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Why is strong atheism considered such a close-minded position?

#181black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 12:14:22 PM
Well, I did want to nitpick what you said, but not for no particular reason.
Fair enough. Just wanted to be clear of what we were arguing about, that's all. :-)

Now this part isn't just a pet peeve, and I'm not just being picky on this aspect. My answer is "Neither". If you try to pin me down for a hard answer to that question, I simply won't give it, because I don't have one.
Actually, anyone who isn't a theist is rejecting the theory of divine beings. Thus they'd at the least be weak atheists. They may not go that extra step and form a positive claim that gods don't exist, but they're not accepting the theistic claims either. Which means they don't believe in gods.

Then again, I'm not really sure what is meant by phrases like 'implicit denial' or 'practical difference' in this context.
The lack of any practical difference really comes down to the fact that both weak and strong atheists don't believe in gods. Strong atheists believe they don't exist while weak atheists merely don't believe that they exist, but from a practical, everyday perspective, what exactly is the difference?

And the "implicit denial", logically suspect as it may be, means that weak atheists implicitly reject the god option by not believing in it. While they're not making any explicit claims, they're effectively picking the "not A" category by not picking the "A" category. Thus, they're implicitly denying gods.
#182black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 12:30:26 PM(edited)
Awwww how cute. I just realized what's going on. See, strong atheists are in a similar position as theists: they're viewpoint isn't supported by logic or evidence. He's trying to push his faith based position on weak atheists to make it appear we have the same disadvantage.
Awwww how cute. I just realised how utterly clueless you are as to what I'm arguing and why I'm arguing it. I don't have a problem with weak atheists? Why would I? I believe everything they believe, except I add one more thing on top: I have faith in divine non-existence, the same way religious people have faith in the opposite. I know full well how logical or illogical such a stance is, drivel, but how can a theist argue against it? It's the exact same reasoning, in reverse.

In other words, you honestly don't seem to have the foggiest idea how to argue against anything I'm saying. This tells me that either I rock at debating or you're just plain terrible at it. And pardon me for being humble, but I don't think it's the former.

Oh yeah, and since you insist on throwing mud: Remind me which one of us f***ed up his definitions of weak and strong atheism from the start? Yup mate, it was you. You know what they say about logic based on flawed premises? Nah, I guess you didn't bother with that wikipedia entry, did you?

Either way, I don't care. You've failed in making me look bad.
Only because you went out of your way to do it for him. Well done.
#183fudrickPosted 7/1/2011 12:32:09 PM
black spider posted...
The mindless ramblings that happen when sad people get access to a private messaging system:

You're outclassed, fool. You don't have the skills or knowledge to debate me. You're nobody. You don't understand logic AND YOU ARE NOW ON BLOCK AND IGNORE. Keep in mind that posting PMs is considered TROLLING. Good day.

Brilliant, Lesser Faith. What a way to run screaming from the debate. That is sure to make you look like the educated person in the room, isn't it? Oh wait, I forgot, you can't see this since I'm on ignore. Christ, when I suggested that you can't debate to save your life, I didn't expect you to prove me right this clearly.

And to mods: The above is clearly not a personal message but rather abuse of the PM system. Rather than having you guys moderate him for abusing the PM system, I'd like everybody to see what kind of person he is. There's no reason the above should be a PM rather than a message board post, except that he knows he's being ridiculous and doesn't want to stand by it.


Lmao, he called you a nobody too? Who is he, king of this board? Why does he think he's so important?
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#184kozlo100Posted 7/1/2011 1:04:17 PM
Actually, anyone who isn't a theist is rejecting the theory of divine beings. Thus they'd at the least be weak atheists. They may not go that extra step and form a positive claim that gods don't exist, but they're not accepting the theistic claims either. Which means they don't believe in gods.

I don't think I agree with all of that. There is a difference between 'not accepting' and 'rejecting'. I'm not sure if we'll run into it being a practical difference or not, but we'll get to that in the next point. The thing here is that if you ask me if I accept theory of divine X, and I essentially refuse to give a response, you cannot say that I've rejected that theory. Or from another angle, if asked if I accept said theory and asked if I reject said theory, I believe I can answer no to both questions with no contradiction.

Strong atheists believe they don't exist while weak atheists merely don't believe that they exist, but from a practical, everyday perspective, what exactly is the difference?

For me, the difference is in how I approach relevant situations, or what factors I consider in thinking about relevant questions.

My evaluation of other's beliefs is a practical example. As I merely don't believe that any gods exist, I tend to assume it's possible that theists might know something I don't, and give them that benefit of the doubt when applicable. If I believed that no gods existed, I would assume that they have wrong information, and my opinions of them would develop differently.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#185black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 1:54:48 PM
This is a difficult example because our intuitions rebel against a pure chance event conferring justification. Even if it were a 100,000-sided die, people might doubt it, even though the odds would be more strongly in their favor than most beliefs they routinely identify as knowledge.
Maybe so, but that's because we do not know. When you boil a chicken egg for ten minutes, ten times out of ten, a thousand times out of a thousand, it will be hard boiled. When you let go of an apple, a million times out of a million, it will fall to the ground. Such things are actual knowledge. Future outcomes based on chance are not knowledge, unless you qualify it to accurately reflect that.

Case in point, rolling a ten-sided die, you don't know that the roll will be 9 or less. You know that 90 times out of 100, the roll will be 9 or less. That's all you know, but you certainly don't know what the outcome of the roll will be, even if you may be able to predict it with great accuracy.

Take, instead, your knowledge that there is a tree in your front yard. If you have no direct line of sight to the tree, it is possible that some enterprising lumberjack has chopped it down since you last looked, correct? And it's possible that you have severe mental illness and have been hallucinating the tree all along, right? Moreover, it's even possible that you are nothing but a brain in a vat somewhere, and the so-called tree is just an electrical impulse being beamed into your brain. Ergo, your knowledge that "there is a tree in my front yard" is probabilistic knowledge.
Sure, everything's probabilistic to a degree, but most of the possibilities are easy enough to reject. If you're severely mentally ill, to the point where hallucinations happen all the time, or happen to be a brain in a vat then your senses are useless and nothing you observe can be trusted. Your best option is to get your hands on what your unreliable senses tell you is a shotgun and test if it actually works. Intellectually, that's about all you can do.

With the "maybe we're in the matrix" stuff out of the way, you're quite right that lumberjacks could've taken down the tree, but then you probably would've heard it. It's not exactly a silent job to take down trees. What's next, pixies spirited your tree away?

If we stick to the basics and simply accept that the tree could have disappeared in the time since you last saw it then we agree. Even so, it's worth considering if it's a probability we can test at any time by looking out the window or a probability where the outcome will only become known at some possibly distant point in the future, isn't it?
#186black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 1:55:04 PM
No claims about the empirical world (with, perhaps, a handful of exceptions) can be certain, so if certitude is required for knowledge, we can know almost nothing.
So either all probabilities are equal and 90% equals knowledge (meaning you know the ten-sided die will roll 9 or less every single time) or you'll play the matrix card?

This. If you searched every nook and cranny of the universe and found no zombies, or unicorns, you could conclusively rule out the existence of either of those things. Assuming we have some way of detecting them.
You need to add "in the same precise moment in time". Otherwise, how do you know the zombies didn't teleport from an unchecked part of the universe to a checked one? And yes, this does assume you can detect them, which you have no way of knowing until you've actually found a zombie to test with. Or a ghost, or whatever.

If that isn't the case, the problem is that the claim being made is unfalsifiable, not that "you can't prove a negative".
So because God could possibly prove negatives, it's fair to suggest that humans can prove negatives too? Because I'm really not sure where to start with ghosts and the like, except by pointing out that none of the ghost believers have ever shown any credible evidence, and that I can't disprove "nothing".

They are. They accept neither rain nor sun, just like the "weak atheist" rejects both belief in God and disbelief in God.
I suppose that depends on your definition of a "weak atheist". If you see the stances as three separate groups, theism, weak atheism, and hard atheism, then I would be inclined to agree with your point of view. If, however, you see hard atheists as a subset of weak atheists who simply further believe that gods don't exist, then I'm still not sure your analogy holds up.
#187black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 2:43:39 PM
I don't think I agree with all of that. There is a difference between 'not accepting' and 'rejecting'. I'm not sure if we'll run into it being a practical difference or not, but we'll get to that in the next point.
What word would you use for "not accept" other than "reject"? You could be right that I'm making a screw-up by not properly understanding the necessary graduation of the terminology involved. The way I see it, if you don't accept a proposition, for whatever reason, then you're rejecting it. It doesn't follow from this that the proposition must be wrong but merely that you don't believe in it.

The thing here is that if you ask me if I accept theory of divine X, and I essentially refuse to give a response, you cannot say that I've rejected that theory. Or from another angle, if asked if I accept said theory and asked if I reject said theory, I believe I can answer no to both questions with no contradiction.
You're right that you can indeed have a position from which you can answer both questions in the negative without contradiction, but if you don't accept that there is a god then have you not effectively rejected said god, even if you've only done so implicitly?

Anything that isn't part of A is necessarily part of "not A", no? If "A" is "there is at least one god" then "I don't know if there are any gods" is not really a part of "A" and is thus part of "not A". Thus it is essentially part of "all that which is not theism", isn't it?

Just to be clear here, I'm not insisting that my way of seeing things is necessarily the right way. I'd be surprised if it is and the arguably questionable logic I resort to, in order to arrive where I do, is hardly a convincing element either. I just don't see why the above is necessarily wrong, which is why I'm trying it out here.

For me, the difference is in how I approach relevant situations, or what factors I consider in thinking about relevant questions.

My evaluation of other's beliefs is a practical example. As I merely don't believe that any gods exist, I tend to assume it's possible that theists might know something I don't, and give them that benefit of the doubt when applicable. If I believed that no gods existed, I would assume that they have wrong information, and my opinions of them would develop differently.

That is one possible difference. Even so, as a hard atheist, I'm generally very concerned with the difference between what I consider the "truth" and what is actually the truth. My perception of supernatural entities is very limited, to say the least, and so my "knowledge" can easily turn out to be false. Obviously, knowledge isn't the right term since the real driver behind it is faith, at least to me. Even so, what I feel certain about is not necessarily true and a theist could've understood something that I haven't.

Just because I'm hard doesn't mean I claim to know everything. I would compare it with having faith in the existence of gods. Does that mean you have to think you're right and everybody else are wrong, or could you still be open to the option that you're mistaken, even though you believe whatever you believe?
#188black spiderPosted 7/1/2011 3:01:48 PM
Lmao, he called you a nobody too? Who is he, king of this board? Why does he think he's so important?
Yup, he did. If I'd been into psychology, I'd be speculating whether the conflict between status as somebody or nobody has a special meaning to him, whether he feels left out or ignored in real life, and obviously whether he can get laid without having to pay for it, which might also in time build up a certain amount of frustrations.

And I'm actually not quite sure who he is. I think he's the "I have a link that disproves your misconception about evolution" fellow, but beyond that I'm not sure.
#189kozlo100Posted 7/1/2011 3:22:34 PM
What word would you use for "not accept" other than "reject"?

Well, I think 'not accept' does just fine in it's own right. To my mind, rejecting a proposition necessitates that you have found it invalid, while not accepting it merely means it's validity is as yet indeterminate to your mind.

You're right that you can indeed have a position from which you can answer both questions in the negative without contradiction, but if you don't accept that there is a god then have you not effectively rejected said god, even if you've only done so implicitly?

No, I don't think that you have. Mostly because I actually hold the position of simultaneously not accepting that there are any gods and not accepting that there are no gods. I have neither accepted nor rejected either proposition.

It is plain that anything that isn't part of 'A' is part of 'not A', but in this case, 'not A' is a broader category than simply those who reject the proposition that gods exist. By confining 'A' to only those who accept a proposition, you leave 'not A' including both those who reject 'A' and those who merely do not accept 'A' as described above.

Just because I'm hard doesn't mean I claim to know everything. I would compare it with having faith in the existence of gods. Does that mean you have to think you're right and everybody else are wrong, or could you still be open to the option that you're mistaken, even though you believe whatever you believe?

Indeed, it's not really about an unwillingness to doubt yourself or a claim to final knowledge. Most strong or hard atheists are very willing to question themselves or admit they may be wrong. Rather the practical difference is in the starting positions for those kinds of questions, and even what form those questions take.

Well, another example: You, as a hard atheist, might ask a theist why they think you are wrong in thinking there are no gods, where that would not be a question that I, as a weak atheist, would ask. In essence, you can expose your own arguments to criticism in an effort to show they cannot be invalidated, or you may criticize other positions in order to show them to be invalid. I cannot do the former, and am confined to doing the latter.

That seems to me to be a pretty big practical difference.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#190Insomniac HyperpunkPosted 7/1/2011 6:41:05 PM(edited)
Sure, everything's probabilistic to a degree, but most of the possibilities are easy enough to reject.
Yes. All knowledge of the empirical world is probabilistic and uncertain.

So either all probabilities are equal and 90% equals knowledge (meaning you know the ten-sided die will roll 9 or less every single time)
It's impossible to determine what degree of justification is required for beliefs to rise to the level of knowledge. 90% is just a rough cut-off. If you want, it could be 85% or 98%. All that really matters is that it's less than 100%, because total certainty is not a precondition for knowledge.

it's fair to suggest that humans can prove negatives too?
Humans can prove negative existential claims (like fermat's last theorem or the lack of unicorns on my desk), just not those that require us to scour the universe. Some "positive" claims give rise to the same difficulties, such as "there are more than 8 million species in the Andromeda galaxy", or "the ratio of nebulae to quasars in the universe is greater than 3:2". It has nothing to do with the logical form of the claim.

Because I'm really not sure where to start with ghosts and the like, except by pointing out that none of the ghost believers have ever shown any credible evidence, and that I can't disprove "nothing".
I suggest you invoke Occam's Razor, or the worthwhile adage that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, or point out that the burden of proof falls on the person who claims that invisible unicorns swarm the earth.

And let me direct your attention to post #171.
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...just when I had you wriggling in the crushing grip of reason, too.