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Author Topic:   Pseudoskepticism and logic
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 821 days)
Posts: 3119
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Joined: 01-24-2007


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Message 556 of 562 (531365)
10-17-2009 10:28 AM


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Fun, was it?

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Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Hiding member drool.


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petrophysics1
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Message 557 of 562 (531390)
10-17-2009 2:32 PM
Reply to: Message 556 by bluegenes
10-17-2009 10:28 AM


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Sure, nothing to do early in the morning, but show how stupid some things are.

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Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Hiding member drool.


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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


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Message 558 of 562 (531393)
10-17-2009 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 557 by petrophysics1
10-17-2009 2:32 PM


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Sure, nothing to do early in the morning, but show how stupid some things are.

Well you have certainly demonstrated that!!

I always thought you were my number one fan. Now I know it. Literally number 1.

It must have taken you ages! How fuck'n bored are you?

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onifre
Member (Idle past 1295 days)
Posts: 4854
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Joined: 02-20-2008


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Message 559 of 562 (531395)
10-17-2009 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 557 by petrophysics1
10-17-2009 2:32 PM


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Sure, nothing to do early in the morning, but show how stupid some things are.

Hey pussy. You really are one no-life having idiot, aren't you?

How did you have nothing better to do this morning, did you run out of transsexual scat porn to watch?

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This message is a reply to:
 Message 557 by petrophysics1, posted 10-17-2009 2:32 PM petrophysics1 has not yet responded

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Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


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Message 560 of 562 (531403)
10-17-2009 3:21 PM
Reply to: Message 559 by onifre
10-17-2009 2:49 PM


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How did you have nothing better to do this morning, did you run out of transsexual scat porn to watch?

And what exactly is wrong with "transsexual scat porn"?

Oh shit! Am I posting my drunken secret inner thoughts again?

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Adminnemooseus
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Message 561 of 562 (531413)
10-17-2009 4:42 PM


Closing time
Topic got quite stinky at the end.

Adminnemooseus


RAZD
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From: the other end of the sidewalk
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Message 562 of 562 (532189)
10-21-2009 9:12 PM


Summary Finale Finally (yeah, it's long ...)
To All, thanks.

I asked for summary posts so that each of you could provide a single summary of your position, show why it was logically supported, and to show what objective evidence you had for your position/s where an assertion of validity has been made, particularly where that assertion involves a negative position or claim, such as that {X} does not exist, or that {Y} is highly unlikely to exist.

The Topic

The topic of this thread is the need to provide objective evidence and logical deductions when a negative position is taken, just as we need to provide such evidence and logic for a positive position.

As an example, I provided the negative claim that the earth is not less than 400,000 years old, and the evidence and logic that leads to the logical position that the earth cannot be less than 400,000 years old (although it can be much older)..

Petrophysics also gave a good example in Message 22

quote:
Position A: There was a worldwide flood 4000 years ago.

Position B: There was NOT a worldwide flood 4000 years ago.

Position C: I actually don't know, because I don't know enough about geology ( I am not qualified to peer review geologic papers.)

C is not required to do anything, but you are correct both A and B must provide evidence of their claims.


Note that position B does not require the existence of position A to be claimed, it is independent of the positive claim.

The issue of atheism being a negative claim was then raised and the thread has been busy since. Part of the problem is that beliefs and opinions cover a spectrum of positions rather than a simple dichotomy: there are

  1. Absolute Theists, people convinced that the claim "there are god/s" is true,
  2. Strong Theists, people that believe that "there are god/s" is "highly likely to be true but have some doubt, but they are predominantly theistic,
  3. Agnostic Theists, people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic
  4. Absolute Agnostics, people that feel there is not enough evidence pro or con for anyone to make a rational decision, that neither positive nor negative claims are proven or substantiated,
  5. Agnostic Atheists, people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic
  6. Strong Atheists, people that believe that "there are no god/s" is "highly likely to be true but have some doubt, but they are predominantly atheistic, and finally,
  7. Absolute Atheists, people convinced that the claim "there are no god/s" is true.


| predominantly THEIST | predominantly AGNOSTIC | predominantly ATHEIST |

This forum has seen a number of people that fit the "(1) Absolute Theist" mold, and there has been no question that such a position requires empirical evidence to substantiate it. Likewise most posters on this thread have agreed that the same applies to "(7) Absolute Atheist" with the provisio that this is a rare bird, seldom seen. The closest we have to a (7) is given in Logically speaking: God is knowable Message 34:

quote:
Anyone who claims to be at 1 or 7 has to be deluded because either position requires a certainty about the source of their absolute certanty that it is impossible to have.

The key difference is that those of faith are necessarily 1s whilst those that call themselves atheists would more likely describe themselves as 6.999999999Rs as they would generally accept that absolute certainty about anything requires the sort of faith that they oppose!!


That's 7-10^-9, a close enough approximation for all practical purposes, certainly with less room allowed for "error" than in most scientific measures involving actual objective empirically evaluated evidence. According to the OP this is claiming a degree of certainty that is not warranted without bearing the burden of evidence: being predominantly theist or atheist means you are more confident in your position than uncertain, and there needs to be substantiation for that certainty.

Curiously, the reply (made 3 years ago) to the above message presages this thread:

quote:
I agree. The same could be said of positions 2-6 however.

Bold & italic added for emphasis. Again, we are familiar with the need to substantiate positive assertions, and here we see the need to support the negative assertion as well, or they are guilty of having a certainty "that it is impossible to have" unless you have evidence that supports it.

The Evidence

The evidence presented by various people on this thread falls into these three basic forms:

  1. the absence of evidence FOR god/s,
  2. people make things up, and
  3. brain malfunction/s cause hallucinations.
If I missed anyone's evidence (or what they consider evidence rather than argument) in this list let me know.

The astute observer will note that there is no objective empirical evidence cited to show that god/s do not exist.

A. The absence of evidence FOR god/s.

In other words, "The absence of evidence is evidence of absence." Curiously, this is where I started way back on the Percy is a Deist - Now what's the difference between a deist and an atheist? thread, raising howls of outrage, one of whom later posted this explanation of his position (Message 332):

quote:
RAZD started this argument by relentlessly declaring that the atheist position amounted to "absence of evidence is evidence of absence". He relentlessly and repeatedly asserted this despite numerous actual atheists telling him that this was not their position at all.
...
There is no evidence of gods. Nor is there any evidence to suggest the possibility of gods. If there was such evidence gods would be evidentially viable concepts. If there was such evidence faith would be redundant.
...
I am an atheist because I consistently do not believe in the actuality of that for which there is no evidential reason to even think possible.

Others have posted similar statements that are really just different ways of saying that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. In this thread we have:

Message 76:

Now you are looking for "proof" of why I hold this position. I hold this position because I find no reason to hold the opposing position. I find there to be a total lack of evidence for God's existence.

Of course it is well known that "the absence of evidence is evidence of absence" is a logically invalid statement. What the absence of evidence is evidence for, is the absence of evidence. There can be a number of reasons that the evidence is absent: absence, ignoring evidence that exists, not looking for evidence, not looking in the right place for evidence, not knowing that the evidence is in front of you, etc.

An example of just how much the absence of evidence does not provide evidence of absence is the Coelacanth, missing from the known world for over 60 million years from the last known fossil to the (fairly recent) discovery of living populations. Another example of the absence of evidence failing to demonstrate evidence of absence is every transitional fossil ever found, often with characteristics that are unknown before hand and surprising when found.

One of the reasons for not looking, or looking in the wrong place, or not recognizing the evidence, are preconceptions of what the evidence would look like and what conditions are necessary to find it.

For instance, using the scientific method to answer a question where objective evidence may not be possible at this time does not mean that the failure to produce results means that you know the answer to the question by some magic default. Certainly where you have no evidence, no matter what the hypothesis is, it is impossible to use the scientific method.

The absence of evidence argument is not evidence, and it is inconclusive in determining if something in fact does not exist, and thus basing an opinion on the absence of evidence is not a logical, rational conclusion.

B. People make things up.

First off, this is not evidence that god/s do not exist.

This is rather humorous, for reasons that will become clear later, however it is sufficient to note that people only make some things up, or else all knowledge is made up, and the world devolves into solipsism.

To use this is as evidence for forming a negative opinion on god/s one needs to show that it applies in all cases -- and being able to prove that would mean that you already have the objective empirical evidence necessary to invalidate all the religions and religious or spiritual experiences.

Claiming that something is made up is not sufficient evidence that it is in fact made up. Amusingly, one of the best arguments that this is the case involves the immaterial pink unicorn, and the extents that atheists will go in using this argument and saying that you cannot prove that it is made up.

The people make things up "evidence" is inconclusive in determining if something in fact does not exist, and thus basing an opinion on the ability of people to make things up is not a logical, rational conclusion.

C. Brain malfunction/s cause hallucinations.

Again, this is not evidence that god/s do not exist.

Implicit in this is that all religious experiences are hallucinations caused by brain malfunction/s, however this does not explain how religious or spiritual experiences can be a learned behavior as well as a naturally occurring one. People don't learn to be schizophrenic or afflicted by various other brain malfunctions.

We see in brain scans of Buddhist Monks and Catholic Nuns that the same areas of the brain are used during their religious\spiritual experiences during meditation and prayer. This is comparable to the areas of the brain that are used during various sensory inputs, like vision and hearing, rather than random patterns. Curiously, during REM sleep the brain patterns show random use of sensory areas of the brains and other areas, and these are linked to the times of active dreaming by the sleeping individual, times when the brain is actively making up subjective experiences -- dreams. Thus the brain patterns of some religious\spiritual experiences is markedly different from the brain patterns of dreams when the subjective experiences are being made up.

The brain malfunction claim is inconclusive in determining if something in fact does not exist, and thus basing an opinion on some unconfirmed brain malfunction is not a logical, rational conclusion.

Conclusions from the evidence..

All the evidence presented on this thread to support the position that there are no god/s is inconclusive at best, and flawed in one way or another. What we see are confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance at work. If a person does not believe in god/s, then the absence of evidence of god/s is confirmation of their belief, just as the other evidence above is only interpreted as justification for a negative position. If a person cannot understand beliefs in god/s, then they find reasons for those beliefs to be invalid or false, attacking the people with such beliefs with claims that they are hallucinating or just making stuff up and ignore other possible interpretations. This behavior is commonly found in creationists, however it is not restricted to them.

Curiously, some recent studies show that people make up their minds first, based on their worldviews of how reality works, and then make up reasons for having made their decisions. The astute observer can conclude, from the evidence presented here, that it looks like this is the case here with strong atheists: as the evidence provided is inconclusive at best and logically false at worst, but that atheists then go on to justify their opinion with arguments appealing to logical conclusions from this evidence.

The Arguments

In addition to the (invalid) claims of having actual empirical evidence to support the atheist position, various arguments have been put forward to rationalize this position:

  1. atheists are really agnostic,
  2. the burden of proof for a negative hypothesis does not apply to atheism,
  3. babies are born atheist,
  4. it's the "default" or "null" hypothesis,
  5. it's a consistent approach to unknown/s,
  6. people make "6" atheist decisions every day,
  7. the model works, why add sprinkles,
  8. the pro position is not validated,
  9. both sides in debates call the other side pseudoskeptics, and, last but not least,
  10. the probability of religious experiences being true is highly unlikely.
Again, if I missed anyone's argument in this list let me know.

1. Atheists are really agnostic.

I put this first, because it seems to be the first argument that atheists make when confronted with the burden to show evidence to substantiate their position.

This is the logical fallacy of equivocation, of changing the definitions used to suit the purpose of the person making the claim. If you are predominantly agnostic, then you cannot claim to be a "6" or higher on the scale above, and if you are predominantly atheist (such as "6.999999999" above, and where "6" was originally defined as "De facto atheist") then you bear the burden to show evidence to substantiate their position, or acknowledge that it is just personal opinion rather than an evidence based conclusion.

If it's just opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

2.The need for substantiation does not apply to atheism.

This is the logical fallacy of special pleading. If this burden of proof does not apply to atheism then it should not apply to theism, and then all you are doing is arguing philosophical opinions.

Message 547:

But supernatural concepts lack even the most basic of methods to investigate it; our senses. And an unknown, undetectable force is beyond investigating, therefore the OP does not apply to supernatural claims.

Curiously, what the OP argues is that you cannot have a valid conclusion pro or con without evidence, and thus if evidence is not possible, then you cannot make a valid conclusion pro or con, and that the default position is agnostic, or you acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion.

If it's just opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

3. Babies are born atheist.

Really? I would think they are born not knowing, agnostic by default, but either way this still does not absolve anyone who claims that atheism is true or that it is highly likely to be true, from providing evidence to substantiate the position. This is a red herring logical fallacy, a statement asserted as fact but which does not apply to the issue, the burden of providing evidence to substantiate a position. This is asserted as fact, but there is no substantiation of this claim, and it appears to be nothing more than a personal opinion.

If it's just opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

4. It's the "default" or "null" hypothesis.

So?

This does not absolve anyone who claims that this is true or that it is highly likely to be true, from providing evidence to substantiate the position. In science the "null" or test hypothesis is not taken to be true by default, but is only assumed to be true to test that hypothesis for validating evidence that then invalidates the primary hypothesis. As there is not validating evidence (see "The Evidence" above) it cannot be claimed that this is a proven hypothesis.

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

5. It's a consistent approach to the unknown.

Which does not prove that it is correct.

Rather this is just a dogmatic approach, whether it is true or not. One can be consistently wrong, and thus sticking with an approach for consistency sake is no guarantee that the approach is valid. This is similar to the argument made by Archangel that he is skeptical of evolution based on common sense, and what this amounts to is using your personal world view to form your opinion of new concepts. Certainly it makes no pretense to base the opinion on evidence.

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

6. People make "6" atheist decisions every day.

The logical fallacy of the appeal to popularity of a position, which also does not prove that it is correct. Various attempts were made to demonstrate that i would make such a decision, and not only were these ineffective, but they would not have shown that the position was valid if they had been effective. What these hypothetical positions do show, however, is the apparent inability to consider the agnostic position, but rather insist that one must be pro or con see below). A couple of examples are:

(a) The Invisible RAZD Selecting Chasm, where my response was:
Fascinating concept, in spite of the fact that you cannot know whether it is true or not, as you are not on the privileged to fall in list.

Curiously, what you are suggesting is that I could have a unique supernatural experience that would show this world to be illusion, unreal, possibly made up.
...
Yes, I could proceed on the basis of not having enough information at this time to decide. If I fall in, then I have evidence that this world was illusion, and I am either in another illusion or the real world at that point. If I don't fall in then I have either somehow missed chasm or it does not exist. And not falling in would still not constitute evidence that it doesn't exist eh? It could happen at any moment.
...
Except that I do not need to claim that it does not exist nor claim that it exists, as I can wait for further evidence. It is the claim, particularly the unsubstantiated claim, that x does not exist that separates the pseudoskeptic or atheist type position from the agnostic or true skeptic position.

(b) Omphalism, where my response was:

Curiously I've been thinking more about what omphalism really means: that god/s created the universe at some stage of development, and that it has proceeded afterward according to the rules set out by such gods, rules that are also incorporated into the evidence of stuff before the point of creation, such that there is no discernible point where one can be able to point to and say "after this is real, before this is illusion" and which also control how things will continue to occur after (now).

Thus any hypothesis based on evidence that includes any mixture of {before} and {after} will provide the same degree of accuracy in making predictions independent of where the breakpoint lies.

The breakpoint could be the formation of the universe (results in deism), it could be 6000 years ago (results in YEC earth, but still with flood problems) or it could be last thursday. We don't know.

Do I think it is true? Possible, but there is insufficient information to say.
Do I think it is false? Possible, but there is insufficient information to say.

The possibility that the breakpoint could be the point between time and notime for this universe would be consistent with deism, but that would be my personal opinion. As such you could put me down as a weak "3" - weak theistic agnostic - at most. Certainly not a 2.

However, this still does not resolve the issue of this thread:

These answers demonstrate that the "6" atheist position is not necessary in considering such hypothetical positions, but that the agnostic approach is valid, combining skepticism with open-mindedness, rather than blind dismissal. Reality is what it is, and no opinion about it will change reality.

What this does show is that you can have an opinion, and acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion. The point at issue, however, is that if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

7. The model works, why add sprinkles.

The argument that "the model works, why add sprinkles" is an example of a simplistic view that fails to consider if it is actually pursuing all possible avenues of evidence. We are born, we grow, we age, we die. Why add sprinkles? Why get an education? Why bother with health insurance and doctor's visits? The model works, so why add sprinkles? Why do anything when the model works eh? At a basic level sprinkles exist because people enjoy them and find a benefit to having them, thus the argument "why add sprinkles" does not explain why sprinkles cannot exist.

What this assumes is that the model includes all possible aspects of reality, but as we all (should) know, a model is only as good as the assumptions that go into making the model. A model for predicting hurricane paths was unable to handle the first known hurricanes in the southern hemisphere, not because such hurricanes could not exist but because the model had not considered them. We also know that our model of how reality works only covers a very small portion of the universe, and thus we know that there is more unknown than known, but we don't know how much more nor what is unknown.

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

8. The pro position is not validated.

Which does not show that the negative position is valid. This is the "two wrongs make a right" logical fallacy. A pro position not being supported does not absolve the negative position from bearing the burden of support.

This argument is like arguing that if evolution is proven to be false that the YEC position is true by default, a false dichotomy.

In this case it is assumes that the negative position is a default position when a positive position is not proven, which is also logically false. Several variations of this attempt to discredit the idea that validation of the negative is not necessary when the positive claim is not supported by evidence. Several people have attacked what they see as my position rather than deal with the issue of supporting a negative position. This is cognitive dissonance in action again.

An example of a negative position supported by evidence that is not in reaction to a positive claim was provided for the age of the earth: the earth is not less than 400,000 years old is a claim that is supported by evidence independent of any positive claims about the age of the earth.

The claim that no god/s exist does not depend on anyone claiming that god/s exist, as one can have the agnostic position that the existence of god/s is not proven, nor invalidated - the agnostic position - instead. Thus claiming that the pro position is not supported is not an argument that supports the non-existence of god/s by some magic default mechanism. The negative position is still not supported with sufficient degree to provide

An example of such an argument is the claim that I have been a "6" atheist on some hypothetical situation that has nothing to do with providing evidence for the negative claim.

Message 551

RAZD claims he is never a "6"; that one cannot make probability estimates in areas where nothing can be conclusively known. But we can, and he does, and that's why I caught him out on omphalism in the thread.

Curiously, there is no link showing that I have taken a "6" position on omphalism, or any of the other hypothetical situations that people have made up (the supernatural chasm that only traps me and nobody else, etc.), while I have shown a "6" position on the age of the earth being less than 400,000 years old - a position actually supported by actual empirical objective evidence. One has to be desperate to claim that my response on omphalism is a "6" position, as the astute observer will note that this is not supported by any evidence other than opinion based on cognitive dissonance between the expected response (which is claimed) and the actual response (which is ignored). Fascinatingly, even if one did show that I harbored a "6" opinion on some unsupported topic, this, like the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority, would not validate the "6" position when not supported by evidence in any way: the conditions for bearing the burden of evidence for a negative position would still hold. As such, this is a non-sequitur logical fallacy, an opinion that is not related to the issue of the burden of proof for a negative position.

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above, people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic, and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

9. Both sides in debates call the other side pseudoskeptics.

Ah, the old "he did it first" excuse of fighting children, the you too logical fallacy that if {person a} does it, that then it is okay for {person b} to do it. Interestingly, all one needs to do in order to show that your position is not pseudoskeptical is to show that it is based on empirical objective evidence, as is shown in the case of the age of the earth. Otherwise all you have are two competing opinions ... and

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above, people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic, and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

10. The probability of religious experiences being true is highly unlikely.

Which does not invalidate the possibility of god/s existing.

First, it assumes that religious experiences are a necessary component of god/s existing, and Second, it does not eliminate the possibility of some religious or spiritual experiences being evidence of actual experiences. Logically it is impossible to make probability calculations when the probabilities are unknown. All you can do in such situations is make up hypothetical untested guesses based on your subjective opinion/s, your world view belief/s, and all this amounts to is making up evidence to support your a priori beliefs, employing confirmation bias in the selection of imaginary evidence that supports your position and cognitive dissonance in rejecting imaginary evidence contrary to your position, and then making some imaginary calculation.

You can acknowledge that your position is just your personal opinion, rather than an evidence based conclusion, however, if it's just your opinion then all you can justify from it is an Agnostic Atheists position, (5) on the scale above- people that are not convinced, and are of the opinion that "there are no god/s" may be true, but are predominantly agnostic - and that if you claim a degree of certainty beyond that, then this qualifies as pseudoskepticism.

Why is a decision necessary without evidence?

What is curious, is that people seem to need to make a decision even when there is insufficient information for basing a rational and logical decision. We see the need for certainty in creationists, and pretend that this does not apply to science and skeptical thinking, and yet what we see with pseudoskepticism is the same need for certainty when a negative opinion\claim\position\hypothesis is not supported by evidence. As noted above, there is evidence that people make up their minds, and then find justification for their decisions, and this seems to be the case with pseudoskeptics whenever they assert that {X} cannot exist.

Interestingly, creationists are often lambasted for their need to have absolute knowledge, to make decisions based on opinion, and to claim that such opinions are true. Because of this need for answers, particularly answers that match one's world view, we see a number of arguments based on the need to know the answer.

A common example is the creationist assertion that evolution doesn't work without abiogenesis, that if you don't know how life began on earth, that any hypothesis about how life has changed since that time are invalid. The actual scientific answer on abiogenesis is that we don't know: we have evidence of rock before 3.6 billion years ago without ife and evidence after 3.6 billion years ago with life, but no evidence of how that life began --- we don't know. There are many instances where we don't know:

Message 168:

This isn't really a quote-mine, but it's kind of related, and it really pisses me off, so I'm going to talk about it anyway.

The pelvic girdle of Tiktaalik roseae is not known. Thus, there is no possible way for whoever-this-is to make the claim that Tiktaalik was "more of a front-wheel drive animal" than Panderichthys was, unless they are using the technique we scientists refer to as "lying."

We don't assume that the lack of evidence for a pelvic girdle for Tiktaalik means that one did not exist, nor do we assume that they did not exist because people make things up, or because people have hallucinations: we don't know.

We do know that what is reality is what it is, regardless of our opinion, regardless of our decision/s, regardless of our worldviews.

Why then, is the question of the existence of god/s any different, when there is insufficient evidence pro or con on which to base a conclusion, why then make a decision that they don't exist or are not likely to exist. The logical position is the same as for the pelvic girdle: we don't know.

If god/s exist, then they exist.
If god/s do not exist, then they do not exist.

Opinion will not change this fact.

Making personal decisions based on a priori world view beliefs will not change this fact.

Making decisions that {X} does not exist, or that {Y} is wrong, when one does not have sufficient evidence to support such a conclusion can be called "using the technique we scientists refer to as 'lying'." - or in the theme of this thread pseudoskepticism.

As a final note, I refer to Message 555, which is another attempt by one of the posters here to predict my behavior, having formed some opinions about my arguments.

Straggler way back in March 2009 writes:
The normal theistic arguments go something like this:
1) Your position requires just as much faith and reliance on subjective interpretation as does mine.
2) My evidence is just as valid as yours.
3) Whatever evidence does or does not exist you cannot prove that my god does not exist so I win anyway.

RAZD's "world view" assertion is a relatively sophisticated version of 1) above. I guess it remains to be seen if any of the other strategies from the theists standard playbook will be employed.


I would say that the wider debate has exactly followed the path predicted above. Albeit with some complexities and intricacies worthy of RAZD's superior debating skills thrown in. We started with the whole "world view" debate in the original deism thread Percy is a Deist - Now what's the difference between a deist and an atheist?.

Actually the world view argument is much larger than little ol' me, it is part of understanding the psychology of opinions, and as such it is much more "sophisticated" that this simplistic view.

What we see here is not the "my evidence is just as valid as yours" argument (another version of the "you too" logical fallacy), but rather the demonstration that the atheist position above 5 lacks the evidence necessary to support any claim other than personal opinion, claims of using logic and empirical evidence not withstanding.

I don't engage in "my dad's better than your dad" type arguments, and I don't obsess over winning or losing debates. What I am interested in, is finding out what the evidence supports, and what conclusions one can reach when the ability of the scientific method fails to provide answers.

Where we end up here is exactly where we started in Percy is a Deist - Now what's the difference between a deist and an atheist?, with the possible exception that my opinion has now been justified by the lack of evidence presented on this thread:

quote:
Message 4: The rational conclusion based on evidence is agnosticism, the uncertainty of existence of god/s.

Atheists are on one side of the line of agnosticism, deists are on the other. This may be a fine line, but the distinction is real, like the difference between negative numbers and positive numbers, with the zero position being your fine line.

The atheist believes there is no evidence of god/s and that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence (all A is B, B therefore A logical fallacy).

The deist believes that god/s is/are essentially unknowable, that all evidence points to the way the natural world functions as created, and all we can understand is how it works.

Message 84:Returning to the topic at hand, my (small) experience of other deists is that they too have an understanding of the world that is not contradicted by evidence, not contrary to what we see in the natural world around us, yet including faith to believe in god/s. There may be some tentativity about the evidence, but not really about the core conclusion.

My (larger) experience with atheists is that they also have an understanding of the world that is not contradicted by evidence, not contrary to what we see in the natural world around us, but not including faith to believe in ("deeply and highly improbable") god/s. There may be some tentativity about the evidence, but not really about the core conclusion.

Nor have I seen any evidence in 83 some odd posts so far on this thread to cause me to think otherwise.

Deists see {B} as much larger than {A} and full of possibilities, while atheists seem to see {B} as narrowly different from {A} and with any significant difference being "deeply and highly improbable" - to use your phrase.

And I am still amazed at the virtual absence of acknowledged agnostics. Anyone want to propose a reason for this?


The summary would not have been complete without my favorite diagram.

Message 552: I am befuddled as to why this thread wasn't less than 10 posts.

I am befuddled as to why the Percy is a Deist - Now what's the difference between a deist and an atheist? thread wasn't less than 10 posts.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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