It's all well and good that there are atheists who challenge and ridicule the stupider kinds of religiosity, but I'd like to see one respectfully take on a sophisticated theist, and do so with an open mind. I have not seen it yet.
A what? A sophisticated what? What did he say?Recall that religious people get their unsophisticated religious views from pastors, priests, imams, and rabbis. I do observe that many religious people know very, very little about the 'sophisticated' theology and what their philosophical consequences are.
Concerning the usual flying teapot, spaghetti monster and invisible unicorns analogies, I think it is important to distinguish between atheism ( I know beyond all reasonable doubt that those entities does not exist) and agnosticism ( I don’t know whether they exist or not).I am pretty sure none of those entities exist not only because of the absence of evidences (this by itself would only justify agnosticism) but also because there are incredibly strong reasons militating against their existence.Take for example the celestial teapot: teapots are products of an human mind, contrarily to biological systems, there are no conceivable natural pathways by which they could have evolved, and no human being has ever been at the surface or even in the vicinity of Mars (and even if some secrete mission has done that, it is extremely unlikely they would have brought one teapot with them and let it fall in the space) , therefore one can conclude with almost certainty that there is no teapot orbiting around Mars. Let us now consider other scenarios for which we have no evidence at all: somewhere in the multiverse, there is an intelligent species looking like bears, there exists a parasitic species capable of possessing their host’s brain like the Goaulds (Stargates) or hives (dark skies).I am “agnostic” but not atheist about these possibilities, because while there exist clearly no evidence, there is also nothing which speaks against that.Similarly, I am atheist about any kind of invisible animals or visible or invisible unicorns existing on the earth, but I am agnostic about the possibilities that such creature may live on an unknown planet of an unknown remote paralell universe.I therefore think that the principle (No evidences => non-existence) is deeply flawed, for affirming that something does not exist, we ought to provide reasons for not believing that.So, I believe that atheist have to give solid grounds for believing with almost certainty there exist no god(s). These may be the evidence of meaningless evils, the widespread religious confusion, the numerous examples of bad design in nature and so on and so forth.
Contrary to popular belief, absence of evidence is evidence of absence - when we have looked very, very thoroughly. In the case of the supernatural, there is so much absence of evidence, so to speak, that this is good evidence to conclude an absence of the supernatural.Please see my previous post on being both atheist and agnostic.
Ok, but in these cases there are many, many things which we have not looked "very, very thouroughly". Consider my examples of alien species or the existence of a paralell universe with radically different laws, until now we never had any mean to check out these possibilities, therefore we should remain agnosctic about them. Concerning the existence of the Supernatural (as defined by existing religions), if it existed, then it should have left evidences, if we find none, then we are justified to positively believe they don't exist, on that I agree with you. But consider now the possibilities we live in a simulation, or that our universe has been created by intelligent beings (and that we may in turn also create universes in the future). We have no evidence of that, but according to our current state of knowledge, it is far from being clear we should have already found some of them, therefore I am agnostic about both possibilities, as well as about a deistic God who either does not interact with the universe or show no concern for human beings or the earth in general.
Well, I would say that absence of evidences for a theory or possibility is evidence of absence only if this theory would involve the presence of features we are not able to detect. Otherwise, if the theory makes no such prediction, we should simply remain agnostic about it. And if two theories A and B can account for the same data, we can not simply assert that theory A is false on the ground that theory B can explain everything.If we want to disproove theory B, we have the burden to show that it is inconsistent or unlikely given the data at our disposal. This is why I don't think that the fact we have found plausible natural explanations for the observed phenomenons of the world in and by itself lead to atheism. If theistic or supernatural explanations could equally well account for the data, then this would only lead to agnoscitism, belief in God would then not be warranted since there are alternative explanations, but also not disproved. Now, I believe that many features of the world are completely inconsistent with the existence of a intelligent being beyond the universe, and this is why I am atheist. Both evolution and creationism can explain the existence of well designed features of organisms, but ONLY EVOLUTION can explain the numerous cases of silly designs. Both S. Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins agree with me in that they stated that evolution is much more obvious by its failures than by its sucesses.
What's your (anyone's) reason for even considering for a second theories which make no testable predictions and are not deduced of inferred from anything else (e.g. physical laws)?I don't have a problem at all "only" being agnostic about all sorts of silliness (as defined in the paragraph above).And if two theories A and B can account for the same data, we can not simply assert that theory A is false on the ground that theory B can explain everything.If we want to disproove theory B, we have the burden to show that it is inconsistent or unlikely given the data at our disposal.But, theory A needs some plausibility (data or theory) before anyone should take the time to try to disprove it.
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