Is Atheism True? Debate, 4th Post

First round, Fourth post with response.

The original post by the atheist was in standard paragraph form. I have numbered the atheist's paragraphs and adopted an outline format to allow ease of response. The atheist's posts appear in black text. My responses follow each paragraph and are in green.

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  1. Actually, I have been very careful to be consistent in terminology I use through my posts. Even elaborating on the meanings of the terms. Unfortunately, we see to be running into the same old problem that haunts so many threads on the message boards. Frequently theists will ignore the terms and definition of those terms that atheists are using, and instead respond using the theists definitions of those terms, as if they were the same. This can be a rather confusing and it makes it difficult to discuss something when the two parties are defining that thing in two different ways. Since we did not make a list of terms and theyre agreed upon definitions before starting this debate, I have been careful to explain how I am using each term.

    The phrases lack of belief and no belief are interchangeable in meaning. I lack a belief in Santa Clause, just as I lack a belief in the Islamic god, or any god or gods for that matter. I have no belief in Santa Clause, just as I have no belief in the Islamic god, or any god or gods for that matter.

    1. Thank you for trying to be clear in stating that "lack of belief" and "no belief" are interchangeable. I still assert that you actually have an intellectual position and that you are not being consistent. Let's test this. Do you also believe that Santa Claus does not exist or, given all the evidence, do you simply refuse, as an adult, to make an intellectual commitment concerning Santa? If the latter, then I would assume that you are open to the idea of Santa's existence since you have no belief either way. If you are open to this, would you be willing to publically state that you are open to the idea that Santa exists? If not, why not--since you have "no belief" in Santa? But, if you denied that Santa exists, then your "lack of belief" position wouldn't work. So, do you believe there is a Santa or not, or do you simply choose to lack belief in Santa in order to try and remain consistent with your atheism? By the way, what do you tell your children when they are finally old enough to understand the truth about Santa? Or, do you simply tell them that they need to lack belief in him and that at adult functions they tell people the verdict is still out on Santa because they "lack belief"?

      I, on the other hand, affirm that Santa does not exist. I do not "lack belief" or have "no belief" concerning Santa. I would never say to someone, "I lack belief in Santa" unless I were in a joking mood. Quite frankly, I believe he does not exist. How about you?

      But, if you also believe he does not exist, then you do not have a "lack of belief"/"no belief" position concerning Santa, do you? If you believe that he does not exist, then your position would be that you "believe Santa does not exist" and your original statement that you "lack belief" in Santa must mean something else than the neutral non-commitment stance it implies. This is the point I have been trying to make.

      Now, if we take your logic and apply it to God(s), then do you believe God does not exist or not? If you say you lack belief in God, then are you saying you do NOT believe that He does NOT exist or what?

      Finally, you say that you lack belief in God, yet behave as though you believe He does not exist by trying to present evidences against His existence. To me, this is a grave contradiction on your part.

  2. Both sentences carry the same meaning. I think the real term that is causing difficulty here is belief. Dictionary.com defines the term as follows:
      1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another: My belief in you is as strong as ever.
      2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: His explanation of what happened defies belief.
      3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.

    I believe the second and third choices are most accurate to the term belief and how it is being used in this debate. Essentially, one holds a belief to be true, or they dont. There are also those who may be unsure about the validity of a particular belief because they yet lack the evidence to verify it.
    1. I have been trying to point out the problems with the "lack belief" position as I did above. This is the issue. You see, if you build on a false presupposition, the conclusions are probably going to be wrong.
  3. Your example of the nunublasts was interesting, but faulty. You make the claim that nunublasts exist. I ask you to explain what a nunublasts is. You explain it is the egg of a blue screaming ant from Neptune. I then ask you to show me your evidence for the existence of these nunublasts. Either you have credible evidence, or you dont. If your evidence is credible, then I hold a belief that nunublasts do exist. If your evidence isnt credible, I take the stance that nunublasts do not exist; in other words, I will lack a belief in nunublasts. If your evidence is inconclusive, then one can either choose to withhold judgment on the existence of nunublasts, or, because of the lack of credible evidence, dismiss their existence until further credible evidence is presented. You could also refuse to provide any evidence for the existence of nunublasts; they would then be placed in the same category as the infamous IPU
    1. I did not say that nunublasts existed. On the contrary, they do not. Apparently, you did not read what I wrote very carefully since I clearly stated in my original comment that I had just made up the word and then made up the definition. Let me quote myself from that earlier piece.

      "For example, I am without belief in green nunublasts, as are you. I know this for a fact because I just made up the word and it has no conceptual reality. Therefore, we both are "without belief" in nunublasts.  But, if I defined a nunublast as the egg of a blue screaming ant from Neptune, you are no longer "without belief." You believe they exist, or you categorize it as a ridiculous example, or you believe they do not exist, etc." [emphasis added]

      Notice that I said that nunublasts were without conceptual reality because I had just made up the word and had not yet assigned a meaning to the word. Therefore, we both were without belief because there was no information on which to make a judgment. By saying that I had just made up the word, I logically acknowledge that they do not exist--unless you want to state that making something up means it exists.

      Furthermore, I am at a loss as to your next statement that you asked me--to explain what they are? I do not recall any such question, especially since I made up the analogy as I was typing and then explained it right away.

  4. I'm also glad to see that you caught on to the idea as belief as credible evidence for the existence of something and the problems that poses for most theistic systems. Still, I pose the questions to you again, and really want you to think them through. Use a separate post for them if you need. Is belief in something evidence for its existence? Think back to the IPU argument; is someones belief in an IPU evidence for its existence? If a group of people believe in an IPU, is that evidence for its existence? Why or why not? Where IBelief as evidence is a very key element in this debate.
    1. I didn't "catch on" to anything. It is simple logic that merely having belief in something does not prove that what is believed to exist actually exists. However, this does not mean that belief is not some form of evidence. After all, if God exists and He wants people to believe in Him, then such belief could be an evidence of His existence. You seem to fail to grasp what I am saying here. I have already mentioned more than once that belief may or may not be an evidence for God's existence. I have also already mentioned that I have not thought this aspect through sufficiently yet and do not yet want to lay claim to any position. Therefore, I believe it is possible that belief itself might be an evidence for God's existence, but I have not yet examined it thoroughly. In other words, I am simply not ruling it out without sufficient examination.
  5. You bring up the idea of presuppositions. When I suggested this debate, I knew from experience, that your presuppositions would not allow you to acknowledge any evidence I presented in favor of atheism as being true. I knew that you would dismiss all of my points, oft times falling back onto arguments that have been repeatedly refuted by myself and other atheists. Each of us came into this debate knowing full well that the other had presuppositions. The real point of this debate is not those presuppositions, but the evidences and arguments that each of us presents in favor or our presuppositions.
    1. You have made an error in judgment here. If you want to discuss presuppositions, that is fine. But you need to understand that I am able to look at evidence for and against God's existence. My presupposition is that God exists. But that presupposition does not mean that I cannot logically examine what you raise as evidence against God's existence. This is because believing in God does not necessitate that He does not exist since mere belief is not proof that He exists. Therefore, logically, I am open to Him not existing since that is a logical possibility. However, what you have presented thus far is not sufficient evidence that God exists. How can I acknowledge that which is not conclusive and which has alternate explanations? By looking at your arguments and addressing them, I have acknowledged them, but not accepted them.

      Furthermore, your statement about my presupposition is a rehash of what I said about atheistic presuppositions, only turned around. If you see the logic in your statement, then you must also see it in mine. Therefore, it must be true that your atheistic presupposition will not allow you to see the evidence for God's existence without your prejudice dismissing it outright in order to maintain your atheism--but that would be another topic.

    2. Now, about these arguments having been refuted by atheists. What arguments are those that have been refuted by atheists? I certainly hope that you do not believe that an argument that has been attempted to be refuted by an atheist(s) is considered a refutation? Since you are an atheist, you would need to hold on to any semi-sufficient "refutation" of God's existence in order to maintain your atheism. That is expected. But, I have seen no such case where all my arguments have been refuted by atheists. Unfortunately, I can't comment further, since I do not know which arguments you say I am using that have already been refuted by atheists especially since I do not recall any time in our debate where I have attempted to prove God exists. I have only addressed various theories and explanations in response to your statements. Please realize that a refutation means that the opposing position has been proven to be false. You have not accomplished this so far.
    3. You said, "The real point of this debate is not those presuppositions, but the evidences and arguments that each of us presents in favor or our presuppositions." Okay, since this debate is about you proving atheism true, where is the evidence that there is no God that I have not already addressed? Remember, I've already addressed several issues you've raised and demonstrated that they are not only lacking as proof but that they also have alternative explanations (i.e., social constructs of belief systems based on ignorance and need which I addressed earlier). Therefore, you have offered no proof at all.

      I have not focused on presenting evidence that there is a God in this debate. Instead, I have focused on your presentation of evidence and arguments in favor of atheism and addressed each one showing where alternative explanations are possible, shown a few logic problems on your side, and have been reminding you that you have not demonstrated atheism to be true.

 

 

 

 
 
CARM ison