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  #321  
Unread 27th February 2013, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by theFijian View Post
We can always rely on you for some razor sharp insight. Why have you never been invited on Question Time?
Razor sharp enough to see you're flogging a dead horse in regards to debating this issue with Danny.
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  #322  
Unread 28th February 2013, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
Why would an Atheist have an agenda? An Atheist has a lack of belief in a God. Atheism is not a positive statement, it is a null hypothesis.
So you don't think Richard Dawkins' hostility towards organised religion in any capacity suggests the he might have an agenda of some description?

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
For example I didn't belive the stories of giant squid just from old tales from sailors. I was therefore the Giant Squid equivalent of an Atheist.
I didn't believe Giant squids didn't exist either. I just wasn't going to believe they existed until I had evidence.
Once I saw news reports with videos of said Giant squids I believed they existed as I now had evidence. There was no bias on my front, just skepticism.I didn't watch the news report and say "Oh they must have faked it". That would be biased. This is quite rightly absurd, yet what you are accusing Atheists scientists of.
I'm suggesting that biascould happen, and I believe that this is a possibility anytime you have a concentration of knowledge that is passed down from academia/ intelligensia to the general public.

Back in 2000 I began a Phd* on applying the theory of "social representations" (see Social representation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and one aspect of this theory is to understand how information/ knowledge is integrated from it's source and evolves in to a wider social construct.

When you have a basic understand of how and where certain sources of information/ knowledge begin from, then you can see why what I'm suggesting is, in theory, a possibility......

(*NOTE: in case anyone is wondering I didn't complete this because my Phd tutor left the university and there wasn't suitable replacement for me who had a interest in my topic of study)

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
Science works by proposing a hypothesis and then testing the predictions of this hypothesis. I can't think of a better way of establishing the validity of a hypothesis.
I agree, but this is just a very general point - is it relevant here??
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  #323  
Unread 28th February 2013, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ianb321red View Post
So you don't think Richard Dawkins' hostility towards organised religion in any capacity suggests the he might have an agenda of some description?

I'm suggesting that biascould happen, and I believe that this is a possibility anytime you have a concentration of knowledge that is passed down from academia/ intelligensia to the general public.

Back in 2000 I began a Phd* on applying the theory of "social representations" (see Social representation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and one aspect of this theory is to understand how information/ knowledge is integrated from it's source and evolves in to a wider social construct.

When you have a basic understand of how and where certain sources of information/ knowledge begin from, then you can see why what I'm suggesting is, in theory, a possibility......

(*NOTE: in case anyone is wondering I didn't complete this because my Phd tutor left the university and there wasn't suitable replacement for me who had a interest in my topic of study)

I agree, but this is just a very general point - is it relevant here??
There's a massive difference between hostility towards organised religion, and the lack of belief in a deity.

Richard Dawkins academic work is on gene centered evolution. I'm not sure how hostility towards organised religion could affect this work.

I'm not a massive fan of organised religions either. To me it just seems to be a way of getting money out of vulnerable people and giving those in charge power. This however has nothing to do with my belief or lack of belief in a God and would not affect any science experiment I was doing.

I have a lack of belief in Ghosts, UFO visitations, Pixies and Leprechauns as well. This lack of belief wouldn't affect me say studying neutrino oscillations.

I also have a lack of belief in "String Theory" as it is only a hypothesis at the moment with not enough data to support it. If it is shown to have overwhelming supporting data then I will believe it.

Same goes for the Higgs Boson. There is now enough data to support its existence. However when I did my degree there wasn't, so it was one of several hypotheses mooted. So at that stage I didn't believe it existed. If I had gone on to work at CERN my lack of belief would not have affected the discovery of the particle, it would have only added extra credibility to its discovery.


All science experiments start from the assumption that the null hypothesis is true.

You are right that bias can happen. However this will only come from someone who holds firm position before there is sufficient data. This would be a firm "this doesn't exist" or a firm "this does exist". Atheism is neither or these positions.


Say I was doing an experiment looking at some sort of ESP (say a person who says they can tell me what playing card I am looking at). I will design an experiment that tests this fairly. However I am skeptical.

Say the study is done to a 95% confidence level and there is shown to be an effect. Given this is such an unlikely result I would suggest the test was run again. Is this biased?

The answer of course is NO. There was a 5% chance of a false positive. If the test is rerun, and further tests are shown again showing a positive effect then it just adds more evidence that there is an effect.

My skepticism may mean that more tests are run, but if there is actually a real effect this in turn just gives more weight to the claim that it is real effect.

Would I try and suppress the truth, as you suggest? Of course not as I will get loads more funding and probably a better position at the university because of my research.

However if I had faked data to show an effect where there wasn't I would lose my job and all credibility.

If scientists just suppressed the truth all the time, and never changed thier minds then science would get nowhere.
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  #324  
Unread 28th February 2013, 04:01 PM
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Found this article which addresses this from a slightly different, but nevertheless still makes this same general point about bias:

Is There an Academic Bias against Religion? Appears so, at Least against Conservative Christians.
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  #325  
Unread 28th February 2013, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ianb321red View Post
Found this article which addresses this from a slightly different, but nevertheless still makes this same general point about bias:

Is There an Academic Bias against Religion? Appears so, at Least against Conservative Christians.

The great thing about science is that if done properly, ten ultra hardcore Chrisitans will come to the same conclusions as ten Atheists.

If there is any bias though this will come from the Christian, not the Atheist. Remember, Atheism is just the lack of belief in the claim that there is a God and it makes no positive statement. I don't know any Atheistic Scientists that make the claim a God does definitely not exist.

If there was scientific evidence a God existed and scientists ignored it this would be biased. This has not happened yet.

A Christian scientist MUST leave his religious ideas at home when doing science. This is because there is no scientific evidence of a God. If there was almost all scientists would be deists, and this could and would then be incorporated into science.

This isn't limited to religion though, any believer in anything without evidence must leave these ideas at home.

I've met scientists who are Christians and they have never once mentioned God in any of the science they do. If they had any evidence they would have every right to.
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  #326  
Unread 1st March 2013, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
The great thing about science is that if done properly, ten ultra hardcore Chrisitans will come to the same conclusions as ten Atheists.
"ultra hardcore christians"

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
If there is any bias though this will come from the Christian, not the Atheist.
I don't think is any basis or evidence for this claim to be honest. There is more evidence that in a secular society that the opposite would be true. I don't know of any campaigns from Christians that oppose atheism in any meaningful or constructive way..

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
Remember, Atheism is just the lack of belief in the claim that there is a God and it makes no positive statement. I don't know any Atheistic Scientists that make the claim a God does definitely not exist.
Right, so therefore this is not atheistic; it is actually an agnostic position ?
Atheism does not say that "I do not believe in God"; it affirms the negative position (non existence) of theos (God) - quite simply there is no God.
Your definition shows that you are NOT making an absolute claim that God definitely does NOT exist, therefore that is agnosticism.
And if it is agnosticism then because you are not making absolute claims about God's existence (because in fact you cannot), then you have to hold the agnostic position that we don't know. Richard Dawkins (claims to) hold this position, and at least if this is held genuinely then it means the possibility is still there (for some people) to "discover" God and furthermore confirm that atheism is fundamentally self-defeating as a thought system, and which is highly dangerous if this system of thought infiltrates research projects of any discipline which claim to be on the road of "discovery".....

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
If there was scientific evidence a God existed and scientists ignored it this would be biased. This has not happened yet.
How do you know this ? Have you read any of the previously mentioned books by scientists (not apologists or evangelists) who are Christians and believe that there is evidence for God?

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
A Christian scientist MUST leave his religious ideas at home when doing science. This is because there is no scientific evidence of a God. If there was almost all scientists would be deists, and this could and would then be incorporated into science.
Can you not see how self defeating your approach to science really is?
You're saying there is no scientific evidence for God, and that religious beliefs should be left at home, yet previously you have said that it is down to science to decide whether a deity exists or not. This is self defeating and proves my point about bias, because any scientific research you start in your opinion must start with the presupposition of no god BEFORE the evidence has been gathered and analysed. That's not a robust approach to research at any level.

Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
This isn't limited to religion though, any believer in anything without evidence must leave these ideas at home.
We've had this conversation before. Again from a research perspective this is imposing your own personal (evidentialism) beliefs as much or arguably more than anyone with religious beliefs, and what you're suggesting that is wrong you are seemingly guilty of yourself.
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  #327  
Unread 1st March 2013, 07:24 AM
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Ian - I've glad you've written what you have as it shows where perhaps you have been going wrong.

Firstly - Atheism is not a positive statement. It is a lack of belief in the claim that there is a God. Without people such as yourself claiming there is a God, there would be no Atheists as there is no claim to reject. I'm very surprised you don't know this.

Yes there are Atheists who believe there are no Gods. This is actually impossible to do, so it can never be stated 100% to be factually correct.

I don't believe Bigfoot exists and Bigfoot does not exist are competely different statements.

Which leads us onto point 2, the null hypothesis.

You have to start off with the null hypothesis that something does not exist. This is Atheism. The null hypothesis is unprovable. However it is the default position.

Why do you have to start off with this position? Very easy, because it is the most likely to get the actual answer.

Lets say someone claims bigfoot exists. We have 2 options:

1. We either start off with the position that bigfoot does exist and we must prove it does not.

2. We disbelieve the claim that bigfoot exists until there is evidence to support it.

It is impossible to prove something does not exist, therefore point 1 is totally invalid and useless (unless you want to believe any claim anyone ever makes). We must therefore use 2. I am not being biased by taking this approach, despite what you claim.

Every science experiment starts off with null hypothesis that an effect does not exist, and you must use data collected to suggest otherwise.

This is the very foundation of science, yet you are suggesting it is done differently just so you can believe what you want to believe. Those of us that care about the truth won't take this approach.
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  #328  
Unread 1st March 2013, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by tonybeer View Post
Ian - I've glad you've written what you have as it shows where perhaps you have been going wrong.

Firstly - Atheism is not a positive statement. It is a lack of belief in the claim that there is a God. Without people such as yourself claiming there is a God, there would be no Atheists as there is no claim to reject. I'm very surprised you don't know this..
Ok, maybe my previous post wasn't clear because I'm entirely sure why you think I've indicated that atheism is a positive statement?

My understanding of the definition of atheism (atheos) is that is affirms the negative (alpha); 'a' about god (theos) therefore it equates to "negative god"; there is no god. This is a position that affirms a negative.

Actually I think I said this is my previous post that it affirms a negative, so why do you think I've said atheism is making a positive statement ??

Unless I've misunderstood something, then atheism acknowledges that a belief in god as a phenomena does indeed exist for some people (theism), but holds that this belief is rejected. Atheism acknowledges that this belief in God does exist objectively speaking, but rejects the components that form the basis of the belief for this claim.

Logically I can only see that holding an agnostic position works, since agnosticism doesn't make absolute claims unlike atheism which does. Atheism attempts to affirm that negative position (about the existence God) in an absolute sense which is impossible and therefore a logical contradiction.

Agnosticism makes more sense to me logically because it at least it is a position that has been (purportedly) reached analytically and doesn't make outright or absolute claims like atheism which as a system it cannot for one second support logically in any way, shape or form. When you actually understand the reality of what atheism can and cannot make claim to, then it is clear that any vaguely open minded person needs to hold an agnostic position to be taken seriously....
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  #329  
Unread 1st March 2013, 09:28 AM
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We can make 5 statements about the existence of something.

1 It does not exist

2 I haven't seen enough evidence to support the claim it exists, so I will disbelieve this until it does.

3 I don't know whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant the claim that it exists

4 There is sufficient evidence to believe the claim that it does exist.

5 It does exist

2 is Atheism, 3 Agnosticism and 4 Theism. 1 and 5 to me seem illogical. 1+2 and 4+5 get lumped into the same thing but they are different.
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Unread 1st March 2013, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ianb321red View Post
Ok, maybe my previous post wasn't clear because I'm entirely sure why you think I've indicated that atheism is a positive statement?

My understanding of the definition of atheism (atheos) is that is affirms the negative (alpha); 'a' about god (theos) therefore it equates to "negative god"; there is no god. This is a position that affirms a negative.

Actually I think I said this is my previous post that it affirms a negative, so why do you think I've said atheism is making a positive statement ??

Unless I've misunderstood something, then atheism acknowledges that a belief in god as a phenomena does indeed exist for some people (theism), but holds that this belief is rejected. Atheism acknowledges that this belief in God does exist objectively speaking, but rejects the components that form the basis of the belief for this claim.

Logically I can only see that holding an agnostic position works, since agnosticism doesn't make absolute claims unlike atheism which does. Atheism attempts to affirm that negative position (about the existence God) in an absolute sense which is impossible and therefore a logical contradiction.

Agnosticism makes more sense to me logically because it at least it is a position that has been (purportedly) reached analytically and doesn't make outright or absolute claims like atheism which as a system it cannot for one second support logically in any way, shape or form. When you actually understand the reality of what atheism can and cannot make claim to, then it is clear that any vaguely open minded person needs to hold an agnostic position to be taken seriously....
Atheism does not preclude Agnosticism.
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Have you heard about the tears and the nights in the rain
And I want you to know, I want you by my side
I could have helped you find a way back into this world

If I ever face this world, we'll be together
This is for you to know. This is for you to feel.


- In Mourning, For You to Know
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