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  1. #1
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    Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Someone put it quite aptly: "If you can't show it, you don't know it".

    The general idea is that, since it's in our interests to believe things which are true, then belief in claims which have not been demonstrated to be true is not rationally justified.

    We operate on certain standards of evidence which have been demonstrably proven to be the most reliable method available to us currently when determining what is true or what to believe (to varying degrees of certainty, of course). Further, it has also been demonstrably proven that not applying or disregarding these standards leads to results which are incompatible with the truth.

    Using faith instead of these standards, is one such example of a method that provides results which are demonstrably incompatible with the truth.

    If our goal is to have as accurate an understanding of reality/truth as possible (by believing as many true things, and as few false things, as possible), then by definition we must apply the same proven standards to all claims when deciding what to believe in order for our belief/knowledge to be rationally justified.

    Disregarding those standards in order to believe something which does not meet them is nothing more than special pleading and intellectual dishonesty.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    Using faith instead of these standards, is one such example of a method that provides results which are demonstrably incompatible with the truth.
    Can you define what you mean by the term "faith"?

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    We operate on certain standards of evidence which have been demonstrably proven to be the most reliable method available to us currently when determining what is true or what to believe (to varying degrees of certainty, of course).
    Which standards of evidence are you speaking of?

  3. #3
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    Can you define what you mean by the term "faith"?
    Belief in something without evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    Which standards of evidence are you speaking of?
    There are quite a lot, but for the most part, they're the same kind of standards all of us use every day in every other (non-faithful) endeavour we undertake when we need to be sure about something.

  4. #4
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    Belief in something without evidence.
    One way to work today, I was at a stoplight with a red car in front of me. I believe that there was a red car in front of me and yet I have no evidence that it was there. So my belief that there was a red car at the stoplight technically qualifies as "faith", right? But is it irrational for me to have faith that there was a red car?

  5. #5
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    This isn't really a response, I'm simply pointing out the incompatibility of your statements.

    Statement 1:
    There was a red car in front of me.

    Statement 2:
    I believe that there was a red car in front of me but I have no evidence.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    This isn't really a response, I'm simply pointing out the incompatibility of your statements.

    Statement 1:
    There was a red car in front of me.

    Statement 2:
    I believe that there was a red car in front of me but I have no evidence.
    How are those statements incompatible?

    Are you saying that because there really was a red car in front of me, my belief that there was a red car isn't actually a belief? One can only "believe" things that aren't true?

  7. #7
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    How are those statements incompatible?
    You're the one saying that there was a red car, and you are making a statement of fact. On what basis do you make that statement, and why should I believe you that there really was a red car there, especially if you say that you don't have any evidence that there was?
    Either there really was a red car there, and its presence there provided you with the necessary evidence to be able to say that it was there, in which case your statement that you believe it was there without evidence is nonsense. Or, conversely, there really wasn't a red car there, and you simply started to believe there was one out of the blue and without evidence, in which case your statement that there was a red car there is nonsense. Hence the two statements made together are incompatible.

    ---------- Post added at 03:09 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:57 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    Can you define what you mean by the term "faith"?
    I answered too quickly. The full definition - it really goes without saying - should be expressed as "belief in something without sufficient evidence".
    Some other definitions would work as well, since they encompass the same general idea:
    - "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof"
    - "firm belief in something for which there is no proof"
    - "belief that is not based on proof"
    - "strong or unshakable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence"

  8. #8
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    You're the one saying that there was a red car, and you are making a statement of fact. On what basis do you make that statement, and why should I believe you that there really was a red car there, especially if you say that you don't have any evidence that there was?
    Either there really was a red car there, and its presence there provided you with the necessary evidence to be able to say that it was there, in which case your statement that you believe it was there without evidence is nonsense.
    Okay. Here's the miscommunication (and this is what I was trying to iron out). I consider "evidence" to be something that one can show someone else. If I had taken a picture of the car, THEN I would have evidence that the car was there. Since I didn't take a picture, all I have to rely on for thinking the car was there is my memory. I don't consider that to be evidence even if the car was actually there.

    So I think you need to provide a definition of "evidence".

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Okay. Here's the miscommunication (and this is what I was trying to iron out). I consider "evidence" to be something that one can show someone else. If I had taken a picture of the car, THEN I would have evidence that the car was there. Since I didn't take a picture, all I have to rely on for thinking the car was there is my memory. I don't consider that to be evidence even if the car was actually there.
    In your original post, I'm not the one who believes the car was there, you are, so the evidence is for you, not me. If you say you saw a car, then that's what you should say, and that's your evidence for your belief that there was a car there. Hence you saying you don't have evidence for your belief being incompatible with you saying that there was a car.
    For me to then believe you that there was a car there, the evidence is that you say you saw a car. There isn't a sufficient reason for me to question your claim that you saw a car, since the claim is somewhat mundane, and I have no reason to think you'd lie about it.

    But again, if all you say is that you simply believe there was a car and have no evidence for your belief, then this is incompatible with your making the statement that there was a car.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    I may be missing something here, but, with all else being equal, how is "seeing" a red car in front of you not count as strong evidence that there is a red car in front of you?
    If one limits the definition of "evidence" to that which one can tangibly show someone else and I can't show someone else that I saw a red car, then me seeing the red car does not qualify as evidence.

    Conversely, if we do count just seeing a red car as evidence that there was a red car there, then someone seeing God (or having some kind of direct experience with God) would count as evidence for God's existence.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    Again, I'm not interested in playing games, Mican. You yourself use certain standards of evidence every day. For example, when you hear about another person claiming they were abducted by aliens, you don't just go believing them based on the insufficient evidence provided. You know exactly what it means for evidence to be sufficient.
    Does it not stand to reason that people have different standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence? Or are you suggesting that everyone has the same standard?

    If you agree that people can have different standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence, that means that it is likewise possible that the people discussing this topic with you might have a different standard. If this is the case, and the people discussing the topic with you are using the same terms but with different definitions, then nothing is actually accomplished.

    You are being asked to clarify what you mean. You supposedly opened this topic to convince others that what you wrote was true. This means the burden is on you to persuade, and if you aren't willing to help others understand what you mean, then your argument won't be very persuasive. Anyone can post what they believe to be true, but if you want to actually persuade others to change their views or understand yours better, you're going to want to actually engage and make an effort to communicate your viewpoint well. If you didn't want to actually discuss this, then why did you post here?

  12. #12
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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    Does it not stand to reason that people have different standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence? Or are you suggesting that everyone has the same standard?
    Sure, people could have different standards based on varying experiences, but again, if the goal is to have as accurate an understanding of reality as possible, then it's safe to say that there is a set of standards which will best achieve that goal. You do care whether what you believe is true, don't you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    If you agree that people can have different standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence, that means that it is likewise possible that the people discussing this topic with you might have a different standard.
    What's important is that we use the standards which have been demonstrably showed to be reliable pathways to truth. Faith is not a reliable pathway to truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    You are being asked to clarify what you mean. You supposedly opened this topic to convince others that what you wrote was true.
    Is it not true that the use of standards which have not been demonstrably showed to be reliable pathways to truth are not standards which should be used in order to lead to the truth? As already stated, it's not rocket science, it really isn't. We can take the simple standard of consistency as an example, which is that similar criteria should be applied when considering similar claims. When someone is met with a theistic claim for which the only evidence is other theists' assertions of truth, then they would not be rationally justified in accepting that claim, since they would then have to accept other theistic claims which may contradict the first. A child who accepts their parents' theistic claims (such as the existence of a deity and an afterlife), and later grows up to deny other different theistic claims is not rationally justified in doing so.

    The point is that a theist is not rationally justified in continuing to believe in theistic claims which have not met their burden of proof, the same kind of burden which that same theist applies to all other theistic claims with similarly insufficient evidence. The question really is, "What do you believe, and why?" This is the basis for the kind of rational skepticism which has been proven to be a reliable pathway to truth, whereas faith has not. This, and other questions like, "Do I care whether what I believe is demonstrably true?", should be considered by everyone, theists and atheists alike, on a regular basis.

    So, Freund, what do you believe, and most importantly, why? And do you care whether what you believe is true?

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    We can take the simple standard of consistency as an example, which is that similar criteria should be applied when considering similar claims. When someone is met with a theistic claim for which the only evidence is other theists' assertions of truth, then they would not be rationally justified in accepting that claim, since they would then have to accept other theistic claims which may contradict the first. A child who accepts their parents' theistic claims (such as the existence of a deity and an afterlife), and later grows up to deny other different theistic claims is not rationally justified in doing so.
    ?
    This is a valid point. I have looked at a number of religions and what they usually have in common is the same type of evidence for their claims. To believe any particular religion, one would have to believe most religions were true if they were being consistent in their beliefs. Since most religions are mutually exclusive, this sets up a logical dilemma.

    ---------- Post added at 05:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:25 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    My goal is to adhere to that standard and likewise only reply to your comments that adhere to that standard.

    So if you want to debate, let's debate.
    Touch down for ODN !!
    (applause in the background)

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    This is a valid point. I have looked at a number of religions and what they usually have in common is the same type of evidence for their claims. To believe any particular religion, one would have to believe most religions were true if they were being consistent in their beliefs. Since most religions are mutually exclusive, this sets up a logical dilemma.
    Add to that the fact that theists not only reject other theistic claims, but also inherently make the positive assertion they are not true (something that theists often accuse atheists of, claiming that there is no god), and you have the mess we see in the world today. It's a shame theists don't have the intellectual honesty to apply the same rational skepticism to their own unsupported beliefs that they do every other claim they encounter. I truly believe the world would be a better place if that would happen, but as long as irrational theistic beliefs continue to get a free pass in avoiding rational discourse, this is very unlikely to change in the near future.

    ---------- Post added at 11:23 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:11 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    Therefore you need to answer the questions I posed above: What are the standards of evidence to which you are referring, and why should they be considered as the most "reliable pathways to truth"?
    They are demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality. When you have a method which provides repeatable optimal results, then it is considered reliable. I already gave you an example of a standard, consistency. So when a theist believes in a specific claim of an afterlife, they are not being consistent, since there are other equally valid claims which the theist should then also believe. Another standard is proportionality, that the evidence must be proportional to the claim. Believing someone's claim that they met their colleague in the street yesterday is not the same as believing a claim that they met someone confirmed to have been dead. Again, it's not rocket science. We do it every single day. Except when it comes to someone's specific theistic beliefs that they more-often-than-not arbitrarily began to accept as true, then all of a sudden the same standards go out the window. This is really just an exercise in getting theists to honestly consider their own rational thought processes which they apply every day to everything but their theistic beliefs.

    What do you believe, and why? How confident are you that it's true (scale of 1-10, for example)? On what do you base that confidence?

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    Sure, people could have different standards based on varying experiences, but again, if the goal is to have as accurate an understanding of reality as possible, then it's safe to say that there is a set of standards which will best achieve that goal. You do care whether what you believe is true, don't you?
    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    What's important is that we use the standards which have been demonstrably showed to be reliable pathways to truth. Faith is not a reliable pathway to truth.
    What are those standards and where did they originate?

    I would tend to agree with you that faith, according to your definition ("Belief in something without evidence."), is not a reliable method for determining what is or isn't true. That isn't really the issue.

    The issue is your definition of evidence. You agreed with me above ("Sure, people could have different standards based on varying experiences...") that people have different standards for what is considered sufficient evidence for a belief. This means that very few people would have what you call "faith". To clarify, if they have any evidence for their belief, regardless of its soundness or validity, it is no longer considered faith under your definition and their belief can be considered rationally justified.

    This means that the actual topic of debate here is what classifies as "sufficient evidence". Therefore you need to answer the questions I posed above: What are the standards of evidence to which you are referring, and why should they be considered as the most "reliable pathways to truth"?

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    They are demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality.
    So far we have consistency and proportionality. Can you explain why we should believe that these (and other methods yet to be named) are "demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality"?

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    So far we have consistency and proportionality. Can you explain why we should believe that these (and other methods yet to be named) are "demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality"?
    Dude, not only did I provide a specific example of how each would be used in real life, but I also explained how even you yourself use them. The demonstration is their continued reliability in producing accurate results. Do you believe in Santa Claus? Again, this really is just an exercise in considering your own rational thought processes which you apply every day to everything but your theistic beliefs.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    Dude, not only did I provide a specific example of how each would be used in real life, but I also explained how even you yourself use them.
    I'm struggling to understand your examples due to their lack of clarity or coherency, which is why I asked if you could explain why we should believe these methods are "demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality".

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by Freund View Post
    I'm struggling to understand your examples due to their lack of clarity or coherency, which is why I asked if you could explain why we should believe these methods are "demonstrably the most reliable methods of accurately describing reality".
    Freund, I've given you specific examples, which even which apply to the same kind of rational thought processes you use every day. Again, do you believe in Santa Claus? This is just one example. If you don't, then you need to explain why you don't, while at the same time believing in claims which have the same lack of rational justification. Simply pretending you don't know what's going on with the examples when they're precisely what you do yourself every day, and pretending that you don't know why the standards you use every day in every other endeavour are demonstrably reliable is intellectually dishonest.

    If you are not prepared to honestly engage in a discussion about what you believe and why, then don't bother participating.

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    Re: Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy
    Freund, I've given you specific examples, which even which apply to the same kind of rational thought processes you use every day. Again, do you believe in Santa Claus? This is just one example. If you don't, then you need to explain why you don't, while at the same time believing in claims which have the same lack of rational justification. Simply pretending you don't know what's going on with the examples when they're precisely what you do yourself every day, and pretending that you don't know why the standards you use every day in every other endeavour are demonstrably reliable is intellectually dishonest.
    Ok, let's tackle Santa Claus.

    How does consistency help us to determine the truth about the existence of Santa Claus? How do we know it is the most accurate or reliable method?

    How does proportionality help us to determine the truth about the existence of Santa Claus? How do we know it is the most accurate or reliable method?

 

 
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