Every two or three blocks on the avenues of downtown Brooklyn, a big old stone church rises from the ranks of the brownstones. A couple of weeks ago, my little boy Felix pulled his trike to the curb and squinted at the steeple of one.
“What’s that castle, Da-da?”
“It’s not a castle, it’s a church.”
“What’s a church?”
“It’s a place where people go to worship god.”
“God is a concept some people believe in. A creative force, I guess you’d say.”
#atheist #atheism #agnosticism #god #jesus #godless #allah #islam #religion #church #dirtysouth #catholic #jews #islam #fundamentalism
Can you experimentally test your belief that only experimentally tested beliefs hold value?
Seems kind of self-refuting.
Using this definition means that Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Stirner wouldn’t be atheists.
Even proton-empiricists like Epicurus wouldn’t go as far as the above definition.
Furthermore, this explanation is rationally untenable. It relies upon a non-empirically verifiable epistemology that postulates that all truth is empirically verifiable. So it’s either circular, prone to infinite regress, or you hope that it is axiomatic/a basic belief.
Considering how new this view is, how much of a break it is from virtually all forms of world philosophy, I don’t think the last one can be sustained.
Permit me some speculation.
The success of the natural sciences over the past 150 years has made their methodology extremely attractive as a grounding for all forms of knowledge. If one can hook on ones ideology/politics/ethics onto a “scientific” worldview, it gives the appearance of settling the deep questions that have plagued all forms of philosophical discourse since the beginning. It gives the illusion that in a chaotic world, one can have certainty by the standard of the scientific method, that can legitimize the views that one holds dear while finally putting to rest all those doubts that hover at the edge of all the other attempts to settle such questions.
Another reason why i find Atheism self-refuting and philosophically limited.
Well, according to this definition, any abstract idea like love, wisdom, or courage simply does not exist because you cannot put it into a test tube. Brilliant.
According to this definition, any scientific theory simply does not exist since a theory is just “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something”. How intelligent the maker of this must have been.
Well I think the tumblr Catholic community collectively dealt with this pretty well, hey? :P
At first I wasn’t going to include the graphic, but I’m deciding to because I want my fellow atheists (or at least most of them) to see how foolish it is. Of course Tumblr Catholics dealt with it because the graphic is nonsense. Atheism, prescriptively speaking, is disbelief in gods. Descriptively, it is a lot more (i.e. the disbelief in specific religious claims (original sin, for example); the disbelief in other supernatural beings (angels, demons, asuras, amesha spentas, etc.); the disbelief in religious texts and their claims (in other words, a disbelief in the Bible, the Qur’an, the Adi Granth, etc.); the disbelief in the supposed effectiveness of religious practices and rituals (i.e. prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.); so on and so forth). Few atheists would agree with the statement made in the graphic; even fewer atheists would define atheism as such. To refute this graphic and then act as if you refuted atheism is exactly what I meant by misrepresentations. I don’t know, maybe this is who you are, but I’m not going to stand idly by and allow it; I will make sure that these misrepresentations are addressed.
Modern atheists, though they should concern themselves with more, are concerned with (mostly) one question: is Christianity true? Modern atheists also claim to know the answer to that question. Catholics and all Christians for that matter should be concerned with this answer. But rather than be concerned with the answer, they seem quite content with misrepresenting our position. Let’s shift the focus momentarily: is it right to conclude that the views of one Catholic represents the views of all Catholics? The answer is a resounding no and by now, you probably know where I’m going with this. If the views of one Catholic don’t represent the views of all Catholics, then the views of one atheist (one strange atheist with delusions of grandeur at that) don’t represent the views of all atheists. I, for one, wouldn’t make such a claim; as an aspiring philosopher of science, I know better than to make such a claim of empiricism—and I definitely know better than to equate empiricism with atheism! With that said, atheism isn’t self-refuting or philosophically limited.
What’s self-refuting about a disbelief in gods? What’s self-refuting about a disbelief in supernatural beings, religious texts and the effectiveness of religious practices and rituals? If my view is self-refuting, then your view is, in large part, self-refuting because you also disbelieve in x number of gods, y number of religious texts and z number of religious practices and rituals. You are Catholic. You are not a Protestant (thus, you probably think tongue speaking is some “heretical” practice; you are not Buddhist or Jain (therefore, you don’t believe in the effectiveness of meditation or the chanting of mantras); you are not Hindu (hence you don’t believe in the effectiveness of puja); you are not Zoroastrian (thus, you don’t believe in Amesha Spentas); you don’t believe in the wisdom of the gurus because you’re not a Sikh. I can go on and on and on. In any event, if my worldview is self-refuting, your worldview is mostly self-refuting because you don’t seem to realize that you incorporate elements of my worldview into your own. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that you employ a lot of non-belief in being a Catholic. That’s not the same as saying, “all of us our atheists; some of us go one god further.” I’m simply stating the obvious: in believing in your god, you’re effectively disbelieving in countless others—and often without any justification whatsoever. Again, what is philosophically limited and self-refuting about a view you clearly borrow from?
This is just a silly mantra some Christians like to sing: “atheism is self-refuting; modern atheists aren’t philosophically sophisticated.” Yet they fail to demonstrate that. To the contrary, modern day Christians are mostly philosophically unsophisticated; I often become depressed at the amount of fallacies I’m able to point to in only the first page of most Christian blogs! Then there are others who employ pseudo-sophistry (i.e. “how do you know you’re not a brain in a vat?”) and call it philosophy or proclaim themselves to be sophisticated theologians (i.e. “The Omnipotence Paradox doesn’t refute god because the atheist doesn’t define omnipotent correctly; god is omnipotent, but he can’t do illogical things.”). Stopping the Sun and the Moon isn’t illogical!? (Joshua 10:13) Or is that suddenly and conveniently some figurative allegory? Also, if god is subject to logic, then doesn’t that imply that logic is more powerful; if some thing is more powerful than a thing called omnipotent, is it logical to call it that? Sophisticated theologians dig themselves deeper without realizing it. In any case, that mini-essay represents atheism: a consistent state of doubt. Your belief is comprised mostly of an inconsistent state of doubt: you doubt a plethora of beliefs, and though you have plenty of reason to doubt your own, you continue to believe whilst ignoring your opponents.
Physicist Sean Carroll and @YourTitleSucks agree. The answer is “No.”
Slate has republished a thought-provoking essay by author, blogger and physicist Sean Carroll about why he won’t take money from the John Templeton Foundation, “a philanthropic organization that supports research into the ‘Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,’ encourages ‘dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians,’ and seeks to use science to acquire ‘new spiritual information.’” In other words: the JTF seeks to unify science and religion.
Every major religion today is a winner in the Darwinian struggle waged among cultures, and none ever flourished by tolerating its rivals.
E.O. Wilson, On Human Nature
When it comes to understanding how our universe evolves, religion and theology have been at best irrelevant. They often muddy the waters, for example, by focusing on questions of nothingness without providing any definition of the term based on empirical evidence. While we do not yet fully understand the origin of our universe, there is no reason to expect things to change in this regard. Moreover, I expect that ultimately the same will be true for our understanding of areas that religion now considers its own territory, such as human morality.
Science has been effective at furthering our understanding of nature because the scientific ethos is based on three key principles: (1) follow the evidence wherever it leads; (2) if one has a theory, one needs to be willing to try to prove it wrong as much as one tries to prove that it is right; (3) the ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment, not the comfort one derives from one’s a priori beliefs, not the beauty or elegance one ascribes to one’s theoretical models.
…The tapestry that science weaves in describing the evolution of our universe is far richer and far more fascinating than any revelatory images or imaginative stories that humans have concocted. Nature comes up with surprises that far exceed those that the human imagination can generate.
Lawrence Krauss (2012. A Universe From Nothing, p. xvi)
zeitvox replied to your post: Do you accept that there is no way to be truly…
As you “learn more about the concepts throughout history,” you’ll likely run into a problem of a plurality of boxes rather than greased rails to “strong induction”. Then like some OCD hoarder, you may qualify for a reality show intervention.
There is a plurality of boxes. There are the common anthropocentric gods (i.e. fertility gods, crop gods, storm gods and the prevalent modern concepts); there are gods patterned after non-human organisms (i.e. Native American concepts, Egyptian concepts). Then you have what I would consider higher concepts because they arise out of a seeming necessity—a rejection of the usual gods conceptualized (i.e. Pantheistic concepts, Panentheistic concepts, Deistic concepts). Arguments can be made for a rejection of all these concepts, so the track to strong induction can be likened to a greased rail. So no, I won’t be an OCD hoarder that qualifies for a reality show. Also, you do realize that these boxes have already been gathered? That is to say that many of the concepts throughout history are organized in lists and archives—Wiki for example (see here). As someone who has philosophy listed in their blog description, surely you’re not asking me to reduce some of these concepts to ridicule or absurdity (both of which are fallacies) or reject them based on no knowledge whatsoever—a faith that sounds suspiciously like the faith of the most obstinate believer. Or would you like me to reject other concepts based on my rejection of the concept I used to believe in (Judeo-Christian)? I’m sorry, but that’s not the way I choose to practice—for lack of a better word—my atheism.
willvolya asked: Do you accept that there is no way to be truly certain that there is no God (any kinda god)? Surely it is impossible even going by logic, to claim with 100% certainty that there is no God.
This is a common objection to anyone who claims certainty; hence why most atheists are agnostic atheists. I’m actually approaching gnostic atheism at this point in time because the concept of god is a general category for every concept of god ever abstracted. As I stated before, there are logical ways to disprove this or that god concept; I only have a weak inductive argument and thus, it would be fallacious to conclude that all of the concepts will be disproved in the same manner as Yahweh, El, Baal, Allah, Waheguru, Thor, Wotan, Shiva, etc. have been disproved. However, on common sense, I can say that it is highly probable. Also, as I learn more about the concepts throughout history, my argument will start approaching strong induction. So instead of pulling 30 concepts out of a box of 100, and stating that since 30 are false the entire box is false, it will be more like pulling 95 out of this box of 100 and stating that since 95 are false, the entire box of concepts is false. So, there’s a way to be very certain—and as a Bayesian, I would argue that 100% (absolute) certainty is unnecessary; if 100% certainty was necessary in matters of knowledge and fact, there would be no knowledge and fact and thus, we would be on a fast track to epistemological nihilism. As stated by Popper, we can’t be 100% certain that the Sun will rise tomorrow; but we can be 99.9% certain of this fact—as we can be just as certain of any fact. So ultimately, absolute certainty isn’t necessary; high probability certainty is all that’s required to have a claim of knowledge. So yes, there’s a way of being truly certain that there is no god; one has to be quite thorough to defend this claim though—and that is what I endeavor to do.
willvolya asked: So do you believe that the Judeo-Christian 'God' is definitely not true, or do you believe any kind of god at all is not true? 'cause I agree with the former but not the latter.
I can understand why you agree with the former and not the latter. However, I approach this question from a (mostly) psychological and also neurobiological point of view. Before h.sapien came into existence after billions of years of evolution, there was (arguably) no other cognition like that of h.sapien; this cognition is due to our brain size and the mechanisms in our brains, which differs (slightly in some cases) from the mechanisms in the brains of other animals. This, in turn, led to a different form of consciousness and self-awareness. And this is when psychology is introduced. Notice something about supernatural beings. Most of us, when we think of god, think of anthropocentric beings—beings that are man-like or woman-like. These beings may possess body parts that we do not possess (i.e. extra arms, wings, etc.). Those extra body parts can be seen as projections of our limitations; also, the attributes most gods are said to have, can be projections of our hopes, our limitations, our mortality (i.e. dying and rising gods, omniscient gods, omnipotent gods, etc.). We began abstracting gods in a time when we couldn’t even grow crops successfully and often; hence we created crop gods. Because of lack of food, water and resources, infant mortality was higher; hence we invented gods of fertility. Every god ever abstracted corresponds to some limitation, some hope or some realization of mortality—whether it be disease (hence gods can cure all diseases) or death itself (hence afterlife concepts, gods who have conquered death and so on).
However, when you flip the coin, evil supernatural beings are sometimes anthropocentric and if they are, they’re deformed or monstrous in their appearance (i.e. I heard of a plethora of demon stories as a Christian and a usual description was some deformed or monstrous looking humanoid who was perhaps badly scarred from battle (perhaps with angels)). Also, evil beings take the form of fearsome animals (i.e. dogs, wolves, spiders or cryptic creatures like dragons and goblins). So, in essence, we project ourselves, our hopes, our limitations and our mortality onto good supernatural beings and we project our fears onto evil supernatural beings. Given this neurobiological and psychological basis, I see no reason to believe in any of these beings.
Note: even Pantheistic and Deistic deities have been abstracted—seemingly by necessity; that is to say that the people who first believed in such deities did so because they were unsatisfied with the human-like form and/or behavior of the gods of old. Therefore, they abstracted formless consciousnesses and unknown forces. I think a strong argument can be made for the notion that gods are (definitely) nonexistent.
Consciousness After Death: Strange Tales From the Frontiers of Resuscitation Medicine
Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medicine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.
jrosmith asked: More on your dibola's post about science: There is no such thing as "proving" something in science. You can design one thousand experiments to "prove" a hypothesis, but what really matters is whether or not you can design one to disprove it. Personal gods have no room in science because gods are null hypotheses, they cannot be tested. For someone who claims to love a subject, dibola sure has a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method.
I agree. That is precisely why I said that scientific facts disprove the notion indirectly. For instance, when you think about how we evolved and thus, how our brains evolved, you see the emergence of a (perhaps) never before seen cognition; this cognition led us to realize our limitations on a level above the rest of the animal kingdom. In realizing these limitations, we began to conceptualize anthropomorphic beings that can overcome these limitations (i.e. dying and rising gods, immortal gods, omniscient gods, omnipotent gods, weather-controlling and natural disaster-controlling gods, etc.).* We evolved; we have complex brains. These are facts that we know through science, but they are also facts that indirectly disprove any notion of god; it is a fact that if our brains weren’t as complex, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.**
*Of course, this doesn’t account for the different kinds of gods that have been conceptualized. While it is true that most gods are, in some sense, anthropomorphic, they aren’t always so. It can be argued that some gods were conceptualized due to a heightened humanism (that is to say, a humanism that extends beyond humanity into the rest of the animal kingdom; the Native American deities come to mind). Their reverence for nature gave rise to the gods they conceptualized; the same can be said of the ancient Egyptians. Perhaps the idea of heightened humanism needs to be made more clear, but I hope you at least grasped what I was trying to get at.
**I’m not in any way saying that other non-human cognitions aren’t complex enough to conceptualize gods; it could be that dolphins and whales and perhaps chimps and gorillas conceptualize supernatural beings. They may even liken these beings after themselves, but this is conjecture. Someone once said that if triangles had a god, it would no doubt look like a triangle. It goes to show that gods are projections that are contingent on our limitations and mortality.