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Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 11:08AM
But you do know that the proposition "God either exists or does not exist" is true. Anyone who understands the meaning of the terms and the relations between the terms in that sentence knows it's true.

If anything, you should have points deducted for apparently believing that such matters depend on faith.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 04:26PM
I never said that such matters depended on faith. So no points lost. If pressed, sure, I know it's true. That knowledge is part of my faith.

At what point does faith turn into knowledge?

Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 10:05PM
Never.

Faith and knowledge are two different things. Among other things, knowledge has to have strong evidential justification (a posteriori knowledge) or logical proof (a priori knowledge); faith does not. Knowledge has to be true; faith does not. Faith is closer to merely having a strong belief about something than it is to having knowledge about it.

"Either p or ~p" is a case of a priori knowledge (knowledge that rests on logical proof, not on experiential fact). You don't have to know anything about whether God actually exists to know that "Either God does exist or does not exist" is true. To know that this statement is true requires no faith whatsoever.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 10:11PM
I don't feel that my faith is required. I just have it. I guess my faith then is a bonus.

Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 10:24PM
Right. Evidence is so overrated. eye rolling smiley
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
April 30, 2014 10:29PM
Seriously, you do seem to be one of the ones on the board who puts more confidence in your faith about things, in your gut feelings about them than in the evidence for them. Do you agree with that or no?

This isn't to say that you completely ignore evidence. I don't think you do completely ignore evidence. I just don't think that evidence is the be-all and end-all for you that it might be for some.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 01, 2014 03:20AM
"Right. Evidence is so overrated" -Dick

I never said nor implied anything like that.

Why do I even bother trying to converse with someone who twists everything I say?

"Seriously, you do seem to be one of the ones on the board who puts more confidence in your faith about things, in your gut feelings about them than in the evidence for them. Do you agree with that or no?" -Dick

No I don't. Gimme an example. I think you're confusing me with someone else.

Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 01, 2014 11:52AM
Well, one thing that comes to mind immediately is your politics. I don't know how much of your thing is schtick and how much is really you but you seem to genuinely believe that conservatives are wrong about virtually everything. Worse, you seem to think -- and please, please correct me if I'm wrong here -- that conservatism is more character flaw than legitimate political stance. You're not alone in this, fwiw. It's the biggest reason there's so much animosity in politics today. We've had years and years, decades really, of candidates and parties telling us that the other guy isn't just wrong but that he's evil, as well . . . and we've bought it.

Also, it's funny the way that you use language so imprecisely at times (which we all do on occasion) yet consistently (dare I say, always?) blame any misunderstanding that results on the other person's bad intentions. For you, honest misunderstandings seem to be nonexistent. Take this thread for instance. You use the word 'faith' in its epistemic sense as if it does not mean something like belief in the absence of convincing evidence when it clearly does have that connotation in this context and then pretend as if faith is just something additional to rational belief or knowledge rather than opposed to it.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 01, 2014 03:59PM
Ponderer wrote: I never said nor implied anything like that. Why do I even bother trying to converse with someone who twists everything I say?


You just finished expressing, what seemed to me at any rate, to be a very favorable opinion of accepting a claim based on faith. After all, you called your "faith" in this instance a "bonus" in addition to your intuitive knowledge that the claim is true. So -- let me just ask you -- do you believe that in general accepting claims on faith (i.e., in the absence of good evidence) is a wise thing to do? If not, then in what way is having faith in something that you already know is obviously true a "bonus" rather than just a totally unnecessary redundancy?
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 01, 2014 04:52PM
"Well, one thing that comes to mind immediately is your politics. I don't know how much of your thing is schtick and how much is really you but you seem to genuinely believe that conservatives are wrong about virtually everything. Worse, you seem to think -- and please, please correct me if I'm wrong here -- that conservatism is more character flaw than legitimate political stance." -Dick

If conservatives are proven to be right about something, I don't contest it. Is it my fault how incredibly rare a thing it is that they are proven right? Is it my fault that they lie incessantly? Is it my fault that they create their own dream world based on erroneous, dogmatic paranoia and hateful, sociopathic bigotry? Is it my fault that their destructive policies are sold to the population in a totally mendacious and distorted fashion? How is a thinking person supposed to react to such situations? Shrug them off? Just say, "Oh well."? Take a "balanced" approach and contend that their lies are just as valid as the truth?

Here's your correction: Conservatism is not a character flaw in itself. I don't believe that it is. It's just that conservatism seems to attract a certain sort of person who already has certain character flaws in a greater proportion than any other predominant political view. And the conservative hierarchy exploits the character flaws of a great proportion of the people they have attracted to its benefit. I think that unfortunately for conservatism, it has allowed the predominant character flaws of its members to become its foundation and driving force behind it.

It's unfortunate for conservatism that the character flaws of the people it attracts appears to define conservatism anymore. What else is to be expected when the conservative parties and organizations embrace and exploit the character flaws of their members? Your misunderstanding is understandable.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/01/2014 04:59PM by Ponderer.
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 01, 2014 09:59PM
eye popping smiley You just said that I misunderstood something rather than that I lied about it or deliberately twisted its words to mean something other than what was intended.

Are you feeling OK?
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 02, 2014 07:22AM
If I was wrong in that I welcome your correction.

Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
May 03, 2014 03:35AM
. . . unless it goes against your gut feelings, right?
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
January 20, 2015 06:19PM
That was a very interesting interview except; thanks for posting.

For what it’s worth, assuming I read him correctly, I largely agree with Plantinga’s position on this and found it quite refreshing to read.

Of course for it to read properly we need to have a broad interpretation of the word ‘God’ to encompass any detailed or undetailed belief that the universe has some purpose to its existence. Then his assertion of belief in God being a basic belief that can be held without arguments makes a lot of sense.

It goes back to fundamental knowledge we all hold of our own existence – cogito ergo sum. We can believe and form arguments around any number of things, but we only truly know that we exist, and that we are a complex and meaningful creature. Hence with that knowledge we can move to the basic belief that if we exist as complex and meaningful creatures, we came from something complex and meaningful.

It cannot be said to be a basic belief that something complex and meaningful as we know ourselves to be came from meaninglessness. That is an unintuitive leap and this is demonstrated by the fact that it is an uncommon world view throughout the history of humankind, and most societies and cultures have naturally drifted from this basic belief towards embellishing this basic belief with creative detailed beliefs.

When I say “creative” I basically mean “made up” – this not simply a case of “I think therefore I am, therefore there is meaning” – this is a kind of story telling that fills in unknown blanks such as ‘God personalities’, ‘creation stories’, and other philosophies, moral codes and the like. From there we arrive at the various world religions, ad hoc spiritual philosophies and other theistic conceptual structures.

Atheism, which we can take to mean strong atheism since he makes the distinction between atheism and agnosticism*, is another creative detailed belief.

Exactly like theistic conceptual structures, atheistic conceptual structures assume knowledge that we do not have, but rather than assuming a complex meaningful creature came from something complex and meaningful, it posits that this came about from a confluence of meaningless process – essentially by happenstance. It’s a story, just like religions are.

Atheism, therefore, is an equal in terms of its rational foundations to religion and other theistic conceptual structures. Both are detailed conceptual structures which describe things that we do not actually hold any confirmed knowledge about.

This is why Plantinga says that a transition from theism to agnosticism makes a sort of sense, but a transition from theism to atheism does not.

Agnosticism is not a belief at all, but a philosophical approach that sways away from storytelling and focuses instead entirely on knowledge. At its foundation is an acceptance that we are without knowledge beyond the essential knowledge of our own existence.

So to recognise that religions are telling us made up stories, it is logical to transition to a philosophy where we accept that these are stories and to cease taking them as facts. It is not logical to transition from one story to another, which is what the transition from theism to atheism in fact is.

* From here atheism refers to strong atheism
Re: Is Atheism Irrational? Plantinga thinks so...
March 06, 2015 12:00AM
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TheThorn
Of course for it to read properly we need to have a broad interpretation of the word ‘God’ to encompass any detailed or undetailed belief that the universe has some purpose to its existence. Then his assertion of belief in God being a basic belief that can be held without arguments makes a lot of sense.

I think Plantinga himself would disagree with your theory here in a most vigorous way.

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TheThorn
Hence with that knowledge we can move to the basic belief that if we exist as complex and meaningful creatures, we came from something complex and meaningful.

. . . and, I assume, then, that you infer that THAT complex and meaningful thing came from something else equally or more complex and meaningful, and that THAT complex and meaningful thing came from something else equally or more complex and meaningful and on and on without end. So do you think infinite regresses actually exist in reality or do you think something else might account for our beginnings?

Something such as evolution. That perhaps instead of our coming from something complex and meaningful, we came from something less complex than ourselves and that that something came from something less complex that itself and that that something came from something less complex than itself and so forth until we get to just about the simplest form of life that can exist?

If you put a gun to my head, I'll cast my vote for this latter theory and not your "The complex can only come from the equally or more complex."

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It goes back to fundamental knowledge we all hold of our own existence – cogito ergo sum.

There's a nice body of argument out there now that says we don't know that we exist, at least not in the way that we think we do.

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We can believe and form arguments around any number of things, but we only truly know that we exist, and that we are a complex and meaningful creature.

No, I'm afraid we can't know that in an absolute sense at all. What we can know are tautologies, logical truths, those sort of things. It's entirely possible that you are nothing more than an automaton in a simulated world that has been programmed to hold every belief that you now hold, including the belief that you are an independently functioning human being with free will.

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Atheism, which we can take to mean strong atheism since he makes the distinction between atheism and agnosticism*, is another creative detailed belief.

Interesting. Let's take a self-proclaimed atheist such as Thomas Nagel who believes the universe has a purpose, for instance. What would you say are the creative details about his atheism?

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Exactly like theistic conceptual structures, atheistic conceptual structures assume knowledge that we do not have . . .

So in your view, atheism, which is only a denial of the truth of theism, has conceptual structures exactly like those of theism? How so? Theism posits the existence of various gods with various attributes that act in various ways. Atheism only denies that these Gods exist. Atheism does not posit any conceptual structures of its own.

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. . . rather than assuming a complex meaningful creature came from something complex and meaningful, it posits that this came about from a confluence of meaningless process – essentially by happenstance. It’s a story, just like religions are.

Evolution is the process that suggests complex creatures like us evolved from less complex creatures. Evolution and atheism are not the same thing. Although virtually all atheists do accept evolution as true, so do many, many theists.

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Atheism, therefore, is an equal in terms of its rational foundations to religion and other theistic conceptual structures. Both are detailed conceptual structures which describe things that we do not actually hold any confirmed knowledge about.

The one claim atheism makes about the world is that the world appears to lack gods in the same way that it appears to lack fairies and dragons, ghosts and witches. It's possible, of course, that all these things exist but -- and here's the point -- they don't seem to exist.

Anything else you attribute to atheism is better attributed to some other source.

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This is why Plantinga says that a transition from theism to agnosticism makes a sort of sense, but a transition from theism to atheism does not.

I don't follow. If one believes that one's own religion's God exists but that none others do, then through study and discussion comes to believe that that God doesn't exist, why wouldn't a transition to atheism make sense?

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Agnosticism is not a belief at all, but a philosophical approach that sways away from storytelling and focuses instead entirely on knowledge.

Agree. Although many folks today use agnosticism to argue for a third position of belief between theism and atheism, classically agnosticism is not a belief or even about beliefl. It is about a lack of knowledge, just as you say.

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At its foundation is an acceptance that we are without knowledge beyond the essential knowledge of our own existence.

That's mistaken. Agnosticism is not a denial of all knowledge except the knowledge of our own existence. That would be universal skepticism (or maybe even solipsism depending on how far you go with it).

Agnosticism says only that some propositions are probably unknowable, like the proposition "God exists." But it certainly doesn't argue against knowledge in general in the broad way that you suggest here.
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