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  1. #41
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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
    To atheists, the position is simple: there is not sufficient empirical evidence to support the existence of divinity in any form,
    Please also allow for those atheists that have a positive evidence that deities are human inventions (lots of deities, human nature to seek anthropomorphic answers, emotionally rewarding, social momentum, etc.) - we're not just waiting for evidence, because it will never be forthcoming. What you are describing seems to be the agnostic-atheist position.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    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
    As to whether deities exist or not, that your summary says it's simpler and more elegant to have one seems a little contradictory given the army of supernatural beings (deities, angels, saints) that have to exist, the multiple places that exist in afterlife, the reams of moral codes one has to follow, and all the daily rituals to execute; and even your own deity has three separate religions with thousands of denominations in between. It really doesn't sound simple at all!

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    So... when you have an irreconcilable difference, how do you reconcile it?
    This is a great question - but rather than a reconciliation of the two positions, we have tried different mechanisms to allow co-existence:

    NOMA (non overlapping magisteria) - each side respects each others' boundaries. This has worked well until fairly recently with the evolution blow-up.

    Secular government - i.e. one that respects all religions; after all, it's not only atheism vs theism, it's also about which brand of theism.

    Religiously neutral organizations - e.g. Red Cross and so on, whose purposes are clearly stated in terms that do not favor religion or any particular religion.

    The two positions are mutually exclusive so the best we can hope for is not to kill each other. Though truth be told, it seems that particular problem seems to be a religious one (e.g. Muslims killing Christians in the Middle East - Egypt's Coptic Churches attacked and Africa - religious war feared in Nigera).

  2. #42
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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
    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.
    Very good explanation.
    I would say then that there ARE other considerations. Specifically effect and assured destruction.

    ---Back to the car.
    It may be the case that both cars don't run, and if that were the case then if you are going to be stuck with a car then you may as well like the color, appreciate its beauty, have a radio that works etc.

    Some truths negate the importance of the truth. If Atheism is true, then it is the choice between a car without a motor, and a car that has a motor that doesn't work. Because the effect of theism is that there is an afterlife, and thus the car would run on. The effect of atheism is that even if it were true (had a motor) it wouldn't run. So if atheism were true, it wouldn't matter if you picked the "wrong" car, because the effect would be the same.

    --Life in a box.(pascals wager)
    Nothing is more important to us than life, suppose I offered you two boxes one contained the fountain of youth(Ie theism/everlasting life), the other was empty(atheism/nothingness).

    Would it really be reasonable to say that you shouldn't pick either box, because you don't know which one is "true"? Is the choosing inherently unreasonable?

    I would say that it is not unreasonable because the only unreasonable choice is to not take a chance, because the payoff is so high and the consequence is only guaranteed by not choosing.
    (this would still be true even if we multiplied the number of boxes and put "truth" in one of them)


    Under this, it is unreasonable to choose atheism.
    To serve man.

  3. #43
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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
    Assuming the debate topic is "Which is better - atheism or theism" the answer (I argue) is "whichever is actually correct."

    'Better' in what context?

    'Better' is a comparative term. It's fairly meaningless to say "Which is better: A or B?" unless you define which quality, characteristic, attribute, etc., of the two entities that you are comparing.

    For example, I could ask "Which is better: lamborghini or volkswagon?"

    How can you answer that question accurately until you know which attribute of those two entities I'm comparing? For instance, you might be tempted to say, "Oh, a lamborghini, easily." And then I might say, "No, you're wrong. A volkswagon has a much higher mpg rating than a lamborghini does."

    Or I might say, "No, sorry but that's incorrect. 'Volkswagon' is a better scrabble play than 'lamborghini' is."

    So when you ask, "Which is better: theism or atheism?" you need to clarify which attribute of those two beliefs you're comparing.

    Did this little piece of language analysis make the problem posed in your original post disappear?

  4. #44
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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
    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.
    That's not sticking to the analogy and perhaps I didn't the analogy clear enough. The question you are presented with is "Which car is better?" (just like one would argue if theism is better than atheism or vice versa). The answer is "the car that runs" and if you don't know which car runs then the answer is "I don't know".


    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    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.
    But again, I'm asking which one in general is better.



    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Atheism and Theism are ways of life.
    No, they are beliefs. But clearly one's beliefs can influence how they live their lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    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.
    And is there any reason to think that the one that turns up to be true is not the superior one?



    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    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.
    Again, I think you are missing the point of the analogy a bit. Again, the question is "which is better" not "which can work alright for whoever chooses it". Yes, I agree that it's entirely possible that one can choose either theism or atheism in this life and do alright regardless (like if there is a God, he's concerned whether you lead a good life and not what belief you held so being an atheist isn't particularly bad even if it's incorrect) but then at best, in that one respect, it may not matter too much which one you go with but there's no advantage to getting it wrong. But that doesn't rebut the position, per the OP, that whichever belief is actually correct is the better one and that criteria is the only one that really matters. Even if the ultimate difference between the two isn't much of a difference, the better one is still the correct one.
    Last edited by mican333; February 6th, 2012 at 10:02 AM.

  5. #45
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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 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.
    How do we know what is correct (truth) in life? What faculties do humans have to determine truth/correctness?

    I would say the faculties of reason, critical thinking and discernment. Would you agree?

    Definitions:

    Reason:
    1. The basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction.
    2. A declaration made to explain or justify action, decision, or conviction: inquired about her reason for leaving.
    3. An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence:

    Critical thinking
    Critical thinking is that mode of thinking * about any subject, content, or problem * in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.
    Discernment
    The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure : skill in discerning
    "The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” --"The Mental Universe” | Nature
    [Eye4magic]
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  6. #46
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    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 not saying that atheism itself leads to love of one's fellow man. I'm rebutting Kevin's argument that it's not logical for atheists to do good things for others for reasons other than self-interest but a Christian can.

    I think there's a natural tendency for some people to do well by others and whether one is a theist or atheist doesn't really make much of a difference.

    In other words, it's pretty much the same for both theists and atheists, and KB's argument saying that atheists should logically have a radically different view on morality than Christians is false.

  7. #47
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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
    That's not sticking to the analogy and perhaps I didn't the analogy clear enough. The question you are presented with is "Which car is better?" (just like one would argue if theism is better than atheism or vice versa). The answer is "the car that runs" and if you don't know which car runs then the answer is "I don't know".




    But again, I'm asking which one in general is better.





    No, they are beliefs. But clearly one's beliefs can influence how they live their lives.



    And is there any reason to think that the one that turns up to be true is not the superior one?


    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.
    Again, I think you are missing the point of the analogy a bit. Again, the question is "which is better" not "which can work alright for whoever chooses it". Yes, I agree that it's entirely possible that one can choose either theism or atheism in this life and do alright regardless (like if there is a God, he's concerned whether you lead a good life and not what belief you held so being an atheist isn't particularly bad even if it's incorrect) but then at best, in that one respect, it may not matter too much which one you go with but there's no advantage to getting it wrong. But that doesn't rebut the position, per the OP, that whichever belief is actually correct is the better one and that criteria is the only one that really matters. Even if the ultimate difference between the two isn't much of a difference, the better one is still the correct one.
    Seeing as I was the one who made the analogy, I think its you who aren't getting the point.

    The point is not that one can ignore completely which side is true. The point is that 1) When you don't/can't know, then one must expand and include other factors in decision making and 2) One does not consider these other factors at the exclusion of the seeking which position is true, but in conjunction.

    But then again, one can only beat a dead horse so many times and I feel as if trying to debate with you on this has become exactly that.

  8. #48
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    ---Back to the car.
    It may be the case that both cars don't run, and if that were the case then if you are going to be stuck with a car then you may as well like the color, appreciate its beauty, have a radio that works etc.
    Either than is not holding to the analogy or you are attempting to argue that there are criteria to whether theism is better than atheism, or vice versa, based on something other than which is actually correct.

    And while I forward as a premise that the correct one is best I do not consider it an unchallengeable premise but if you don't challenge it then you are deviating from the analogy by changing the scenario where the best car is the one that runs.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Some truths negate the importance of the truth. If Atheism is true, then it is the choice between a car without a motor, and a car that has a motor that doesn't work.
    If atheism is true, then it is better than theism and therefore choosing it would be like choosing the car that runs instead of the other one.

    And I seem to be getting into the same bog-dwon that I did with Chad so perhaps I didn't make something clear. The issue is "Which is better", not "Which one should you choose" although which is better to choose is a significant factor is which of the two is best. But one does not have to choose on to determine which is better, although that can be one way to figure it out.

    So if it turns out the choosing either doesn't really make much difference, then you would go by other criteria for determining which is better. And even if one is only a little bit better than the other, it's still the better one.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Because the effect of theism is that there is an afterlife, and thus the car would run on. The effect of atheism is that even if it were true (had a motor) it wouldn't run. So if atheism were true, it wouldn't matter if you picked the "wrong" car, because the effect would be the same.
    But regardless, you do know which is the better car. Even if you had no arms and legs and therefore could not drive a car and choosing a car would mean nothing to you, the car that runs is still the better car.


    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    --Life in a box.(pascals wager)
    Nothing is more important to us than life, suppose I offered you two boxes one contained the fountain of youth(Ie theism/everlasting life), the other was empty(atheism/nothingness).

    Would it really be reasonable to say that you shouldn't pick either box, because you don't know which one is "true"? Is the choosing inherently unreasonable?
    But the question is not "which box should you choose" but "what is the better box to choose"? Let's say it's your friend who has to choose and they ask you for advice and if you offer none, then they would try to figure it out for themselves (and there's no guarantee that they won't figure it out and be more likely to pick the right box). Would you tell them which box to choose or would you say "I honestly don't know."?

    ---------- Post added at 01:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:50 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Seeing as I was the one who made the analogy, I think its you who aren't getting the point.

    The point is not that one can ignore completely which side is true. The point is that 1) When you don't/can't know, then one must expand and include other factors in decision making and 2) One does not consider these other factors at the exclusion of the seeking which position is true, but in conjunction.
    Let me make something clear as I think there's a bit of confusion on this (perhaps my fault for not making this clear earlier). The issue is not "which should you choose" but "Which is better" so your task is to figure out which car is better than the other one and that's it and it's established that you know one car runs and the other does not and if you don't know which is better then the answer is "I don't know", not to pick one based on criteria that will not determine which car is actually better.

    If the "other factors" when combined with the fact that one car runs and the other doesn't doesn't make a difference in whether the car that runs is better than the car that doesn't, then those factors are irrelevant in determine which car is better.

    If the car with nice paint job is the car that runs, then it's the better car.
    If the car with crappy paint job runs, then it's the better car.

    So whether the car has the nice paint job or the crappy paint job is not a factor in whether it's the better car and therefore is irrelevant criteria when it comes to choosing the better car.

    Maybe the Superman analogy would make the point better:

    Let's say that a week before the Superbowl 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.


    ---------- Post added at 02:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:59 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    So when you ask, "Which is better: theism or atheism?" you need to clarify which attribute of those two beliefs you're comparing.

    Did this little piece of language analysis make the problem posed in your original post disappear?
    I am arguing in general terms and I think that fits here because regardless of what criteria you choose, the correct one should prove to be better or else be completely equal.

    Can you think of a single criteria where having the wrong answer could be reasonably preferable to having the right answer?

    If there is a God, then in about any relevant scenario it would be better to believe that there's a God than to believe that God does not exist (or it will be neutral)/

    If there is no God, then in about any relevant scenario it would better to believe that there is no God (or it will be neutral).

    And what I mean about "neutral" is that (dis)belief doesn't really give you an advantage nor disadvantage as in God doesn't really care if you believe in him so being a theist in life doesn't give you an advantage in the afterlife (God cares about conduct, not belief) but it certainly wouldn't give you a disadvantage. But even if almost everything evened out, there's always "it's better to be correct than incorrect" so that would be the tie-breaker regardless.

    And any deviations from this would almost certainly be minor and not make up for the advantage of getting it right.

  9. #49
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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
    Let me make something clear as I think there's a bit of confusion on this (perhaps my fault for not making this clear earlier). The issue is not "which should you choose" but "Which is better" so your task is to figure out which car is better than the other one and that's it and it's established that you know one car runs and the other does not and if you don't know which is better then the answer is "I don't know", not to pick one based on criteria that will not determine which car is actually better.

    If the "other factors" when combined with the fact that one car runs and the other doesn't doesn't make a difference in whether the car that runs is better than the car that doesn't, then those factors are irrelevant in determine which car is better.

    If the car with nice paint job is the car that runs, then it's the better car.
    If the car with crappy paint job runs, then it's the better car.

    So whether the car has the nice paint job or the crappy paint job is not a factor in whether it's the better car and therefore is irrelevant criteria when it comes to choosing the better car.

    But if in conjunction, those factors don't mean anything then they are not worth considering.

    I'm not saying you can't look at the paint jobs when considering the cars but it's irrelevant as to which is the better car.

    If the car with the nice paint job, runs then it's the better car.

    If the car wit the crappy paint job runs, then it's the better car.

    But then again, one can only beat a dead horse so many times and I feel as if trying to debate with you on this has become exactly that.


    Thanks for choosing to harp on the paint job again rather than considering the far more accurate analogy I have more recently presented, but thats why its like beating a dead horse.

  10. #50
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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
    Thanks for choosing to harp on the paint job again rather than considering the far more accurate analogy I have more recently presented, but thats why its like beating a dead horse.
    [/COLOR]
    You analogy is not more accurate. What you don't seem to understand is the question is not "which should you choose" but "which is better" which factors in criteria other than which one you should choose if you were to buy the car. Likewise whether theism is better than atheism or vice versa is not only dependent on which is better to live by (although that is a factor). But in the case of theism or atheism, all advantages and disadvantages are strongly tied to which is accurate or are irrelevant.

    Maybe the Superman Football analogy makes my point better.

    Let's say that a week before the Superbowl 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.

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

    Rodriguez wrote: So when you ask, "Which is better: theism or atheism?" you need to clarify which attribute of those two beliefs you're comparing.

    mican wrote: I am arguing in general terms and I think that fits here because regardless of what criteria you choose, the correct one should prove to be better or else be completely equal.

    Can you think of a single criteria where having the wrong answer could be reasonably preferable to having the right answer?
    The wrong answer to what question? My entire point is that the question "Is theism or atheism better?" is not a well-formed question. If the question, for example is, "In terms of enjoying a longer lifespan, is atheism or theism a better belief to hold?" then you are comparing an attribute that both beliefs have in common. If, btw, that is the attribute of theism and atheism that your question is comparing then it is at least arguable that theism is the better position to hold whether or not any god actually exists. One could argue this on the basis that many studies have shown that people who believe in a god (it doesn't matter which god, btw) live longer than those who believe in no god.

    Quote Originally Posted by mican
    If there is a God, then in about any relevant scenario it would be better to believe that there's a God than to believe that God does not exist (or it will be neutral)/

    If there is no God, then in about any relevant scenario it would better to believe that there is no God (or it will be neutral).
    That's true only if the question is "Which belief, atheism or theism, is a better or more accurate description of the way the world actually is?"

    Belief itself, whether or not the proposition which is the object of the belief is true, is a powerful thing. The one has little to do with the other; that is, a belief's benefits to an individual does not depend strictly on the belief being true.

    Quote Originally Posted by mican
    And what I mean about "neutral" is that (dis)belief doesn't really give you an advantage nor disadvantage as in God doesn't really care if you believe in him so being a theist in life doesn't give you an advantage in the afterlife (God cares about conduct, not belief) but it certainly wouldn't give you a disadvantage. But even if almost everything evened out, there's always "it's better to be correct than incorrect" so that would be the tie-breaker regardless.
    There is no "correct or incorrect" answer to a question that asks "Which is better: A or B?" without knowing which attribute(s) of A and B is(are) being compared.

    If you are asking "Which is a better in terms of being a more accurate description of reality: theism or atheism?" you are asking one question, one btw to which I'd answer, atheism.

    If you are asking "Which is better in terms of living a longer life: theism or atheism?" you are asking a different question, one to which I'd probably answer, theism.

    If you are asking "Which is better in terms of running for president of the United States: theism or atheism?" you are asking a different question, one to which I'd answer, definitely theism.

    Again, the question, "Which is better: theism or atheism?" is too vague to answer in a meaningful way. So again, I ask " . . .'better' in what way?"

    ---------- Post added at 02:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:35 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican
    Maybe the Superman Football analogy makes my point better.

    Let's say that a week before the Superbowl 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.
    What if you know, by talking to players on both teams and by observing their workouts, that one team is completely convinced that Superman will join their team and this belief improves morale noticeably. You observe that the players are intensely preparing for the game in anticipation of being a part of a historic Super Bowl rout.

    At the same time, you notice the other team believes the same thing (that is, that Superman will join the other team) and this belief has the team completely demoralized. In fact, some players have even not bothered to show up at some team practices because they are convinced that they are about to be massacred.

    In this scenario, whether or not Superman actually exists, the team that merely believes Superman will join them and whose behavior is effected accordingly by the belief, will be the team that probably wins the game, all else being equal, and that should be acknowledged.

  12. #52
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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
    You analogy is not more accurate. What you don't seem to understand is the question is not "which should you choose" but "which is better" which factors in criteria other than which one you should choose if you were to buy the car. Likewise whether theism is better than atheism or vice versa is not only dependent on which is better to live by (although that is a factor). But in the case of theism or atheism, all advantages and disadvantages are strongly tied to which is accurate or are irrelevant.

    Maybe the Superman Football analogy makes my point better.

    Let's say that a week before the Superbowl 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.
    My analogy is more accurate than your superbowl analogy. In the Superbowl analogy there is no need to choose which team will win or who superman will join.

    In the modified car analogy, you must choose because you need a car to reach your destination.

    When it comes to God, this is not a consequence-less decision, but one that can ultimately determine your fate. And while saying "I don't know" may seem like its own sort of decision, effectively it is the same as choosing not to believe at all. So its not a choice where effectively you can choose a middle path. You have to make a choice.

    Lets even argue along lines of how one makes moral decisions. If you believe in God, then there are guidelines in place. If you are an atheism, you must find alternative moral codes. If you say "I don't know." Then like the atheist, you must find an alternative moral code. Effectively, you are still making a choice.

    Belief in God is not something where people can honestly spend their lifes on no side. Either you will believe and consequently live in accordance or you will not live in accordance which is no different than rejecting it in its entirety.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    The wrong answer to what question?
    ANY question. With any question, the right answer is better than the wrong answer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    My entire point is that the question "Is theism or atheism better?" is not a well-formed question. If the question, for example is, "In terms of enjoying a longer lifespan, is atheism or theism a better belief to hold?" then you are comparing an attribute that both beliefs have in common.
    But then I'm not asking that question. All I'm saying is that the best criteria for determine what is better is which one is correct. And as far as "better in what way" goes, I'm making a general statement which means that I believe that taking all reasonable criteria that would render a belief system "best", the answer squarely falls on the answer that is correct.

    So when you ask "which criteria", I mean "All relevant criteria" and I assume that with minor expections, we would all agree on what the relevant criteria is so there is no need to go into such minutia until someone chooses to go there so I haven't (so far).


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    If, btw, that is the attribute of theism and atheism that your question is comparing then it is at least arguable that theism is the better position to hold whether or not any god actually exists. One could argue this on the basis that many studies have shown that people who believe in a god (it doesn't matter which god, btw) live longer than those who believe in no god.
    But then a common factor is not a causal factor (as in the kinds of things that make one religious makes one live longer so it's not the religion itself that causes longer life) so that doesn't show that religion itself leads to a longer lifespan.

    But regardless, if we accept that
    1. Theism leads to a longer lifespan
    2. If atheism is correct, the longer lifespan that results from being a theist more than makes up for the fact that atheism is correct

    Then my position that "whichever is right is the best" has been effectively rebutted.

    I'm not going to consider it effectively rebutted as I don't know if that's your actual position nor do I accept those two points but I think you've presented a clear way my argument can be rebutted.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    That's true only if the question is "Which belief, atheism or theism, is a better or more accurate description of the way the world actually is?"
    The premise of this debate is that whichever is correct is better. But I allow the premise of the debate to be challenged.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Belief itself, whether or not the proposition which is the object of the belief is true, is a powerful thing. The one has little to do with the other; that is, a belief's benefits to an individual does not depend strictly on the belief being true.
    I argue that, all things being equal, truth serves a person better than delusion, even if there is some benefit to delusion at times.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    There is no "correct or incorrect" answer to a question that asks "Which is better: A or B?" without knowing which attribute(s) of A and B is(are) being compared.
    Again, I am making a general statement referring to all relevant criteria and assume we all will agree enough on the relevant criteria without having to waste time forwarding such minutia.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    What if you know, by talking to players on both teams and by observing their workouts, that one team is completely convinced that Superman will join their team and this belief improves morale noticeably. You observe that the players are intensely preparing for the game in anticipation of being a part of a historic Super Bowl rout.

    At the same time, you notice the other team believes the same thing (that is, that Superman will join the other team) and this belief has the team completely demoralized. In fact, some players have even not bothered to show up at some team practices because they are convinced that they are about to be massacred.

    In this scenario, whether or not Superman actually exists, the team that merely believes Superman will join them and whose behavior is effected accordingly by the belief, will be the team that probably win the game, all else being equal, and that should be acknowledged.
    The analogy is that Superman exists and will join a team and I argue that the team he joins will win and that there is no point in considering any other factor when it comes to predicting which team will win.

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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
    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.
    I'm not sure I understand the analogy as it's written, Chad. What does the lifetime warranty of the one car relate to in terms of theism and atheism?

    If the lifetime warranty is supposed to be a metaphor for eternal life then it needs to be pointed out that eternal life itself is an unknown. IOW, neither atheism nor theism comes with a guarantee of eternal life, as far as anyone knows.

    No one chooses between actually having eternal life and not having eternal life in the theism/atheism dispute. As things stand today, one simply either has a belief that one will have eternal life by choosing theism or has no such belief.

    Maybe I've misunderstood the analogy. If so, could you make your analogy as specific as possible for us slow learners out here?

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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
    My analogy is more accurate than your superbowl analogy. In the Superbowl analogy there is no need to choose which team will win or who superman will join.
    And there is no need to declare that theism is better than atheism or vice versa, especially if you truly do not know.

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    in the modified car analogy, you must choose because you need a car to reach your destination.
    This thread is about debating whether theism is better than atheism or vice-versa as a debate position, NOT which one you should pick in real life if you have to pick.

    If you want to debate a different topic than what is forwarded in this thread, start your own thread.

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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
    The analogy is that Superman exists and will join a team and I argue that the team he joins will win and that there is no point in considering any other factor when it comes to predicting which team will win.
    I think there's other factors.

    1. Can the team which Superman joins win if the team itself does not play as a team, even with Superman?
    2. Can the team win if the people on the team stop cooperating and trusting Superman because they don't agree with his strategy, values and standards?
    3. Can Superman win without the cooperation of his team?
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    I think there's other factors.

    1. Can the team which Superman joins win if the team itself does not play as a team, even with Superman?
    2. Can the team win if the people on the team stop cooperating and trusting Superman because they don't agree with his strategy, values and standards?
    3. Can Superman win without the cooperation of his team?
    The scenario is that Superman joins the team so it's a team with Superman on it so any scenario of a team without Superman or Superman without a team is not holding to the analogy.

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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
    All I'm saying is that the best criteria for determine what is better is which one is correct.
    First, we're talking about beliefs about the truth of a particular proposition and not about the actual truth of that proposition. This is so because, as we both know, theism and atheism are positions with respect to the question of belief in the existence of god and not positions with respect to the correctness or truth about the existence of god. Beliefs about the truth of a proposition and the actual truth of that proposition are two different things.

    You seem to be saying that if a proposition is actually true, then to believe that the proposition is true is always better than to not believe the proposition is true.

    Therefore if your claim is correct, then if it is true that no god exists it ought to be better to be an atheist than to be a theist when running for the presidency of the United States.

    But since it is empirically false that it is better to be an atheist than it is to be a theist when running for the presidency of the US, no matter whether the actual claim "God exists" is true or false, your claim would seem to be disproven.

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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
    The scenario is that Superman joins the team so it's a team with Superman on it so any scenario of a team without Superman or Superman without a team is not holding to the analogy.
    Right, but the team with Superman, or a football team, as you mentioned, with the absolute best quarterback of all time, can't win the game by himself no matter how good and powerful and skilled he his. He needs his team to win the game. If his team can't rise to his level, or at least close to this level, it doesn't matter if it's Superman, Darth Vader, a Jedi Night or Jesus Christ, the team will be held back. Now, that doesn't mean Superman will be affected. It just means his team won't win until his team is able to go up higher and play at a new level.

    Edit: addition

    I am arguing in general terms and I think that fits here because regardless of what criteria you choose, the correct one should prove to be better or else be completely equal.
    Doesn't correctness change with time as we discover more information about something? What is correct today may not be correct in 30 years. And what is not correct today, may be correct in 30 years. For example, in our society it use to be correct to treat black men as servants. That is no longer correct or legal.

    So, if correctness changes with time, the question I have for you Mican is: Would correctness be a necessary criteria to decide between theism and atheism?
    Last edited by eye4magic; February 6th, 2012 at 03:07 PM.
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    Please also allow for those atheists that have a positive evidence that deities are human inventions (lots of deities, human nature to seek anthropomorphic answers, emotionally rewarding, social momentum, etc.) - we're not just waiting for evidence, because it will never be forthcoming. What you are describing seems to be the agnostic-atheist position.
    I realize that, just as my answer for the theist position hardly does justice to the task of summing up every single possible outlook on the subject, my point is that the preponderance of atheistic positions essentially boil down to what I described. I don't recall saying anything about anybody waiting around for evidence. However, I suppose that maybe I should amend my statement, in light of your comment.

    Essentially, what you seem to be saying is that you know for sure that there is no such thing as any sort of divinity, based on a sufficient body of empirical evidence that you feel safe in accepting this premise as a scientifically proven fact. That's fine... but if you were one day presented with some empirical evidence of God's existence, would it then cause you to change your beliefs about divinity?

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    As to whether deities exist or not, that your summary says it's simpler and more elegant to have one seems a little contradictory given the army of supernatural beings (deities, angels, saints) that have to exist, the multiple places that exist in afterlife, the reams of moral codes one has to follow, and all the daily rituals to execute; and even your own deity has three separate religions with thousands of denominations in between. It really doesn't sound simple at all!
    Always trying to get a jab in. It's OK... you really can't help yourself, I think.

    My point is not that any specific religion's more esoteric teachings about the nature of the unseen universe and the entities that exist therein are a simple framework. My point is that even if you don't take one specific religion's views on the matter and instead allow for the existence of "Some Random Creator-God" who has certain properties which are commonly attributed to God by the vast majority of religious groups of all stripes, you get what amounts to a pretty simple view of the universe: all-powerful, all-loving, all-wise God creates the universe and everything in it. That's as far s you have to do for it to fit virtually all monotheistic (and some polytheistic) world views about God and Creation. No mention of mechanisms by which this happened, the moral implications of this, when it happened, or what it means.

    However, even if you do take the moral teachings most common to the major religions of the world, they add up to a pretty simple moral code which can be summed up pretty readily: "Thou shalt not disfigure or debase the soul." Virtually every religious tenet is centered around this core reality that there are certain things that are sacred, that the human soul is one of them, and that these things should be reverenced and treated with care for their sacredness. Each approaches the problem of human suffering from this context and attempts to put it into perspective through the lens of their understanding of the sacred and of the soul. Each religion's understanding about what exactly this means, including specific religious taboos, requirements, and rituals, is just another set of competing moral doctrines focused on this one central issue: the sanctity of the universe and the souls within it. Certainly, all religious taboos against murder, theft, dishonesty, base carnality, and irresponsible excess are all very simple extrapolations of this premise.

    How is this not simple?

    The teachings about the entities that exist in the unseen universe are mainly metaphorical, and when not metaphorical, are frequently laced with metaphorical language meant to explain certain psychosocial/spiritual truths about reality and the things therein. They're not necessary to understand or believe in order to grasp the core tenets of any given faith. I'll wager that fewer than 1% of Christians know much, if anything, of the rich magical and mystical tradition that existed as a vital portion of the faith until as recently as the Renaissance and even beyond. I mean, there was a Pope who was quoted as saying that Thaumaturgy should be studied as an indispensable and vital part of any priest's seminary training, but almost no one knows about this because it's not really that important to the basic understanding of the Gospel. A similarly small number is familiar with any of the ancient literature regarding the structure of Heaven and Hell, the angels, fallen angels, and demons (which are different from fallen angels.) Yet, this has little-to-no relevance to the faith and practice of most Christians because it's not necessary to understand these things in order to grasp the core teachings of the faith.

    As such, the complaint against complexity in many religious faiths rings hollow as an argument against the Occam's Razor approach to supporting the existence of God (of some form or another). It's just a complaint against the implications of the conclusions that such an approach produces, which is another argument entirely.
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