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  1. #21
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Is this something of a roundabout reference to the logic of Pascal's Wager, wondering who is better off? Or, does it inquire as to who gets more satisfaction?
    Niether.

    The basic premise of this debate is that whichever side is correct is superior to the other and all other considerations are nearly irrelevant and therefore arguments about criteria other than which is correct is like not worth engaging in.

    An analogy I've used is having to choose between two cars, one that works and the other that doesn't, and attempting to base your decision on the respective colors of the cars. Considering you are dealing with such a major issue of the car actually running, what point is there in factoring the color in your decision?

  2. #22
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Niether.

    The basic premise of this debate is that whichever side is correct is superior to the other and all other considerations are nearly irrelevant and therefore arguments about criteria other than which is correct is like not worth engaging in.

    An analogy I've used is having to choose between two cars, one that works and the other that doesn't, and attempting to base your decision on the respective colors of the cars. Considering you are dealing with such a major issue of the car actually running, what point is there in factoring the color in your decision?
    Well, because you don't get to control anything else. You do all you can to figure out which car is the functioning one, and if you can't get a satisfactory answer, you have to move on to other factors (unless you don't want to make a decision at all).
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  3. #23
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Well, because you don't get to control anything else. You do all you can to figure out which car is the functioning one, and if you can't get a satisfactory answer, you have to move on to other factors (unless you don't want to make a decision at all).
    Assuming that you can't afford to buy a car that doesn't work, it would make sense to not buy either car until you know which one runs and judging the best car on any other criteria doesn't make much sense.

    And to apply the analogy, declaring theism or atheism "superior to the other" based on anything other than which is actually correct doesn't make much sense.

  4. #24
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Assuming that you can't afford to buy a car that doesn't work, it would make sense to not buy either car until you know which one runs and judging the best car on any other criteria doesn't make much sense.

    And to apply the analogy, declaring theism or atheism "superior to the other" based on anything other than which is actually correct doesn't make much sense.
    It depends on what the costs and benefits are, and how risk-averse you are. If you absolutely have to get in to work today, and buying this car is the only way to possibly make that happen, then you're probably gonna buy one of the cars.

    I don't see why we shouldn't consider ancillary benefits as well. It seems possible to me that a belief could be false and yet productive, and that a different belief might be true but unhelpful. It might be false that tigers will eat you if you don't get a job, but believing that might make you get your ass off the couch, you know?
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  5. #25
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    It depends on what the costs and benefits are, and how risk-averse you are. If you absolutely have to get in to work today, and buying this car is the only way to possibly make that happen, then you're probably gonna buy one of the cars.
    This debate is not actually about cars. The car is an analogy so any car issue that strays from the atheist-theist issue is going off-topic. I forward that what is of utmost importance in whether theism is better than atheism is which is correct (and one is free to debate that point but I believe it's pretty self-evident) and clearly there is no demand that one accept either before they know which is right so likewise there is no need to pick a car before you know which is the best car.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I don't see why we shouldn't consider ancillary benefits as well. It seems possible to me that a belief could be false and yet productive, and that a different belief might be true but unhelpful. It might be false that tigers will eat you if you don't get a job, but believing that might make you get your ass off the couch, you know?
    But clearly a person who thinks that tigers will eat him has problems that almost certainly outweigh the benefits of being more motivated to get a job, like being insane so overall that kind of belief is a detriment. And while I'm sure if you kept trying, you might be able to come up with an incorrect belief that it's better to have than know the truth, we are talking about a specific belief here - God's existence (or lack thereof).

    And I don't think there are any ancillary benefits in being wrong about God's existence that outweigh the benefits in being right.

  6. #26
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Niether.

    The basic premise of this debate is that whichever side is correct is superior to the other and all other considerations are nearly irrelevant and therefore arguments about criteria other than which is correct is like not worth engaging in.

    An analogy I've used is having to choose between two cars, one that works and the other that doesn't, and attempting to base your decision on the respective colors of the cars. Considering you are dealing with such a major issue of the car actually running, what point is there in factoring the color in your decision?
    Then apparently you want us to take it as a forgone conclusion in this debate that one car works and the other car doesn't. Doesn't seem very sporting of you, my friend.
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  7. #27
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    Then apparently you want us to take it as a forgone conclusion in this debate that one car works and the other car doesn't. Doesn't seem very sporting of you, my friend.
    Cars are an analogy.

    Assuming that cars = theistic position and only one theistic position "works" (as in it's correct) for the analogy to apply, only one car can work.

    If both cars worked, then the analogy would no longer apply.

  8. #28
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Cars are an analogy.

    Assuming that cars = theistic position and only one theistic position "works" (as in it's correct) for the analogy to apply, only one car can work.

    If both cars worked, then the analogy would no longer apply.
    And if you don't know that either car works and you wont know whether either car works, then what do you decide on? Or do you not decide at all?

  9. #29
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    And if you don't know that either car works and you wont know whether either car works, then what do you decide on? Or do you not decide at all?
    It would make the most sense to admit that you don't know which car is better.

    And to apply it to theism, both theists and atheists do think they know which is the "better car" and I'm not saying for a fact that either of them or wrong. Perhaps some people do actually know the real truth about whether god exists (they just can't convince the rest of us). But that's not really my point.

    Again, my point is arguing that one is better than the other on criteria that really does not determine which is the best is not a valid argument, just like someone who doesn't know which car is best actually runs attempting to argue that the car with the nicer paint job is the best car just because of the paint.

  10. #30
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    It would make the most sense to admit that you don't know which car is better.

    And to apply it to theism, both theists and atheists do think they know which is the "better car" and I'm not saying for a fact that either of them or wrong. Perhaps some people do actually know the real truth about whether god exists (they just can't convince the rest of us). But that's not really my point.

    Again, my point is arguing that one is better than the other on criteria that really does not determine which is the best is not a valid argument, just like someone who doesn't know which car is best actually runs attempting to argue that the car with the nicer paint job is the best car just because of the paint.
    But paint jobs are a valid argument, because they are just as much a part of the car as the engine.

    No one is arguing that the Truth of the claim is not important, just that there is more issues than that and that it is perfectly sensible to consider all sides. Its not like you can only take into consideration paint job. You consider all aspects.

    You would have us put blinders on our eyes and only see a narrow part of the whole.

  11. #31
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    But paint jobs are a valid argument, because they are just as much a part of the car as the engine.
    So you would buy the car with the best paint job despite the fact that you don't know which car runs?

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    No one is arguing that the Truth of the claim is not important, just that there is more issues than that and that it is perfectly sensible to consider all sides. Its not like you can only take into consideration paint job. You consider all aspects.
    Name ONE other aspect of the car that is more important than whether it actually runs.

  12. #32
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    So you would buy the car with the best paint job despite the fact that you don't know which car runs?



    Name ONE other aspect the car that is more important than whether it actually runs.
    If I need a car and I do not have the luxury of knowing whether or not one runs, then I buy on other factors. And again, you are distorting things by making it seem as these other factors HAVE to be of equal value to the car running for them to also be factors in consideration.

    But the truth is that you reducing this to a matter of "does it run" is a bit inaccurate of an analogy.

    Choosing atheism or theism is not an immediate dead end. Its not like you choose and a second later you're dead and suffering the consequences. Its possible, but that is not how it is for most of us. If that were the case, then not choosing immediately would also have equal consequences.

    Atheism and Theism are ways of life.

    As a way of life, both atheism and theism work, though not equally perhaps. In the end one of the turns up true, the other false.

    So lets alter the analogy. Both cars run, but one car will last you 10,000 miles, the other will keep going forever. You don't know which, there is no way of knowing which. Either way, you will eventually run out of time and you will be stuck with one or the other.

    Lets say one car comes with a lifetime warranty, but it could be the one that fails after 10,000 miles. The other one does not. So which do you choose? Choose the one with the warranty and if it does fail after 10,000 miles, your covered. Get the one without the warranty and if it fails after 10,000 miles, your screwed.

    Not choosing.....well then I guess you walk.

    Yeah, its Pascal's Wager, but in the absence of knowing for certain, its valid.

  13. #33
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    Name ONE other aspect of the car that is more important than whether it actually runs.
    I am not understanding why you put so much emphasis on this part. How is it comparable to atheism/theism? What I was getting was that it is relevant to the "truth" of atheism or the truth of theism. Chad is talking about when you do not know. So as important as it is, when it is an unknown I think Chad's points are valid. You seem to object to his points based on the cars running.. but I am not sure how it makes sense. What am I missing?
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  14. #34
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Why shouldn't everyone? If a Christian is doing good deeds to ensure a place in Heaven, then aren't they working towards gaining pleasure and avoiding pain in the afterlife?
    A Christian does good deeds not to earn a place in Heaven, but out of gratitude and love for God and other people. A Christian who is trying to earn salvation has not understood the doctrine of grace, and our total dependence on Jesus Christ for our salvation.

    Sometimes behaving in order to please God and serve others involves sacrifice or suffering, rather than gaining pleasure. Why would an atheist have a reason to behave in such a way? In their worldview, once they die, the game is over. Any sort of achievements or relationships they maintained are terminated. They no longer benefit in any way from what they did for others, nor suffer for what they did to others.

    So why should their impact on others be considered during their lifetimes, if it prevents them from acquiring the greatest amount of pleasure and self-satisfaction?

    I am not talking about how certain people actually behave, which is often contradictory, but whether their behavior is consistent with their worldview and the beliefs they claim to hold.

  15. #35
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Cars are an analogy.

    Assuming that cars = theistic position and only one theistic position "works" (as in it's correct) for the analogy to apply, only one car can work.

    If both cars worked, then the analogy would no longer apply.
    Not necessarily. Both cars can work mechanically quite well, but both cars may not give us the same experience, the same ride:

    If you use your car analogy, sure, both cars can work OK. Both cars may have good engines, get good mileage, have slick exteriors, have all the goodies inside. But one car may certainly outshine and outperform another car when it comes to what is really significant about cars "the ride" and "safety" it gives us.

    The way we know if a car works well, besides the mechanical stuff, is: How do we "experience" the car itself? Does it always give us a smooth ride or is it sometimes really rough? Does it handle well in almost all circumstances? Does it preform well in extreme conditions, in stressful conditions? Does it protect us in case of hard impact? How does the car feel when we drive it -- day in day out? Does it seem to get old and boring after a while? Do we get tired of the same old same old. Do we always look forward to the experience of driving the car? Do we look forward to the experience of the ride? What is our overall experience of the car in all conditions and can we count on it to keep us safe in unexpected conditions?

    Is the car faithful to the driver?
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  16. #36
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    I tend to agree with Apokalupsis in this particular debate: it's basically a call to reason and following points to their logical conclusion without getting distracted.


    The problem comes in when you wrestle with the fact that both positions have some portion of their argument that the other side considers totally indefensible, and there is no way to legitimately and conclusively countermand either side with logic alone.

    To atheists, the position is simple: there is not sufficient empirical evidence to support the existence of divinity in any form, let alone in the forms most commonly portrayed by the religious people of the world. In the absence of sufficient evidence, we must conclude that there is no reason to believe in a god of any sort. However, theists have a problem with this in that there needs to be support for some of the fundamental assumptions upon which the atheistic argument is based. Things like the reliability of science, logic, and linear reasoning and their ability to arrive at satisfactory conclusions for any conceivable question... that kind of stuff. It's not always something that theists agree with, and there have been some pretty interesting arguments about that. From what I've seen, that particular argument comes down to standards of evidence and what constitutes sufficient evidence to support claims... and about this, there is rarely ever a harmonious resolution that both parties agree to.

    On the other hand, the theist position varies, but usually boils down to some variant on Occam's Razor: it's a much simpler and elegant solution to propose that some sort of divinity created the universe than to attribute all of the phenomena - which, individually, are each astronomically improbable in themselves - that exist in the universe to pure probability and chance. The theistic argument usually goes a little further to propose that there are lots of things that exist in the universe for which science has no good explanations, and that given this fact along with the previous point, the obvious conclusion is that God must exist. The problem is that there isn't much in the way of empirical evidence that points exclusively toward Divinity unless you're already inclined to believe it. An alternate possibility for an explanation, however improbable, can always be proposed... and almost always is by the opposing atheist. Again, it comes back to standards of evidence and how best to apply the same rules of consistency to both sides of the argument.

    Now, I realize that I'm not doing proper justice to either the atheistic arguments or the theistic arguments in my excessively short synopsis, but it's basically my way of outlining the larger, more fundamental problem inherent in these sorts of debates. In short, each side has some reason that will never, ever allow them to agree with the most fundamental assumptions of the opposing side without capitulating on other major points that would likely result in the collapse of the argument entirely. This doesn't lend itself well to compromise, dialogue, and allowing points "for the sake of argument."

    So... when you have an irreconcilable difference, how do you reconcile it?
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  17. #37
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    So... when you have an irreconcilable difference, how do you reconcile it?
    I like Anthony Flew's approach and how he reconciled the differences. It makes good sense:

    I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what is traditionally called natural theology In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith."
    The other more difficult and rigorous path toward reconciling the difference is perhaps by going beyond belief and the subjective mind, which would mean exploring the arena of "knowing God."
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  18. #38
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    And all other ramifications of their positions are a distant second, third, fourth, etc.

    I've seen arguments from time to time criticizing the atheist position because of philosophical implications of such a viewpoint. An example would be that such a viewpoint leads to the position that there is no greater purpose in life for once life ends, there is nothing.

    But IF (and I mean "if" - not here to argue that either side is factually correct) the atheist position is correct then they believe that life has no purpose beyond the life lived because that's the way it really is and the only alternative to such belief is to falsely believe that there is something beyond this life.

    And I think it's pretty clear that it's better to believe in what is true, regardless of the ramifications of knowing the truth then believing in a falsity, even if it is more pleasant in some way.

    So my ultimate point is that any theist vs. atheist debate that does not focus on which position is factually correct (whether there is or is not a God) is practically irrelevant compared to that issue.
    I agree with you if discovering something like truth is the goal of the debate. And by "truth" I mean how the world actually is as well as we can know it.

    Whether a belief makes us "feel" better or not or whether a belief actually benefits us in some way or not has nothing to do with whether the belief is true.

    Often true beliefs do benefit people in some way (although certainly not always), but those beliefs are not true for this reason. True beliefs are beliefs that mirror as accurately as possible the way the world actually is as opposed to the way that we might hope or wish that it were and regardless of whether the belief benefits us or has no affect on us or even if the belief is harmful to us.

  19. #39
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    A Christian does good deeds not to earn a place in Heaven, but out of gratitude and love for God and other people. Sometimes behaving in order to please God and serve others involves sacrifice or suffering, rather than gaining pleasure. Why would an atheist have a reason to behave in such a way?
    If one has no love for others (and God is an other), Christian or Atheist, then it makes no sense to serve them for reasons other than one will get something from them in return.

    If one has sincere love for others, Christian or Atheist, then they have motivation to sacrifice for others even if they will get nothing in return.


    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    In their worldview, once they die, the game is over. Any sort of achievements or relationships they maintained are terminated. They no longer benefit in any way from what they did for others, nor suffer for what they did to others. So why should their impact on others be considered during their lifetimes, if it prevents them from acquiring the greatest amount of pleasure and self-satisfaction?

    I am not talking about how certain people actually behave, which is often contradictory, but whether their behavior is consistent with their worldview and the beliefs they claim to hold.
    If one is motivated by their love of others, then they will do good for others without needing their own carrot-and-stick to do good.

    If a Christian is doing good strictly because he's concerned with how God will treat him in the afterlife, then he is just being self-centered.

    If a Christian does good because he feels a sincere love for his fellow man, an atheist can likewise be similarly motivated.

    ---------- Post added at 12:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:06 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    I am not understanding why you put so much emphasis on this part. How is it comparable to atheism/theism? What I was getting was that it is relevant to the "truth" of atheism or the truth of theism. Chad is talking about when you do not know. So as important as it is, when it is an unknown I think Chad's points are valid. You seem to object to his points based on the cars running.. but I am not sure how it makes sense. What am I missing?
    Assuming the debate topic is "Which is better - atheism or theism" the answer (I argue) is "whichever is actually correct." And if you don't know which one is correct, then you don't know which one is better and any argument stating that one is better than the other based on any other criteria than correctness is an unsound argument for even if it correct that one has a certain advantage over the other, it's still not shown that it is actually better since the ONLY criteria that truly shows which is better has yet to be determined.

    Another analogy I used is which perhaps will make it clearer (and since we just had the Superbowl, I will make it more specific):

    Let's say that a week before the game started, it was announced that Superman was going to join one of the two teams but it's not known which one. And then the question was asked "Who will win the Superbowl?" The obvious answer is "Whichever team Superman joins." And until it's known which team Superman joins, it's unknown which team will win the game. And likewise presenting the argument that one team will win because of some other aspect of the two teams (stronger defensive line, better throwing game, etc.) are clearly not sound arguments for such things are irrelevant in predicting the winner for Superman will render all of them irrelevant in determining which team wins.

    And if you don't know which team will win because you don't know which team Superman will join, then when asked "Who will win the Superbowl" the only answer you can give is "I don't know" and if you are going to present an argument about which team will win the only sound way to approach the argument is to argue which team Superman is more likely to join.

    And likewise when you are going to argue whether theism is better than atheism, the only sound arguments will be based on which is more likely to be correct.

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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    If one is motivated by their love of others, then they will do good for others without needing their own carrot-and-stick to do good.

    If a Christian is doing good strictly because he's concerned with how God will treat him in the afterlife, then he is just being self-centered.

    If a Christian does good because he feels a sincere love for his fellow man, an atheist can likewise be similarly motivated.
    I know I'm butting in a little, and I still have my other question I would like a response on, and that you have lots of people addressing you.

    But that is a good point. It certainly explains "why" an atheist would do such a thing, but I'm not sure it really answers the question being asked by KB.
    It is very easy to see that an atheist having been shown love by friends and family wouldn't "feel" motivated to love others. I do not however see that as a product of their atheistic world view. You don't reason to it, you simply follow instincts and emotion. This then leaves open a validity to one who was not loved in the past, to not show love, or who was shown love and simply didn't value it. The atheist world view justifies them both. So it seems to me that your answer is really a "because I just so happen to", not that atheism inherently and necessarily leads to a love for his fellow man.

    I'm trying to draw out the distinction between a fundamental conclusion of atheism (world view leading to the love for our fellow man) and circumstances that are allowed to occur. (Ie there is nothing necessarily contradictory to atheistic world view in regards to loving our fellow man).
    Makes sense?
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