There is no god

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Rodolfo
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Re: There is no god

Postby Rodolfo » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:16 am



Oh, well, we all remember Carlsberg beer advertising themselves as 'probably the best beer in the world'. With all respect towards local regulations that I ignore, I guess that this anti God campaign is covered by any common freedom of expression law. At least I will defend to death anyones right to say whatever they want. Just do not do it with my money, or do not expect me to buy you anything if I do not like what you say, of course.


my dear Alex wrote:That is absolutely a valid point. However, at least they are not hiding behind "god", they take full responsibility for their actions. (That won't do the poor souls who get killed by the Stalins and Pol Pots of this world any good, I know.) But if you watch Religulous, for example, there is woman there standing in front of a sign which reads "death to homosexuals" or something like that who then says "I personally have nothing against homosexuals. Only god does." There you go, that's what I mean.

Here's another clip on the matter from our favorite show The West Wing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIJSQWsZNMk


So your cunning plan to end with crime and stupidity is to ban anything they may use as an excuse? I think I told you before, then the first thing we should ban is football :D

And the clip. Oh, the great great West Wing! Of course I agree with Bartlet. He is a catholic who knows a lot about his own religion (unlike the abismal ignorance usually shown by the antireligion gang, leaded here by the notable philosophers Jesper and Fullarton. I could attack religion better than you do :lol: ) and about religions in general. He is a moderate, unlike some members of his team (by the way, I am currently watching the final season, and, oh my, I never wanted so much to vote for someone as I would want to vote vor Vinnick! What a brilliant debate!) and here, he shows the stupidity of some opinion leader. Ok, so what? Freedom of expression!

I do not defend religion for my own interest and likeness, I defend freedom for all! Should stupid people be banned to vote, to talk in tv, to write in the newspapers? Will we have a government test to indicate how much each ones vote should weight? Should the people who belong to some ideological group wear an armband to warn others?

Do we still like democracy?
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Re: There is no god

Postby Tripod » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:20 am

Rodolfo wrote:I do not defend religion for my own interest and likeness, I defend freedom for all! Should stupid people be banned to vote, to talk in tv, to write in the newspapers? Will we have a government test to indicate how much each ones vote should weight? Should the people who belong to some ideological group wear an armband to warn others?

Do we still like democracy?


More tough questions. Obviously, we can't get around religious freedom. However, there are good reasons why we in our western democracies have chosen to separate church from state. It is especially odd in the United States, where the Republicans claim they represent the "real America" which they also call "god's chosen country" and often seem to compare their founding fathers to Jesus and his apostles. While exactly those founding fathers were very critical of the influence of religion on politics and did their best to avoid it. Precisely so that no decisions can be made using the "reason": "god told me/us to do something" (invade a country or lower taxes etc). And we can be pretty sure: There are very worldly reasons that lead to such decisions only they don't want to tell us about them - probably because they are morally most questionable, ha, how fitting considering religious peoplke claim to be morally superior.

So that is the destinction I definitely want to make. Individuals are of course totally free to choose their religions, though I certainly feel (like I said in my first post in this thread) they should be educated so that they grasp what atrocities they are supporting, indirectly mostly, but nonetheless. But there's no place for a god in government. Heck, sure members of government can be religious people in private, but as soon as they enter their office they should do their utmost to leave that behind.
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Re: There is no god

Postby Rodolfo » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:25 pm

Good writing, as usual. In my opinion, the separation church - state is a wonderful achievement (and so said the pope a short time ago). And also, in the United States have a modelic separation church - state. Much bigger, for example, than that we have in Spain, to talk of what I know directly.

They have religion completely out of schools, and we have some funny examples in The Simpsons (and also I remember one not so funny in The West Wing: some policemen arresting children for praying in school). If you want religious education, spend you sunday morning in your favourite church. The government gives exactly the same treatment to all religions, including some funny ones like the scientology. They have that great 1st amendment. Only, they happen to be mostly religious, or they say so because it sells. If some country happens to have a president justifying his acts because of God's will, and people keep on voting him, I have nothing to say about it excep that that is how democracy works. Same if you take out God and say Satan.

'There's no place for a god in government' is acceptable as long as it means that the government has a neutral view on religion, we all can support that. However that can not mean that the points of view of religious people can be excluded. Take for instance abortion, some people would say that christians should not be listened, and we would say, 1st, that then you do not like democracy, and 2dn, that there are non religious reasons that we may like to discuss. But again, we should not even reach 2nd, because ¿What kind of democracy is that who says 'this group must not be taken in consideration'? Who will be the bureaucrat in charge of disregarding religious opinions? How long until we have the Ministry of Truth?

About the indirect atrocities, oh well... None of us could ever look our flag with pride and love if we kept in mind the atrocities our country (and absolutelly all did) in the past. I believe that there is no such thing as neutral education, and that we are all indoctrinated, one way or the other. I, at least, laugh in the face of anyone who calls himself 'freethinker'. We all belong to some herd, and I would even add that there is nothing wrong about feeling morally superior to those of the other herd, just as long as you do not abuse the others. That is my idea of tolerance, it does not mean to accept anything, but not to care about others thinking different.
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Re: There is no god

Postby dnielsen » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:49 pm

Tripod wrote:
Rodolfo wrote:I do not defend religion for my own interest and likeness, I defend freedom for all! Should stupid people be banned to vote, to talk in tv, to write in the newspapers? Will we have a government test to indicate how much each ones vote should weight? Should the people who belong to some ideological group wear an armband to warn others?

Do we still like democracy?


More tough questions. Obviously, we can't get around religious freedom. However, there are good reasons why we in our western democracies have chosen to separate church from state. It is especially odd in the United States, where the Republicans claim they represent the "real America" which they also call "god's chosen country" and often seem to compare their founding fathers to Jesus and his apostles. While exactly those founding fathers were very critical of the influence of religion on politics and did their best to avoid it. Precisely so that no decisions can be made using the "reason": "god told me/us to do something" (invade a country or lower taxes etc). And we can be pretty sure: There are very worldly reasons that lead to such decisions only they don't want to tell us about them - probably because they are morally most questionable, ha, how fitting considering religious peoplke claim to be morally superior.

So that is the destinction I definitely want to make. Individuals are of course totally free to choose their religions, though I certainly feel (like I said in my first post in this thread) they should be educated so that they grasp what atrocities they are supporting, indirectly mostly, but nonetheless. But there's no place for a god in government. Heck, sure members of government can be religious people in private, but as soon as they enter their office they should do their utmost to leave that behind.


I am not familiar with discussions about the philosophy of separating church from state, but I can imagine that there is an important distinction to make:

1) It's one thing to separate the church as institution from the state,
2) while it is another thing to separate religion from the state.

I would further imagine that philosophers and founding fathers have focused more on 1 than on 2 in their thinking. That is, they don't want the pope to decide who should be regent, and they don't want the pope to decide what should be the law of the land and what shouldn't. On the other hand, this does NOT necessarily mean that we don't want to promote certain religious practices, as long as it is the state and not the church that makes the decisions.

As an example, let's assume that some elected head of state lets his decisions be guided by his religious beliefs. Then I don't agree that this violates the principle of separating church from state. The point is that the head of state was democratically elected, so his decisions have validity due to him being the legitimate head of state, period. It doesn't matter if his decisions are then guided by his religious beliefs, astrology, Marxism, or whatever. That is, you can't say that if he happens to use religion as guidance, then his decisions are less legitimate than if he chooses to use some other source of guidance. He is free to use whatever he likes, and then it is the job of the voters to decide if they want him as leader. The state is ruler, and the head of the state represents the state. The church as institution is still entirely out of the loop.

One typically discussed question is whether to allow religious symbols in public institutions. In France, they have draconian measures against this, while in the US, the verdict seems to be continuously discussed. However, I think that it is an important point that if you do want to constitutionally disallow religious symbols in public institutions, then you are not doing it as part of separating church from state (as in separating the three branches of state, and then ruling out other branches), but rather, you are disallowing the state from having a choice itself on these matters.

All this I say to explain why I find it wrong to criticise politicians for letting religious beliefs interfere with their decision making process. When doing this, you are in practice saying that some belief systems are unacceptable per se, and then you are short-cutting the democratic process. You have chosen to decide instead of letting the voters decide. It is indeed OK for you to recommend that we choose politicians who will "forget" about anything religious when elected, but it would be wrong of you to criticise people simply for not following your recommendation. Their choice should be respected, also if they choose to elect a religiously guided leader.

As a final word, I can't see what is so harmful per se about electing leaders who base their decisions on religious considerations. The reason is that I can't really see any principled difference between religious belief (and decision making) systems and other belief systems. To me, there is no fundamental difference between using "I believe killing is wrong and this belief happens to coincide with certain religious views on this matter" to decide on whether to outlaw murder, and instead use something like "I believe killing is wrong since, if allowed, it would have the following bad consequences from an utilitarian point of view" and then maybe "I believe it doesn't really matter, so I will just make a coin-flip", or finally "I believe it is wrong since the Holy Book says so". You are just using different belief/decision systems, but you can't say that "some of these systems are worse than others, period". Again, shouldn't all this be up to the voters to decide (and for you to respect once decided)? (edited addtion: In other words: The decision of the leader is always right by definition (as long as it doesn't violate the law), simply because he was democratically elected. No other measure has absolute validity.)
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Re: There is no god

Postby Tripod » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:21 pm

I find atheists (or should that be Dawkinsists now, as he is their prophet) can be quite an arrogant bunch. If atheists could prove successfully that there is not a God, then they would have a better platform. Unfortunately the standard approach is to treat agnostics or believers as if they are mentally ill and talk down to them like children. This just makes me want to fight on the opposite side. Guys, if you have the answers to everything, please give us your coherent world view in full - leaving NO GAPS or unexplained ideas - instead of self-satisfied, cheap comments. Then we can set upon you and tear you apart.


I guess it's fighting fire with fire. You are asking atheists to shut up and keep their beliefs to themselves - which I could accept if you asked religious people to do the same. But that would be the end of churches and services surely. I went to a boarding school with daily chapel attendance and I was taught that you basically cannot be a good Christian if you don't go out and preach the gospel, the good word, that our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, son of god, has taken upon himself all our sins and so on.

As an example, let's assume that some elected head of state lets his decisions be guided by his religious beliefs. Then I don't agree that this violates the principle of separating church from state. The point is that the head of state was democratically elected, so his decisions have validity due to him being the legitimate head of state, period.


There is a great episode of the great TV series The West Wing on that matter (for Rodolfo: When Bartlett and Vinnick meet and have ice cream). Watch that and I won't need to say more about it. The problem starts with a candidate being asked if he is religious or not. I am pretty sure that question should not be asked, you do not need to know, to me it's a private matter. And it'd be great if it were treated that way.

Though you are right, Dagh, indeed the phrase was used in the sense of separating the institutions of church and state. But...

That is, they don't want the pope to decide who should be regent, and they don't want the pope to decide what should be the law of the land and what shouldn't.


If your elected person happens to be a roman catholic then indirectly the pope does decide on these matters. So I'm not sure if that distinction is any good.

If your pope tells you that using a condom is a sin, where does that lead us? To the spreading of aids, teen pregnancies and all that. So look at studies at what happens in the US of A. Millions are being spent on sex education, but only on "abstinence only" programs (no sex before marriage) which sadly don't quite seem to work and the rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are far higher than in Europe. So there, a good example of a religious view influencing how the government acts and it's just not what is best for the people.

To me, there is no fundamental difference between using "I believe killing is wrong and this belief happens to coincide with certain religious views...


I have been fascinated again and again by religious people claiming they are morally superior, they actually think being atheist means you have no morals. Which is absolutely rubbish. The core principle "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you"* (which should cover murder, stealing and all the rest) is valid for all of us, it's certainly a rule I try to live by. So you are only right about there being no fundamental difference if the religion in question preaches exactly that. Admittedly they all claim to preach just that and yet a lot of blood has been shed in their names and a lot of other things I am not happy with.

*I believe I am quoting the Bible here but fortunately Robert has already said the Bible is just a product of man.

'There's no place for a god in government' is acceptable as long as it means that the government has a neutral view on religion, we all can support that. However that can not mean that the points of view of religious people can be excluded. Take for instance abortion...


Oh yeah, let's take abortion... show me a place in the Bible, the holy book, which talks about abortion. There isn't one. So where does that leave religious people? With their own moral beliefs. Or, back to the problem of religion as a whole, the moral beliefs of those that preach to them - who claim to proclaim god's word but really are only saying what they personally think.
Last edited by Tripod on Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: There is no god

Postby Rodolfo » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:34 pm

Alex wrote:I have been fascinated again and again by religious people claiming they are morally superior, they actually think being atheist means you have no morals. Which is absolutely rubbish. The core principle "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you" (which should cover murder, stealing and all the rest) is valid for all of us, it's certainly a rule I try to live by. So you are only right about there being no fundamental difference if the religion in question preaches exactly that. Admittedly they all claim to preach just that and yet a lot of blood has been shed in their names and a lot of other things I am not happy with.


Look who is talking, I remember you had some problems with the law for running in the night with swords :lol:
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Re: There is no god

Postby Tripod » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:44 pm

Oh please, who wouldn't want to have his car attacked by a samurai sword? Everybody of course. So it fits perfectly with my rule. :)
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Re: There is no god

Postby Robert » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:50 am

Well done to this guy for making a stand http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7832647.stm against people imposing their anti-religion on others.
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Re: There is no god

Postby Bounty Bob » Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:26 am

Give him the sack ffs.
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Re: There is no god

Postby uncle_colin » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:23 pm

I've joined this discussion late, but all I will say is that the statement on the bus isn't an atheist statement, it's entirely agnostic, which goes to show how stupid these people really are, they don't even know their own beliefs. "There proabably is no God" - how half-assed can you get? Seems like they're hedging their bets! :lol:

I don't have much time for atheists anyway. It seems such an idiotic view to completely cancel out the possibility of a higher being. pffft. Fortunately for them God will save them as well as his believers.
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Re: There is no god

Postby Bounty Bob » Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:22 pm

uncle_colin wrote:I've joined this discussion late, but all I will say is that the statement on the bus isn't an atheist statement, it's entirely agnostic, which goes to show how stupid these people really are, they don't even know their own beliefs. "There proabably is no God" - how half-assed can you get? Seems like they're hedging their bets! :lol:
Not contradictory at all. From a scientific point of view, it can't be proven that there is no god, so a rational person can only say that there probably isn't one. The zealous atheists that say there definitely is not a god are just as bad as the religious zealots that say there definitely is. Neither one can prove it.
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Re: There is no god

Postby Steve1977 » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:10 pm

Wonka: Christians used to kill anyone who didn't believe what they did! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrusadeI'm not an expert on the subject but it doesent sound too disimilar to what's going on now to be honest where you have the Bush Puppet 'Bin Laden' supporting acts of terrorism ' in the name of Islam' and you have Bush and previously Blair going to war with Iraq 'after conversing with God'. Infact it's all f*cked up really.

Meanwhile us saps who may not quite believe in any specific religion, live our life how we feel it should be - Don't steal, treat people how we want to be treated ourselves - are caught in the cross fire of these religious nuts!


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Re: There is no god

Postby Davetoast » Sat Jan 17, 2009 5:01 pm

Hi Dagh. Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back to you on this. I just haven't had the appropriate chunk of free time to devote to it until now.

Dagh: The amusing thing for me is that, while many atheist often claim to be the only rational people, I often find them to be the least rational people for exactly this reason.

DT: No doubt there are plenty of irrational atheists but that's really neither here nor there. What matters is if atheism is a rational position, the corollary of which is of course by necessity, whether theism is a rational position.

Dagh: It is not particularly interesting to discuss whether atheism is a rational position, since it is (or rather, can be, relative to a belief system).

We're going to have to start defining our terms to make sure we're talking about the same thing when we use certain words pertinent to the subject at hand.


Main Entry: ra•tio•nal
Pronunciation: \ˈrash-nəl, ˈra-shə-nəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English racional, from Anglo-French racionel, from Latin rationalis, from ration-, ratio
Date: 14th century

1 a: having reason or understanding b: relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason : reasonable <a rational explanation> <rational behavior>

Main Entry: rea•son
Pronunciation: \ˈrē-zən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English resoun, from Anglo-French raisun, from Latin ration-, ratio reason, computation, from reri to calculate, think; probably akin to Gothic rathjo account, explanation
Date: 13th century

1 a: a statement offered in explanation or justification <gave reasons that were quite satisfactory> b: a rational ground or motive <a good reason to act soon> c: a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense ; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact <the reasons behind her client's action> d: the thing that makes some fact intelligible : cause <the reason for earthquakes> <the real reason why he wanted me to stay — Graham Greene>
2 a (1): the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways : intelligence (2): proper exercise of the mind (3): sanity b: the sum of the intellectual powers



Positions held are not rational and reasonable relative to a belief system by merit of said belief system holding some measure of internal consistency. A belief system having some measure of consistency involved in its formation is not the measure of whether said belief system is rational and reasonable either. I could create a belief system whereby true is false and false is true, and I could create it with some measure of consistency with other beliefs that are part of the belief system. But it would not be a rational or reasonable belief system by merit of it being inconsistent with the truth, the truth being that it is true that true is true and it is also true that false is false.

So consistency is the measure of the rationality and reasonability of a belief system, but that measure it is not related to the belief system's internal consistency relative to itself, it is related to the belief system's consistency with truth, truth and falsity being what rationality and reason are based on.

As such, it is interesting to discuss whether atheism is a rational position when we are trying to assess whether a belief system which holds it to be true that 'God does not exist' or that 'God does exist', because that is the measure of the rationality of the position, and therefore the measure of the consistency with truth of the belief system.

We haven't got our wires crossed btw. I understand what you're saying in that a belief system is just a personal tool for navigating existence and that belief system's rationality is really just a function of its internal consistency - how well it fits together. I'm just contending that this is not the case at all, otherwise all belief systems would be rational by dint of their all having some measure of internal consistency. I'm saying the measure of rationality and reasonableness is consistency with truth and therefore that the measure of the rationality and reasonableness of a belief system is a function of the consistency with truth of the tenets held to be true within the belief system.

Dagh: Let's be sure we talk about the same thing when we say atheism.

I think this one's pretty simple. Atheism is the negation of theism.


Main Entry: the•ism
Pronunciation: \ˈthē-ˌi-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1678

: belief in the existence of a god or gods ; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world


Dagh: What I mean is that it is not necessarily irrational to believe there is no god. I would also say that it is not necessarily irrational to believe there is a God. However, I would find it irrational (or rather, immature) to claim that it is irrational per se NOT to adopt either view. The problem is that many atheists claim exactly that it is irrational not to adopt the view that there is no god.

Well often that claim is just based on hubris, being as the supposed atheist stating it merely believes (as opposed to knows) that there is no God. So I would agree with you in such cases, their proselytising would be hypocritical and therefore irrational. However, were it possible to know that there is no God, and an atheist is possession of such knowledge were to state that it is irrational to believe otherwise, such a statement from such a person would be completely rational.

Dagh: The point is that they don't understand the valid scope of a belief like "there is no god". A sentence like "there is no god" (or "there exists a God") is a part of a person's world view, expressed like a postulate. This world view is, to me, nothing but a personal tool. It has no scope beyond that.

DT: Other people's worldview certainly has plenty of influence on the world I live in. Their beliefs are projected out into the world with their every action, each having its effect.

I think you might have missed this one mate. I'm saying that people's worldviews do not sit in isolation from the world and have plenty of scope to act and effect within it. As such, worldviews are likely to produce a world which is rational to the same extent as the concomitant actions and effects that worldview necessitates. What do you think?

Dagh: It is, to me, simply immature to believe that any personal world view somehow corresponds correctly to The Truth (Whatever That Is Beyond Just A Part Of Some Other Meta World View).

DT: This is an incoherent statement Dagh. Firstly it makes a statement about truth, only to then say that it doesn't know what truth is beyond being a worldview.

Dagh: No, it is not a statement about truth. It is a statement about it being immature to hold certain views about how world views correspond to The Truth.

Yes, there is an element of this statement that refers to The Truth, therefore this statement concerns itself with truth to that extent. To then say that you don't know what the truth is invalidates the statement entirely, for it is a claim of truth about unproven unknowns.

It's like saying that 'it is immature to hold certain views about how worldviews correspond to scientific fact, whatever scientific fact is', i.e. it somehow attempts to draw a correspondence relationship between worldviews and something it doesn't understand, and pronounces it immature to hold views that claim to understand the part it doesn't understand. Do you see that it simply couldn't know?

Dagh: When I tell you that I find certain beliefs and ways of thinking immature, I do not by necessity imply any claims about the objects (here, Truth) of said ways of thinking.

This is wanting to have your cake and eat it. If you claim that it is immature (implying poorly reasoned) to believe that a worldview corresponds to truth, you are most definitely, by necessity, implying a claim about truth - namely that it is immature to think that truth has a correlative relationship with the tenets of a belief system. Like it or not, this statement concerns itself with a definitive article - truth - and then goes on to say that it doesn't really know what truth is, thereby invalidating itself.

You can’t replace the word ‘wrong’ with ‘immature’ and somehow thereby get away with saying you think people are wrong without actually saying that, because that is what you are saying, you believe/think that people are wrong/incorrect/in error/not as right/whatever if they don’t ‘understand the valid scope of a belief system’.

This is the kind of irrational hoodwinkery that post-modern relativism is forced into in order to try to sustain itself. It works with definitive articles and absolutes all the time, yet it doesn't understand that it does and actually believes that it doesn't. Thus it attempts to cover its pronouncing things right or wrong, good or bad, by substituting with words like immature, as though that makes any difference to what it's really saying.

DT: Secondly, it is in itself a statement of a position which it thinks 'corresponds correctly to The Truth'.

Dagh: Secondly, I certainly do not make a statement of a position which I/it myself thinks 'corresponds correctly to The Truth'.

But you do mate. You are saying that you think it is true that it is "immature to believe that any personal world view somehow corresponds correctly to The Truth". You think this statement corresponds correctly to truth, otherwise it would be meaningless to you, meaning being a function of truth.

Dagh: Trust me on this: I navigate my daily life perfectly fine making all kinds of statements about this or that without ever implying that said statements correspond to some truth.

Is what you've just said here true, or not true?

I can't just trust you on faith because you say it is so (claim it to be true) as that would be irrational (As Neitzsche said, faith is not wanting to know the truth). I must judge its veracity according to what it says, and it says that you think it is true that you think you can make statements which you think are true without implying that said statements corresponds to truth. I can only therefore judge that this statement is inconsistent with truth, being as it claims truth to be two different things, and it’s therefore incoherent.

If you were to preface each statement you make with ‘I believe’, then you could of course make statements without implying that they correspond to truth, but that would only be because in prefacing each statement with ‘I believe’, you are really saying that you don’t know what follows in the statement to be true, but you think it to be the case anyway. Not much of a claim really.

Dagh: Fundamentally, I think you may have a problem in that you think that any statement or system of statements can and should be assigned a truth system to them.

Funnily enough, I think you have a problem in that you think it inappropriate to assign truth value to statements, being as that is the entirity of what truth is - a statement's consistency with its premises and logical inference thereon.

Dagh: First, such truth systems are generally not necessary,

If statements are to have any meaning whatsoever, relative to what they reference, they must have a truth value, by necessity. There is simply no coherent meaning without truth and falsity. Therefore, to the extent that communication is to have decipherable meaning, it necessarily has truth value.

Dagh: and secondly, even if you do insist on assigning truth values to statements, you will have a hard time to explain to me how those truth values and truth systems are anything more than just conveniently chosen tools.

Firstly, I don't 'insist on assigning truth value to statements'. Truth value is simply a necessary property of statements which gives them meaning. This isn't some arbitrary insistence of mine, it's just the way existence works. It’s more a question of whether one has been caused to understand that or not.

Secondly, I wouldn't attempt to convince you that truth systems are anything but tools, because that is what they are when we use them. I would however argue that they are not 'conveniently chosen', as though there is any choice in the matter. We don't just arbitrarily choose them or make them up for the purposes of some end or other, they are the way the mind works and if we want our conclusions to be rational, we have no choice but to use them. Without the use of this unique and precious tool evolution has granted us access to, humanity would have got nowhere.

Dagh: To see it from a slightly different angle: It is, to me, immature, even childish, to go around and say: "My view of the world is CORRECT, and you are irrational if you do not share with me this view of the world." But this is actually pretty much what you do when you go around and say that "all world views that don't share this property X with my world view are wrong".

DT: I just don't understand mate, if something is correct then it is, by definition, irrational to believe otherwise.

It seems to me immature to want to believe that something incorrect is actually true. I think that's pretty self-explanatory. But you seem to take the opposite position here. Am I just reading you wrong or, if not, could you elaborate on that position?

Dagh: I will elaborate. What I say is that I think it is immature to think that some beliefs or belief systems are Absolutely Correct according to some Truth or Reality.

In other words, you think it is absolutely correct according to your truth or reality that ‘it is immature to think that some beliefs or belief systems are Absolutely Correct according to some Truth or Reality’. Either that or you’re really saying that you just BELIEVE this to be the case, without actually knowing it or being able to reason why it is so, in which case we’ve just wasted our time reading blind conjecture.

Dagh: You say that "if something is correct then it is, by definition, irrational to believe otherwise", but when doing that, you imply exactly such an absolute concept of correctness.

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing, and I’ve stated such explicitly when I said that ‘truth by definition is rationally undeniable and categorical’. I’m surprised you didn’t answer that one as it seems to be the crux of our primary disagreement here. So, to use my previous example of absolute truth by definition, ‘All bachelors are unmarried’, could you show me how, in any way, that statement is anything but absolute truth? And could you show me how it would be rational to believe that all or any bachelors are in fact married?

Dagh: But I can create a consistent system of beliefs where "there is a God" is part of the system. I can also create a consitent system of beliefs where "there is no god" is part of the system. Both systems are not irrational, by virtue of being consistent.

As previously, a belief system’s internal consistency with respect to itself is not the measure of its rationality. Someone could create a belief system in which all fantasy entities ever created are real. This belief system would obviously be highly consistent within itself. Yet a person who believes in unicorns, pixies, chupacabras, incubus, succubus, Odin, the Man from Atlantis, Batman, Posiedon, dragons, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Loch Ness Monster, Woodland Christmas Critters, God, etc. is a rational person by your measure.

Dagh: In other words, it can, at the same time, be rational for person A to believe in God and also be rational for person B not to believe in god.

Is that true?

It’s not that it would be rational in both cases. Sure, they’d both be valid belief systems as far as being tools for navigating existence is concerned but the tenets that each of these belief systems are based on could not both be true, and to the extent that either tenet were correct/incorrect, the belief system involved would be based on rational/irrational beliefs. So if one person believed that all bachelors are unmarried and another person believed that all bachelors are married, they could both use these belief systems as tools to navigate existence but only one of them would have a belief system based on rational tenets. As such, the person with the belief system based on rational tenets would likely be able to use their belief system tool to more skillfully and realistically navigate existence.

I do not want to believe that "something incorrect is actually true". I do not even work with concepts such as (absolutely) incorrect and (absolutely) true in the first place.

But you do work with such concepts. Your every word does, as does everyone else’s. You, like many of them, simply don’t realise that.

So, for instance, in your above statement, “I do not even work with concepts such as (absolutely) incorrect and (absolutely) true in the first place.”, you are making the definitive statement that you think it is absolutely correct that you do not do such. You are of course mistaken in thinking that, being as the opposite is the case, but nevertheless you are working with concepts of absolute truth.

Dagh: So, the statements "I believe in God" and "I believe there is no god" are similar, and this is what some atheists need to understand.

DT: They are similar in that they both express a belief. And you're right in that by far the largest proportion of atheists are atheists by merit only of a belief.

Dagh: The statements are both just a part of some personal view of the world and not by some divine or scientific intervention "True"

DT: Yes, they're both belief systems. A belief system has no truth value.

But the statement of the tenets of a belief system have truth value.

Dagh: Can you elaborate on what you mean when you say that "tenets of a belief system have (absolute) truth value"?

Main Entry: te•net
Pronunciation: \ˈte-nət also ˈtē-nət\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, he holds, from tenēre to hold
Date: circa 1600

: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true ; especially : one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession



So, for instance, some religious fundamentalists believe it is correct to kill in the name of religion. A statement of that tenet that they hold to be true might be something like ‘Killing in the name of God is correct action’. The truth value of this statement can then be assessed. The veracity of this statement can be tested against ethical premises, such as the universal right to self-ownership that I’ve talked about elsewhere. As such, it can be shown to be an untrue statement, ethically. Such a truth is not necessarily absolute, in fact in this case it is true only in the context of a given logically sound ethical framework, according to the axioms of that framework. We are not working with absolute definitional truth here as axioms are givens, taken as read. However, if someone were to believe that ‘All bachelors are married’, we could know 100% for certain that this tenet of their belief system is absolutely untrue.

Definition is the key to absolute truth. At some point, hopefully we’ll get to the more common definitions of God and see what reason has to say about their veriacity. But doing that is pointless unless we're on the same page with regard to meaning and truth.

Dagh: and the only reasonable stance to take on the question of whether there is a god or not.

DT: Whether one or the other or both or neither are reasonable stances depends on the truth value of the statement of the tenets of each belief system.

Dagh: No. They are reasonable to the extend that they do not hold inconsistencies, and are not nonsensical.

Do you see how you are telling me that I am wrong here, and what that implies?

Dealing with the question of internal consistency versus consistency with truth would just be to repeat myself. We can deal with the word ‘nonsensical’ though.


Main Entry: 1non•sense
Pronunciation: \ˈnän-ˌsen(t)s, ˈnän(t)-sən(t)s\
Function: noun
Date: 1614

1 a: words or language having no meaning or conveying no intelligible ideas b (1): language, conduct, or an idea that is absurd or contrary to good sense (2): an instance of absurd action


Main Entry: 1sense
Pronunciation: \ˈsen(t)s\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French sen, sens sensation, feeling, mechanism of perception, meaning, from Latin sensus, from sentire to perceive, feel; perhaps akin to Old High German sinnan to go, strive, Old English sith journey — more at send
Date: 14th century

6 a: capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response : intelligence b: sound mental capacity and understanding typically marked by shrewdness and practicality ; also : agreement with or satisfaction of such power <this decision makes sense>



So, to the extent that the statement 'all bachelors are married' is not marked by good sense, so too a belief in such is nonsensical.

DT: So surely, to the extent that those tenets are true or false, the respective belief system can be said to be reasonable or not so.

Dagh: Are you claiming that unless I make a judgement on whether the tenets of a belief system are true of false (whatever that means), I cannot make a judgement on whether said belief system is reasonable?

Why, are you going to tell me that I’m wrong if that is what I’m saying?

That is in fact exactly what I’m saying, unless we want to make a mockery of the meaning of the word ‘reasonable’ and the concept of sound judgement.

Main Entry: rea•son•able
Pronunciation: \ˈrēz-nə-bəl, ˈrē-zən-ə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Date: 14th century

1 a: being in accordance with reason <a reasonable theory> b: not extreme or excessive <reasonable requests> c: moderate , fair <a reasonable chance> <a reasonable price> d: inexpensive2 a: having the faculty of reason b: possessing sound judgment <a reasonable man>



Sure, people can make judgements about other’s beliefs left, right and centre if they wish, but that judgement will not be a sound one - not a reasonable one - a guess at best - unless it relates to that in which the belief is held. And that in which a belief is held is a tenet.

For instance, someone could tell me that they believe that information cannot escape the event horizon of a black hole because Stephen Hawking says so and they think he knows what he’s on about. I could guess that to be a reasonable belief, based on their reasoning about Hawking’s expertise. But I couldn’t know that it is a reasonable belief unless I checked it out myself. In doing so, I discover that they’ve actually misread him and Hawking actually says the exact opposite of what they believe. Thus I have judged soundly, instead of guessing.

Anyone can judge anything any way they like. Their judgement, however, will only be sound if their reasoning is sound.

DT: Whether these respective belief systems are useful in navigating existence, regardless of the truth value of the statement of their tenets, is another question entirely. The reasonableness of each position is not somehow exempt from judgement by dint of their both being useful belief systems towards some end. It is the truth value of what those respective beliefs are placed in that matters, when it comes to deciding whether they are reasonable or not, by definition of the word reasonable.

Dagh: In this context, "Reasonable" to me mainly means something like "consistent and not nonsensical".

Yes, consistent as in consistent with reason, and not nonsensical as in consistent with reason. If something is reasonable, it is consistent with reason.

Dagh: Please note that it is possible for me to make a judgement on the consistency without assigning truth values to the tenets of a belief system. This judgement would have the form of "no consistency has of yet been discovered" or "these two parts seem inconsistent".

Then it wouldn’t be much of a judgement - ‘This belief system is reasonable/unreasonable because no consistency has yet been discovered or because these two parts seem inconsistent.’ It’s vague to the extreme and practically meaningless thereby.

Sorry mate, this makes no sense. There is nothing else involved in assessing the reasonableness of a belief system besides assessing the reasonableness of its tenets. That’s what it’s comprised of. If you are assessing how many cars are on a car park, you have to count them. If you are assessing the volume of a cube, you need to measure the length of one of its sides. If you are assessing which of these kids is doing their own thing, you have to look at the group of kids. If you are deciding whether to send a man to prison, you have to look at the evidence. That’s what judging is.

To judge the internal consistency and/or usefulness of a belief system is not to judge its reasonableness.

Dagh: They are a part of a tool/world view with which we grasp events in our lives and communicate with each other about them. It is immature to think that other people MUST be WRONG if they have a differently shaped world view (since it is immature to think that there is such a thing as a correct view of the world in the first place).

DT: It is definitely irrational to think that others must be wrong when their views differ to yours if and only if your view is based on unproven belief. But if your view is based on proven truth, then surely you would be irrational not to think that others must be wrong if they disagree with that proven truth?

Dagh: Please note that while I make a statement about it being immature to think in a certain way, you reply about whether it is irrational to think in a certain way.

Indeed, because that's what you actually mean but you just try to say it in not so many words. By immature, you imply that it is lacking in some way, some way not lacked by a mature view. The some way you're talking about is understanding. So, in saying it is immature, you are saying that it is lacking in understanding. Need I cite the definition of understanding and draw its relationship with reason and truth?

Please understand that muddying the waters by using distantly related synonyms does not somehow relieve you of responsibility for what you're really saying. And that's what the use of such devices is really trying to do, knowingly or not.

Dagh: I maintain that it is immature to think that there is such a thing as a correct view of the world,

Main Entry: 2correct
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, corrected, from Latin correctus, from past participle of corrigere
Date: 1668

2 : conforming to or agreeing with fact, logic, or known truth <a correct response


So, now we've broken it down, we can see that what you're saying here is that it is lacking in understanding to think that worldviews can conform or agree with facts, logic, or known truth about the world.

Obviously you find the concepts of right and wrong to be wrong :) but can you see how the above is just plain wrong? And in fact it is that case that it is lacking in understanding to think that worldviews cannot conform or agree with facts, logic, or known truth about the world. In other words, it is immature to think that there is not such a thing as a correct view of the world.

Dagh: or such a thing as an absolute proven truth.

Do I really need to set out the premises and show the inference as to how all bachelors are married? Do I need to write out the truth tables for such an assertion of absolute proven truth before you'll understand how it works? Or can you see that 'All bachelors are unmarried' is a rationally undeniable and categorical statement, true in all possible worlds - an absolute proven truth?

If not, please explain to me how it is immature (lacking in understanding) to think that there is such a thing as an absolute proven truth.

Dagh: To me, these are just nonsensical statements/entities, and referring to them as solid entities is nonsensical.

Are you yet willing to change your mind? Are you yet persuaded to have respect for reason and truth to the extent that you'll reassess your worldview in light of it?

The facts are - the truth is - the possibility of a correct worldview and absolute proven truth are sensible, the polar opposite of nonsensical.

However, you did preface your statement with 'to me'. So you are saying that it's just your belief, not something you know. Kudos for realising that. On the other hand, perhaps you don't realise that and simply use clauses such as 'to me' as a matter of course in abrogating the taking of responsibility for the veracity of what you say?

Dagh: So when you say that "if your view is based on proven truth", it is a premise that makes no sense to me.

Really? So it would make no sense to you if my view was that all bachelors are unmarried and I thought it irrational for anyone to disagree with that?

Dagh: However, if somebody anyhow holds the belief that their view is based on "proven truth", then, yes, it would be irrational for them not to think that people disagreeing with them are wrong.

Yes, but that's obviously not what I meant. If your view is based on proven truth, then it is something that you know with certainty, not something that you believe. Someone believing that their view is based on proven truth (someone who believes they have performed miracles and therefore believes they are Jesus Christ) is a wholly different proposition to someone who knows that their view is based on proven truth (someone who knows that all bachelors are unmarried and therefore knows this guy saying he's a bachelor is saying that he's unmarried).

Dagh: However, my initial statement was that it was immature of them to think that some beliefs are proven Truths and that other opposite beliefs are thus by necessity Wrong (in an absolute sense).

Indeed, your original statement, like it or not, states that it is incorrect of them to think that they are correct and that others are incorrect. Cake and eat it!

Dagh: I do not find it unreasonable to preach a view of the world, and as such I don't mind people preaching their religion or their atheism (I don't mind preaching because there can be many ways to justify to one another that you really should adopt this or that world view). But as soon as an atheist says that I am somehow irrational because I do not share his atheism, I give up on him because he is simply too irrational to have a rational conversation with.

DT: What if an atheist said to you that they do not consider you to be an irrational person, but they do consider the agnostic position on the existence of God to be irrational?

Dagh: I would tell them that I do not understand what they mean when they say that the agnostic position is (absolutely) irrational

Hopefully, now we've established the meaning of words such as understand, meaning, irrational, etc. you can now understand what I mean if I were to say 'I consider the agnostic position on the existence of God to be irrational'. What I would mean is that it is not in accordance with reason (irrational) to believe that God (the common conception of divinity) is a postulation exempt from the light of reason, truth value and proveability.

Dagh: but that I suspect that they are talking nonsense.

So do you now suspect that the explication above is talking nonsense?

Personally, I would only talk about whether a position is rational when it is observed in relation to a belief system.

The opening 'Personally' clause is noted.

Let's say a person has a belief system in which they believe they are the second coming of the biblical Jesus Christ. As such, they hold a position that they can walk on water. In relation to their belief system, the position that they can walk on water is internally consistent and therefore, by your measure, a rational position to hold.

Do you really think that it is a rational position to hold that you can walk on water, simply because that position is held within a belief system framework of thinking that they're the second coming?


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Please forgive any sarcasm contained herein, it is good natured. Also, please do not interpret condescension towards your argument as condescesion towards yourself. You're obviously a highly intelligent person, although I don't think your position here to be well considered. Perhaps a little immature, if you like :)
Final Whistle Crusader and President of The FWA.

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