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  1. #61
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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
    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?
    With evidence of the existence of a powerful entity (assuming he's not really a powerful alien, etc.), I couldn't but believe in its existence. However, I doubt I would actually buy into all the trappings of praying and ritual - that would still seem suspiciously self-serving (for me and the deity) and weird (not an insult but speaking in tongues and being possessed is just not normal). That's just a really strange thing to want another intelligent being to want to do even if one did create him. Respect would be deserved of course but he'd really have to update his reasons for worship. I would still not want to believe in him and certainly not all the claims of miracles, Jesus and all that - there needs to be additional evidence for that to be accepted.

    If somehow after death, my brain has been mapped into some other form that would still work without a human body, I would still question the entire ethics of eternal punishment for what amounts to something that I cannot control - I didn't consciously choose to be an atheist, it just doesn't make sense to me and makes less sense the more I learn about deities, religions and science and evidence. Note also this is all Christian invention - the original Judaism allows for everyone (well, every natural born Jew) to get to heaven.

    Plus, it would be awesome to see the fallout of all the other religions - I mean back at you - what if that deity turned out to be the Hindu - that your own deity was just another avatar of Brahmin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Always trying to get a jab in. It's OK... you really can't help yourself, I think.
    It really wasn't meant to be a jab - we may not always agree but I respect that you think before you speak. For the record, I wrote it a few times and removed words I knew would be offensive (such as magic, santa and all that). The problems I pointed out just go against the entire sense of simplicity and the only way to bring that to the fore is to state facts that go against that claim.

    Being a Christian, you know best of all what is at the core of your belief - and you chose the word simplicity. But I'd rather you'd use the word "easier" because that is the one answer that humans keep coming to for as long as we can document - it seems built-in. Maybe even natural might be a better word.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    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.
    Since religions are the only reasons why deities continue to exist, I don't think they can be decoupled so easily. Even in your summary above you imply the existence of souls (some kind of incorporeal entity that somehow is connected to our brains), which surely is just a first-order religious belief and not a natural nor logical consequence of the existence of a deity.

    That this soul can be debased is a second-order religious belief because it is not a natural nor logical consequence of the existence of an soul. For that to be true, the deity must already have set up ground rules to live by - those rules, needn't exist (a deity could exist that lets us do whatever we want) and is an additional assumption to the previous two ideas.

    That this soul exists after life is a third-order religious belief because there is no reason to suppose that souls would carry over our experiences after death - that it does, i.e. there is something to be punished, does directly follow from the previous statements.

    And that this soul is eternal is yet another assumption made on top of all the others. Without this and all the steps who cares what a deity says - correct?

    I don't know where you want to really draw the line between deity and religion but it seems a bit arbitrary to me: just because all religions share the idea of an eternal soul, it doesn't make it logical nor simple.

    My point is that it really isn't simple. Yes, the idea of a god is an axiom, but adding souls too pulls necessitates a place for them to be in (unless we're really bits of God) and a whole load of other baggage not worth getting into at this stage.

  2. #62
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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
    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.
    Yes, you are correct. I did break the analogy and I am challenging the premise that the truth of one is better than the truth of the other.
    All truths are not equally relevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    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.
    Well, maybe my objection is based on a misapplication of the example. A car that runs is better than a car that doesn't. But, even then the example simply becomes a bad example of reality. Because we MUST choose a truth value(car), and choosing a car is better than not choosing a car.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    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.
    Well, my contention is that some truth is no "better" than a false-hood.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    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."?
    Well, in application that question is only valid towards other religions. Atheist are in effect not choosing (at least in my analogy) or they are choosing the one box in which they know life does not exist. IE they are making the choice to not take a chance or a decision that could contain life.


    Regarding the question directed at rod
    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    Can you think of a single criteria where having the wrong answer could be reasonably preferable to having the right answer?
    The criteria is relevance. It is better to have a wrong choice regarding something that is relevant and effective on your life, then a right answer that
    has zero effect.


    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    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.
    haha.. this made me laugh, as it stimulated a humors thought.

    Basically, this is why the car example fails, and refers to chads point a bit.
    A car that has an engine and runs is only "better" than one that doesn't because it gets you to where you need to go. If you had no need for a car, then both cars would be equally good.

    So.. basically, if we want to put it like this. If the car "running and having an engine" is "truth", then the strange thing is, is that both cars get you where you need to go. So, then the fact that one was running on truth, and the other was running on "faith" (because it had no engine), would be irrelevant. So if one car is atheism, and one car is theism.. both cars get you where you need to go(in this life anyway).

    Sort of like, is it better to give the correct answer on a test? Yes, unless all tests are given the same grade.

    The picture of a "faith-mobile" came to mind. Ahh.. anyway, funny to me. It really is just my point regarding the relevance of the truth being considered and really is addressing the "is theism superior to atheism".
    To serve man.

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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
    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.
    Again, I am making a general statement and being the President is ONE way that theism is better than atheism regardless of which is actually better.

    I would argue that assuming that atheism is correct, overall it is better to be an atheist in general. While I agree that there is a societal advantage to being Christian (such as being more electable) it is overshadowed by how much time people waste in religious pursuits. And when a Christians get elected their faith guides their policy to some extent which steers our policies based on incorrect notions and therefore not to the general benefit of the people.

    And let me give you kudos for directly challenging the position I'm forwarding the OP.

    ---------- Post added at 12:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Yes, you are correct. I did break the analogy and I am challenging the premise that the truth of one is better than the truth of the other.
    All truths are not equally relevant.
    But truths are generally better than falsities so whichever option is the correct one is superior than the incorrect one.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Well, maybe my objection is based on a misapplication of the example. A car that runs is better than a car that doesn't. But, even then the example simply becomes a bad example of reality. Because we MUST choose a truth value(car), and choosing a car is better than not choosing a car.
    If we had to choose between theism and atheism then agnostics would not exist. And yet there is no reason why one cannot be an agnostic and remain one for the entirety of his/her life. And if one truly does not know if there's a God or not, agnosticism is the most logical option, I would argue.


    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Well, my contention is that some truth is no "better" than a false-hood.
    What do you mean by "some truth". Again, one proposition is completely right and the other is completely wrong, there is no "some truth" - there's just true and there's false.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Well, in application that question is only valid towards other religions. Atheist are in effect not choosing (at least in my analogy) or they are choosing the one box in which they know life does not exist. IE they are making the choice to not take a chance or a decision that could contain life.
    I guess I misinterpreted your analogy. But if life after death exists, then it exists regardless of what faith one has unless there is a faith that says that only its adherents will live on after death and I'm not aware of such a faith (some Christian doctrine says that non-believers are in for a bad time after they die but they do continue to exist). But again, the best box to choose is the one that contains the truth, not the best promise (for if the promise is not the truth you won't receive it).


    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    The criteria is relevance. It is better to have a wrong choice regarding something that is relevant and effective on your life, then a right answer that
    has zero effect.
    Let's test that.

    For something relevant, let's choose smoking and health and forward the wrong belief that smoking four packs a day is good for you.
    For something irrelevant, let's choose (as a hypothetical fact) that there were 125 cars in the Parking Lot of Best Buy in Scottsdale AZ at 11:28 AM last saturday.

    I think it's better the believe the fact about the cars than it is to believe that smoking is good for you. One belief has no impact and the other has a negative impact.



    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Basically, this is why the car example fails, and refers to chads point a bit.
    A car that has an engine and runs is only "better" than one that doesn't because it gets you to where you need to go. If you had no need for a car, then both cars would be equally good.

    So.. basically, if we want to put it like this. If the car "running and having an engine" is "truth", then the strange thing is, is that both cars get you where you need to go. So, then the fact that one was running on truth, and the other was running on "faith" (because it had no engine), would be irrelevant. So if one car is atheism, and one car is theism.. both cars get you where you need to go(in this life anyway).
    If the destination is an "accurate view of mankind's place in the cosmos", then the car that runs will get you there and the car that doesn't run won't get you there. And any destination where truth is relevant is better served by the "truth-mobile" and if you aren't interested in getting there then both cars are equally worthless but then you have no basis to argue that one is better than the other. But if one IS going to argue that one is better than the other, then the criteria should be "which is correct".

    ---------- Post added at 12:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:43 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    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.
    But that's not keeping to the analogy. The analogy is that there are two teams and one will have Superman playing quarterback. The only valid way to challenge or question the analogy is if you think that it does not accurately represent the thing that it's an analogy of.

    All other attempted alterations of the analogy are off-topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    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.
    You are talking about morality and morality is never factual. But certain facts do not change over time. If there is a God, that won't change. And if there is no God, that won't change.

  4. #64
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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
    Again, I am making a general statement and being the President is ONE way that theism is better than atheism regardless of which is actually better.

    I would argue that assuming that atheism is correct, overall it is better to be an atheist in general. While I agree that there is a societal advantage to being Christian (such as being more electable) it is overshadowed by how much time people waste in religious pursuits. And when a Christians get elected their faith guides their policy to some extent which steers our policies based on incorrect notions and therefore not to the general benefit of the people.

    And let me give you kudos for directly challenging the position I'm forwarding the OP.
    Thank you, mican.

    So we agree that, whether or not a god actually exists, it's better to believe that a god exists rather than to believe that no god exists if one wants to be elected president.

    Can we also agree that, whether a god exists or not, it's better to believe that a god exists rather than to believe that no god exists with respect to one's overall health, including the expected length of one's life? [Again, this has been confirmed by study after study and please remember that it is I, an atheist, who here makes this claim. If need be I can link you to some of those studies or you can just google them.]

    We should be able to agree, then, that it can be better for an individual's well-being in many, many situations -- perhaps even in most -- to believe that a god exists than to not hold that belief even if no god actually exists.

    And vice versa; that is, it can be better to believe that no god exists even if a god actually exists!

    The reason for this is that the belief that a proposition is true or not and the attendant benefits one might enjoy from holding that belief has no bearing on the question of whether the proposition upon which the belief is based actually is true.

    I agree with your overall point (at least my understanding of your point). What I disagree with is when you say it's always (or even almost always) better to believe what is true than to not.

    Clearly, I think, it is not always (or even almost always) better to believe what is true in terms of one's well-being, even though to believe what is true is to always see reality for what it is.

  5. #65
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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
    So we agree that, whether or not a god actually exists, it's better to believe that a god exists rather than to believe that no god exists if one wants to be elected president.
    Actually I guess I have to retract that. It's better to claim that one believes in God if they are to be elected President which does not mean that one actually needs to believe in God.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Can we also agree that, whether a god exists or not, it's better to believe that a god exists rather than to believe that no god exists with respect to one's overall health, including the expected length of one's life? [Again, this has been confirmed by study after study and please remember that it is I, an atheist, who here makes this claim. If need be I can link you to some of those studies or you can just google them.]
    As I already argued, those statistics do not show a causal relationship between theism and longer life as those two things may have a common factor, such a person who is inclined to live a more conservative lifestyle is both more likely to be religious and be healthy but it's not the religion that causes the healthiness. And likewise a person who is rebellious in nature is more likely to reject the common religion of his society and engage in riskier behavior but it's not the lack of religion that causes the risky behavior.

    And in both cases (being president and being healthy) it's not the theism itself that helps but the conforming to others beliefs that is what's good and in an atheist society it would be better in both of those respects to be an atheist. So it's not the theism per se that makes things better and many societal ills, arguably, can be laid at the feet of religion (religious wars and such) so even ignoring the "which is correct" issue an argument can be made that overall religion is not healthy and we'd have a better society if atheism was the norm and religious concerns were ignored. So really the argument that theism is better regardless of what's correct is not an accepted argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    We should be able to agree, then, that it can be better for an individual's well-being in many, many situations -- perhaps even in most -- to believe that a god exists than to not hold that belief even if no god actually exists.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    I agree with your overall point (at least my understanding of your point). What I disagree with is when you say it's always (or even almost always) better to believe what is true than to not.
    But I'm arguing about the positions in general so I'm not saying "always". There may be some specifics where one is preferable but overall the right one is going to be superior.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Clearly, I think, it is not always (or even almost always) better to believe what is true in terms of one's well-being, even though to believe what is true is to always see reality for what it is.
    In most situations, the truth is better. If you have the choice of being treated by purely scientific methods or faith healing, you would only want to go with faith healing if it worked better than science and you would only want to go with science if it worked better than faith healing.

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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
    With evidence of the existence of a powerful entity (assuming he's not really a powerful alien, etc.), I couldn't but believe in its existence.
    Fair enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    If somehow after death, my brain has been mapped into some other form that would still work without a human body, I would still question the entire ethics of eternal punishment for what amounts to something that I cannot control
    Not all religions follow believe in this tenet, and since we are talking about the most generic of theistic principles, this falls outside the bounds of that discussion. I think it's reasonable to assume that until we can reach some understanding about the principles espoused by the majority of theistic beliefs in general germs, it's pretty pointless to try to press the issue of specific claims about any one religion's beliefs, regardless of my own feelings on the matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    what if that deity turned out to be the Hindu - that your own deity was just another avatar of Brahmin.
    If I were given a vision or other evidence I deemed sufficient proof to justify my belief that all deities are simply a manifestation of Brahmin, I would then reassess my faith in light of this new information. It is likely I would choose a faith based around more Hindu-oriented principles, though nothing in the existence of Brahmin per se necessitates that I change most of my core values. I would most likely look for a sect of Hinduism that most clearly parallels those moral values I have, through years of careful consideration and meditation, come to believe are "the right way," unless the details of my Brahmin experience also led me to different moral conclusions as well... in which case, I would begin re-examining my beliefs about morality as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    It really wasn't meant to be a jab - we may not always agree but I respect that you think before you speak. For the record, I wrote it a few times and removed words I knew would be offensive (such as magic, santa and all that). The problems I pointed out just go against the entire sense of simplicity and the only way to bring that to the fore is to state facts that go against that claim.
    Fair enough. Thanks for making the attempt to be more diplomatic.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    Being a Christian, you know best of all what is at the core of your belief - and you chose the word simplicity. But I'd rather you'd use the word "easier" because that is the one answer that humans keep coming to for as long as we can document - it seems built-in. Maybe even natural might be a better word.
    I chose the word "simplicity" because that is honestly what I believe is the accurate word to describe my beliefs. There is very little that's "easy" about my beliefs, because my beliefs demand a fairly high degree of discipline on what you would likely call psycho-social, ethical, and emotional levels. It's not as easy as believing that God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world, or indulging in the moral relativism of "I'm OK, you're OK, and one person's "good" is another person's 'evil'" that leaves all the unanswered questions of human existence and the problem of human suffering totally unanswered. Either of these might be considered "the easy way out." So can hypocritical self-righteousness and dehumanizing others in order to feel better about yourself. It's not easy to choose to love a person when they treat you badly, contribute nothing to society and have no intent to do so, provide a direct drain on your resources, and play a major role in making your community unsafe. Yet, this is precisely the position I find myself in virtually every night when I treat people in my emergency room who neither have nor want jobs, steal from others without shame, abuse me and my nursing staff, and manufacture false medical complaints to attempt to force my hand in our litigious culture to give them whatever it is that they want. The easy thing to do would be to dismiss these people as human garbage and to indulge in self-righteous indignation at the expense of their dignity and blame them for all of society's ills while feeling all martyr-like and put-upon. It's frequently the response I encounter among many of the older nurses, because it's the only defense they have available to themselves from a psychological standpoint. And from a certain ethical and moral point of view, they're absolutely right to be irate and upset, especially considering some of the things that get said and done to me and my nurses some nights. Yet, my faith demands that I love these people and that I treat them with the kindness, respect, and gentleness that I would show to Jesus if He came into my emergency room Himself. I am not always successful, but nobody's perfect. I do try my best to do as my conscience demands, though. I submit to you that it's certainly not the "easier" thing to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    Since religions are the only reasons why deities continue to exist,
    I don't think that this statement can stand on its own merits. Please support your assertion.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    Even in your summary above you imply the existence of souls (some kind of incorporeal entity that somehow is connected to our brains), which surely is just a first-order religious belief and not a natural nor logical consequence of the existence of a deity.
    The existence of a 'self' that transcends the physical body is not exclusively the province of religion. There are plenty of groups that believe that there exists some form of "self-ness" that is not exclusively defined by nor entirely contained within the corporeal body, and some of them have nothing to do with religion at all. So, your assertion that the idea of a "soul" is a "first order religious belief" is erroneous, since not all beliefs about the nature of the soul are rooted in religions.

    Also, please define in explicit terms what you mean when you use the phrase "first order religious belief" and the other "ordinal" terms you have outlined.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    That this soul can be debased is a second-order religious belief because it is not a natural nor logical consequence of the existence of an soul. For that to be true, the deity must already have set up ground rules to live by - those rules, needn't exist (a deity could exist that lets us do whatever we want) and is an additional assumption to the previous two ideas.
    I disagree. There is nothing in the idea that the psycho-emotional-spiritual self can be damaged by either one's own actions or those of another that requires a deity to set up ground rules. Doesn't rape usually cause fairly extensive psychic trauma? By the same token, doesn't the dehumanizing psychological state required to commit premeditated murder intrinsically cause a psychosocial break in the individual which places a fundamental divide between that person's self and the rest of society? Either of these things could be considered "debasing the soul," depending on one's beliefs about the nature of the soul. We hardly need a deity's input to arrive at the self-evident conclusion that there are courses of action and modes of thought that are psychologically damaging to the individual, to groups, or to society as a whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    That this soul exists after life is a third-order religious belief because there is no reason to suppose that souls would carry over our experiences after death - that it does, i.e. there is something to be punished, does directly follow from the previous statements.
    Not all religions believe that there is some sort of eternal punishment after death, even if they do believe in the eternal nature of the soul. Hinduism, for example, believes that the soul simply reincarnates into a form that will allow it to acquire whatever wisdom it needs in order to be more spiritually whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    And that this soul is eternal is yet another assumption made on top of all the others.
    Actually, the eternal nature of the soul does not even require a first-order religious belief, if one accepts the existence of the soul in the first place. The "conservation of information" is a concept in quantum mechanics that explores the idea that information can neither be created nor destroyed, much in the same way as energy. If we view the individual as a discrete collection of data, then it stands to reason that if there exists a self that transcends the physical form, it must be eternal in some fashion or another.

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK
    I don't know where you want to really draw the line between deity and religion but it seems a bit arbitrary to me: just because all religions share the idea of an eternal soul, it doesn't make it logical nor simple.
    I didn't say anything about logical. I just said simple. All major religions have only a few core elements:
    1) they address the nature of reality and our place within it.
    2) they address the problem of human suffering and the implications thereof.
    3) they provide some course of belief and/or action that purports to be able to mitigate or eliminate the effects of human suffering.

    The veracity of these claims aside, that's not necessarily a very complicated set of tenets. Oh, it *could* become quite complicated... but nothing in those elements necessitates that it be so.
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Mican, I think we've strayed away somewhat from our discussion about the conclusion of the OP argument. To reset the debate it might be helpful to look again at that passage:
    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.
    To me, this says: "To debate the benefits of belief in god versus the benefits of disbelief in god is all but an irrelevant debate. The only debate that really matters is the debate about whether God exists."

    In the thread that follows the OP you try to support the OP's conclusion by advancing the thesis that the benefits of belief in God depend almost solely upon the existence of God and that the benefits of nonbelief in god depend almost solely upon god's nonexistence.

    Is this a fair synopsis of your argument to date?
    Last edited by Rodriguez; February 8th, 2012 at 04:26 AM.

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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
    What do you mean by "some truth". Again, one proposition is completely right and the other is completely wrong, there is no "some truth" - there's just true and there's false.
    I should have said "some truths". As in the truth X, while true is useless and meaningless if it were not believed or understood there would be no practical or important adverse effect.
    That may be too fine a point on it... maybe no adverse effect in respect to certain things... anyway. I hope that clears it up a little.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    I guess I misinterpreted your analogy. But if life after death exists, then it exists regardless of what faith one has unless there is a faith that says that only its adherents will live on after death and I'm not aware of such a faith (some Christian doctrine says that non-believers are in for a bad time after they die but they do continue to exist). But again, the best box to choose is the one that contains the truth, not the best promise (for if the promise is not the truth you won't receive it).
    But if one chooses a box that grantees they won't receive it, then there is a reason to choose irrespective of the "truth", specifically when the truth is unknown.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    Let's test that.

    For something relevant, let's choose smoking and health and forward the wrong belief that smoking four packs a day is good for you.
    For something irrelevant, let's choose (as a hypothetical fact) that there were 125 cars in the Parking Lot of Best Buy in Scottsdale AZ at 11:28 AM last saturday.

    I think it's better the believe the fact about the cars than it is to believe that smoking is good for you. One belief has no impact and the other has a negative impact.
    Thats good, but not quite a true example. Because you are comparing apples and oranges truths. My statement was not regarding comparing unrelated truths.
    So let me try to give what I think is a better example of what I meant.

    Lets use the smoking one. Your choices are
    Smoking is good for you
    Smoking is bad for you
    Smoking has no effect.


    Which choice, if wrong, has the least effect on you? Honestly, I'd say it is equal between the extremes. So to me it seems to balance.


    Now lets take the cars in the parking lot.
    There were 125 cars
    There were not 125 cars

    In this case, it doesn't matter because again, there is no relevance to you at all. If you didn't believe/know the truth, it wouldn't effect you any different than being correct.



    God exists/ God doesn't exist.
    Atheism
    Gnostic
    Theism

    Now, here the ultimate "effect" of atheism and Gnostic is the same, while Theism has a much different effect.
    If atheism is true, then the effect of all three beliefs are the same.
    If theism is true, then it is the only category to not suffer the negative consequences, or you could say it is the only category to have a major benefit.

    So, the case is that the truths of Atheism, is basically irrelevant and without effect. Unlike smoking getting Atheism wrong doesn't kill you. If true it is like the cars. Its falseness is like being killed by smoking.

    One last one.
    Apples
    You are presented three apples of which you must choose. Which one do you choose? Well, the possible effects of the apples. You are told that all three apples could contain a poison which will kill you. However there is one apple that may grant you eternal life.. and they point it out to you.

    The truth of which apples contains the poison is irrelevant and should be a non-factor in your decision. What should guide your decision is which one has life. Or possibly contains a truth that will positively effect your life, while offering no real negative in comparison to all other possible truths.
    To serve man.

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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
    But that's not keeping to the analogy. The analogy is that there are two teams and one will have Superman playing quarterback. The only valid way to challenge or question the analogy is if you think that it does not accurately represent the thing that it's an analogy of.
    Isn't the analogy that Superman ensures the team wins because Superman is Superman?

    In other words,

    1. God (Superman) in theism wins or
    2. No God (no Superman) in atheism wins

    Isn't that your 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 MindTrap
    Now, here the ultimate "effect" of atheism and Gnostic is the same, while Theism has a much different effect.
    If atheism is true, then the effect of all three beliefs are the same.
    If theism is true, then it is the only category to not suffer the negative consequences, or you could say it is the only category to have a major benefit.
    Not necessarily, MT. Theism is only the position that a god exists. Theology speaks more to the nature of a particular god. What if a god exists who, upon meeting you in the afterlife, says: "I intentionally gave you no evidence of my existence while you were on earth. The only way that you could have believed that I existed was to accept my existence on pure faith. You did that -- therefore you failed my test!

    "My most precious gift to you was that of reason -- to believe what evidence suggests is most likely to be true, to follow arguments to their logical conclusions. You threw that gift away.

    "Since you value logic and reason so little. I will remove my gift from you entirely and place you in a realm where you can live eternally with others like yourself who are likewise ruled by instinct and emotion. Good bye."

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ROD
    Not necessarily, MT. Theism is only the position that a god exists. Theology speaks more to the nature of a particular god. What if a god exists who, upon meeting you in the afterlife, says: "I intentionally gave you no evidence of my existence while you were on earth. The only way that you could have believed that I existed was to accept my existence on pure faith. You did that -- therefore you failed my test!

    "My most precious gift to you was that of reason -- to believe what evidence suggests is most likely to be true, to follow arguments to their logical conclusions. You threw that gift away.

    "Since you value logic and reason so little. I will remove my gift from you entirely and place you in a realm where you can live eternally with others like yourself who are likewise ruled by instinct and emotion. Good bye."
    How does that address my point?
    Does it help to say "Theism has the possibility of a much different effect".
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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
    How does that address my point?
    Does it help to say "Theism has the possibility of a much different effect".
    First, theism and atheism are beliefs about the existence of a god. Theism asserts that a god exists. Atheism rejects this assertion.

    Second, so if theism is true, then a god exists. Period. That is the only effect asserted by theism. No afterlife. No reward for those who believe in a god. No punishment for those who do not believe in a god. No nothin' -- except that some god will exist.

    If atheism is true, then no god exists. Period. There is no other claim asserted by atheism.

    ---------- Post added at 07:33 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:15 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap
    --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.
    That's a weak analogy. Here's a better one: There is no atheist box. There are only boxes containing all the various sects of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, etc., plus one other box containing the generic god of theism.

    If you choose none of these religious boxes, then you've "chosen" atheism.

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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
    Mican, I think we've strayed away somewhat from our discussion about the conclusion of the OP argument. To reset the debate it might be helpful to look again at that passage:

    To me, this says: "To debate the benefits of belief in god versus the benefits of disbelief in god is all but an irrelevant debate. The only debate that really matters is the debate about whether God exists."

    In the thread that follows the OP you try to support the OP's conclusion by advancing the thesis that the benefits of belief in God depend almost solely upon the existence of God and that the benefits of nonbelief in god depend almost solely upon god's nonexistence.

    Is this a fair synopsis of your argument to date?
    Yes, but I don't see how I'm straying from that.

    I'm not saying that there might not be a particular benefit to believing in either that is unrelated to whether it is actually correct but that whatever those benefits are, they pale in comparison to the benefits of the other if it is factually correct.

    The question being addressed is which is better in general and pointing out a minor benefit of one of them is irrelevant to the question when the issue that truly will determine which is better has yet to be addressed (going by the premise that whichever one is correct is generally the better one).

    It's like my Superman football analogy - if the question is "which team will win the game" it's not much use debating the relative strength of the teams' defensive lines when it's obvious the winning team is the one that Superman joins.

    ---------- Post added at 03:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:40 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Isn't the analogy that Superman ensures the team wins because Superman is Superman?

    In other words,

    1. God (Superman) in theism wins or
    2. No God (no Superman) in atheism wins

    Isn't that your analogy?
    The analogy is the two teams are "Theism" and "Atheism" and Superman is "The Truth". Whichever side has the truth on its side is the "winning team".

    ---------- Post added at 04:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:42 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    I should have said "some truths". As in the truth X, while true is useless and meaningless if it were not believed or understood there would be no practical or important adverse effect. That may be too fine a point on it... maybe no adverse effect in respect to certain things... anyway. I hope that clears it up a little.
    You are saying that not believing the truth about some things doesn't matter, such as the 125 cars in the Best Buy parking lot example I forwarded. If you think there's a 130 cars, you'd be wrong, but so what? Have I got it right?


    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    But if one chooses a box that grantees they won't receive it, then there is a reason to choose irrespective of the "truth", specifically when the truth is unknown.
    If there's no life after death and whichever box you pick determines the belief you will hold for the rest of your life, I think it's better the pick the box that guarantees that there is no life after death and delivers on that guarantee than a box that guarantees life after death but doesn't deliver it.



    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Now, here the ultimate "effect" of atheism and Gnostic is the same, while Theism has a much different effect.
    If atheism is true, then the effect of all three beliefs are the same.
    No, it's not. If atheism is true and you believe in it then you have all of the advantages of operating on a truthful belief system over a false one. And that doesn't just apply to individuals but to the society as a whole. Our society is in part guided by religious belief. While we don't have religious laws many laws are effected by the religious beliefs of our citizens such as the gay marriage issue and teaching creationism. So religion is effecting all of us and if it's a false belief, then our society is being guided, in part, by delusion which is not a good thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    If theism is true, then it is the only category to not suffer the negative consequences, or you could say it is the only category to have a major benefit.
    Not necessarily. It's not a given that God really cares whether one is a theist or not (that is a particular belief of some religious people, not an innate aspect of theism) but regardless, if there is God it's better to know the truth than to believe a falsity. And if there is no God, it's better the know the truth than believe a falsity.

    Since the flaw in your analogy applies to the apple analogy, my rebuttal is already given.
    Last edited by mican333; February 9th, 2012 at 04:14 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 mican
    I'm not saying that there might not be a particular benefit to believing in either that is unrelated to whether it is actually correct but that whatever those benefits are, they pale in comparison to the benefits of the other if it is factually correct.
    I agree that the benefits or disadvantages of holding a belief are unrelated to whether the particular proposition that the belief is about is true or false. IOW, one who believes that Allah exists can and often does benefit (and sometimes even greatly benefits) from holding that belief, regardless of whether Allah actually exists.

    I disagree with your implication that the benefits of holding a true belief necessarily means that, overall, the benefits of holding that true belief will be greater than those that accrue from not holding that belief.

    This latter implication of yours endorses a pragmatic theory of truth that few philosophers agree with and for good reason. The benefits or disadvantages that accrue from belief about truth have nothing to do with truth itself. It just so happens that a true belief is usually helpful or beneficial but this isn't necessarily the case and in any event this (i.e., benefits that accrue from believing what is true) is not that which makes the proposition that the belief is about true in the first place. A proposition is true if it accurately describes a particular state of affairs in the world. Otherwise, it's false. And none of this depends on how this fact affects, either postively or negatively, anyone or everyone in the world.

    To sum, to believe that Allah exists may bring tremendous benefits to someone who holds this belief and may have almost no negative consequences for him, but the proposition "Allah exists" could still be false just the same. This directly contradicts your claim, based on the pragmatic theory of truth, that says the benefits from believing that p is true pale beside the benefits of believing that p is false, if p actually is false.

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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
    You are saying that not believing the truth about some things doesn't matter, such as the 125 cars in the Best Buy parking lot example I forwarded. If you think there's a 130 cars, you'd be wrong, but so what? Have I got it right?
    yes pretty much.

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    If there's no life after death and whichever box you pick determines the belief you will hold for the rest of your life, I think it's better the pick the box that guarantees that there is no life after death and delivers on that guarantee than a box that guarantees life after death but doesn't deliver it.
    Why do you think you would die and be disappointed? *J*

    seriously, could you explain why it is better?
    Also, there is the other half of the equation.. that the box that promises no life after death gets it wrong. In that case you would spend a lot more time being wrong (eternity)

    Quote Originally Posted by MICAN
    No, it's not. If atheism is true and you believe in it then you have all of the advantages of operating on a truthful belief system over a false one. And that doesn't just apply to individuals but to the society as a whole. Our society is in part guided by religious belief. While we don't have religious laws many laws are effected by the religious beliefs of our citizens such as the gay marriage issue and teaching creationism. So religion is effecting all of us and if it's a false belief, then our society is being guided, in part, by delusion which is not a good thing.
    What does it matter? Delusion or no, as long as the effects are the same or better what does it matter if it is true or not.

    For example, suppose the "truth" is that we are driven by our primal desires and if we accept that as a truth the result will be that people will act without restraint.
    VS
    The above is the "truth" but the falsehood of believing in God prevents people from accepting the above, and thus they practice restraint.


    Certainly the second would have better "results" and produce a better world then if everyone had believed the former and actual "truth".

    Quote Originally Posted by ROD
    First, theism and atheism are beliefs about the existence of a god. Theism asserts that a god exists. Atheism rejects this assertion.

    Second, so if theism is true, then a god exists. Period. That is the only effect asserted by theism. No afterlife. No reward for those who believe in a god. No punishment for those who do not believe in a god. No nothin' -- except that some god will exist.

    If atheism is true, then no god exists. Period. There is no other claim asserted by atheism.
    I don't think that is true. On ODN we spend most of our time supporting and arguing that God exists. Very few atheist have allowed that to be an assumption and move on from that point to see what else it leads to, I don't think that means that the conclusion of the logical arguments for Gods existence ends at simply his existence.

    But I don't see that eternal life would be outside the scope of theism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ROD
    That's a weak analogy. Here's a better one: There is no atheist box. There are only boxes containing all the various sects of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, etc., plus one other box containing the generic god of theism.

    If you choose none of these religious boxes, then you've "chosen" atheism.
    that doesn't really change the equation. It just changes the terminology not the effect.
    You choose one, or you don't give yourself a chance at all.
    To serve man.

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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 the two teams are "Theism" and "Atheism" and Superman is "The Truth". Whichever side has the truth on its side is the "winning team".
    How can it be the winning team if we are not able to recognize truth? What is truth?

    Is it whatever we want to justify truth on? Is it an absolute? Is it subjective? Is it a given? Is it something we know intuitively, despite what we may observe? Can we know truth with a certainty? Can both sides have elements of truth?
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap
    I don't think that is true. On ODN we spend most of our time supporting and arguing that God exists. Very few atheist have allowed that to be an assumption and move on from that point to see what else it leads to, I don't think that means that the conclusion of the logical arguments for Gods existence ends at simply his existence. But I don't see that eternal life would be outside the scope of theism.
    No, what I'm saying is that simply by showing that a god exists does not simultaneously show that this god will make eternal life available to humans. So simply by picking a box labeled "God exists" does not mean that you've also picked a box promising eternal life. It's entirely possible that a god exists AND that eternal life for humans doesn't.


    that doesn't really change the equation. It just changes the terminology not the effect. You choose one, or you don't give yourself a chance at all.
    How could you know that? Just as it's true that a god could exist AND eternal life not be available to humans, it could also be the case that no god exists AND eternal life is available to humans.

    There is nothing contradictory in the notion that once you die in this consciousness you continue to live in some other. Perhaps some form of reincarnation occurs in a natural process that we today know nothing about. Anything not contradictory is possible.

    So by picking one of the many god boxes doesn't guarantee eternal life and by not picking any one of the many god boxes does not mean that you won't have eternal life.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ROD
    So by picking one of the many god boxes doesn't guarantee eternal life and by not picking any one of the many god boxes does not mean that you won't have eternal life.
    I see what your saying. But the only thing necessary for the argument to stand is that you increase your odds without causing harm, or negative effect.

    So, unless there is some thing in choosing which negates the positive effects of not choosing, then there is no reason to not choose. Not choosing negates the positive effects of choosing, so you should choose.
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    Re: When it comes to Theist vs. Atheist debate, who is correct is what is important

    The thing is, you're not really increasing your odds by picking one of the god boxes labeled, "Believe in the existence of my god and gain eternal life in paradise!" without some sort of evidence that the label is true.

    If someone out of the blue walks up to you and says, "Believe in Zordok, the ruler of the universe, and he will give you the power of invisibility on command!" believing in Zordok doesn't really increase your chances of attaining the power of invisibility on command over some other alternate way of attaining that power unless you have some evidence beyond this guy's statement that it will.

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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 thing is, you're not really increasing your odds by picking one of the god boxes labeled, "Believe in the existence of my god and gain eternal life in paradise!" without some sort of evidence that the label is true.

    If someone out of the blue walks up to you and says, "Believe in Zordok, the ruler of the universe, and he will give you the power of invisibility on command!" believing in Zordok doesn't really increase your chances of attaining the power of invisibility on command over some other alternate way of attaining that power unless you have some evidence beyond this guy's statement that it will.
    The difference is that with Zordok, the claim is testable. Invisibility is objectively observable (or... in this case .. *not* observable), so it's quite simple: if you want invisibility, worship Zordok according to the teachings of Zordok's ordained holy ones. If you succeed in gaining the power of invisibility, then this was a true claim. If not, then you were fooled. The claim is easily verified or falsified.

    The sorts of claims made by Christians regarding these sorts of things: peace, joy, love, strength in times of trouble... these are testable on an individual level, but it's more difficult to verify the claims because they're claims made about an interior state. However, it *is* possible to observe the effects of such things in the behavior, demeanor, and life choices of a person making these claims. These are things that we, as Christians, hold in evidence to support the claims our faith makes about things we cannot verify through any objective or observable means available at our disposal upon demand. God does sometimes show Himself to people, but those who do not believe in God don't believe these accounts any more than they believe the other more easily verified claims of those claiming that it is God who gave them strength, peace, etc. They might say that it's a mistaken attribution and that you don't need God to feel good or to be morally strong... that you can "be good for goodness sake," as the Humanists like to say. It seems to me, however, that when a person makes a claim about their own interior life, they are the best source of information about the attribution that should be made as to who is responsible for it.

    There was a discussion about this some months ago, when I explained to some of the less-informed atheists here that "faith" is not simply blind belief in something without proof and despite there being evidence against the belief. If that's all that's necessary for someone to have "faith," then every single paranoid schizophrenic alive should be revered as among the holiest of us all, because the defining characteristic of their disease is that they have an unshakeable belief in something that is either demonstrably not true or cannot be either verified or falsified by conventional means. This is not what it means to have faith. Faith is, according to the Bible, the "substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." We observe that when we do the things that God has told us to do, we receive spiritual graces that improve our lives. We can directly correlate personal moral and spiritual benefit with obedience to God's will in the form of prayer, virtuous living, good deeds, and loving others. This stands, for us, as sufficient evidence that the other claims made by Jesus and the Apostles about the Kingdom of Heaven, God, and the hereafter are true, as well.

    This is functionally no different from using the scientific method to perform experiments attempting to discern the nature of a given substance and then basing conclusions upon the reactions that occur to give us more information and evidence about the qualities we can't directly observe. It's just functioning on a different plane of awareness than the physical one. The difference is that the hardcore materialists don't accept the use of intangibles such as peace, joy, faith, and hope as sufficient evidence of anything at all. We do.
    Last edited by Talthas; February 12th, 2012 at 06:30 PM.
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