Scientific Theory
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31-08-2010, 02:21 PM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
(31-08-2010 12:26 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 2buckchuck.

Quote:Because it's logically impossible to prove (or more properly, provide evidence for) non-existence. Atheism is NOT a belief system, it's the ABSENCE of a belief (in a deity). Many theists demand, illogically, that it's up to non-believers to prove that a deity doesn't exist, but the default position in any rational debate about beliefs is non-belief. Atheism is the default position in this debate, so the burden of proof is on those with a belief.

But it's impossible to prove existence. So you're saying they have to prove something that is impossible to prove. So both sides can't do what the other asks but you set the default as your side. That aside, what I was getting at was was a more fundamental question. Why do they have to prove it? To you, to me, to anyone?
"Proving" the existence of God in terms of a logical syllogism is indeed impossible ... I stand corrected ... what I should have said is that if believers want atheists to accept the existence of a deity, they will have to come up with rational arguments that involve EVIDENCE, not faith. As I've already noted, in a logical debate about belief in anything, the burden of proof/evidence is logically on the side of the believer - they are making a positive statement, whereas atheist are denying belief.

If someone believes that cetaceans are sentient, the default position is the absence of said belief - the burden of proof/evidence is for the believer to present a logical case not built on faith or on argument by authority.

People who accept the existence of a deity on faith (a necessary conditions, as there is NO credible evidence) are not REQUIRED to prove anything to anyone, of course. They can be secure in their faith and not proselytize among unbelievers. But IF they want to advance a logical argument to convince unbelievers, then theirs is the burden of proof. They must develop some form of rational argument NOT based on faith or scripture. They can't simply argue that the inability of atheists to disprove that their deity exists implies that the believers have provided "evidence" (proven) that said deity DOES exist or even COULD exist.
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31-08-2010, 08:37 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
Quote:The number one way to dehumanise a foe is to call them evil. It's the oldest trick in the book. Once they're evil, they're no longer human and we're free to destroy them. That's the problem. You can call anyone you disagree with, or any behaviour you want to outlaw, evil. I try to not look at the world in simplistic Micky Mouse terms but rather understand that people do things for reasons and understanding those reasons is what is important. Those douchebags didn't fly planes into the Twin Towers because they're evil. Evil is melodrama. If someone can explain to me by which mechanism evil impels evil people to act evilly, I'll be more than willing to listen.

Any attempt to break down an act like 9/11 into a single word is, of course, both ridiculous and simplistic. However, whether or not the terrorists that attacked the US that day did so because they were evil, psychotic, misguided, etc. is wholly irrelevant. I do believe the reasons these 19 people were convinced to do what they did is important in the sense of understanding it so we can prevent it from happening again, but there is nothing relative about their actions or their motivations. There is no side to the story where what they did is absolutes. Throwing out phrases like "I don't believe in evil" is great in a classroom but in the real world these scumbags are trying, right now, to get nuclear weapons and detonate them. You think they care if you want to get in touch with their inner child or whatever it is you suggest?

There are some real bad people in the world and my sense of you and people like you is you will sit and make excuses for them, discuss their perspective, etc. while these psychos ready for the attack.

I'm not one of these "blame all the Muslims!" people. I don't believe all of Islam is our enemy but the fact is that more than any other group, religion, etc. on the planet this religion is fomenting violence and death. And, there are far too many relativists out there who are seeking to make excuses and apologies for them. I said in another post that people who sit on the fence are, for me, the most dangerous people out there because they give fanatics something to hide behind. Those fanatics can be Muslim terrorists, Christian's who kill abortion doctors or terrorize women going to clinics, Jews who insist on building homes in Palestinian backyards, etc. There is no monopoly on stupidity and it's not limited to just religious people. However, more than any other group, religious groups get some kind of deference and it's absolutely because of this relativism issue. Power plays in a role too but I feel fairly strongly that Muslims have very little power in most of the Western world and you're seeing some of the same excuses get thrown around.

Quote:That being said, subjectivism and cultural relativism doesn't mean that you can never act. That's preposterous. It means that you act in certain ways.

Yes, it generally means you act in a way that can be best translated into sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "LA LA LA LA LA" while the world moves on around you and you try to justify all positions because they all must be valid and equal.

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31-08-2010, 11:12 PM (This post was last modified: 01-09-2010 06:47 AM by Ghost.)
RE: Scientific Theory
Hey, Secular Student.

Some fine points.

I'd just say that power structures are necessarily exclusive. So there will always be dissent within hierarchical structures. So sure, there will always be people poo pooing the resident cultural belief as an act of rebellion or because they have conflicting ideas.

Hey, 2buckchuck.

You're saying they need to provide evidence to prove gods exist but you also acknowledge that that evidence is unobtainable. So they can't prove it to you based on the criteria you've set up. They can't advance a logical argument so they can't convince you. I see where you're coming from though.

Hey, Bnw.

I just want to point out that by accusing cultural relativists of behaviours your are accusing me, a cultural relativist, of those behaviours. I just wanted to be clear about why I'm contesting you on these points. They don't represent me.

Quote:Any attempt to break down an act like 9/11 into a single word is, of course, both ridiculous and simplistic.

Indeed.

Quote:Throwing out phrases like "I don't believe in evil" is great in a classroom but in the real world these scumbags are trying, right now, to get nuclear weapons and detonate them. You think they care if you want to get in touch with their inner child or whatever it is you suggest?

Your "good in the classroom" comment implies that I am naive and that you possess some knowledge of how things truly function that I could not possibly know. I feel that it's a cheap shot. I won't dignify the inner child thing.

Detonating a nuclear bomb in a population centre is evil. The USA has detonated nuclear bombs in population centres twice. The USA is evil.

For me, that's the result of labeling an act evil. Everything has to be black or white. Cultural relativism says, no, the world is full of gray. The world isn't just filled with acts that happen for no reason, it's filled with acts that have complex origins.

Killing civilians, whether by nuclear bombs or guns or machetes, to me, is not an act of evil. It is an act. That act has reasons, none of which are the expression of evil. Does that mean I think everyone should go on a killing spree? Not in the least. It means I think there are answers more complex than "because they were evil".

For me, it's too easy to call terrorists scumbags. It, to me, makes it seem like terrorists are created in some play-dough fun factory with no purpose but to kill for the sake of killing. But it diminishes what I believe is the real issue. They aren't doing it 'just cuz'. The only effective way for the dispossessed to engage an empire is through guerrilla tactics. They're only scumbags cause they're on the other side.

Also, if I believe that terrorists are evil, that means that their targets, the US, are good. The day I believe the US is simply good is the day I swallow a Buick.

Quote:There are some real bad people in the world and my sense of you and people like you is you will sit and make excuses for them, discuss their perspective, etc. while these psychos ready for the attack.

People are not just bad because they're bad. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Your sense is wrong. The job of a cultural relativist is not to make excuses for anyone. Excuses don't enter into it. I simply recognise that there is a plurality of cultural realities. It is not my job to deem one better than another or to enforce and impose the better one.

Cultural relativism does not say, these people want to crack me in the head, well, I'll just let them cause that's just their way. That's silly. Defending oneself from attack has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with relativism.

Quote:And, there are far too many relativists out there who are seeking to make excuses and apologies for them.

This will be a sticking point in our conversation. That's not what relativists do.

Quote:However, more than any other group, religious groups get some kind of deference and it's absolutely because of this relativism issue.

Recognising that there is a plurality of cultures is not at all the same thing as saying that I agree with every practice in the world. It is saying that every culture is a complex and must be dealt with as a complex.

Overall, I feel that you have conflated this idea of making excuses with relativism. If one believes that there is a single acceptable morality in the universe and those who are not aligned with it must be put into alignment, then to say, no they shouldn't might seem the same as condoning all practices that don't line up with this universal morality. Cultural relativism says, it takes all kinds. That's the reality. That is a separate issue from conflict.

Quote:Power plays in a role too but I feel fairly strongly that Muslims have very little power in most of the Western world and you're seeing some of the same excuses get thrown around.

They don't have a lot of political power (outside of their trillions of dollars in oil money). But the oil men aren't in conflict with the West, they're in bed with the West. The majority of Middle Eastern Muslims don't have a lot of influence in the West and they don't have a lot of authority over the West. But they have plenty of coercion. That's the point. That's why some of them resort to terror tactics to get their way. They can't annex New York or Texas to stop Americans from killing them, but they can say, we might not be able to raze one of your cities but if you disrespect us with impunity by creating an image of Mohammed, we'll shoot you, the individual, in your sleep. If you continue to occupy us and kill us and prevent us from maintaining an army, then we'll fly a plane into your financial buildings or fill your hospitals with radiation victims.

This sort of analysis doesn't say, oh, poor babies, people are being mean to them so they have the right to fly planes into buildings. What it does say is, people don't fly planes into buildings because they're evil, they do it because they are trying to achieve something and that is the avenue open to them to exercise power.

No one would ever say that the IRA bombed British civilian targets because the Irish are evil. They did it because they were trying to stop the occupation of their country. But for some reason, the idea that Arab terrorists have a motivation can't be discussed and they're just dismissed as evil.

I feel that what I'm saying might not be immediately intuitive and that there may be a subtle shift of thought that might be drowned out by other arguments.

Quote:Yes, it generally means you act in a way that can be best translated into sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "LA LA LA LA LA" while the world moves on around you and you try to justify all positions because they all must be valid and equal.

I don't stick my fingers in my ears. Accepting that there is variation in cultures is not the same thing as accepting everything that is being done to you. But for me, when asked the question, which culture is better or more valid, I have no way of answering that. Primarily because it makes the assumption that cultures are fixed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cultures are composed of mutating replicators that are selected against. They're no more fixed than a given species and they evolve much more rapidly.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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01-09-2010, 07:04 AM
RE: Scientific Theory
(31-08-2010 11:12 PM)Ghost Wrote:  You're saying they need to provide evidence to prove gods exist but you also acknowledge that that evidence is unobtainable. So they can't prove it to you based on the criteria you've set up. They can't advance a logical argument so they can't convince you. I see where you're coming from though.

If the evidence is unobtainable, these people have no evidence to base their belief on, and it is therefore illogical. You may as well believe that we live in the Matrix.

Quote:Also, if I believe that terrorists are evil, that means that their targets, the US, are good.

This is a non sequitur even if everything you said up to this point is true.

The rest of it is between you and BnW. I haven't followed the conversation thus far, and I'm not about to jump in now. These bits just caught my eye on my daily routine of clicking each thread to check for spambots.

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01-09-2010, 08:38 AM
 
RE: Scientific Theory
(31-08-2010 11:12 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, 2buckchuck.

You're saying they need to provide evidence to prove gods exist but you also acknowledge that that evidence is unobtainable. So they can't prove it to you based on the criteria you've set up. They can't advance a logical argument so they can't convince you. I see where you're coming from though.

I've never said that evidence for the existence of a deity is unobtainable ... only that I've not seen any credible evidence for the existence of a deity presented. Yes, I do have criteria, but one of them is NOT that evidence is logically impossible to obtain. What IS logically impossible is to "prove" (via logical syllogism) the non-existence of a deity. There IS a vast amount of evidence that is consistent with that non-existence (e.g., the inefficacy of prayer) but that's not equivalent to a logical "proof"!
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01-09-2010, 12:21 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
Hey, Unbeliever.

Question. Does logic require proof? Ie, did you mean irrational instead of illogical or are the two interchangeable?

Another question. I sense the implication that illogical beliefs are either bad or not as good as logical beliefs. Is that you're belief? If not, how would you characterise your belief? Feel free to attack my frame if you feel it's unfair.

As for the non-sequitor, yes and no. You're absolutely right. The US doesn't have to necessarily be good, but, for the attacks on 911 to be evil, it has to be evil attacking good. The reason evil is evil is because it undermines or destroys good. If the terrorists are evil and the US is evil then either A - who gives a shit, or B - evil killing evil is a good.

Also, thanks for all the time you're currently investing in this site. Good on you.

Hey, 2buckchuck.

I'm sorry. I think I misunderstood you/projected something.

I say the evidence is unobtainable. I took your first line about proving the existence of God to mean the evidence was impossible to obtain. My bad.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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01-09-2010, 01:37 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
(01-09-2010 12:21 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Question. Does logic require proof?

Yes. You have to be able to back up your statements. This is called making a valid argument. A sound argument is one whose conclusion follows logically from the premises. A valid argument is one whose premises are true. You have to be able to prove that your argument is valid as well as sound for it to be logical.

Quote:Another question. I sense the implication that illogical beliefs are either bad or not as good as logical beliefs. Is that you're belief?

Well, yes. Since illogical beliefs are beliefs held without any evidence or logical basis, I do consider them to be inferior - that is, less likely to be correct - when compared to logical beliefs.

Quote:As for the non-sequitor, yes and no. You're absolutely right. The US doesn't have to necessarily be good, but, for the attacks on 911 to be evil, it has to be evil attacking good.

Another non sequitur. Is it evil to slaughter hundreds of thousands? Is it any less evil if the hundreds of thousands are all Nazis?

Quote:Also, thanks for all the time you're currently investing in this site. Good on you.

Thanks. And I apologize if this post seems snippy. I'm tired, and about to pass out on the keys.

"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
- Terry Pratchett
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01-09-2010, 06:57 PM
RE: Scientific Theory
Quote:Also, if I believe that terrorists are evil, that means that their targets, the US, are good.

No, it does not automatically mean that.

As for the rest of it, I'm going to let it go because we are both going to beat our heads against it and get no where and I honestly don't have the patience for it.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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