Monday, September 19, 2016

Study: Now People Give Reasons For Not Trusting Atheists

Atheists remain most disliked religious minority in the U.S.

"Ten years ago University of Minnesota sociologists conducted research showing that, among a long list of racial and religious minority groups, atheists were the most disliked group of people in the United States. Last month they followed up with new research that shows that Americans still have negative opinions of atheists and the non-religious--and now they have a good theory about why that is.

Their findings are available online in the article “Atheists and Other Cultural Outsiders: Moral Boundaries and the Non-Religious in the United States” (Social Forces). The research team comprises Department of Sociology professors Penny Edgell, Douglas Hartmann, and Joseph Gerteis and graduate student Evan Stewart.

Survey data collected in 2014 shows that, compared to data collected in 2003, Americans have sharpened their negative views of atheists, despite an increase in people identifying as non-religious and an increase in public discussion of non-belief.

The findings of this most recent survey support the argument that atheists are persistent cultural outsiders in the United States because they are perceived to have rejected cultural values and practices understood as essential to private morality, civic virtue, and national identity. Moreover, any refusal to embrace a religious identity of any type is troubling for a large portion of Americans.

Forty percent of Americans view the non-religious--atheist, agnostic, no-religion, and spiritual-but-not-religious--as problematic, even though 33 percent of the survey respondents identify with those categories.

By the numbers, researchers found that:
40% of Americans disapprove of non-religion
33% of respondents fall into a broad “religious nones” category: 3.8% as atheist, 3.5% as agnostic, 7.1 % as “spiritual but not religious,” and 18.5% as “nothing in particular.”
27% of Americans say that atheists “don't share my morals or values.”
Comparing the “religious nones,” respondents had less negative views of people who say they have no religion, and feel more positively about those who are “spiritual but not religious.”

These attitudes are strongly driven by a belief that religiosity is central for civic virtue, that societal standards of right and wrong should be rooted in historic religious traditions, and that Christianity underpins American identity.

Some measures of the respondents’ attitudes show that Muslim-Americans are as distrusted, and in some cases more distrusted, than the non-religious. Analysis of these attitudes will be the subject of another paper by the same research team forthcoming later in 2016.

“There are no mainstream, cultural expressions or depictions, on television for example, to present atheism to the general public,” says Edgell. “It’s only in the last decade that a secular coalition of American atheist and non-religion organizations have gotten together. I expect that in the near future we’ll see more effort on their part to change perceptions and lobby to change policy,” regarding the role of religion in everyday life.

The survey was conducted by GFK Group, with just over 2,500 people participating."
Interesting. Atheists are trusted about the same as Muslims, now.

81 comments:

Steven Satak said...

That's a no-brainer. Many atheists come across as arrogant assholes, and with the advent of the 'militant atheist', they're pushy as well as delusional.

Muslims are more of the same, except they back their militancy with bombs and mass shootings.

Imagine folks not liking that.

Steven Satak said...
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Joe's World said...

This doesn't seem surprising. It's a bit like the pictures of cancerous tumours on cigarettes we have here in the UK. Smokers don't like to be reminded of the danger, Christians don't like to be reminded they're playing make-believe.

Not to mention that theists are notoriously credulous and will believe anything that agrees with their preconceived notions. This includes a lot of stuff about atheists that's simply wrong.

Joe's World said...
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Joe's World said...
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Stan said...

There's nothing hard to understand about Atheism and Atheists.
1. They have no grounding for their belief system, because materialism is "grounded" in material existence: self-referencing, circular, and therefore ungroundedd.

2. They consider themselves to be smarter than the Other, wiser than the Other, and more moral than they Other. This is based on their superior understanding of reality (see item 1).

3. Thus they are the elite of the world in their own minds, minds with which they do no analysis whatsoever on their own empty worldviews.

4. Having eschewed Aristotelian logic in favor of the effluent of their own minds, they do not adhere to paths normally considered logical by traditional standards.

5. That doesn't matter, because traditional standards are rejected by Atheists as they create their own standards, which standards apply only to the Other. Since their standards are self-created and self-referencing, they are not actually standards at all, but are ephemeral: as the Atheist's mood or proclivities change, the "standards" change. That is the nature of the necessary relativism which is Atheism.

5. Because of the obvious volatile nature of the Atheist's standards which are not permanent or stable, or even common to all Atheists, there is no possible way to know how the Atheist will control or direct his behaviors or beliefs at any moment.

6. Therefore, no trust can be generated, purely due to the open ended philosophy which is the necessary result of Atheism.

7. There is no reason or reasoning emanating from Atheism which can possibly engender trust. So:

8. Atheists are not trusted as a logical consequence of their worldview, which is ungrounded.

Steven Satak said...

"Theists are notoriously credulous and will believe anything that agrees with their preconceived notions". Really? And... you don't think that description applies to you? I mean, if anything has as few underpinnings in fact and as many stories wrapped around it as evolutionism, I haven't seen it, and I get around quite a bit. And yet, atheists swallow it whole without a murmur. Because it agrees with their preconceived notion of 'ain't no God'.

But let that rest. You've carefully wrapped a swipe at Christians up in what appears to be a mild statement. What I want to know is this: if some Christians have fanciful ideas of what atheists are about, is it even remotely possible that you don't actually *know* what Christianity IS? I mean, sure, some theists get it wrong - but so do some atheists. I submit that you have it wrong about several things.

I am not trying to change your mind or prove you wrong. It wouldn't matter if I did. But do answer that last question, if you can.

Steven Satak said...
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JBsptfn said...

Joe's World This doesn't seem surprising. It's a bit like the pictures of cancerous tumours on cigarettes we have here in the UK. Smokers don't like to be reminded of the danger, Christians don't like to be reminded they're playing make-believe.

Interesting. This comment reminds me of a stupid baby by the name of IMS that posted here a few months ago. He used to take childish pot-shots on here as well.

Joe's World said...

It's possible. But I'm an atheist remember, so I'm fairly certain I know exactly what religion is.

Stan said...

So just being an Atheist qualifies you to have universal knowledge of "religion", eh?

Then you "know" that there is no intelligent creating agent for the universe, the laws of physics, the necessary physical lattices of space/time on which mass/energy are hung. Then you will certainly be willing to share your evidence which you used to gain your special knowledge, right?

After all, that is the basis for religion; all the rest is just ecclesiasticism. But of course, you know that.

So let us in on your special knowledge, OK?

Joe's World said...

I suppose another reason atheists are distrusted is that they are misunderstood by theists, as Stan misunderstands them here. This lack of understanding is quite localised in the US, which is probably the only Western democracy to buck the trend of progress away from religion.

Joe's World said...

Well it's not rocket science. Humanity has a long history of inventing gods and religions. The gods of these religions share many characteristics with things that are imaginary. If these facts are accepted, and an atheistic perspective attempted, then suddenly the problems of theology (evil, predestination, divine hiddenness etc) are solved at a stroke. Atheism simply makes sense of it all. Am I 100% certain? No I am not, but that's a permanent state of existence! It's enough to say that atheism appears to be true, while theism appears on all fronts to be the creation of human minds.

JBsptfn said...

Joe,

What's with the rhetoric? You spew the same nonsense that Skeppy used to say on here. You should go to the Skeptic Zone blog on Blogspot. You would be happy there.

Stan said...

You didn't answer the question. You merely blitzed out a bunch of evidence-free assumptions which have no bearing on the question you were asked.

Answer the question.

After that we can discuss which facts about material existence are blatantly incompatible with Atheism. Apparently you haven't actually thought about this past the trivial point. So let's have a go.

First, answer the question you were asked, but ignored, OK?

Joe's World said...

Good lord JB, what could I possibly learn frequenting a blog where everyone agrees with me?

Joe's World said...

Sorry Stan I'm travelling and replies may be slightly unfocused. Which question would you like me to answer?

Steven Satak said...

They are manifestly NOT 'misunderstood' by theists. In fact, atheists are all too well understood by theists - and even other atheists - for them to be trusted. But you stay with that 'just a little more education (of the ideologically unfit?) will set everything right". And it's not localized. It's just that in the US, we still believe in standing up and blowing the BS whistle when we see it.

Phoenix said...

Joe,

Why should we trust Atheists when they have handed over their countries to muslims, after fighting Christianity for centuries?

And since you claim we don't understand Atheism, then feel free to enlighten us about this mysterious...let's call it...persuasion.

Joe's World said...

You'd have to ask those atheists Phoenix. But I wouldn't worry too much, we civilised Christianity we can civilise Islam too.

Atheism is just honesty regarding the existence of gods. They appear not to exist, so atheists don't think they do.

JBsptfn said...

You wouldn't learn anything, but you are similar to the person that runs the blog.

JBsptfn said...

How did you civilize Christianity?

Stan said...

Joe,
You are asserting the infamous Atheist Fallacy=Category Error.

First, materialism is grounded in materialism (circular).

Second, Set [Q] cannot be examined by researching only Set [V]: Category Error.

Third, Atheists are logic-dysfunctional: none of them care a whit about their own logic errors. They are 100% convinced of their own mental outputs being the latest in logical thought, regardless of what that effluent contains. That is a perq of being an Atheist, or so they think. They will never test that mental effluent against the standards of Aristotelian deductive principles, grounded in the First Principles of Thought.

Case in point: have you done so? No you have not, have you. If you think that you have, then share your deductive process with us.

Steven Satak said...

"I wouldn't worry too much, we civilised Christianity we can civilise Islam too." That's rich. What are you going to do, hold a protest when they throw a homosexual off the roof of a high building?

Let me clue you in on a fact of life: you atheists attack Christianity not because it is the most offensive to you, but because it's safe. Most Christians will shake their heads, forgive you for your sin against them, then go about their business.

The Muslim will gather his friends and either shoot you, burn you alive in a cage or cut your head off. Or he (or she) may choose to blow themselves up at a gathering of protesting Atheists.

But the real reason you don't go after them is not because you are a coward (you are). It's because, in the end, you share the same goal they do - the destruction of your own Western civilization and especially the Christians and Jews who created it.

If you think that's conspiracy thinking, you haven't been reading the news lately. Wake up, youngster. Things don't exist, statements aren't automatically true, just because you said so today.

Joe's World said...

Sure Stan, you want a deductive argument for which conclusion? Atheism? There are a few iirc. For example, gods share the characteristics of things that are imaginary. Or, the universe is exactly as we'd expect if godless. There's bound go be more but that's off the top of my head.

I don't believe I've mentioned materialism, but I don't really have to.

Stan said...

Sorry. Those are frivolous and do not work.
a. Airplanes share the characteristics of submarines: tubular to reduce friction; use movable foils to go up/down; use movable foils to steer right/left; are pressurized to preserve life inside; are highly mobile; use fins for stability; are fit for their specific environments. Yet a submarine is not an airplane and vice-versa. So your analogy fails to provide any evidence or logic for Atheism.

b. The universe contains both determinism (materialist physics) and agency (contra-materialism and contra-physics). Explain that under your Atheist aegis.

Steven Satak said...

He still won't answer the question. You called that one accurately, Stan. I don''t think he CAN do anything but feign logic and reason on this issue. He can talk around it with non-sequiturs, issue insults, auto-reject by simple denial and accuse, accuse, accuse. But that's it, that's his repetoire entire. And as we have seen, those are all tools of the ego and of emotion.

His reason is gone, for the purposes of the internet and discussing his religion.

Joe's World said...

Steven if you really think atheists don't take shots at Islam you really need to spend some time with them. I can only assume you don't as atheists are as critical of Islam as they are Christianity. This is why it's good to step outside the bubble now and again.

Which question am I not answering? Feel free to ask and I'll attempt to answer.

Joe's World said...

Stan; atheists think that the reason gods appear to be imaginary is that they are in fact imaginary. And once this is acknowledged a lot of questions are answered and problems solved. The world makes more sense from an atheistic perspective.

I can see nothing immaterial or non-deterministic in agency.

CJ said...
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CJ said...

"Humanity has a long history of inventing gods and religions. The gods of these religions share many characteristics with things that are imaginary."

Ford has a long history of building cars and trucks. Ford's cars and trucks share many characteristics with Chevies. Therefore all Fords are Chevrolets.

"suddenly the problems of theology (evil, predestination, divine hiddenness etc) are solved"

This should be entertaining. Please explain, specifically, how pretending God does not exist solves the problem of evil. (And if you really did mean to consign questions of morality to the domain of religion, well, that pretty well explains why atheists are not trusted: no religion = no morality.)

"...the reason gods appear to be imaginary is that they are in fact imaginary"

So far, Joe, the only real talent you've demonstrated in this conversation is the propensity for constructing perfect circles: Gods appear to be imaginary because they are imaginary. And we know they're imaginary because they appear to be imaginary.

I think we could pretty accurately deduce the value of pi from that argument.

Joe's World said...

CJ, the problem of evil (If a good God, why does evil exist?) only exists because of the proposition that a good God exists. Without that the question is revealed as the wrong kind of question and problem vanishes.

This isn't a circular argument, we conclude gods are imaginary because they appear to be. The alternative is to believe other than what appears true. If one values honesty in our inquiry into existence (I do, but theists seem to differ with me on this) then that position is unacceptable.

CJ said...

@Joe: "the problem of evil"

How do you know evil exists?

"We conclude gods are imaginary because they appear to be imaginary"

You *also* asserted, "The reason gods appear to be imaginary is that they are in fact imaginary.

3.141592653589793238...

Joe's World said...

I don't think evil exists in any objective sense, it's a judgement we humans make of something.

"You also asserted"

You might want to not omit the first half of that sentence guy, that's less than honest.

I'm sorry, it's still not circular to draw a conclusion from a premise.

CJ said...

The first half of that sentence was "Stan; atheists think that". Here are your two sentences in full:

A) "Stan; atheists think that the reason gods appear to be imaginary is that they are in fact imaginary."

B) "This isn't a circular argument, we conclude gods are imaginary because they appear to be."

It's a textbook circular argument.

"it's a judgment we humans make"

One cannot judge without a standard to judge against. What is your standard?

Joe's World said...

CJ, Tyou should have no problem laying out the circular syllogism here. Let's have it.

You don't think having a standard different to your own is no standard do you? That should be obviously impossible.

Joe's World said...

I don't think evil exists in any objective sense, it's a judgement we humans make of something.

"You also asserted"

You might want to not omit the first half of that sentence guy, that's less than honest.

I'm sorry, it's still not circular to draw a conclusion from a premise.

CJ said...
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CJ said...

"you should have no problem laying out the circular syllogism"

It would be a waste of time. First, the circularity of your two assertions is obvious at a dozen paces to any reasonably rational ten year old. Second, you would simply accuse me either of misparaphrasing you or, as you did with your "first half of the sentence" feint, of dishonestly omitting some (nonexistent) exculpatory context.

"You don't think having a standard..."

I said nothing of the kind. I simply asked you to define the standard by which you judge good and evil.

(First, since evil is only a problem for a subset of theistic beliefs, atheism is hardly the only possible solution. Your generalizations simply demonstrate your lack of familiarity with the variety of theistic beliefs. But that's just par for the atheistic course.)

But I'll cut to the chase: evil is far more a problem for the atheist than it is for any theist. Having denied the existence of God, you have but two options: replace God with some other objective standard, or admit morality is nothing more than personal taste. But all attempts at the former ultimately devolve to the latter in any case.

(There are actually other options: have the courage, a la Nietschze, to admit that without God good and evil don't exist; they are merely deceptions. Or borrow your morality from theism. The latter is what the vast majority of modern atheists in fact do.)

And that's why atheists aren't trusted. They are widely, and rightly, perceived as lacking any coherent foundation for morality.

Joe's World said...

CJ, yeah I didn't think you could either. In my moral standard being honest is a good thing. Your mind may vary.

I can't lay put my entire moral schema in a blog comment. But then what would be the point? By all means ask me my opinion on any moral question, I'll be only too happy to answer. As I'm an atheist you can certainly draw conclusions though. I think it's safe to say we prefer honesty over self-deception, certainly in regards to matters of religion.

Which do you consider better; a baseless good morality, or a poor morality with a solid foundation?

Joe's World said...

Apologies that reply got cut short.

I'm not sure how you can say that atheism has more of a problem with evil. With atheism there is no such problem. Whereas in theism theologians have written reams and reams trying to explain it.

The morality of atheists is based in reason. With theism it is based on authority. The latter seems the more baseless. "Because I said so" is always susceptible to the question "why?". The proper response to that question is "for these reasons". So all morality surely must be grounded in reasons, not authority.

Joe's World said...

Apologies that reply got cut short.

I'm not sure how you can say that atheism has more of a problem with evil. With atheism there is no such problem. Whereas in theism theologians have written reams and reams trying to explain it.

The morality of atheists is based in reason. With theism it is based on authority. The latter seems the more baseless. "Because I said so" is always susceptible to the question "why?". The proper response to that question is "for these reasons". So all morality surely must be grounded in reasons, not authority.

Steven Satak said...

"I don't think evil exists in any objective sense, it's a judgement we humans make of something." I think you're wrong, and furthermore, that thinking that evil is entirely subjective because you happen to find subjectivism useful to you when you want to do something shabby, is evil in action.

There. Countered. What other gems do you have? Of course, you could go do the dishes or something equally useful. But then, 'usefulness' is a subjective quality to you, isn't it? As is 'rational', 'evidence' and 'circular'.

Steven Satak said...

Again, what I want to know is this: if some Christians have fanciful ideas of what atheists are about, is it remotely possible that you don't actually *know* what Christianity IS?

You erect men of straw left and right, call them 'religious beliefs' and scoff at anyone claiming to believe in a good and wise Creator. You're full of crap. Everyone here who is not already lost, knows it. And yet, like a good atheist, you keep doubling down. No amount of 'proof' will count with you for the same reason that atheist echo chambers do not contain dissenters - you just ignore anything that is simply not Yourself. If you don't personally agree with it, it doesn't count as 'evidence'.

You're wasting my time. Goodbye.

Joe's World said...

I suppose I agree with you there Steven! But holding that evil is entirely subjective because that's what it appears to be is just honest.

Phoenix said...

Joe,

You are in the habit of question begging.

CJ, yeah I didn't think you could either. In my moral standard being honest is a good thing. Your mind may vary.

So you claim to speak and act truthfully but what exactly regarding Atheist morality is so honest? That the mind and its contents are purely physical? That all human actions are the result of previous physical events? If so, prove it. Only then can your position be considered honest.


Which do you consider better; a baseless good morality, or a poor morality with a solid foundation?

But if it is "good" then it is so because it is consistent with a moral principle therefore it cannot be baseless.

A "poor morality" would cannot also have a solid foundation since it would by definition be lacking quality.

Feel free to try again.

CJ said...

"The morality of atheists is based in reason. With theism it is based on authority. "

Wow, first a nakedly circular argument, and then two straw men. Your knowledge of theism has all the depth and breadth of an afternoon spent channel-surfing televangelists.

"Which do you consider better; a baseless good morality, or a poor morality with a solid foundation?"

Flagrantly false dichotomies aside, a "baseless good morality" is a logical incoherence. Being grounded in nothing, you have no standard by which to judge it "good". The most you can do is to declare that it comports with your personal tastes.

You claim atheism is based on reason, but the only justification you can provide for any of your assertions is because they "appear to be" true. As, for example:

"evil is entirely subjective because that's what it appears to be"

So, having asserted evil is merely a subjective judgment based on personal taste, and expressing an apparent preference for a "baseless" morality over a well-grounded one, surely you can begin to understand why atheists are trusted about as much as rapists.

Joe's World said...

Well it's a fact that gods appear to be imaginary, as they share all the characteristics imaginary things have. Atheists accept this fact while theists deny it. To believe other than what appears true must surely be self-deception. So in this sense atheists are honest.

That last question was a poor question, never mind!

Joe's World said...

You can certainly argue that we should pretend things are other than they appear. It's not a position I'd like to take (again, honesty) but I suppose it's one theists must.

That was a poor question, you're right.

Phoenix said...

Well it's a fact that gods appear to be imaginary, as they share all the characteristics imaginary things have.

First, how a deity may personally seem to you cannot be evidence against the deity, as we could apply the same rule to theists who may equally assert that the deity seem to be real. Also appearances can be deceiving, just as it appears as if the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Second, your argument smacks of personal incredulity. Because the deity seems unbelievable to you, therefore the deity does not exist.
Lastly, pointing out that you don't believe in other things which do not exist is an invalid argument, as it falls prey to straw men and false association fallacies.
For example: I don't believe in God because I also don't believe in bigfoot and santa. This begs the question against the theist's position until you can prove that God and bigfoot share the same properties and/or characteristics.

Atheists accept this fact while theists deny it. To believe other than what appears true must surely be self-deception. So in this sense atheists are honest.

False for the reasons I've given above and because what appears to be true or seem obviously true does not equate to fact or truth. In quantum physics for example, facts are often counter intuitive.

I'll go the distance and forward the KCA as evidence for God's existence.

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

The universe began to exist.

Therefore, the universe has a cause.

It's a valid deductive argument with premises that are plausibly more true than their negation. The conclusion implies the cause of the universe must be immaterial to avoid circularity and an infinite regression. The cause must also be intelligent and powerful enough to have effected the laws of nature. I'll leave it there for now as you attempt to provide your factual refutation.

CJ said...
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CJ said...

So far, you're just another garden variety atheist. You claim to be all about reason, but you speak in vague generalities; you're unable to present anything remotely resembling a disciplined rational argument; and you're unwilling to examine your own arguments in the light of Aristotelian principles. Your arguments chase their own tails. Because you have little understanding of theistic positions, you flail about at straw men. And what passes for your moral system is simply logically incoherent rambling.

Your "gods don't exist 'cause they appear to be imaginary" argument is nothing more than an appeal to personal credulity. You don't specify *which* gods you're addressing, likely because you can't be bothered to differentiate them; you don't specify which characteristics you think they share with imaginary beings, let alone present any rational argument for why *those* characteristics are determinative rather than superficial; you don't present so much as a bad argument to support your implicit assumption that "appears to be" equals "is".

In brief, you toss of a slew of unexamined assumptions which you are incapable of, or uninterested in, rationally defending.

You claim to be all about reasoning but can't present a rational thought, while holding to a rather inflated view of your own opinions which your posts do not support. All that, too, is typical of Internet atheists.

CJ said...

"I think it's safe to say we prefer honesty over self-deception"

When it comes to atheists and morality, the *only* thing it's safe to say is you can't assume anything. With no objective grounding for atheist morality, atheists are simply moral wild cards.

Which is precisely why atheists are so little trusted.

CJ said...

"Whereas in theism theologians have written reams and reams trying to explain it."

For your education, and so you won't appear quite so ignorant should you wish to discuss the issue further, the "problem of evil" is, first of all, only a problem specifically within the thread of Western theistic philosophy which assigns God the characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence.

In brief, it really is the only serious objection that has ever been raised against the existence of God, which is why so much is been written on the subject. However, that does not mean the objection has not been met.

The usual atheist claim, that the existence of evil is incompatible with an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God, is ultimately in effective.

Prolegomenally, if one defines evil as a metaphysical thing, then one could object that God, who is the creator of everything, must be the author of evil. Syllogistically, this objection might look like:

MP: God created everything.
mP: evil is a thing.
c: Therefore, God created evil.

Traditionally, however, Christian philosophers, following Aquinas, define evil not as a metaphysical being, but simply as a privation, or a deviation from the good. So this objection is ineffective. In any case, since you are on record as asserting that evil is simply a subjective human judgment, this argument is not open to you.

Understanding evil metaphysically as a privation does not forestall the other major class of objections, which hold that the existence of evil is incompatible with at least one of the Judeo-Christian God's three traditional attributes: omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence. An omniscient and omnipotent God (that is one who has both the power and the knowledge to prevent evil) who fails to prevent evil cannot, the argument goes, be omnibenevolent; and so forth.

The short answer is that an omniscient and omnipotent God who fails to prevent an evil would still be omnibenevolent if in doing so he was promoting a greater good. So the argument is ineffective unless one can demonstrate that no greater good could exist. To date, no one has managed to demonstrate it.

Thus, neither is God the author of evil nor has the existence of metaphysical evil been demonstrated to be incompatible with the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.


Joe's World said...

I'm not just saying that I find it hard to believe (though that's true). I'm saying that it is an objective fact that gods appear to be imaginary, as they have all the characteristics with nothing to oppose. That's all I would need to show to justify non-belief. It could be that gods exist yet appear not to and atheism would still be the only justified position.

The theist would only need to find one reason to think that their god or gods exist to sink my argument entirely. If I'm right there will be no good reason to think God's exist. There's been a lot of effort towards this but unfortunately every argument I've seen (I'm familiar with all the common ones) has been bad.

Take the KCA for example. The syllogism itself is not theistic, an atheist could make the same argument without hypocrisy. After the syllogism comes the ad hoc reasoning for why this cause must be their god. Ironically some of the traits they claim for this cause (timeless, spaceless) would seem to rule out it being a mind at all.

That all theistic arguments are bad is what we'd expect if they were trying to support a position that isn't true. It's what atheists expect buy it must be puzzling to the theist.

Joe's World said...

Of course there's a shorter, more obvious and more realistic answer. And that's provided by atheism.

Stan said...

Joe's World,
That is an empty statement. Under Atheism there is no evil. There exists only "is". And if you believe in determinism which is the basis for empirical scientific hypothetico-deductivism, then you also believe that all behaviors are driven by the motion of electrons in the brain and their initial conditions, which regress to the Big Bang. Thus there is neither culpability nor responsibility for ones actions or thoughts, which have no possible intellectual value or meaning, being purely derivative of initial conditions.

The simple answer then, is that nothing an Atheist says has any intellectual content, due to the necessity of material existence only, necessary material determinism, and universal entropy.

Stan said...

"ruling out a mind" is based on the assumption that minds must be material. Atheists must believe that without proof. Atheists believe a lot of things without proof, and by proof I mean actual objective knowledge which is generated by actual testing of hypothetical propositions in order to non-falsify the hypothesis in a replicable, demonstrable fashion.

Atheists make untestable, hypothetical "truth" statements all the time. For example, "all theistic arguments are bad" is merely an opinion, and is without either deductive reasoning or empirical demonstration and replication. In other words, it is a religious position based on blind belief.

And the term "non-existence" is meaningless, except under the unprovable ideology of Philosophical Materialism - which itself is ungrounded and both circular and self-referencing: non-coherent as an ideology.

Atheism leads the Atheist to believe that he is the pinnacle of the universe, the smartest, most elite of all material existence; an elitist who got his eliteness merely by denying that there is any possible greater existence than his own glorious self.

Yet the Atheist did not invent the universe of which he is the premium feature. The Atheist did not create the rational laws which describe the limitations of physical behaviors of the elements of the universe. The Atheist did not invent the overall law of entropy which describes the direction of the universe. The Atheist did not invent First Life. The Atheist did not invent himself (or even understand himself in any meaningful detail).

The Atheist-materialist believes that all which exists, including himself, is merely deterministic agglomorations of atomic particles ("star stuff"), including his brain and mind.

Except that many Atheists deny this, while affirming it via their Atheism and necessary materialism. Thus Atheism is non-coherent at its most fundamental level.

Stan said...

The statement that something "appears" a certain way to some people (a very small minority) constitutes an objective fact, is false, and is prejudicial.

An objective fact must satisfy the conditions of testability using procedures which are repeatable (experiments), and which is therefore falsifiable. It is therefore demonstrable physically to all who wish to see its validity, and its validity is always contingent upon its possible ultimate falsification by the introduction of superior tests.

The misuse of the term "objective fact" leads one into necessary suspicion of the claim being made. In this case, non-existence is claimed via "appearance", rather than any actual proof. So the claim is easily rejected on the grounds that it is both false use of a term (Fallacy of Equivocation), and is without any grounding whatsoever (circular, appeal to self-authority).

It is also a false analogy and a false equivalency.

CJ said...


"That's all I would need to show to justify non-belief."

"I believe God does not exist because I believe God appears to not exist."

Once again, begging your own question.

A) "That all theistic arguments are bad is what we'd expect if they were trying to support a position that isn't true."

B) "It could be that gods exist yet appear not to and atheism would still be the only justified position."

From A we derive the principle that all arguments in support of a false position must be bad. Because theism.

From B we derive the principle that an argument could be utterly rational even IF the position it supports is false. Because atheism.

I'm astounded (well, no, actually, I'm not) that you actually believe there was anything coherent in that.

"If I'm right there will be no good reason to think God's exist."

Except that you've already asserted that being false is not a impediment to being rational.

Phoenix said...

I'm not just saying that I find it hard to believe (though that's true). I'm saying that it is an objective fact that gods appear to be imaginary, as they have all the characteristics with nothing to oppose. That's all I would need to show to justify non-belief. It could be that gods exist yet appear not to and atheism would still be the only justified position.

You seem to have a hard time grasping the meaning of "begging the question". You have already assumed God does not exist because it is an objective fact, according to you. Those "facts" are exactly what we are searching for.

The theist would only need to find one reason to think that their god or gods exist to sink my argument entirely. If I'm right there will be no good reason to think God's exist. There's been a lot of effort towards this but unfortunately every argument I've seen (I'm familiar with all the common ones) has been bad.

I've done that already with the KCA, and your response is that it is not a theistic syllogism but could equally apply to your position, but you then fail to demonstrate that. So I am justified in dismissing your defense.

Take the KCA for example. The syllogism itself is not theistic, an atheist could make the same argument without hypocrisy. After the syllogism comes the ad hoc reasoning for why this cause must be their god. Ironically some of the traits they claim for this cause (timeless, spaceless) would seem to rule out it being a mind at all.

1. I still don't understand how the KCA is NOT a theistic argument, since it was formulated by a theist to support the existence of God.
2. It cannot be used to support Atheism, as the argument rules out a material cause for the universe.
3. Your issue that a timeless/spaceless entity would rule out the First Cause being a mind is also question begging unless you have empirical evidence that the mind is purely physical, quantifiable and has spatio-temporal properties.

That all theistic arguments are bad is what we'd expect if they were trying to support a position that isn't true. It's what atheists expect buy it must be puzzling to the theist.

The only thing I find puzzling are your bold assertions which is lacking in evidence and logic.

Joe's World said...

Not really Stan. All we'd have to do is agree a set of characteristics that imaginary objects have. See if gods have those characteristics (spoiler; they do). And then, hey presto, you agree with me.

Stan said...

So you just blow off your logical fallacies? Really? You don't care whether your "fact" has the characteristics of actual knowledge? Then: You are a one-note Atheist, I take it. You think that your idea here is necessary and sufficient to prove, logically / empirically that there is no rational, causal agent for the creation of the rational, caused universe, because you declare that to be "imaginary", rather than the necessary deduction which it is. So you reject Aristotelian deduction too. In doing that, you have declared yourself to be enamored of a single, non-rational, non-argument as the justification for your denialist worldview.

Just declaring something to be imaginary is not an argument. It is a false declaration of a non-fact. That is the irrational position of Atheists who declare that human agency is imaginary, consciousness is imaginary, intellect is imaginary, and non-determinism is imaginary. All of which exist, of course, but cannot be measured, weighed or seen, except as deduced through their effects.

Perhaps you agree with those positions as well. I would imagine so.

Here's something imaginary which is an accepted tenet of physics: the "strong force" which keeps the internal components of the proton from being broken out and observed. Both the proton components and the strong force are not provable; they are imaginary. Yet they are deduced, and accepted by deduction. Since you reject deduction, that would make you anti-science.

CJ said...

"All we'd have to do is agree a set of characteristics that imaginary objects have."

We've been waiting, oh, about a week now for you to present this argument. You have stubbornly refused to do so.

So, what characteristics do an imaginary coelacanth, an imaginary law and an imaginary Boson particle share with, say, Ishvara and Yuan-shih T'ien-tsun?

Be specific, now. And *please* don't say, "They're imaginary". That'd be real disappointing.

"And then, hey presto, you agree with me."

Not at all. You'd still have to make the argument that whatever hypothetical shared characteristics you propose are determinative. Pointing out that my Ford Festiva and Barack Obama are both black doesn't justify claiming my car is president of the United astates.

Put up or shut up. Claiming gods share characteristics with imaginary objects is easy. Proving it, not so much. So prove it.

Phoenix said...

Here's something imaginary which is an accepted tenet of physics: the "strong force" which keeps the internal components of the proton from being broken out and observed. Both the proton components and the strong force are not provable; they are imaginary. Yet they are deduced, and accepted by deduction. Since you reject deduction, that would make you anti-science.

Joe,

Have you read that? Do have any of your "objective facts" at your disposal right now? Because they sure could come in handy.

CJ said...

Aw, shucks. Looks like Joe has gone away.

Joe's World said...

Happy to admit you are correct CJ (this might not happen a lot but here's hoping), I've just spent a lovely week narrow-boating around the canals of Yorkshire. Now give me a second here...

Joe's World said...

No Stan I need make no reference to knowledge, however that is defined. My point hinges upon appearance not knowledge.

If something has all the characteristics of being imaginary, and none of the characteristics of objective entities then that thing appears to be imaginary.

That's all atheists need. They don't need to "prove" gods are imaginary. All they need to do to maintain their intellectual integrity is to notice and accept this fact. And that's what they do. Atheism is driven, in most cases I'm sure, by honesty.

I don't think that agency/consciousness/intellect are imaginary as they have characteristics of things which actually exist. I don't include non-determinism in that because, as a determinist, I have no idea what that could possibly be.

The strong force and quantum components are measurable objective entities that we derive those concepts from. Surely this is the very definition of objective and not imaginary.

Stan said...

”No Stan I need make no reference to knowledge, however that is defined. My point hinges upon appearance not knowledge.

That explains a lot. Relying on appearance and rejecting substance is pure folly. I can’t think of a gentler way to say that. But I must say, it is interesting that you choose to believe a certain way in the certain knowledge that you cannot prove your beliefs in any manner: using neither logical deduction, nor material evidence. Your belief system is consciously derived from "appearance", with no need for either premises or evidence to support it. Usually Atheists claim to have both logic and evidence (which they never produce, of course). But you take the shorter route, and require neither for your own Atheism.

”If something has all the characteristics of being imaginary, and none of the characteristics of objective entities then that thing appears to be imaginary.”

Yet Atheists accept evolution, which has no objective characteristics or proofs: it’s all stories. So Atheism is not consistent, and is internally contradictory. Further, your use of “objective” below is false.

”That's all atheists need. They don't need to "prove" gods are imaginary. All they need to do to maintain their intellectual integrity is to notice and accept this fact. And that's what they do. Atheism is driven, in most cases I'm sure, by honesty.”

It has been shown, objectively, that Atheism is driven by the emotional process of rejectionism. You demonstrate that quite nicely here, by rejecting knowledge in favor of pure appearance – AND you claim that to be a form of “intellectual integrity” and somehow related to “honesty”. The fact is that your rejectionism is absolutely necessary, because you cannot produce the intellectually honest deductive argument necessary for a substantive case in your favor. And you believe that your argument cannot be defeated because it has no substance which can be attacked; but that very lack of substance falsifies your claim of being driven by “intellectual integrity” and “honesty”. The falseness of that claim is totally transparent.

”I don't think that agency/consciousness/intellect are imaginary as they have characteristics of things which actually exist. I don't include non-determinism in that because, as a determinist, I have no idea what that could possibly be.”

Stan said...

Agency, consciousness and intellect are known purely by their effects, not by any direct observation of any lumps of material existence called “agency”, “consciousness”, or “intellect”. By virtue of your own definition (you know, the one which doesn’t exist) these are non-material, invisible, massless, dimensionless, with all the characteristics of being imaginary. So you have contradicted your own rules again.

And being a determinist, where all events are being predetermined by a) historical preconditioning and b) the initial conditions of the electrons in the brain’s neurons, then your thoughts are not those of an agent with an intellect, your thoughts are those of a predetermined, preprogrammed robot which cannot escape determinism as totally causal.

”The strong force and quantum components are measurable objective entities that we derive those concepts from. Surely this is the very definition of objective and not imaginary.”

The strong force is definitely not measurable; it only exists in the minds of those who believe that the proton must have subparticles which cannot be split out or observed because of the mysterious “strong force” keeping them inside the proton. Both the proton subparticles and the strong force are purely imaginary; they cannot be detected to confirm their existence, and for that reason they cannot be measured. Thus they are not objective entities.

The quantum field is the generator of quantum mechanics. It cannot be seen, measured, observed or confirmed to exist; it has dimensionless, massless and unobservable, therefore it is imaginary, in your system of designation.

So there is quite a bit of confusion in the principles which you say underlie your Atheism.

The confusion arises because you still have not defined the characteristics and limits of "imaginary". This allows you to claim some non-material and materially unprovable existences to be imaginary, while others, in your estimation, are actually "objective entities", while not passing the probable criteria for discriminating against "imaginary". This is a property of the Fallacy of Equivocation as well as the Existential Fallacy, and yet because you have not given your specification of "imaginary" characteristics and boundaries, those logic fallacies seems unimportant to you.

The observation, then, is that you have a closed, undefined, double fallacy hypothesis, which has contrary evidence as well as logic fallacies against it, but which satisfies you that it is valid.

Is that not right? If not, why not?

Joe's World said...

I'm sure I've already stated the deduction but here it is;

Things that are imaginary have (or don't have) certain characteristics.

Gods match all these characteristics.

Therefore...

It's a logical deduction that gods are imaginary, and a reasonable belief to hold because of this. Evidence of these propositions comprises almost all of recorded history and everything we've ever seen of the universe (pretty much everything really).

Let's not do evolution it's so boring. For the theist evolution is discovered from God's creation, to deny it is to deny God's creation. The usual motivation is that theists have made an idol of a book, raising it above God's direct creation itself. This is what happens when one values faith over truth, and stands as the best example of the dishonesty of theism.

Joe's World said...

CJ you're actually the first person to ask the right question! What characteristics do imaginary things have that objective things do not?
To be fair, why don't you tell me what characteristics you think imaginary things have? Stan has already alluded to some things above (...cannot be measured, weighed or seen...), but what would you list?

Joe's World said...

I've no idea why you think I've already assumed gods don't exist. If I can figure out where you misunderstand I'll attempt to explain again. The conclusion that gods appear to be imaginary is drawn from premises which I'm sure I've stated above somewhere.

The KCA is non-theistic in its syllogism (ending at the universe having a cause). This part of the argument could easily be made by an atheist and gets the theist no closer to a successful case.
The second half of the argument is where the theist tries to make the case that this cause is their god. But their reasoning is ad hoc and unconvincing. Their conclusion (that it is a mind) seems unwarranted as every mind we see occupies a physical matrix (so spatial) and allows for reasoning (a temporal process).

Stan said...

"Things that are imaginary have (or don't have) certain characteristics.

Gods match all these characteristics."


Joe, Unless you list the exact characteristics, then you have made an ungrounded, incomplete assertion, not a deduction. In fact, it is an imaginary deduction.

You are making a claim where you imagine that there are metrics which can be made. But despite all the time here spent making the same assertion again and again, you have done nothing to support your assertion, except to claim that it is a deduction (which it is not).

Your assertion is declared to be true, just because you say so. Fallacy: circular, ungrounded, self-referencing; Fallacy: Appeal to Authority (Joe).

Until you provide metrics which are congruent with either undisputable evidence, or the First Principles, you have merely made a statement which cannot be verified or validated.

You even placed the responsibility on others, and have in effect refused to take the intellectual responsibility yourself to form a complete, coherent argument.

So at this point it is necessary to conclude that you cannot support your statement with sufficient information to make it into a complete, coherent argument.

Your secret metrics are alone sufficient to reject your assertion.

Stan said...

"For the theist evolution is discovered from God's creation, to deny it is to deny God's creation. The usual motivation is that theists have made an idol of a book, raising it above God's direct creation itself. This is what happens when one values faith over truth, and stands as the best example of the dishonesty of theism."

This is an example of another assertion which might be worth considering IFF there were a single scrap of evidence which supports it. But there is not. Evolution has no material evidence. Evolution is a vast collection of inferences, opinions, and science-fiction fantasies as has been proven time and again. The sole evidence is for fossils which are stacked in a manner which prejudicial inferences demand, but ignore the lack of evidentiary support for that. There is zero material evidence for evolution, and there is every rational reason to observe that its claims are prejudicial and false. It is especially intellectually egregious to use evolution as a supposed example of intellectual superiority to any other human thought process, because evolution makes the fantastic claims which involve impossible transitions of deterministic, lifeless minerals into hugely complex, information driven cellular life, and thence into multicellular sexual reproduction, mind, agency and rational discrimination against false claims. To believe in this fantasy is the definition of irrationality. The irrationality is necessary in order to accept evolution as the creation story of Atheism; and Atheism itself is the poster child for unprovable assertions which cannot be leveraged into actual valid deductions on the one hand, and which has zero falsifiable evidence on the other hand. So between Atheism and evolution, there is no evidence to support either ideology, much less both. And there is no grounded deduction which passes Reductio Ad Absurdum to support either ideology, either. So there is no rational case to be made, except by secret premises, such as your unstated metrics.

There is no irrationality as onerous as the Atheist self-righteous irrationality. There is no ideology which is as deadly, bloody and murderous as Atheists have the historical prize for their amoral oppression of mankind under their auspices.

Stan said...

Atheists cannot make an argument for a cause for the universe, unless it is a deterministic, non-rational and non-agent cause which created, ex nihilo, a rational universe, with rational principles for the operation of mass/energy, OR which came from a permanent infinite universes fantasy. Neither of the Atheist positions explain the facts, because they are fantasies which are not congruent with any observations.

the observation of a rational, created universe is congruent with a rational, intentional, agent causation, not with any other attempt to explain.

Both an accidental, random, ex nihilo creation of an intelligible universe, AND an unobservable permanent system of infinite universes where one more just popped up, are not congruent with observable facts.

There are probably more materialist, Atheist conjectures, but none is likely to satisfy the observed characteristics of the universe.

Stan said...

"Their conclusion (that it is a mind) seems unwarranted as every mind we see occupies a physical matrix (so spatial) and allows for reasoning (a temporal process)."

What size and weight is your mind, then? Not your brain, just your mind. If it occupies space, then it must have dimensions and mass.

If by temporal, you mean sequentially limited, how do you explain sudden inspiration? For the sudden acquisition of a fully formed thought you will have to rely on some concept of background processing, which you cannot prove, but must believe on faith. Perhaps you have not had such an occurrence, and therefore wish to deny that it happens... but you cannot rationally make claims for others internal processes, so that fails.

In fact, because you cannot make claims for the internal experiences of others, you cannot rationally deny any experiences which are not your own, including experiences which do not comport with deterministic, Materialistic claims for limitations which you cannot prove exist.

Should I make such a claim, your only response can be that 'such an experience is a false impression resulting from a malfunction in the mind/brain' - yet another claim which you cannot prove, but must believe without any actual evidence.

There is just one reason for maintaining such irrational beliefs: fear of losing the desired, but rationalized, ideological answer/necessary conclusion - which is that the Atheist is the highest form of agency ever to exist (with emphasis on the "ever").

That leads immediately to personal elitism, but is based on fallacious thought processing. So such elitism is vaporous and must be constantly refreshed or it is lost, because it is not real. There is no extra knowledge conferred by asserting those three words, "ain't no God". There is, however, a reduction of worldview into one which must be supported by irrational rationalizations, because there is zero empirical evidence and zero valid logic which supports it.

In other words, Atheism is a net loss of rational conceptualization.

Joe's World said...

Well Stan, what characteristics do imaginary/subjective/internal things have that exernal/objective things do not, and what do they not have? How would we distinguish the two? Please don't assume my attempt to get you guys to think about it yourself is an attempt to avoid the question. I have a list, some of which I already know you agree with. But what do you think?

Stan said...

I think you should support your position with either or both deductive logic and/or material, empirical evidence.

Otherwise, you have said nothing which has any content. And further, you have had every opportunity to do so, and yet have not done so. That means just this: you are playing games, not engaging in meaningful, constructive interplay of ideas.

In other words, you are wasting my time. Either make your case, or don't expect any response here. It is clear that you actually have no case, or you would make it obvious that you have actual points to make.

CJ said...

"Things that are imaginary have (or don't have) certain characteristics.
Gods match all these characteristics.
Therefore... It's a logical deduction that gods are imaginary"


You return to continue your game of pretending to have a rational argument while refusing to present it.

This argument is neither valid nor sound. Even were we to accept the premises, the conclusion does not follow.

But the premises, of course, are complete nonsense. Nonsense not as in not true (though they are), but as in cannot be rationally examined because they lack logical coherence.

"To be fair, why don't you tell me what characteristics you think imaginary things have?"

GUFFAW! That's about as naked a fishing expedition as I've ever seen. You showed up here more than three weeks ago claiming gods are imaginary because they share all the characteristics of imaginary things. Now, having ignored repeated challenges to give some semblance of substance to your arguments by naming those characteristics, when I nail you to the wall you you try to sucker me into doing your work for you.

Nope. Ain't gonna happen. It's YOUR argument, Joe. And it's blatantly obvious you've never developed that argument past the point of bare assertion, or you would have told us what "characteristics" you were talking about weeks ago. You haven't because you can't. You can't because you've simply never even considered the question.

"Please don't assume my attempt to get you guys to think about it yourself is an attempt to avoid the question."

It's not an assumption, it's a logical deduction. Stop dancing around the fact that you have no argument, present your list of characteristics and we'll examine them.

Here is a characteristic of imaginary things: they are imaginary. So go ahead, prove "all gods" share that characteristic.

And my question still awaits an answer: what characteristics do Yuan-shih T'ien-tsun, Ishvara and Ba'al share with imaginary things?

CJ said...

I still don't understand how the KCA is NOT a theistic argument

To be a bit fair to Joe, in the sense that the Kalaam only gets as far as "the universe has a cause" and not all the way to "that cause is God", it isn't an explicitly theistic argument. Even an atheist could, at first flush, embrace the assertion, "The universe has a cause".

Unfortunately for Joe, when placed in context with Aristotelian act and potency or Thomistic contingency and necessity, as soon as we begin asking questions about the nature of that cause, it very quickly becomes clear it isn't going to be anything a deterministic materialist (I.e., an atheist) could be comfortable with.