Let's talk about atheism (WALL OF TEXT IN OP DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU)
Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:22 AM
This is going to be a long freaking post. It's confusing and boring and I don't blame anybody if they don't care.
I saw a guy on another forum make an argument about the intellectual validity of atheism that struck me as interesting.
Some background first: keep in mind that most atheists who have actually thought hard about their beliefs and aren't teenagers who are doing it to make their parents mad would actually be categorized under agnostic-atheism or what could colloquially be referred to as "weak atheism". That is to say, these atheists fail to accept positive claims regarding the existence of gods but stop short of claiming that they know (hence, "agnostic-atheism") that no gods exist as that is a separate positive claim and, as most would posit, a claim that is unproveable/unknowable. Some atheists would claim that they believe that there are no gods which could be construed as a faith based position depending on the kind of word games one feels like playing. Gnostic atheism, on the other hand, is a form of atheism that positively claims that there are no gods and, as just outlined, has its own inherent logical problems.
Anyway, this person claimed that such a stance (atheism = non-acceptance of god claims) is intellectually and philosophically worthless. Using that definition, chairs, can openers, trees, and dogs are atheists. Furthermore, inanimate objects and non-human animals expend the same amount of intellectual effort (that is to say, no intellectual effort at all) to arrive at its "atheism" as a human would. Therefore, atheism is inherently lacking in value. As such, the only way for atheism to contain any intellectual validity would be for it to be the specific claim that there are no gods, as non-human animals and inanimate objects are incapable of making such a claim. This claim, of course, would trap an individual espousing it into making a positive claim on the non-existence of gods and would bring all the other logical problems I just discussed in to play.
My response to this claim was that his original analogy was moot because non-human animals and inanimate objects are incapable of receiving, processing, or comprehending a positive claim at all. This is important, because the ability of a human of sound mind to comprehend and process a theistic claim (or any claim made in the history of the universe or that will ever be made) in the first place requires an exertion of at least a baseline amount of intellectual effort. Because non-human animals and inanimate objects are completely incapable of exerting any kind of intellectual effort whatsoever (remember, they are incapable of receiving, processing, or comprehending a positive claim at all), then a human arriving at any kind of conclusion (acceptance, non-acceptance, rejection, what have you) requires more intellectual effort than non-human animals and inanimate objects are even capable of. This directly contradicts his original claim that non-acceptance of theistic claims by humans, non-human animals, or inanimate objects is the end result of the same intellectual process (again, which is to say, no process at all)
Furthermore (ugh yes it's not over yet), the notion that weak atheism (remember, "non-acceptance of god claims") is intellectually invalid because it is the position assumed by non-human animals and inanimate objects would have unusual consequences if one was to apply such a concept. If a human's failure to accept a positive theistic claim is devalued because it requires the same intellectual effort as a rock's failure to accept a positive claim, then the failure to accept any positive claim ever is equally devalued. My failure to accept the positive claims of a Holocaust denier, flat earther, or vacuum cleaner salesman, no matter how ludicrous, should therefore be automatically devalued and intellectually invalid.
Okay, I'm done. Feel free to poo on my post now.
Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:03 PM
Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:10 PM
Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:27 PM
Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:22 PM
Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:44 PM
Stay thirsty my friends.
Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:02 PM
i've been reading john shelby spong lately. he's an episcopalian minister (i think that's right) who's been dismissed by establishment christians as a "far left liberal" theologian who's dangerous to the cause. we could go into an entire thread on his works but one thing he's talked about that's interesting to me is the idea that there is no such thing as an atheist in that sense that if god is beyond conception (as he/she/it must be to fully fill the form of the conception of what god must be [an old greek arguement i think]) then the god an atheist does not believe in is not god, but a culturally-defined god, as the terms with which we use to describe god come from human symbolism in the form of language and religious liturgy. "i don't believe in god" is a false premise according to spong because what you're not believing is is not god, it's religious interpretations of something for more ineffable
i haven't teased this out one bit to try to get something more substantive and tangible out of it though so it's just a thought
Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:23 PM
We will all have our chance to see the other side. Choose wisely while you are.
Stay thirsty my friends.
You've got about a 1 in 81,000 chance.