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Is Atheism Dead? An Interesting Read.

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Just saw this article posted in a Facebook philosophy group I'm a member of, and I wanted some feedback on it from more thoughtful atheists. This seems to be the place for that, so here goes.

https://rightsmarts.com/atheism/

A strong case is made that atheism is dead as an intellectual endeavor, with some bold claims about science.

A few brief claims:

  • Science has shown the universe is designed.
  • Science has shown life is designed.
  • Abstract concepts like logic, morality, and mathematics has shown that there's more to existence than the physical.
  • God believers built science.

There's a lot more, but those are some of the bolder claims off the top of my head.

I'd love to read some thoughts on this subject from an atheist perspective.

Do you feel as confident in atheism as you ever have, or has it slipped any?

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22 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

A few brief claims:

  • Science has shown the universe is designed.
  • Science has shown life is designed.

Neither of those are true.

I often wonder why people think their god approves of them lying like this.

22 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

Abstract concepts like logic, morality, and mathematics has shown that there's more to existence than the physical.

Arguably true. Depending on the definition of "abstract", "concept", "existence", "physical", etc.

But utterly, painfully, irrelevant. The existence of mathematics does not prove gods exist.

22 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

God believers built science.

Some people who developed science believed in various gods and some didn't.

And, again, it is completely irrelevant if they did. 

22 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

Do you feel as confident in atheism as you ever have, or has it slipped any?

What does "confident in atheism" mean? There are still people who don't believe in gods, so yes there is still atheism.

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13 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

Just saw this article posted in a Facebook philosophy group I'm a member of, and I wanted some feedback on it from more thoughtful atheists. This seems to be the place for that, so here goes.

https://rightsmarts.com/atheism/

A strong case is made that atheism is dead as an intellectual endeavor, with some bold claims about science.

A few brief claims:

  • Science has shown the universe is designed.
  • Science has shown life is designed.
  • Abstract concepts like logic, morality, and mathematics has shown that there's more to existence than the physical.
  • God believers built science.

There's a lot more, but those are some of the bolder claims off the top of my head.

I'd love to read some thoughts on this subject from an atheist perspective.

Do you feel as confident in atheism as you ever have, or has it slipped any?

This is a common dishonest assertion from theists, the first three claims are blatantly false the last while true has no bearing on the subject because at the beginning of science most centers of education were religious institutions and the people who began to investigate the natural world were not only members of religion due to ministers, preachers, and priests being among the few who had higher education but they also were among the few people with the free time to investigate. They started out expecting to see the hand of god in everything but realised that nothing pointed to a god and religion has been back peddling ever since.  

Atheism is growing fast and BTW as an atheist I do not claim there is no god, I simply do not buy what theists are selling... 

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18 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

A strong case is made that atheism is dead as an intellectual endeavor

The biggest challenge I have with this is that atheism is not itself an intellectual endeavor. It’s simply the lack of belief in god or gods. 

In much the same way, bald is not a hair color. Not collecting stamps is not a hobby and not playing golf is not a sport. 

Many intellectuals are atheists. Many scientists are atheists. Atheism itself, however, is not an ideology or belief system. 

In short, the foundational premise here betrays a deep misunderstanding and flawed framing of the situation, which makes any claims rooted in this false premise only correct by accident. 

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40 minutes ago, ADeepThinker said:

A strong case is made that atheism is dead as an intellectual endeavor, with some bold claims about science.

I'm drawn to a more Humanist stance (which is weak atheism) precisely because it appeals intellectually. Setting aside the supernatural (until it can be naturally and scientifically observed) is the only intellectual format worth pursuing, imo. 

The other big problem with this statement is that it assumes all atheism is the same. Personally, I think strong atheism isn't supported by rigid methodology, but not all atheists believe there is (are) no god(s).

edit: cross-posted with iNow, who said it better - most atheism is a lack of belief. 

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52 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I'm drawn to a more Humanist stance (which is weak atheism) precisely because it appeals intellectually. Setting aside the supernatural (until it can be naturally and scientifically observed) is the only intellectual format worth pursuing, imo. 

The other big problem with this statement is that it assumes all atheism is the same. Personally, I think strong atheism isn't supported by rigid methodology, but not all atheists believe there is (are) no god(s).

edit: cross-posted with iNow, who said it better - most atheism is a lack of belief. 

Agnosticism would be the pure scientist's view, I think, because it is the view that matters of religion are presently unknowable but one is not committing oneself to shutting the door on it. To do so would assign a belief that a deity does not exist.

Edited by StringJunky

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Is atheism dead? Probably not. There are a number of atheists around.

The most serious threat to atheism is the philosophical defense of dualism. Most atheists adhere to the idea that everything is physical (either material, energy, or other physical manifestations of physical laws such as gravitational waves or forces). Formerly called materialism, physicalism is alive and well in many spheres.

However, there is a growing number of thought experiments designed to challenge physicalism. Perhaps the most well known is What Mary Didn't Know, which was first written by Frank Jackson in 1982. These arguments, now called qualia arguments, are designed to demonstrate that non-physical things (called qualia) exist.

Currently there is an arms race between physicalists, who poke holes in these arguments, and rationalists who attempt to design ever more bullet proof arguments. The latest attempt is called What Is It Like To Be Human (instead of a bat). The full argument can be found at https://www.newdualism.org/papers/L.BonJour/BonJour-MARTIAN.pdf

Generally speaking, the arguments go thus: Person X has never experienced Y. However, person X knows every physical fact about Y. Yet, person X doesn't know what it's like to experience Y. Since person X knows every physical fact about Y, but doesn't know what it's like to experience Y, the "what it is like" experience (called qualia) is non-physical (spiritual?)

Most arguments against qualia revolve around the idea that something new is learned but that it is information that does not contradict physicalism. For example, a person may know everything about a chair (material, size, shape, etc.) and not know that it's purpose is for someone to sit on.

In my opinion, this objection does not hold. For example, a very skilled obstetrician may know everything about pregnancy but, if he is a man and has never experienced pregnancy himself, he will always lack certain information that no purely physical description of the event could ever hope to provide him with. Thus, dualism is affirmed.

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16 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

Thus, dualism is affirmed.

Even if so, I'm not sure how that relates to atheism. Unless the argument is somehow equating qualia with gods.

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3 minutes ago, Strange said:

Even if so, I'm not sure how that relates to atheism. Unless the argument is somehow equating qualia with gods.

If one non-physical thing is known to exist, than many non-physical things may also exist. This opens the realm to the idea that the human body is a dual-reality construct consisting of a physical aspect (body) and a non-physical aspect (spirit?). This doesn't affirm God, per se... for all we know Buddhism is the reality of the universe. But it does tend to undermine the atheist position.

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2 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

If one non-physical thing is known to exist, than many non-physical things may also exist.

Or they may not.
The word "may" in your sentence is very important.

Also, we know that non physical things like "Thursday" exist.

They don't say anything about the existence of God.
 

Edited by John Cuthber

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10 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

Or they may not.
The word "may" in your sentence is very important.

Also, we know that non physical things like "Thursday" exist.

They don't say anything about the existence of God.
 

Thursday is a physical thing consisting of 24 hours. Hours are physical too.

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23 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

Also, we know that non physical things like "Thursday" exist.

They don't say anything about the existence of God.

1

"SweetThursday"...

Edited by dimreepr

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14 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

Thursday is a physical thing consisting of 24 hours. Hours are physical too.

OK, pick something that you think isn't physical.

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43 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

If one non-physical thing is known to exist, than many non-physical things may also exist. This opens the realm to the idea that the human body is a dual-reality construct consisting of a physical aspect (body) and a non-physical aspect (spirit?). This doesn't affirm God, per se... for all we know Buddhism is the reality of the universe. But it does tend to undermine the atheist position.

I'm not sure how it undermines the atheist position (not that there is "the" atheist position, I imagine there as many positions as there are atheists).

If someone doesn't believe in gods, why would that be changed by the (rather obvious) existence of non-physical things. Does it undermine the idea of not believing in Santa Claus, or not believing in a small teapot orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter?

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14 minutes ago, Strange said:

I'm not sure how it undermines the atheist position (not that there is "the" atheist position, I imagine there as many positions as there are atheists).

If someone doesn't believe in gods, why would that be changed by the (rather obvious) existence of non-physical things. Does it undermine the idea of not believing in Santa Claus, or not believing in a small teapot orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter?

Strictly speaking, one should never totally close ones mind to such ideas. One should say "The probability is infinitesimal but not zero".

Edited by StringJunky

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2 hours ago, ADeepThinker said:
  • Science has shown the universe is designed.
  • Science has shown life is designed.

Big fat lies are a speciality of religion. This is in the tradition of "let there be light". 

Actually, it's religion that's on the wane, not atheism. Science can now detect things that were unimaginable a few years ago. But there's still no sign of a god. And the god of the gaps is losing gaps to sit in. But of course, if people WANT to believe something, they will believe it.

The main difference between science and religion is that science doesn't require the intensive indoctrination of children, to get people to believe in it. You just have to turn on your tv, or phone, or car, to see science working. Praying on the other hand is definitely hit or miss. 

You can pray as much as you like, for your telly to switch on, but it's still better to use the remote. 

Edited by mistermack

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For the scientifically-minded, I resurrect this post by cantankerous, but sharply clever DrRocket:

Quote

When you address the question on a personal level you are free to formulate your own definition of God. It is on that definition that the outcome of your personal decision process hinges.

 

If you define God as some sort of entity that not only can but with some regularity does intercede in natural physical processes, then there is a great deal of objective evidence that no such God exists. In fact, the existence of anything that regularly upsets what we have come to expect as the orderly processes of nature is antithetical to science, which seeks to uncover and explain that natural order in terms of predictive models. Without that order there can be no science.

 

Science seems to work rather well. So any concept of God or any religious tenets that directly contradict science as buttressed by experimental evidence is clearly indistinguishable from superstition. Superstition is, essentially by definition, wrong.

 

If you define God as some sort of entity that exists outside of the natural universe and does not regularly disrupt the operation of that universe according to the principles discovered by science, then science and religion are disconnected, and neither has anything to say about the other. In this situation neither science nor logic can be brought to bear on the question of the existence of God. The order of the universe could be mere happenstance or it could be the result of God. The question is logically undecidable.

 

You are free to reach your own conclusion, or forego a final conclusion. But do not deceive yourself that whatever conclusion you reach is based on rigorous logic, unless you formulate a sufficiently narrow definition of God to be able to apply empirical data. In any case you should recognize that, despite the marvelous progress of science, there is a lot that we don't know. If we knew everything the satisfaction and outright fun of scientific discovery would be lost.  (My bold)

 

 

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1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

Agnosticism would be the pure scientist's view, I think, because it is the view that matters of religion are presently unknowable but one is not committing oneself to shutting the door on it. To do so would assign a belief that a deity does not exist.

Excellent, SJ.    Pure science necessitates a mind that considers all possibilities .. which is why science progresses so slowly if at all.  Our pride wants us to think we KNOW IT ALL.

 

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12 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Strictly speaking, one should never totally close ones mind to such ideas. One should say "The probability is infinitesimal but not zero".

I don't think I was ruling anything out. The only definitive statement I made was for the existence of non-physical things (eg dreams, qualia, pink, Thursdays ...)

I'm not sure that not believing in gods days anything about their existence 

5 minutes ago, coffeesippin said:

Our pride wants us to think we KNOW IT ALL.

Speak for yourself :) 

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2 hours ago, Moontanman said:

This is a common dishonest assertion .....

"In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in allegiance to the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own." ~ thomas jefferson     It's unfortunate that Jefferson seems to have exposure only to priests of religions outside of the true religion.  

James 1:27 King James Version (KJV)

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

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8 minutes ago, Strange said:

I don't think I was ruling anything out. The only definitive statement I made was for the existence of non-physical things (eg dreams, qualia, pink, Thursdays ...)

I'm not sure that not believing in gods days anything about their existence 

This is semantic really, but to say  "I don't believe"' shows a commitment to a pov, whereas saying "I don't know" is an agnostic approach that is non-committal.

Edited by StringJunky

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6 minutes ago, Strange said:

I don't think I was ruling anything out. The only definitive statement I made was for the existence of non-physical things (eg dreams, qualia, pink, Thursdays ...)

I'm not sure that not believing in gods days anything about their existence 

Speak for yourself :) 

Pride is universal in the wretched human condition, and pride DEMANDS us to think we know it all, whether we bow down to pride and worship it is another thing.  

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2 minutes ago, coffeesippin said:

Pride is universal in the wretched human condition, and pride DEMANDS us to think we know it all, whether we bow down to pride and worship it is another thing.  

Sounds like you are at a pulpit.

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1 minute ago, StringJunky said:

This is semantic really, but to say  "I don't believe"' shows a commitment to a pov, whereas saying "I don't know" is an agnostic approach that is non-committal.

Well, I agree it is a point of view. In the same way as saying I can't understand the appeal of golf. But golf still has its fans and some people believe in gods. 

I didn't say gods don't exist just that some people don't believe in them. 

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