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  #1  
Unread 20th January 2009, 08:54 AM
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Establishing a default position on Deity

Hiya!

It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.
It can also be said that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence against the existence of Deity, there is none. The only problem with saying this is that it's a negative argument, and makes as much sense as saying there is no proof against the existence of gold dubloons buried under my house.

Given this, one must establish what's called a default position, ie: Which option is more likely to be the correct one in the face of little or no information. The most common method of doing this is an application of Occam's Razor based on the complexity of the argument postulated vs the alternative, and this is the method I used to arrive at atheism. But there is apparent contention for this position, since atheism is a minority position in the world. :-) So I ask this:

How have y'all arrived at the default position that Deity exists?
extra credit: How did you arrive at the default position that Deity is a Christian God?

If you're interested in my logic against Deity, ask and I'll post it, but it seemed to me that such was superfluous to the objective of this thread.

note: This is my first post in this particular forum, how far can I take this debate? My objective is to learn, I like to have my ideas challenged, but I can get aggressive in doing so and the 'mood' of this forum seems different than the others I participate in.
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  #2  
Unread 20th January 2009, 09:11 AM
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How about this?
You mention observational data...
How about the fact that no two posters ever see eye to eye on anything in these forums. I, at times, even disagree with myself on subjects when writing. (lousy editing...what can I say?)

Then I look at the bible...which is rich with literary devices all throughout it. Symbolisms and metaphors again throughout. But all forty plus authors over a span of 1500 years writing a total of 66 books all agree perfectly. First with the foretelling of the messiah and what he would do to the culmination of the foretelling by the messiah showing up precisely when He was supposed to and did all of the things (over 1000) that He was to perform.

When something is an exception to the rule...ya gotta pay attention. Somebody might be trying to tell you something.
  #3  
Unread 20th January 2009, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDB View Post
How about this?
You mention observational data...
How about the fact that no two posters ever see eye to eye on anything in these forums. I, at times, even disagree with myself on subjects when writing. (lousy editing...what can I say?)

Then I look at the bible...which is rich with literary devices all throughout it. Symbolisms and metaphors again throughout. But all forty plus authors over a span of 1500 years writing a total of 66 books all agree perfectly. First with the foretelling of the messiah and what he would do to the culmination of the foretelling by the messiah showing up precisely when He was supposed to and did all of the things (over 1000) that He was to perform.

When something is an exception to the rule...ya gotta pay attention. Somebody might be trying to tell you something.

There are several refutations to this. The first is that the bible is not perfectly homogeneous with itself, it's got a number of self contradictions in it:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...adictions.html

This is a list of some of them.

Second, the bible has been through several revisions in it's history, and specific to this issue is the translation between languages. Language is an interesting thing, and taking a block of text from one to the other is more an art than a science, therefore, when translating the bible's text multiple times, it's feasible that some of the more significant contradictions between the text had been resolved.

Further, many of the people who performed the translations were lifetime biblical scholars. Usually monks who spent their lives studying the bible and so had already formed an overall opinion about it's content and statements. Due to the imprecise nature of translating from hebrew to greek to latin to english (I think the bible skipped old and middle english and went straight to modern, right?), there's plenty of chances for translator bias to smooth the edges, whether conciously or unconciously when choosing words with vague meanings.

And finally, if I were to apply your proposal to other texts, I'd get a whole host of books that fit the bill as inspired by the divine. Take, for instance the series by Anne McCaffrey that started with 'The Ship Who Sang'. This series was written by several authors, many of which worked on the same book as well as wrote entire parts of the books by themselves, the authors are: Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, Mercedes Lackey, S.M. Sterling, and Jody Lynn Nye. The series was written over the period of a decade or so, and while you can pick out the books that were written by entirely different authors (same with the bible, you can see differences in writing style, even through the retranslations), the concepts within them mesh extremely well.
  #4  
Unread 20th January 2009, 10:08 AM
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One problem with your books...
They aren't predicting the future...perfectly. The Bible does...and the last prophesy of Jesus' coming is roughly 600 years before He came...finalizing the completion of over 1,000 details of Jesus' life and ministry. Everything from the Jews losing the right to exercise capital punishment when Jesus was born to Judas' betrayal were all detailed. There are predictions in the Bible that even detail the hour in which things would occur.
We look today at the predictions man has of the future and we laugh histerically at them. They usually are so far from the truth it is ridiculous.
  #5  
Unread 20th January 2009, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDB View Post
One problem with your books...
They aren't predicting the future...perfectly. The Bible does...and the last prophesy of Jesus' coming is roughly 600 years before He came...finalizing the completion of over 1,000 details of Jesus' life and ministry. Everything from the Jews losing the right to exercise capital punishment when Jesus was born to Judas' betrayal were all detailed. There are predictions in the Bible that even detail the hour in which things would occur.
We look today at the predictions man has of the future and we laugh hysterically at them. They usually are so far from the truth it is ridiculous.
Then we can move on to Star Trek. It predicted the cellphone, as well as a variety of other technologies. The problem here is that I don't know the verses you're describing, or the actual facts supporting your claim. Care to provide them so I can do my end of the footwork?
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Unread 20th January 2009, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
Hiya!

It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.
It can also be said that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence against the existence of Deity, there is none. The only problem with saying this is that it's a negative argument, and makes as much sense as saying there is no proof against the existence of gold dubloons buried under my house.

Given this, one must establish what's called a default position, ie: Which option is more likely to be the correct one in the face of little or no information. The most common method of doing this is an application of Occam's Razor based on the complexity of the argument postulated vs the alternative, and this is the method I used to arrive at atheism. But there is apparent contention for this position, since atheism is a minority position in the world. :-) So I ask this:

How have y'all arrived at the default position that Deity exists?
extra credit: How did you arrive at the default position that Deity is a Christian God?

If you're interested in my logic against Deity, ask and I'll post it, but it seemed to me that such was superfluous to the objective of this thread.

note: This is my first post in this particular forum, how far can I take this debate? My objective is to learn, I like to have my ideas challenged, but I can get aggressive in doing so and the 'mood' of this forum seems different than the others I participate in.
The reason deism is the default position for most is that we come into this world acknowledging that everything seems to have a purpose and that every cause has an agent behind it.

We have bagged lunches at school cause our moms prepared them that morning and packed them for us. We live in a house that men built out of wood they cut and brick they formed. We turn the ignition in our cars and they start up.

It takes quite a bit of working and reasoning to come to the conclusion that something (like the universe for instance) can come about without purpose or without an agent of cause. Atheism isn't and shouldn't be a default position, it's something that one has to consciously work at to come to.

Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists...

I've already hinted at the cosmological argument, but there also design arguments; the argument from mind, philosophical arguments based on metaethics and the meaning of life; and then, yes... even historical evidence. What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?
  #7  
Unread 20th January 2009, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
The reason deism is the default position for most is that we come into this world acknowledging that everything seems to have a purpose and that every cause has an agent behind it.

We have bagged lunches at school cause our moms prepared them that morning and packed them for us. We live in a house that men built out of wood they cut and brick they formed. We turn the ignition in our cars and they start up.

It takes quite a bit of working and reasoning to come to the conclusion that something (like the universe for instance) can come about without purpose or without an agent of cause. Atheism isn't and shouldn't be a default position, it's something that one has to consciously work at to come to.

Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists...

I've already hinted at the cosmological argument, but there also design arguments; the argument from mind, philosophical arguments based on metaethics and the meaning of life; and then, yes... even historical evidence. What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?
This is an excellent post! Thank you. At the moment I don't have time to give it the thought it deserves, so I'll answer the last question first: "What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?"

There's nothing wrong with historical evidence, but unless the historical evidence is empirical to the nature of the research then it's not direct evidence. For instance, the bible speaks about significant places that happened in the past like Rome. In a historical context, this is great, it gives us a view into Roman culture and life, but it is not evidence of the bible being the word of God.

"Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists..."

I think the disagreement here is what we each define as proof. The 'proof' for the existence of God, while it may exist from a personal perspective, is not necessarily valid proof for scientific inquiry, that's why I defined proof 'in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical' evidence. If this did exist, then God could be scientifically proven to exist and me, as an atheist, would have no choice but to accept the existence of God. I am atheist due to a lack of proof and, in my opinion, a greater likelihood of natural processes being the answer rather than supernatural processes, if God can be empirically, mathematically, or observationally proven, then this would not be the case.

I'll check out the rest of it later when I have a chance. I've gotta eat before I run off to classes!

Last edited by ragarth; 20th January 2009 at 11:09 AM.
  #8  
Unread 20th January 2009, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
There are several refutations to this. The first is that the bible is not perfectly homogeneous with itself, it's got a number of self contradictions in it:

http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...adictions.html

This is a list of some of them.
The majority of these "contradictions" are absolutely silly issues dealing with a lack of understanding context and culture. A little time spent reading the Bible like the ancient collection of diverse pieces of literature that it is rather than reading it like it's something off of Oprah's book of the week list goes a long way in resolving most of the issues one would have with "contradictions".

Second, the bible has been through several revisions in it's history, and specific to this issue is the translation between languages. Language is an interesting thing, and taking a block of text from one to the other is more an art than a science, therefore, when translating the bible's text multiple times, it's feasible that some of the more significant contradictions between the text had been resolved.

Further, many of the people who performed the translations were lifetime biblical scholars. Usually monks who spent their lives studying the bible and so had already formed an overall opinion about it's content and statements. Due to the imprecise nature of translating from hebrew to greek to latin to english (I think the bible skipped old and middle english and went straight to modern, right?), there's plenty of chances for translator bias to smooth the edges, whether conciously or unconciously when choosing words with vague meanings.
We have versions of the Old Testament that date back to the 2nd century BC (Dead Sea Scrolls), and of the New Testament that date back to the 4th century AD (Vaticanus and Sanaiticus) with fragments dating to the 2nd century AD. We also have the writings of the early Church fathers who quote in part, or in whole, sections of both Testaments. Most current English translations of Bibles like the ESV utilize ancient manuscripts when crafting their translations and can be proof checked by going to the sources (if you know ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew).
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Unread 20th January 2009, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
This is an excellent post!
Thank you for the compliment.

There's nothing wrong with historical evidence, but unless the historical evidence is empirical to the nature of the research then it's not direct evidence. For instance, the bible speaks about significant places that happened in the past like Rome. In a historical context, this is great, it gives us a view into Roman culture and life, but it is not evidence of the bible being the word of God.
Ok. Well, I believe one needs to start someplace... You don't necessarily have to jump from acknowledging historical evidence in the Bible for people and places like Pilate and Asia Minor to believing that the Bible is the revealed word of God, but there comes a point when one can find themselves scratching their heads at things like 1 Cor 15 "Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep."

That's a pretty deep testimony that would hold up under just about any court of law, and one that can't easily be thrown to the side of skepticism.

I think the disagreement here is what we each define as proof. The 'proof' for the existence of God, while it may exist from a personal perspective, is not necessarily valid proof for scientific inquiry, that's why I defined proof 'in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical' evidence.
I haven't mentioned proof from a personal perspective yet. The cosmological argument is essentially mathematical, the arguments from mind and the meaning of life are philosophical arguments, and of course, it follows that, depending on your presuppositions on these things the observational proof is all around us.

If this did exist, then God could be scientifically proven to exist and me, as an atheist, would have no choice but to accept the existence of God.
So you DO want personal proof

I am atheist due to a lack of proof and, in my opinion, a greater likelihood of natural processes being the answer rather than supernatural processes, if God can be empirically, mathematically, or observationally proven, then this would not be the case.
Understood. See though, the issue I have with taking the approach you have is that you want to be able to put God under a magnifying glass or see him through a telescope. Our ability to perceive God empirically is limited to our 5 senses. Assuming that God is spiritual and immaterial, trying to observe him materialistically is going to be a futile task. That isn't to say that evidence for God is unobtainable, just that you'll have to find it in other ways.

I'll check out the rest of it later when I have a chance. I've gotta eat before I run off to classes!
Sounds good.
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Unread 20th January 2009, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
The reason deism is the default position for most is that we come into this world acknowledging that everything seems to have a purpose and that every cause has an agent behind it.

We have bagged lunches at school cause our moms prepared them that morning and packed them for us. We live in a house that men built out of wood they cut and brick they formed. We turn the ignition in our cars and they start up.

It takes quite a bit of working and reasoning to come to the conclusion that something (like the universe for instance) can come about without purpose or without an agent of cause. Atheism isn't and shouldn't be a default position, it's something that one has to consciously work at to come to.

Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists...

I've already hinted at the cosmological argument, but there also design arguments; the argument from mind, philosophical arguments based on metaethics and the meaning of life; and then, yes... even historical evidence. What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?
The first 3 paragraphs are basically an argument from experience. We grow up experiencing things a certain way and therefore we expect most everything to be that way, in other words, because we are familiar with an intelligently made environment, we expect everything to be an intelligently made environment. The problem is, just because we're used to something being a certain way does not mean it has to be that way. If I took a kid and raised them in a world where everyone speaks the same language, and never introduced them to the idea that other languages might exist, the first time they encounter someone who speaks a different language, they'd think it was gibberish.

In the rth paragraph, I think the disagreement here is what we each define as proof. The 'proof' for the existence of God, while it may exist from a personal perspective, is not necessarily valid proof for scientific inquiry, that's why I defined proof 'in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical' evidence. If this did exist, then God could be scientifically proven to exist and me, as an atheist, would have no choice but to accept the existence of God. I am atheist due to a lack of proof and, in my opinion, a greater likelihood of natural processes being the answer rather than supernatural processes, if God can be empirically, mathematically, or observationally proven, then this would not be the case.

For instance, the bible is a wonderful reference for researching ancient cultures and societies. It gives a lot of information about this topic, but the fact that it provides information on ancient cultures is historical, not proof of Deity. Another example is out of body experiences. A friend of mine recently claimed to have had an out of body experience. I asked him what he saw, he wasn't able to give detail that he wouldn't have otherwise known before the experience, so I recommended that he put a shelf in his room above his ability to see it, throw some dice up there, and next time he has an out of body experience to view the dice. This method is a way of empirically verifying his out of body experience because it gives a measurable value to base it on: The numbers of the dice. Out of body experiences that make religious claims such as visiting heaven or hell cannot be proven this way, you can't toss some dice into heaven or hell and know their value, therefore, out of body experiences proving the existence of Divine are personal since they cannot be measured in any meaningful way.

And finally:
There's nothing wrong with historical evidence, but unless the historical evidence is empirical to the nature of the research then it's not direct evidence. For instance, the bible speaks about significant places that happened in the past like Rome. In a historical context, this is great, it gives us a view into Roman culture and life, but it is not evidence of the bible being the word of God.

Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
The majority of these "contradictions" are absolutely silly issues dealing with a lack of understanding context and culture. A little time spent reading the Bible like the ancient collection of diverse pieces of literature that it is rather than reading it like it's something off of Oprah's book of the week list goes a long way in resolving most of the issues one would have with "contradictions".



We have versions of the Old Testament that date back to the 2nd century BC (Dead Sea Scrolls), and of the New Testament that date back to the 4th century AD (Vaticanus and Sanaiticus) with fragments dating to the 2nd century AD. We also have the writings of the early Church fathers who quote in part, or in whole, sections of both Testaments. Most current English translations of Bibles like the ESV utilize ancient manuscripts when crafting their translations and can be proof checked by going to the sources (if you know ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew).
I understand, unfortunately I don't know greek, latin, and hebrew, and it's a safe bet that JohnDB doesn't either. Therefore his opinion on the contextual integrity of the bible across it's several sections is probably dependent upon a translation. I have seen nothing showing what he's claiming to be the facts across the ancient texts. Further, if what he were claiming were true, then I'd be able to read the bible as Oprah's weekly reader and not as a collection of ancient, diverse literature.

Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
1 Cor 15 "Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep."
If the bible is the work of man, then this is either myth or it's true meaning is dependent upon the surrounding text. If the bible is not literal, then it could mean many things based upon the context of it's usage.

I haven't mentioned proof from a personal perspective yet. The cosmological argument is essentially mathematical, the arguments from mind and the meaning of life are philosophical arguments, and of course, it follows that, depending on your presuppositions on these things the observational proof is all around us.
The argument that the world is manufactured because we're familiar with a manufactured environment is an argument from experience. I haven't seen any mathematical arguments for the manufacturing of the universe yet, and the meaning of life is a human construct, I like to think we create our own meaning for our lives.

I can observe a tree and asses it's aesthetic value, but this is an artificial, human manufactured analysis. A tree has no aesthetics as far as the tree is concerned. I can look at it's DNA and asses it's genetic lineage, it's evolutionary context, and place it on a phylogenetic tree. I can look at it's physiology and define it's efficiency at absorbing sunlight. None of this proves it was manufactured, unless it happens to be a genetically engineered or artificially crossbred tree, which can be discovered through observation- but this is human creation, not Divine.

I won't be posting for a few hours, I need to run off to college. It's a pleasure talking to you, Adrift, I like your brain.
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