Why should a deity exist?
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25-01-2017, 04:08 PM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
JHaysPE Wrote:My position is that Deity/Not Deity is simply a statement of faith, no matter which is picked. It is picking one side of a coin or another.

Thanks for your input, JHaysPE and welcome to TTA. Out of curiosity, could faith just be a single coin (or way of thinking) among a whole sea of countless coins? If thought is limited to faith, then is it being confined to a single coin and missing out on many fascinating ways of thinking that exist beyond it; thus, inhibiting growth/advancement in thought?

Thanks and live long and prosper.

"I'm fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason." Klaatu, from The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
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25-01-2017, 05:26 PM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(25-01-2017 02:19 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  My position is that Deity/Not Deity is simply a statement of faith, no matter which is picked.

I don't see it quite that way. I don't sit here with intensely-furrowed brow, holding my tail with both hands and chanting "I don't I don't I don't believe in spooks!" It's more like "Meh. Not my thing."

I'm sorry, but your beliefs are much too silly to take seriously. Got anything else we can discuss?
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25-01-2017, 07:32 PM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  So we need a definition of "rational" here? You seem to me to be defining rationality as perhaps a sliding scale, where a dog, who waits to go outside before peeing, is exercising "rationality".

Fair enough. I'll concede your "spectrum of rationality", if you will allow me to place a marker on that spectrum, above which rationality would be defined as "uniquely human" in complexity or or sophistication, and below which is the "dog waiting to pee outside" variety of rationality.

You are minimizing. Whether it is blindness on your part or willful dishonesty, it's hard for me to tell, at this point. I would, however, consider the dog waiting to go outside to be an example, yes. He has been taught that in his "pack" it is unacceptable to pee in the living space, and that he must go outside the walls of the living space in order to use the bathroom. He then reasons that he'd better let the pack members who can open the portal to the outside know he has to pee, and endeavors to do so by various methods. We also have done studies that show a dog experiences emotion in the same way as humans, and in the same regions of the brain, via fMRI studies.

But I was actually referring to numerous studies that clearly show reasoning skills being exercised by primates (and several other animals, but for simplicity's sake I've been focusing on primates), and even empathic reasoning, where they "feel the pain" of the other primate and try to help them out, using problem solving to achieve the desired solution. [If you like, I will gladly find you references to all of the above; I'm presuming you're well-read enough to be already familiar with them, at this point.]

What I don't get is how you don't grasp that this is indeed a "spectrum" of rationality, based on the brain architecture and intellectual capacity of the species in question. And from that root, we further developed our ability to be rational as our brains got bigger. If you choose to narrowly define rationality as "able to exercise perfect logic", then I'd say 99% of humanity fails to fit that definition, almost all of the time.

(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  Hopefully I addressed this above. I'll concede a rationality that exists in dolphins that is beyond our human comprehension at this time, in terms of its sophistication, if you'll concede that this "uniquely dolphin" rationality has little relevance for humans who do or do not believe in God. It raises the questions as to whether dolphins engage in these type of discussions, which is interesting, but irrelevant.

God? Wut? I was simply talking about whether or not an ability to show that intellect and a particular type of mammalian social behavior were linked. You do seem to be implying that our ability to invent myriad gods is unique to humans, and that may well be the case, but I don't see how that has anything to do with the price of tea in China.

(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  I simply see this as identifying yet another branch on a regression of cause. Yes, opposable thumbs, as a genetic mutation, assured natural selection, as our environs apparently favors opposable thumbs for primates. And yes, high intelligence naturally selected, because certainly that capacity has assured success of humans (so far)

Begging your pardon, but all I see in this is support for an unfathomably complex chain of events with an incomprehensible number of steps that occurred over an incredibly long amount of time of execution. This has already been conceded.

Um, and? Everything that has ever happened... ever... falls under that category. If the wind blows and knocks a rock from atop a mountain, then there are an almost infinite number of things that had to happen for that rock to be on a planet, a planet that is geologically active and posessing an atmosphere, to be there atop the mountain, to be in a position to be tipped by the wind, and for the wind to have been moved across that position in the first place.

On the other hand, when the environment shapes our Natural Selection pressures in such a way that a particular characteristic that emerges is a favorable one, it's simply obedience to the laws of physics (and through physics, biochemistry), and no more special for its astounding degree of happenstance than the rock on top of the mountain. That's why I called your argument anthropocentric.

(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  If an atheist is grateful for existing...what is the object of that gratitude?

I am glad I exist. Delighted, even. I am not "grateful", except in the loosest possible definition of that term. Certainly not in the definition you seem to be implying here, which requires an object. I guess I could be glad my parents had sex on a particular day in 1975 while mom was ovulating, and that they put their efforts into birthing and raising me. I am also glad I was born in a first world country (how long it remains so is another question, but I digress...) where I didn't have to worry about all the things other children around the world need to fear, and who probably aren't as glad about life as I am.

(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  You're an atheist, I am not - so the question is already answered by me. How do you answer? Telling me your not grateful is valid. Telling me that you need no object, is valid (although rationally sketchy, which I believe I can show). I'm not trying to win an argument here; the perspective has validity for me, the opinion has validity for me. Especially knowing the beliefs or "facts" which inform that perspective.

There is nothing to be grateful to, except as I said above. I'm actually more than a little curious to hear how such an idea is "rationally sketchy". But when you do have this talk, please be aware that I am well educated in biochemistry and moderately well educated in physics, and that I have found your ideas about "unfathomably complex" odds to be vacuous. That's putting it as politely and mildly as I can manage.

(25-01-2017 12:34 PM)JHaysPE Wrote:  So take a chance - walk the plank. Exercise a little faith and tell me that at the zenith of joy experienced during a nice day outdoors with friends, to what is the gratitude directed for the "existence" - the sum of the conditions that have supported life, including the lives of friends, the coincidence of being alive and being capable of feeling "joy" and "fulfillment" in moments like these - in German, it is "Gemütlichkeit" (we don't really have an English word for this)

You seem to be confusing happiness and joy with gratitude. I think religion may have broken your brain, a little bit.

I can be overwhelmed with awe, with joy, and brought to the verge of tears by the sense of wonder at the universe around me. And that's all there is to it. I've always been fond of how Einstein (yes, I know he was a Spinozan pantheist, not an outright atheist) phrased it, in response to your sort of assertion:

"I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

In case you don't math, the term "unbounded" is a mathematical term which Einstein clearly chose deliberately. In the Calculus, an unbounded equation is one that ranges from negative to positive infinity in the range of its scope. Regular people would have said "boundless", which means essentially the same thing, but lacks that mathematical absolute.

I am glad to be here.
I admire the structure of the world as our science reveals it.

But there's nothing to be "grateful" to for the puddle in which I find myself, however spectacular I may find it. As Carl Sagan once put it, "The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent."

Pray to the magic man in the sky all you like, bub. Nobody's listening.

"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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25-01-2017, 07:51 PM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
One can be "grateful about" something, without being "grateful to" someONE.
"I'm glad I found my keys". Thank the fates. "I am fortunate that ...."

This one is HIGHLY indoctrinated. I seriously doubt he either once was, or knows any non-believers.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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26-01-2017, 07:07 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(25-01-2017 02:32 PM)unfogged Wrote:  Then we have a fundamental disagreement on what it means to have a purpose. Things can have a purpose for which they were intentionally designed but they can equally have a purpose for which they are used. The old tire that has been cut up and painted and turned into a flowerpot in the front yard (no, I do not have one) used to have the purpose of being a tire and now has the purpose of being a flowerpot. The purpose-from-use is not secondary to the purpose-from-design.
So how about this solution? I'll concede your "re-purposing" point, if you will concede that "re-purposing" is the assignment of a 2nd purpose to an object that has followed a design intent on a 1st purpose.

Does that resolve the difference?

(25-01-2017 02:32 PM)unfogged Wrote:  If something was not intentionally designed then it can only have the purposes that it is used for. The rock used as a paperweight had no designed purpose but does have a purpose now. In the case of agents they can also have the purposes that they decide to adopt.
Your example is out-of-scope as it relates to the rational mind, as rocks don't have minds.

Boston Terriers have a purpose for which they have been designed. The purpose is to be cute looking and playful companions, and the intelligent input was the selective breeding supervised by a rational mind to express the qualities that fulfill the purpose.

(25-01-2017 02:32 PM)unfogged Wrote:  I think we agree but, to be pedantic, natural selection doesn't stack the deck, natural selection IS the process of the deck being stacked. The former wording implies an intentional act.
So I'll concede your wording as it relates to natural selection, if you will concede that natural selection, in effect, is an influence on the outcome of random mutations, said influence tending to allow creatures suited for their environs to thrive more successfully than random mutations that result in characteristics that are not suited to the environs.
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26-01-2017, 07:13 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(25-01-2017 02:34 PM)Chas Wrote:  You continue to conflate two different meanings of 'faith' and this renders your thesis incoherent.
And you continue to deny that these two "versions" of "faith" are exercising the same capacity.
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26-01-2017, 07:19 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
JHaysPE Wrote:My position is that Deity/Not Deity is simply a statement of faith, no matter which is picked. It is picking one side of a coin or another.

If that's your personal position, then fine, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. You are free to believe whatever you wish.

Doesn't make it correct though.

Given that there's a dearth of evidence for the existence of a deity, and a mountain of evidence against the existence of a deity, calling them both "statements of faith" is a false equivalence: logically unsound and unsupportable.
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26-01-2017, 07:19 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(26-01-2017 07:13 AM)JHaysPE Wrote:  
(25-01-2017 02:34 PM)Chas Wrote:  You continue to conflate two different meanings of 'faith' and this renders your thesis incoherent.
And you continue to deny that these two "versions" of "faith" are exercising the same capacity.

Which you have not demonstrated, merely asserted.

Design requires intention. The process of a random mutation process producing (eventually) organisms suited to an environment can, in no way, be seen as, "intentional".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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26-01-2017, 07:29 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(25-01-2017 04:08 PM)Kernel Sohcahtoa Wrote:  
JHaysPE Wrote:My position is that Deity/Not Deity is simply a statement of faith, no matter which is picked. It is picking one side of a coin or another.

Thanks for your input, JHaysPE and welcome to TTA. Out of curiosity, could faith just be a single coin (or way of thinking) among a whole sea of countless coins? If thought is limited to faith, then is it being confined to a single coin and missing out on many fascinating ways of thinking that exist beyond it; thus, inhibiting growth/advancement in thought?

Thanks and live long and prosper.
I just used the analogy as an illustration of the higher level division between one who can exercise religious faith (any religious faith), and one who can't or chooses not to.

What informs my view to some extent regarding the rejection of religious faith, is a distinction between one who self-identifies and self-labels "atheist" and "religious" as an affirmation, as opposed to the more "passive" reality of what I suppose is called "agnostic atheist".

It sets up a discussion as to whether atheism is a privation of religious belief, or an affirmative rejection. The former, to me, would seem to inform apathy, which might make the relevance of discussions non-existent.

On the other hand, if atheism is an affirmation, a definite "thing" rather than a privation, to me it implies a definition for "God" that is being affirmatively rejected. So far, I have seen no definitions offered - as I too reject "God" as defined by a Blue CareBear™ riding a purple unicorn, and dispensing pixie dust from a basket of Mithra.

If this is this "God" atheists reject, then I too reject this "God" and am atheist as well, while noting that I do not define "God" in that way.

I would then add that "God" is not physical, so no throwing a sample of "God" on an Instron Machine and pulling to failure to assess mechanical properties. The Blue CareBear immediately is rejected within this definition, because a Blue CareBear is physical, and may be sampled for the purposes of assessing mechanical properties on an Instron Testing Machine.

Lastly, I would add that I sense that millions upon millions of faithful are as I am, and not as some of the "wide-eyed types" (for want of a better term) that are often caricatured by atheists as "typical faithful". I have personally witnessed a reluctance by a subset of atheism to engage "average" people of faith, because it seems to be more entertaining to engage the types who are not very well catechized, or who do not express themselves very well. Surely, within the ranks of atheism, it is recognized that there are unconsidered atheists of questionable skills of expression.

Thanks for your hospitality. I am interested in the responses I get from those who are engaging in the discussions and responding to the questions. I am open to the possibilities, but I can't "un-know" what I have developed over a number of years of consideration and contemplation.
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26-01-2017, 07:33 AM
RE: Why should a deity exist?
(26-01-2017 07:07 AM)JHaysPE Wrote:  o how about this solution? I'll concede your "re-purposing" point, if you will concede that "re-purposing" is the assignment of a 2nd purpose to an object that has followed a design intent on a 1st purpose.

Does that resolve the difference?

No. The rock used as a paperweight had no designed purpose. If I purchase a tire specifically to make a flowerbed out of it then I am not re-purposing it. I am ignoring the purpose intended by the original designer but that is irrelevant. Things I use have the purpose that I give to them; that often aligns with an originally intended purpose but not always.


Quote:Your example is out-of-scope as it relates to the rational mind, as rocks don't have minds.

Your butter knife has a mind? We were talking about design and purpose. You conflate the two while I see them as distinct.

Quote:Boston Terriers have a purpose for which they have been designed. The purpose is to be cute looking and playful companions, and the intelligent input was the selective breeding supervised by a rational mind to express the qualities that fulfill the purpose.

If I get one and train it to perform some useful task and don't care about it being cute or playful then I have given it a new purpose.

Quote:So I'll concede your wording as it relates to natural selection, if you will concede that natural selection, in effect, is an influence on the outcome of random mutations, said influence tending to allow creatures suited for their environs to thrive more successfully than random mutations that result in characteristics that are not suited to the environs.

This isn't a bargaining situation. I don't concede a point unless I agree with it so this "I'll accept X if you accept Y" crap is not going to fly. It sounds to me like you are again trying to portray natural selection as an agent and, while I might let that slide in talking to somebody that I know understands it, I'm not so flexible with people who use such strange definitions.

Natural selection isn't an influence on the outcome if that implies that there could be other influences. The closest I could come to agreeing with your wording would be something like 'the gradual changes in species as creatures best suited to their environment are more successful at reproducing is labelled natural selection'.

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