Tag Archives: Atheism

Doubling Down

Johnny lived in a sorted neighborhood. There was all kind of mischief all the time. Johnny’s roommate one morning offered Johnny a bet. “I will bet you ten bucks that your car is not outside, someone stole it.” There had been a rash of car thefts recently and Todd, Johnny’s roommate, was serious about the bet but easily using it to comment on how bad things had gotten that such a bet could actually be made.

Johnny had worked late last night and parked his car near a street light. If he were a car thief, he would have been in bed by that time and wouldn’t pick such a visible target. Still, you never know. Johnny believed his car was right where he’d left it. Ten bucks is ten bucks though and, having thought about it, Johnny knew the odds at that point were about even.

Though Johnny genuinely believed “My car was not stolen” rather than “My car was stolen”, Johnny did not take Todd’s bet. Doubting either proposition wasn’t a factor. Johnny didn’t believe one because he doubted the other. He believed them both. He just had more compelling reasons for thinking one way versus the other.

Johnny is said to have a doxastic belief and an epistemic belief about “My car was stolen”. It should be clear that it is possible to hold many dispositions toward the same state of affairs including contradictory ones yet not be thinking incoherently. Johnny genuinely believed “My car was not stolen”, for one set of reasons, and that “My car was stolen”, at the same time but for another set of reasons. Johnny has a “propositional attitude” in contrast to his other beliefs about the state of affairs about which the proposition is speaking.

It is then not always telling to suppose we know what a person believes merely by asking what their conclusion is; after all, truth be told, Johnny believes more that his car wasn’t stolen than he believes otherwise, but how would Todd know, Johnny didn’t take the bet.

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“In And Around The Lake”

Each side of The Great Debate has its annoying particulars. For Theists, it’s Presuppositionalism. For Atheists, it’s the nonsense of lacking belief. I don’t know which is more irksome either.

Atheists, there’s a difference in lacking a belief in God and lacking belief about God. For instance, I lack belief in the existence of Santa Claus, and I believe Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I can believe you exist and not believe in you. I can believe I know the ideas associated with deity and not believe in them.

The point of labeling one’s self or others is to be clear, not to preemptively suggest you don’t have to justify yourself.

Atheism is simply a way of saying one sees the world without deity and an Atheist is one who would reject “There are deity” and accept “There are no deity”.

A Theist would accept “There are deity” and reject “There are no deity”.

Agnostics would reject “There are deity” and reject “There are no deity”.

An Ignostic would say, “Bad question!”

Apatheists would accept “There are deity” or “There are no deity”, but think the truth of either is irrelevant, a waste of time.

There’s never just one proposition where “contraries” exist; binary, mutual exclusivity. The first is “There are deity” and its contradiction is “There are no deity”. So again, an Agnostic will reject both being the case. An Atheist doesn’t at all reject “There are no deity”. So, the Atheist may well not be disposed to “There are deity”, but doesn’t at all lack a disposition to its contradiction.

If you’re going to take part in The Great Debate, be honest first and foremost, and then follow established conversational etiquette such as Grice’s maxims of quantity, quality, speaking only to what you know, and speaking only to what you genuinely believe.

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It Happens …

One of the most mistaken aspects of reasoning in the Great Debate is over aspects of propositions, and namely, what denial is.

Example: “This is a square.”

We could deny this and mean a couple of things. First, we may lack sufficient reason to agree that “This is a square.” We may actually have sufficient reason to believe that it isn’t true that “This is a square”, though we may not know what else it actually is. Finally, we may actually know better. “This is really a rectangle.”

People usually mistakenly translate the denial of a proposition as the belief that its contradiction is true. So, mistakenly, denying “God exists” means one thinks “God does not exist”. This is not the case.

When denying “This is a square”, it’s clear that there’s no contradictory belief to hold. There’s no opposite to “square”. This implies denial applies to how the case is presented. In other words, “This is a square [is the case]”. Denial applies to this property of the proposition. Denial is then as follows:

Correct: [It is not true that] This is a square [is the case]

Incorrect: This is not a square [is the case].

Don’t see a difference?

If the proposition is “Steve’s T shirt is green” and I deny it, it’s not because I believe “My T shirt is not green.” It’s because I am not wearing a T shirt. Hence, denial is correctly “[It is not true that] Steve’s T shirt is green [is true]”. This shortens to simply “That’s not the case.” And consequently, I would deny the contradiction, “Steve’s T shirt is not green”.

The mistake happens honestly because of “negative facts”, contradiction, and “The Excluded Middle”. Folks mistake denial for contradiction. Above, with “This is a square”, insufficient reason and reason to doubt cause denial rather than contradiction. When two ideas cannot both be true at the same time, and cannot both be false, there’s a contradiction. With contradiction, something either is or isn’t. Either there is a God or isn’t, either it is a square or isn’t, either my T shirt is green or it isn’t. These have no “middle” ground. But as we see with my T shirt, denial isn’t contradiction though contradiction can cause denial.

So denying that “God exists” doesn’t mean a person believes “God does not exist”. It means they deny there’s reason to believe “God exists [is the case].” It happens that Atheists, Agnostics, and Theists alike, can all deny the proposition “God exists” yet have various beliefs about the existence of God.

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The Simple Truth

Common language makes sense when talking about things like knowledge and truth, but if it is inspected, people tend to get uncomfortable, fast.

For instance, it makes sense to ask, “How do you know that’s true?”, and the answer will be along the lines of “Because of x, y, and z.” Ask what knowledge is and you get something like “Knowledge is all of the things we know.”, as if that answers something. Ask about truth and folks mean “the way things are.”

None of that makes sense, however. If knowledge is the collection of everything we know, then truth must be what we know. This makes “How do you know that’s true?” an absurd question. If something is true, it is by definition, something we know, at least in the general sense. The appropriate question then is, “Why do you think that’s the case?” And when one seeks to answer with some, any, explanation, one is justifying a belief. Simple thoughts on “Truth is that which corresponds to reality” are revealed as meaningless, considering it begs the question of “What corresponds?” and how one would know when “correspondence” is reached? For certain, “truth” would be the test for correspondence in that case, which leads right back to a simple fact of justification. Too, if truth is “the way things are”, then substitution works wonders! “The way things are corresponds to reality”; or in other words, reality is reality. When discussing these things, we must be thoughtful and make sense, and common use doesn’t, it turns out to be absurd in most cases.

Finally, when we realize all of the above, it shouldn’t shock anyone hearing that there’s no genuine difference between saying something is true and something is justified.

However, for many, and not just laymen, such a remark unleashes something akin to a swarm of the hornets’ nest, or the frantic sprawl of a fireant colony on three alarms.

After years of interrogating theories of knowledge and looking at our use of these terms, it can only suffice to say that knowledge is all the stuff we think is true, and what’s true are only our ideas about what the case is, and stating what we think the case is, or even believing what the case is, requires justfication, warrant, in every case from belief to doubt to reserving judgment.

Just a thought.

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The Silly Things People Say!

The formal set of fallacies to Presuppositional arguments that “The existence of the laws of logic proves the existence of God.”

The argument is formally as follows:

p→q :. ~p→~q, q :. p

In English, (i) if the existence of God explains the laws of logic, then if there is a God, there are laws of logic, therefore if God does not exist, the laws of logic do not exist, (ii) and since the laws of logic do exist, God exists.

i. Denying the antecedent
ii. Affirming the consequent

And if you’re a Presuppositionalist and needed the English version, stop clamoring on about the laws of logic! Logic is a formal description of how folks think, doesn’t tell us anything about reality, doesn’t entail truth, and is artificial, entirely a product of reason, not gods; ask a Logician!

“Of these two conditions, the logician as such is concerned only with the first [validity]; the second, the determination of the truth or falsity of the premises, is the task of some special discipline or of common observation appropriate to the subject matter of the argument.”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/formal-logic

“When the conclusion of an argument is correctly deducible from its premises, the inference from the premises to the conclusion is said to be (deductively) valid, irrespective of whether the premises are true or false.”

Ibid

“The bottom line is that logic alone can tell us nothing new about the real world.”

https://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/philosop/logic.htm

“Traditionally logic was considered a normative description of the workings of an ideal mind.”

http://www.filosoficas.unam.mx/~morado/RLH.htm

“[The principles of logic] are non-contingent, in the sense that they do not depend on any particular accidental features of the world. Physics and the other empirical sciences investigate the way the world actually is.”

http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/logic/whatislogic.php

“The principles of logic … are derived using reasoning only, and their validity does not depend on any contingent features of the world.”

Ibid

“… the proof of the validity of these inferences depends upon the assumption of the truth of certain general statements concerning relatives.”

http://www.peirce.org/writings/p41.html

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There Are Still Presuppositionalists?!!!

All Presuppositionalists are Foundationalists, but not all Foundationalists are Presuppositionalists.

Ultimately, Presuppositionalism fails because it essentially asserts that the foundation of knowledge is assumption; not just any assumption, but the correct one, which is to say, God.

It fails exactly because suppositions are by definition, baseless, and consequently then, God is no better or worse than any other supposition, but the Presuppositionalist really means that the ultimate foundational belief isn’t a presumption at all but instead is a warranted belief, a justified belief, an objective one.

So if in fact there is a justifiable, foundational belief, then “God is it” also falls prey to Foundationalism’s tendency toward infinite regressions of justification.

“God is it” turns out to be meaningless because being a justifiable proposition, it begs the question, why?

As it turns out, no theory of knowledge requires a foundation. What matters is that our beliefs have warrant. Warrant simply means that we are entitled to some beliefs, and others require a clear line of thinking leading to the concluded belief.

For instance, if one suggests experience is the foundation of knowledge, then preceptions give rise to warrant, not our ability to explain why we believe what we do. So, when we consider other minds, our own existence, the reliability of reason and our reasoning, and so on, these are not presuppositions. They all have warrant, to the extent that suggesting we merely suppose them isn’t just absurd, but unjustifiable; just because we could be mistaken isn’t grounds to suggest we are, and we aren’t merely assuming these things.

One may say that “you are presupposing because you don’t know and can’t prove these things are true!”

This person, however, has lost contact with the reality of what these terms all mean. For example, that I exist is warranted rather than presumed. Warrant is either from justification or entitlements. Knowledge is in the broadest sense, “things that we believe and can’t yet doubt”. In other words, warranted beliefs.

So, I know I exist, I know there are other minds, I know tomorrow will be like today was like yesterday, and so on.

I do not suppose these things, I do not even suppose the truth of these things; because truth is indistinguishable from warrant.

Just a thought.

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Tell The Truth!

“We had an idea because of what we were observing. We tested it. It turns out that our idea is consistent with our observations.”

Epistemologically speaking, how does one tell that this statement is coming from a Scientist talking about reality or a Theist talking about theology?

The subjects are different.

The ideas are different.

The tests are different.

However, there is no difference at all in the fact that warrant exists for any ideas that are consistent with one’s experience of reality.

The quote above can be legitimately stated by either Scientist or Theist. This describes all means of justification. What specific tests we may employ are in the end empirical; which is to say, “by way of experience”. What specific tests we employ are by definition, objective; to falsify or satisfy an existing idea. What specific tests we employ does not entail any sort of truth or any sort of “way of knowing” that escapes the situation that truth is simply an idea that seems to be getting along with how we perceive the world, no matter how temporarily it enjoys that title, “true”.

Just a thought.

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Defacto!

Some say there’s a default position in the great debate and there is; yours!

1) There can be no evidence for deity, therefore, Atheism isn’t based on evidence.

2) Logic doesn’t entail truth, therefore, Atheism isn’t proved by logic.

3) Logical conclusions are accepted and rejected outside of logic, therefore, reasonableness is the basis of Atheism.

4) Reasonableness entails to experience, intuition, risk, and utility, therefore, Atheism relies on the rational and irrational.

5) Since there is no evidence for God, then there can only be a sense about God, therefore,  Atheists have a different sense about God than others.

Now for the chest-puffing Theist, re-read all of the above and change “Atheism” with “Theism” and “Atheist” with “Theist”.

For both balking currently, simply answer this:

There are two universes identical in every way, except one has a God and the other doesn’t. You find yourself in one of these universes. How do you tell which?

You might say that no universe can exist without God, but you’d realize you have no basis of fact for that even in theory. You might say that no universe requires a God at all in order for things to be just as they are, but you’d realize here too, there’s no basis of fact. Eventually you’d also realize that even if you discovered how universes come to be, it still wouldn’t settle the question. You realize you’re going to have to find another way to solve the problem.

Since both universes are identical, each has life, morality, logic, maths, sunrises, and cute little bunnies, you realize there’s no feature of reality that can help with the problem. You scratch you head, then you say …

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Two Universes Reprise

In the “Two Universe” scenario, where we’re given two identical universes that only vary in that one has a God and the other doesn’t and we’re asked which is the one we’ve been thrust into, the most significant response isn’t in being able to answer the question.

We can discard responses that simply demand that no universe is possible without God, and those that claim that no universe requires God.

The damning response is noting that even if there is a God, He is irrelevant given the fact that we have to ponder this scenario at all; “nothing” and “god” manifest in reality identically too.

Secondarily, that god-talk is meaningful in both universes, this necessarily means that what makes it meaningful isn’t the existence of God; god-talk has nothing to do with God that we can tell.

Just a thought.

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I’ve Got A Feeling …

It’s not just me this occurs to but also to the theorists:

Belief begins as a non cognitive sense about something in the world. That’s like the belief that “things fall when dropped” or “there will be a tomorrow” or “similar things always happen”. That not all beliefs are consciously deliberated leads Philosophers and Psychologists to define belief as an attitudinal disposition toward a state of affairs. This pre cognitive aspect of belief coupled with its seeming foundational role in cognitive conclusions leads these same thinkers to the idea of Doxastic Involuntarism; the idea that we cannot choose what we believe. It seems the role of reason and evidence isn’t as decisive as some would like. Its role seems to be to flesh out what is already believed, or to provide reasons that may cause us to feel differently than we do; the effort being about building confidence, which is again, about feeling, about sentiment.

There are times when we cannot make logical sense of something, however, we still are disposed to thinking a certain way about it. There are times when we have a perfectly logical idea of what could be going on. However, and likely we’ve all experienced this before, until we both think and feel the same way about things, we don’t generally say that we believe what we’re thinking. In both situations, the foundation seems to be sentiment, pre cognitive pursuation. Disposition isn’t consciously determined.

Ideally, truth isn’t correspondence with reality but an accord stuck between the appearance of states of affairs and what we think and feel about them; ultimately hinging on the reasons we ought feel one way versus another, in terms of establishing warrant.

Just a thought.

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