Why I'm a Theist
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10-08-2015, 12:44 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(09-08-2015 02:22 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(09-08-2015 01:38 PM)drewpaul Wrote:  The theism atheism debate is about two propositions; we owe the existence of the universe and sentient life to natural forces that didn’t intend to cause a universe or life to exist or we owe our existence to a Creator that intentionally caused the universe and life to exist. Either claim is extraordinary

No, the god claim is extraordinary and requires extraordinary evidence. Naturalistic claims are as yet unproven but, given the vast amount of information we have for natural processes, it is not in the same category as the god claim.

Quote:but the existence of the universe and sentient life is an extraordinary event.

I think you may be equivocating on the use of extraordinary.

I'm going to intentionally interrupt the even bigger travesty that this thread has degenerated into to note that my responses above have been nagging at me because I don't think I was clear.

In human experience, the formation of our universe and life can be called extraordinary events in the sense that they are, as far as we know, unique and amazing and not (fully) explained. The fact of the matter is that the universe is here and life exists so no matter how unusual we think it may be, it happened somehow. They aren't extraordinary in the sense that they are unusual claims... they are evident to anybody who isn't a hard solipsist. That's where I detected a bit of equivocation above.

Beyond that, ordinary vs extraordinary isn't a binary proposition, it is a spectrum. If you say you have a pet dog, that's at the ordinary end. If you say you have a pet koala then we're edging into extraordinary although in some places it would be more extraordinary than others. If you say you have a pet bigfoot then we've moved further into extraordinary. If you claim to have a pet invisible pixie then we're heading for the ends of the scale. The evidence required to believe each claim increases as we move in that direction. When you say "Either claim is extraordinary" you seem to be implying that they are equally likely or believable and that simply isn't the case.

The positive claim "we owe our existence to a Creator that intentionally caused the universe and life to exist" is an extraordinary claim that, for me anyway, is way up at the extremely extraordinary end. We have no examples of such a thing and no evidence for it that doesn't also support other possible answers. We also have no way to investigate it which makes it currently unfalsifiable. It is no less ephemeral, and no less useless, than the pet invisible pixie claim. It not only isn't the best explanation, it isn't an explanation of anything at all.

The positive claim "we owe the existence of the universe and sentient life to natural forces that didn’t intend to cause a universe or life to exist" is also extraordinary but far less so because we have a large number of examples of natural forces being the cause for things we see. We also have at least rough outlines of how life may have arisen naturally and are working on hypotheses of how universes might be formed. These may turn out to be wrong so it may not make sense yet to believe that they are the answer, but they can't be as easily dismissed.

The only totally honest answer is "we don't know" but not all proposed answers are equally extraordinary.

A couple of links from another recent thread seem relevant to the idea that natural forces creating a universe from nothing might actually make sense. Science continues to understand more and more about how things actually work and that trail continues to lead squarely in the "natural forces" direction:

(10-08-2015 09:07 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 07:10 AM)Octapulse Wrote:  http://www.ibtimes.com/fermilabs-nova-ex...os-2046160

The link in the article to "Why is there something rather than nothing" is pretty interesting.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141106-...ist-at-all

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10-08-2015, 12:45 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:38 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:22 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  "Who indoctrinated the first theist?"

The first adult with an imagination and the language necessary to communicate their imaginary beliefs.

No -- you are assuming that this adult is knowingly "making things up", and you don't know that. If said adult believes what he is teaching, then he would be the first theist -- and my question still hasn't been answered.

Quote:"The claim that I'm fighting against here is that if they are not taught anything, they are guaranteed to remain atheist."

The claim is that there is no pressure to become religious or develop supernatural beliefs or be introduced to any god claims. By default, this means atheist if they do not accept any god claims.

"If this were true, there never would have been any theists at all. The concept had to originate somehow. History has shown that, in the absence of better explanations (such as science), people are likely to come up with some sort of theism. Not guaranteed, but likely."

The observation that some human societies have developed religions, does not mean it is inevitable that religion develops. We observe that some societies did develop religion, that is as far as you can extrapolate out to beyond asking why it evolved.

Let me put it this way. You seem to suggest that religion is inevitable at the individual level whether indoctrinated or not. This is akin to saying that any and all adaptations within a lineage are inevitable if you were somehow able to rewind time and start life all over again. Would eyes evolve? Or would some other structure serving the same basic function evolve?

"I don't understand why this simple and obvious idea is meeting such fierce resistance."

Because it isn't obvious that humans will develop supernatural beliefs by default.

I have never claimed that religious belief is "inevitable" or a default, only that it is very likely. You are attributing to me a stronger claim than I am making. I am saying neither theism nor atheism is inevitable.

I am trying to take what you say at face value

"I hear what you're saying, but if the last statement were strictly true, there would be no theists in the world at all. Before anyone could be indoctrinated, someone had to think up the idea of gods without being indoctrinated. You could argue that the creation of gods was entirely motivated by a desire to control other people, but I don't think it's that simple. Some of the people who initially dreamed up the "God" concept probably believed it."

"I think you're missing my point. If a baby could somehow make it to adulthood without being taught anything by adults, and had to figure everything out for himself, he would very likely conclude (like most primitive people) that the powerful forces of nature were controlled by supernatural beings. He wouldn't come up with modern science all by himself, from scratch.

To say "adults think it up" says nothing, really. Adults think everything up. Babies aren't capable of anything that can really be called thinking. Science is "thought up" by adults just like religion is. Babies learn what they are taught.

And if theism can only arise by indoctrination, who indoctrinated the first theist? I claim that it can and does arise in other ways."


I still don't know (or see any evidence for) how you can logically assert that "he would very likely conclude (like most primitive people) that the powerful forces of nature were controlled by supernatural beings." Because unless there is a pressure to believe these things, I don't see how they would be "very likely" to develop them.

And no one has said that they would develop science all on their own in a single lifetime either. That is kind of the point here. A human, left to their own devices, will survive or attempt to survive. Beyond that, there is no reason to think that they would develop any specific set of beliefs with regard to nature or supernature other than those necessary to survive. Theism is no more likely to develop than modern science. But in the absence of theism, the default here would be atheism as theism wouldn't exist.

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10-08-2015, 12:46 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:27 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:26 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The unspoken assumption there (although some people here have actually spoken it) is that it is impossible to become a theist without indoctrination, and this is what I'm arguing against. A child growing up is naturally inquisitive, and wants to know why things happen. Unless they're growing up in isolation, they are going to be taught (i.e., "indoctrinated") something. Far better to teach them science than religion -- I think we all agree on that -- but if left to their own devices, they are just as likely (in my opinion, more likely) to arrive at theism of some sort.

Maybe I'm just not stating my argument clearly enough, but I don't see how this is disputable. If I'm wrong, why aren't humans 100% atheist? Who indoctrinated the first theist? Sorry to keep asking that question, but I haven't seen an answer yet.

"The unspoken assumption there (although some people here have actually spoken it) is that it is impossible to become a theist without indoctrination, and this is what I'm arguing against."

It is unspoken because no one said it or implied it.

Everyone who is arguing with me has at least implied it, because the only claim I am making is that it is possible to become a theist other than by indoctrination. That's all. I have never said it is inevitable or default or any such thing. Those kinds of claims are being made by my opponents, not by me. Theism is not inevitable, but neither is atheism. That's why we have both.
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10-08-2015, 12:47 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:46 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:27 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  "The unspoken assumption there (although some people here have actually spoken it) is that it is impossible to become a theist without indoctrination, and this is what I'm arguing against."

It is unspoken because no one said it or implied it.

Everyone who is arguing with me has at least implied it, because the only claim I am making is that it is possible to become a theist other than by indoctrination. That's all. I have never said it is inevitable or default or any such thing. Those kinds of claims are being made by my opponents, not by me. Theism is not inevitable, but neither is atheism. That's why we have both.

Without theism developing, the default is atheism.

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10-08-2015, 12:49 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:38 PM)drewpaul Wrote:  Chas,

Quote:No, you haven't. You have offered an argument based on your interpretations of facts.

By all means man up and cite your own facts in favor of what you believe.

What makes you think he believes anything? Where did he state any belief? He has always maintained an "I don't know" position, not an "I believe this or that" position.

You seem unable comprehend that, because "intentionality" has no evidence to support it, it indicates that there is no God/Creator behind it. This is the only fact we can demonstrate here.

Claiming things to be evidence of this or that is not something Chas or any of us have actually done. The only claim we have made here is the Evidence of Absence claim, in which we can use the lack of any evidence for a God/Creator as being considered positive evidence of non existence. It is quite simple:

1. What does the negative evidence demonstrate?
2. It demonstrates as being positive that the claim of a God/Creator is negative.


That's all.

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10-08-2015, 12:53 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:47 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:46 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  Everyone who is arguing with me has at least implied it, because the only claim I am making is that it is possible to become a theist other than by indoctrination. That's all. I have never said it is inevitable or default or any such thing. Those kinds of claims are being made by my opponents, not by me. Theism is not inevitable, but neither is atheism. That's why we have both.

Without theism developing, the default is atheism.

?????

But theism did develop, and it didn't develop by indoctrination. Why is that so hard to accept? I give up. I'm done with this argument. I have either lost my mind, or nobody is understanding what I'm saying. Either way, I don't need this. I'm tired of saying the same thing over and over and having people ignore it or misunderstand it.
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10-08-2015, 12:53 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:46 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:27 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  "The unspoken assumption there (although some people here have actually spoken it) is that it is impossible to become a theist without indoctrination, and this is what I'm arguing against."

It is unspoken because no one said it or implied it.

Everyone who is arguing with me has at least implied it, because the only claim I am making is that it is possible to become a theist other than by indoctrination. That's all. I have never said it is inevitable or default or any such thing. Those kinds of claims are being made by my opponents, not by me. Theism is not inevitable, but neither is atheism. That's why we have both.


Do you see what we are saying yet? That in the absence of any selection pressure for the development of theism, there would be no theism (which is defined as atheism) since atheism is one of the only words I know of defined by not believing something.

It would be akin to the word flight being meaningless if no animal had ever developed flight (if we had a specific word for "absent of flight" then it would be appropriate to call all life that word.)

Maybe a better example would be a species that is ancestrally nonmotile and is itself nonmotile. Without any selection pressure for motility, there is no reason to think it would develop in that lineage. So the term "nonmotile" still applies.

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10-08-2015, 12:53 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:26 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:14 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  I agree with the whole "proud of my atheism because of the struggle to escape my childhood indoctrination" thing, but I'm afraid the argument comes apart when you admit that you were indoctrinated as a child. You were born without religion, and it is instilled in you via indoctrination. Babies are atheists; they have no gods. Adults teach it to them, like language.

The unspoken assumption there (although some people here have actually spoken it) is that it is impossible to become a theist without indoctrination, and this is what I'm arguing against. A child growing up is naturally inquisitive, and wants to know why things happen. Unless they're growing up in isolation, they are going to be taught (i.e., "indoctrinated") something. Far better to teach them science than religion -- I think we all agree on that -- but if left to their own devices, they are just as likely (in my opinion, more likely) to arrive at theism of some sort.

Maybe I'm just not stating my argument clearly enough, but I don't see how this is disputable. If I'm wrong, why aren't humans 100% atheist? Who indoctrinated the first theist? Sorry to keep asking that question, but I haven't seen an answer yet.

Actually, I concur. Our brains are pattern-finding (even if we must imagine the pattern is there, as in cloud formations) computers, which is necessary to be successful hunters. And we seem to be hard-wired in our social-cooperation evolutionary psychology to construct belief systems, even if they are not religious ones, that help the society cohere. I have little doubt that the tendency is for societies to come up with religious views, even theism, because that is the result of millions of years of primate evolution that produced our particular form of intelligence.

That said, we are nevertheless born without any form of theistic concept; it's something we must invent, or someone else must invent and teach to us. Ergo, babies are atheists, and even adults remain atheists to all the systems they didn't invent/adopt, which exist in other adults. Some of us remain at zero, or revert to zero when we see through the invented stories and reject them.

I like to come up with stories about aliens and elves and dragons, some of which I invent myself and some of which I adapt from similar stories in the culture around me... but no one would claim that we are born believing in dragons or elves or aliens, and it does not follow that those things were "destined" to be invented by our pattern-forming brains.

And NONE of this has anything to do with the idea that the universe must have a Prime Mover, which is what this argument is all about. Certainly that courtroom nonsense has nothing to do with it. The basis for the scenario, "someone was killed", describes an event which is known to have one of a number of artificial causes as well as natural ones. The same does not hold true for the universe, except in the invented stories, most of which have CLEARLY been shown to be bullshit mythologies.

A better analogy would be for us to find a person in the middle of the desert who was smashed in a crater by a rock. I say it appears to be a meteorite, something we know to naturally fall from the sky... you say, "No, it's equally plausible that someone intentionally flew over and dropped this thing from a height sufficient to cause this huge crater."

I then stare at you for a long time, waiting for the punchline.

Everything we observe in the universe happens by natural causes, except for things we use our intelligence to direct, and those things are easy to detect as artificial because they go against what we know about nature. For you to propose a supernatural causation requires some hard evidence of a phenomenon going on besides "the universe is here", since we have pretty good natural information that strongly suggests the universe is just as naturally-occurring as everything else.

As I said before, "where is the universe's wristwatch?"

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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10-08-2015, 12:54 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:53 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(10-08-2015 12:47 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Without theism developing, the default is atheism.

?????

But theism did develop, and it didn't develop by indoctrination. Why is that so hard to accept? I give up. I'm done with this argument. I have either lost my mind, or nobody is understanding what I'm saying. Either way, I don't need this. I'm tired of saying the same thing over and over and having people ignore it or misunderstand it.

How do you know it didn't develop via indoctrination?

You have to repeat yourself because you have made a broad generalization with no evidence to back it up.

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10-08-2015, 01:00 PM
RE: Why I'm a Theist
(10-08-2015 12:13 PM)drewpaul Wrote:  It is in the same category, both hypothesis attempt to explain how we find ourselves in a universe and how our existence came to be and neither explanation has conclusive evidence in its favor.

I actually just posted something else that addresses this before I saw this post.

Quote:The problem is you lack belief in natural causes (though you favor that explanation) and you lack belief in a theistic cause. Apparently there isn't enough evidence (in your opinion) in favor of either theory for you to offer an opinion.

I am not a physicist or cosmologist and do not have the requisite background to have a sufficiently informed opinion which is why I do not make a claim. I try not to pretend that I have answers for things I have not studied in enough detail to fully understand the implications of the various options.

Quote:Did I ever claim a theistic cause is required? What it does show is a theistic model is plausible and reproducible.

Ignoring the point that creating virtual realities isn't the same as creating physical ones, it is essentially irrelevant to the question at hand anyway. You would need to show that it did happen that way, not just that it could have happened that way.

Quote:I have an opinion...don't you?

I have an opinion on just about everything. I just know how to properly value those opinions based on my level of knowledge about the specific subject.

Quote:The burden of proof for an opinion are facts and arguments that support that opinion.

So? I believe that your opinion is that a god is at least as likely as natural forces for how the universe came to be. I don't believe that you have made a sufficient case that anybody else should hold that same opinion. Your facts do not support your opinion over other options and your arguments are based on personal incredulity.

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