The Reason to End all Reason?

ignorance-facts-do-not-cease-to-exist-because-ignoredSince Smalley offered a bonus reason in his “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m an Athiest”, I thought I’d follow suit. Really, I want to address the reason he didn’t give, and that other atheists have suggested in place of his entire list.

That is, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard “There’s only one reason to be an atheist: there’s no evidence that God exists”.

If this were true, it would make things very simple. All we’d need to do is point out moral truth, the existence of non-physical properties of the human mind, the fact that the universe needs an explanation for both its existence and structure, or any of the other evidences for God to wipe away this solitary reason why anyone should ever be an atheist.

Of course, I don’t honestly think there is only one reason an intelligent person might be an atheist, but those that do seem to have wagered quite a bit on its turning out to be true.

But I doubt that those who promote the “no evidence” argument will accept anything I’ve listed as proper evidence. In fact, I’ve had put to me many reasons why they are not. Some of these reasons are thoughtful, most of them are glib, but none of them are valid.

And, so far, all of them are based on the assumption that evidence is always physical.

In trying to figure out what the modern atheist’s problem with these things are, it always seems to come back to that. Whether its “There’s a physical explanation as to why you’d think that”, “Whatever affects ‘our reality’ can be weighed scientifically”, or something else, the bottom line is this idea that we shouldn’t believe something unless there’s physical evidence for it.

Of course, much of the evidence I named was physical, but that’s beside the point.

Put simply, this presumes scientism. We can’t simply insist, without evidence, that all evidence is physical then make proud declarations about what evidence does or doesn’t exist. This is assuming materialism in order to “prove” atheism, making it a circular argument. Rather, we first need to give a reason why all evidence is physical.

But this leads the materialist into a very difficult corner, because there’s absolutely no physical evidence to support the idea that all evidence is physical.

Generally, the response I get is further insistence that I “show” some non-physical things–as if the person asking doesn’t believe a mind, free will, moral truth, or even logical principles exist. What I never get is a bona fide reason to believe that all evidence is physical.

So, summing this up, along with Smalley’s points, we haven’t seen any reason at all to be a materialist. The reasons for belief in God, if they have any weight at all, will be the stronger case.

Of course, I’ve argued (and will continue to argue) that such reasons have substantial weight.

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34 responses to “The Reason to End all Reason?

  • violetwisp

    “All we’d need to do is point out moral truth, the existence of non-physical properties of the human mind, the fact that the universe needs an explanation for both its existence and structure, or any of the other evidences for God”

    You haven’t given any evidence for “moral truth” because there is none. It does not exist. That’s why the god depicted, for example, in the Bible, is unable to be morally consistent in its actions.

    Your assertion that there are non-physical properties of the human mind, or that the universe ‘needs’ an explanation are both standard god of the gaps arguments. Why do you assume humans have at only at this point reached the limits of our knowledge of the physical world? I’ve said before, if you think your god is all-powerful, it would certainly have the ability to create everything without leaving childish ‘design’ clues for the 21st century (the childish ‘design’ clues of previous centuries having been proved incorrect).

    What other evidences? Christians seem so fond of giving a list of things that obviously are not evidence then suggesting there are even more. If the top of your list that you bother to state makes no sense, what hope is there for the rest of it?

    • Debilis

      These points are argued for in other posts.

      The short version is that I’ve argued for moral truth based on the idea that it rests on experience in much the same way as belief in the material.

      The argument from mind is, demonstrably, not a god-of-the-gaps argument. It is not referring at all to things that science could explain, but simply hasn’t yet. It refers to questions that are simply outside the field of science. It would contradict science to even attempt to answer these questions.

      That is, science followed for a billion years, or an eternity, couldn’t explain the parts of the mind I’ve discussed.

      You are free to disagree with these arguments, of course, but simply stating that they are wrong is not a refutation. You need to address the reasons I’ve given there.

      And doing so requires understanding the arguments well enough to see that they are neither simple claims nor god-of-the-gaps reasoning.

  • Arkenaten

    Smalley “There’s only one reason to be an atheist: there’s no evidence that God exists”.
    Christian:(Paraphrase) “There’s only one reason to be a Christian: Jesus rose from the dead and he is God. Even though there is no evidence.”

    Guess which one I am going to plum for? Lol

    • Debilis

      Let’s rephrase that:

      (Not) Smalley (but other people):
      “There’s only one reason to be an atheist: there’s no evidence that God exists–even though there isn’t remotely any evidence for the materialism that I believe in”.

      Christian:
      “(Paraphrase) There are many reasons to be a Christian. Here is some of the evidence. But could you also give me some evidence to support your view? That only seems reasonable from one who insists on evidence.”

      Given this is how it has gone, I think it is clear which view one should plump for.

    • Debilis

      Again, I removed everything that wasn’t addressing the logic. In this particular case, that means all of it.

      And you are definitely free to unfollow my blog. My intent was always to address people less committed to atheism.

      But, if you do drop by in the future, be sure to address the logic of what is being said. Simply ridiculing is irrelevant to the truth.

      • Arkenaten

        Less committed to atheism? No problem, then looks like you will largely be talking to yourself.

        You have not made a single logical argument, not one, but if you ever do then maybe I’ll take the time to address it.
        T’raa!

        • Debilis

          Simply saying that an argument isn’t logical doesn’t make that the case. You need to actually explain how it is illogical.

          So, if you are up for that, I’ll be happy to discuss the logic. But, so far, we haven’t had any of that. We’ve only had mockery.

          That isn’t a rational response.

  • Keith Pinster

    “If this were true, it would make things very simple. All we’d need to do is…” – Okay, let’s begin.

    “… point out moral truth…” – There is no “moral truth. Morality is completely subjective based on the fact that every single person in the world has a different set of morals. They are completely based on the opinion of the observer, not something that can be quantified. You like to compare good and evil to physics, but in reality, they are actually compatible to beauty and ugliness. Morality is nothing more than an emotional reaction to a situation, with no objectivity at all.

    “…the existence of non-physical properties of the human mind…” – Once again, you have to PROVE that there ARE actually “non-physical properties” of the mind. The fact that emotions, memories, attitudes and everything else we associate with the mind can be manipulated simply by physical manipulation of the brain would HIGHLY suggest you know absolutely nothing about which you speak and that you are simply making up nonsensical elements to support your delusional superstition.

    “…the fact that the universe needs an explanation for both its existence and structure” – This is a “god of the gaps” argument, or, more precisely, an argument out of ignorance. Because we can’t absolutely say where the universe came from, you think that everyone should accept any crazy fairy tale that you present. The fact is, if you want to present a hypothesis to answer these questions, YOU must provide the evidence to support it. To date, you have only provided speculation and supposition with nothing at all to support this except your conviction. You say there *must* have been some creation agent because you can’t imagine natural processes creating it, but that’s just a lack of understanding on your part, not evidence to support your assertions.

    “…or any of the other evidences for God…” – The fact is, there IS NO EVIDENCE for the existence of your megalomaniac super-fairy. I have had any discussions with you on many of these threads and you have yet to present anything that has any substance to it. Every argument you present simply starts with the assumption that “there must be” so the foundation for everything you say is completely hollow.

    “…so far, all of them are based on the assumption that evidence is always physical.” – No, we base our our perspective on evidence. Period. If anything that you believe has any sort of influence in ANY way shape or form (including what you call “revelations”) on reality, then, by that very definition, you should be able to provide evidence to support it. Unfortunately, it has been so very easy to discount each and every assertion you have made because of lack of ANY evidence or even logical consistency.

    So, yes, it is understandable that you are sick and tired of hearing “you have no evidence”, but you will continue to hear it until you either produce some evidence or stop making your assertions publicly. Yes, you have the right to voice your opinion, but along with that right comes the right of everyone else to call you on your bullshit. If you have the right to make unfounded, nonsensical assertions, we have the right to point out that they are unfounded and nonsensical. You may not like it, but that is the nature (and not the supernature lol) of life.

    • Amyclae

      “Morality is nothing more than an emotional reaction to a situation, with no objectivity at all.”

      I don’t think that’s true in an anthropological sense. There is a certain continuity of moral precepts that has existed and does exist throughout the world that prevents any easy answers that morality is not grounded in anything at all. Perhaps it is religion, perhaps it is something supernatural, perhaps it is not. I’m not arguing that but I think it takes a very particular and narrow set of examples to conclude that there is no objective basis for any type of morality.

      “brain would HIGHLY suggest you know absolutely nothing about which you speak and that you are simply making up nonsensical elements to support your delusional superstition.”

      Hm, I’m certainly not an expert but many atheists (not to mention most philosophers) acknowledge their skepticism of a completely physicalist reductionism with regards to the brain. Daniel Dennett in his 1998 book The Intentional Stance broached these reservations. It is hard for me to believe that superstition, which you tie to non-physicalism, is the acting belief in Dennett’s philosophy of the mind.

      Is Daniel Dennett very nonsensical, in your estimation, or mildly nonsensical? I don’t think he cares either way, but I am curious.

      “You say there *must* have been some creation agent because you can’t imagine natural processes creating it, but that’s just a lack of understanding on your part, not evidence to support your assertions.”

      I have a hard time believing that all this screeching is doing anyone, anywhere any good. I’d like to point out that he can imagine a ‘natural’ process, the only thing is that in his world nature encompasses both physical and non-physical conceptions.

      My background scientific has lead me to other fields, and I’m no specialist in the genesis of the universe. Yet from what I gather, to say that ‘science cannot tell us what happened, ever’ is hardly a personal failing–as you seem to indicate. Such a luminary as Stephen Hawking personally believes that ‘science’ stops at the Big Bang and that he has no reason for why it began.

      “No, we base our our perspective on evidence. Period. If anything that you believe has any sort of influence in ANY way shape or form (including what you call “revelations”) on reality, then, by that very definition, you should be able to provide evidence to support it. Unfortunately, it has been so very easy to discount each and every assertion you have made because of lack of ANY evidence or even logical consistency.”

      Do ‘we’ base our perspective on evidence? You seem to indicate, quite conclusively, that the majority of the world seeks the type of evidence you do not consider evidence. It is ‘discountable.’ But, curiously, before saying this you continue with the conclusion that most of the world (‘we’) does use evidence. Logical consistency indeed.

      And, to be frank, what–if any–evidence could there ever be for the supernatural? Even if Jesus walked across the Potomac, the Tiber, the Euphrates, the Nile and the Danube all at the same time what–exactly–would that prove or disprove about the supernatural realm? To me, all it would prove would be that something (extraterrestrial at best?) was doing that. Not ‘Jesus’ not ‘God’ or anything like that. It all depends on the assumptions you bring to the event.

    • paarsurrey

      Foul words indicate one is short of reason; foul words don’t strengthen one’s arguments. Do they?

    • Debilis

      I find that I have little to add to Amyclae’s response, which was very well said.

      As such, the only point I’ll make here is that I still have no evidence of the materialism you have been supporting. If you believe in rejecting any view which lacks evidence, it should certainly go.

      Last, I should let you know that I deleted your other response. I didn’t see any contribution to the discussion it was making. And I’m trying to make it policy to erase things that are simply off-topic remarks and attacks.

  • paarsurrey

    The Atheists are superstitious; aren’t they?

        • Arkenaten

          No…I do not.
          Winged Horses, flying to heaven, Angels Talking to goat herders while sitting in a cave.

          [Message edited for profanity and personal attack]

        • paarsurrey

          There is no reason content in your post; please enrich your comments with good reasons.
          Thanks

        • Arkenaten

          Sorry, I have no time any more to pander to juveniles

        • paarsurrey

          It is OK.

          You are always welcome to give good reasons.

          Regards

        • Mark Hamilton

          I hate to say it, but the only juvenile behavior I’ve seen has been coming from you Ark. Unless you think calling someone you disagree with a “dickhead” is a sign of maturity.

        • Arkenaten

          No, Mark, Dickhead is the nicest adjective I use towards morons who believe in winged horses and pedophile prophets.
          Respect is earned and any discussion that demands I justify my worldview must first come to the party and lay their own credentials on the table for scrutiny. After all,
          this stuff is taught to kids as Truth and Fact, is it not , Mark.
          And some of these kids are told Allah is waiting for them while they walk into a packed shopping mall and detonate explosives strapped to their chest.

          Dickhead, Mark?
          Would you like to hear what I REALLY think, Mark? I don’t think so…

        • Mark Hamilton

          Juvenile is juvenile. Adults are polite, even towards their enemies. Calling people names is adolescent behavior.

        • Arkenaten

          And believing in a sky-daddy is grown up,is it, Mark?

          Smile…
          Sometimes the ridiculous is deserving of ridicule.
          As I said, be grateful it was only dickhead.
          I would love to have been a fly on the wall at your place when those planes flew into the twin towers. Or when they showed images of those Palestinians cheering when the news was announced.
          What’s it like to be so incredibly perfect, Mark?
          Careful your halo doesn’t slip and begin to throttle you.
          Lol…

        • paarsurrey

          @ Mark Hamilton:your comments of August 14th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

          Thanks
          I appreciate it.

  • Arkenaten

    @Mark

    http://religiousatrocities.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/egypt-10-year-old-girl-shot-dead-by-islamists-after-bible-class/

    Maybe you have a different word you would like to call those who follow Islam?

    [message edited for personal attack and profanity]

    • Mark Hamilton

      Should I call atheists by demeaning names just because Stalin killed and tortured thousands of ministers and pastors because they wouldn’t preach that the State was god? Insults are for people whose arguments lack enough weight on their own.

      • Arkenaten

        You can can Stalin all the names you like,Mark, he was what he was. He did what he did because he was psychotic NOT because he was an atheist, so don’ t go down that pot-holed route for your god’s sake, otherwise you’ll just make yourself look like a complete twit.
        You are a Christian and your arguments have never had weight,so what’s new?
        Did you read the article by the way? Nice people aren’t they? Got to love religion, right?

        • Mark Hamilton

          It’s arguable that those muslims committed those crimes not because they were muslims but because they are psychotic. Just as arguable as claiming Stalin did everything he did solely because of psychosis and not because of ideology. Can you prove it either way?

          In any case I still believe that name calling (especially crude name calling) is for juveniles, and for people without a real argument. It’s understandable if a teenager calls Stalin a “dickhead”. It’s less understandable when a grown man is just as crude.

        • Arkenaten

          Well, I am man that believes if you behave like an angel you fully deserve being called an angel, metaphorically of course because I don’t believe in that religious crap, as you well know, Mark.
          Conversely, if you behave like a murdering son of a bitch and shoot ten year old kids walking home from bible class or enter a Mosque and open fire on worshipers or strap a bomb to a young child and claim Allah instructed them or set off a car bomb down town somewhere in Afghanistan, or if you tell kids that they will burn in hell for lying or being naughty or prohibit contraceptives and hasten the death of people because of disease, or deny blood transfusion or vaccines ANY such nonsense then such a person fully deserves the epithet of dickhead.
          And if you disagree, which of course is you prerogative, then I think you also are a dickhead.
          Because, Mark, normal people do not do such things, only dickheads.
          Do we understand each other?
          Good show.

        • Mark Hamilton

          Feel free to call muderers whatever you want, but I don’t see how that excuses you insulting someone like paarsurry (and myself) simply because they disagree with you. We’ve murdered no one, and don’t support murder. The only reason you have for insulting us is because we have different beliefs, which is why I say that your behavior is the juvenile one here.

        • Arkenaten

          Well, I am not going to bother explaining it to you Mark, so be at peace with whatever you feel comfortable with.
          The next time a child is murdered because of Islam ask Paarsurrey once again to explain to you why Islam is a religion of peace.
          Perhaps being religious and believing in Yahweh who flooded the world and ordered the annihilation of the Canaanites among other niceties you might be able to appreciate this type of ”peaceful religion’ that he follows and defends.
          To me he is just a dickhead.

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