25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 11)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 11) January 27, 2020

Heard any stupid Christian arguments lately? Here are some more to slap down. For the first post in this series, go to part 1.

Stupid argument #35: Christianity is pleasing.

True/false is such a harsh dichotomy. Aren’t there other metrics we can use to illuminate Christianity’s role? For example, Christianity can be pleasing. Apologist Greg Koukl asked, “Wouldn’t it be more satisfying” for God to ground morality? (audio @16:25)

Huh? You want to know if some aspect of reality would be more satisfying if God was involved? Who cares? If Koukl is trying to brainstorm possible new realities, why bother with ones that don’t exist? Living as a character in your favorite movie might be more satisfying, but it’s not reality. And if we all knew that God existed, listing reasons why that’s a good thing would change nothing.

This is the Appeal to Consequences—something is correct or not based on whether it would lead to good or bad consequences. And it’s pointless speculation until he’s shown us that God exists. (More here.)

This apologetic stance reminds me of the commercial for HeadOn (“Apply directly to forehead”), a product that implies that it will relieve headaches but doesn’t actually make a single health claim. I heard of someone seeing a tube of HeadOn on a night table and commenting on it. The reply: “I know it doesn’t work, but it works for me.”

This is related to Stupid Argument #1: The consequences of atheism are depressing.

Stupid argument #36: Nature is intelligible.

Apologist Frank Turek demands* that the atheist explain these challenges: “Why is there evidence at all? Why is this universe rationally intelligible? . . . Why is the world rational to begin with?”

Who says the universe is rational? It’s only as rational as it is, which isn’t particularly rational. It’s certainly isn’t simple or easy to understand, as anyone who’s gotten a doctorate in physics, chemistry, biology, or any other science will tell you.

Turek looks at science’s conquests and dismisses them as not that big a deal, as if they were common sense. No, science has fought a long uphill battle to learn things that are very much counter to common sense: atoms and quantum mechanics, DNA and cells, galaxies and black holes. Science still has plenty on its plate—questions about dark matter, abiogenesis, extraterrestrial life, epigenetics, consciousness, the multiverse, prime numbers, and much more—which is yet more evidence that declaring the universe “rational” is an inept approximation.

What fraction of the realities of nature do we understand now? What fraction will we? Do humans have the ability to understand everything? This certainly doesn’t look like a reality with a god who designed a simple and obvious universe, smoothing the way for us to understand it all. That is what you get from the Genesis creation stories, but that’s not the way reality actually is. (More here.)

When Turek imagines that reality is easy to get our minds around, he defeats another argument he likes to try, “Science can’t explain everything; therefore, God” (Stupid Argument #20a).

In fact, nature’s complexity likely encouraged religion. There must be a powerful force behind an unpredictable nature—likely an anthropomorphic one. Storms and famines must be caused by someone; if we could only figure out what pleased and displeased this great being . . . (h/t Birdman Bryant).

See also: “A Universe That’s Understandable Points to God,” but How Understandable Is the Universe?

Stupid argument #37: Joshua made the sun stand still.

There’s the story about how NASA scientists were running calculations forward and backward in time to check where all the celestial bodies were and would be. They came across a missing day that could only be resolved by factoring in the sun stopping for Joshua and moving backwards for Hezekiah. Check with NASA—they know about it.

Yes, NASA knows all about it, and the story is nonsense. They’ve reportedly issued a press release dismissing the story. Even young-earth Creationist organizations such as Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International advise against using it. (I discuss the story in more detail here.)

Stupid argument #38: Christian atrocities? Atheistic regimes did much worse!

Think of Stalin in the Soviet Union or Mao in China. These have been terrible countries, and atheism drove the persecution. Atheism has no moral compass. While atheists as individuals might be nice enough, they’ve invariably created murderous regimes when given the chance. They can’t be trusted with power!

This is the thesis of Patheos evangelical blogger John Mark Reynolds (I’ve responded here and here), but it fails in several ways.

First, atheism has no tenets or philosophy by which to do anything, let alone declare that a group must be killed. Atheism is nothing more than an absence of god belief, and it has as much of a moral element as stamp collecting or cat fancying. For a moral foundation that would appeal to many atheists, look to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Humanist Manifesto, or the Satanic Temple’s Seven Fundamental Tenets.

Second, the problem in the Soviet Union or China was that they were dictatorships. Religion competed for allegiance, so it had to be eliminated. Atheism was a consequence of the dictatorship, not the cause. (More here.)

Finally, while atheism doesn’t have a moral element, Christianity does. If you want murderous regimes, consider God commanding genocide. Or creating the Flood.

Reynolds says that a bad priest can be reprimanded by Christian beliefs, but of course that bad priest can also be supported by Christian beliefs. About atheists, he says, “A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.”

Correct! That’s precisely the point. Atheism is no more than a lack of god belief, and no one has been killed in the name of atheism.

If only Christianity could say the same.

To be continued.

The first rule of Jesus Club is:
Never shut up about Jesus Club.
— seen on the internet

.

* This is from Frank Turek, “Doubting Toward Faith with Bobby Conway,” 9/9/15 Cross Examined podcast @43:21.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/17/15.)

Image from woodleywonderworks, CC license

.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Lord Backwater

    Think of Stalin in the Soviet Union or Mao in China….

    Bertrand Russel called Soviet-style Communism a religion, and he had a point.
    Why I am Not a Communist

    • epicurus

      He also met Lenin once and found him to be an intolerant fanatic who treated communist doctrine like scripture.

      • epeeist

        Hmm, one has to wonder whether he had Lenin in mind when he said this:

        The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts

        I have come across others on the left to whom this could apply (I tend not to have anything to do with those on the right).

        • epicurus

          Being centrist and moderate seems to be out of fashion these days

        • epeeist

          I am not sure what a “centrist” is given the shift to the right in the politics of many countries.

          If I called myself anything it would be “democratic socialist”.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. I consider myself Fiscally Conservative, and socially Liberal, but happy to see proposals like things for Universal Healthcare.

        • Susan

          Hi @epeeist_MFC:disqus

          Grimlock is trying to have a discussion with me and others.

          I’m doing my darnedest to follow along.

          Either Grimlock is being slightly coy or everything he’s getting at is going over my head, or some combination of the two.

          If you have the time and patience, I wonder if you’d be willing to help us out.

          (Fingers crossed that I’ve linked to the right exchange, Disqus being the dog’s breakfast and all.)

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2020/01/25-stupid-arguments-christians-should-avoid-part-11-intelligible-pleasing-joshua-atrocities/#comment-4782611202

        • Pofarmer

          It used to be if you hit view more, you could sometimes see more comments both up and down thread. I don’t think that’s working any more. It’s, frustrating. If epeeist follows you, he can hone in on the conversation by your comments.

          as an addendum. I don’t know what Grimlock is on about, and I’ve kind of lost the capacity to care.

        • Susan

          If epeeist follows you, he can hone in on the conversation by your comments.

          Yeah. I’m already asking him to get involved, which is a bit of a request already.

          I wish I could just link him directly to the exchange, from the get go.

          But it’s Disqus and what seems to be an obvious link morphs into something half of that.

          I’ve kind of lost the capacity to care.

          I get that. My days are long and life is short.

        • epeeist

          If you have the time and patience, I wonder if you’d be willing to help us out.

          I need to respond to Grimlock from one of his posts to me the other day.

          I will probably be posting a little less regularly. After the election of our Trump mini-me and Brexit we have decided to move. We are currently looking at houses around Pitlochry in Scotland (there is a decent fencing club within easy reach). This means visiting houses, tarting our house up for sale, appointments with estate agents, banks etc. All of which eats up time.

        • Susan

          we have decided to move.

          That’s always a huge undertaking. Good luck.

          Pitlochry looks like a beautiful place.

          I think I’m done with the Grimlock exchange.

          Thank you for your response.

        • epeeist

          Pitlochry looks like a beautiful place.

          It is, with lots to do in and around the area.

          We have had an offer accepted on a house (or “villa” as they seem to say in Scotland). We now have the major work of sorting out all the legals, getting our current house on the market and sold and then major renovation on the new property (complete replacement of the electrical system, re-plumbing and structural and other changes to improve the dismal energy performance).

        • Pofarmer

          You’ve been to iceland, correct? My wife and I are going there in a couple weeks, mainly confined to the South do to winter roads.

        • epeeist

          You’ve been to iceland, correct?

          No, but we are going in a week or so. My interest is photographic, so I am trying to convince my wife that visiting waterfalls, glaciers, and cliffs would be a good idea. We also have a Northern Lights excursion booked, apparently there is an 85% chance of seeing them at this time of year.

        • Pofarmer

          Dangit. So close. We will be going the week of March 5th. Waterfalls, glaciers, and cliffs are our itinerary as well, and black beaches. As far as the Northern Lights, we booked a small “efficiency” apartment South west of Hella for 5 days. So, depending on cloud cover, that should be all the “excursion” we need. Northern Lights is the primary reason my wife wants to go.

        • Pofarmer

          Should also say, since we’re in Agriculture, we intend to visit a few farms or Agricultural concerns, greenhouses and the like. Maybe a dairy. It’s a pretty inhospitable place to farm, only 1% of their land is arable. Very much looking forward to it.

        • Sample1

          Should you find yourselves passing through Laugarvatn looking for gourmet food, I recommend the bistro Lindin. The chef/owner lives there and may come out to your table to share a story or two. The menu is diverse having both traditional and international fare. I’ve never tasted anything there not worth remembering.

          That said, it’s almost a challenge to find a bad restaurant in Iceland. There is a definite pride in the cookery there. To back that claim up I once has a vegetarian lasagna in the airport that was outstanding.

          Have fun! The off season is a great time to visit.

          Mike

        • Grimlock

          I hope your move is a successful one.

          If you find yourself in the mood for idle entertainment, Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame) has a new book out, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. There’s a fun chapter on how to move. Spoiler alert: there are rockets involved.

          I need to respond to Grimlock from one of his posts to me the other day.

          There’s no rush on my part.

      • Will

        Marx and Engels wrote what amounted to prophecy no different from Nostradamus. Failed prophecy.

        • epicurus

          Yeah, I suppose defenders may say the initial conditions of being a capitalist industrial society were not in effect when Russia or China or really any other country became communist, but hey, that’s how it played out – woulda shoulda coulda.

    • Yes, and plenty of their opponents who the Bolsheviks persecuted were atheists too.

    • Will

      It’s a cult that replaced a deity with the state.

  • Raging Bee

    The other problem in the USSR is that the Russian Orthodox Church wasn’t making things better before the Bolsheviks took over; and they’re not making things much better after said Bolsheviks left. Oh wait, Putin’s a graduate of that regime — the KGB psych-war division, to be exact — so the Bolsheviks haven’t really left yet, and his corrupt incompetent tyranny is SUPPORTED by the Russian Orthodox Church. So it sure ain’t atheists making things bad for Russia.

  • Lex Lata

    1. I’m quite sympathetic to those swayed by the emotional appeal of theism. Feeling good or experiencing comfort isn’t compelling evidence for the truth of religious miracle claims, to be sure. But on a personal level, I understand the craving for transcendent answers/meaning/rescue/salvation/love/etc., and actually respect honest (albeit mistaken) belief founded principally in emotions more than the contortions of history and science in which practicing apologists often engage.

    2. Speaking of which, I had to laugh out loud at the item about the sun. NASA identified a “missing day” that corresponded to the anonymous, undated Gibeon miracle? Hilarious and absurd on its face.

    And again, I challenge any believer to explain why we should credit that miracle from the book of Joshua and not, say, Herodotus’ account of Apollo intervening to save Delphi from marauding Persians. The only way to do so is to engage in theology, and not intellectually consistent and rigorous historiography.

    3. The ill behavior of theists and atheists alike does not demonstrate the accuracy of their beliefs or nonbeliefs about the divine, strictly speaking. The worst atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition do not disprove a God, and Stalin’s gulags do not confirm his existence. Rather, they illustrate that human beings have been–and remain–balding primates capable of pretty horrible things.

    • eric

      The only way to do so is to engage in theology, and not intellectually consistent and rigorous historiography.

      Well, but I think that’s the point of the NASA claim – to force the opponent and/or the entire debate into a wild goose chase. Get the conversation off the topic of flaws or problems in the theist’s more important claims.

      It’s sort of related to a Gish Gallup or Courtier’s Reply; all three attempt to derail the thread of the conversation by making up some excuse for the non-religious speaker to ‘go do more research’ before continuing to discuss the main topic.

      The right response of such an outlandish claim is laughter. Or ‘citation required,’ if one wants to be less combative.

      • Lord Backwater

        The motivation behind the Gish gallop is that claims cost nothing; either they score points or they miss and are forgotten. I like to respond by applying a cost to unsuccessful claims. “This is clearly absurd, and if my opponent is using such an argument he is either stupid or dishonest. I invite him to take the time to explain which. But in either case, he cannot be trusted to deliver you accurate information.”

    • The NASA claim is stupider when you consider not only such an event would have been recorded worldwide, but also other scientists would have noticed it.

      Unless you consider everyone outside US as heathens/Commies/whatever.

      • Zeta

        For the Sun to stand still, the Earth would have to stop spinning.

        According to this NASA webpage:
        https://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/q1168.html

        What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning?

        The probability for such an event is practically zero in the next few billion years. If the Earth stopped spinning suddenly, the atmosphere would still be in motion with the Earth’s original 1100 mile per hour rotation speed at the equator. All of the land masses would be scoured clean of anything not attached to bedrock. This means rocks, topsoil, trees, buildings, your pet dog, and so on, would be swept away into the atmosphere.

        • If we’re going to appeal to something as incredible as God stopping the world from spinning, why can’t we also assume that this being could also stop all of the air from spinning with it? Once you start assuming God is involved there’s really no limit to what could have happened in the past.

        • Zeta

          Quite true but I think those ignorant bible writers thought that the Sun was a big fireball moving across the sky so it can be stopped and made to stand still.

        • John in Revelation 16:8 seems to have thought the Sun was a sort of humongous oil lamp that can become more luminous if you give it a sort of high-octane fuel. As per other things that are physically impossible as stars falling to Earth, these are moments when literalists stop being that -in general-.

  • abb3w

    Who says the universe is rational? It’s only as rational as it is, which isn’t particularly rational.

    It’s also philosophically possible (although absurd) to take the assumption that the universe is not rational, and that any appearance of pattern in evidence is a fluke caused by chaos running out of ways to avoid having a pattern. In other words, to some extent such rationality is merely an axiomatic assumption, which may be taken without loss of consistency in Refutation rather than Affirmation.

    Which is to say, the only reason that the universe is rational and there is evidence at all is because that’s assumed until Turek wants to assert assuming the contrary.

    Second, the problem in the Soviet Union or China was that they were dictatorships.

    More broadly, Stalinist and Maoist Marxist Communism are from a cladistic view merely particular sects of atheism; using this as a criticism of Secular Humanist atheism makes as little sense as using Islamic suicide bombings as a general indictment of theism and consequent criticism of the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I also wonder, is it even possible for a wholly chaotic universe to form? If not, then wouldn’t this mean all possible universes contain patterns and are, therefore, intelligible?

      It seems to me that Turek finds himself in his usual position of being wrong on multiple levels

      • abb3w

        I also wonder, is it even possible for a wholly chaotic universe to form?

        Depends what you mean by “possible” and “form”, as well as “wholly chaotic”.

        In mathematics, “Ramsey’s theorem” says (roughly) that if you have a big enough pile of chaos, you run out of ways to avoid a small pile of order. For example, if you completely connect six dots, and all the dots are connected by either a red line or by a blue line, you necessarily have at least one subset of three dots that are entirely connected by red lines of by blue lines. (With only five dots, you may not have a monocolored triangle.)

        If not, then wouldn’t this mean all possible universes contain patterns and are, therefore, intelligible?

        Containing local patterns isn’t the same as containing general patterns. A pattern might be akin to looking at a long string of flips of a (possibly loaded) coin, and noticing three in a row are “heads” — which is only local, and doesn’t tell you much about it the flip results in general. Or, in the case of the dots-and-lines example above, having a monocolored triangle may only put a lower bound on the total number of dots, rather than telling you something about all the connections between all the dots.

        It relates to Hume’s “Problem of Induction”.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          My thesis is twofold:

          1. Life, and possibly reality itself, requires a minimum amount of underlying patterned behavior to emerge or coalesce.
          2. Patterns are also what drives intelligibility.

          If there is a connection here, it seems rather banal that life forms would find reality intelligible. What else would we expect?

        • eric

          It’s hard to see how our patterns could be local when we can see billions of light-years, and everything is pretty much consistent. It’s possible for there to be chaos on a larger scale. And it’s possible that chaos on a smaller scale (for example, light-years) just coincidentally produced this one big monster patch of identical laws. But the first is somewhat irrelevant to science, and the second seems improbable unless the probability of our type of order is much higher than other probabilities in the distribution…in which case, we would expect large patches of order…

        • epeeist

          It’s hard to see how our patterns could be local when we can see billions of light-years, and everything is pretty much consistent.

          You seem to be assuming that the (currently) visible universe is large or that it is all there is.

        • abb3w

          It’s hard to see how our patterns could be local when we can see billions of light-years

          Although there’s also a version of the theorem for infinite cases, you don’t seem to have realized that “finite” mathematically implies “local” in this context.

          second seems improbable

          That can’t be determined without making assumptions about the pattern of the distribution. You may also be neglecting that while there’s a lot of ways to arrange a cardinally infinite data set, there’s a lot more ways to arrange a data set of higher infinite cardinality.

        • Michael Neville

          We can see that the universe has evolved. Quasars are all in distant galaxies, which means they all happened a long time ago.
          The peak epoch of quasar activity was approximately 10 billion years ago. The nearest quasar is IC 2497, in a galaxy ~730 million light years away, which means quasars stopped happening about three-quarters of a billion years ago. So our local part of the universe is quasarless.

        • Ficino

          Sorry, OT: I’d be grateful if you can given an answer, or can state that the question is incoherent:
          1. is the set of all sets a member of itself?
          2. is the lead term in a series a member of the series?

          I’m asking information-seeking questions, not having much background in maths – I’m not trying to be a wise-guy!

        • abb3w

          Note, I’m a high-grade dilettante, not a professional mathematician.

          1. is the set of all sets a member of itself?

          Under modern set theory (ZF or vNBG), there is no set of all sets, only a class of all sets. Since the class of all sets is not a set, it is not a member of the class of all sets.

          There’s a few other more exotic foundations which might give slightly different answers, but I’m not familiar enough with them to discuss it.

          2. is the lead term in a series a member of the series?

          My impression would be yes, particularly for the case of a finite series; provided that it is not a finite series of length zero, in which case the lead term does not exist.

          There may be some ambiguity if one allows for a “series” that is not of countable size, in which case one might need the Axiom of Choice to for a “lead term” to exist.

        • Grimlock

          […] one might need the Axiom of Choice to for a “lead term” to exist.

          What’s better than an xkcd reference, you say? Why, two xkcd references!

          https://xkcd.com/982/
          https://xkcd.com/804/

        • abb3w

          I recommend the book “The Pea and the Sun” as an excellent gift to give to overly bright high school students on whom one might wish to provide educational headaches.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks for the tip – that looks like a fun read! I might end up getting it for myself…

        • Grimlock

          Out of curiosity, why are you asking?

        • Ficino

          Ha ha, I think you have smoked me out. Yes, I’m puzzling over what look like problems in the Thomistic argument from motion.

        • Grimlock

          That sounds quite interesting. Any chance you could elaborate on that?

          Part of the reason I’m wondering is because I wonder how relevant the questions below are, or how well the questions fit. Particularly the second question, as a series in mathematics is (more or less) a sumable sequence of elements. I suspect that what is more relevant is a sequence. (The answer, I think, is still the same – the first element of a sequence is still a member of the sequence.)

  • Brian Curtis

    Some dictatorships have been atheist, some have been religious. All dictatorships have left a terrible mark on history, and there’s no indication that a religious influence has made them any of them one bit less horrible. I’m thinking atheism isn’t the root of the problem there.

    • eric

      To abuse Godwin, the whole ‘atheist dictator’ argument is a bit like:

      “Hitler loved dogs. You love dogs. Ergo you are a monster.”

  • #36: It’s more than debatable than a deity that was able to create such an Universe as this one as large, if not infinite, and arcane (quantum mechanics and whatever new physics may be waiting to be discovered) would be an Iron Age tribal war god.

    #38: Not only those dictatorships did not kill in the name of “no-gods” or science, but one can also think on what would have happened in the Crusades had both sides access to modern weaponry, up to nuclear weapons.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      “In the name of Humanism and Skepticism, I banish thee to the dungeon!”

    • Michael Neville

      Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai Khan killed between 20 million and 40 million people (five to ten percent of the world’s population) in the 13th Century. Imagine what they could have done with tanks and automatic weapons instead of spears, swords and archery.

      • Or the Thirty Years War. Knowing how long it took for Germany to recover from it, it’s scaring to imagine people of such mentality, much more extended than now, with modern weaponry

      • RichardSRussell

        Speaking of Genghis Khan, he shared with Hitler and Stalin the Mark of Satan: a mustache. Clearly the people we need to fear most today are Tom Selleck, Geraldo Rivera, and Sam Elliott.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Oddly, I find a stache-less Sam Elliott for more disconcerting.

  • Polytropos

    The one about NASA supposedly proving god made the sun stand still is a more common Christian urban legend than you’d think, and if it comes up in conversation you know you’ve wandered too far into tinfoil hat territory for any discussion to be worthwhile.

  • Michael Neville

    A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.

    To quote that eminent Christian Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, “Are there no prisons?” Atheists may not have a built-in morality like most religions do however there are legal, civil punishments for causing harm to others.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      More to the point, we’ve discovered morality (in the sense of understanding fairness and not liking being unfairly treated) in animals that don’t have language.

      So morality seems to be innate to warm-blooded social animals, at least, for the most part.

    • abb3w

      Also, one might correspondingly argue that a theist similarly cannot be rebuked, since theism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond believing in God, a life force, or a higher power. This parallel makes the deficit in the argument obvious: while no other particular beliefs are necessary, usually theists and atheists have some additional beliefs that give rise to implications about “ought” and “oughtn’t”.

      • Greg G.

        Also, one might correspondingly argue that a theist similarly cannot be rebuked,

        I think that should be “deist”. It seems to me that the difference between a deist and a theist is that the latter has a theology, so could be rebuked for the creed and beliefs of that theology.

        • abb3w

          I think that should be “deist”.

          The first OED definition of “theist” is “Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism“; it does not require any systematic “theology”, any more than atheism requires any particular “atheology” system. In contrast, “deism” is principally defined as the “distinctive doctrine or belief of a deist; usually, belief in the existence of a Supreme Being as the source of finite existence, with rejection of revelation and the supernatural doctrines of Christianity; ‘natural religion’.” As my usage is not so specific, and is intended to encompass all those whose beliefs include in any deity, “theist” appears to remain preferable.

        • Greg G.

          These random people on the internet agree with me: https://www.quora.com/Theology-What-is-the-difference-between-deism-and-theism I just clicked the first link on Google search on “difference between a deist and theist”.

        • abb3w

          John David Ward (at your link) and Cudworth (quoted) seem more in line with the OED.

        • Atheists, theists, and deists can all be rebuked if they happen to behave badly.

  • The Jack of Sandwich

    If we’re going to believe in a god because it’s pleasing to believe in a god, why don’t we create a better god than the one in the Bible?

    • flexilis

      The very reason for the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sauce be upon him).

      Wait, why is FSM construed as masculine? Sure, meatballs, but let’s be more inclusive. May you be touched by their noodly appendages.

  • Zeta

    “Think of Stalin in the Soviet Union or Mao in China. These have been terrible countries, and atheism drove the persecution. ”

    In this comment, I’ll focus on Mao. There is no doubt that millions of Chinese died during Mao’s reign. Theists love to blame these deaths on Mao’s atheism.

    But is their assertion true?

    According to several studies, estimates of the number of deaths were around 30-45 million. Claims that these deaths are the result of atheism is patently false. The deaths were mostly due to extensive famine resulting from a colossal failure of Mao’s policy known as “The Great Leap Forward”, a plan that was created to increase China’s economy and industry from 1958-1961.

    See
    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/02/05/who-killed-more-hitler-stalin-or-mao/

    Mao didn’t order people to their deaths in the same way that Hitler did, so it’s fair to say that Mao’s famine deaths were not genocide.

    Mao’s atheism is not a factor (at least not a significant factor) in the huge number of deaths in Mao’s China.

    • RichardSRussell

      Similarly, huge numbers of Soviet citizens died under the rule of Josef Stalin due to famines caused by following the idiotic (but “philosophically pure”) tenets of his Agriculture Minister, T. D. Lysenko.

      • Lark62

        And it is clear both Mao and Stalin placed theoretical nonsense ahead of reality based decision making, which led to widespread famine. Communism shares many characteristics with religion.

      • Same for some science that languished in Stalin’s epoch and even beyond because they were considered bourgeois pseudosciences, Darwinism being curiously enough among them.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Darwinism”..?

        • Greg G.

          From the Stalin/Lysenko point of view.

        • Jim Jones

          Ironically(?), IIRC Darwin also believed in some of the quack ideas at times, such as blacksmiths grow strong so their children are born stronger.

  • #38: Atheism wasn’t the result of any dictatorship: that was part of their ideology already. However, it’s correct that it doesn’t dictate this persecution. They must demonstrate that atheism itself causes such a thing, rather than simply some atheists having done so. I await such a demonstration. Atheists can be rebuked as well, according to their morals (or potentially persuaded their opinion is wrong) like anybody else too.

  • RichardSRussell

    Atheism is no more than a lack of god belief …

    I recommend using the phraseology from a little earlier in the essay, namely “absence of god belief”. The connotation of “lack” is that it’s something you should have.

    • Sample1

      How about free of god belief?

      Mike

      • RichardSRussell

        I think that tilts in the opposite direction. “Absence” is value-neutral.

  • Michael Neville

    The first rule of Jesus Club is:
    Never shut up about Jesus Club.

    — seen on the internet

    Quoted for truth.

  • GalapagosPete

    “25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 11)
    Stupid argument #35”

    This reminds me of Brian Dalton’s frequent references to “in part three of this one part series…”

    • eric

      It would probably be much easier to catalog the types of response they use, the list would be a lot shorter.
      1. God’s ways are incomprehensible
      2. The de minimis you can’t prove my theological claim is philosophically impossible.
      3. Science can’t explain X (implication: ergo, Christians explanations for X are on an equal footing. But not any other religion’s explanations, are you crazy?)
      4. I will cite Ahem, Baloney, and Malarky rather than actually explain why you’re wrong. But trust me, you’re wrong
      5. Since I assume God is the origin of logic/morality, you can’t use logic/moral arguments without admitting God exists. Oh and please ignore the fact that I’m assuming what I’m trying to conclude.
      6. “The flounce.” I found word 5 of line 3 of paragraph 8 of your reply insulting. So now I’m only going to discuss that, not any of your substantive points.
      7. Look, squirrel (common modern derivatives are ‘let’s talk about the 2nd amendment,’ ‘abortion is baby killing,’ ‘Trump’s latest action X is awesome’, and ‘I think climate change doesn’t exist’)

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Luke Breur must have a doctorate in the flounce. An honorary one, at the very least.

        • eric

          Ah yes, I might have to add a #8 in his honor.
          8. The tu quoque. Whatever complaint the nontheist is making, don’t answer it, just claim some nontheists make the same mistake/error/bad behavior. So for example, for #35, instead of defending the “God is pleasing” claim or agreeing with Bob that it’s a bad argument, find some quote of an atheist saying they find atheism pleasing and claim atheists do the same thing. Because that puts the “God is pleasing” argument on much more solid…look, squirrel!

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Or Car Talk’s “Third hahlf of the show” from when they were on the air…

  • “Apologist Frank Turek demands* that the atheist explain these challenges: “Why is there evidence at all? Why is this universe rationally intelligible? . . . Why is the world rational to begin with?””

    GW: The world isn’t rational. The world is somewhat orderly. Because human beings are sometimes rational we can partly understand the world’s partial orderliness.

    “About atheists, he [Reynolds] says, “A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.”

    GW: I disagree. “A bad atheist” is a person who lacks a belief in God and gods, but who behaves badly, according to some moral code. This person can be rebuked or criticized to the extent that they violate the code.

  • Grimlock

    Atheism is nothing more than an absence of god belief […]

    I disagree, and prefer to consider atheism to be the stance that gods do not exist. I’d describe beings without a belief in the existence of gods as nontheists.

    • Michael Neville

      You’re arguing semantics. I split atheists into two groups, strong or gnostic atheists who believe that gods do not exist and weak or agnostic atheists who do not believe gods exist.

      • Grimlock

        I prefer to think of it as clarifying the semantics. The ‘lack of belief’ descriptor seems appropriate for beings who are unfamiliar with the concept of a god. However, for people who are familiar with the concept, yet do not include it in their ontology, it seems like an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist.

        • Michael Neville

          A difference that makes no difference is no difference. But if you like to use your own particular vocabulary then feel free.

        • Grimlock

          That is indeed precisely why I find the “lack of belief” thing to be a flawed descriptor of most (all?) self-identifying atheists.

        • rationalobservations?

          There is a difference between an absence of belief and a belief.
          The absence of belief in a god (or the gods) is not the same as the belief that there are no gods in the same way that total baldness is not a hairstyle or not playing soccer is a sport.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re describing the difference between strong or gnostic atheism and weak or agnostic atheism. A strong atheist knows there are no gods. A weak atheist doesn’t know if gods exist or not but, due to the lack of evidence for gods, believes that gods do not exist.

        • rationalobservations?

          Logic and evidence continues to defeat religionism: There are millions of equally fictional undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which any individual or group of imaginary deities appears nothing authentic, unique or original. Logic dictates that all the many gods, goddesses and god-men should be believed in – or none at all. More than one third of the current generation dismiss all religionism and reject all fictional gods. This group is the fastest growing human demographic being added to with each generation of young atheists born and old religionists who die while their bunkum dies with them.

          Christians are often totally baffled how atheists could deny the existence of their god, “Yahweh” and their god-man “Jesus” but they shouldn’t be. Christians (and all other brands of religionists) deny almost endless thousands of the same gods and goddesses that atheists deny. Atheists merely deny one more god than Christians do – (or is that three gods more?) and for almost identical reasons that christians deny all other gods, goddesses and god-men.

          Christians deny the existence of Brahma, Odin, Zeus and Quetzalcoatl. They deny millions of others including Pratibhanapratisamvit (Buddhist goddess of context analysis), Acat, (Mayan god of tattoo artists) and Tsa’qamae, (North american god of salmon migration). They also deny the 30,000,000 gods and goddesses said to inhabit the “sacred” cows of India along with countless gods and goddesses who inhabit other locations.

          Religionists and ex-religionists of all brands and atheists are not so different, after all!

          Let us celebrate our vast agreement on the non-existence of so many thousands of thousands of gods, goddesses, god-men and other figments of human imagination!?
          https://external-preview.redd.it/KOR8lvX9Y6PmImGQxt5MDSKx8NPkVpQPCXZ8ZYAmpQI.jpg?auto=webp&s=a95d0284e01c903a7698f3c28db62a1b59518fa5
          https://www.atheistrepublic.com/sites/default/files/Lack%20of%20Understanding%20Is%20Not%20Evidence%20For%20God.jpg

        • rationalobservations?

          The absence of belief is not necessarily an alternative form of belief.

        • Grimlock

          What’s your point?

        • rationalobservations?

          You assert: The ‘lack of belief’ descriptor… seems like an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist.”
          I repeat: The absence of belief is not necessarily an alternative form of belief.

          Not collecting stamps is not a hobby.
          Total baldness is not a hairstyle.
          NON belief is not belief.

        • Grimlock

          You assert: The ‘lack of belief’ descriptor… seems like an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist.”
          I repeat: The absence of belief is not necessarily an alternative form of belief.

          I did say that. But I also added not one, but two conditionals before that part. I said:

          “However, for people who are familiar with the concept, yet do not include it in their ontology, it seems like an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist.”

          Notice the bold part.

          Now, read the sentence before that part:

          “The ‘lack of belief’ descriptor seems appropriate for beings who are unfamiliar with the concept of a god.”

          Here I am literally saying that the absence of belief is not necessarily its own belief. Which is why I find myself baffled as to you stating that as if you’re somehow stating a position contrary to my own.

          Might I suggest that you read my comments a bit more carefully in the future?

        • rationalobservations?

          The fact that other obfuscation prefixed your apparent conclusion: “The ‘lack of belief’ descriptor… seems like an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist.” is what was contradicted and refuted by me.

          I suggest that you do not suggest that the absence of belief is; “an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist” if you do not actually consider that the absence of belief is in fact “an unnecessarily convoluted way of stating that they believe gods do not exist”.

          Next..?

        • Grimlock

          Wow. You do not understand conditional statements.

        • rationalobservations?

          Wow. You do not recognise that your statements are not modified by other obfuscation and irrational non-argument.

          Quote of another of your recent unconditional irrational statements: “That is indeed precisely why I find the “lack of belief” thing to be a flawed descriptor of most (all?) self-identifying atheists.”

          The absence of belief in a god (or the gods) is not the same as the belief that there are no gods in the same way that total baldness is not a hairstyle or not playing soccer is a sport.

    • Otto

      I’d describe beings without a belief in the existence of gods as nontheists.

      I acknowledge this argument is pedantic but ‘theism’ refers to belief, not knowledge. Therefore imo if one lacks belief they are a-theist. One does not have to claim certainty to lack belief.

      • Grimlock

        To be pedantic, I think it looks more like an etymological argument than a pedantic one.

        On the etymology, I don’t think that in general, the etymology of a word necessarily determines the current or more practical use of a term. One could also frame theism as the proposition that there are god(s). In that case, the negation of this (atheism) would be the proposition that there are no god(s).

        I do not think that one are required to be certain in order to claim that something does not exist.

        • Otto

          I am not a theist…therefore I am an atheist. I think it is one or the other, I don’t see how there needs to be middle ground. Though I am fine if some people don’t want to use that label for whatever reason.

        • Grimlock

          If one considers theism the proposition that there is at least one god, and atheism the negation of that proposition, there is no middle ground.

          I find the “lack of belief” definition to be in part an attempt to create just such a middle ground.

          I don’t particularly mind if people don’t want to identify with a particular label either.

          By the way, do you agree that one does not require certainty in order to claim that one does not believe something exists?

        • Otto

          By the way, do you agree that one does not require certainty in order to claim that one does not believe something exists?

          Yes, and I don’t believe it. One does not have to claim certainty to believe something either, and that is why I find the definition I am using apt. One either believes a proposition or does not believe it, if someone says “well, I just don’t know one way or the other”, than they don’t believe the proposition. One does not have to negate the proposition in order to not believe it. So I understand your position better can you tell me why negation is important?

        • Grimlock

          One does not have to negate the proposition in order to not believe it. So I understand your position better can you tell me why negation is important?

          That depends a bit on what you mean by that.

          There are a few reasons why I prefer to use the definition of atheism as the position that there are no god(s).

          1. It is one of the two direct answers to the proposition about whether there exists at least one god.

          2. We have other terms that cover the different states of belief that are not direct answers to that proposition, primarily nontheism and agnosticism.

          3. For those who are aware of the concept of god(s), I find that it involves too many unconvincing mental gymnastics to frame the “lack of belief” position in a sensible way.

          4. The reasons for the “lack of belief” definition of atheism are not sufficiently compelling to compensate for (1)-(3). And yes, I do see that there are somewhat compelling reasons for using the “lack of belief” definition of atheism, such as making it as inclusive as possible in order to normalize the term.

          I’m not particularly bothered by other people using a different definition. What I do object to is when it’s taken for granted that the “lack of belief” definition is the definition of atheism. It is not. There are multiple (well, at least two) definitions running around.

        • Otto

          Most words have multiple definitions so I don’t have a quarrel with someone using it either way.

          The problem I have is that if someone asks the question “do you believe aliens are, or have, visited Earth?” My answer would be I have no reason to believe that, while at the same time admitting there is really no way for me to know. I lack enough significant information to be able to negate the claim. I have no reasonable evidence for me to conclude aliens have in fact visited so therefore I don’t believe the claim. Further information could change my mind. I just feel that with questions such as these there isn’t enough information to take a hard and fast stand.

          Now with more specific claims I feel I can make a more specific stand. For instance one definition of “theism” I have heard is the belief in a personal god (One that interacts and communicates with individuals in some capacity). I will take a more hard stance against that. Or specific definitions of God, i.e. Christianity. I have no problem negating the Christian claims because there is far more information in the definition to be able to come to a more specific conclusion.

        • Grimlock

          I agree with that.

          Which is why, for a sufficiently broad definition of theism (a very, very broad one) I am technically agnostic. For all conceptions relevant to discussions about religion, I’m an atheist.

        • Otto

          I would agree with that as well. So using your definition as to Christian claims of God I am an atheist. As to a broad definition of a deistic god that is not well defined and does not interact with reality in any discernible way, I am agnostic.

        • rationalobservations?

          “….do you agree that one does not require certainty in order to claim that one does not believe something exists?”

          Non belief is a condition, and/or an assertion not a “claim”.

          The elimination of two particularly anti-humanitarian and anti-Semitic books from later bibles does not make the bibles in circulation today any less anti-humanitarian, any less historically inaccurate, any less historically unsupported – or any more believable.

          Regardless of the 14,800+ significant differences between the oldest 4th century fabricated bibles and those in circulation today – there are almost countless contradictions within bibles in circulation today – including:

          “Examples of New Testament Contradictions –
          In the New Testament, there are contradictions between the genealogies of Jesus given in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke.
          Both genealogies begin with Jesus’ father, who is identified as Joseph (which is curious, given that Mary was supposedly impregnated by the Holy Ghost). But Matthew says Joseph’s father was Jacob, while Luke claims he was Heli. Matthew lists 26 generations between Jesus and King David, whereas Luke records 41. Matthew runs Jesus’ line of descent through David’s son Solomon, while Luke has it going through David’s son Nathan.

          The story of Jesus’ birth is also contradictory. Matthew 2:13-15 depicts Joseph and Mary as fleeing to Egypt with the baby Jesus immediately after the wise men from the east had brought gifts.

          But Luke 2:22-40 claims that after the birth of Jesus, his parents remained in Bethlehem for the time of Mary’s purification (which was 40 days, under the Mosaic law). Afterwards, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord,” and then returned to their home in Nazareth. Luke mentions no journey into Egypt or visit by wise men from the east.

          Concerning the death of Judas, the disloyal disciple, Matthew 27:5 states he took the money he had received for betraying Jesus, threw it down in the temple, and “went and hanged himself.” To the contrary, Acts 1:18 claims Judas used the money to purchase a field and “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

          In describing Jesus being led to his execution, John 19:17 recounts that he carried his own cross. But Mark 15:21-23 disagrees by saying a man called Simon carried the cross.

          As for the crucifixion, Matthew 27:44 tells us Jesus was taunted by both criminals who were being crucified with him. But Luke 23:39-43 relates that only one of the criminals taunted Jesus, the other criminal rebuked the one who was doing the taunting, and Jesus told the criminal who was defending him, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

          Regarding the last words of Jesus while on the cross, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 quote Jesus as crying with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Luke 23:46 gives his final words as, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” John 19:30 alleges the last words were, “It is finished.”

          There are even contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection – the supposed event that is the very foundation of the Christian religion. Mark 16:2 states that on the day of the resurrection, certain women arrived at the tomb at the rising of the sun. But John 20:1 informs us they arrived when it was yet dark. Luke 24:2 describes the tomb as open when the women arrived, whereas Matthew 28:1-2 indicates it was closed. Mark 16:5 declares that the women saw a young man at the tomb, Luke 24:4 says they saw two men, Matthew 28:2 reports they saw an angel, and John 20:11-12 claims they saw two angels.

          Also in the resurrection stories, there are contradictions as to the identity of the women who came to the tomb,[7] whether the men or angels the women saw were inside or outside the tomb,[8] whether the men or angels were standing or sitting,[9] and whether Mary Magdalene recognised the risen Jesus when he first appeared to her.[10]

          As a final example of a New Testament contradiction, the conflicting accounts of Paul’s conversion can be cited. Acts 9:7 states that when Jesus called Paul to preach the gospel, the men who were with Paul heard a voice but saw no man. According to Acts 22:9, however, the men saw a light but didn’t hear the voice speaking to Paul.

          The foregoing examples are just a few of the hundreds of contradictions contained in the Old and New Testaments. Each contradiction is an instance where at least one of the verses is wrong. Thus, hundreds of contradictions mean there are at least hundreds of incorrect statements in the Bible.”
          https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/reasons-humanists-reject-bible/

        • Grimlock

          Your first sentence appears to be tangentially related to the part you quoted, but the rest appears to be a rant that’s utterly unrelated to what you quoted from my comment.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Rant”,,?
          Really?
          If you regard the presentation of evidence as a “rant” it’s little wonder that you have only ad hominem as a vacuous response.

        • Grimlock

          “Rant”,,?
          Really?
          If you regard the presentation of evidence as a “rant” it’s little wonder that you have only ad hominem as a vacuous response.

          It’s not an ad hominem, as that would imply I saw a rebuttal to me in your comment worth distracting from. I did not.

        • rationalobservations?

          You had already demonstrated your ignorance, Grimmy. Admitting it and adding further demonstrations appears somewhat redundant and superfluous?

    • Susan

      prefer to consider atheism to be the stance that gods do not exist.

      Well, we know you and love you, Grimlock. And I’m happy to accept that that’s your definition, when you address the subject of gods, but there’s no reason to adopt your definitions.

      1) Most of us us through years of discussion have come to the (quite reasonable conclusion) that god claims are unsupported, therefore, we are not theists, which in English, is well-described by “a”theist.

      2) There is no reason to accept fossilized notions of “yes” or “no” about an incoherent claim just because incoherent claims ruled our cultures as givens for so long.

      3) Apolologists play that language against non-believers. They make most of their gravy demanding that we disprove incoherent claims.

      “Semantics” change.

      I’m not a theist. I’m an atheist. I’m not a believer in gods. I’m a non-believer in gods.

      “God” is an incoherent term.

      I’m an igtheist.

      I don’t care much about terms. I care about positions.

      What someone is claiming and how they support it.

      I’m not claiming “there are no gods”. I have no need to.

      I’m not a theist. That makes me an atheist.

      If it’s not symmetric, it’s asymmetric.

      • Grimlock

        I had a feeling we’d have another go around if I mentioned this topic. Such is life.

        If you don’t mind, I’d like to start with a question regarding the burden of evidence that I assume you’re referencing in (3). Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

        Regarding (1), I believe that another way of stating the same thing is that you have considered the proposition that at least one god exists, and have rejected this proposition. Out of the only two possible direct answers, you have chosen to reject the proposition, and to consider it false. In other words, you are an atheist in the sense that you hold that there are no god(s).

        The specific reasons for why you have rejected the proposition is not really that relevant in this case, though I’m sure you have good reasons for doing so.

        • epeeist

          If you don’t mind, I’d like to start with a question regarding the burden of evidence that I assume you’re referencing in (3). Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

          I am away for a few days, so bear with me if you don’t get an immediate response.

          I think one should start with belief logic:

          1. A person has belief in the existence of gods;
          2. A person lacks belief in the existence of gods;
          3. A person has belief in the non-existence of gods;
          4. A person lacks belief in the non-existence of gods.

          I am not going to bother with 4.

          Both 1. and 3. are making ontological commitments, i.e. that gods do or do not exist. As such the person making either commitment has a strong burden of proof.

          The person in sentence 2. is not making an ontological commitment. They are taking the standard sceptical position, one that I (frequently) characterise as not bloating one’s ontology with things for which there is no substantive evidence. They do have a burden, but it its the weaker one of showing that arguments for the existence of gods do not stand up to scrutiny.

        • Grimlock

          I’ll assume you noticed that you didn’t really answer the question that you cited. Well, maybe indirectly.

          Suppose I hold that there are no gods, basically equivalent to (3) above.

          Let’s also refer to E as the principle you mention, that one does not add something to one’s ontology unless there’s good evidence for it.

          Now, compare my burden of evidence to someone holding to (1). Given E, the default position is that gods do not exist. All I’m required to retain that default position is to undercut arguments for the existence of gods.

          How is that different from (2)?

        • rationalobservations?

          “If you don’t mind, I’d like to start with a question regarding the burden of evidence that I assume you’re referencing in (3). Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?”

          The claim of the religionist is that one god or some gods exist.
          When challenged for evidence – no evidence is offered and therefore a rapidly growing human demographic respond that we do not believe in the claim that one god or some gods exist.
          The onus is always upon the one making the claim to validate that claim through incontrovertible and authentic evidence. No religionists can offer any evidence.
          As for the possible “equality” of the propositions; “god exists” and “no god exists”?
          There are millions of imaginary, undetected and undetectable gods and goddesses. The odds against the existence of one or some of them are millions to one.

          The reasons that more than the third largest and fastest growing human demographic do not believe in any of the millions of fictional, undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men is the utter, total and complete absence of evidence in support of the existence of any of them. That is totally relevant to the decline in belief and increase in non-belief in superstition based, evidence devoid religionism.

          https://i0.wp.com/restlesspilgrim.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sinai.jpg?w=960&ssl=1

        • Grimlock

          Reading through your comment I suspect that your answer to my question is “no”, but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure.

        • rationalobservations?

          The burden of proof always remains with the person making a claim.
          Non belief in any unsupported claim requires no “proof” as it is not a claim.

          https://www.atheistrepublic.com/sites/default/files/Lack%20of%20Understanding%20Is%20Not%20Evidence%20For%20God.jpg
          https://pics.me.me/the-truth-about-faith-having-faith-that-something-is-true-11341532.png

        • Grimlock

          Which does not answer the question you originally quoted.

        • rationalobservations?

          Your condition of denial is further noted…

        • Susan

          Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

          In the case of “Is the number of grains of sand on a beach, even or odd?”, yes.

          If someone claims it’s even, and I don’t necessarily believe them, what should I call myself?

          You have chosen to reject the proposition

          Not necessarily. I just have no reason to accept the proposition.

          and to consider it false.

          Therein, lies the problem. I have not considered it false.

        • Grimlock

          Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

          In the case of “Is the number of grains of sand on a beach, even or odd?”, yes.

          The question is a general one. Which means that I’m asking whether you think that it’s consistently the case that the burden of evidence is equal. Is it?

          If someone claims it’s even, and I don’t necessarily believe them, what should I call myself?

          On the face of it, given an assumption that there’s a 50/50 chance, I’d say that you’d be agnostic towards the question.

          You have chosen to reject the proposition

          Not necessarily. I just have no reason to accept the proposition.

          and to consider it false.

          Therein, lies the problem. I have not considered it false.

          Let me put it a slightly different way. On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least in god? (0 is impossible, 100 possible, and 50 is as likely as not.)

          ETA: Fix quotes.

        • Susan

          The question is a general one.

          The question is phrased in a binary fashion. It’s appropriate for odd or even or anything like it. It’s not appropriate beyond that.

          Which means that I’m asking whether you think that it’s consistently the case that the burden of evidence is equal. Is it?

          See above.

          given an assumption that there’s a 50/50 chance, I’d say that you’d be agnostic towards the question.

          Of course. So, what should I call myself?

          If a long tradition of “oddists” had dominated the culture through force, tyranny, and cultural repetition, it would be reasonable for me to call myself an “aoddist”.

          The only reason I would have to do that, would because “oddism” had hijacked the culture through those means. Of course, there’s nothing binary about god claims, so no reason to use that sort of reasoning.

          See above.

          Yes. I would be agnostic about a binary question.

          God claims are not binary questions.

          They are claims which I don’t accept.

          Theists accept them. I don’t. They are legion.

          Let me put it a slightly different way.

          There’s nothing “slight” about that difference.

        • Grimlock

          The question is phrased in a binary fashion. It’s appropriate for odd or even or anything like it. It’s not appropriate beyond that.

          It’s a general question about propositions. Propositions are pretty much by definition binary, in the sense that they’re either true or false. So I ask again,

          Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

          This is a general question about propositions. And to be frank, there is a pretty obvious correct answer to the question.

          Of course. So, what should I call myself?

          Agnostic.

          Of course. So, what should I call myself?

          I would beg to differ. Anyhow. Are you going to answer the question?

          On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least one god? (0 is impossible, 100 possible, and 50 is as likely as not.)

        • Susan

          Propositions are pretty much by definition binary, in the sense that they’re either true or false.

          I don’t know, Grimlock.

          https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/

          I’m not sure it’s useful to ask about god statements in “true” or “false” terms.

          I would beg to differ.

          Ok. Fair enough. Please explain how. I gave you an example of a “True” or “False” claim and explained that I don’t believe, one way or another, whether the number of grains of sand on a beach is odd or even.

          But with grains of sand, and odd and even, we at least know what someone is claiming. I’d be happy to say I’m agnostic until someone could show me one or the other. But that is not how it works with gods.

          On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least one god?

          What is a “god”?

        • Grimlock

          Propositions are pretty much by definition binary, in the sense that they’re either true or false.

          I don’t know, Grimlock.

          https://plato.stanford.edu/

          I’m not sure it’s useful to ask about god statements in “true” or “false” terms.

          Here’s the question I posed to you:

          “Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?”

          Is the concept of ‘god’ involved in that question? No, it is not. It’s a general question about propositions. I’d ask you to answer it as such.

          Ok. Fair enough. Please explain how. I gave you an example of a “True” or “False” claim and explained that I don’t believe, one way or another, whether the number of grains of sand on a beach is odd or even.

          But with grains of sand, and odd and even, we at least know what someone is claiming. I’d be happy to say I’m agnostic until someone could show me one or the other. But that is not how it works with gods.

          The ‘beg to differ’ part is about the ‘slight difference’ comment, not the grains of sand example.

          On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least one god?

          What is a “god”?

          Let’s go with a definition provided by Graham Oppy:

          “God: Sufficiently highly ranked supernatural being that has and exercises power over the natural universe.”

        • Susan

          “God: Sufficiently highly ranked supernatural being that has and exercises power over the natural universe.”

          Highly ranked? Supernatural?

          What do you mean?

        • Pofarmer

          This is about as pointless as ed.

        • Susan

          This is about as pointless as ed.

          I have no idea where Grimlock is going with this, or even if he’ll succeed.

          But Grimlock is not Ed.

        • Pofarmer

          Grimlock is from a culture where atheism is the norm, and fanatical theism is not. I don’t think he’s going to “get” this because he simply hasn’t experienced the path we’ve been through.

        • Grimlock

          Get what, precisely?

        • Pofarmer

          That Atheism for a lot of us isn’t a claim, it’s a conclusion. We’ve been through this.

        • Grimlock

          That Atheism for a lot of us isn’t a claim, it’s a conclusion. We’ve been through this.

          Uhu. Because a conclusion and a claim are totally two non-overlapping terms? I think not.

          More precisely, in either case it’s a position that’s being taken.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, it’s the positions that the theists evidence isn’t good enough to warrant the conclusion they’ve drawn. Fer Fucks Sake.

        • Grimlock

          Yeah, it’s the positions that the theists evidence isn’t good enough to warrant the conclusion they’ve drawn. Fer Fucks Sake.

          So… the default or initial position is that the theist’s claim is implausible, and unless they can provide sufficient evidence, will remain so?

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno about default or initial. But that’s my position at this point, yes.

        • Grimlock

          It seems that then you require some justification for why claims (and particularly claims of the existence of gods) require to be proven, and can’t simply be assumed. What is that justification?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m reminded of “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. All claims are not the same. We’re getting ready to take a trip to Iceland in a few weeks. I’m told that around 80% of Icelanders believe in Elves. Do I need a justification for not believing in them?

          It seems we all start out life being influenced by what those around us are teaching us. Here, in the U.S., and much of North America, what we have been taught from the cradle is primarily Christianity of one flavor or another. I didn’t choose to examine it, I was taught it, literally, from birth. God belief, historically, has been the basis for just about EVERY other belief, from behavior to disease to fortune. At some point, some of us, started examining those claims, even if indirectly. This period was called the “Enlightenment”. God belief took a big hit. It seems, at least in some places, we each must go through a mini-Enlightenment and examine the information that we were brought up with. We found out that most of those claims were bunk with regards to Christianity. I don’t think you understand this position, because of your background. Why do I need more justification than “The assertions of the theists were false.”?

        • Grimlock

          I’m reminded of “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. All claims are not the same. We’re getting ready to take a trip to Iceland in a few weeks. I’m told that around 80% of Icelanders believe in Elves. Do I need a justification for not believing in them?

          I obviously agree that not all claims are the same in terms of burden of evidence. What I want to get at is what you think makes a difference as to how much evidence is needed to accept different claims as plausible or true.

          Put another way, why does extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

          It seems we all start out life being influenced by what those around us are teaching us. Here, in the U.S., and much of North America, what we have been taught from the cradle is primarily Christianity of one flavor or another. I didn’t choose to examine it, I was taught it, literally, from birth. God belief, historically, has been the basis for just about EVERY other belief, from behavior to disease to fortune. At some point, some of us, started examining those claims, even if indirectly. This period was called the “Enlightenment”. God belief took a big hit. It seems, at least in some places, we each must go through a mini-Enlightenment and examine the information that we were brought up with. We found out that most of those claims were bunk with regards to Christianity. I don’t think you understand this position, because of your background. Why do I need more justification than “The assertions of the theists were false.”?

          I think you underestimate what I do and do not understand.

          Regardless, I’m not saying that you require to do more than refute the theistic arguments in order to consider the assertions of theists as false.

        • Susan

          Grimlock is from a culture where atheism is the norm, and fanatical theism is not.

          I think, probably, yes.

          I don’t think he’s going to “get” this because he simply hasn’t experienced the path we’ve been through.

          I think for Grimlock, it’s an interesting philosophical game that doesn’t take into consideration that theists (rather than support their claims), insist if we don’t believe them, then we are making the opposite claim. That is, apologist currency is strawmanning and burden shifting, neither of which are much fun in a “philosophical game”.

          Or something. I’m not sure.

          But I’m trying very hard to ask Grimlock the same questions I ask a theist or a “supernaturalist”, that is, that they define the terms they’re using before they ask me to take a position on it.

          Frustratingly, he thinks I’m playing a game, when I’m simply doing something basic when someone asks me to take a position on any claim.

          I hope that changes.

          It’s so much easier to ask someone what they mean when they label themselves, (“a” means “not” as an English prefix) than to insist on clinging to fossiled definitions when they are no longer appropriate.

          What I’m asking is basic.

        • Rudy R

          I asked Grimlock 3 times to define supernatural; he will NOT. I thing he’s smart enough to know that if he answers, he will have painted himself into a corner.

        • Susan

          I asked Grimlock 3 times to define supernatural

          I saw that. A series of five interactions on the subject. I upvoted you twice when you asked directly. It’s an important question.

          I’m not convinced he’s worried about painting himself into a corner. Maybe, but I remain optimistic.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not convinced he’s worried about painting himself into a corner.

          I’m not too worried about that. Paint dries, after all, so even if I do paint myself into a corner I’ll get out eventually.

          I’m more concerned about whether my paint job will be of sufficient quality, so that I don’t have to do the job all over again later.

        • Grimlock

          I thing he’s smart enough to know that if he answers, he will have painted himself into a corner.

          Alas, I do not think so. I can only conclude that I am not sufficiently intelligent to reach that inevitable conclusion.

        • Rudy R

          Alas, I overestimated you intelligence.

        • Grimlock

          No worries. It’s a common mistake.

        • Sample1

          Had a brief text convo with a buddy I’ve known for about four years.

          He’s not religious, more of a spiritual cosmic vibe but doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. Here’s the text, I started it off with getting into what he thought may have touched off the progress of the last few centuries that eluded thousands of years of civilization. He begins with a joke:

          Him: It was alien contact that advanced our mental acumen

          Me: Could be. Present your evidence and explanation. Crucially, how does one know if an explanation is good or bad?

          Him: By that fuzzy feeling in your gut. You either get it or not

          Me: What is the explanation for fuzzy feeling in gut. Is it a good explanation or a bad one?

          Him: It’s not an explanation, it’s a feeling. I’m just messing around I don’t know what we’re talking about but I think I’m in the right track

          Me: I would never deny what you feel. But if someone tried to convey something they think might be true about reality but simultaneously put forward that there is no explanation, well…

          Him: That’d be called faith

          Me: What is your definition of faith?

          Him: Oh jeez… faith is held up by belief

          Me: Your’e losing me. How about this. Would you think it’s 100% unreasonable to consider that there may be ways to explain why some people make statements about fuzzy feelings as being indicative of reality?

          I think emotion or (fuzzy feelings) can be excellent in terms of persuasion and rallying. I’m not sure emotion when added to a conversation necessarily adds truth (or falsity) to said conversation. Fair?

          Him: Fair.

          Me: For what it’s worth, I am at a stage in my life where I am interested in good explanations. Not saying others have to be. We are all on our own journeys. I hope to know you in 15yrs to revisit.

          Him: And I hope I’ll have a good explanation for you

          _____END of text

          Of course, I have zero expectations that a good explanation will come. For as many witnessed supernovae, humans have failed at a good explanation for fuzzy feelings meaning evidence of anything more than, well, fuzzy feelings.

          Anyway, thought you’d appreciate the convo. I’m not sure which is more challenging. An otherwise fairly apathetic cosmic vibe dude or a tithing believer with doctrines. Your opinion?

          Mike

        • Pofarmer

          I very much doubt, IRL, that he’s dealt with the fundamentalists that we have. It might be a fun exercise for him. It’s kinda deathly serious for us right now.

        • Grimlock

          That is, apologist currency is strawmanning and burden shifting, neither of which are much fun in a “philosophical game”.

          Apologists certainly have a tendency to do this. And I think it’s important to correct this. But then I’m obliged to do so in a way that I find to be robust and accurate. I do not find the “lack of belief” approach to fit those criteria.

          Frustratingly, he thinks I’m playing a game, when I’m simply doing something basic when someone asks me to take a position on any claim.

          I thought it’d be obvious that I didn’t mean it’s a game in the literal sense. Rather I intended it as a shorthand for the general approach of digging further into the underlying definitions of terms, which can potentially keep going indefinitely. (Cue the Munchhausen trilemma.)

          Now, obviously I intend to provide a definition of those terms. However, I also expect you to answer my questions as well, which is intended as a spring board to dig into some of your own positions.

        • Susan

          I intend to provide a definition of those terms.

          Please do so. It would help move the discussion along.

          I also expect you to answer my questions as well

          I made a sincere and solid effort to addres “A” vs. “(not)A”.

          I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

          Could you cut a little closer to the chase?

        • Grimlock

          As noted, I’ll move that discussion along when we can move along the other part of the discussion. Which is the question of the burden of the evidence between A and ~A.

          While I have no reason to consider your response anything but sincere, I don’t find it particularly solid.

          I’ll refer you to this comment where I try to explain why your response is flawed.

          A slightly different attempt at explaining it is this:

          My question has three direct answers, (I) always, (II) sometimes, and (III) never.

          From your response I can exclude (III) as an answer, but I don’t know if your answer is (I) or (II).

          In other words, for a proposition that’s either true or false,
          (I) Is the burden of evidence between A and ~A always equal?
          (II) Is the burden of evidence between A and ~A sometimes, but not always equal?

        • Susan

          I’ll move that discussion along when we can move along the other part of the discussion.

          Thanks Grimlock but I think I’m done.

        • Grimlock

          Fair enough.

          While we seem to struggle to communicate with each other on this issue, I’ve noted and truly appreciated several instances where you’ve been charitable towards me and my motives in this extended discussion.

        • Rudy R

          Since Susan has tired of your debating(?) tactics, are you ready to provide a definition of supernatural?
          Incidentally, is it possible to be agnostic on ~A?

        • Grimlock

          Huh. Do you genuinely think that I have any interest in having a serious exchange on this subject with you given your recent behavior?

          Of course not. Don’t be silly.

          So here’s a more whimsical response that amuses me.

          What’s your definition of supernatural?

          Many of the entities that the Winchesters fight against in Supernatural are supernatural entities.

          Incidentally, is it possible to be agnostic on ~A?

          This questions seems a bit oddly phrased, so I might not completely understand what you’re asking.

          Anyhow, given a proposition A, it seems clear that one can be in a position where one does not have sufficient evidence to say whether it’s true or false.

          Here’s a question back at you: Could you outline the position that I’m arguing for in this extended discussion on the definition of atheism?

        • Rudy R

          I can agree, given a proposition A, one can be in a position where one does not believe there is sufficient evidence to say whether it’s true or false. Given that, one’s position on ~A is not relevant to one’s position on A and further, one’s position can be agnostic on ~A.

          For example, one [atheist] does not have sufficient evidence to believe a god (A) exists, but one [agnostic] does not have sufficient evidence to know that no god (~A) exists.

          So if I understand what you are arguing, you reject that the burden of proof rests solely with the person making a proposition. If one rejects proposition A, then one believes in proposition ~A, and has the burden of proof for proposition ~A.

          The gum ball analogy, there is an even or odd number of gum balls in a jar, refutes your position. From a skeptic perspective, the default position should be “I don’t know” unless proven otherwise. The theist is offering the proposition that a god exists (gum balls are even) and the atheist rejects the proposition (not enough evidence for even number of gum balls), but not rejecting there is no god (there could be an even amount).

        • Grimlock

          Interesting comment. I think we agree on some, at least.

          I can agree, given a proposition A, one can be in a position where one does not believe there is sufficient evidence to say whether it’s true or false. Given that, one’s position on ~A is not relevant to one’s position on A and further, one’s position can be agnostic on ~A.

          For example, one [atheist] does not have sufficient evidence to believe a god (A) exists, but one [agnostic] does not have sufficient evidence to know that no god (~A) exists.

          I would say that when responding to A, one can not accept it as true in two non-overlapping ways:
          1. One can consider ~A to be true.
          2. One can not accept A as true or false, and as such not accept ~A as true or false.

          Obviously there is no third category where one considers A to be false and ~A to not be true. (By logical necessity, if A is false then ~A is true.)

          I prefer to categorize (1) as atheism and (2) as both agnosticism and nontheism. I prefer to not categorize (2) as atheism.

          So if I understand what you are arguing, you reject that the burden of proof rests solely with the person making a proposition. If one rejects proposition A, then one believes in proposition ~A, and has the burden of proof for proposition ~A.

          Not quite. That’s not quite a point I’ve argued for here. One thing I’ve, well, noted more than argued for is what I mentioned above that I prefer the above definition of atheism as not overlapping with e.g. agnosticism.

          Considering the second half of the quote above, it depends on what you mean by “rejects”. If by “rejects” you mean “doesn’t consider to be true”, it is not an accurate representation of my position. Clearly, one can be in a position where one cannot decide between A and ~A. In this case, one would either have absolutely no idea which is the case, or consider them to be roughly as likely as each other given current information.

          If by “rejects” you mean “considers to be false”, then clear if one considers A to be false then one considers ~A to be true pretty much by definition.

          The second part quoted above is, well, not something I’ve argued for. But I do find the “burden is on person making a claim” thing to be an inferior way of distributing the burden of evidence when compared to other methods.

          It’s not entirely removed from my point, though. If you appeal to some principle to justify skepticism or disbelief as a default condition, it always strikes me as boiling down to something like this:
          Propositions of type X is inherently implausible.

          I don’t really see how else you’d justify not believing something as a default without, in some way, appealing to its inherent implausibility. But that’s just another way of saying that you believe that it’s probably false.

          If you believe that A is inherently implausible, and that reasons given in A’s favor is pretty much useless, then it follows that you still believe that A is implausible. Or put more simply, that A is false.

          This is why I think that many people who claim they are atheists who “lack belief” actually think that there are no gods. Because it follows from a combination of (I) the justification for the burden of evidence, and (II) the dismissal of theistic arguments.

          My impression is also that it’s not uncommon to hold that the lack of belief thing is closely tied with the burden of evidence. But I don’t think that appealing to such a lack of belief is necessary to show that the theist holds a burden of evidence relative to (what I consider to be) atheists.

          Which brings us to my question of the burden of the evidence between holding to A and ~A. The example of the gum balls is an example designed to have two symmetric positions have the burden be equal [1]. But that’s clearly not the case for all propositions. For instance, consider the proposition P that there is a prime number of balls in that jar. The burden between P and ~P are clearly not equal.

          This is the answer I was looking for, namely that it’s not the case for all propositions that the burden for A and ~A are equal. For some, yes, but not for all. I believe that the proposition G, there exists at least one god, is such that G and ~G does most certainly not have the same burden.

          [1] I’m not entirely convinced that it’s completely symmetric without playing around with a pen and paper for a bit. But that’s something of a digression.

        • Susan

          This is the answer I was looking for, namely that it’s not the case for all propositions that the burden for A and ~A are equal.

          Of course not. Why so circuitous?

          Why did you respond to my odd vs. even claims about grains of sand on a beach without mentioning prime numbers?

          You were just trying to get us to acknowledge that various propositions have varying probabilities and that the burden varies because of that?

          That’s so basic and you could have gotten it done immediately without the games.

          Telling me you “weren’t satisfied” with my response was inappropriate. You could have just said “prime numbers” and we could calculate the odds.

          All of this headache just seems to have led back to your preference for terminology.

          You prefer “non” to “a”, although interestingly, you accept “a”gnostic.

          As I said, I don’t care about terms very much. I prefer that people are consistent about them. What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          It’s important to note, at this point, that you aren’t talking about grains of sand or gumballs.

          You are talking about “supernatural”, a term you have yet to define.

          Let’s skip the basic course on logic and address the subject.

          This is not fun. Nor is it useful. It’s cumbersome.

          That you prefer to define “a”theist in a way inconsistent with your acceptance of “a”gnostic is fine with me.

          But don’t drag us through this.

          Make your point.

          Define “supernatural”.

        • Pofarmer

          This is not fun. Nor is it useful. It’s cumbersome.

          Here here.

        • Susan

          Here here.

          I’m never sure how to spell that right. It could be (for instance) “Hear here.”

          Anyway… I upvoted it for the right reasons. Not to smugly upvote myself for making ths point.

          But I’m going to use this opportunity to point out that someone who claims there is a prime number of grains of sand or of gumballs still carries the burden. “Non” gnostics don’t have a burden in either case.

          That saves me editing the last comment (which can hold it up in purgatory and make it look dishonest if Grimlock responds to it without the edit).

          Just sayng that someone who claims that there is a “prime number” of gumballs has a certain probability of being right.

          But that doesn’t mean there is any reason to thnk they’ve done anything but guess right.

          Like a broken clock is right twice a day.

          Most importantly, Grimlock has avoided defning “supernatural”, the subject for which he is trying to call us to account.

          “Supernatural” in no way is “number of gumballs”.

          For the life of me, I don’t know why “grains of sand on a beach” got no response, but “gumballs” did.

          Anyway,,,,

        • Greg G.

          All beaches have a prime number of grains of sand because a blind squirrel told me.

        • Susan

          All beaches have a prime number of grains of sand because a blind squirrel told me.

          And now, Grimlock’s promise that he would define “supernatural” seems to have fallen by the wayside.

          Even though, Rudy R. found the secret word which was (who could have guessed?) “gumballs”.

          Now, I guess we’ll just have to wait.

          I wonder how long.

        • Rudy R

          Grimlock knows that defining supernatural is a trap that he does not want to set for himself. I predict he doesn’t respond.

        • Susan

          I predict he doesn’t respond.

          Upvoted 3 days later.

          I wanted to wait and see.

          I held out hope.

        • Grimlock

          Of course not. Why so circuitous?

          Why did you respond to my odd vs. even claims about grains of sand on a beach without mentioning prime numbers?

          You were just trying to get us to acknowledge that various propositions have varying probabilities and that the burden varies because of that?

          That’s so basic and you could have gotten it done immediately without the games.

          Telling me you “weren’t satisfied” with my response was inappropriate. You could have just said “prime numbers” and we could calculate the odds.

          Of course it’s obvious. That’s why I’m surprised you responded to a generalized question with a concrete example. It’s also why I gave several different explanations for why you hadn’t answered the question. Explanations that you in multiple cases didn’t interact with. To remind you, here was my original question…

          “Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?”

          Note how this is a general question, and that you answered by forging one specific instance of that category. I tried to explain to you why you hadn’t really answered the question im several ways:

          It’s a general question about propositions. Propositions are pretty much by definition binary, in the sense that they’re either true or false. So I ask again,

          Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?

          This is a general question about propositions. And to be frank, there is a pretty obvious correct answer to the question.

          Suppose you ask me if birds fly. I answer by pointing to one bird, and saying that that bird flies.

          Have I then answered your question? Clearly not.

          Unless you mean to generalize from one example to all examples, you haven’t answered my question.

          [ETA six minutes later: In other words, from your answer I can’t infer whether you think that the burden is always or sometimes equal.]

          A slightly different attempt at explaining it is this:

          My question has three direct answers, (I) always, (II) sometimes, and (III) never.

          From your response I can exclude (III) as an answer, but I don’t know if your answer is (I) or (II).

          In other words, for a proposition that’s either true or false,
          (I) Is the burden of evidence between A and ~A always equal?
          (II) Is the burden of evidence between A and ~A sometimes, but not always equal?

          Now, finally, one of my explanations got through to you. And you complain that I didn’t use that particular explanation before? Give me a break.

          Regardless, now that you’ve finally answered the question, I can go back to the point I wanted to make. You wrote the following:

          3) Apologists play that language against non-believers. They make most of their gravy demanding that we disprove incoherent claims.

          As I noted, I assume you’re referencing the burden of evidence when apologists play the language against atheists.

          My point? Simply that the notion of “whoever makes a claim has the burden” is unnecessary for demonstrating that the burden is on the theist. Considerations on how, in most cases, there is an asymmetric burden between A and ~A will show that the atheist position has less of a burden than the theist. Or, put another way, that the burden is on the theist.

          This undercuts one of the three reasons you gave for preferring the lack of belief definition of atheism.

          (Reason 1 appears to boil down to an appeal to etymology, which is at best a weak appeal. Particularly since the etymology of atheism appears quite messy. Reason 2 is you making an unsupported claim about incoherence, and on your model of the burden of evidence appears to be something I can then dismiss.)

          All of this headache just seems to have led back to your preference for terminology.

          Well, of course. The question was posed in a direct response to one of the reasons you posted as reasons for not preferring my preferred terminology. It never left that subject, although you might have lost track of that.

          You prefer “non” to “a”, although interestingly, you accept “a”gnostic.

          This appears to conflate meaning and etymology.

          It’s important to note, at this point, that you aren’t talking about grains of sand or gumballs.

          No kidding. I wasn’t the one to bring up those particular examples.

          You are talking about “supernatural”, a term you have yet to define.

          You’re the one who wants to get bogged down in the definitions of supernatural and such. That’s your pet peeve. I’m talking about different ways of defining atheism.

          Also, see my most recent answer to Rudy.

          That you prefer to define “a”theist in a way inconsistent with your acceptance of “a”gnostic is fine with me.

          Support your claim. Else I shall reject it.

          Define “supernatural”.

          Linky.

          Now, feel free to answer the question that led us down this path of defining terms:

          On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least in god? (0 is impossible, 100 possible, and 50 is as likely as not.)

          (To add on to that question: One option is that you don’t know where on that spectrum you would rate the plausibility. Which has some interesting consequences.)

        • Susan

          That’s why I’m surprised you responded to a generalized question with a concrete example

          It’s perfectly normal and reasonable to respond to a generalized question with a concrete example. In order to make sure that I’m understanding and responding to the question you were asking, rather than to respond with misunderstanding.

          Especially as the question seemed rather odd, considering how many times people have explained to you that they were not claiming (not)A and that the rest is just about preferences in terminology for that position.

          This appears to conflate meaning and etymology.

          Nope. This is about the value of an English prefix. You accept “a” as “not” in one case and not in the other.

          Again, this is your perogative. As long as you’re clear about what it means.

          I’m an “a”theist and I have been clear about what I mean when I say that.

          Linky

          Your linky doesn’t define supernatural. This is a problem, especially when you’ve been promising that you would.

          Now, feel free to answer the question that led us down this path of defining terms:

          On a scale from 0 to 100, where would place the plausibility that there is at least in god? (0 is impossible, 100 possible, and 50 is as likely as not.)

          1) This question did not lead us down this path. You did. You simply flung out this question after I told you I have no reason to accept your definition of “a”theist.

          2) It is impossible to even take that question seriously until you provide a definition of “supernatural”, not just a linky to natural with the the implication that it isn’t that.

          Asking about plausibility about an incoherent term is absurd.

        • Rudy R

          I think we are in violent agreement. If someone claims a god exists, it’s the claimants duty to describe the attributes and provide evidence for those attributes of that particular god. If the claimant believes in classical theism (the omni’s god) then the burden could be shared, because those god attributes are generally well-understood. But the burden by the atheist is, in a sense , a counter argument against the veracity of those omni attributes.

          Which brings me back to my original question to you. Since you believe in Graham Oppy’s definition of a god, which is a sufficiently highly ranked supernatural being that has and exercises power over the natural universe, what is your definition of supernatural?

        • Grimlock

          I think we are in violent agreement. If someone claims a god exists, it’s the claimants duty to describe the attributes and provide evidence for those attributes of that particular god. If the claimant believes in classical theism (the omni’s god) then the burden could be shared, because those god attributes are generally well-understood. But the burden by the atheist is, in a sense , a counter argument against the veracity of those omni attributes.

          That last part, that the burden for the atheist is in a sense to respond to the proponent of theism, yes.

          I suspect we might find some differences of opinion if we dig into this, but by an large we appear to be in agreement.

          Which brings me back to my original question to you. Since you believe in Graham Oppy’s definition of a god, which is a sufficiently highly ranked supernatural being that has and exercises power over the natural universe, what is your definition of supernatural?

          I’m not sure what you mean by me believing in the definition I quoted from Oppy. I found it to be a convenient and fairly wide definition of theism, as it’s described in his book Atheism: The Basics that I have on Kindle.

          As an atheist, I’m not really committed to a particular definition of god.

          Similarly, I don’t have a strong preference for a definition of the supernatural. The reason that the question of definitions was brought up is after all Susan’s refusal to attribute any level of credence to theistic claims.

          Anyhow. Here are a handful of definitions that I find useful. Pick whichever you prefer.

          supernatural person: a person that is neither a part nor a product of the physical universe

          Source.

          Here are some definitions of naturalism, where a supernatural entity would be one that does not fit whichever of these definitions that you prefer:

          “Naturalism is true iff everything that exists is either ontologically reducible to the nonmental, or causally reducible to the nonmental, or both … For A to be ontologically reducible to B, there must exist nothing in A that is not made up of elements of B … For A to be causally reducible to B, it does not have to be ontologically reducible to B or to anything else, it only has to be entirely causally explained by B or some arrangement of B … A mental object is any object that is distinctive of the contents or activity of a mind, in contrast to what we do not consider as such. The most obvious examples of mental objects in this sense are thoughts, perceptions, and emotions.”

          “The hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system [in the sense that] nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.”

          Source.

        • Rudy R

          As an atheist, I’m not really committed to a particular definition of god.

          As an atheist, I don’t attempt to define a god, because I can’t think of any definition that can be supported be empirical evidence.

        • Susan

          I’ll move that discussion along when we can move along the other part of the discussion.

          On another note, I noticed that “Pierre Louis” upvoted you.

          If you check into the history, you’ll see that it’s a long abandoned account that has been hijacked by someone selling sex.

          I suggest you find some way to report it, (because it’s not Pierre Louis). They don’t give you a “This account has been hijacked” option. Pick the option you find most appropriate.

          Also, block them.

          Disqus doesn’t care. But we should.

          If they cared, they would have provided a “This account has been hijacked” option a very long time ago.

          There’s no way they don’t know this is happening. It’s been too long and happens too frequently.

        • Grimlock

          But Grimlock is not Ed.

          …or am I?

        • Susan

          …or am I?

          😀

        • Grimlock

          We can play this game if you want, but then it’s certainly not going to be one-sided.

          In other words, I’ll answer that when you get around to answering this:

          “Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?”

        • Susan

          We can play this game if you want

          I’m not playing games.

          I honestly want to know what you mean.

          “Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?”

          And I answered that using the number of grains of sand on a beach.

          To claim that the number is either odd or (not odd) bears an equal burden.

        • Grimlock

          Suppose you ask me if birds fly. I answer by pointing to one bird, and saying that that bird flies.

          Have I then answered your question? Clearly not.

          Unless you mean to generalize from one example to all examples, you haven’t answered my question.

          [ETA six minutes later: In other words, from your answer I can’t infer whether you think that the burden is always or sometimes equal.]

        • Pofarmer

          Grimlock.

          What the fuck, honestly, are you trying to do or prove? Atheists aren’t taking a “not A” position, this has been pointed out to you repeatedly. Almost universally we are taking a position that “A has not been proven.” What is preventing you from understanding this? A or not A are not the only options. It’s the fallacy of the excluded middle fer fucks sake. C’mon.

        • Grimlock

          In my preferred terminology I’m including agnostics and other non-theists that are neither agnostics or atheists. (I’ll follow Graham Oppy and refer to this latter group as innocents – people who haven’t considered the possibility of gods.) Your accusation of a false dichotomy rings a bit false.

          As to the “not been proven” thing, I have outlined why I don’t find that convincing in previous conversations. I don’t recall you interacting with that reasoning in a meaningful way.

        • Pofarmer

          As to the “not been proven” thing, I have outlined why I don’t find that
          convincing in previous conversations. I don’t recall you interacting
          with that reasoning in a meaningful way.

          Because it’s a silly argument, mainly. It also ignores the lived experiences of most of those you are dealing with.

        • Grimlock

          I’ll note that you didn’t withdraw your erronous claim that I held to a false dichotomy.

          As to the “not been proven” thing, I have outlined why I don’t find that convincing in previous conversations. I don’t recall you interacting with that reasoning in a meaningful way.

          Because it’s a silly argument, mainly. It also ignores the lived experiences of most of those you are dealing with.

          Surely you shouldn’t expect me to abandon a position merely because you find it silly.

          It does make me wonder, though, whether you might have misunderstood my position. Perhaps you could outline what my silly position/argument is? That should clarify whether that is the case.

        • Pofarmer

          Your position seems to be that I owe someone a burden of proof for not accepting their claims.

        • Grimlock

          That is an incorrect assessment of my position. To be clear, if A is the proposition that there exists at least one god, then the burden of holding to A is greater than the burden of holding ~A.

          The reason for this is, ultimately, that propositions such as A are implausible or unlikely. Or, put another way, that they are probably false, and so require evidence to be considered true.

        • Pofarmer

          Meh

        • Rudy R

          What’s your definition of supernatural?

        • Grimlock

          I’ll follow up on that in my exchange with Susan. See here for the most recent comment in that exchange.

        • Rudy R

          “Given that a proposition A is either true or false, do you think that the burden of evidence for the positions A and (not A) are equal?” is not germane to my question. Again, what’s your definition of supernatural?

        • Grimlock

          My point by referring to that comment was not that I want you to answer the question posed therein. But rather that I’ll (probably) answer it as a part of the conversation that I’m having with Susan. Which is where the subject came up.

        • Rudy R

          Probably answer the question? Your definition of god is rooted in supernaturalism. If your definition of supernatural is incoherent, then your definition of god is incoherent.

        • Grimlock

          I believe I set a fairly reasonable condition for answering that question. Do you disagree?

          Your definition of god is rooted in supernaturalism. If your definition of supernatural is incoherent, then your definition of god is incoherent.

          Obviously, this is correct.

        • Rudy R

          So, again for the third time, what is your definition of supernatural?

        • Grimlock

          I thought I’d made it clear that I’m waiting for Susan to continue our conversation.

        • Rudy R

          You’ve also made it clear that you don’t want to provide a definition for supernatural. Wonder why?

        • Grimlock

          I’ve set a condition for answering. I ask again, do you find that to be an unreasonable condition?

        • Rudy R

          Susan and I both asked you for a definition of supernatural and you have refused to do so. So much for setting a condition for answering.

        • Grimlock

          Ah, but the condition has not yet been satisfied. And as I still find it to be a reasonable condition, and I’ve not been provided a compelling reason to change my mind, I stand by that.

    • Not a bad distinction. I just wish it were universal. Without that, you’d probably have to have that preamble to make sure everyone was on the same page.

      • Grimlock

        Probably. Given that there are multiple reasonable (and a few unreasonable) different ideas of what atheism is running around, I’m not sure how you could do without the preamble regardless of the definition being employed.

  • rationalobservations?

    The current generations are better equipped with education and instant access to information than any other generation in all history and (while so much propaganda, fake news, rumour and brazen lies makes the world wide web a potential trap for the ill informed) the actual fact based information is now available to anyone with a PC and an internet supplier. Those who enquire discover that there is no tangible authentic and original, 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence or ridiculous fictional adventures of “Jesus”.

    Logic continues to defeat religionism: There are millions of equally fictional undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which any individual or group of imaginary deities appears nothing authentic, unique or original. Logic dictates that all the many gods, goddesses and god-men should be believed in – or none at all. More than one third of the current generation dismiss all religionism and reject all fictional gods. This group is the fastest growing human demographic being added to with each generation of young atheists born and old religionists who die while their bunkum dies with them.

    Christians are often totally baffled how atheists could deny the existence of their god, “Yahweh” and their god-man “Jesus” but they shouldn’t be. Christians (and all other brands of religionists) deny almost endless thousands of the same gods and goddesses that atheists deny. Atheists merely deny one more god than Christians do – (or is that three gods more?) and for almost identical reasons that christians deny all other gods, goddesses and god-men.

    Christians deny the existence of Brahma, Odin, Zeus and Quetzalcoatl. They deny millions of others including Pratibhanapratisamvit (Buddhist goddess of context analysis), Acat, (Mayan god of tattoo artists) and Tsa’qamae, (North american god of salmon migration). They also deny the 30,000,000 gods and goddesses said to inhabit the “sacred” cows of India along with countless gods and goddesses who inhabit other locations.

    Religionists of all brands and atheists are not so different, after all. Let us celebrate our vast agreement on the non-existence of so many thousands of thousands of gods, goddesses, god-men and other figments of human imagination!

    https://external-preview.redd.it/KOR8lvX9Y6PmImGQxt5MDSKx8NPkVpQPCXZ8ZYAmpQI.jpg?auto=webp&s=a95d0284e01c903a7698f3c28db62a1b59518fa5
    https://i0.wp.com/restlesspilgrim.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sinai.jpg?w=960&ssl=1

  • Jim Jones

    > Who says the universe is rational? It’s only as rational as it is, which isn’t particularly rational.

    The universe is completely pointless. There’s no good reason for it to exist. It just does. We see parts colliding and wonder if there was life there and if it died out in the collision. But we can’t ever get there and may never know. Pointless.

    • eric

      The universe is completely pointless.

      I’m guessing you’re right. Then again, the things at the center of black holes might actually be singularities, in which case the universe has many points.

  • vinny152

    In a meaningless and purposeless Universe-homo sapiens still requires a sense of `connectedness`-maybe a certain level of the brain`s evolution.Why not give this it`s correct “meaning“-rather than constantly misinterpreting and head-bashing.Personally-I prefer the Zen-minimalist approach-;?))…..v152(vinny152″yahoo.com)

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    //Even young-earth Creationist organizations such as and advise against using it//

    If you manage to examine your proofs and find one of them wrong, how can you not use that same skill set for your other proofs?
    (Well if you are honest, you would.)