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 What constitutes proof for an atheist?
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Fripp
SFN Regular

USA
727 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  07:37:52  Show Profile Send Fripp a Private Message
Greetings all,

I want to play Devils' Advocate (no pun intended) and ask for clarification for a philosophical argument.

Let me preface by saying that, while I hate labels, I am what you would call a "soft atheist", i.e. it's not that I don't believe that there is NO God, but the inverse, his/her existance has not been proven; that the burden of proof falls on the faithful/believers and they haven't succeeded.

Thus, in a debate, the opponent would ask "what constitutes proof?" to which I would answer, "show me evidence of His existence" (sorry for the genderization).

Herein lies the dilemma: simply because we humans can't explain many of the workings of the universe (for instance, have we figured out the odd, radial ripples in Saturn's rings?), we can't automatically ascribe them to a deity. That falls into the "god of the gaps" or Argument from Ignorance fallacy that our beloved ID'ers love so. But the rejection of the supernatural causes behind otherwise unexplainable phenomenon pretty much becomes an ideology that, at no point, can I (or We) be provided with satisfactory proof. Or, in fact, our belief that there is no proof of God becomes and "unfalsifiable" hypothesis.

I hope that I have presented this logical dilemma clearly enough and I look forward to your responses.

"What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought my Dark Lord of the Sith could protect a small thermal exhaust port that's only 2-meters wide! That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! You have any idea what this is going to do to my credit?!?!"

"What? Oh, oh, 'just rebuild it'? Oh, real [bleep]ing original. And who's gonna give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on that torso LiteBrite?"

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  07:44:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
For me, the question then becomes, what is it that is claimed? Then I might be able to discuss what the proof might be.

If the question is god, then define the qualities of that god that you think exists. What does it do? What can I do with the idea of this god that I can't do without it? How am I supposed to know when it has done something? If the only answer is "faith" then why not believe in millions of other probable things that have no discernible effect on the world?

It's the same proof that they would require about anything else. Would they buy a car without having some idea what to expect from it? How would that be measured?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 04/27/2005 07:45:33
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Fripp
SFN Regular

USA
727 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  08:23:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Fripp a Private Message
I guess a good follow up to their question "How can you explain the size and complexity of the universe?" would be, "I can't, but can you provide evidence that your God created it vs. some other explanation as yet unknown?"

"What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought my Dark Lord of the Sith could protect a small thermal exhaust port that's only 2-meters wide! That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! You have any idea what this is going to do to my credit?!?!"

"What? Oh, oh, 'just rebuild it'? Oh, real [bleep]ing original. And who's gonna give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on that torso LiteBrite?"
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  08:37:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Proof of a generalized omnipotent physics altering being, shouldnt be too hard. We've discussed this in other ways before, for example I'd still like to see Bush excrete a fully formed SUV, with some unknown tecnologies on it to make sure its not a trick. Of course it would need to be verified and witness by multiple independent sources and then studied to determine its extra-physics origins, however even this would not convince me of the validity of any current religion.

Perhaps it just defies human understanding, there is no law which states humans can and/or will figure it all out. Keep in mind we will only be able to see about 1/200 of the universe no matter how good our technology and will never have pre-bang data, that and we have to beat off the Theocrats for all eternity.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
Edited by - BigPapaSmurf on 04/27/2005 08:40:05
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  10:35:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
If I were to personally clean out a gallon glass jug, fill it with water that I'd distilled myself, and seal it, then God should be able to turn that water into wine so good that even the most jaded wine expert would orgasm at its taste. He should be able to do this right after I seal the bottle, and in my head say "IT IS DONE" in a voice I would never think of, myself.

Of course, this would only convince me, and would not necessarily be evidence for anyone else.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  10:47:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Well it could stop time and let all humans share in your experiences...via Psi-balls.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  11:15:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Fripp

Greetings all,

I want to play Devils' Advocate (no pun intended) and ask for clarification for a philosophical argument.

Let me preface by saying that, while I hate labels, I am what you would call a "soft atheist", i.e. it's not that I don't believe that there is NO God, but the inverse, his/her existance has not been proven; that the burden of proof falls on the faithful/believers and they haven't succeeded.


I would term this as being an atheistic agnostic.

quote:

Thus, in a debate, the opponent would ask "what constitutes proof?" to which I would answer, "show me evidence of His existence" (sorry for the genderization).

Herein lies the dilemma: simply because we humans can't explain many of the workings of the universe (for instance, have we figured out the odd, radial ripples in Saturn's rings?), we can't automatically ascribe them to a deity. That falls into the "god of the gaps" or Argument from Ignorance fallacy that our beloved ID'ers love so. But the rejection of the supernatural causes behind otherwise unexplainable phenomenon pretty much becomes an ideology that, at no point, can I (or We) be provided with satisfactory proof. Or, in fact, our belief that there is no proof of God becomes and "unfalsifiable" hypothesis.


Since the concept of God is a theological construct, they would have to first specify what physical attributes and powers this God has. From there, we can design a set of criteria which will be able to falsify existance of a supreme being.

quote:

I hope that I have presented this logical dilemma clearly enough and I look forward to your responses.



Welcome to the SFN.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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pfretzschner
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  11:16:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send pfretzschner a Private Message
quote:
I'd still like to see Bush excrete a fully formed SUV, with some unknown tecnologies on it to make sure its not a trick. Of course it would need to be verified and witness by multiple independent sources and then studied to determine its extra-physics origins

If I were studying it, I'd sure as hell wash it first!
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bloody_peasant
Skeptic Friend

USA
139 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  12:00:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send bloody_peasant a Yahoo! Message Send bloody_peasant a Private Message
quote:
I would term this as being an atheistic agnostic.

I thought it was a agnostic atheist >:-D
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  13:46:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
I would imagine it is up to god to provide the proof. I mean, whatever I could come up with would pale in comparison to the designs of the Almighty. Really, if a being so powerful and awesome really existed, we should already all believe. One of the proofs of god's non-existence is the very fact that doubt exists.

"If God has spoken, why is the Universe not convinced?"
--Percy Bysshe Shelley.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 04/27/2005 13:47:51
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  15:34:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
An interesting question.

With all claims that are attributed to the supernatural, if they can be reasonable verified it moves them (by definition) out of the realm of the supernatural.

For me to accept such a thing as an omnipotent creator, you'd have to provide evidence of such a being's existance in a way that would move it from the supernatural to the natural.

Like having it walk up one day and introduce itself. As an omnipotent being, it should have no problem convincing me of it's existance.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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woolytoad
Skeptic Friend

313 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  17:03:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send woolytoad a Private Message
quote:
One of the proofs of god's non-existence is the very fact that doubt exists.


How does this work? This is an omnipotent being. He could place doubt in our minds. He can create Earth, leaving no solid evidence of his existence and stay hidden. He/She/It is under no obligation to reveal their existence to us.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  17:11:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by woolytoad

quote:
One of the proofs of god's non-existence is the very fact that doubt exists.


How does this work? This is an omnipotent being. He could place doubt in our minds. He can create Earth, leaving no solid evidence of his existence and stay hidden. He/She/It is under no obligation to reveal their existence to us.

I didn't say it was the best proof, simply one of them. An omnipotent being would have little reason to change it's nature to shield itself from us. Indeed, its sheer power should resonate throughout every fiber of creation. It would be in its nature to exist, and if it existed it should be impossible to deny its eixistence. Of course, you could argue for a trickster god, but that has other problems.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  17:28:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
quote:
He/She/It is under no obligation to reveal their existence to us.



Then why would anyone care?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/27/2005 :  20:37:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
How does this work? This is an omnipotent being. He could place doubt in our minds. He can create Earth, leaving no solid evidence of his existence and stay hidden. He/She/It is under no obligation to reveal their existence to us.


The issue with this statement is that people claim that god has revealed his existance... to certain special people.

Of course, if you claim an omnipotent god, you could make an argument (atman is brahman) that the universe and all things in it are god. This is the only way to reconcile free will and an omnipotent god. The Hindus picked up on this bit thousands of years ago.

In any circumstance where we are not god, you have a logical paradox in that an omnipotent being couldn't grant free will to a creation and remain omnipotent.

It is all fun to speculate about, but the only thing I would accept as proof of god is an appearance.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2005 :  02:04:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
"If only god would give me a sign... like making a large deposit in my name to a swiss bank account."
-Woody Allen
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