Is Atheism More Rational than Theism?




Is atheism more rational than theism?

 
When I was a practicing Christian I would have simply said “No.” 
 
But, then again, when I was a practicing Christian I didn’t know very many atheists and I certainly wasn’t familiar with their arguments. Heck, I wasn’t very well versed in my own Christian theology. 
 
Yet now that I have considered both sides, I find the atheist arguments hold up better to scrutiny. If they didn’t then I certainly wouldn’t have become an atheist.
 
So then, why do I feel atheism is more rational than theism? Well, several reasons, I think.
 
It’s true theists and atheists alike are both making assumptions as this is required for establishing any belief. 

Technically speaking beliefs are assumptions about very simple yes or no propositions. Do pigs fly? Yes, no, or maybe so? No. Okay, then. Most of us are in agreement on this question, and so most of our beliefs will conform to the answer: no, pigs don’t fly. 

How do we know this? Well, we’ve never seen pigs fly, for one thing. Second of all, they don’t have wings. And we’ve never seen a pig levitate or hover all on its own. So simple observation confirms our assumption, and therefore we know our belief is true. 

Almost every belief can reduce down to a yes or no proposition, thus when it comes to unknown propositions since we know that almost all beliefs are probabilistic (I say almost because properly basic beliefs may be exceptions to the rule) we can presume that disputed beliefs, like the question of God or whether or not the universe came from nothing, are either true or false, and therefore in a state of uncertainty must have a probability of being one or the other. 

So, taking a guess (or better still an educated guess), we use our experience with things like flying pigs to say, well, I know those aren’t real because I’ve never seen one and they’re not very plausible given what I know about reality. 

So what about this God business? Well, I’ve never seen God either, so logically speaking, I probably shouldn’t believe in that one either. God doesn’t match with observed reality, and it seems to me this is why theists like to say God exists outside of reality, but if so then this requires many more unfounded assumptions and so it all seems that much more less likely to be the case.

As for the verity of those beliefs we don’t know either way, at least not with any certainty, we can only guess as to what their probability of being right or wrong is given the status of the evidence and quality of the logic.

This realization leads us to demand rather strict demonstrations of proof for low probability beliefs, otherwise, our beliefs simply aren’t warranted, certainly not to the same degree as high probability beliefs are. 

Also, there may be certain things we have a lot of evidence for but we still might remain uncertain about. For example, consider questions about love. Is love merely the chemical and biological interplay going on within the brain or is love something more? 

Well, in all probability, love seems to be an emotional and physical condition which arises from the goings on in the brain. We have lots of evidence which demonstrates this, but because it seemingly goes against what we typically think love to be, based on our own experiences of it, we are hesitant to say ‘yes, love is merely the chemical reactions happening in the brain’ with any certainty. We feel inclined to say love is something more. But feelings aren’t proofs. 

The fact of the matter is, the probability that love is merely a byproduct of goings on in the brain is rather high given what we currently know about the chemistry and biology of love, so we can say ‘yes’ with near certainty that this is what love really is. If we say ‘no, love is something more’, contrary to what the evidence suggests, then we are placing a higher burden of proof on ourselves to demonstrate our belief that love is something more and thereby lessen our chance of being correct.

The higher the burden of proof the more difficult it will be to prove beliefs that defy observation and evidence, thereby forcing us to make more arguments and assumptions  in order to defend such beliefs, ultimately leading to a greater probability of being mistaken.

So let’s write it out another way.

Love is merely a chemical process happening in the brain + Lots of evidence which suggests this assumption is correct = high probability of being correct.


Love is something more than mere chemical processes + Little to no evidence = low probability of being correct. 


Could it be that the scientists and those of us who think that love is merely a chemical process happening in the brain are all wrong? 

Yes, that is a possibility. But because it looks as if we have the higher probability of being right about this assumption, being wrong has a low probability and we won’t fret about it. Needless to say, it is up to those who feel differently to demonstrate their claims convincingly, otherwise we have no reason to go from a high probability assumption to a low probability assumption.

 
So why exactly do I believe, after having given it a lot of consideration, that atheism is more rational than theism? Well, my reasoning goes something like the following.
 
My claim is atheists assume less. For example: 
 

The theist assumes God x 1 = 1 God.

The atheist assumes God x 0 = 0 God.

 
Since the atheistic view aligns with real world (testable) observation, mainly that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of God, no additional assumptions or arguments are required. In other words, atheism is fully compatible with Naturalism. 
 
The theistic view does not match real world (testable) observations, however, thus additional assumptions and arguments are required to get the belief off the ground and then sustain it. Theism posits and alternative hypothesis to the natural world. Which is fine, it just needs to be demonstrated before it can be considered representative of the world we live.

Also, the testable part of the observation is important, because if it constitutes a reality, we should be able to make the same observation under the same conditions. Unable to do so would suggest that we might be mistaken about what we think we are observing. Religious beliefs of the supernatural variety have, to my knowledge, failed this prerequisite of testability making it seem far less likely that they constitute any given reality.
 
Hence the atheistic position is the simpler because it assumes less and, in turn, is easy to test. So much so that we find it matches with real world observation giving us a greater confidence in the assumption that atheism reflects one aspect of the given reality we are able to test and observe.
 
When I say atheism is more rational it is because it doesn’t make unnecessary assumptions and doesn’t try to amend failed a priori assumption ad hoc with respect to God-belief. In fact, the only way to force the atheist into a position of amending their atheism is to demonstrate the metaphysics of any given religion true via the classical means of empiricism (this assumes the Venn diagram of both the metaphysical sphere and physical sphere of existence are overlapping–if not then God would be impossible to verify via any recognizable causality, which means such a metaphysics which incorporates God has to be overlapping in order for anyone to discover said God in the first place). 

Positing unjustifiable claims of certitude for un-demonstrated claims which often times defy reason is, I would venture, slightly less rational than reserving one’s conclusions until convincing evidence is forthcoming.

***

So in the atheistic theory there are no Gods and this matches with observation but with the theistic theory which states that there is a God we find that this does not match with observation, at least not in the way we’d commonly expect, thus on this basis that atheists aren’t assuming more than they can know, deluding themselves, or being delusional (i.e. believing in things that aren’t there or aren’t real), makes atheists more rational; if not also more prudent.
 
On the other hand, if theists are seeing something atheists are not, then it is up to them (the theist) to provide the evidence and demonstrate their claims thereby justifying their belief that God exists. 
 
Not to do so would also make them less rational since, technically speaking, they are the ones making the positive claim which is apparently contradicted by observation.

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that atheists could be wrong. But if we atheists are wrong, then common sense dictates that it should be quite easy for theists to provide undeniable evidence for the existence of God, and atheists would happily change their minds accordingly. But this clearly hasn’t happened. 

Could all atheists be deluded in the same way we claim believers are? No. Why not? Because our assumptions match with observation. So we’re not deluding ourselves to the truth of the matter. 
 
Additionally, the theist demand for the atheist to prove there are no God(s) is asking us atheists to prove a negative which is already in agreement with observation. We do not have evidence for God, we do not observe anything that could justify the belief in God, and so it is perfectly reasonable to believe, as atheists do, that there is no God. This being the case, asking us to prove what already seems to be the case given our current understanding is an irrational demand, once again making theists less rational than atheists. (Granted, only the theists making this demand would be making irrational demands, making them only slightly more irrational than theists which don’t.)
 
Given these considerations, I think it is fair to say that atheism is more rational than theism.
 
Any arguments for theism, or even to counter the atheist position, would have to automatically assume more than atheism does, thereby giving rise to a greater probability that the theist is wrong. After such arguments are made, it is a matter of demonstrating them and taking them to their ultimate conclusion.
 
I dare say though that after thousands of years of belief in God it seems that theists are still making the same variety of arguments, usually putting a new spin on them here or there (usually to better account for discoveries in science and our better understanding of the universe), but still there is no trace of God.
 
After two thousand years of failed theistic arguments, not to mention a complete and utter lack of demonstration (and not for a lack of trying either), the only thing we can be sure of is the atheist position has never had to assume anything more and therefore remains the more reasonable position. 

As with the above example of love, the question becomes what convincing reasons do atheists have for going from a high probability assumption to a low probability assumption with regard to their belief?

Atheism: God is not something which exists + Lots of evidence, or rather lack thereof, which suggests this assumption is correct = high probability of being correct.


Theism: God is something which exists + Little to no evidence (matches with atheists level of evidence, or rather lack thereof) = low probability of being correct. 


The answer is there are no convincing reasons to compel us atheists to go from a high probability to a low probability belief assumption, otherwise there wouldn’t be such a thing as atheists. Therefore atheism remains the more reasonable position.

Atheists do not pretend to know more than they possibly can. They have no evidence, so their belief reflects this. Theists think they have ample evidence, but they continually fail to meet the burden of proof yet continue to pretend to know with certainty the things they have no proof for, therefore the theist position is less rational.

 
In fact, the beauty of atheism is is that the only way to truly falsify it is to successfully demonstrate God beyond a shadow of doubt so that it would convince all and every rational minded person in the existence of said God. But this has not happened–not for the Christian God–not for any god. Therefore atheism remains the more rational position to take with respect to belief in God.
 
 
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27 comments

  1. I don’t actually buy that Atheists are more Rational than Theists, and its because I am well too aware of the Atheist arguments, which more oftn than not are simple polemic, such as insisting that Atheism is defined as a lack of beleif in gods or insisting that Fith is beleif without evidence. Thee claims aren’t allowed to be questioned. Often, the Reasosn why they can’t be questioned iscontradictory, such as saygn Religious peopel don’t have yhe Right todefine what they mean by the ord Fith or else language looses meaning, words have meanign and tomake communication qork we have to stick to the definition, only to turn roudn and insist that Atheists have the right todefine Ateism as it describes themselves. Of coruse the same Atheists who say they don’t beleive gods don’t exist will then say gods don’t exist by caling all gods mankind has ever worshipped fictional. Its all smoke and mirrors, really. ven yourown caertoon on top is more of a strawman endign in a nonsequiter. “Religiosu logic” isnot “You can’t prove God dpens’t exist”, and its certialy nt True that Religion only eists because peopel fear death. I’d alsonote that Atheism is not a rejection of Relgiion and, whiel I am not sayign Atheis in itself is a Religion, the modern Atheist movement is a Religion itself, though one that won’t accept that it is.

    Let’s also not kid ourselves, your post doens’t really try to understand Theism. I mean, the hwole “No evidence for God’s existence” trope is silly, isn’t it? fter all, one need only look at even the stabdard arguments for God’s existence Atheist websites host, water down, amd butcher before presentign a “Debuynking” of to realise its not True. There actually is evidence for God’s exostence, even if you aren’t persuaded that the conclusion should be that God exists. Peopel don’t really beleive in God without evidence at all.

    Meanwhile, I’ve heard some really sily Atheist arguments as to why God can’t exist, rangign from a s[posed impossibility for somethign to be Oniscient, to simp;e emotional pleas of how Cruel God is decribed in the Bible.

    In short, I’m reallynot convinced that Atheists are all that Rational. Whole an Atheistcan be Rational, most who go on abotu hwo aeful and wrong Theists are or how bad relgiion is aren’t.

  2. I think you may need to read the article again.

    When you speak of “religious logic” you are going beyond what I was criticizing initially. I was merely talking about how one accepts certain belief propositions or not. Knowing comes later.

    And logic, in this case, comes after you have data to analyze. But beliefs do not require data, or even evidence, simply to be held. And that was my main point.

    After this, it does us well to examine why we have accepted beliefs or not when we are the ones making positive claims about the status of real world objects.

    That’s why evidentialism plays a big role in how one comes to hold conviction in the belief claims they have accepted as prima facie true.

    In terms of being the more rational claim, what I was saying was that atheism takes the null hypothesis when the positive claim cannot be corroborated or verified beyond a reason of a doubt.

    As you say, it doesn’t mean it’s not possibly the case (theism may very well be true when all is said and done), only that there is no evidence to confirm that such a position is valid.

    Atheism doesn’t need to prove itself valid as it is a merely a response to theism. It’s simply a stance opposing theism based on the grounds that theism has failed to demonstrate its claims.

    Of course, this doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. Theism isn’t a counter-claim to atheism. It isn’t making any negative claims or taking opposing stances about atheism because atheism hasn’t demonstrated itself. This is because atheism hasn’t made any positive claims about the nature of reality.

    You might argue that strong-atheism does, in fact, make a positive claim. But, once again, that is a position of belief. Just as strong theism is. And therein lies the problem with belief.

    I think rational minded people will temper their conviction with healthy skepticism. A person pushing for strong atheism might be doing so as a counter-measure, or a contra-argument, to theism to try and get theists to be more skeptical themselves. I’ve met very few atheists who are ardent strong atheists because they simply “believe in not believing.” That, in itself, wouldn’t be a very rational position to take.

    Rationality, in this case, deals with what we can know. What is irrational, in my mind, is pretending to know things that cannot be discernible, or that you don’t have adequate evidence for, or that are defeasible in the way things are when they are verifiable via systems of demonstration, and thus must be taken on a matter of faith.

    That’s merely affirming a belief. But many beliefs, even mundane one’s, even among atheists, are not always rationally held.

    That’s just the nature of belief.

    But if you say that something is more than a mere belief and that something is real, then you’ve gone beyond just affirming belief in a mere thing. You’ve essentially claimed you have *reasons* to justify your belief.

    Atheists merely ask that theists follow through with such claims when they mean their statement is more than a matter of simple belief. Such as “knowing” or being “witness” to things inexplicable. That’s when rationalism begins to play a big role in helping to determine whether the beliefs we hold are rationally sound.

    I hope that helped to clarify. Thanks for your comments.

    1. I based what said on the cartoon you posted, didn’t I? The oen where it blatantly states “You can’t prove the baseball foesn’t exist”, recall?

      Also, Atheism isnot a Null Hypothesis. That silly nonsense was invented in the 197-0’s by Victor Stenger. Atheism has Historically been understood as a beleif that no gods exist, and in Relity that’s wht modern Athesism is, too. Heck, even RIchrd Dawkins, who also insists that Atheism is a mere lack of beleif and a Null Hypothesis, also argues that God doens’t exist, which is an odd thing to do isf youd on’t actually take that position, don’t you Think?

      And whule we’r on what you think, don’t you also THink that Atheists are just as capable of Evidentialism as THeists? Because in my expirnce, Atyheists aren’t really startign with a Null position and simply lookign at data objecively, most Ive spoken to have decided in advance that Fod doens’t exist then craft their arguments to fit this conclusion.

      I also have to really wonder why I should understand Theists to only rely on Evidentialism as if bsolutely no Theist has ever allowed thmselves to quesiton if God exists. Its pretty simple to prove this isn’t True, just as its simple to prove that beleif in God is not always an A Priori assumotion made by the Theist. For xample, Cartesean Philosophy began by even doubtign that God existed, and so have many other Philosophers and Theologians. To start with the premise that Theitss rely on seekign evidence for a predetwemined COnclusion whilst Atheists don’t is just silly.

      yhen again, ou also claim that Theism is not makign any negative claism about Athiesm and if it were it’d be even less Raitonal. Wwll, I think that to you, Theism is inheranlty Irraitonal anyway, and this whole line of thouht is just an attemto to justify that anyway. You’re also wrong. Theism makes one very large negative assertion about Atheism, in that it says Atheism is not correct.

      Just like Atheism is not just a responce to Theism, Atheism is actually a beleif that gods don’t exist, and as such is a negative assertion agaisnt Theism.

      And Atheism has just as much to prove as Theism does, since Atheism dos, in fact, make an assertion that no gods exist. It’s not a Neutral position or a Null Hypohtesis, and it vcertainly isn’t simply citign a lack of evidence. Just as Theism is not a beleif one holds to without evidence.

      And that’s the poinbt. Theists don’
      t beleive withotu evidence that God exists then seek arguments to suppot their position, just like Atheists dont’ beome Atheists by a simple lack of evidence. That’s a gross oversimplification that not only innacrately represnts actual Theism, but also Atheism and how its actually expeirnced in Life.

      And that’s the point. You are calling Theism irrational because it takes “Matters of Fath” and asserts htm as Real, but since when doesa matter of Faith really have to be somethign you can’t prove? I now the trope i that Faith is the opposite of Reason and that Faith is beleif withotu evidence, but thats’ not True. Faith is confidence or Trust in someone or something, and that Trust can be given after evidence is given to verify it. Faith isn’t accpetgn a beleif as True even though you have no evidence to back it up.

      Theists don’t just assert that God is real even though hey have no evidence. Theists sdo have evidence. Thats the point you missed. Theists s have a lot fo it or else we’d not see any Theist arguments. Just because Atheist websits claim all Theisst arguments have been debunked doesn’t mean there is no evidence at all that the Theists is using. EVen, for the sake of argument, assumign the Atheist Sites are right and all theist rguments have been disprovn, they still rely on evidence, even if itsproven the conclusion drawn from the evience was erroneous.

      But given your respocnes ot me, I want ot be clear here, all of the Theist Arguments that have been debunked on Atheist websites really haven’t been debunked. Atheist sites have a tendancy of not even bothering to understand whatthe term debunk means, and asusme oferign a counter is debunign it,and often misrepresent or water don the Theist arguments.

      STill, that’san aside, the point hat I’m makign is this, you can’t cal Theism irratonal just because its a beleif held wihtotu evidence that is asserted as absolute knwoeldge, sicne its not a beleif held wthotu evidence at all, and the assertion fo knoeldge is justified to the Theist based on Evidence.

      It may not be evidence you, oreven I, see as credible, but its still evidence, and frankly, givne the sheer stupidity of the modern Atheist movemnt, I can’t oneslty see Atheistss as really approachign the subject differently.

      1. Yes, yes. The picture. As I stated… in the article… the picture is stressing the difference between strong theism and weak atheism.

        And I mentioned that in the reply as well.

        The Null Hypothesis aligns with weak atheism which is compatible with naturalism.

        The success of metaphysical naturalism leads many skeptics to side with the null hypothesis, which says, all things being equal, the world is as understand it. That is, it’s a natural world.

        Most naturalists agree we live in a natural world since there is nothing in the realm of science that would suggest a supernatural world underpinning this one.

        Theism suggests a complex metaphysical realm under the surface of this one.

        When pushed to prove it, they often say we non-believers can’t disprove it, as if we made the claim it doesn’t exist. But this is bad logic. The non-believer hasn’t made the additional positive claim that there is an extra metaphysical world in addition to the natural one we see. That claim has been made by believers. We’ve merely asked them to show their work, so to speak.

        Which is precisely why the cartoon is so spot on! Because the answer reveals the failure of theism to provide a meaningful explanation for its position.

        As I said before, even as an atheist I am willing to admit there could possibly be a God, or gods, yes. It’s possible. The question atheism asks is whether such belief is plausible.

        Based on the failure of theism to produce God, atheism holds theism as a failed belief. No God present, the logical alternative is not belief in which cannot be demonstrated but disbelief.

        Once God is properly demonstrated to actually exist beyond a reason of a doubt, then atheism will have no reason to doubt the theist’s claims.

        Yet such claims never hold up to scrutiny, and with no evidence to supply a proper demonstration beyond philosophical rationalizations that are neither here nor there, it seems theism is lacking justification.

        This is why atheism is a belief that God does not exist. It is the failure of theism which gives rise to atheism.

        It’s also, coincidentally enough, why theists get confused when atheists talk about God as if such a being exists. We don’t actually believe God exists. We’re giving theists the benefit of the doubt hoping that the cognitive dissonance will kick in when they realize what needs to be demonstrated can’t be.

        Pending that realization, however, theist will often contort their rationalizations into weird pretzel-like shapes to avoid making that very revelation.

        And that’s the thing I find irrational. Atheists simply don’t do this because we aren’t trying to rationalize away a God that is so obvious we’d be silly to even try. That’s clearly not the case. If it were, there wouldn’t be different religions believing in different gods. There wouldn’t be secular Buddhists. There wouldn’t be atheists and agnostics.

        So, please do read the article, if you get a chance. I think you’ll find it enlightening.

      2. You don’t seem to be really addressing my objection, so, I’m going to water it down. Please keep in Mind that I’m doing this to out a sharper focus on a point that’s more expansive.

        I have no reason whatsoever to accept that any form of Atheism is a Null Hypothesis. Atheism is the position that no gods exist. It is not the default position for Humanity, because if it were then Humanity would be largely Atheistic to begin with, and that’s not the case. It is also further not simply a notation that there is no evidence for the existence of a god, it is the position that no gods exist.

        The idea that Atheism is a Null Hypothesis was created so that Atheists could critisise Theism without having to defend Atheism, and its basically an excuse for being Intellectually cowardly.

        Atheists should argue their point, and should not simply make excuses.

        Atheists do make a positive assertion that gods don’t exist.

        And, while Atheism in itself is not really connected to Metaphysical Naturalism, if you really want to go that route I’d like to inform you that every single Atheist I know, including you, do, in fact, make the assertion that the Supernatural does not exist, and that we live only in a Natural World. It’s simply disingenuous to hide this assertion behind the nonsensical idea that you merely ask others for evidence. That’s not what you do on this blog. In reality its clear you have taken Metaphysical Naturalism as a position of Fact, and that you are asserting that it is True, rather than merely citing a lack of evidence and asking Theists to provide Evidence for the Supernatural.

        Which by the way, what if the Theist doesn’t even believe in the Supernatural? I know, I know, you can’t be a Theists if you don’t believe in the Supernatural as gods are by definition Supernatural. The problem is, this isn’t True. Plenty of Theological systems don’t adhere to the idea of gods as Supernatural. For example, Greek paganism in Antiquity saw the gods as the product of Nature, not as superior to it, and as personifications of Natural Laws, not as beings who lived in a separate Supernatural realm. Would a Greek pagan be required to give you evidence of that which he does not believe?

        For that matter, not all Christians even see God as Supernatural. For example, Paul Tillich.

        So not only are you wrong about Atheists and Metaphysical Naturalism being a Default position, you can’t even use it agaisnt Theism in itself.

        Also, the Cartoon is not “Spot on”, because the “Religious person” does not merely say “You can’t prove that God doesn’t exist”. If this was the extent of “Religious logic”, then how do you even explain the existence of arguments for Gods existence? The Theist woudln’t need ot mak them if the Theist relied on remandign the supposedly Null Hypothesis holding Atheist of not being able to prove them wrong.

        Theists don’t just assert that whatever god they believe in exists without evidence and then say the Atheist has to prove this claim false, just like the Atheist doesn’t merely ask the theist for evidence, the Atheist asserts that gods don’t exist.

        And finally, Theists don’t get confused when Atheists speak of God as if he exists. This is arrogant. I’ve never seen this displayed at all. Theists get that Atheists say that God exists as part of an argument, and aren’t as Cognitively unable to grasp simple rhetorical tools. The idea that Theists are confused or unable to make Realisations is such a presumptive, such an arrogant, such a blatantly false idea that Atheists should be ashamed, and would be if not for the undergirding mythos that Atheists s are Champions of Reason and Religious people are delusional.

        The Reality is, Atheists, such as yourself, simply insist we accept that Theists are confused and unable to provide evidence, and Atheists, as people who hold a Null Hypothesis, merely ask for it, when in Truth Atheists don’t simply cite a lack of evidence or ask for evidence, but make active arguments that God doesn’t exist, and dismiss any argument Theists make.

        I’ve seen it myself, and all you have to do is visit various Atheist websites like Rational WIki or The Secular Web and see it. There are pages dedicated to Theist arguments for the existence e of God and how to counter them. Most of the vocal Atheists, yourself included, aren’t interested in honest examination of the evidence at all, you simply want to argue for your ow position. If a Theist presents an argument for the existence of God, you go to one of those sites, find a counter to the argument he uses, or in some cases a counter to an argument you think he’s using even if he’s bot, and then use the counterargument as if it proves his argument wrong, then declare that there is no evidence, even though this is nonsensical as the argument he just gave you is rooted in evidence. Heck, even if the Atheist counter does prove the argument the Theist makes wrong, it still doesn’t destroy the fact that the Theist relied on Evidence, even if the evidence was poor.

        And that’s the point you keep missing. Theists don’t believe in God without any evidence at all, and Theistic arguments for God’s existence are, in fact, based on actual evidence.

        Atheists don’t merely cite a lack of evidence, they take a position that God doesn’t exist, and then try to counter any argument the Theist makes.

        So this “Null Hypothesis” crap is bunk. Atheists don’t hold a null Hypothesis, they hod an active belief that gods don’t exist and that Theists are wrong, and actively try to counter Theistic arguments.

        Saying Theists have no evidence at all is just dshonest, just as its dishonest to present Atheism as a default position.

  3. @S.K. Williams

    I’ll just briefly respond to some of your points. But I don’t have as much time as I used to when it comes to debating online. If you want to learn my views more fully feel free to read more of my blog, preferably the one I update at blogspot as this Word Press blog is my backup blog and the articles are older.

    You may also read my books, which you can find on Amazon.com, if you’re interested. I recommend The Swedish Fish, which was edited by historian and theologian Robert M. Price, or my book Ignosticism which is a short 80 introduction into the subject. Those two books express several years of research and thought on the God topic.

    That said, let’s get on to the discussion.

    RESPONSES: PART 1

    You mentioned:

    “I have no reason whatsoever to accept that any form of Atheism is a Null Hypothesis.”

    Well, you kind of do. The Null Hypothesis is an inference based on the default position taken between two measurable phenomenon, in which the hypothesis speculates all things being equal the phenomenon are *not* related.

    This puts the burden squarely on the shoulders of those who postulate alternative hypothesis about reality. Reality, in this case, is what is observable and measurable. And since what is observable and measurable is the default, naturalism hence becomes the default.

    That is a solid reason to accept the atheist viewpoint of the null hypothesis, because most atheists accept naturalism as te default. As do most naturalists.

    This all ties back to evidentialism and how, given science, we can make definitive claims about reality. The Null Hypothesis is geared towards realism, yes, because it takes naturalism as the default position.

    If naturalism is true, then there simply are no gods and there can be no one true God.

    Not liking the implications of naturalism doesn’t change the fact that the natural world is the only reality we can observe and measure, as far as we know.

    Of course, that’s part of the underlying logic behind the Null Hypothesis, is proving alternative realities. It is designed to help demonstrate such things on an evidentialist basis.

    Of course, many theologians have complained that evidentialist pursuits are lacking in scope. And this very well may be, but until a better means of demonstration comes along which can help theists posit alternative realities, such a metaphysics can only be presumed and theorized about. Not taken at face value. Not as fact. As speculation.

    The reason for this is because measurable, defeasible, evidence is required to demonstrate something beyond mere hypothesis.

    You said:

    “Atheism is the position that no gods exist.”

    Not exactly.

    Atheism is the *belief that no gods exist.

    The atheistic position encompasses more than just a single belief. The position is multifaceted because atheism is a philosophical worldview comprised of two main parts: weak (agnostic atheism) and strong atheism (gnostic atheism). Both of these views are contained within atheism and, depending on which view the atheists takes, their overall position with respect to the question of gods will vary quite considerably.

    Also, depending on which version of atheism the atheist takes will change how they come to believe there are no gods. One is passive, predicated on the failure of theism to adequately demonstrate its claims. That’s weak atheism. Weak atheism, also known as agnostic atheism, doesn’t dismiss gods off hand. It just says it cannot detect any, so the obvious course is not to presume any exist — thus remains agnostic as to the existence of such things. But not having any in evidence, weak atheism says it is alright to not believe in any until such a time as theism can be properly demonstrated.

    Strong atheism is different. It’s an active belief in the non-existence of gods. Strong atheism, also called gnostic atheism, is the ardent belief that there are no gods. Zero. Zilch. Nada. This conviction is merely a strongly held belief, but, even so, the strong atheist would argue that their position is vindicated by the failure of theism to adequately justify its claims. That is, short of theism producing tangible evidence for God, then all absence of evidence is in fact a sign of absence from reality, and so is confirmation of the truth of atheism.

    I myself and a weak, or agnostic, atheist. I don’t believe absence of evidence necessarily entails a complete absence from reality. But I do think it raised lots of questions which need to be addressed before theism can ever be seriously entertained.

    You said:

    “It is not the default position for Humanity, because if it were then Humanity would be largely Atheistic to begin with, and that’s not the case.”

    Religious anthropology and the psychology of religions are entire fields devoted to showing the evolution of religion among humans. I recommend you read Pascal Boyer’s book: Religion Explained.

    His discussion of religious theological templates actually goes a long way to explain that nearly all religious belief is acquired and taught, and that humans do indeed start out without any particular inclination either way. Belief and non-belief come later. What’s more, he uses real world examples in his anthropological studies of various religious groups to back up his claims. It’s a very good book and I highly recommend you read it.

    You said:

    “It is also further not simply a notation that there is no evidence for the existence of a god, it is the position that no gods exist.”

    This goes back to the differences between weak, agnostic, atheism and strong, gnostic, atheism. And while I agree with you here, it’s worth noting that other atheists may not for the very reason they may hold to strong atheism.

    You said:

    “The idea that Atheism is a Null Hypothesis was created so that Atheists could criticise Theism without having to defend Atheism, and its basically an excuse for being Intellectually cowardly.”

    No, not at all. The Null Hypothesis is a form of formal logic based on statistical outcomes. It states:

    H0: μ1 = μ2
    where
    H0 = the null hypothesis,
    μ1 = the mean of population 1, and
    μ2 = the mean of population 2.

    It evolved out of the area of formal philosophy called evidentialism. But was refined by later thinkers as a statistical proof. That’s all it is.

    A null hypothesis is merely part of statistical hypothesis testing.

    One way to think of a null hypothesis is as a control group. If you are studying a cause and effect, such as whether or not a new medicine works, you test the actual medicine against a control group. That is, you give one group the medicine and the other group you give a placebo (this is the control group). The group that gets the actual medicine is the test group, because it’s the group who we are measuring and observing.

    It’s the same with the null hypothesis, but instead of measuring differences in a single group, it’s making a statistical comparison of all the groups (called populations) involved.

    “Atheists should argue their point, and should not simply make excuses.”

    That’s what were trying to do! But then someone comes along who doesn’t know what a null hypothesis is or what statistical hypothesis testing is for, and we have to explain it to them before we can have any real meaningful discussion. So, please, don’t shoot the messenger! I’m glad to help explain things. A lot of this philosophy stuff can be quite difficult sometimes. Even for those of us trained in it.

    So don’t feel bad. There’s always a learning curve.

    You said:

    “Atheists do make a positive assertion that gods don’t exist.”

    Yes, but this is a statement of belief. Not a statement of fact.

    Introducing theism, here, and testing it as an alternative hypothesis against the null hypothesis is one way the atheist tries to garner enough support to show atheism is compatible with Naturalism while theism is not. It doesn’t mean theism is ibso facto false. It’s not false unto itself. It merely hasn’t been demonstrated to be a valid alternative hypothesis, which is precisely what statistical hypothesis testing attempts to demonstrate.

    I’ll continue my response in a follow-up message as this one is running rather long.

    1. You do realise that, by mentioning Robert Price you prove one important fact about you; This isn’t realy a Null Hypothesis at all, you basically understand your Atheism as a need to somehow counter Theism. I say this because, as someone who is, i fact, versed in Bob Price’s work, and who has a degree in religious Studies, that Price is a fringe figure who simply doesn’t have credibility. It’s like citing Richard Carrier, a degree Historian who threw away the legitimacy of his degree from Columbia to pursue his nonsensical arguments that Christianity is bad and wrong. I mean seriously, America’s Funding Fathers, Heroes in his eyes, weren’t influenced at all by Christianity, but Hitler, an Evil Man, was…

      Price is a nicer man than Carrier, who is actually a Narcissist in Real Life, but Bob Price being a Nice Man (And I’ve met him) doesn’t make his work valuable.

      You may think I’m employing Ad Hom here, but I’m not, you name dropped him as if it’s supposed to give your argument gravitas, bit’s not like you simply referenced Him whilst using one of his arguments. I’m simply saying, Price really isn’t that great of a resource.

      What does that really say about you that you use him?

      Which brings me to your reaction to what I said. I said that I had no reason whatsoever to accept that Atheism is a Null Hypothesis, and explained why. You took my conclusion, that I had no reason to accept Atheism as a Null Hypothesis, and restated that I did have a reason and explained what a Null Hypothesis is, and called Atheism a Null Hypothesis. I’m sorry, but that’s not convincing.

      If all you can do is explain what a Null Hypothesis is, then say”Atheism is a Null Hypothesis”, then you’re engaged in Sophistry.

      Not only have you not demonstrated that most Atheists see Naturalism as a Default, and declaration in o way makes it so, you also seem to think that most Atheists seeing Naturalism as a Default makes it a Default, when it doesn’t. I still have no reason whatsoever to actually accept that Naturalism is the default, and Philosophical or Objective Truth is not subject to Democratic consensus.

      Atheism is the belief that no god exists, it is a positive assertion about the nature and existence of gods in our world. It is not the same thing as Naturalism, as you can actually be an Atheist and reject Naturalism, and you can actually be a Theist and still accept Naturalism. While it’s True that modern Philosophical Atheism is rooted in Naturalism, at its core the two ae not mutually inclusive, nor is Theism precluded from Naturalism itself as one can envision a Naturalist god. I believe I noted some Theologians who in fact did this, and will again. I mean, how do you explain Baruch Spinoza, for example? Theological Naturalism is a well now and accepted Theological position. Naturalism is not thee same thing as Atheism.

      I mean, by your logic I can just as easily say “Theism is the Default position and a Null Hypothesis”, because I’ve deiced that most Theists view Theism as properly basic and self evident and thus have no Reason to argue for it, the burden of proof is on the Atheist since belief in God is properly basic and is the default position. Would that really be convincing to you though? Because I’m willing to bet you’d object to what I just said, but what I just said is exactly the same as what you said only applied to Theism. In fact, there have been Philosophers and Theologians who have explicitly stated that God is a Properly Basic concept and the default position.

      SO, not only do I have no actual reason to accept that Atheism is a Null Hypothesis, what you’re engaged in is nothing but inventing an excuse using what’s called the Complexity of words in order to shield Atheism from a need to vindicate its own claims. I find this dishonest. Oh, don’t mistake me here, I find it just as dishonest if the Theist does it, thats not the point, the point is, defining Atheism as a Null Hypothesis is nothing more than intellectual cowardice and dishonesty designed to give an excuse to the Atheist for not trying to really prove his case.

      By saying the Theist has the Burden of proof by there Atheists has no burden of proof, all you’re really saying is that you want to attack their position but don’t want to defend your own.

      In the end, it also shifts the focus of Atheist Thinkign away rom an honest view of the UNiverse and s a Truth Claim to being nothing mroe than an excuse to ridicule others, which is itself intellectually a dead end.

      You want the Theist to have all the hard work whilst the Atheist does nothing. And lets face Reality, shall we? If we’re going to be honest, the Atheist today who uses this doesn’t simply point to a lack of evidence on the part of the Theist, they openly argue against the Theists presentation of evidence only to insist there is no evidence. Modern day Atheism is not passive, it snot a mere lack of belefu in gods due to a lack of evidence, its a position the Atheist takes up, but for some Reason refuses to defend. Its a position the modern day Atheist assumes to be True, hence why they seek to invalidate Theist arguments, as they have to find fault with them to maintain the Truth Claim that is Atheism. Atheism is not passive, its aggressive. If it wer enot so you’d not have so many Atheists spendign so much Tim tryign to refute Theist arguments, youd’ just have hem sagn “that argument doens’t have any evidence”, and explaining why. Instead you have the Schitzophrinic view that you must cnter an argument that the Theist is makign al while simultaniiously declarign that no evidnece ecists even though all arguments ely on some form fo evidence.

      Modern day Atheism isn’t intellectually satisfying for this Reason. Atheists today seem to define Atheism more by ridiculing Theism than by seeking Honest answers, and I find that to be rather depressing.

      It shoudl also be noted that odern day Atheists, yourself included, aen’t really rooted in Ralism in your arguemnts. If you were you’d admit that Theist arguments are rooted in Evidence, and you’d accept that much of modern day Atheist talking points arent very convincing.

      Modern day Atheism is as Ideologically driven as the Theism it opposes.

      It snot base don Evidentialism and Realism at all.

      Heck, you pove this whe youy say that I’m wrogn when I say that Atheim is a posiion that no gods exist, only to say its a beif that no gods exist. Well, Realistically, tat’s thesame thing. You cannot beleive that no gods exist but not take the position that no gods exist. A beleif is a position.

      So why not admit that?

      Also, I don’t see how Pascal Boyer proves anythign in your point, Boyer agrees with me that Religion dons’t really exist and what we cal Religion is not but cultural development. The moern day Atheist movement is as much a Religion as anythign else. DIdn’t Boyer say he has never seen Religion, only culture?

      Boyer did not reduce Religion down to Theism, like you do, howevr, and Boyer certainly didnt claim that Theism had ot be taught.

      That’s a gross oversimlification not only of Boyers work, but of the topic of Religion in general.

      The rest is just wrd salad. You can’t make a statement of beleif that’s not also a statement of fact. You can be wrong, or admit there is a possibilit that you are wrong, but any sttaement of belefi is a sttement of the Truthfulness, or at least your acceptance of the Truthfylness, of a speciifc claim. saying a sttement of belefi is not a Truth Claim is nonsensical. Weak and Srogn Atheism and everythgin you sad about it makes no real impact on the Realiy of the discussion we’re hving, either. Al the talking fown to me as if I don’t ven knwo what a Null Hypothesis is or have neve read any work you cite also gets old.

      1. The fact that you’ve now engaged in mud-slinging instead of rational defenses of your position give me good reason not to take anything you say seriously. Sorry. I don’t care about opinions. I care about systems which can demonstrate themselves.

  4. @S.K. Williams

    RESPONSES: PART 2

    I must apologize for the length. There is just a lot to cover.

    You said:

    “And, while Atheism in itself is not really connected to Metaphysical Naturalism, if you really want to go that route I’d like to inform you that every single Atheist I know, including you, do, in fact, make the assertion that the Supernatural does not exist, and that we live only in a Natural World.”

    That’s the very definition of metaphysical naturalism.

    I know that throwing in technical words like “metaphysical” can sometimes be confusing in discussions of metaphysics. It’s merely a question of ontology, of origins. But we philosophers don’t mean to be confusing. It’s just that we sometimes forget others are not accustomed to the vocabulary and there are a lot of strange vocabularies to be wary of in any philosophical discourse!

    The one thing I will point out where I think you are mistaken is in saying that atheists posit a supernaturalism of sorts in the form of naturalism. Metaphysics itself isn’t a form of the supernatural. It’s actually the other way around. The supernatural is one possible type of metaphysics. Metaphysics basically translates to alternative physics with alternative origins for those physics. All alternative models need to be investigated. It’s also why I happen to side with Kant over David Hume. Kants work seeks to address the disputes between rationalist and empirical approaches and advanced metaphysical argumentation to its pinacle, at least where morals are concerned.

    But it’s Kant’s very insights into value judgement having a metaphysical basis rather than a natural world basis that I agree with his metaphysical theories. That said, his theories do not undermine naturalism. They merely show that Hume, and classic naturalists, view of the world was rather limited.

    You said:

    “In reality, it’s clear you have taken Metaphysical Naturalism as a position of Fact, and that you are asserting that it is True, rather than merely citing a lack of evidence and asking Theists to provide Evidence for the Supernatural.”

    Metaphysical Naturalism has an astonishing track record in the form of the natural science. All scientific endeavors rest upon the assumptions of Metaphysical naturalism. So to say we’ve merely taken the assertion as true is somewhat of an understatement. Metaphysical naturalism remains true because its assumptions are NOT contradicted by anything in the natural world. Yet theistic metaphysics constantly run into roadblocks because they do, time and again, get contested when their claims do not match with the natural world and where there is no possible way to demonstrate the underlying metaphysics — at least not in the way Kant did.

    So what we can say is that because of the success rate of Metaphysical naturalism to always match with the natural world, which supports its claims, there is simply no reason to doubt it. Once there is ample reason to doubt it, then we can begin investigating better alternatives. But the point worth stressing is that, currently, it is the best metaphysical explanation we have which describes the world to us.

    You said:

    “So not only are you wrong about Atheists and Metaphysical Naturalism being a Default position, you can’t even use it against Theism in itself.”

    As I explained above, Naturalism is the main metaphysics which properly describes the world to us. That’s not to say there aren’t competing metaphysics or even better ones. But until one can contest Metaphysical naturalism, and beat its success rate at adequately and correctly describing the world to us as we understand it, then you simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. The problem with theists is they want to play favorites. They favor God, so naturally they claim their metaphysics is best. It’s the best because it explains God in the way they understand God. But it doesn’t explain the world according to their understanding of this God. Metaphysical naturalism, however, does. And that’s the problem we always rub up against.

    A great book on this subject is The Best Argument Against God by the philosopher Graham Oppy. In it he details exactly why Naturalism bests all theistic attempts to describe an underlying metaphysics. However, I must warn you, Oppy’s work is always rather technical. But as long as you familiarize yourself with the terminology, you should be able to push through it with some effort.

    “Theists don’t just assert that whatever god they believe in exists without evidence and then say the Atheist has to prove this claim false…”

    I actually think this is a misunderstanding of what the cartoon implies. It’s not about *what* who is asserting. It’s about the nature of the assertion. You see, the assertion could be about anything. God. Magic baseballs. Genies in golden lamps. The nature of the assertion is what is in question here. And when someone makes a *positive* assertion (i.e., the world being flat, for example), then such assertions require evidence to affirm it in the positive.

    No evidence for a flat Earth, in this case, IS evidence that the Earth is, in point of fact, not at all flat. The reason is because there is no evidence to affirm the positive claim.

    Atheism is making a negative claim. A claim about an absence of something. By definition, this cannot be proved with positive evidence. You cannot affirm atheism’s truth by proving God doesn’t exist. There is no such proof.

    That is the issue the cartoon brings up, because theists often do make this mistake. Believe me, my religious family and friends do it all the time. I don’t think they are fully aware they are doing it, but they just sort of blurt it out.

    But many religious apologists do it too, which is cringe worthy because they should know better. And worse still, some theologians have done it too. Which is why I found the cartoon rather pertinent. It depicts quite concisely the mistake people are making by failing to make the proper distinction between positive and negative assertions and claims. The simple truth is, different rules apply when making a positive claim than when making a negative claim. This is just common sense.

    You said:

    “And finally, Theists don’t get confused when Atheists speak of God as if he exists. This is arrogant. I’ve never seen this displayed at all. Theists get that Atheists say that God exists as part of an argument, and aren’t as Cognitively unable to grasp simple rhetorical tools. The idea that Theists are confused or unable to make Realisations is such a presumptive, such an arrogant, such a blatantly false idea that Atheists should be ashamed, and would be if not for the undergirding mythos that Atheists s are Champions of Reason and Religious people are delusional.”

    I think the confusion regarding God is always present among theists. I don’t say that as an attack. I say that because there is a deeper, grammatical, confusion in the way theists use grammar regarding the use of objects when discussing God. Theists often deliberately use the term “God” as the object of a sentence, especially when they say, “I believe in God.”

    What most theists seem not to realize is that all real world objects, things that are spoken about as literally extant, have referents. God has no real world referents and so the object gets classified as conceptual. What this means is, grammatically, the switch from saying “I believe in God,” to “God is real” is problematic.

    What has happened is the theist had taken a conceptualization of their idea of God, and turned right around and said their conceptualization is real, literal, tangible truth. But they’ve contradicted themsevles.

    In my book ignosticism I go into detail to explain why this is problematic for theism. So, you see, I’m not merely being arrogant. My research has shown that there is a constant confusion among theists regarding literal and conceptual interpretations of God and how they often mix the two up without even realizing it.

    Here’s the Amazon.com link to my short book if you’re interested:

    https://www.amazon.com/Ignosticism-Tristan-Vick-ebook/dp/B00E7I4O58/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=#navbar

    “And that’s the point you keep missing. Theists don’t believe in God without any evidence at all, and Theistic arguments for God’s existence are, in fact, based on actual evidence.”

    and…

    “Saying Theists have no evidence at all is just dishonest, just as its dishonest to present Atheism as a default position.”

    Well, not exactly. I mean, I haven’t missed the point. It’s just that most theists have a different standard of evidence from atheists.

    Allow me to explain.

    Atheists tend to lean toward empiricism, whereas theists tend to lean toward logical demonstration. Both are valid approaches, mind you, when it comes to demonstrating certain claims. But what seems to happen is that theists don’t follow through with their demonstrations, often falling back on apologetics in lieu of testable evidence. Or, other times, certain “evidence” theists think is rock solid doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

    It’s only when atheists point this out that theists often make the same claim you have made here by saying we don’t accept your evidence. That’s not entirely true. Many times atheists have examined the evidence. Many did so when they were believing theists, and have thus become atheist as a consequence.

    I myself am one such atheist. I began as a Christian believer. I was a Christian for 30 years before my deconversion. And my main realisation was that the state of the evidence wasn’t as rock solid as I had imagined. In fact, it was a castle built on sand. Or, more accurately, a house of cards built on sand. And I know believers who still have conviction will disagree, and that’s fine. But the point here is that it’s not a failure on my part, or even atheists in general, to have examined the theistic evidence. Many of us have.

    In fact, I have compiled numerous essays of apostate non-believers into a book called Beyond an Absence of Faith, which I compiled and co-edited with the philosopher Jonathan M.S. Pearce.

    We interviewed many ex-believers of Islam, Christianity, Yogism, and several cults. All of them are now secular minded non-believers. Some call themselves atheists, some call themselves agnostic, and some have other words for what they are, like, spiritual skeptic and so on and so forth.

    Beyond an Absence of Faith can be found here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Absence-Faith-Stories-Discovery-ebook/dp/B00K7BAAKC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8#navbar

    So I think you paint atheists with too broad of a brush when you say we all dismiss the theistic evidence. Some might. I don’t know. But in my experience, there are many, many, many atheists and non-believers who have given the theistic evidence very careful consideration.

    Well, I hope that helped clarify some issues.

    Again, thanks for your comments and the discussion. I probably won’t have time to write any further lengthy responses as I have several book deadlines coming up.

    But feel free to check out some of the links I provided at your own leisure. Have a good one!

    PAX

    1. ALSO, I htink your percpetion of me as uneducated and confused needs to be reassessed. Its clear that you arn’t taking the Tie to really read what I’m saying. For example, you claim that I said that Atheists posit a form fo SUpernaturalism of sorts by asserting Naturalism. Well, no, I dind’t say this. What I said was that, at its core, Atheiam is not tied to Naturalism except in the context of Philosophical developments, and that it ispossible to be an Atheist and to reject Naturalism or to emrbace the SUpernatural, provided one does not beleive in gods, just liek tis possible to reject the SUpernatural and to emrbace Naturalism and be a Theist.

      What I said was the complete opposite fo what you claimed was my position.

      ANd don’t you think its geting toresome assumign that I don’t udnerstand technical jargon that you’re using? I mean, I got a degree in Religious TSudies, I know what temrs lik Metaphysical mean, I just reject what your saying about modern day Atheism.

      I also have to wonder just how much you’ve realy studied Philosophy or Theology. I mean, how do I really look a this as the work of a proffessional?

      “Metaphysical Naturalism has an astonishing track record in the form of the natural science. All scientific endeavors rest upon the assumptions of Metaphysical naturalism. So to say we’ve merely taken the assertion as true is somewhat of an understatement. Metaphysical naturalism remains true because its assumptions are NOT contradicted by anything in the natural world. Yet theistic metaphysics constantly run into roadblocks because they do, time and again, get contested when their claims do not match with the natural world and where there is no possible way to demonstrate the underlying metaphysics — at least not in the way Kant did.”

      Not only is this off topic for our duscussion, which is that Atheism is not a Null Hypothesis, but its inherantly wrong. There is no such thign as “Theistic metaphysics”, as not all Theists agree on even how God is defined, yet you act as if Theistic Metaphysics is an alternative view to Metaphysical Naturalism. ANd again, how can I really approach this as valid since one can be a Naturalist and a Theist at the same Time? Theism is ot a rejection of Naturalism, and there have been Naturalists who were also Theists.

      Then there’s the pbvious flaw in that, f coruse Metaphysical Naturalsm workswell when exclusively dealing with The Natural WOrld, but thats beause if all we look at is the Natural WOrld, then Naturalism’s predictins shoudl hold True. That in no way means Naturalism in itself is True, it only proves something most peopel dont rallly object to, that The Natural World works under self contained Natural Laws.

      Well, so what?

      The Track Record of Metaphysica Naturalism in Scince only shwos that the Natural world works on Natural Laws, not that there is no other world but the Natural.

      Cont Below.

      1. Which brigns us to this:

        “As I explained above, Naturalism is the main metaphysics which properly describes the world to us. That’s not to say there aren’t competing metaphysics or even better ones. But until one can contest Metaphysical naturalism, and beat its success rate at adequately and correctly describing the world to us as we understand it, then you simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. The problem with theists is they want to play favorites. They favor God, so naturally they claim their metaphysics is best. It’s the best because it explains God in the way they understand God. But it doesn’t explain the world according to their understanding of this God. Metaphysical naturalism, however, does. And that’s the problem we always rub up against.”

        Again, and his is what you keep didging, not all Theists Think alike. Metaphysical Naturalism is not a rejection of Theism. You can actually maintain Metaphysical Naturalim and still blive in God.

        And plenty of Theologians and Philosophers have explained the World accordign to their understanding of God, such as Rene Des Carte, Bearuch Spinoza, or Paul Tillich. Saying that Theists never explain the World according to their understanding of God is sheer nonsense.

        And I don’t really care what Graham Oppy said, Metphysical Naturalism cannot be used as an argument agaisnt Theism, in large part because the views are’t even Mutually exclusive.

        Also, your example of a FLat Earth claim is nonsense, too.

        Peopel don’t srgue the earht is flat with no evidence, and we don’t prove to them that the Earth is not flat by an abscence of evidence. We know the Earht is roudn rather than flat due to evidence ranging from how sips dissapear on he Horizon to, in our modern era, spacecraft we’ve placed in Orbit. We do, in fact, have evidence of a Roudn Earth, and that’s why we know its not flat. The “Abscence of Evidence’ Claim is silly.

        Ad its suilly in regards to Theism since, as repeatedy stated, Theists do not beleive without evidence in watever god they beleive in. They have evidence.

        Theists don’t just say the Atheists has toprove that God doens’t exist. Arguments for God’s existencve shpw this.

        That’s why the cartoon is crap.

        Also, sayign God ha sno real world referent is stupid sicne to the Theist God exists in the Real World.

        Yoru using Sophestry again.

        Also, if you are any indication, Theists have a higher and more scientific stadard of Evidence than Atheists.

        Seriously, the ‘Theists have a differnt standard of evidence’ trope wont work here. Athists don’t have a Higher standard of evidence and better thought out arguments, an this kind of rrogant presumption is based on an unjustified mythology of Ratiobality beign linked to Atheusm, and the self assured arroganc assumption that Tjeists ar ein soem way defecient and lesser intellectually than Atheists are, and again, this leads to Atheistic sloppiness, such as what you display here.

        Its easy to trpeat the mantra that Theists fall bakc on APolagetics and that their evidnece does’t hodl up to scrutiny, bit the Trith is, Teistic Arguments do hodl up far bettr than Athists iek you insist they do, and mostof modern Atheist arguemtns agaisbt Theism fall flat because they aren’t base don real evidence at all, but on a strawman version of Teism that fits modern Atheist assumptions of how Theits are emotional and irratiobal whislt Ateits are Ratiobal and Scnetific. If youy take as a given thatyoru arguments are the Rational oens and that Theist arugments are weak, then you won’t engage them serisoyly and wull just see ewhatyou want ot see, which is why modern day Atheism is relaly killing Reason, not feeding it.

        Oh and can we drop silly terms like ‘Deconversio”. Youdidnt deconvert from Religion, you converted from a CHristain to an Atheist. Needign to see Atheism as the oppositr of Relgiion, to the point of needign to use ‘opposite words”, is ust childish.

        I also don’t paint all Atheists with too broad a brush. Im not talkign abotu all theists, I am talkign aboutyour post and the modern Atheist movement.

        ANd seriosyly, at this point I really doubt you understand Christianity, even if you were one for 30 Years, much less Atheism.

      2. One point.

        Deconversion accurately reflects what many people go through psychologically when they leave their faith or adopt a new one. It’s not being childish. Calling someone childish without taking the time to understand their point of view or what they are necessarily trying to express about their own personal experiences is, I’m afraid, rather childish.

        When theists devolve to name calling, I know there’s nothing else I can say. They just want to be right. And that’s fine. I’ll let them keep thinking that because I’d rather they think they’re right and be mistaken than get drug down into puerile arguments simply because they don’t want to answer the challenges put forth and so would rather call names. I simply don’t have the time for it.

      3. You know, it really becomes difficult talking to someone who allows talking points and caricatures of others to guide what they say of them. I didn’t mud sling and call names, I was criticl of an invented term “Deconversion”. Calling this term CHildish is not namecalling, and if you really THibk that we should listen to other peopesl perspectives, then you shoudl start with why I said this.

        Deconversion as a term is CHildish, and so is the need to make Atheism a Null Hypothesis. It’s simply a means for some Atheists, like you, to evade the Burden Of Proof. Its Intellectual cowardice. That’s not said because I ca’t find a logical argu,ent and I just want to call o names, that’s exactly why I think you’re fightign so hard to get this idea accepted.

        And its perfectly valid to wquestion the motives of someone offering this argument, or anyone arguign any argument, or the ramifications of accepting an argument.

        It’s far mroe purile that you’d say Theists ae tryignt o drag you down, given this is exactly what you’re dpign to me, rtign to drag me down so you don’t have to address my objections.

        Objections I’ve gpne at length to explain and to which all you’ve dne is repeat the same talking points as a means of rebuttal.

        The same thing is True of what I said of Bob Price. I didn’t mudsling, I pointed out his less-than-usefulness to yoru own arguments. Just like I did with Boyer. The simpel fact is, namedropping like you did wn’t work, especally since you’ve made asusmotiosn that I’ve never even heard of people whose work I’ve used in a Masters THsis.

        DOnt’ you think its TIem you addressed y points and stopped lookign at my challenges to your position as namecalling just to ge tout of havign to address them?

        Oh, and the claim that Atheism only exists becuse of Theism bit is nonsensical. While its True that the term Atheist woudl not really exist, or need ot exist, if Theism didn’t, its still an actual position, and oen that’d exist even if no one had ever been a Theist. It’d just not be named.

      4. I was using Kant to explain my own position on metaphysics so you’d stop misrepresenting my form of atheism. Clearly you missed the point of why that tangent was necessary.

  5. Hello. Maybe I’m too late to be in this party, but I’m too impressed by the discussion in this comment section to just pass by, so I’ll write some of my thought.

    1. I think that your argument that atheism is null hypothesis(I’ll use this term as you used; default position) because it doesn’t assume more than our observation is misguided. You said that atheism assumes nothing more than that because atheism assumes zero god while theism assumes more than one god. But, you know, ‘there is no god’ is positive assumption as same as ‘there is at least one god’ is because false proposition is also a positive assumption. And anyone who argue about a proposition must justify there claim, whether it is true or false. That means Atheism is not a null hypothesis and need to be justified.

    Maybe you reject this and argue that theism and atheism are different because theism assume some metaphysical entity while atheism is not. But this rejection has a exactly same problem because atheism doesn’t just assume the world what we know, but positively reject that metaphysical entity.

    The main problem is, unlike what you said in the post, that we don’t know what claim our observation points to until we examine them. In Maybe our observation aligns to atheism, like you said. Maybe not. Maybe this world can’t exist or humankind can’t exist if God doesn’t exist, like theists said. maybe not. We don’t know which is true until we examine those claims. you now would say you examined it, and concluded that Atheism is true. But the fact that you need to do that make atheism positive assumption, not null hypothesis.

    Maybe now you say that you didn’t argue theism is false, but just argued that theism isn’t justified and that is fit with your stance. Fine. But then you can’t argue that atheism is more probable than theism, because it is logically equivalent to say that theism is probably false. And given the fact you exactly argued that in your post, I think you must show us more than that.

    2. I think that your assertion in the comment that metaphysical naturalism is null hypothesis is also failed by same reason. metaphysical naturalism not just claims that there are natural world, but there are nothing out of natural world. And we don’t know the world we observe is fit with metaphysical naturalism. Maybe it is, maybe not. Maybe consciousness and intentionality needs supernatural explanation, maybe not. So, like atheism, metaphysical naturalism is not null hypothesis and needs some evidences to justify.

    1. If you read my response, I explained that Naturalism is the Null Hypothesis and that atheism is compatible with this (because it is neutral when it comes to the null hypothesis).

      That’s where theists seem to get confused. Theism posits an alternative hypothesis to what we observe. What we observe is the reality we see, thus the Null hypothesis. Atheism doesn’t posit anything. It makes an assertion about the absence of something. In technical terms, it claims the alternative hypothesis theist propose is false.

      That is a positive claim, but it’s one about the alternative hypothesis. It itself is not an alternative hypothesis since it is in tune with the Null Hypothesis, naturalism.

      Most natural philosophers consider naturalism to be the null hypothesis. So do many noted theologians, Luigi Giussani for example. I know all scientists certainly do.

      This is just the traditional view in philosophy. I’m not saying it to be controversial. It’s just the agreed upon starting point. Again, look at how the logic is laid out:

      H0: μ1 = μ2
      where
      H0 = the null hypothesis,
      μ1 = the mean of population 1, and
      μ2 = the mean of population 2.

      So if you accept the logic, then you have to accept that theism is an alternative hypothesis to the testable observable world, and that this natural world is the null hypothesis. If it were the other way around, you’d be trying to demonstrate the natural world. But we clearly don’t do this, because it has already ben demonstrated to us through our ability to observe and measure it.

      Thus theism is the alternative hypothesis being made here.

      Of course, a gnostic atheist could come along and offer an alternative hypothesis in the form of the argument that absence of evidence really is evidence of absence. But because it cannot be demonstrated, as it rests its case on negative evidence, all one could do it say it’s true insofar as theism remains an unjustified alternative hypothesis.

      So that’s the problem you run up against saying atheism is itself an alternative hypothesis. It only exists in relation to theism. It’s like how the number zero can only exist in relation to other numbers. But how other numbers can only be justified in acknowledging that zero is a necessary condition for them to be considered meaningfully in the first place. The same is true of the relationship between atheism and theism, I’d say.

      1. Thank you for reply, but I think you don’t address any solution to my criticism. You just repeat your previous argument. Actually, I suspect that you didn’t even read my comment carefully, because I deal with your claim with naturalism in the later part of my comment

        My criticism to your argument that atheism and metaphysical naturalism is null hypothesis is that we don’t know this natural world, the reality we see, is same when we assume metaphysical naturalism or atheism until we examine available evidences. If you want to say something is null hypothesis(I know what null hypothesis is, please don’t lecture me), you must know what it looks like when we assume it, even before examine available evidences. But that’s not the case when we talk about God and nature. Maybe this world is expected when we assume metaphysical naturalism, maybe not. Maybe there must be something not natural to be this world. Theists say that this world is expected when we assume theism. Maybe so, maybe not. What we have to do to conclude whether is true is examining available evidence, and the fact that we need this process means that atheism is also alternative hypothesis as same as theism.

        In other words, accepting the fact that this world exist as null hypothesis doesn’t mean that I must accept metaphysical naturalism as null hypothesis, because the whole purpose of debate between naturalism and supernaturalism is not whether there is something out there, but which worldview can explain this reality better. It’s not the battle between the reality what you know vs. reality + some supernatural dimension, unlike you say. So if you really want to stick with null hypothesis, then you must be agnostic to whether naturalism is true, because that’s the only position you can rationally defend without evidence.

        And false claims are also positive claims. “It won’t be rain today” is positive claim as much as “It will be rain today.” So your assertion that atheism is not a positive claim is false.

        Besides, I wonder what philosophers say that naturalism is null hypothesis. As far as I know, there are few philosophers who say naturalism is some kind of default position, or null hypothesis. Your go-and-find theologian Luigi Giussani, as far as I know, didn’t argue that naturalism is null hypothesis, unlike you say to me. Even your favorite philosopher Graham Oppy said that naturalism is simpler than theism(which is I agree on), not it is null hypothesis. Actually, philosophers don’t even use the term ‘null hypothesis’ very much because it is more like a statistical notion, not a logical notion.

      2. It really doesn’t matter if you are a Theist or not, because you’re Right. He didn’t really read tour objections. He didn’t address mine either, and is now saying I used name calling.

        I think you are from China, so you may not know of the Western “New Atheism” that men like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris espouse, but this blogger is part of that movement. While it equates Atheism with Rationality, its really a self assured movement that doesn’t try to Think through the logic of its own arguments, because its assumed that whatever the Atheist says is Logical simply because they are Atheists.

        It’s one of the things I critisised and was told I’m just resorting to name calling.

        It realy is more about makign an excuse for not having a valid argument yhan it is about actual Thought. In the end I thibknk Atheism is done a disservice by such tactics, and have enjoyed your posts as unlike the OP here, you do put effort into it.

      3. My insinuation of name calling wasn’t in regard to you making the unsupported claim than any particular terminology was more or less childish than any other. That’s not what I was referring to. Also, whether you personally find something childish or not is a subjective judgement. I really see no reason to argue the point.

        My insinuation of name calling was with respect to the numerous times you claimed I was being a sophist or using sophistry to duck the issue or not answer your point adequately enough. Of course, at no time did I rely on sophistry or obfuscation to confuse the issue. My comments are thoroughly thought out which is why they tend to be long. When it comes to heavy-handed philosophical concepts, there is a lot of unpacking to do.

        One of the reasons I specifically work to avoid sophist language is because I’m a pragmatist and a pedant. Those two things compel me to try and speak, and be, as clear as possible.

        Even as I am more than willing to answer most questions, when a person starts labeling me as sophist, when I’m clearly not using sophist language or sophist arguments, on top of trying to force their subjective opinion of what words they happen to find “childish” on me and not accepting that they don’t, in fact, dictate the meanings of those words (but that the context does), I really have nothing more to say.

        My patience ends at rudeness and condescension.

        Case in point, in summarizing the above comment, I find that you seem to confuse where my accusation of name-calling was directed, wrongly claim it was something else thus introducing misinformation into the conversation (being charitable I will say you did this inadvertently because of a genuine misunderstanding on your part), claim New Atheists don’t think through the logic (thus insinuating that I, as a New Atheist, don’t think through the logic either), claim I didn’t read your objections, and claim I’m making excuses because I can find no valid argument to address those aforementioned objections.

        I find that attitude extremely condescending.

        First off, I already answered many of your objections. Bringing up new one’s after the fact, or not being satisfied with the answers I gave, is not my problem.

        The name calling thing is trivial, but I am not mistaken. Unless you were referring to another so-called sophist on this page I am unaware of?

        The pedant in me won’t let that one go. Because I am very particular about what I say and how I say it. And being called a sophist in the pejorative sense is always bothersome because then you must ask where exactly did I invoke sophistry to avoid answering any of your questions? The answer is nowhere. And I addressed the questions which I felt were worth addressing. Granted, as I’ve mentioned numerous times to you, my time is limited so I’m not going to go line by line through every bit of response and answer every single minute detail. I simply do not have the time for that. So it’s not a matter of avoiding the questions, it’s a matter of picking which one’s I can answer reasonably well enough, and in order to do this, I simply make a judgment call on what I feel are the most pertinent questions given the topic of the thread.

        I don’t see how the thing about New Atheists not following through with the logic is even defensible. It sounds like another bit of condescension on your part. I’ll just ignore it as it has nothing to do with my answering any questions here. On my personal blog. Where I can answer questions any way I see fit.

        And, of course, I did read your objections. But, as I said, I wasn’t going to be able to answer them all. Nor was I going to be able to get into it thoroughly enough to come to any resolute understanding as I am extremely busy and have several book deadlines on the horizon. I mentioned my being strapped for time to you before, so claiming that I didn’t read the objections or was in some way avoiding providing any arguments simply is a false accusation.

        And having to point it all out to you is a waste of my time.

        But as I said, I’m a pedant. And the pragmatist in me wants to see truth prevail where there is a discernible truth. Like I said, those two quirks make it impossible for me to be any kind of sophist.

      4. If you read our exchanges, you said I relied on namecalling specifically when I caled terms like “Deconvert” Childish.

        With that said, how are your arguments not sophistry? And how is calling them Sophistry, or even you a sophist, really namecalling? It’s not like I’m saying “your wrong because you’re an idiot”, I’m saying your arguments are predomenantlky about defining terms in such a wy as to shore up a point by mere definition, rather than Reality.

        Again, look at the cartoon you posted at the head of the artucle. You tried ot dismiss it, but if it’s not there to claim that Religious People Think that way, then why is it there?

        Ad lets face it, you even used sophistry here. I’m not sayign that as a cheap insult, either, but to note a very real flaw to yoru case. Let me explain. I critisised the New Atheism because for all it’s talk of using Logic, it very raely if ever bothers to apply logic to its own arguments. You now claim that this is simply condescensuon on my part, wich it’s not, its the very Reason I’m objecting to your arguments, and yet by doing this you seem to want to define the New Atheism as driven by ogic and act liek I’m just condescending if I say otherwise as if this alone proves it wrong. Well, I might be wrong, maybe the New Atheism is steeped in Pure Logic and wholly the XChild of it, but you can’t demonstrate that by calling me condescending, and pretending that the New Atheism is inherantly built on Logic just because thats how we’ve decided to understand it.

        Which is in turn what Siophistry is. It’s when you define a term and use the definition of the term to prove a point, rather than Realising that definitions do not create Reality.

        Such as how we often see Atheism deined these days as a “lack of beleif in gods”, but the same peopel who define it tat way make it very clear that threy are actually arguign that gid;s don’t exist.

        It dorsn’t matter that hey want to define the term as a lack of beleif its intellectually dishinest to do so and doens’t speak t the Reality of the discussion.

        If you really want me to, I can go through our conversation, and point to exact examples of what I see as Sophistry. It’s not me beign petukant or condescending, its me sayign I’m not convinced that your arguents are vlid, because it seems to me in a very real sense that you’re just defining your way into a point.

      5. Wow. Really? *Sigh.* Alright. I’ll bite.

        “If you read our exchanges, you said I relied on name-calling specifically when I called terms like “Deconvert” Childish.”

        Really, you don’t get to dictate which pejorative use of language I considered adequately insulting enough to respond to as I did. That’s not up to you to decide. Just deal with that fact, and you can move on and maybe stop chasing your own tail here.

        “With that said, how are your arguments not sophistry? And how is calling them Sophistry, or even you a sophist, really namecalling? ”

        It’s name calling for two reasons. I’ve denied the accusation, which you have repeated here again. You are labeling me in a way I disagree with and I’ve flat out said that description is not accurate. You went ahead and repeated it anyway. That’s called being rude. It’s like those transphobes who continue to misgender trans people because they don’t see anything “wrong” with it.

        It’s rude because you’re not taking me at my word here. You’re simply ignoring me saying (emphatically) that I’m not a sophist so you can (go ahead and) call me a sophist. I have not called you something you’re not observably being, and in this case you’re being rude. You could deny it of course, but the proof is in the words you’ve already spoken and how you’ve simply ignored my position to claim what I say either does not count or you somehow know better than I do about my being a sophist or not. Unless I am gravely mistaken about your intentions here, which I doubt, I must say they seem transparent enough.

        Case in point, how am I not being sophist? I’m speaking clearly, without a heavy reliance on metaphysical language, philosophical jargon, or overabundance of metaphor. Additionally, whenever there is an esoteric bit of terminology I have done my best to describe it in plain terms. I’m also specifically *not* relying on obfuscation to give you the runaround. I’m answering you straight forward and I am staying to the point. That’s is not sophistry. Not by any definition. As Wiki states:

        In modern usage, sophism, sophist and sophistry are redefined and used disparagingly. A sophism is a specious argument for displaying ingenuity in reasoning or for deceiving someone. A sophist is a person who reasons with clever but fallacious and deceptive arguments. Authentic Sophists as described by Plato, would enjoy the discussion of the modern usage and shift of definition, as the dialogue would be of the nature that the Sophists employed.

        Meanwhile, Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, and the ODE/OCP all define sophistry and sophism in a similar fashion. As 1) a clever but false argument, especially one used to deliberately deceive, and 2) a type of fallacy that is not just an error of reasoning, or an invalid argument, but a kind of tactic of argumentation used unfairly to try to get the best of a speech partner. (Sophism, Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 2nd. ed, 2005.)

        Nowhere have I tried to use clever arguments to deceive you or anybody else.

        This is what is called changing the subject. It’s a tactic many theists employ so that they don’t have to actually make any real argument for their case. For example, instead of showing how my so-called sophistry endangers my position or complicates your case, you’ve merely lobbed it as a pejorative accusation of faulty reasoning. As if to say — since my reasoning is faulty in this case, then whatever else I might say cannot be trusted either. But that’s not how it works. I could very well be mistaken in one area, but it doesn’t mean everything else I say is — by default — also mistaken. This is just bad reasoning. And I know you didn’t state it in this exact way, but it seems implied by you continually bringing it up. So far, all you’ve been able to demonstrate is that you don’t know the proper definition of sophistry / sophism.

        But as I said. That’s a moot point. And even if I was using genuine sophistry, which I am not, we’d still be able to progress in the discussion if you had a valid argument. After all, a genuine deception can still be peeled away and the underlying logic revealed — including its weaknesses. You haven’t stated any other to say they exist. In all the text you’ve written, you haven’t given solid, concrete, examples. You’ve just restated, repeatedly, that such examples exist. So never mind the sophistry (regardless of if it’s there or if you think it’s there), get to the point. State your premise. Make your argument. Give me a conclusion I can evaluate. You haven’t done this. So really, all you’re doing it talking in circles.

        Second, you do in fact use it as a pejorative because you saying I am somehow lending to your confusion or that I’m trying to duck the issue. Which, as I’ve repeatedly demonstrated, I’m not. I’ve engaged you more than you deserve, given the fact that you refuse to accept my POV at all, and when it does come to a point of contention you are only interested in how right you are — not in what I have to say on the subject. See, that’s the element that makes it a waste of time. If you were asking me, for example, what my take on New Atheism is, well, then we could have a nice conversation. What you’re saying, however, is that I’m wrong about New Atheism — when, in point of fact, you haven’t really asked me my opinion on the subject. You’ve merely gleaned vague idea as to what I might think based off certain off-handed remarks I’ve made elsewhere. But you’re confident enough to say, without a shadow of doubt, that I’m completely wrong on the subject.

        I find that type of attitude rather off-putting.

        I feel you’ve wasted enough of my time just having me set the record straight about non-related issues that I’m really close to blocking you. And I hardly ever block anyone. In over a decade of blogging I’ve only resorted to blocking people 3 times total. So be careful what you say next. Make sure it’s relevant. As someone who’s taught Rhetoric at the college level at community colleges, I really do know how to evaluate a formal argument. I am trained in Rhetoric and logical deconstruction of texts, it’s one of my many degrees (in this case, English Theory). So I’m not saying this to be an ass, I’m saying it because I’m going to evaluate whatever you say next as harshly as I would one of my college level students who are presenting me with a formal argument.

        Look, you don’t have to agree with your interlocutors on every point of contention in order to have a cordial discussion. But you should be charitable enough to expect that, regarding a topic they have posted frequently on, they at least have a passing knowledge of what they are talking about. It’s called giving them the benefit of the doubt. Especially when you come onto their blog as an unknown outsider expecting them to engage you and take what you have to say seriously.

        But you’re right. I do find that keeping our terms straight is important. I’ve corrected you when you’ve gotten those terms wrong or confused them for other terms. Once we can clarify the meanings of the terms we are using, discussing the topic is much easier. It’s less prone to devolve into confusion and it’s harder to throw up red herrings when everything is laid out on the table. I use this method of discussion because many theist are not accustomed to actually staying on topic. I don’t say this flippantly, but as a real criticism. Many apologists who try to defend their faith usually are not trying to make any attempt at a logical, formal, argument. When I’m not engaged in a discussion of rhetoric, such as we are now, I am very keen to stay on topic.

        And, just for the record, I never once said New Atheism was founded on logic. The New Atheists do a better job at making contra-arguments, however. And for many theists this can be upsetting because they don’t usually have very many defeaters lined up to take on hard-hitting contra-arguments. Usually, they are merely rehashing, or repeating, apologetics they’ve gotten second hand. You have said that New Atheists have failed to apply logic to their own arguments. But you yourself haven’t specifically referenced any failure of logical argument. You’ve pointed out several contradictions. But that’s about it. A contradiction doesn’t necessarily equate to the same thing as a negation. So I’m not simply going to take your word for it. Give me a concrete example where the p’s do not support the conclusion. I’ll be more inclined to listen.

        Now, arguments can be logical but uproved or undemonstrated. First-mover arguments, in theology, for example, are logical. But they are nearly impossible to demonstrate, since to do so would entail at least the knowledge of God. Usually, they end in tautologies if taken to support any given premise beyond the logical implication of a First-mover. It’s why, for example, most serious philosophers don’t accept it as a valid deduction of evidence for God. It’s simply a logical position. One which may or may not be true.

        I see that the New Atheists base much of their arguments on the same premises as theists, but because theirs are rooted in science they do give first-order credibility to their arguments over those of metaphysical supposition. So, really, unless you give a concrete example that New Atheists have failed to apply their logic as you say they have, I have a hard time buying into it.

        I am interested in what you have to say here. So let’s consider the arguments of the Four Horsemen. Instead of collective attitudes about God, let’s narrow down the focus to one of the New Atheists, Daniel Dennett. Give me a concrete example of where Daniel Dennett, a trained philosopher, makes an invalid, illogical, argument regarding his beliefs about the existence of God.

        We’ll ignore Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins for now, as they are not trained philosophers and are more apt to make simple rhetorical mistakes. We can be less forgiving of a properly trained philosopher.

        I await your repsonse.

      6. If we have to take everyone at their word, then why are you an Atheist? After all, plenty of people have said they have personally experienced God in various ways and forms, and if we have to take people at thier word, then we also have to accept that God exists since he is interacting with people.

        If you disagree and say this is somehow all in their heads, then you aren’t taking them at their word, which is rude.

        So, God exists and your Atheist argument is wrong.

        By the way, Sophistry is actually defined as a clever but ultimatley fallacious argument, not nessisarily one that is intentiobnally meant to deceive. I know, I’ve just checked the very same soruces you used.

        Here is what Merriam Websters said.

        Simple Definition of sophistry
        : the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false
        : a reason or argument that sounds correct but is actually false

        There is nothing about deceit here.

        In act, most Dictionaries don’t use the term “Deciet”, and most that do use the word “Especially” with it, makign it not a requirement.

        Here is a link.

        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sophistry

        But that;’s the point, you’re post here is fallacious and misleading. I am saying your argument is not logically sound because it is an attemot at beign clever, but htat is ultimately based on faulty assumptions and a bad premise, and that it collapses under scrutiny, an dyou want to turn this into me callign you a brazen liar and insultign you personally.

        Meanwhile, you see no real problem with insulting peoepl whp oppose Transgenderism, because you can only see one side of the issue.

        It’s really ironic that, in a bid to tell me off for how rude and wrong I am, you end up proving my point. I’m not being rude, but you are being a Sophist.

        You even use the term “Transophobe” and try to actually use peopel who refer to peopel by their Birth Gener as somehow villains, who are just like me for not agreeing with the validity of yoru argument. This is a perfect picture of Sophistry for two Reasons. The first beign that calling your arguments logically untenable has nothign to do with Transgenderism, which is abotu what constitutes identity and gender. The secodn problem is, peopel who continue to call Trans peopel by their Birth Gender aren’t just ignorant fools or evil Bigots, they simply don’t agree that you can change gender or are born in the wrong gender. Villifuing people who don’t see things your way is in no way going to prove them wrong, it’s just polarising the situaton for no good Reason. What you’re in essense sayign is, the Transperson has more inherant value than they do, and their beleifs need to change becuse you said so.

        Calling peopel nasty names, liek “Transophobe”, doens’t really advance any cause, it just belittles peopel and uses emotional language to dismiss any concerns they hve as valid by depictign them s monsters, which doens’t convince them they are wrong, it just lets you have a fantasy that you a orally superior whilst removing from you the actual need to address their concerns as if they are real peopel who actually care. But then again, you probably think they dont’ car, they are just filled with hatred for Trans people. Becaus eyou can’t rasp that someone can disagree and stll not be motivated by Hatred and ignorance on this issue.

        The same applies to your claims aut how Sophistry is defined.

        This is the real problem, too. You want yoru side to be right, be it on Transgenderism or on Atheism, and likely on other political or spcial isues, too, and will demonise anyone who dares quesiton our Rationale or thinks your case may not be very strong.

        But how is attacking peopel who don’t share yoru views without trying to udnerstand their prspective Logically defencable? And how is any argument for Atheism that is buolt on a bad rpemise really supportive of Atheism as a conclusion?

        In the end, you just created an argument to back up a desired conclusion, with an emphasis on tryig to outwit Theists, rather than trying to make an actual logical case from a well thought out philosophical reflection of the topic.

        The point here is this, saying you are wrong is not the same thign as personally attackign you, and calling your argument sophistry is ot calling you a Liar who intentionally decived people. It’s sayig you don’t have any real argument and the claism you use to back up Atheism are fallaceous.

      7. We take people at their word about what they purport to believe with respect to some belief proposition or another. We don’t necessarily take their word about *what* the nature of reality really is according to *whatever* it is they purport to believe.

        See, what you’re doing is saying what a person says is an absolute truth about the nature of reality — so if we believe them about this is what they choose to believe that we must also believe their reality as well. This is just plainly, demonstrably wrong. Numerous times throughout you have said I employ poor logic, and yet you make statements like this where I have not.

        And then the fact that you hold this standard for others, in essence saying that if I take someone at their word that God exists then I must believe in God and, moreover, be aware of it too is astounding to me. This is what being intellectual dishonest looks like. You’re trying to hold others to your imagined standard of what you think intellectual honestly looks like but then fail to apply it to yourself — either that or you have admitted you *don’t care to allow anyone to have the benefit of the doubt about what they purport to believe. Which would make any discussion with you a huge waste of time.

        But to answer your accusation: No, and no I don’t. I typically will take people at their word that they believe God exists. That’s just called being polite.

        As I quoted the ODies and ODE and you quoted a generic online dictionary, I think my reference takes precedence over yours. Now, as you may know, the ODE is the official standard in the English-speaking world. Additionally, your claim that I’m being deceitful here is just blatantly false. Again, you’re trying to twist your own use of sophistry onto me. As I said, I’ve taught the subject. You’re not going to get away with it. Especially since you’re doing such bang up job of it.

        See modern usage 1.1 for clarification.

        http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/sophist

        And see here:

        http://www.oxfordreference.com/search?q=sophism&searchBtn=Search&isQuickSearch=true

        You see, because the primary sources disagree with your source, you’re claiming I’m being disingenuous by not presenting the terminology according to your liking. Well, the sources override your understanding of the term. Update your understanding. The standard usage of the term does imply deceit or a superficial and/or fallacious argument. None of my arguments have been superficial or fallacious in the least. Mainly because I haven’t presented any formal arguments. But if you extend the accusation of sophistry to my reasoning, nope, it does not hold up.

        And, no, you have not meant the term according to its etymological origins, because you never once referred to its classical usage. You merely lobbed the accusation at me that I was invoking sophistry and was being a sophist.

        And you completely failed to read the part where I said if you didn’t drop this nonsensical run-around and answer the question I asked you to address, then you’d be blocked for rudeness and not following the rules of conduct I asked you to abide by. You then when ahead to make a show of how you gladly ignored my request, doubled down on your falsified accusations, and did the very thing I asked you not to do. I find your level of disregard for others and your complete lack of etiquette disconcerting.

        Congratulations, you are the winner of getting oneself blocked for completely counterproductive reasons!

      8. You said:

        “…you’re post here is fallacious and misleading.”

        False. The screen-caps are proof that I do not fit the definition of sophism and so am not guilty of sophism or sophistry. Sorry, you’re just wrong here. Unless you’re going to argue that the screencaps do not support what I said in my defense. You will, of course, because you refuse to accept the fact that you’ve been effectively rebutted. That’s not my problem.

        “I am saying your argument is not logically sound because it is an attempt at being clever, but that is ultimately based on faulty assumptions and a bad premise, and that it collapses under scrutiny, and you want to turn this into me calling you a brazen liar and insulting you personally.”

        I hate to break it do you, but you nowhere demonstrated fallacious reasoning or bad premises on my part. You merely stated I made such but did no formal demonstration of how my p’s did not support my conclusion. You merely took issue with the conclusion, which you didn’t like.

        Again, because you disagree with an argument’s conclusion doesn’t mean the argument is employing bad logic. This is why I continually asked you to provide a formal argument I can assess and critique rather than just lobbing accusations that I’m relying on poor logic.

        Further, you claiming I’m making an attempt to be clever for the sake of being clever only, as part of my sophistry, is name calling. You’re using a PEJORATIVE term to critique my character and not my argument. That’s an ad hominem. So I called you out on it and you became offended.

        Either you can present an argument against my case or you cannot. So far, all you’ve offered is name calling and no counter argument to my premises.

        But you say I have no real argument that theism is a less rational position than atheism. But that wasn’t my whole argument. That was merely my premise.

        My evidence (or support in this case) was that the metaphysics invoked to imply (or intuit) the existence of God — or which could support belief in said God — is nowhere in evidence. This observation supports my claim.

        You have not demonstrated the required metaphysics to falsify my claim by pointing out people believe they have genuine metaphysical experiences. That’s neither a proof nor a proper objection. It’s anecdotal.

        If you are referring to the initial cartoon as not being a real argument, it wasn’t intended as one. It’s merely more support for my premise. In order to defend the intuited metaphysics required for the theist to believe in God, they will be required to make illogical statements like that shown in the cartoon in order to feel justified in their position. That’s another side-effect on relying on bad logic.

        My reference to the cartoon was to show that if this type of logic pervades modern apologetics, which I would argue it does, then the superfluous nature of having to defend such bad logic would, just to be clear, automatically make theism less rational than atheism which has no need to make any such superfluous suppositions beyond what we observe in real physical world. There is no presuppositional metaphysics involved beyond the base state of the reality we observe. In order to falsify this claim, you’d need hard evidence justifying a theistic metaphysics that counters my claim. You did not offer any such support and thus have no real objection.

        That said, my main argument was more nuanced. I said regarding the belief proposition that God exists is, given our scientific understanding and our current understanding of the natural world, posits an additional deity and accompanying metaphysics which needs to be rationally defended which atheism does not. Thus theism is superfluous by comparison to atheism. It doesn’t mean theism cannot be true. It just means it’s the less rational position given what we know about the physical universe thus far.

        I admitted that upon better information the atheistic position could be proved mistaken, and that would effectively void it being the more rational position. But that has not happened.

        What I’m not saying is that theists are less rational in terms of how they rationalize. What I’m saying is that they are siding with a demonstrably less rational position, given what we know, and thus it is not wrong to say atheism is the more rational position.

        I’ve clarified this more than once and you still insist on conflating a rational position with the ability to rationalize. Until you can tell the difference, I do not think you can progress in your understanding of my position. Which is why you keep going in circles and keep, mistakenly I might add, claiming my argumentation is unsupported.

        Meanwhile, you see no real problem with insulting people who oppose Transgenderism, because you can only see one side of the issue.

        Let me ask you something: Do you insist on calling all Native Americans “Red Skins”? If not, then you know the reason misgendering people is wrong.

        It’s really ironic that, in a bid to tell me off for how rude and wrong I am, you end up proving my point. I’m not being rude, but you are being a Sophist.

        Not really. You’re being rude. You’re doing what Internet trolls do. And when I’ve asked you not to do it, you’ve made it a point to do it even more, as if that will somehow correct the mistake. In the end, I can only assume you are genuinely an idiot or else you are deliberately trying to troll me. I think it’s the latter, but the jury is still out on the verdict.

        Calling people nasty names, like “Transophobe”, doesn’t really advance any cause, it just belittles people and uses emotional language to dismiss any concerns they have as valid by depicting them as monsters, which doesn’t convince them they are wrong, it just lets you have a fantasy that you a morally superior whilst removing from you the actual need to address their concerns as if they are real people who actually care.

        I did not insinuate you were a transphobe. I said your denial of accepting someone else’s definition of themselves is the same bad reasoning as those who misgender trans folk. People who misgender the trans community is the same faulty reasoning those make who claim being gay is a choice. The fact that the terms homophobe and transphobe apply to those people bothers you should tell you something about why it’s necessary to call people out who deny the definitions an entire community uses to describe themselves.

        That said, I’m not claiming you’re an atheist-phobe, because that would be silly. The claim that I’m a sophist lays in exact opposition to my claim that I am a rationalist and a pragmatist, which by definition negates any accusation of sophism since sophism is to pragmatism what theism is to atheism. They are polar opposites and the philosophies are not compatible.

        So, as a pragmatist, your accusation of sophistry is insulting. Absolutely. It’s like ignoring the gender a trans person wants to be identified as and then identifying them by the wrong gender and using the incorrect prefix. That’s why I stated you’re being rude. You are. You’re just blissfully unaware of it. If you don’t think such denial is rude, look up the term “dead-naming.” And after having read about that, if you don’t believe I fit the definition of a pragmatist, you’d better have a goddamn good reason why my identifying as such is not justifiable.

        And, I’m going to warn you right off the bat, that’s not an argument you are well enough equipped for. I don’t say that to be rude. But your confusion over what sophism is and means and how the term is applied shows you’re simply not ready to a serious philosophical discussion of pragmatism. I know I sound like an elitist snob here, and I’m sorry. But I’ve had enough serious philosophical debates to gauge where people are at in the discourse, and you’re hovering around the Philosophy 101 level of understanding. You’ll need to get to the graduate course in the subject you wish to debate me on before I’ll find you convincing. That’s just me personally. But unless you have a PhD in philosophy or theology, you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

        I may be a layman in these areas, but I am not without experience. My numerous publications, some of which are peer reviewed, are evidence of this. My book The Swedish Fish, for example. Here I argue against a theist I am well acquainted with and in order to ensure I wasn’t talking out of my hat I had another theist, with even greater credentials, fact-check and review my work. Now, all academic publications require peer reviewed work in order to be published for a very good reason, and I held myself to the same standard for a popular work.

        That’s the level of argumentation you will have to aspire to if you want to be able to claim that my arguments are unsupported or fallacious.

        This is the real problem, too. You want your side to be right, be it on Transgenderism or on Atheism, and likely on other political or social issues, too, and will demonize anyone who dares question our Rationale or thinks your case may not be very strong.

        I’m really not sure what you mean here. And, frankly, I don’t care. I never claimed atheists were right on every subject. I was making a very specific argument here. One you failed to fully understand. Or if you did, you didn’t adequately raise and direct opposition to it. In all your talk about my stance on competing rationality being wrong, you never showed me how the theist position was not at least as rational as atheism, given my claim that accepting unsupported metaphysics would be irrational.

        You’re claim that people “experience” or have a “personal relationship” with God, regardless of whether it’s true, would not be direct evidence for the metaphysics of theism. It would be second-hand accounts of a person’s subjective experiences. And when it comes to formal argumentation, that’s not good enough to counter my claim that accepting unsupported claims is less rational than being prudent and not accepting unsupported claims.

        The objection that atheism is also an unsupported claim, because one cannot prove God does NOT exist is the double negative referred to in the cartoon, and that was why I used the cartoon. It shows that atheism, given a charitable understanding of it, does not make unnecessary assumptions. Given this understanding, it stems to reason that theism, which does make unnecessary assumptions about an unsupported reality, would be slightly less rational.

        I reiterate this all here because in all this back and forth you clearly missed the point. And my argument is, in fact, a logical one with a logical premise and a valid conclusion given there are no worthy objections to my premise. You did not find fault with my premise, only my conclusion. You failed to offer a counter-argument. You then began making charges against me of sophistry because I tried to show you how you were distorting my position by not understanding it. That’s not my problem, it’s yours. You need to do better. It’s that simple.

  6. I apologize my misunderstanding.When I first saw your reply, I thought you say “That isn’t a positive claim, but it’s one about the alternative hypothesis”, so I wrote this line:

    “And false claims are also positive claims. “It won’t be rain today” is positive claim as much as “It will be rain today.” So your assertion that atheism is not a positive claim is false.”

    But when I read again, I find I’m wrong. So please forget that line, and focus on my main argument.

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