On Jul 10, 2013, at 7:24 AM, chris peck <chris_peck...@hotmail.com> wrote:

To Jason:

>>Atheism, in its naivety, rejects all these possibilities without even realizing it has done so.

How can you possibly speak for atheists generally in this regard?

My point is that if one takes atheism to be the rejection of all conceptions of god, then because those ideas are conceptions of god from various religions, then someone who remains atheist after exposure to those ideas (rather than agnostic) has rejected them, and worse, has done so without any justification. This is anti-scientific because there is some evidence for these propositions. Even if that evidence does not convince you, there is no reason to reject them until evidence comes out against the theories on which they are based.


Particularly after the arguments you have been making! What do you know of all the possibilities they have entertained or whether and how they have rejected them?

If atheism means belief in no gods, then anyone can extraopolate the implications of such a broad rejection.

Note that Brent uses a different meaning. He says some atheists mean only the rejection of the Abrahamic god. This is not the standard definition one finds in dictionaries, however.




>>The word atheist is either meaningless (if it applies to specific or certain God/gods), or it is inconsistent/unsupported if you apply it to more general definitions of god. It's a word that seems to carry less than 1 bit of information.

How does the word become meaningless if it is applied to a specific God?

Meaningless is an exaggeration, it carries some but very little information. As you note below all it may means is they have some notion of god that they reject. If atheism means disbelief in only one particular god, then there is very little meaning conveyed in the word, as it does not specify which god is rejected and further it would be true for essentially everyone. It is like stating "I am a being that can express thoughts" or "I have beliefs". It has meaning, sure, but not much.

Now the converse, where atheism is taken to mean rejection of all gods, rather than one, is not meaningless. However it seems unfounded scientifically, and more likely than not it is wrong, because it takes only one consistent and extant conception of god to invalidate it. To assert it this form of atheism carries the arrogance of pretending to know the final answers to all the fundamental questions, to have surveyed all of reality (not just this universe).

So you are right I think the term is very problematic, and something like free thought avoids most of those problems. Agnostic also avoids the problems.

Up until now you have been arguing that it is the vast variety of meanings the word God can convey that has been the problem,

It is a problem for the "no gods" atheism.

now it is a problem when the meaning is narrowed down?

Then it is logically consistent, but says very little without a follow up enumeration if the god(s) one is rejecting.

I beginning to think for you 'atheist' is just a useless word because that is how you want things to be.

It's things are. My wants did not make things this way, but I do want to point out the many issues of this term.



I also don't get how the word 'atheist' is inconsistent if the definition of God is broader.

Because then it leads to more general definitions of god like that which is responsible for the existance of the reality you see, or infinite truth, etc. You could reject these notions, but such an ontological commitment is premature and not backed up by experiments, logic or rationality.

The word atheist depends on two things to be correctly applied. Firstly, that I have something in mind when I use the word God, and that I don't believe it exists. I would be inconsistent if I said i didn't believe in this thing, when actually I did.

I agree such a formulation of atheism could be true and consitent. My only complaint with that formulation is that it is underspecified.

Note the same underspecification results from saying "I believe in God". Well which one do you believe in? If it is that which is responsible for the existence of reality, then pretty much everyone believes in God, and you haven't communicated very much information.



>>n that case everyone is an atheist, as you could cook up any definition of some God that person will not believe in.

Its a point many atheists make. Jews don't believe Christ was the son of God. Christians don't believe in endless cycles of reincarnation. Relative to both, atheists just lack one further belief. they are all atheists relative to one another.

Those who say they reject one more conception of God than those who are monotheist imply that they believe in zero Gods.

John Clark told me he believes in one god less than I do, but when I asked him what that one god was that he rejected he refused. I think because he realized that it is something he does believe in.

(I had previously said to him mathematical truth has many properties of god, transcendant, infinite, eternal, uncreated, immutable, outside time, responsible for existance of you and the reality you experience. John had also said he was a Platonist.)



But you're not really getting me. The point was that the word 'atheist' conveys some information regardless of how God is defined and therefore clearly has utility.

It conveys some, I agree.

That if I call someone an atheist you know something about him even before you know his definition of God. ie. that he has one, and that he doesn't believe in it. In other words 'atheist' has use and meaning before we even begin to get into your muddle about the meaning of 'God'.

Right.



>> Free thought is also more in line with the a genuine scientific attitude, whereas many sects of atheism are prone to authority and dogmas.

Well I would disagree with you there. That sounds like scientism to me.

What is wrong with applying the scientific attitude as the took to develop beliefs about the world? Do you have a better way?

Also, I don't like the blind assumption that thoughts come freely rather than that they are determined.

I don't think free in "free thought" has the same meaning as free in "free will". I took it to mean unconstrained from the outside influences of institutions, traditions, dogmas, etc.



Moreover, I don't think there is a single kind of attitude that is 'genuinely scientific'.

Bruno says the attitude is encompassd by curiousity, humbleness, and clarity.

I suspect Galileo and Einstein were probably extremely pig headed and dogmatic, whereas Feynman and Darwin liked to play with ideas. All of them made progress in science. I get anxious when I hear people define what scientists should be like.

Maybe we can agree on what does not make for good science: incuriosity, arrogance, obfuscation.

Jason

Whatever gets the job done, I say. But thats another argument.

From: marc...@ulb.ac.be
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Hitch
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2013 11:59:16 +0200


On 09 Jul 2013, at 22:58, John Mikes wrote:

(See below): I do not fall for Brent's quip that you want to impose your extended (non-religious?) religion on us, so I continue.

Whatever you call 'religious' is continuation of millenia-long habits, hard to break. The Hindus have different ones - yet it IS religion. Atheists? Atheism? comes within the package. I am agnostic, BUT not in the God-related sense - agnostic of anything all we can state as 'knowable'. Including proof, evidence, and - yes - appearance, (of course "testability" included) what you use FOR the mind-body fantasy. It appears to our human 'mind' (in our latest human logic). What I am agnostic about.


But logic and proofs are for communicating theories, that is beliefs. Not knowledge. Logic is the most agnostic things we can met.




*
Now about my 'Steckenpferd': natural numbers. I asked you so many times to no avail.

?




You hide behind "it is SSOOO simple that you cannot explain it by even simpler cuts" or something similar.

I explained why it has to be like that. But we can agree on some axioms that I have given.





In my 'narrative' I figured that pre-caveman looking at his HANDS, FEET, EYES, and found that PAIR makes sense. (2, not 1). Then (s)he detected that PAIR consists of - well, - a PAIR, meaning 2 similars of ONE. And (s)he counted: ONE, ONE, PAIR (=TWO.)

Quite possible.


The rest may not exceed the mental capabilities of conventional anthropologists. Here we go into the NATURAL numbers. Some other animals got similarly into 3, 5, maybe the elephant into even more.

Some birds can count up to 36. They begin to make aggressive sonf when they heard 36 songs of their species in the neighborhood. I read this a long time ago, ---I have not verified this.




Then came the originators of the subsequent Roman (what I know of) numbering - looking at a HAND counting fingers. The group on a palm looks like a V, so it represented 5. With 2 drawn together at their pointed end for 10 (No decimal idea at this point). Four was too much, to count, so they took 1 off from the V: IV, (repeated later as IX etc.) and when it came to 4 X-s they got bored and drew only 2 lines recangulary together for 50, -- 40 similarly marked as XL (49 as IL).

Remember: subtracting was different in ancient Rome, you also included the start-up figure and subtracted it like 9-3 = (9,8,7) = 7 as the original old Julian calendar counted the dates, e.g. today: July 9: "ante diem septimum (7) Idus Julii" (the 7th day before the Idus of July) because July is a MILMO month when the Idus is not on the 13th as usual, but on the 15th). And NO ZERO, please.
So I doubt that the 'natural numbers' created the world.

That expression is misleading. All theories assumes the natural nulmbers, and what I show, is that if we are machine, it is undecidable if there is anything more. If we are machine, arithmetic (number + their addition and multiplication laws) is enough to explain the origin of a web of dreams and how the physical realities becomes apparent for the relative number points of view. And my point is not that this is true, but that this is empirically refutable.




Humans created the natural numbers. Just like they created the not- so-naturals (irrationals, infinites, you name them).

Is that not anthropocentrism? And where the humans come from?

Bruno




John M




On Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 5:25 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
John,


On 08 Jul 2013, at 23:03, John Mikes wrote:

After some million years of 'mental' development this animal arrived at the 'mental' fear. Usurpers exploited it by creating superpowers to target it with assigned intent to help, or destroy. The details were subject to the 'founders' benefit of enslaving the rest of the people into their rule. Such unquestionable tyranny lasted over the past millennia and it takes a long, hard, dangerous work to get out of it. The USA Constitution (18th c.) stepped ahead in SOME little political and economical ways, yet only a tiny little in liberating the people from the religious slavery: a so called 'separation' of state and church (not clearly identified to this day).

The problem is that once we separate religion from state, people still continue to be "religious" (authoritative) on something else. But it was a progress. Now we know that we have to separate also health from the state.



Th French revolution similarly targetted the religion, yet today - after numerous vocal enlightened minds - the country is still divided between Christian and Islamic fundamentalist trends.

Yes (even more clearly when including atheists in the christians).


In my view an 'atheist requires a god to disbelieve (deny?).

Indeed. Many atheists seems to take more seriously the Christian Gods than most christians theologians, who can seriously debate on the Aristotle/Plato difference.



Matter is figmentous and the 'origins' are beyond our reach.

It is certainly beyond any form of certainty, but simple theories (conjecture, ides, hypotheses) might exist. In particular the idea that we are machine can explain the origin of mind and matter appearances, in a testable way, except for the origin of the natural numbers which have to remain a complete mystery beyond reach of all machines.




Physical is a level of human development and there is infinite unknown - unknowable - we don't even guess.

OK.


Just musing

Thanks for that,

Bruno




John M

On Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

On 08 Jul 2013, at 19:53, meekerdb wrote:

On 7/8/2013 1:11 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

On 08 Jul 2013, at 02:45, meekerdb wrote:

On 7/7/2013 6:56 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:

On 07 Jul 2013, at 07:28, meekerdb wrote:




http://www.salon.com/2013/07/06/god_is_not_great_christopher_hitchens_is_not_a_liar/


I love Christopher Hitchens. I agree with many points. He is more an anticlerical than an atheist to me ...

Everybody called him an atheist. He called himself an atheist. I think you just don't like the term.

"atheism" is different in America and in Europa, although I have realized now that some atheists in America might be similar, but not Hitchens. Many people confuse agnosticism and atheism. Some atheists maintains the confusion to hide that they are believers (in "matter" and in the non existence of God).

I don't know any atheists who are shy about their belief that matter exists and God doesn't.

That is the problem.





Many people, and dictionaries, confuse agnosticism="that whether or not God exists is unknown"

That's the usual mundane sense of the word.




with agnosticism="that whether or not God exists is impossible to know".

That's a technical view by some philosophers.




I agree with Sam Harris that "atheist" is not a very useful appellation because it only describes someone in contrast to "theist". It just means they fail to believe in a God who is a person and whose approval one should seek.

Pebbles and chimpanzees fails too, but are not atheists in any reasonable sense. Most vindicative atheists really believe that god does not exist, and then they believe in a primitively material universe, even a Boolean one (without being aware of this in particular).

Also, many religions and theologies have other notion of Gods.




As Harris points out we don't invent words like awarmist to describe one who fails to believe there is global warming or anummerist to describe someone who's not sure about the existence of numbers.

Yes. I heard a catholic bishop, taking about a book written by a Belgian atheist, saying that the atheists are "our allies", "they keep advertising for us and (our) God" Then, at least around here, "Matter" is such a dogma that you can get problem when you dare to doubt it, "apparently" --- because they don't practice dialog, and ignore the embarrassing questions.

They don't practice science in the matter. For them you are just mad if you doubt ... basically the same theology of matter than the christians. Greek theology is allowed to be studied by historians, not by mathematicians. The atheists I know fight more the agnostic (in the mundane sense) than the radicals of any religion. Political correctness makes easy to defend 2+2=5, and impossible to defend 2+2=4.

We are all believers, and when a machine pretend to be a non believer, it means "I know", and she will impose her religion to you, by all means.

Bruno



http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/



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