Sunday, August 14, 2011

'Risk'



And then the day came,
When the risk to remain tight
In a bud
Was more painful
Than the risk
it took
to blossom.


- Anaïs Nin.

13 comments:

kyle foley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathew Toll said...

Well, I’m an atheist. I haven’t written anything explicitly and exclusively on this issue. But, I suppose there are hints and little scraps here and there that would indicate my position. I don’t know how someone could build the case for theism from the material here. Cf. ‘The Logic of Existential Meaning’(http://dostoevskiansmiles.blogspot.com/2009/05/logic-of-existential-meaning.html).

Anonymous said...

I'm going to write under a penname. But it's the same guy that posted before. Let's examine your atheism a bit more closely. We'll go with a q & a format. First question, does everything that happens, happen due to law or chance, or combination of both? By law I mean given x, y must happen 100% of the time, also known as a physical law. Does anything happen due to design? By design or intention I mean, something has the ability to move matter where you want. All this applies to human beings as well.

Mathew Toll said...

Atheism isn’t a cosmology. I don’t have to explain physics and the laws of causation to be an atheist: I merely have to lack a belief in god or gods. That’s it. If you’d like to make a case as to why I should hold certain beliefs about supernatural beings go ahead.

Mathew Toll said...

Oh, by the ways, is there anything you'd like to say about Nin's poem?

kyle foley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Re Nin's poem: I like poems that are more than 100 lines. If you'll read my poems you'll find that they run around 100 to 200 lines. I don't believe you can really say anything meaningful in a few lines.

Anonymous said...

Sure, all that it takes to be an atheist is to lack a belief in a deity, however, in order to have a consistent, coherent world view, there are certain views that are incompatible with atheism. Now, answer the question, do you believe everything that happens, happens due to chance, law or design? Unbiased observers don't view favorably people that try to avoid answering questions. They sense that you're ashamed of something.

Mathew Toll said...

I don’t have anything to prove. if you want to make a theistic claim, The burden of proof is yours. Justify your teapot.

Anonymous said...

If you're an agnostic you have nothing to prove. However, as an atheist you must assert positive evidence for your belief that the universe is accidental.

I still want answers to my questions. I believe that you're determined to not answer my first question. People can recognize and evasiveness when they see it. Refusing to answer questions is not something that rational people associate with honest seekers of the truth. I'll move on to other questions. I'm sure you deny that there is an immaterial force that can move matter, correct? After all that sounds a lot like God, right? If this immaterial force does not exist, then where do you propose order comes from? The human body is ordered, right? If the second law of thermodynamics is true, (and it's not, if you're a theist) then where does order come from.

Since you asked me a question, I'll give you answer, because I have nothing to be ashamed of. Since you mentioned the teapot, let me show you the mistake in this thinking.

This fallacy comes from Betrand Russell's essay There is No God. Here are his exact words:

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.

This argument appears in other forms such as: there is as much evidence for God as there is for ghosts, the flying spaghetti monster, or Santa Claus. The argument that it is very hard to disprove a negative can also be classified under this fallacy. The atheists state that there always could be a cat in a certain house, whenever I look in one place it could move to a different place and I could never disprove its existence. Russell's mistake is that he thinks God is some received dogma for which there is no proof. What he does not understand is that every instance of apparent design in our universe is evidence for God. There is no evidence for a teapot circling the Sun, nor is there any evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Even atheists admit that many things about our universe, the Earth and life look designed, thus they admit that there is more evidence for God than Russell's Teapot, but they believe the apparent design of life can be attributed to natural selection acting on random mutation. Russell is abusing the argument from analogy:

1. There is no evidence for God
2. There is no evidence for a teapot circling the sun
3. Therefore, they are like each other

On the contrary, the evidence for design in our universe is enormous.

Even Richard Dawkins admits that there is apparent design. On the first page of his book the Blind Watchmaker, he asserts that biology is the study of things that appear designed for a purpose.


As a theist, I can present positive evidence that the universe is intentional.

Mathew Toll said...

Firstly, again atheism is merely the lack of beliefs in god or gods. In a sense, it’s the absence of a belief or a non-position. Though, there are some atheist who assert that god is a false hypothesis and that this can be demonstrated. That would be strong atheism, to which I don’t hold. So, I haven’t staked out a belief in the accidental universe. I don’t have a belief regarding the ultimate origins of the universe, it’s an empirical question and I don’t have the evidence to solve it.
Secondly, on the issue of agnosticism and atheism/theism. These two positions are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism pertains to the possibility of knowledge, remember gnostic means of or relating to knowledge. While atheism and theism relate to belief, it is quite possible to believe in god and maintain that it is impossible to prove its/his/her existence.
Thirdly, it depends what you mean by immaterial. But, if you want to understand why things move you should look up the laws of motion.
Fourthly, Russell’s essay is ‘Is there a God?’, not ‘there is no god’. If Russel’s mistake is the result of misunderstanding the empirical data it isn’t a fallacy, but rather the argument is demonstrated to be false not invalid. He uses an analogy, which is always technically false because at one point two things that aren’t the same are different and therefore not equivalent. But, as a mere illustration of his point, I don’t see where fallacy enters into the discussion. His point is epistemological, if you don’t have an empirical justification for believing an empirical truth-claim: don’t. It’s the same with your cat example, if you don’t have evidence for the cat in the house – why would you believe there’s a cat?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Firstly, again atheism is merely the lack of beliefs in god or gods. In a sense, it’s the absence of a belief or a non-position. Though, there are some atheist who assert that god is a false hypothesis and that this can be demonstrated. That would be strong atheism, to which I don’t hold. So, I haven’t staked out a belief in the accidental universe. I don’t have a belief regarding the ultimate origins of the universe, it’s an empirical question and I don’t have the evidence to solve it. Secondly, on the issue of agnosticism and atheism/theism. These two positions are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism pertains to the possibility of knowledge, remember gnostic means of or relating to knowledge.
Whenever English speakers see the word atheism, they associate it with what you call strong atheism. What you call weak atheism would be agonsticism.
While atheism and theism relate to belief, it is quite possible to believe in god and maintain that it is impossible to prove its/his/her existence.
Of course it's impossible to prove God exists, then again it's also impossible to prove Julius Caesar existed. One only needs to prove that God exists beyond a reasonable doubt. It's either atheism, theism or agnosticism. One merely needs to decide which view has the most evidence to support it, and if there is evidence for neither atheism or theism then one can go with agnosticism.

Anonymous said...

Thirdly, it depends what you mean by immaterial. But, if you want to understand why things move you should look up the laws of motion.
The laws of motion do not explain how things move in a coordinated fashion. If you think about it, moving in a coordinated fashion, that implies choice and choice is an overriding of law. If the law says: all A are B, then you cannot get coordination out that. If you want to coordinate such that all A form one circle and one rectangle, that overrides the law that all A are B.
Fourthly, Russell’s essay is ‘Is there a God?’, not ‘there is no god’. If Russel’s mistake is the result of misunderstanding the empirical data it isn’t a fallacy, but rather the argument is demonstrated to be false not invalid. He uses an analogy, which is always technically false because at one point two things that aren’t the same are different and therefore not equivalent. But, as a mere illustration of his point, I don’t see where fallacy enters into the discussion. His point is epistemological, if you don’t have an empirical justification for believing an empirical truth-claim: don’t. It’s the same with your cat example, if you don’t have evidence for the cat in the house – why would you believe there’s a cat?!?!?!
First, if you don't have an empirical justification for believing in something, then don't believe it, this is true. Which is why we should not believe in a teapot orbiting the sun. However, the fallacy Russell commits is that he compares two things, one has no evidence for its existence, the other has ample evidence for its existence. Russell is just assuming there is no evidence for God because he's unable to understand the evidence. For some "received dogma" there is no evidence, such as the belief in Hell, but for God there is ample evidence. Where we see design, that is evidence for a designer. There is always a possibility that it came about through chance, but the key word here is possibility. Possibility is not the foundation of rationality, probability or likelihood is. If we humans made decisions based on what is possible and not on what is probable then we would be dead in no time flat. It's always possible that gravity could change when I jump off a cliff, that does not imply that it is prudent for me to jump off that cliff. It's always possible that when I walk across a highway that I will not be hit by a car, that does not mean I should do it. The atheist uses likelihood or probability in all their decisions, but not when it comes to inferring a designer by looking at a design. The atheist is inconsistent. There is a huge gap between life and non-life. If the universe were an accident this would not be the case. The laws of nature were set up so that life could be possible. The laws of nature were fine-tuned with knowledge of each other. The laws of nature coordinate so as to produce life, this is not something chance can do.

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