturalism presents a chance for growth. Arguing against something is really just beating one’s head up against the wall, or at best removing a plate of rotten fruit and serving a hearty plate of nothing and saying, “Let’s eat!” How does one grow by arguing nothing? Where is the development?

It seems lazy to me.

I can’t fully understand that argument, though it’s a common one: it’s just an Appeal to Consequences, isn’t it? That classical fallacy goes something like, “God must be real because without Him our lives have no meaning and that’s too terrible to contemplate.” It’s the same picnic you just took us on. You unpack our lunch and hand me rotten fruit and chicken that’s clearly turned. Am I to eat the rotten foot simply because the alternative is nothing? There really isn’t an alternative- the foot can’t be eaten and no amount of wishing will change it.

That said, if we bootstrap the notion of “growth” onto the concept and turn nothing into naturalism, it appears we’ve turned-that-frown-upside-down. But we must be careful that we don’t present naturalism as just another ism, another religion to be taken on faith. At least, if the thing we’re trying to overcome is just that “take it on faith” mindset.

It’s not always easy to see what might prove to be the real catalyst for growth or change.