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Author Topic: The problem with atheism.  (Read 38168 times)
ronimacarroni
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September 08, 2013, 11:59:45 PM
 #21

Whatever guys. We'll all find out after we die.
If you guys are right, we'll all turn into worm food.
Otherwise our consciousness will reach a higher/lower realm or we'll be reincarnated or something.
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September 09, 2013, 01:29:26 AM
 #22

I believe that the OP's point is that anyone that accepts atheism is faced with the conundrum of nihilism, and that one cannot claim to be an atheist and just ignore nihilism. Also, I believe that the OP means "ideology" instead of "agenda".

This topic is a primary focus of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Unwilling to accept the pessimistic view of nihilism by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche attempts to show that nihilism does not presume that life cannot have value and meaning.

There's nothing to accept in atheism like there's is nothing to accept in not believing in leprechauns.

Again, atheism is not an "ism", it is not an ideology, it is a position taken when faced with the god hypothesis.

Whatever guys. We'll all find out after we die.
If you guys are right, we'll all turn into worm food.
Otherwise our consciousness will reach a higher/lower realm or we'll be reincarnated or something.

That is the exact problem with all the gods/after lives claims, they are unfalsifiable, when we die, we die, nothing to find, nothing to report, no evidence to support otherwise...

ronimacarroni
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September 09, 2013, 01:40:35 AM
 #23

I believe that the OP's point is that anyone that accepts atheism is faced with the conundrum of nihilism, and that one cannot claim to be an atheist and just ignore nihilism. Also, I believe that the OP means "ideology" instead of "agenda".

This topic is a primary focus of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Unwilling to accept the pessimistic view of nihilism by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche attempts to show that nihilism does not presume that life cannot have value and meaning.

There's nothing to accept in atheism like there's is nothing to accept in not believing in leprechauns.

Again, atheism is not an "ism", it is not an ideology, it is a position taken when faced with the god hypothesis.

Whatever guys. We'll all find out after we die.
If you guys are right, we'll all turn into worm food.
Otherwise our consciousness will reach a higher/lower realm or we'll be reincarnated or something.

That is the exact problem with all the gods/after lives claims, they are unfalsifiable, when we die, we die, nothing to find, nothing to report, no evidence to support otherwise...
Well if you insist there is a way to prove whether or not God exists.
You see if there is a God then that means that we have soul/free will and can choose right from wrong.
If God doesn't exist then that means that we're biological automatons and don't have free will.
In order to prove that we don't have free will you would need to predict the behavior of a group of people within a time span with 100% certainty.
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September 09, 2013, 02:01:02 AM
 #24

Well if you insist there is a way to prove whether or not God exists.
You see if there is a God then that means that we have soul/free will and can choose right from wrong.
If God doesn't exist then that means that we're biological automatons and don't have free will.
In order to prove that we don't have free will you would need to predict the behavior of a group of people within a time span with 100% certainty.

Currently there's a debate among the scientific and philosophical folks, I believe no free will is winning, and I don't have to predict anything.

Think a little, none of the important things in your life you had anything to say about choosing them, you didn't choose the country in which you were born, you didn't choose your parents, your sex, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your intelligence, the person you fell in love with, your favorite color, your hobbies, that accident, that cancer, your favorite restaurant, the fact that you have/don't have singing skills... You get the point... This are the things that define your identity, yourself, not the movie you're gonna watch next on Netflix.

Do you still believe you have free will?

And free will, soul, god or gods are all different things that do not depend on each other, there can be a soul and no free will and no god, there can be a god and a soul and no free will, there can be lots of gods and no soul no free will, and so on...

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September 09, 2013, 02:46:28 AM
Last edit: September 09, 2013, 08:11:20 AM by Foxpup
 #25

If God doesn't exist then that means that we're biological automatons and don't have free will.
In order to prove that we don't have free will you would need to predict the behavior of a group of people within a time span with 100% certainty.
Just because we're deterministic automata doesn't mean we don't have free will. Ever heard of the halting problem? It proves that it is impossible to program a Turing-complete computer to decide in all cases whether another Turing-complete computer, given a particular program and input, will run for a finite number of cycles and halt, or run forever in an infinite loop. In other words, it is impossible for a computer to predict the outcome of running a particular program with a particular input, short of actually running said program for itself. Since a brain is a deterministic Turing-complete computer, it is therefore impossible for a brain to predict in all cases its own response to a particular stimulus. Or more simply, you can't always know what you're going to do before you do it. Ergo, deterministic brains have free will. Q.E.D.

EDIT: Typo

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September 09, 2013, 07:58:24 AM
 #26

Let me start by making it clear that I am an atheist.

The problem I have with the atheist agenda is that is stops at 'the non existence of God' - the same logic is not applied consistently to the whole of the human condition.

If I examine my life and use this same 'spaghetti monster' logic, I am drawn to the same conclusions about all my actions and activities - they are all as equally pointless and irrational as worshiping God.

If I rationally examine my sense of self I realize that it is just a genetic innovation - it encourages self preservation - genetic selfishness creates a genetically induced illusion of self worth.

My desire to survive is itself as delusional as a belief in God - pain and my fear of pain are a genetically induced survival mechanism I am in thrall to.

If I believe in God and survive then it is no different to not believing in God and surviving - nature will select for survival.

But my actual survival is meaningless whether I believe in God or otherwise.

This is the only conclusion that can be logically formed from a real examination of life.

Atheism is merely another tribal display - a peacock's tail trying to attract a mate through a verbal display of intelligence.

Believing in God does not necessarily answer such questions. It just changes the questions.

I believe in God and have the faith that He exists, I see that as separate from religion. Faith is what you believe, religion is how you practice that faith. So your religion just happens to be the practice of not believing in a higher being. But there is not really anything you need to do to practice such a faith. It would be like someone going to a conference for people that do not believe in Santa Clause or buying books about how you live a life of not believing in Santa. If you are struggling with living a life of not believing in Santa and society is making your life difficult for not having such a belief then fine, maybe gathering information from others may help you in such a struggle. But it should not be that difficult.

Because we are all individuals we all get to determine our own self worth and what we want to do with this one chance we have at being alive on this world. You do not have to have meaning to it if you do not want. You do not have to survive, that is all your own choice but to not survive is a wasted opportunity.


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September 09, 2013, 11:29:20 AM
Last edit: September 09, 2013, 01:58:27 PM by crumbs
 #27

If God doesn't exist then that means that we're biological automatons and don't have free will.
In order to prove that we don't have free will you would need to predict the behavior of a group of people within a time span with 100% certainty.
Just because we're deterministic automata doesn't mean we don't have free will. Ever heard of the halting problem? It proves that it is impossible to program a Turing-complete computer to decide in all cases whether another Turing-complete computer, given a particular program and input, will run for a finite number of cycles and halt, or run forever in an infinite loop. In other words, it is impossible for a computer to predict the outcome of running a particular program with a particular input, short of actually running said program for itself. Since a brain is a deterministic Turing-complete computer, it is therefore impossible for a brain to predict in all cases its own response to a particular stimulus. Or more simply, you can't always know what you're going to do before you do it. Ergo, deterministic brains have free will. Q.E.D.

EDIT: Typo

The halting problem doesn't imply free will or negate determinism.  The result of each Turing problem is deterministic, since each step of the problem is deterministic.
In other words, the solution of a Turing problem is *determined* by its algorithm, which will be executed like the proverbial clockwork to arrive at the same solution *given the same inputs*.  

Turing is not interested in "how do those inputs come about" for the scope of the halting problem.  We, otoh, given sufficient data & time, could conclusively show that "Bobby will type the word "cat," which will be *THE input for the given Turing problem -- none of the other inputs are possible*.  The above is absurd only in the sense that it requires exhaustive data & time.  That's clockwork determinism at Turing Machine level.  Clockwork determinism can be attacked, but not by the halting problem.

TL;DR:  Not knowing the result != result is not predetermined.

Edit:  double negative Embarrassed
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September 09, 2013, 11:49:32 AM
 #28

Isn't this the whole "meaning of life" question all over again?

If you inspect the question, it's semantically broken. A creator gives something a meaning, purpose, etc. If you don't acknowledge a creator of yours or don't acknowledge his ownership over you, making you his slave, the concepts of meaning and purpose do not apply. If you acknowledge both, then voilà, your meaning and purpose is what your religion commands.

The end. This type of discussion only proves that way too many people need to check their definitions and formalism.

You can do the same on "free will" (and "free"-a-lot-of-things) if someone spends the time to properly define them.
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September 09, 2013, 01:18:15 PM
 #29

The halting problem doesn't imply free will or negate determinism.  The result of each Turing problem is deterministic, since each step of the problem is deterministic.
In other words, the solution of a Turing problem is *determined* by its algorithm, which will be executed like the proverbial clockwork to arrive at the same solution *given the same inputs*.  
I don't think you actually understand the halting problem at all.

Turing is not interested in "how do those inputs come about" for the scope of the halting problem.  We, otoh, given sufficient data & time, could conclusively show that "Bobby will type the word "cat," which will be *THE input for the given Turing problem -- none of the other inputs are possible*.  The above is absurd only in the sense that it requires exhaustive data & time.
No, it's absurd because it creates the same logical paradox as solving the halting problem: suppose Bobby finds out about the prediction and, because he's contrarian and always does the opposite of what people tell him, he decides to not type the word "cat". Now your prediction is wrong. And if you try to take this into account by predicting that Bobby will do the opposite of what you originally predicted, Bobby will do the opposite of that prediction instead. Bobby's behaviour is entirely deterministic, but impossible to predict if the prediction could affect him in any way.

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September 09, 2013, 01:55:25 PM
 #30

The halting problem doesn't imply free will or negate determinism.  The result of each Turing problem is deterministic, since each step of the problem is deterministic.
In other words, the solution of a Turing problem is *determined* by its algorithm, which will be executed like the proverbial clockwork to arrive at the same solution *given the same inputs*.  
I don't think you actually understand the halting problem at all.

Please point out the errors in the text above.  If you feel that the endstate is *not* determined by the initial state & the inputs, explain.

Quote
Turing is not interested in "how do those inputs come about" for the scope of the halting problem.  We, otoh, given sufficient data & time, could conclusively show that "Bobby will type the word "cat," which will be *THE input for the given Turing problem -- none of the other inputs are possible*.  The above is absurd only in the sense that it requires exhaustive data & time.
No, it's absurd because it creates the same logical paradox as solving the halting problem: suppose Bobby finds out about the prediction and, because he's contrarian and always does the opposite of what people tell him, he decides to not type the word "cat".

This is not possible.  You are introducing the choice, which does not exist.  What you consider to be choice is simply a *result* of electrochemical interactions in the brain, predetermined by its initial state & inputs (which are also predetermined, as parts of causal chains).  If you accept universal causation (there are no uncaused events), you concede determinism.  If you do not accept universal causation, you allow for things like free volition, but open an entirely new can of worms.

Quote
Now your prediction is wrong. And if you try to take this into account by predicting that Bobby will do the opposite of what you originally predicted, Bobby will do the opposite of that prediction instead. Bobby's behaviour is entirely deterministic, but impossible to predict if the prediction could affect him in any way.

At this point i think it is you who doesn't understand the halting problem.  Nowhere does the halting problem suggest that the final state is *undetermined*, merely that it's *impossible to predict* the final state.  See the difference?
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September 09, 2013, 02:01:24 PM
 #31

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Nowhere does the halting problem suggest that the final state is *undetermined*, merely that it's *impossible to predict* the final state.  See the difference?
nope  Cool
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September 09, 2013, 02:06:44 PM
 #32

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Nowhere does the halting problem suggest that the final state is *undetermined*, merely that it's *impossible to predict* the final state.  See the difference?
nope  Cool

4real or just contrarian?
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September 09, 2013, 02:53:23 PM
 #33

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Nowhere does the halting problem suggest that the final state is *undetermined*, merely that it's *impossible to predict* the final state.  See the difference?
nope  Cool

4real or just contrarian?
well if something is deterministic you should be able to predict its outcome shouldn't you?
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September 09, 2013, 02:53:43 PM
 #34

Now how many planets are in the solar system?

One less than before; all depends on what we think constitutes as a planet tomorrow, which I can't predict Tongue

Of course, in a thousand years, we'll look back at today and think, "Wow, what a bunch of idiots!"  But I don't believe there's anything wrong with acknowledging the accomplishments we've made from the last thousand years, so long as we understand there will never be an end to what we know.  The point was, if we stop and say, "Well, I don't know how this works or why, so I'll just say God did it", then we stagnate.  If we all did that from a thousand years ago until now, we would be in the same spot we were in a thousand years ago...

Except you are dead wrong.  Let me give you an example.  You are a really smart person, just like you are today. (I'm not being facetious)  You live in an age before microscopes, and you see flies and beetles arise from horse manure.  You have examined horse manure, and found there was nothing alive in it - and then, suddenly, from that pile of horse manure, things come alive.  

You are RATIONAL and LOGICAL to conclude that spontaneous creation occurs.

That is only one example, but you get my point...

Basically the moral of this story is that mechanistic 19th century philosophical atheism is really a joke.  Kind of like math before chaos theory.  I can talk circles around it just for fun.  Frankly it's smarter to start with a blank sheet of paper.

You ignore the second part of my post, which deals with the need to acknowledge the likelihood of smarter-than-man intelligence and higher levels of consciousness in the universe, whether as a broad standard, or in the past, present or future.  This is the 'general case', someone could of course extend it to include 'the supreme being' if they wanted.

The contrary view is a curious one in which the universe revolves around man on earth, the only known and verifiable conscious thinking beings.  

Sort of like it did before Galileo, but only repeated today in the opposite context.  But who then, are now the high priests?
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September 09, 2013, 04:09:22 PM
 #35

Quote
Nowhere does the halting problem suggest that the final state is *undetermined*, merely that it's *impossible to predict* the final state.  See the difference?
nope  Cool

4real or just contrarian?
well if something is deterministic you should be able to predict its outcome shouldn't you?

No.

The simple (and unsatisfying) answer is we're dealing with infinities:

"The halting problem is theoretically decidable for linear bounded automata (LBAs) or deterministic machines with finite memory. A machine with finite memory has a finite number of states, and thus any deterministic program on it must eventually either halt or repeat a previous state..." --wikip

The longer (and equally unsatisfying) answer is: Godel's incompleteness theorems.

A curt (insulting and unsatisfying) answer is:  The question is no more interesting than a strange loop, "This statement is false."

A possibly more satisfying, though pretty meh answer is:

"if universal causation is true, -> there are no uncaused events -> all events are caused -> Bobby's choice to type "cat" was caused, Q.E.D."
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September 09, 2013, 04:13:31 PM
 #36


No, it's absurd because it creates the same logical paradox as solving the halting problem: suppose Bobby finds out about the prediction and, because he's contrarian and always does the opposite of what people tell him, he decides to not type the word "cat". Now your prediction is wrong. And if you try to take this into account by predicting that Bobby will do the opposite of what you originally predicted, Bobby will do the opposite of that prediction instead. Bobby's behaviour is entirely deterministic, but impossible to predict if the prediction could affect him in any way.

At this point Bobby has taken in new information that he didn't have before and so the choice may be different, depending on how Bobby is "programmed".  In this case, you say if he learns of the prediction he will do the opposite.  But if he doesn't learn of it then he won't.  Therefore, it's still deterministic.   You are talking of two different situations with different inputs.  The first is one where Bobby does not have knowledge of the prediction.  And the second is one where he does.

Just because something is impossible to predict doesn't mean it isn't deterministic.  It just means that there is inadequate information to make an accurate prediction.  Which will likely always be the case.  If you think about all the information that has to be gathered in one moment of time in order to accurately predict the next moment or any future moment it will probably always be impossible.  Maybe not, who knows, but certainly impossible at this current moment in time.  

We can predict large macro things, like where a planet will be at any given moment but even that may not be correct if some (also deterministic) galactic event disrupts it.   It's all about information and the ability to gather it.
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September 09, 2013, 04:27:03 PM
 #37

I see no need for a higher power in the universe.
In fact if it excisted, the universe would be pretty diffrent from the one we have since there would be a "higher power" that could change the law of nature by answering prayers or just having a bad day.
Yes there might be more evolved life than man kind out there, but so far there is no prof of it.
They don't affect me in daily life so I don't see the need to "beleave" in them untill we find them and can prove that they excist.
As for a God. I cant see any reason for one to excist. I can see far more reasons for one not to excist.
When I'm dead, I'm dead. for me there is no afterlife, reincarnation or whatever.
I have one shot at life and will try to make the best of it.
Live forever sounds horrible and eternal bliss will get pretty boring after a few decades.

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September 09, 2013, 04:29:11 PM
 #38

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September 09, 2013, 04:34:41 PM
 #39

For me, atheism is not a choice about philosophy. It is simply that there is no evidence of Gods. I am an atheist for the same reason I do not believe in unicorns.

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September 09, 2013, 04:35:07 PM
 #40

Atheist: there is no god
Christian: maybe there is no god

Which belief is the most rational? Believing in the "no god" is also faith.

Nothing in physics or evolutionary biology speaks against  the "God concept", but maybe I'm not the typical Christian.

Job didn't renounce God even if God tried to win a bet against the devil. In other words believing in a god does not require the existence of a god that makes sense to the follower. Faith does not require proof  as science doesn't require belief in a higher meaning or purpose. The are mutually complementary opposites.

Maybe monotheism is the pinnacle of abstraction for the primate with too much brain that over interpret patterns in nature where no patterns exist?

When the VMAP photo of the cosmic background radiation was published, some scientists saw some concentric ripples in the image suggesting quantum effects in the earliest universe still visible today. It took a statistical analysis of the image to settle the discussion; there were no ripples in the image. A lot of people seek meaning in science, looking for hints of a purpose with or explanation of human existence. We all fall for that, atheist or not.

I can't really tell if my faith is a product of my biology or cultural tradition, but I'm sure that institutionalised religion (churches) is the evolutionary result of a basic urge in humans for meaning in their personal life on an existential level.
If that is a projection of a primitive instinct in monkeys  that have discovered writing so be it, but even that doesn’t exclude the possibility of a god as a natural phenomenon, even if that phenomenon created itself!

Believing in God makes sense to me on many levels making me a better person in relation to others, which is good for my local community my family  and myself.

What I would like to hear from any atheist is not only an explanation to why they are right but what their faith gives them in terms of self conception, how they view others i.e. are atheists humanists in another way, do they feel the need to protect others integrity in general, do they do charity? Do they feel they have a responsibility for others in general as would any believer?

Do an atheist think about if their ethics of right or wrong is distinguishable from say Christians?

Do they catch themselves, once in a while, urging for meaning or is life just a crazy party on top of a burning building?

Do atheists screw around more, as from a biological viewpoint being a guy, multiple female partners makes more sense than trying to raise a few children and working hard on transferring your values onto them? Do atheists disregard ideologies to a greater extent and how do they defend their values because if you are living in the western world a lot of ethics and social norms are rooted in Christian tradition, so do they need to find other arguments for say civil rights?




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