On A's and Theists


Danneskjold

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It recently occured to me that the ongoing battle of Theists attempting to provide evidence of a god, and the Atheists trying to provide evidnece to the contrary, is more pointless than I have ever even considered it. Theists provide "evidence" of God's existence by shooting holes in science, while Atheists provide "evidence" against God by using science to shoot holes in religion. The comedy of it all comes when both fail. Utterly and completely.

You cannot prove the existence of a God by pointing out that science hasn't yet answered every question ever asked. It's illogical to do so. Scientific advancements are ongoing and we are learning more and more about the universe from a secular perspective daily. To say that since we haven't figured it all out yet is evidence that God exists is saying that it can't, and frankly we don't know what science can do.

On the flip side, however, Atheists decide to prove the abscence of a higher power by saying that scientific evidence (such as evolution) refutes God. It may refute a religion, but not that there may be a general God that does not interact with the human race. After all, according to both something has to have been there forever. Offer scientific evidence that there is no possible way that a God could have put the object that started the whole chain of evolution in place. It's impossible.

So we have Theism which fills holes in a ever growing knowledge of science with a God which can't be proven to exist. Then we have Atheism, which can shoot holes in religion, but offer no scientific evidence about the abscence of a God for the reason that it is impossible to refute.

And that, my dear friends, is why this is my Public Address, or PA. If we take this PA and add it to Atheism then we get my new movement: Apatheism. :lol: The complete lack of concern over whether or not there is a God for the reason that it is impossible to come to a logical conclusion either way.

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"Apatheism"... that's nice. :)

Well now there's a movement that proclaims that religion is good for your health and the religious people are healthier than secularists.

Cross posted from another forum I frequent:

"Religion is Good For You" Confirmed

June 20, 2000 Silver Spring, MD, USA .... [Jonathan Gallagher / ANN]

A wide-ranging review of health research confirms that if you attend religious services regularly, you live longer.

The report, published in the American Psychological Association's journal Health Psychology, looked at 42 health studies involving almost 126,000 people. Its conclusion-you are 29 percent more likely to live longer if you are involved in religion than if you are not. The review was carried out by the National Institute for Healthcare Research, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

The reasons for this link are not yet clearly established, but it is clear and definite, according to the report. Researchers also mention that churches that emphasize a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or drinking-such as the Seventh-day Adventist Church-are already known to have healthier members.

"The positive link between religion and health is hardly surprising," says Adventist health spokesperson Thomas Neslund. "The Adventist Church has always maintained that there is a direct correlation between spiritual well-being and physical health. That, plus an emphasis on healthy living, means that religion is truly good for you-and your health."

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You cannot prove the existence of a God by pointing out that science hasn't yet answered every question ever asked. It's illogical to do so. Scientific advancements are ongoing and we are learning more and more about the universe from a secular perspective daily. To say that since we haven't figured it all out yet is evidence that God exists is saying that it can't, and frankly we don't know what science can do.

On the flip side, however, Atheists decide to prove the abscence of a higher power by saying that scientific evidence (such as evolution) refutes God. It may refute a religion, but not that there may be a general God that does not interact with the human race. After all, according to both something has to have been there forever. Offer scientific evidence that there is no possible way that a God could have put the object that started the whole chain of evolution in place. It's impossible.

*LAUGH*!!

That, Danneskjold, is one of the most important insights into reality that one can come to in one's life. Would that more people four times your age would attain that realization!

And well said!

It's so frustrating to see theists who think that by refuting Darwinian evolution they've proven their particular brand of religion.

And it's so frustrating to see scientists get so defensive about evolution that they won't even consider the possibility that there may be holes in the theory, for fear that if they're wrong about it, their only option will be to start making animal sacrifices to Jehovah.

Judith

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May I recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It is a first rate that takes up almost all of the arguments. At NBI I can remember Leonard Peikoff saying that in this age the use of God was unbelieveable.

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Danneskjold, your "Apatheist" position holds some appeal to me, but you seem to be putting religion and atheism on equal footings. Just because we cannot disprove the existence of God, doesn't mean it's perfectly reasonable to believe in God. Richard Dawkins' position is that even though we cannot prove God's nonexistence (as nonexistence of anything is often impossible to prove), God's existence is so highly improbable that we can say that it's unreasonable to believe in God. You may not be convinced of God's improbability yet, but to understand the position, substitute something you can agree is improbable: Dawkins relates Bertrand Russell's "parable of the celestial teapot."

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense."

While it's a leap of faith to believe in God at all, the belief in the specific personal God described by any particular human religion is an even bigger leap. Just the idea that if there's a God, he wants to be worshipped, is a leap. Actually, it's psychological projection: people think "well, if I created the universe, I'd want to be worshipped for it!"

I highly recommend Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and George H. Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God".

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you seem to be putting religion and atheism on equal footings. Just because we cannot disprove the existence of God, doesn't mean it's perfectly reasonable to believe in God.

I do put Theism and Atheism on equal footing. Both are equally illogical. You're right, just because we cannot disprove God does not make it reasonable to believe in God. It does, however, make it as illogical to completely rule out the belief of God as it does to believe in God. There can be no evidence disproving him, and no evidence proving him.

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Danneskjold,

Ballsy and honest expression: well done!

Hmmm... boy, have I put a few licks in on this one.

Say it so often in many spots, but for you now: I strongly recommend going to yonder library and picking up a book by Ken Wilber called "The Marriage of Sense and Spirit." Wilber is a philsopher of the "integration" school, and in this book we see him begin a pretty thorough job of integrating religion and science. As he says, both have their dignities and their disasters.

And then of course there's Leonard Peikoff's long-ago pronouncement that the agnostic position is cowardly. Personally, I see no cowardice in "knowing that you don't know;" much the opposite.

To me, the description of "theism" is one that is easily broadened into other places that have little to do with it. I like "individual (religious or spiritual, if you prefer) consciousness." My spiritual consciousness, for instance, is more similar to spiritual monism, I guess, but I still get the theist tag. Oh well...

best,

r

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you seem to be putting religion and atheism on equal footings. Just because we cannot disprove the existence of God, doesn't mean it's perfectly reasonable to believe in God.

I do put Theism and Atheism on equal footing. Both are equally illogical. You're right, just because we cannot disprove God does not make it reasonable to believe in God. It does, however, make it as illogical to completely rule out the belief of God as it does to believe in God. There can be no evidence disproving him, and no evidence proving him.

Danneskjold,

I take a different turn here from Rich, even though he is a bud. Here's my position, and I think philosophy and logic will support me. There is no “middle ground” between existence and non-existence. Either God exists or he doesn’t—and the onus is on the individual who makes a positive claim of his existence, not on the one who rejects the claim. It is the theist who has the burden of proof and not the atheist. To say that the A-theist is equally illogical is nonsense. Am I illogical because I disbelief any claim that can pop into your head--such as a proclamation of little green elves studying Aristotelian logic on Mars who rub their lucky rabbits foots as a sure fire formulation to win the lottery? Yes, I put it to you that the belief in a supernatural being is just as likely and as “logical.”

Victor

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“middle ground” between existence and non-existence. Either God exists or he doesn’t—and the onus is on the individual who makes a positive claim of his existence, not on the one who rejects the claim.

On the contrary, Agnosticism (or Apatheism as I call it) is the only one not making the claim. Therefore the burden of proof is on both Atheists and Theists. Atheists are making the claim that there is no God. Theists make the claim that there is. If you start with absolutely nothing and then make claims the burden of proof is on you. Since both sides are making claims the burden of proof is on both. Are there different rules for a positive claim than a negative claim? The way I see it someone saying that there is absolutely no God needs to provide evidence as much as the one saying that there absolutely is.

I also agree that there is no "middle ground" between existene and non-existence. What I'm saying is that you cannot prove either or provide evidence for either side. For that matter neither side can ever break a stalemate as far as the argument goes. There is evidence against acts of God, not God himself. There is no evidence whatsoever of God. I'm not claiming that he is in the "middle ground" I'm claiming he either exists or he doesn't and we don't know either way.

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Danneskjold,

Yes, the question comes to epistemology—not metaphysics. What can we know and what can be claimed as knowledge—questions such as this. Metaphysically speaking, there is no middle ground between existence and non-existence, as you granted.

I would like to explore this with you, but later tonight as I’m pressed for time. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this ponder: I make the claim that you broke into my apartment three years ago and raided my goods. Can you proof that you didn’t? What would your defense be in court? Would you object if your lawyer stated that it is *I* who has the burden of proof? I don't you would. In fact, I think you are smart enough to know what I'm saying here. Look, that you would be dragged to court in the first place---would not that be a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice? My friend, in the arena of epistemology and for the honest hunt for truth you have prudence here as well. Philosophy is not a game.

More later.

Victor

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See how nice Victor and I are to each other in the playground? Wonderful!

Anyway...he says:

Either God exists or he doesn’t—and the onus is on the individual who makes a positive claim of his existence, not on the one who rejects the claim. It is the theist who has the burden of proof and not the atheist.

I know the kind of theists you're talking about, I think... Oh yeah! I really never understood the need for that kind of ministring to others, to "convince" them into a state of religious sentiment. This is really not possible. Not really

My position is that spiritual experience is unique, like fingerprints, to the individual. It is a state. You can't prove your state to another, and have them experience it--it is yours and yours only. Or not at all!

We do know that conversion happens. And we know that there can be certain commonalities between the converted. I had a conversion, but when I say that it is almost impossible for someone (particularly atheists) to really have a picture of what I am talking about. The only observable phenomena is how very, very different I am, my actions are, than before. I am, generally, more agreeable to more people on a day to day basis. I don't have to prove anything to myself, even, because my internal makeup is completely different than it once was.

And yeah, before anyone goes there for me, in a fashion you might consider this some kind of pathological thing, although I consider it more along the lines of an integration. When you study spiritual consciousness, you are also studying areas of psychology.

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Danneskjold,

You are correct.

I would like to make some comments to add to this.

All of our volitional-conceptual knowledge is derived from the senses (and integration of our innate drives, which could be considered ultimately--by stretching the concept a little--as coming from the senses when awareness of them is present).

Awareness of God on a sensory level has not happened in the same manner as awareness of the color red. Nor has an instrument (like a microscope) been developed for perceiving God that will bring unperceived existents into the perception range of our senses. Nor has an instrument (like a sound spectrum analyzer) been developed for perceiving God that transposes data from one sense to another for easy perception. Nor have there been any theoretical mathematics (like Einstein's equations) for understanding God that allow manipulating and handling parts of reality we can't perceive, and result in rationally produced products like power and bombs.

So the matter comes down to whether our senses and conceptual faculty (through induction and deduction) are capable of detecting all there is in the universe or not. I claim speculatively that there is a good possibility that they are not, but this is pure speculation and it is based more on what we don't know than what we do. On the other hand, I also claim speculatively that the human form of knowledge is so powerful that it is probably capable of devising forms and methods to grasp any such existents that are not graspable by the senses, and this is based on seeing what it has done so far with both subatomic particles and cosmology.

There is another possibility, whether we can develop another different sense organ as an evolutionary event. As Rich has explained in other places, he has had a very powerful subjective experience. If you look at the issue correctly, all perception--all of it--is equally subjective as it is automatic and limited to the person who is perceiving. Yet it is objective in that the same results can be shared and repeated from one person to another. On the level of mystical experience, so many people have reported an experience such as Rich has had--and there have been so many parameters of similarity in the reports--that it is reasonable to conclude that something real has happened inside the brain. Brain scans are now proving this. What that experience is, though, cannot be stated with certainty.

As far as Rand and Peikoff go (and dismissing that silly "cowardice" thing), it is a good idea to be precise on what they actually wrote. I have not read anything from them that has postulated that God does not exist as a proven fact (what some call "hard atheism"). I have read that they find the concept of God cognitively without content (arbitrary) since there is no sensory information for developing conceptual proof.

The reason they are so strongly against presuming the existence of God is that such presumption cannot be taken as knowledge without making "something that is rationally arbitrary" more important than reason. This is dangerous because reason is the principal human method of survival. Also, they have seen far too many people do that and make a mess of things in the world. Without the holy mess mankind has made over the centuries in the name of God, I am pretty sure they would have been almost indifferent, as they have been with other arbitrary things like unicorns (or Barbara's little green man in a tuxedo).

So the correct position is as follows:

1. Believers: Perception of the existence of God is a subjective experience with speculation added.

2. Atheists: There is no evidence in the conceptual form of knowledge that God exists.

Obviously I am not even considering charlatans in both camps. I think both camps should stay open-ended as to what they don't know and remain within the confines of what they do know when they identify and proclaim facts and truth.

Michael

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I think it's terribly important in a discussion like this to remember our own cultural assumptions. When we say things like "prove the existence of God", we assume we know what we're talking about when we say "God". Like it or not, we all have in mind a certain thing by the word "God" -- i.e., the Jewish/Christian/Moslem vision of a deity. So when we are proving or disproving this vision, we are proving or disproving a specific religion, not the existence of "god" in its entirety, whatever it may be or conceivably may be. As Danneskjold said, "scientific evidence ... may refute a religion, but not that there may be a general God that does not interact with the human race."

There are many, many possibilities for deities: one or many; immanent or transcendent or both; omniscient or not; omnipotent or not; part of the natural universe or outside of it; etc. One must first define one's terms before one can even begin to think intelligibly about the subject. A "deity" could be far, far different from what one expected. The deity could turn out to be the whole of reality unfolding.

Judith

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There are many, many possibilities for deities: one or many; immanent or transcendent or both; omniscient or not; omnipotent or not; part of the natural universe or outside of it; etc. One must first define one's terms before one can even begin to think intelligibly about the subject. A "deity" could be far, far different from what one expected. The deity could turn out to be the whole of reality unfolding.

Judith,

The vain attempt to yet find another "place" for God goes on! God: a supernatural being conceived as the creator of the universe--that is the popular notion that is asserted. Under this “version” of god, it is totally outside the universe. Given the normal use of "universe"--that refers to "all that exists" from which we can learn that god is outside of "what exists" is to say that it does not exist. That’s fine with me. In fact, it’s a rather generous concession to the atheist position.

Let’s toss in a little Objectivism here: The existence of entities is constrained by the axiom "existence is identity," which means that to exist is to have identity. In addition, the identities of entities are constrained by the Law of Identity: they must be limited in qualities and limited in quantity. So the identity of a postulated "entity" consisting of "infinite" qualities and/or "infinite" qualities does not--and cannot--qualify as a valid identity. Thus the postulated entity belonging to this kind of identity does not---cannot--exist. God, as conjectured in most manifestations of mysticism, possesses an identity characterized by infinite qualities and/or infinite quantities! Any existing thing must have some identity and obey causal laws. And what's more, Objectivism correctly holds that Existence is primary, not Consciousness. Now, how in hell could one use reason to arrive at the conclusion that such an entity exists? And how in hell can one be “illogical” for rejecting this?

In principle, I agree: Before anyone can argue for/against the existence of god, we have to have a DEFINITION of god. So what IS god? What do we mean by this word? To use the George H. Smith standard—if I assert that “Blark” exists, you have every reason to ask me “What are you asserting the existence of when you say ‘Blark?’ What are you talking about?" Nevertheless, to use the classic example of “God” as a supernatural being, I would still ask: What is the nature of god? What are its traits? What can it do/not do? And just what the hell is a super-natural being? If you cannot provide a definition--or at least a description—and if there are no facts in reality to reference in order to form the concept "god", the debate about the existence/nonexistence of such a being or whatever is nonsensical.

Like Laure, I highly recommend Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and George H. Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God".

Victor

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Victor,

You have just done exactly what I said was possible. To poke holes in a religion. By ruling out Christianity you have left out many other major religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Not to mention scientology, if only more people knew that we were all hydrogen bombed at the beginning of the world and had our souls stuffed in volcanoes. :P But I regress. Amongst other things, this thread was meant to show that God remains undefined. To define him as you wish gives yourself a slight advantage seeing as you can then knock down the strawman that was set up. One of the major problems with Atheism as a whole is that the followers demand a definition of God from a world which is utterly divided on the issue.

Think of it like a group of scientists all fighting over...well it really doesn't matter what as long as there are many theories regarding it, none of which are completely proven. They can fight all they want, poke holes in each other's theories in an attempt for their's to rise as the best. However, just because their's may rise as the most feasible theory doesn't mean that there's something that they missed altogether, nor does it prove that theory.

I make the claim that you broke into my apartment three years ago and raided my goods. Can you proof that you didn’t? What would your defense be in court? Would you object if your lawyer stated that it is *I* who has the burden of proof? I don't you would. In fact, I think you are smart enough to know what I'm saying here.

I know exactly what you're saying, however I have to disagree that this is a fair representation of the topic at hand. The problem lies mainly in that this was an event, not an entity. If I started out saying, "I did not break into Victor Pross's apartment" when you had never accused me of anything, I would just look crazy. However, if I was to claim that reality doesn't exist would you have to prove me wrong? Or would I have to prove myself right? I am sure that the metaphor I just gave isn't quite a good one, however I must be going to bed and it serves my purpose for now. I'll be online a good bit tomorrow between 11 and 1 o'clock Pacific Standard Time.

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Victor,

Be careful with one aspect of your reasoning. You are deducing the universe from axioms.

The universe exists independently of axioms (or of you or me for that matter).

Human beings arrived at axioms by induction of evidence provided by the universe and grasped through the senses. You can create axioms to describe a positive--things you have experienced. You cannot use an axiom as some kind of law independent of the human mind to "prove" a negative (the non-existence of something). Both the mind and existents have to be present for an axiom to have validity.

Another way of saying this is that man is part of the universe, not the universe is part of man.

Even another way is to say that an axiom reflects a universal property as perceived and integrated by a conceptual mind.

Our job is to discover the laws of the universe and use them, not dictate what laws can and should exist. The universe will continue existing with whatever properties it has irrespective of any of us. There is no guarantee that what we can perceive and process conceptually is a limit on what can possibly exist.

That is why I claim that within the human mode of conceptual knowledge, God has not presented any evidence of existing and I stop right there. Due to the fact that there is a vast amount of things human beings don't know yet (evidenced by mankind's growing body of knowledge), and the fact that human beings are not omniscient, it is impossible to claim that a pre-universe or a pre-universe organizing force could not exist. This doesn't mean that it does either. It merely means that there is no evidence understandable conceptually--so for the time being, it is a non-issue fact-wise in terms of reason and it can only be speculation, both for and against.

Also, due to a vast amount of reports (and brain scans) concerning altered mental states, there is even more that needs to be studied before negatives can be asserted as positives and vice-versa.

So if you are deducing the universe from axioms, keep in mind that you are talking about conceptual understanding of the universe only, not about the entirety of the universe separate from human beings.

Michael

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Michael,

The universe exists independently of axioms in one regard: The axioms serve as a 'broad sweep' to indicate that existence exists—but it tells us zilch as to what exists or the particulars of such things that exists--such as the physical sciences do in their respective fields: physics, biology and the like. However, they are not mutually exclusive, Michael, in that we you speak of one you don’t include the other at all. Speaking of “existence” and the “universe” is not to be on two different planets—to use a poor example, since nothing better comes to mind. The reason why I brought up the axioms was draw out the question of distinguishing “God” [in it’s supernatural mode] from anything else in the universe that exists. You’ll find that ‘God’ nullifies the very concept of EXISTENCE. It is to strip the word of everything of what it means and to demand that it nevertheless exists [!!??]

Now as for this:

That is why I claim that within the human mode of conceptual knowledge, God has not presented any evidence of existing and I stop right there. Due to the fact that there is a vast amount of things human beings don't know yet (evidenced by mankind's growing body of knowledge), and the fact that human beings are not omniscient, it is impossible to claim that a pre-universe or a pre-universe organizing force could not exist. This doesn't mean that it does either. It merely means that there is no evidence understandable conceptually--so for the time being, it is a non-issue fact-wise in terms of reason and it can only be speculation, both for and against.

'For the time being...it can be only speculation...for or against?...' Oy, Michael, if I understand you correctly here, I must take issue. The above quote does sound like a ‘let’s keep the door open for the sake of being open-minded’ type of agnosticism, which others would consider “rational.” I consider it filling up the cognitive landscape with a lot of unneeded junk—but worse: the very idea of a super-natural god nullifies our understanding of existence, as I said. What are we keeping the "door open" for? For more non-evidence to come in? M, God is an article of faith. The concept of “god” or of the supernatural is not some yet undiscovered but possible realm or aspect within existence—but the complete reversal of it. It spins the concept of ‘existence” on its head--while trying to lay claim to everything it stands for—namely of being “something.” To even put the words “god” and “exists” side-by-side as in: God exists—cancels each other out; it is totally a case of the stolen concept. “Pre-universe” is a useless concept. What in God's name is a "PRE-Universe"-- and would that exist...or is it more like, er, non-existence? And if it's like existence, then it's not PRE-ANYTHING. IT'S EXISTENCE! You see, the "pre" junks up the cognitive landscape in the hunt and discovery of truth and facts, it's just a lot of verbiage. In short: Existence exists—and only existence exists. And to exist is to be something, and to be something is possess identity, and to possess an identity….well, you understand my point.

-Victor-

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Danneskjold,

You are very fast to congratulate yourself on a point well made, but I’m sorry to say that I find your “argument” convoluted. It’s hard to follow what you wish to get across. Although it’s apparent that you are bending yourself out of shape trying to rescue the word “God” at all costs. You say "One of the major problems with Atheism as a whole is that the followers demand a definition of God from a world which is utterly divided on the issue." I reject the supernatural, as any rational person would. If you wish to call a tree ‘god’ so as to enable yourself to say “see, some people may think of trees as god—so therefore god exists!” --knock yourself out.

Let me make my position clear: Objectivism regards reason as an absolute—if genuine knowledge is the goal, and yes, I agree with this. It holds that all knowledge is based on the evidence of the senses and that all beliefs, conclusions, and convictions must be established by logical methods of inquiry and tested by logical methods of verification. In short, it holds that the scientific approach applies to all areas of knowledge. Blind faith, by contrast, consists in belief not based on evidence or reason—but rather based on such spurious forms of "evidence" as revelation and authority and gut feelings. Faith is essentially an arbitrary exercise of the mind--a willful credulity based on subjective emotions rather than objective evidence. It is a desire for certainty without the scrupulous cognitive effort required to achieve rational certainty. Faith cannot substitute for reason as a means of knowledge, nor can it supplement reason. Reason is incompatible with arbitrary procedures of any kind.

For many people, religion is not primarily a belief about the world or a means to discover the universe [i.e. reality] in which they live--but rather a belief in “spiritual values,” a belief that a meaningful human life requires more than material possessions and achievements. This, I suppose, is Rich’s approach and I respect him on his wish to improve himself and I regard his approach as an “ethical affirmation” rather than standing by an epistemological principle. However, Objectivism holds that "spiritual values" can be defined in secular terms--with which I agree—and it is just as much an “inner philosophy” as it is an external philosophy. Objectivism clearly sees as vital the importance to achieve fulfillment and happiness. When asked during a 1961 television interview if she regards “happiness as important” Rand, chuckling, answered: “I don’t see how anything could be more important.” She went on to explain that happiness is to be defined and that a certain approach to achieving it is necessary.

In conclusion, spiritual values pertain to the needs of human consciousness--arising from the human capacity for reason, creativity, free will, and self-awareness. These needs include self-esteem, love, sex, art, and philosophy (a comprehensive view of existence), among others. Achieving these values in one's life is no less important than providing for one's material needs and achieving worldly success. Objectivism is an idealistic philosophy that affirms and celebrates the grandeur of the human capacity for achievement and heroism. In this respect, it provides a secular meaning for such so-called "religious concepts" as exaltation, worship, reverence, and sacred. There is no need for religion or the supernatural here.

Ayn Rand: "Such concepts do name actual emotions, even though no supernatural dimension exists; and these emotions are experienced as uplifting or ennobling.… What, then, is their source or referent in reality? It is the entire emotional realm of man's dedication to a moral ideal."

-Victor-

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First off I'm sorry for the obscurity of my last post. I was attempting to type it in the fifteen minutes I had between getting home and going to bed. I was typing more than I was thinking which is my mistake.

If you wish to call a tree ‘god’ so as to enable yourself to say “see, some people may think of trees as god—so therefore god exists!” --knock yourself out.

I cannot actually say that "The tree is God, therefore God exists" because I would then have to prove that the tree is God. The existence of the tree is undisputed, the position in nature in which the tree stands is under dispute. I would also have to be the one to prove that the tree was God because I am the one making the claim.

It holds that all knowledge is based on the evidence of the senses and that all beliefs, conclusions, and convictions must be established by logical methods of inquiry and tested by logical methods of verification. In short, it holds that the scientific approach applies to all areas of knowledge. Blind faith, by contrast, consists in belief not based on evidence or reason—but rather based on such spurious forms of "evidence" as revelation and authority and gut feelings. Faith is essentially an arbitrary exercise of the mind--a willful credulity based on subjective emotions rather than objective evidence. It is a desire for certainty without the scrupulous cognitive effort required to achieve rational certainty.

I could not agree more with that statement right there. I will remind you once again that I do not believe in God. I am simply stating that there is an equal amount of evidence that there is no God as there is that there is a God. That amount be zero.

Apparently we have formulated a new question here. Is abscence of evidence, evidence of abscence? If there is no evidence whatsoever that there is a God evidence that there is no God? Because if it is then Atheism is far and away the most logical choice. If not than they are equally illogical.

It holds that all knowledge is based on the evidence of the senses and that all beliefs, conclusions, and convictions must be established by logical methods of inquiry and tested by logical methods of verification. In short, it holds that the scientific approach applies to all areas of knowledge.
You can not provide evidence of God using any portion of the above method, however, you cannot provide evidence against God by them either. Therefore the only way that you can say that there is no God is if abscence of evidence is evidence of abscence.

That, I suppose, is where Atheism becomes more feasible than Theism. Because if abscence of evidence of God is evidence of the abscence of God then Atheism has evidence. However, if there is an abscence of evidence of no God, that doesn't give evidence of God.

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What on earth would "evidence of absence" look like?

Dawkins says, "That you cannot prove God's non-existence is accepted and trivial, if only in the sense that we can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything. What matters is not whether God is disprovable (he isn't) but whether his existence is probable. That is another matter. Some undisprovable things are sensibly judged far less probable than other undisprovable things. There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities. And there is certainly no reason to suppose that, just because God can be neither proved nor disproved, his probability of existence is 50 per cent."

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If something is probable or improbable would be based on evidence for or against something would it not? Regardless of whether or not it was provable, when you figure out probabilities you are weighing evidence that something can happen vs. evidence that something can't. I could be wrong there though. So if you can not provide evidence for either then you can't figure out a probability can you?

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The vain attempt to yet find another "place" for God goes on!

*LAUGH* Victor, need I remind you that I am an atheist?

This would be a good time to point out to (or remind, in many cases) the group George Smith's definition of an atheist: a-theist: one who lacks theistic beliefs. Theistic beliefs have to be specifically defined. An atheist is one who, having heard various specifically defined theistic beliefs, has not subscribed to any of them. An atheist is NOT someone who positively asserts that a god is impossible or cannot possibly exist. As Smith also pointed out, one first needs to define what a god IS before one can say it does or does not exist.

God: a supernatural being conceived as the creator of the universe--that is the popular notion that is asserted. Under this “version” of god, it is totally outside the universe. Given the normal use of "universe"--that refers to "all that exists" from which we can learn that god is outside of "what exists" is to say that it does not exist.

You've just ruled out Hinduism, pantheism, animism, the beliefs of the American Indians, and a whole slew of other beliefs in human history.

My point in making my previous post was precisely to prevent the kind of assumptions you just made! Those assumptions are unique to Western monotheism. There are a whole lot of other people with other beliefs out there, and if you talk to one of them using the word "God", you'll end up talking past each other. In fact, with the number of New Agers out there, many of whom have incorporated eastern, or Hindu, or pantheistic views into their own beliefs, their definition of the word "God" may also include some non-Western concepts.

I've read some books by physicists who believe that on the sub-atomic level, matter is conscious and the whole of reality is conscious and purposeful -- that the universe is unfolding purposefully, that the sudden, quantum leaps in evolution were purposeful -- in short, that the world is weirder than we know, and that we haven't yet begun to understand what's going on out there. Some of them assign the word "God" to this entire universe. That's an entirely different definition of "God" from Jehovah as an old man in a white robe sitting on a cloud hurling thunderbolts at unmarried people having sex.

All I'm saying is that people need to clarify their definitions in this kind of discussion: no more, no less.

Judith

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Yes, what Judith said.

Then..my bud Victor:

God: a supernatural being conceived as the creator of the universe--that is the popular notion that is asserted. Under this “version” of god, it is totally outside the universe. Given the normal use of "universe"--that refers to "all that exists" from which we can learn that god is outside of "what exists" is to say that it does not exist. That’s fine with me. In fact, it’s a rather generous concession to the atheist position.

That is one, only one definition of God. I find it unlikely and suspect for a few reasons. The first is that so often these Gods have been built in man's image. Easy to do the math as far as origin goes. Another is simply that I find the universe, existence, life, spirit, to be too darned huge for spiritual sentiment to be pointed at such creatures. But, these kinds of Gods do act, with various positive and negative results, as conduits for spiritual consciousness. I just find it cumbersome. As far as I'm concerned, it's all God.

It gets dicey because religion itself is vast. For instance, some Objectivists/atheists condemn all religion, period. That would include the Buddhists, who are, yes, atheists.

You gotta try and separate the wheat from the chaff, you know?

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