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February 21, 2016

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Atheism is an intellectual position."
Atheist: Atheism means I hold no beliefs in god(s). Having not been convinced, for lack of evidence, I put back to you: would you describe the non-alchemist as taking an intellectual position? These are subcategories of skepticism or simply not buying into certain popular opinions simply because they're popular."
Response: Atheism is not only defined as someone who holds no beliefs (or lack of belief). It is also defined as someone who believes there is no God. Different atheists have different definitions. This particular atheist defines his own view. I cannot help wondering which definition of atheism is the right one considering that atheists don't always agree with each other on exactly what it is.
Response: Is the non-alchemist rejecting alchemy because he believes it is an incorrect view of how things work since the evidence does not support it? If so, his position is that alchemy is false. Furthermore, if someone were to promote alchemy and the non-alchemist were to attempt to refute him, then the non-alchemist is revealing his beliefs based on his actions, namely, that alchemy does not work. Otherwise, why would he seek to speak against it? Furthermore, people behave in a manner consistent with what they believe--not what they don't believe.
Response: Atheism is not just a lack of belief. It is a position that is held and revealed through actions. When an atheist says that there is no evidence for God or that the evidence is not convincing, then he is stating he has a position about God. It is not a lack of belief because it is a belief based on a reason. Lack of belief is best understood in the context of complete ignorance. You have lack of belief or no belief in the existence of blornflakers if you don't know what they are and, therefore, cannot determine their existence or nonexistence. What is a blornflaker? I have no idea since I just made up the word. Therefore, I cannot have a belief or nonbelief in a blornflaker because it is undefined and, therefore, conceptually meaningless. However, if I were to define it as a blue topping for ice cream produced in a factory on the fourth-largest moon of Jupiter, then an intellectual determination about his existence can be made. Is it more logical to say that a person now "holds no belief" in blornflakers or simply believes that such a thing does not exist because there is no evidence for it? Furthermore, if I were to promote the existence of blornflakers and an a-blornflaker were to attempt to refute the evidence, he would be revealing his position that they don't exist since he's attempting to refute support for it. Again, actions are the result of beliefs--not lack of belief.
"What reasons do you have for holding that position?"
Atheist: Your question, properly worded, is "why do I doubt people's claims that their particular god exists?" Simply because there has never been a shred of evidence.
Response: To say that there has never been a shred of evidence for the existence of a God cannot be logically defended since it would necessitate that the person know all evidences that have been presented at all times. This is not possible. So, to say "there has never been a shred of evidence" for God is an indefensible position since it is asserting a universal negative.
"So, is there any reason/evidence for you holding your position that you defend?"
Atheist: Again, doubting your god-claims does not mean that I need to provide evidence. It means that YOU do. Please stop attempting to turn the tables such that you do not hold the burden of proof. You do.
Response: But, shouldn't a person have a rational justification for stating what he does, namely, that "there has never been a shred of evidence" for God?
Response: The problem is that if the atheist believes there is no evidence for God's existence, it would be difficult to attempt to present any evidence to him at all. After all, his presupposition is that "there has never been a shred of evidence" presented. Undoubtedly, any evidence that might be presented for God would be evidence that must be dismissed because, as this atheist says, "there has never been a shred of evidence" for God's existence. So essentially the atheist is saying that he wants people to provide him with evidence, but it doesn't matter what evidence they provide because he will dismiss it automatically--an action consistent with his belief that "there has never been a shred of evidence" for God's existence.
"If you say that atheism needs no evidence or reason, then you are holding a position that has no evidence or rational basis? If so, then isn't that simply faith?"
Atheist: See above regarding burden of proof. You are positing an unfalsifiable claim, providing no evidence, daring me to disprove it, and telling me that my doubt is an intellectual stance without evidence. Are you able to notice how, in the case of your god, you contort logic?
Response: It is an unfalsifiable claim to assert that there has "never been a shred of evidence" for God when we consider that the atheist has essentially stated that all past evidences are invalid. This would mean that his position is an assumption that negates all arguments for God's existence (unless we posit future unknown evidences)--an assumption that can't be disproven since he rejects all evidences for God's existence. How then can his position be proven to be false when his position rejects any evidence for God's existence automatically? He is being inconsistent.
"If you say that atheism needs no evidence to support it because it is a position about the lack of something,"
Atheist: I hold no belief in god because no evidence has been presented. Please notice how this is not a "position" I take about the nature of the universe. That position is yours alone.
Response: On the contrary. Your atheism is a position you take about the nature of the universe when you say that you hold no belief in God, namely, that the universe is not a created thing. There are always ramifications to beliefs. Your arguments here are not consistent with "no belief." They're consistent with a belief that no God exists since you are making a statement that "there has never been a shred of evidence" for God's existence. The logical conclusion of your position is that God does not exist, hence, the no evidence. To say you hold no belief but also assert that no evidence has ever been a shred of evidence for God are inconsistent. When a person says that there is absolutely no evidence for something, the person is stating that something doesn't exist. Why? There can't be evidence for something that doesn't exist! His actions reveal his beliefs.
Response: Why would an atheist state there is no evidence for God and then retreat to something like "I lack belief in it" or say "I hold no belief in it"? It seems more logical to say that the atheist realizes his positive assertion that there is no God is not defensible and, therefore, must retreat to the idea of "lack of belief in God" while at the same time attempting to disprove God's existence--an action based on belief--not non-belief. Again, we behave based upon what we believe--not based on what we don't believe.
"Then do you have other positions you hold based upon lack of evidence . . . like say, screaming blue ants? Do you hold the position that they do not exist or that you lack belief in them, too?"
Atheist: I'm much more fascinated with what information is actually available. The scientific study of the cosmos, for instance, is exponentially more fascinating than religious pondering about the cosmos. Your question seems to be, "what else don't you believe in?" The answer is whatever lacks evidence. This does not mean I cannot imagine impossible or unlikely phenomena. I can and do whenever I'm feeling artistically creative.
Response: See point 5 response.
"Furthermore, obtaining evidence for God would be quite a bit of a challenge for me,"
Atheist: Yes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That which can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
Response: How do you know it is true that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"? Isn't that claim itself extraordinary? How do you test and demonstrate that such a statement is valid? Furthermore, it is a subjective statement. What is extraordinary evidence for one person might not be extraordinary evidence for another. Also, what would qualify as extraordinary evidence? What criteria would you use to determine what is extraordinary evidence? Also, an extraordinary claim for one person might not be an extraordinary claim for another. What would qualify as an extraordinary claim? What criteria would you use to determine what an extraordinary claim is? If atheists want to be logical, then let the logic apply to them as well. Defend your assertion logically. Simply offering a sound bite as somehow repudiating God's evidence just won't work.

Interesting life views Mr. Hines. Are you a person of beliefs or a person of opinions?

Steve, we all believe in some things that are only subjectively true. Like, I believe that I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate, based on a lot of previous personal experience.

I also aspire to believing in objective truths, such as those known to science. Like, a big bang brought the universe into being 13.7 billion years ago, and evolution has guided life on Earth.

Neither of these sorts of beliefs requires religious faith. Hopes this points at an answer to your question.

Brian, thank you for taking a moment to respond to my post. I understand and agree with both of your references (although I have a special affinity for chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream).

Still, I'd like to understand your perspective on faith just a bit more. You indicate that neither of your examples require religious faith, and I agree with that premise.

My question is this (and expanding upon your examples just a bit): Do self-discoveries based upon personal experience ("I like vanilla ice cream") and scientific discoveries based upon proven methods of objective analysis (evolution, gravity, physics, chemistry, medicine, etc.) negate faith?

Thanks again.

what do you mean by man/woman of faith?

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