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Do Theists and Atheists Fight Fair?


zapatos
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I disagree. To say that many atheists use materialistic arguments as I have is not making an equivalence it actually implicitly acknowledges there is a difference. I am aware that there are atheists that do not use materialistic arguments but I have not heard from that subgroup on this site, have never experienced that subgroup making explicit arguments against theism that I would consider "fighting unfair" and don't think it is too much of an error to focus on the group that generates the most attention.

 

 

 

That's an odd question to ask. I don't remember making this claim. Why are you begging the question? Materialistic arguments and explanations are perfectly good when the explanation is causally adequate. The argument becomes unfair when the claims outstrip the evidence and is driven more by prior commitment than knowledge.

 

It's a conclusion based on your argument against atheistic materialistic arguments. You appear to reject only the ones which disagree with a theistic argument that has still survived.

 

 

I did not see how the reasons for accepting these ideas was important. Mississippichem offered them as past examples of where physical only explanations won out over the popular claims of the theist community. He was hoping to establish that scientists have a better track record than theists. But in the case of a round Earth, theists recognized the earth was round long before it was factually established. I don't see how the motivation is significant in this particular argument unless I misunderstood his point, and perhaps I did.

 

Who were these theists who recognized the spherical earth? Did no theists propose a flat earth after this?

 

Anyway, the motivation is significant because you argue against an atheistic materialistic position, but do not establish a theistic materialistic position. Is there such a thing? If theists recognize atheistic materialistic explanations, why are only some of them objectionable to you? There was a time when each had been proposed, but taking your position, it was wrong of them to continue pursuing the proof of that hypothesis, because it rejected a theistic explanation. And yet, in each of those cases, that would have been wrong.

 

 

No I am not because we are primarily discussing the tactics of each side. Thanks for the invite but I don't wish to stray too far from the stated topic.

 

You were the one who brought the examples up and defended your post as being on-topic. Do you now agree it was not?

 

In the case of germ theory, it was theists, in support of their fundamental belief that God is the instigator of life and thus life comes from life, set out to demonstrate that the popular non-theistic notion that life can occur spontaneously was incorrect and also that those theists who believed that disease was a result of demons was also an incorrect doctrine of the tenants of their religion.

 

Mississippichem was attempting to make the point that theism has a horrible track record with respect to predictions, but one must cherry pick examples to make this point. It is common for someone who does not understand how or why something happens to assign it to a higher power and so it will be easy to cherry pick those falsehoods because they are generally ill-conceived ideas born out of ignorance. to show that it is cherry picking, we can also look at the record of published scientific research, where recent reviews of published conclusions indicate the papers are wrong more than 50% of the time (here, here and here). The point being that any group can be shown to have a poor track record, including the scientific community, but to be fair, when dealing with the bold claims of theism, and here we are speaking of how and why this universe came to exist, how and why life on earth came to exists, and wether or not this the cause is active in our realm spiritually so anything more, like for example how some ancient group of people explained lightning 3000 years ago seems mostly irrelevant. On the major points, the universe and life in it, the atheist has nothing over the theist, available evidence seems better explained by a creative force. Despite this, when it comes to debate tactics, thought many individuals do, on the whole, neither side seems to fight fair.

 

Arguing that science gets it right is not the same as arguing that science is always right in every statement are not the same thing. Instead of a straw man to rebut the claim, you could come up with a list of examples where the purely theistic approach ever worked for physical explanations, or admit that it was the materialistic approach that gave us the answer, even if there were refinements along the way.

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The superiority of positivistic, materialistic, scientific reasoning over its alternatives can clearly be demonstrated. Since scientific explanation accounts for things the way people normally do in all everyday and pre-theoretical contexts, the sheer predominance of positivistic reasoning in our everyday lives shows that this is the type of thinking that we find rational. Transcendental speculation is accepted as a valid form of reasoning only on an ad hoc basis when this odd sort of inference is required to prop up some unprovable, equally peculiar assumption which has already been accepted as true prior to all rational argument.

 

So for example, if I want to explain how turning the light switch to 'on' turns on the lights, in this ordinary, everyday context I used the same positivistic style of explanation which science insists upon. That is, my account relies only on observable, measurable, and testable entities and processes, operating according to the already-known and understood laws of physics, and I refer to nothing more in my explanation than is absolutely required to account for the data in positivistic terms. If I were to allow myself to supplement the deliberately sparse, tangible elements of my explanation by positing invisible fairies, ghosts, spirits, and magical processes operating between and around the visible causes and scientific processes, I would open up an infinite regress of reasons and would never be able to know where I should stop manufacturing hypothetical entities to intercalate among the real elements of the explanation, so I could never even manage to offer a finite explanation of how the lights turn on, which would ultimately paralyze all human reasoning, discussion, thinking, etc. So positivistic methods are not only the nearly universal methodology we employ in all our everyday reasoning, but they are also necessary to cut down on the potential length of explanations so that we can get on with life.

 

But as soon as we open the door to lightning being caused not just by differences in electrical charges between clouds and the earth, but instead start talking about Thor being angry, or Jehovah taking vengeance on unbelievers with his mighty thunderbolts of revenge, then how can we ever find a rigorous reason for stopping our positing of new invisible hypotheticals in the explanatory process? And if we cannot rigorously call a halt to this infinite regress, then we can never explain to anyone how to turn the light on in the room, open the door, eat his food, brush his teeth, etc., and human rationality and society collapse under the weight of mystical nonsense. So a religious approach to explanation is impossible.

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Materialistic arguments and explanations are perfectly good when the explanation is causally adequate. The argument becomes unfair when the claims outstrip the evidence and is driven more by prior commitment than knowledge.

 

So then you agree that materialistic arguments are always good and fair, because you say that they are always causally adequate.

 

I'm not sure it is possible from our vantage point to demonstrably attribute anything to a cause that transcends our universe.

 

Or do you disagree with yourself? Either you can prove a non-materialistic cause or to the best of our knowledge they are never necessary. You can't deny both.

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Mississippichem was attempting to make the point that theism has a horrible track record with respect to predictions, but one must cherry pick examples to make this point. It is common for someone who does not understand how or why something happens to assign it to a higher power and so it will be easy to cherry pick those falsehoods because they are generally ill-conceived ideas born out of ignorance. to show that it is cherry picking, we can also look at the record of published scientific research, where recent reviews of published conclusions indicate the papers are wrong more than 50% of the time (here, here and here). The point being that any group can be shown to have a poor track record, including the scientific community, but to be fair, when dealing with the bold claims of theism, and here we are speaking of how and why this universe came to exist, how and why life on earth came to exists, and wether or not this the cause is active in our realm spiritually so anything more, like for example how some ancient group of people explained lightning 3000 years ago seems mostly irrelevant. On the major points, the universe and life in it, the atheist has nothing over the theist, available evidence seems better explained by a creative force. Despite this, when it comes to debate tactics, thought many individuals do, on the whole, neither side seems to fight fair.

 

As

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So then you agree that materialistic arguments are always good and fair, because you say that they are always causally adequate.

 

No, he's saying when they are causally adequate. But there are no objective criteria given; without that, one is free to hold one theory to a different standard than another. One might argue that this isn't fair.

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Mississippichem was attempting to make the point that theism has a horrible track record with respect to predictions, but one must cherry pick examples to make this point. It is common for someone who does not understand how or why something happens to assign it to a higher power and so it will be easy to cherry pick those falsehoods because they are generally ill-conceived ideas born out of ignorance. to show that it is cherry picking, we can also look at the record of published scientific research, where recent reviews of published conclusions indicate the papers are wrong more than 50% of the time (here, here and here). The point being that any group can be shown to have a poor track record, including the scientific community, but to be fair, when dealing with the bold claims of theism, and here we are speaking of how and why this universe came to exist, how and why life on earth came to exists, and wether or not this the cause is active in our realm spiritually so anything more, like for example how some ancient group of people explained lightning 3000 years ago seems mostly irrelevant. On the major points, the universe and life in it, the atheist has nothing over the theist, available evidence seems better explained by a creative force. Despite this, when it comes to debate tactics, thought many individuals do, on the whole, neither side seems to fight fair.

 

As swansont pointed out, I was not asserting that science has succeeded to date in all of its endeavors. Your argument that I am cherry picking the accuracy record for religion is only superficially relevant. Yes, the theistic explanation has been overturned countless times but even more significant is the fact that not one purely theistic, spiritual, or metaphysical explanation can be attributed to any physical phenomena; and all said "spiritual phenomena" like ghosts, faith healing and the like conveniently lack physical explanations. Saying that I can't make a scientific argument against a metaphysical claim may appear to be fair, but it really just shields the weaker argument from being found lacking.

 

Theism doesn't make any testable hypotheses. This has already been discussed in the thread, but it's worth noting that just because theism lacks a critical logical pillar (testability), doesn't mean it gets a free pass on that part of the exam. That's how theism doesn't fight fair. It tries to make physical claims without physical evidence, then when theism gets called on it they claim that atheists are holding the bar too high and are comparing theists against an unfair standard. In debates, theism is allowed to creep into the realm of science, but when science encroaches on theism there is always faith or metaphysics as an out.

Edited by mississippichem
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As swansont pointed out, I was not asserting that science has succeeded to date in all of its endeavors. Your argument that I am cherry picking the accuracy record for religion is only superficially relevant. Yes, the theistic explanation has been overturned countless times but even more significant is the fact that not one purely theistic, spiritual, or metaphysical explanation can be attributed to any physical phenomena;

 

But why should one expect reoccurring physical phenomena to have anything but physical causes? I don't have a problem with using absence of evidence as an indicator of an issue so long and the absence is for an event where one would expect the evidence to be. The Greek and Roman religions are falsified for this reason. There is no Mount Olympus, no Hades, no Thor and his lightning, no Atlas, etc. etc. The Muslim religion hangs together only because the earliest manuscripts are kept secret so that it is not outright falsified in similar ways. The Judeo-Christian Religion does not make many claims of repeatable events, instead they are mostly historical or personal or outright singularities that likely will never happen again. If one wishes to falsify Theism, one must go after the actual claims being made rather than claims that don't apply, to do otherwise is cherry picking or begging the question. To be seen as fighting fair, go after the claims that apply.

 

and all said "spiritual phenomena" like ghosts, faith healing and the like conveniently lack physical explanations. Saying that I can't make a scientific argument against a metaphysical claim may appear to be fair, but it really just shields the weaker argument from being found lacking.

 

You have to go after the doctrine, even theistic doctrine makes specific claims about the physical world. Theism remains in play because these claims remain in play. The major ones are this universe, life in this universe, the soul, a personal relationship with the creator, etc.

 

Theism doesn't make any testable hypotheses. This has already been discussed in the thread, but it's worth noting that just because theism lacks a critical logical pillar (testability), doesn't mean it gets a free pass on that part of the exam. That's how theism doesn't fight fair.

 

This is not true. Theism claim the universe was created by a powerful intelligent creator, and that there is no other way. It claims there should be evidence that the universe had a beginning and will have an end. It claims life was created and that there is evidence of creation in the universe and life in it. It claims that life has body and soul and there should be evidence that soul is unique from body. It claims there is a path to a personal relationship to the creator. These are all testable hypotheses.

 

It tries to make physical claims without physical evidence, then when theism gets called on it they claim that atheists are holding the bar too high and are comparing theists against an unfair standard. In debates, theism is allowed to creep into the realm of science, but when science encroaches on theism there is always faith or metaphysics as an out.

 

Many theist have this behavior to be sure. It is not theism or atheism that does not fight fair but as you say many theists and atheist don't fight fair. Atheist don't help much in the debate when they give the theist a way out by raising physical challenges that they can't even resolve. The fundamental issue is that the two sides are at an impasse on the root issues but many on both sides are not content with that so they attempt to get the upper hand by extending their arguments in ways that are not seen as fair.

 

The superiority of positivistic, materialistic, scientific reasoning over its alternatives can clearly be demonstrated.

 

Before scientific reasoning can make any sense, these alternatives must first be established. Science relies on logic and rationality for its own reasoning. As previously argued, science is subordinate to these alternatives.

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But why should one expect reoccurring physical phenomena to have anything but physical causes?

 

Why should one expect nonrecurring physical phenomena to have anything but physical causes?

 

edit to add: Theists, for centuries, did posit non-materialist reasons for physical phenomena. Why did they not expect physical causes?

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To highlight the indiscipline of religious thinking and the resultant irrationalities it can wind up accepting by its methodology, it might be helpful to set out the principles of scientific reasoning in contrast. This will also help clarify exactly what we are debating in this topic.

 

Scientific reasoning is characterized by its adherence to the following principles, none of which is followed in religious inference:

 

1) Use as the data base on which theorizing is developed only data which are empirically testable, objectively measurable, and open to observation by every potential rational observer.

 

2) Make inferences on the data base only by using ordinary logic and mathematics.

 

3) Insist that all results be replicable by other observers before they are accepted as valid.

 

4) Never posit the existence of any hypothetical entities unless they are rigorously required to make sense of the data and their rational theoretical structuring.

 

5) Never posit the existence of any theoretical entities which are of an unusual nature unless you have first rigorously established that positing nothing of a more ordinary nature will satisfy the demands of the data and their theoretical structuring.

 

6) Always try to weave any new data into the existing and most ordinary explanatory paradigms first before adopting any novel paradigms to explain new phenomena.

 

7) Always continue to subject any established theory to rigorous challenges by newly emerging data or alternative hypotheses to ensure that it remains subject to critical pressure from surrounding advances in knowledge. Be prepared to revise or abandon the existing theory if the data require it rather than trying always to explain away any contrary data. (Popper's falsifiability criterion)

 

It should be obvious that the type of intense discipline embodied in these rules of scientific inference produces a sharply critical form of reasoning which at every stage guards itself against unjustified hypotheses. The fact that religious thinking obeys no such rules, and in fact seems to prefer exactly the opposite kind of 'thinking' at every point, should make clear how undisciplined and thus how unreliable it is.

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Why should one expect nonrecurring physical phenomena to have anything but physical causes?

 

I wouldn't. I exclude them for a different reason since singularities are not generally considered testable and the context was around testability. I don't see how this clarification adds anything to the argument though.

 

edit to add: Theists, for centuries, did posit non-materialist reasons for physical phenomena. Why did they not expect physical causes?

 

For the same reason theists and atheists overreach today and posit explanations they can't confirm. Both theists and atheists have prior commitments and many frame everything according to their commitment regardless if it is valid or not. Some overstep the boundary to make persuasive arguments that sound great at the time but don't pan out in the long run. Again both sides are guilty.

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Cypress, name one thing that religion describes in a repeatable, verifiable way, better than science. Just name one thing, as far as i know religion does not describe any part of the natural world in an accurate manner. Religion never does anything but make claims, religion never backs up it's claims with anything but more unsubstantiated claims and threats of punishment if you don't believe.

 

I think it's not that atheists and theists fight unfairly, the very comparison is totally unreasonable. It's like one side is saying apples are good and goes on to describe the various types of apples but the other side is saying some invisible totally unknown fruit is better and if you believe them you will agree they are telling the truth but you never get to see that fruit you have to have faith it exists, to demand proof of the existence of the fruit cannot be tolerated...

 

In science to demand proof is part of the process, in religion it's blasphemy, in science new evidence can come in and refute the current theories in religion dogma rules, the contradictions can become so thick that only someone who is brain dead could ignore them but it remains true as far as religion is concerned, the two things are simply not comparable.

 

BTW, someone said something about lightning being discovered as part of the natural world and not controlled by Zeus or God or what ever supernatural being you believed in at the time 3000 years ago. Actually that was more like 300 years ago and it caused quite an uproar. At first theists said it was sacrilegious to thwart gods retribution but later when it became apparent that anything with a lightning rod was protected from "gods wrath" but the bell towers of churches were still being blasted by lightning the Church gave in and started putting lightning rods on churches.

 

Science always wins and religion always has to retreat away from it's stance that religion can explain the natural world. i expect this to continue as long as religion insists on trying to dictate the natural world.

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I wouldn't. I exclude them for a different reason since singularities are not generally considered testable and the context was around testability. I don't see how this clarification adds anything to the argument though.

 

Even if this were true, theistic arguments are not testable. If testability is a criterion, there is no reason to entertain a theistic argument.

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I find it incredible to accept your claim that no theistic arguments are testable. In the specific case under discussion though mississippichem specified testability as a criteria and thus the reason for inclusion. But not all truth claims require testability as a criteria. A singularity is just one of many cases. I would hope that just a little thought would lead to to several others.

Edited by cypress
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I find it incredible to accept your claim that no theistic arguments are testable. In the specific case under discussion though mississippichem specified testability as a criteria and thus the reason for inclusion. But not all truth claims require testability as a criteria. A singularity is just one of many cases. I would hope that just a little thought would lead to to several others.

 

 

A singularity is a mathematical concept, not a real object, even Hawking no longer thinks of a singularity is a real object. Again i ask you to name one thing that religion describes in a testable verifiable way, just one thing, I can't think of any, can you? I am not surprised science is wrong occasionally but name something religion got right...

Edited by Moontanman
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A singularity is a mathematical concept, not a real object, even Hawking no longer thinks of a singularity is a real object. Again i ask you to name one thing that religion describes in a testable verifiable way, just one thing, I can't think of any, can you? I am not surprised science is wrong occasionally but name something religion got right...

 

Historical singularities are common. I will not fall out of my friends tree house and break my arm as an 9 year old more than once.

 

Theists posit that humans are body and soul. Mind and matter. I find this to be a testable posit.

 

Religion predicted the universe had a beginning. Even Einstein got this one wrong.

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Again i ask you to name one thing that religion describes in a testable verifiable way, just one thing, I can't think of any, can you?

1)6,000yo universe.

2)human genetic bottleneck of 1 member 6,000 years ago.

2)global flood destroying all but 2(or 7) of each kind of animal and 8 humans 4,000 years ago.

3)genetic bottleneck of all animals to 2(or 7) members 4,000 years ago.

4)genetic bottleneck of humans to 8 members 4,000 years ago.

5)stopping of earth's rotation(sorry, but forgot the date for this one).

6)existence of a mountain from which one can see all of the nations of the earth that existed 2,000 years ago.

7)2,000+ year old Jews walking the earth today.

8)empty graves broken from the inside 2,000 years ago.

 

That's off the top of my head. Ok, the last two aren't exactly falsifiable, but they are verifiable.

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I find it incredible to accept your claim that no theistic arguments are testable. In the specific case under discussion though mississippichem specified testability as a criteria and thus the reason for inclusion. But not all truth claims require testability as a criteria. A singularity is just one of many cases. I would hope that just a little thought would lead to to several others.

An untestable singular event can never be determined to actually have occurred. What use is it to me to entertain the possibility when there is no logical way to ever know?

 

Science limits itself to testability out of pragmatism. What good is a description, a hypothesis, an explanation, if one can never know if it's true or false? It can't be used practically, because untestability implies no predictive power. It can't be used for its explanatory powers, because it has none.

 

An untestable truth claim cannot claim to be the truth, because it cannot ever be demonstrated to be the truth.

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1)6,000yo universe.

2)human genetic bottleneck of 1 member 6,000 years ago.

2)global flood destroying all but 2(or 7) of each kind of animal and 8 humans 4,000 years ago.

3)genetic bottleneck of all animals to 2(or 7) members 4,000 years ago.

4)genetic bottleneck of humans to 8 members 4,000 years ago.

5)stopping of earth's rotation(sorry, but forgot the date for this one).

6)existence of a mountain from which one can see all of the nations of the earth that existed 2,000 years ago.

7)2,000+ year old Jews walking the earth today.

8)empty graves broken from the inside 2,000 years ago.

 

That's off the top of my head. Ok, the last two aren't exactly falsifiable, but they are verifiable.

 

 

You got me ydoaPs, a very poor choice of words on my part, my mind was thinking but my hands did not get the message, I should have said was shown to be confirmed not testable, my fault... An accurate description of of the material world is in my mind not an unreasonable prerequisite for God, if the evidence of the world we perceive, the only world we can perceive is unfair evidence to use in a conversation about reality with a theist I'll stick to atheist...

 

Historical singularities are common. I will not fall out of my friends tree house and break my arm as an 9 year old more than once.

 

Theists posit that humans are body and soul. Mind and matter. I find this to be a testable posit.

 

Religion predicted the universe had a beginning. Even Einstein got this one wrong.

 

I am curious cypress, are you willing to put the veracity of religion on the line with the idea that religion predicted the universe had a beginning? Some theories are looking at the idea of no big bang and quite possibly no real beginning. If and i know this is a big if, if evidence was to turn up that indicated we were wrong and there was no "beginning" would you say "uh oh" my religion has been debunked? If not then it's not logical to hang religion on any point of science since they are all subject to change as new evidence comes in... This is basically what happened when the church hung it's hat on the earth as the center of the universe with everything orbiting the earth. All the "wise" men said it was the truth so the church confirmed it and wove it into the religion with the perfect spheres and unchanging stars but in the end it turned out to be unsupported by the evidence.

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An untestable singular event can never be determined to actually have occurred. What use is it to me to entertain the possibility when there is no logical way to ever know?

 

You might get a better understanding of the motivation behind raising singularities by asking mississippichem as that was the poster to whom I was addressing when swansont broke in. For my part I note that it makes little sense to complain in an argument with a theist that many of the arguments involve singularities. As it pertains to this thread, those who debate theists will find that they generally can't avoid singularities since the theist will often raise them in the context of historical evidence. To claim that singularities need not be entertained since they are untestable is to suggest that historical events are not worthy of consideration and this is simply untrue. Scientific tests are not the only source of truth, in fact science as a source of truth seems to be subordinate to other sources.

 

Science limits itself to testability out of pragmatism. What good is a description, a hypothesis, an explanation, if one can never know if it's true or false? It can't be used practically, because untestability implies no predictive power. It can't be used for its explanatory powers, because it has none.

 

Truth can be discovered in other ways and through these other sources of truth some of these descriptions, explanations and claims can be verified. Claiming or implying that scientific tests are the only way to establish truth is one primary way many atheists don't fight fair.

 

An untestable truth claim cannot claim to be the truth, because it cannot ever be demonstrated to be the truth.

 

False, I went to the store this evening and I can prove it without any repeatable test. I can prove it with sworn corroborated eye witness testimony. There is more than one path to truth.

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You might get a better understanding of the motivation behind raising singularities by asking mississippichem as that was the poster to whom I was addressing when swansont broke in. For my part I note that it makes little sense to complain in an argument with a theist that many of the arguments involve singularities. As it pertains to this thread, those who debate theists will find that they generally can't avoid singularities since the theist will often raise them in the context of historical evidence. To claim that singularities need not be entertained since they are untestable is to suggest that historical events are not worthy of consideration and this is simply untrue. Scientific tests are not the only source of truth, in fact science as a source of truth seems to be subordinate to other sources.

Many historical events have testable consequences, such as photographs or written accounts, archaeological evidence, and the impacts they have on other events that follow.

 

Truth can be discovered in other ways and through these other sources of truth some of these descriptions, explanations and claims can be verified. Claiming or implying that scientific tests are the only way to establish truth is one primary way many atheists don't fight fair.

What other ways might these be?

 

False, I went to the store this evening and I can prove it without any repeatable test. I can prove it with sworn corroborated eye witness testimony. There is more than one path to truth.

Why do eyewitness accounts not qualify? They are unreliable, certainly, but a testable consequence of your visiting the store is that others will recall that you went.

 

A test does not imply that I must perform an experiment with beakers and test tubes. It merely implies that I have a hypothesis -- "cypress went to the store" -- some predictions based on that hypothesis -- "people will remember cypress was at the store" -- and some ways of testing those predictions -- "so, do you remember cypress going to the store?"

 

I could similarly make other predictions, such as "cypress would appear on the store's surveillance footage," which would be easily tested by obtaining it.

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Positivist methodology rather than just testability more appropriately distinguishes between the strict, self-correcting form of reasoning that science uses -- which guards against the introduction of hypothetical entities beyond what methods accepted by all people would endorse -- and religious thinking. Science requires operational testing to establish the reality of whatever it posits or uses as the building blocks of its theories, and specifying an operation for detecting something means showing what an experimenter would have to do in order to establish its presence. Since there is no way NOW to specify operationally how we could determine whether Christ really rose from the tomb or was born from a virgin, or whether an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent being governing the universe exists somewhere, then we can see that the concepts of religion are not operationally definable and so are not sufficiently secure to propel any inferences -- as long as we are thinking carefully and insisting on a positivistic, operationalistic, scientific form of reasoning to protect us against introducing nonsense into our theoretical projections.

 

Adopting the seven rules of careful reasoning I mentioned earlier is not just a matter of taste but is essential if you want to think carefully and not posit more than the data will bear. Since religion doesn't follow those rules, it can only be careless in its inferences. And since we reject this type of carelessness in our everyday reasoning, our normal, rational behavior impeaches our ability sincerely to endorse any religious system.

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Adopting the seven rules of careful reasoning I mentioned earlier is not just a matter of taste but is essential if you want to think carefully and not posit more than the data will bear. Since religion doesn't follow those rules, it can only be careless in its inferences. And since we reject this type of carelessness in our everyday reasoning, our normal, rational behavior impeaches our ability sincerely to endorse any religious system.

 

Strictly adopting the seven rules would only answer questions of what particular physical events proceeded but would not answer how some event came to be the way it is or why. Historical sciences would be nearly impossible if constrained by these rules. Atheists who adopt your suggested aproach would therefore be silent on the question of a creator. Since many atheists are not silent, is it fair to say they are overstepping scientific reasoning?

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Max Weber pointed out that reasoning in the humanities and social sciences was much less reliable than in the natural sciences, since arts subjects relied on 'Verstehen,' or 'understanding,' as their way of approaching phenomena. Thus it is impossible to prove that 'Macbeth' is 'really about' the problem of fate and free will in the same way that you can prove that the melting point of iron is X, or that the 'real causes' of World War I were nationalism, militarism, and secret alliances in the same way that you can show that insulin is necessary for the metabolism of glucose. Here what is going on is the construction of accounts which permit something to be understood rather than predicted or causally explained by a repeatable formula for its operational recreation.

 

But since religion is asking us to believe that some X exists rather than simply to understand in the best way some array of accepted data in front of us, it seems fair to insist that it meet scientific criteria in demonstrating its existence claims rather than just the humanistic and social science criteria of 'understanding.'

 

While existence claims, and especially existence claims about the reality of some extraordinary entities, require extremely good evidence and rigorous proof before they can be accepted, there is no burden of proof on people to deny those claims unless they can rigorously disprove them. Thus if I tell you that it is raining in India, you might readily believe me even without seeing any evidence, but if I tell you that a brontosaurus lives in my closet, you would either insist on the most rigorous demonstration of the reality of that assertion or you would regard it as false, since extraordinary hypotheses require extraordinary proof to be given any credence at all. If I really had to disprove the existence of the brontosaurus in my closet to you and everyone else, and everyone else in the world had to disprove to me the existence of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, magic angel dust, genies in bottles, mind reading, levitation, etc., or we would have to concede its possibility, then our ontology would become so cluttered with unrealities, and our reasoning would fall into such an infinite regress of demands for disproving everything that anyone could imagine, that all rationality would cease.

 

So atheists don't have to prove anything: The burden of proof lies entirely with theists to prove their hypothetical entity exists or concede that it doesn't.

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I'm not sure what your point is marat. Atheists and theists make use of scientific reasoning from time to time and when it is applied appropriately it can explain what happens under known conditions. But there are many lines of questions that science is not presently equipped to answer and some, by their nature, can never be adequately answered by the scientific method.

 

Furthermore in describing what the theist is arguing and what a theist must do in that argument, your bias is to place the theist in the worst possible position and in doing so this is another way that many atheists don't fight fair. Why should the theist be required to make a scientific argument for a line of questioning that you know very well cannot be answered by science? Why not instead ask the theist to make scientific argument only for the physical tenets and a philosophical argument for the metaphysical tenets?

 

It is also incorrect to claim that the atheist remains exclusively in the realm of scientific inquiry. Many atheists hold to a wolrdview that is not supported by scientific knowledge. The worldview many hold to is metaphysical it and is supported only by belief, only by a prior commitment.

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I'm not sure what your point is marat. Atheists and theists make use of scientific reasoning from time to time and when it is applied appropriately it can explain what happens under known conditions. But there are many lines of questions that science is not presently equipped to answer and some, by their nature, can never be adequately answered by the scientific method.

 

Furthermore in describing what the theist is arguing and what a theist must do in that argument, your bias is to place the theist in the worst possible position and in doing so this is another way that many atheists don't fight fair. Why should the theist be required to make a scientific argument for a line of questioning that you know very well cannot be answered by science? Why not instead ask the theist to make scientific argument only for the physical tenets and a philosophical argument for the metaphysical tenets?

 

It is also incorrect to claim that the atheist remains exclusively in the realm of scientific inquiry. Many atheists hold to a wolrdview that is not supported by scientific knowledge. The worldview many hold to is metaphysical it and is supported only by belief, only by a prior commitment.

 

 

Atheists hold a metaphysical view of the world? Again i ask you cypress, name one thing about the natural world described more accurately by religion than science can provide. Name one actual thing of the natural world best described by religion. I will say it again, an accurate description of the natural world is not too much to ask of a God, I think it's regions insistence on being all knowing and all seeing that is destroying religion not science. Religion is obviously wrong about it's contention of having all the answers, when it comes to the natural world religion has no answers only claims of have faith and believe, asking for evidence is against the rules of religion, I think questioning God's answers is blasphemy, questioning the answers of science is how it works...

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