"If atheism were true...."
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15-05-2014, 08:50 PM
"If atheism were true...."
A few years ago Sam Harris had a public debate with William Craig. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwcZNWd3iSo
The topic was morals and ethics. Their time limits were strictly enforced.

Throughout the debate, Craig kept saying "if atheism were true....".


What does that even mean? I thought to myself, why is Sam letting him get away with that? Then I remembered the time restrictions. He barely had time to address the other points.

One more thing he didn't have enough time to address was the assumption that if there is a god, then therefore morals necessarily come from that god.

What are your thoughts?
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15-05-2014, 09:06 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
Actually, I have to award a point to WLC on that one. Not because it makes any sense or is a valid point in any way, but because it helps his argument. Essentially it turns the term "atheism" into a thing, when it isn't. To the listener, it subtly turns the term into something more than just a lack of belief in god, but into a belief in and of itself in contrast with belief in god.

That presents atheism vs. belief as two worldviews that are equally footed. It's a nice rhetorical tactic even if underhanded and intellectually dishonest.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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15-05-2014, 09:13 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
(15-05-2014 09:06 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Actually, I have to award a point to WLC on that one. Not because it makes any sense or is a valid point in any way, but because it helps his argument. Essentially it turns the term "atheism" into a thing, when it isn't. To the listener, it subtly turns the term into something more than just a lack of belief in god, but into a belief in and of itself in contrast with belief in god.

That presents atheism vs. belief as two worldviews that are equally footed. It's a nice rhetorical tactic even if underhanded and intellectually dishonest.

Exactly. But, Harris never called him on it. (the restricted time thing)
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15-05-2014, 09:15 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
(15-05-2014 09:13 PM)TheBear Wrote:  
(15-05-2014 09:06 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Actually, I have to award a point to WLC on that one. Not because it makes any sense or is a valid point in any way, but because it helps his argument. Essentially it turns the term "atheism" into a thing, when it isn't. To the listener, it subtly turns the term into something more than just a lack of belief in god, but into a belief in and of itself in contrast with belief in god.

That presents atheism vs. belief as two worldviews that are equally footed. It's a nice rhetorical tactic even if underhanded and intellectually dishonest.

Exactly. But, Harris never called him on it. (the restricted time thing)

This is why formal debate is not a good way to make any kind of argument. It promotes a false dichotomy that both sides are equal and balanced and allows for this tactic of throw as much bull at your opponent as possible so they can never reply to all of it.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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15-05-2014, 09:35 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
(15-05-2014 09:15 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(15-05-2014 09:13 PM)TheBear Wrote:  Exactly. But, Harris never called him on it. (the restricted time thing)

This is why formal debate is not a good way to make any kind of argument. It promotes a false dichotomy that both sides are equal and balanced and allows for this tactic of throw as much bull at your opponent as possible so they can never reply to all of it.

And so many (with Carrier and Carroll being major exceptions), of the people who are asked to take the non-belief position are very poor debaters. Some are improving over time. Virtually none of them actually know anything about the ancient Near Eastern cultures that produced the major belief systems. Harris does take a "literalist" view and pounds it, (which work if you're a fundie), but it's really a rather childish way to approach ancient literature.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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15-05-2014, 09:36 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
(15-05-2014 08:50 PM)TheBear Wrote:  A few years ago Sam Harris had a public debate with William Craig. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwcZNWd3iSo
The topic was morals and ethics. Their time limits were strictly enforced.

Throughout the debate, Craig kept saying "if atheism were true....".


What does that even mean? I thought to myself, why is Sam letting him get away with that? Then I remembered the time restrictions. He barely had time to address the other points.

One more thing he didn't have enough time to address was the assumption that if there is a god, then therefore morals necessarily come from that god.

What are your thoughts?

Actually, it was "If atheism is true..."


I thought the same thing -- why the fuck is Sam letting him get away with that. Yes, Craig pulled a Gish Gallop on him, and he let Craig get away with that, too.

My thoughts are that this sort of debate format has serious limitations and is a failure at ferreting out the truth, precisely because it can be easily cheated with Gish-gallops and the like, and also because it does not allow the participants to give thorough, well, considered responses.


What atheists should be doing is challenging theists to prove their claims in forums like we do here, where we can fact-check, verify, research, and give thorough and well-considered responses and rebuttals to their batshit claims.






(15-05-2014 09:06 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Actually, I have to award a point to WLC on that one. Not because it makes any sense or is a valid point in any way, but because it helps his argument. Essentially it turns the term "atheism" into a thing, when it isn't. To the listener, it subtly turns the term into something more than just a lack of belief in god, but into a belief in and of itself in contrast with belief in god.

That presents atheism vs. belief as two worldviews that are equally footed. It's a nice rhetorical tactic even if underhanded and intellectually dishonest.

^^^^ Illustrating perfectly the failure of the "formal debate" as a vehicle to vet out the truth.

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15-05-2014, 10:45 PM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
Thanks for the replies so far. Thumbsup
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16-05-2014, 12:17 AM
RE: "If atheism were true...."



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16-05-2014, 04:40 AM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
(15-05-2014 08:50 PM)TheBear Wrote:  A few years ago Sam Harris had a public debate with William Craig. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwcZNWd3iSo
The topic was morals and ethics. Their time limits were strictly enforced.

Throughout the debate, Craig kept saying "if atheism were true....".


What does that even mean? I thought to myself, why is Sam letting him get away with that? Then I remembered the time restrictions. He barely had time to address the other points.

One more thing he didn't have enough time to address was the assumption that if there is a god, then therefore morals necessarily come from that god.

What are your thoughts?

I find it interesting that no non-theist in debate takes issue with the term "atheism" being used the way Craig uses it.

When Craig says things like "on atheism", or " if atheism is true", he is simply saying " in a world without God"....

That is why no one debating him has issue with the way he uses the term.
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16-05-2014, 05:01 AM
RE: "If atheism were true...."
When Phillip the second, father of Alexander the Great, went on his conquest of Greece with his Macedonian army and Molossian allies, he managed to conquer each Greek city state succesfully, with the exception of Sparta. Being well aware of the Spartan reputation for combat he sent them a message that read:

"If I win this war and you havent surrenderd, I shall raze your city to the ground, sell your peoples into slavery and destroy any notion of your existance from history."

The Spartans sent a message back that read:

"If"

Phillip the second never conquered Sparta. Neither did his son Alexander the great.

So much to the merrits of arguments starting with if.

Craig has been debunked since 300 BC.

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