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Debate:Is Richard Dawkins toppling straw men?

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmfE9QvqWws

I'm confused by this person is talking about. — Unsigned, by: Ryantherebel / talk / contribs

Why? She's not that articulate but I follow her fine. Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 20:45, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Really? It's pretty simple. This girl called Steinem (noted feminist) a baby-killer since Steinem had previously gotten an abortion. Some people allegedly said this was hearsay, and this girl is replying to what is conveniently an asinine objection. Replying to the weakest criticism of one's actions is a common and transparent way to make it appear as though real criticism is being addressed without actually meeting that challenge. The girl also adds on a standard screed against abortion and whatnot.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 20:46, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
(EC) It's really very simple: the Rockefellers started the feminist movement so that they could promote communism and get children to put condoms on bananas. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:52, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Also GW Bush was a liberal who paved the way for Obama. In my experience YouTube vloggers are among the dumbest sections of society. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:05, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
That is a mild criticism; my wingnut friend calls Bush a Red. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:17, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
"Replying to the weakest criticism of one's actions is a common..." Irony meters shatter. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I am curious what you mean. Do you mean that atheists only reply to fundamentalists and criticize them? I'm not sure that's true. Most - if not all - of the New Atheists address "moderate" theists as well. The most bombastic condemnation might be directed at extremists, but that would seem a factor of the comparable vitriol and claims put forth by those fundamentalists. Can you explain further?--Tom Moorefiat justitia 21:11, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Richard Dawkins, for example, paints creationist-style monotheism as if it is the only alternative to atheism. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:17, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
That's not true, I don't think. He actually mostly avoids descending into specifics about sect, preferring instead in such things as The God Delusion to address general arguments like the Argument From Design. He does spend some time attacking the Judeo-Christian deity above others, but this is hardly unwarranted, since that deity is the main one worshiped in virtually every country in which his books are sold.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 21:21, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Prof. Dawkins's "God Hypothesis" says, "[I]f the word God is not to become completely useless, it should be used ... to denote a supernatural creator that is 'appropriate for us to worship'." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:32, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
That's because he is contrasting the idea of a creator that can be worshiped with the general feeling of awe as a metaphor for God - what he characterizes as "Einsteinian religion" that has almost nothing in common with the theism he discusses. It's impossible to refute an idea of God that has absolutely no tenets other than a feeling, after all, other than to question the semantics of calling that feeling "God."--Tom Moorefiat justitia 21:36, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
In other words, he knocks what he can, redefines what he cannot, and calls his point proved. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:39, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
You appear to be describing yourself. WèàšèìòìďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:10, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
If you are referring to this, I did not call my point proved. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:22, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
He does knock what he can, but "what he can" includes virtually every version of theism that exists - be it fundamentalist or otherwise. That kind of contradicts your earlier claim that he attacks only "creationist-style monotheism." He doesn't redefine what he cannot knock, he simply points out that any version of theism whose idea of God is so nebulous as to consist entirely of a feeling of awe (or simply a "feeling" in general) is one that can't be rationally addressed at any point. A physicist could similarly be excused for choosing not to refute those rivals who think string theory is correct because of a "feeling," and instead concentrating on those who use math.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 22:00, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
By "creationist-style monotheism" I was referring to the concept of God in the God Hypothesis, which I quoted above; he uses the mere truth of the theory of evolution to refute this. Arguments against the God Hypothesis do not touch pantheism or any form of paganism with no creator deity to it, and that represents many conceptions of "God." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:22, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Have you read "The God Delusion" Listener?--BobNot Jim 09:59, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

(UI) Paganism is just theism of many little gods. Call them spirits or whatever you will, they're capable of being worshiped. That would seem pretty clearly to fall into that definition. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and if you're right, it should be trivial for you to provide an argument for the existence of pagan gods that Dawkins manages to avoid with his "redefining." Please, Listener, tell me what he's avoiding.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 10:21, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

I did not deny that paganism was theism; it is just not monotheism. Repeat: Many forms of paganism have no creator God to them, placing them by definition outside the purview of the God Hypothesis. Many pagan deities are personifications of natural forces (e.g., Thor, Zeus); others are not even personifications (e.g., the Celtic Taranis prior to Roman influence). The existence of these sorts of Gods can be neither proven nor disproven.
As to a pagan apologia, see here. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
You seem to be concentrating fairly hard on semantics. I don't care about what variety of "paganism" we're talking about - creator god, animism, or whatever. You have asserted that Dawkins redefines theism to suit his purposes, implying that paganism has some manner of arguments for its own truth that he cannot address. Inasmuch as I can tell, though, there is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth. The teleological arguments might not apply without a creator-myth, but things like the ontological arguments would actually be stronger in the case where multiple concepts can be embodied in multiple mini-yahwehs. Similarly, the Argument of Morals would also be the same. And Dawkins' response to all of these arguments applies just as well.
In other words, paganism would seem disadvantaged in the arguments, not advantaged, by lacking a creator-god. So again: please point out what Dawkins managed to so slickly avoid addressing by "redefining" matters. Because right now it seems like you're just saying that because his definition didn't technically include paganism, his arguments must not address paganism - even though you haven't shown how this is true.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 20:27, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Repeat: The existence of these sorts of Gods can be neither proven nor disproven. Although much of Prof. Dawkins's work is to counter arguments for the truth of theism (in particular, the teleological argument or the argument from morality), he also goes a step further, saying that since there is heavy empirical evidence against the God Hypothesis, therefore "God almost certainly does not exist."
"There is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth." Insofar as arguments against atheism are concerned, that might be true (although there are some ontological arguments that rely on a monotheistic conception of God). However, there are also arguments for polytheism against monotheism, such as: "The world is so chaotic that it must be the product either of many Gods or of none. Hence, if there is at least one God there must be more than one." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:22, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
It's hardly a non sequitur to conclude that, because there is heavy empirical evidence against nanobuddhas/Yahweh, they probably don't exist. That's actually just called a conclusion.
If you say you think there is a cheese sandwich inside of my computer, even though you can't prove or disprove it, and in response I list a host of excellent reasons why that is extremely unlikely and even a little silly, it is similarly reasonable (not a non sequitur) for me to say that "the intra-computer sandwich almost certainly does not exist."
I don't really care about what arguments you care to pose that make paganism more likely than monotheism, since that seems to me like you are arguing that the sandwich is almost certainly a cheese sandwich, and not a ham sandwich.
If you are ceding the point that "there is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth," then you are essentially admitting my main point. You originally said that Dawkins was redefining matters to suit himself, implying that paganism had some devastating evidences that he couldn't address. But since that is not true- since you admit there is not only no evidence, but apparently there is not even any substantive reason or argument to think picoshivas are real - then I would suggest my initial doubt at your statement was justified. Since it wasn't true, but just a way to suggest that your special brand of magic was the strong version of religion immune to disproof, and fundamentalism was a straw man.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 23:58, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
"It's hardly a non sequitur to conclude..." It is not a non sequitur in that case to conclude that the God Hypothesis is false; it is, however, fallacious thence to conclude that atheism is correct (since atheism vs. the God Hypothesis is a false dilemma).
"I don't really care what arguments..." In that case you should retract your statement that all arguments for paganism's truth also serve as arguments for monotheism's truth. The example argument was in aid, not of ceding that point, but of refuting it.
"You originally said that Dawkins was redefining matters to suit himself, implying that paganism had some devastating evidences that he couldn't address." Dawkins did make a redefinition (the God Hypothesis); he did this to exclude from consideration those conceptions of God that he was unable to falsify. This does not at all imply any "devastating evidences" that paganism is true; it merely implies that there are no "devastating evidences" that it is false. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:28, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
"it is, however, fallacious thence to conclude that atheism is correct"
Indeed. Which is why his conclusion is "almost certainly," not "certainly." It's impossible to prove that deities do not exist if no means of proof or disproof are possible. Nor is it possible for me to prove there is no sandwich in my computer. But I will state with similar assurance that there almost certainly is no sandwich in my computer.
"In that case you should retract your statement that all arguments for paganism's truth also serve as arguments for monotheism's truth."
I'm sorry, you misunderstand. I was simply saying that it is irrelevant to this discussion to talk about why paganism is more likely in your mind than monotheism, and I don't think it much matters. For example, your "argument" about a chaotic universe is incredibly fallacious when applied to considering the truth of paganism ("chaotic" is a purely subjective quality, and arguing that because the universe is chaotic there must be gods is like arguing that because the universe is delicious there must be gods).
"he did this to exclude from consideration those conceptions of God that he was unable to falsify".
He excluded those conceptions that cannot be falsified in any wise. If the only evidence for something is a vague feeling (the Einsteinian theism with which he contrasted his "God Hypothesis") then he can't very well argue against it, and nor can anyone else. Are you including paganism in with Einsteinian theism; do you have any more reason to believe than a vague feeling?
"This does not at all imply any "devastating evidences" that paganism is true; it merely implies that there are no "devastating evidences" that it is false."
Once again, it's impossible to conclusively prove something does not exist. The sandwich may exist in my computer, and Odin may be sitting with Hugin and Munin bullshitting with the Norns about his missing eye. But there is no reason to believe the sandwich exists, and many reasons to think it is exceedingly unlikely. There is no reason to believe that Odin exists, and many reasons to think he is exceedingly unlikely.
You can't have it both ways. Either there is a reason to believe "pagan" gods exist, and thus paganism falls under the auspices of his definition in effect (since all the relevant arguments apply), or there is no reason to believe those gods exist, in which case you can't very well take him to task for not arguing against assertions that you even admit don't exist!
And speaking of straw men: please stop claiming Dawkins is positively asserting there are no gods with certainty. He is very certain (and so am I), but he has never and could never make the serious statement that he can prove gods do not exist in any form.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 04:45, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
...which is why his conclusion is "almost certainly," not "certainly." Since it rests on a false dilemma, even "almost certainly" is far too much.
...it is irrelevant to this discussion to talk about why paganism is more likely in your mind than monotheism, and I don't think it much matters. You said: "There is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth." Either retract this statement or cease with these claims of irrelevance.
For example, your "argument" about a chaotic universe is incredibly fallacious... It was not at all intended for a valid argument, but instead something of the same quality as the ontological and morality-based arguments you cited. That being said:
...and arguing that because the universe is chaotic there must be gods... The argument in question allowed as part of its conclusion the possibility that there are no Gods.
Once again, it's impossible to conclusively prove something does not exist. It is very possible if said thing has contradictory aspects; we (and Dawkins, for that matter) have done a fairly good job on the YEC conception of God.
You can't have it both ways. Either... If this is not a false dilemma, please cite these "relevant arguments" that: (1) apply to paganism, and in particular the sort outlined here; and (2) are made by Dawkins.
There is no reason to believe that Odin exists, and many reasons to think he is exceedingly unlikely. There is no proof as to the existence of Odin, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he exists; again, see the referenced apologia.
...please stop claiming Dawkins is positively asserting there are no gods with certainty. Show me where I claimed that (especially considering that Dawkins only stumps for weak atheism). Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 06:47, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
"Since it rests on a false dilemma, even "almost certainly" is far too much."
It is not actually a false dilemma. It is, instead, the default. Atheism is not a position, it is a lack of one. To wit, since there is no reason to believe in Odin, then the default is not to believe in Odin. This position is labeled "atheism." In a similar way, I don't believe in the sandwich inside my computer - I am an aintraconfectionarist. So are you, in fact. Because it's the default belief. We don't believe in things for which we have no reason or evidence, simply by default. Even if I can't disprove the sandwich.
If you think differently, then I have to ask you if you believe there is a sandwich in your computer. I have the same evidence for the sandwich that you have for Odin. Don't try to pose the false dilemma that there are only two options - believing in the sandwich or not believing in it. It might be a ham sandwich.
"Either retract this statement or cease with these claims of irrelevance."
I'm not sure how exactly you think the superiority of one brand of theism matters at all. Again, to me it is like asking whether it's a ham sandwich or a cheese sandwich. I don't care, since you haven't been able to give any reason why it's more likely a cheese sandwich in particular exists rather than a ham sandwich. Since you can't differentiate any new reasons or evidence, it seems pretty irrelevant to me. I mean, spin your wheels if you like, but if it makes you happy I can just stipulate right now that of all the unprovable and irrational deity combinations, yours is the best.
"It is very possible if said thing has contradictory aspects; we (and Dawkins, for that matter) have done a fairly good job on the YEC conception of God."
It is fairly easy to assert that one's deity can be contradictory. Many people do, or say it's impossible to understand. Or whatever.
If you want, though, we can do this: please prove to me that my computer does not contain a sandwich that has ham and does not have ham at the same time. But be aware that this sandwich is magical. And named Phil.
"If this is not a false dilemma, please cite these "relevant arguments" that: (1) apply to paganism, and in particular the sort outlined here; and (2) are made by Dawkins."
I am absolutely and in no way going to read your essay and make your own arguments for you. It's not a false dilemma - not everything with two options is a false dilemma, however clever that may seem to you - since it's a binary statement. Either proposition A is true, or it is not. There is no third option.
So again: are there reasons or evidence to believe in Odin, or not? It has to be one or the other (OMG FALSE DILLEMMA)) and I would very much like you to choose now, please.
"see the referenced apologia."
No. I am not going to read your essay and make your own arguments for you. If that was a valid proposition in this discussion, I would simply refer you to The God Delusion and give you little assignments, too. If you have reasons, please list them concisely. Try not to just cut and paste; your essay is written almost in narrative form and tiresome.
"'...please stop claiming Dawkins is positively asserting there are no gods with certainty.' Show me where I claimed that"
At 4:28 on the first of November, you said (and you can really just scroll up a few inches): "fallacious thence to conclude that atheism is correct (since atheism vs. the God Hypothesis is a false dilemma)."
Correct, of course, is an all-or-nothing proposition.
But okay, let's let that one go. Maybe you didn't mean that or I misunderstood - that's very possible.
Let me instead remind you of the topic of this discussion. You said that Dawkins defined theism to suit himself and make it a straw man for him to attack. This has the strong implication that a different brand of theism - presumably your own Odinism - is the stalwart version which is not susceptible to his arguments. I would also assume that inherent in this implication are the existence of some arguments or reasoning for Odinism that he could not address, but perhaps this is not so. Is that assumption right, or not? This is pretty pivotal to your point, so it's important that you be clear.
Assuming it is true, then obviously I want to know these arguments or reasoning. If they exist and Dawkins did not actually address them, then you would be entirely correct - Dawkins excluded the One True Faith because it was convenient.
If it is not true, and there are no reasons or arguments for Odinism, then say so and we can proceed easily from there.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 07:21, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I would like to point out that it is pretty easy to prove that there is no normal sandwich in your computer. Bastard bastard Hoover! 09:17, 1 November 2009 (UTC)::
Normality is a concept without meaning to the sandwich, which is both normal and abnormal at the same time. These two contradictory natures are contained within its slices of whole-grain wheat bread with ease. Don't be intolerant of my beliefs. If you want a further explanation, you can read my apologia here.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 10:40, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
So you mean if I opened your computer with a screwdriver and picked it apart and found no sandwich, the sandwich would still be there? Bastard bastard Hoover! 10:44, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Of course. It would be a pretty poor sort of sandwich if mere human manipulation could force it to be there on command. For even if the sandwich falls, angels bear it up lest it dash its crust upon a stone. You have to have faith.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 11:02, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
It's Schroedinger's sandwich! Totnesmartin 11:04, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

(UNINDENT) TomMoore, you know where my arguments are, and you can read them. If you cannot comprehend them in "tiresome" "narrative form," I doubt that spoon-feeding them to you would aid the debate.

If you think differently, then I have to ask you if you believe there is a sandwich in your computer. I will give an answer to this that you might understand if you read my apologia. Yes, I believe that there is a sandwich in my computer, because I just put one in there.

It is fairly easy to assert that one's deity can be contradictory. Many people do. I was talking about a logical contradiction, not a poetic one.

I'm not sure how exactly you think the superiority of one brand of theism matters at all. The argument I gave you was a response to your claim that "there is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth." I think the argument is a counterexample to your claim, regardless of whether it is valid or not. You have yet to argue otherwise.

It's not a false dilemma - not everything with two options is a false dilemma... Except here there are more than two options, as I have been repeating many times over. For convenience, let us list them.

First, the two you provided:

  • "There is a reason to believe that pagan gods exist" and "paganism falls under the auspices of his definition in effect," since all the "relevant arguments" apply.
  • "There is no reason to believe those gods exist."

Now here is a third possibility, which is not being admitted:

  • "There is a reason to believe pagan gods exist" and paganism does not "fall under the auspices of his definition in effect," because the "relevant arguments" do not apply.

As to why these "relevant arguments" do not apply, I put that these "relevant arguments" (those made by Prof. Dawkins) are exactly the refutations of the teleological and morality arguments and the arguments for the truth of the theory of evolution. I accept the validity of all these "relevant arguments;" my religion is entirely compatible with evolution theory.

At 4:28 on the first of November, you said... If "atheism is not a position, it is a lack of one," then when I referred to a conclusion that "atheism is correct," I was obviously not "claiming Dawkins is positively asserting there are no gods with certainty."

I am not going to read your essay and make your own arguments for you. If that was a valid proposition in this discussion, I would simply refer you to The God Delusion and give you little assignments, too. Referencing a short essay on a Wiki (shorter than a great many short stories) is not in the least comparable to referencing a lengthy print book. Nevertheless, I should be glad to check The God Delusion out of the library, if you want to refer me to it.

I would also assume that inherent in this implication are the existence of some arguments or reasoning for Odinism that he could not address, but perhaps this is not so. Any argument can be addressed.

My complaint about Prof. Dawkins is as follows. Note that this complaint contains no reference to any specific argument in favor of the existence of any God

  1. With the exception of his upholding of the theory of evolution, all his work is simply to refute specific arguments for the existence of God.
  2. Therefore, with regard to any God whose existence is consistent with the theory of evolution:
    • Other arguments for the existence of such a God are not touched by his work. By analogy, a refutation of the argument that "Mosquitoes exist, therefore light bulbs exist," does not shed any light on the question of the existence of light bulbs.
    • His work provides absolutely no evidence against the existence of such a God.
  3. Prof. Dawkins nevertheless concludes from his work that "God almost certainly does not exist." This is a non sequitur.

Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:58, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Hang on... Did you put a sandwich in your computer just to prove a point? Bastard bastard Hoover! 19:02, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
That was a figurative answer... Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:20, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I believe that there is a sandwich in my computer, because I just put one in there.
That was a very poor decision. You're going to get cheese all over your graphic processor.
Oh, wait, this is some allusion to the power to create gods or something from your essay? Well, it sounds silly since you didn't bother to explicate here. But you seem to have missed the point. I wasn't asking, "Do you have the power to make gods?" I wasn't even asking, "Could there possibly be a sandwich in your computer?" I was asking if you believe in things for which you have no argument or reason to believe, and illustrated this specifically with a point about which you presumably had no argument or reason to believe.
You responded by saying, "I do have a reason to believe, because I just decided it's true."
But that misses the point I was making - perhaps deliberately? - which is that not believing is the default position. To put it another way and to prevent you from making up a whole new pantheon, let me ask if you believe that I am an anthropomorphic elephant. I'm not saying that I am. I'm just pointing out that of course you don't believe that - and in fact such a thing almost assuredly had never even occurred to you.
Are you then at fault for a FALSE DILEMMMMMA? No, of course not. Between the two choices of believing I am an elephant and not believing, you defaulted to not believing. It's not a false dilemma just because I might also be an anthropomorphic giraffe.
"I was talking about a logical contradiction, not a poetic one."
My sandwich god's shape is a round square. He can make a rock so big he can't lift it. His person is divided into three parts while still being indivisible.
Now tell me again about how gods can't be logical contradictions.
"I think the argument is a counterexample to your claim, regardless of whether it is valid or not. You have yet to argue otherwise."
Your argument was not for the truth of paganism, but for the untruth of theism. I know this because you said it ("allows for the possibility of no gods"). So it is pretty clearly not an argument for the truth of paganism.
You assert that I provided two options (which I will sum up inaccurately as "paganism is within the god hypothesis" and "atheism"), then assert that this is a false dilemma because there is a third option, wherein paganism is not within the god hypothesis but not atheism. You also agree that none of the theistic arguments apply.
But I should point out that you have forgotten that I long ago said there was a third option: Einsteinian theism, which admits of no proof or argument.
Now you have alluded many times that your paganism is of an Einsteinian flavor in such a way, but you squirm terribly and won't answer. It's a binary question (FALES DILMA): does your special religion admit of proof or argument? Can you prove it is true or argue it is true, or do you just "know" it is true?
Now, I'm going to just assume you are going to say it's not an Einsteinian theism. Not just because it isn't cool and different like you are, but also because you can make some arguments about why paganism is true and atheism is false. But tell me anyway.
With the exception of his upholding of the theory of evolution, all his work is simply to refute specific arguments for the existence of God.
That is so laughably untrue as to... well, be laughable, and needless to say renders the rest of this absurd "argument" nonsense, since this is its bedrock. And since you're admitting you haven't read it, how can you possibly assert this? He devotes a full third of the book to talking about why it's necessary to be moral even if you aren't religious and providing a framework for such morality. And he spends a full third of the book discussing the history of religion and what it's yielded in the world. He talks about a dozen different kinds of theism, including feel-good pantheism (which would appear to encompass your own "ism").
Wait a second... I just realized that you're arguing about a book you've never even read. How can you possibly say that Dawkins attacks straw men if you don't even know what he says?--Tom Moorefiat justitia 19:41, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I was asking if you believe in things for which you have no argument or reason to believe, and illustrated this specifically with a point about which you presumably had no argument or reason to believe. And I responded by emphasizing that I do have such reasons, which you had been persistently ignoring.
...not believing is the default position... Explicit atheism is not the default position; implicit atheism is. A person can only be maintained in implicit atheism by being cut off from the contemporary world and possessing no imagination. It is therefore ridiculous to speak of implicit a-theism as the position for which Prof. Dawkins is stumping. Prof. Einstein spoke of the "professional atheist" as a person who had explicitly and violently repudiated the theism of his youth; this is no "default position."
Your argument was not for the truth of paganism, but for the untruth of theism. Perhaps you missed the phrases either of many Gods and there must be more than one in that argument.
So it is pretty clearly not an argument for the truth of paganism. It is an argument addressed at monotheists for the truth of paganism. Similarly Prof. Dawkins is addressing monotheists in his work.
Now tell me again about how gods can't be logical contradictions. I shall dispense with your first two examples by noting their source, and your last example by noting that you do not know beans about Christian theology (and even I, whose knowledge of it is very sketchy, can discern that).
I long ago said there was a third option: Einsteinian theism, which admits of no proof or argument. Who mentioned "Einsteinian theism"? The dilemma concerned pagan Gods.
...does your special religion admit of proof or argument? That took a while, but you have finally given me an actual dilemma. My answer: To my knowledge the only commonality my religion shares with Prof. Einstein's is that in both cases the Gods do not break the laws of physics. Here are several specific differences between me and Prof. Einstein (based on what is said on Wikipedia about his religious views):
  • Einstein thought that God did not concern himself with human fate and activity. I do not.
  • Einstein saw a "harmony" or structure to the world; I do not.
  • Whatever Einstein called "God" was not, in his view, anthropogenic or personal. Most of the Gods of the Norse pantheon have both qualities.
  • Einstein thought that neither God nor man had free-will. I think that we do not, but that at least some of the Gods do.
That being said, there is no real need to make this about my religion in particular; any form of paganism that is compatible with the theory of evolution will do.
...including feel-good pantheism (which would appear to encompass your own "ism"). Pardon me. I am a hard polytheist, not a pantheist. Big difference. And if I wanted a feel-good religion, I would be baptized into the Lutheran Church, where they have forgiveness.
That is so laughably untrue as to... Perhaps I should have qualified that statement: All Prof. Dawkins's work that is actually relevant to the question of God's existence. Most of his nattering about morality, as I recall, was just a screed against the secular consequences of religion, not dealing with the metaphysical bits at all.
I did in fact read The God Delusion, but it was quite a while ago and I am perhaps a little rusty on it; hence, I shall refrain from referring to it again in this debate until I have given myself a refresher. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 22:22, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

A new section la la la[edit]

"I responded by emphasizing that I do have such reasons, which you had been persistently ignoring." Great!

"Explicit atheism is not the default position; implicit atheism is." Why? Explicit weak atheism is just the vocalization of implicit weak atheism; they differ philosophically scarcely at all, except the former implies someone has thought about it enough to make a positive statement about the conclusion to which he had already come as an implicit weak atheist.

"It is therefore ridiculous to speak of implicit a-theism as the position for which Prof. Dawkins is stumping." Both implicit and explicit weak atheism fit that category.

"Prof. Einstein spoke of the "professional atheist" as a person who had explicitly and violently repudiated the theism of his youth; this is no "default position."" That's swell, but what Einstein said has little bearing on the matter. And that's not how I (or Dawkins) would define the default position of atheism.

But wait, let's examine another point on which you wiggle: do you agree or disagree that weak atheism is the default position? It's hard to tell.

"Perhaps you missed the phrases either of many Gods and there must be more than one in that argument." If it also allows just as well for no gods, then it's only an attack on monotheism, though, isn't it? Just because polytheism remains a possibility not denied by that argument doesn't make it an argument for polytheism. Saying there is no ham sandwich doesn't mean I'm arguing for a cheese sandwich.

"It is an argument addressed at monotheists for the truth of paganism. Similarly Prof. Dawkins is addressing monotheists in his work." No... he's addressing monotheists and polytheists and whatever other kind of theist, excepting those kinds which admit of no proof or argument. Your repeated statement that he didn't address polytheists doesn't make it so, unless you can supply an argument for polytheism that breezes past his objections. And since you have admitted you have arguments/proof for polytheism, supply the ones he does not address.

Remember, that's what we're arguing about. You claimed he avoided a certain version of theism and attacked a straw man. And so I wait (apparently forever) to hear the arguments or reasons that would have withstood his criticism. And I wait. And I wait.

"I shall dispense with your first two examples by noting their source, and your last example by noting that you do not know beans about Christian theology (and even I, whose knowledge of it is very sketchy, can discern that)." Yeah, I know. I'm so full of crap I probably never even read the catechism OHHOLYCRAPWHAT'STHIS? Why it appears to be the official catechism of the Roman Catholic Church and it appears to be explicitly stating the nature of a triune god contained within a single being! And what's this? Is it another section of the catechism talking about how Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, two contradictory by logic things that dwelt in him? Oh holy crap might not be a good idea to argue theology with the guy who went to eighteen years of Catholic school and taught CCD!

"Who mentioned "Einsteinian theism"? The dilemma concerned pagan Gods." Your theism fits into either the god hypothesis which he addresses or Einsteinian theism which he explicitly admits is beyond address. But this is moot, since you have admitted you have "proof" or "arguments" for your theism, and so it is within the auspices of the god hypothesis since proofs and arguments can be refuted.

"That took a while, but you have finally given me an actual dilemma. My answer: To my knowledge the only commonality my religion shares with Prof. Einstein's is that in both cases the Gods do not break the laws of physics. Here are several specific differences between me and Prof. Einstein (based on what is said on Wikipedia about his religious views)" Okay, you appear to misunderstand despite my explicit statements. So let me reiterate. In bold. Read it. Einsteinian theism is just the name Dawkins gives to theism which admits of no arguments or proofs. It is a label.

"I did in fact read The God Delusion, but it was quite a while ago and I am perhaps a little rusty on it; hence, I shall refrain from referring to it again in this debate until I have given myself a refresher." So... in a debate about whether or not Dawkins attacks a straw man of religion in his work, you're going to refrain from referring to Dawkins' work? How is that going to work? Or are you admitting you're not actually familiar enough with it to be attacking it? — Unsigned, by: TomMoore / talk / contribs

...they differ philosophically scarcely at all... Explicit atheism is a conscious rejection of a certain belief following deliberation. This is just not a conclusion people would reach without the benefits of modern science education to explain exactly how numerous natural phenomena work.
Both implicit and explicit weak atheism fit that category. When atheism is stumped for, this is seen as a process of logical argument with atheism as its conclusion — explicit atheism. Implicit atheism, by definition, cannot be stumped for in this manner, because implicit atheism is not a conclusion of any logical argument; or, no logical argument can convince anyone to be an implicit atheist.
...do you agree or disagree that weak atheism is the default position? It's hard to tell. Actually, it is not; all implicit atheism is weak.
That's swell, but what Einstein said has little bearing on the matter. Unless >gasp!< he was right. And, face it, neither of us are counterexamples to his point.
If it also allows just as well for no gods... It argues from a common basis, as all apologias do. A similar sort of argument is the Lewis trilemma ("Mad, Bad, or God"), which argues for the divinity of Jesus from the basis that Jesus was a "great moral teacher." To apply the sandwich analogy, the argument would convince someone who agreed that there was some sort of sandwich in the computer that it was a cheese sandwich.
Yeah, I know. I'm so full of crap I probably never even... Those are no "logical contradictions;" see stave 252 and the section starting at stave 470 for how that catechism itself explains them.
Your theism fits into either the god hypothesis which he addresses or Einsteinian theism which he explicitly admits is beyond address. Into which of those two categories do personal, intervening non-creator Gods (e.g., the Weird Sisters) fall?
Okay, you appear to misunderstand... I do not "just know" that the Gods of the Norse pantheon exist; you have seen my arguments for their existence — not irrefutable proofs, but arguments that have some basis outside my feelings on the matter. If these are not arguments, please explain why they are not. Also, again, this does not have to be about my particular religion.
...you're going to refrain from referring to Dawkins' work? How is that going to work? Perhaps you missed the words until I have given myself a refresher in my reply. I am going to check The God Delusion out of the library and read it through again, at which point I will resume addressing the points concerning Prof. Dawkins's work. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:21, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Just got back from Key West, sorry about the delay.
"Explicit atheism is a conscious rejection of a certain belief following deliberation. This is just not a conclusion people would reach without the benefits of modern science education to explain exactly how numerous natural phenomena work."
People have in the past frequently made such a conscious rejection, far before modern science. The very fact that it was a crime in ancient times (Socrates was accused of it and of tempting people towards it) means that it must have been not infrequent.
"And, face it, neither of us are counterexamples to his point."
Speak for yourself, please. And his own opinion, absence any reasoning, has little value. Just because he said it, doesn't make it true, and I have met many counterexamples even were I not one.
"the argument would convince someone who agreed that there was some sort of sandwich in the computer that it was a cheese sandwich."
Which is all well and good, except that if we're assuming there's a sandwich in the first place then the matter's already argued and done. The point is that it is not a proof for paganism's truth of itself, but only a proof against monotheism's truth of itself. So it's not any more relevant than an argument over why Odin is better than Loki within paganism, since those things have little bearing on this matter.
In other words (and to hopefully entirely dispose of this) since your conclusion does not favor any one of the particular possible other alternatives (paganism, hinduism, atheism) it can hardly be said to be an argument for one of those alternatives. It is instead only an argument against monotheism (and a flawed one, in any case).
"see stave 252 "
That's where they explain what they mean, but are you honestly suggesting that there's no logical contradiction here - even if they do brush it aside? "We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons" does not make sense apart from religious semantics. If I said that a rock was basalt, but the basalt was also granite and quartz while at the same time being only basalt, you would rightly say that I was talking gibberish. Numerical identity is exclusive within a single property; i.e. to describe something's quality of "number of persons" to be both one and three at the same time is a contradiction. While a single entity could contain three subdivisions or three nonexclusive qualities, a single entity cannot also be three entities. This is a prima facie logical impossibility. Catholics accept this and consider it one of the mysteries of the faith; they believe God can possess possibilities that seem to us impossible by logic, since they believe he is God.
"stave 470"
This does not seem at all to resolve the logical contradiction of Jesus' person being both fully human (mortal and terrestrial) while also being fully divine - the latter of which is a contradictory and exclusive nature that is immortal and extraterrestrial. Simply naming the section isn't going to do it if you want to explain why this isn't an obvious and accepted logical impossibility. This is a well-accepted and acknowledged bit of doctrine, and was actually the sticking point on many early heresies so it is very well laid-out. I am intensely curious to see you explain away such historical artifacts as the Confession of Chalcedon ("In Duabus Naturis Inconfuse, Immutabiliter, Indivise, Inseparabiliter.")
"Into which of those two categories do personal, intervening non-creator Gods (e.g., the Weird Sisters) fall?"
The former - what we have been calling the god hypothesis. They are presumably sentient deities that accept worship and interfere with the world, so they are almost identical to Yahweh for almost all philosophical purposes (except that they cannot make use of such things as the First Cause argument, and so are arguably WORSE for the proof of theism).
"you have seen my arguments for their existence — not irrefutable proofs, but arguments that have some basis outside my feelings on the matter."
I must have missed that. All I saw in this conversation was an argument about the subjectively chaotic nature of the world, and which I have already pointed out is not proof for paganism, but only against monotheism, since it does not point to paganism in particular. And reading back through this, I still don't see any. Would you mind posting them again?
So yeah, anyway, good luck with the Dawkins and I remain curious to see all the devastating arguments you think he nimbly avoided by beating up on those straw men. It's been difficult for me to constantly have to refute the torrent of rhetorical mastery with which I have been dealing as you expound on such lengths about why paganism must be true. I have really appreciated the break from that flood of logic. Dawkins did right to avoid it.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 18:35, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
"Socrates was accused of it..." Must I point out that Christians were considered "atheists" in those days, atheism being a refusal to worship the State pantheon?
"The point is that it is not a proof for paganism's truth of itself, but only a proof against monotheism's truth of itself." As any one of Prof. Dawkins's arguments in The God Delusion is not per se a proof of atheism's "probable" truth, but only a proof against creationism's truth.
"...since your conclusion does not favor any one of the particular possible other alternatives..." It favors polytheism if you have taken as a premise that there is at least one God. (Show me any premiseless argument that favors any particular point.) Similarly, most of the arguments on this Wiki are laid on the philosophical basis of modern science, and would be nonsense to those who reject that basis.
"That's where they explain what they mean, but are you honestly suggesting that there's no logical contradiction here..." I am not suggesting that; I am stating it. My introduction to Christian theology was via the Luther catechisms, in which the distinction is presented as one person filling three different roles. In Catholic theology I understand that "God" is considered to be a nature or property, with each person of the Trinity possessing said property; similar to how basalt, granite, and quartzite are all rock.
This does not seem at all to resolve the logical contradiction... It is not as if there is a fixed definition of "divinity" with which to claim this for a contradiction. I understand that "divinity" is synonymous in Catholic theology with possessing the nature of God.
"The former - what we have been calling the god hypothesis." No; the God Hypothesis requires that the God in question be a creator. And while it is true that non-creator Gods fall out of the purview of the cosmological argument, they also fall out of the purview of the arguments against creationism, and those are the only arguments Prof. Dawkins makes that are not simply refutations of particular theistic arguments.
I have pointed you, several times, to the arguments in my essay. It appears that you have read them, despite their being in a form disagreeable to you; nevertheless, you have as yet failed to address them. To speak of anthropogenic Gods requires a shift from the more familiar conception of "God" as laid down in the God Hypothesis; however, apotheosis was a recognized method of adding to the pantheon in the classical period.
I have completed the re-reading of The God Delusion, and I maintain that my characterizations of Prof. Dawkins's arguments above were correct. I will quote him directly now, shrugging off polytheism on the basis of it having few followers today: "Having gestured toward polytheism [i.e., claimed that Catholics are polytheists and whined about political status of Hindus in the U.K.] to cover myself against a charge of neglect, I shall say no more about it." The charge of neglect still stands, as does a charge of being at least somewhat ignorant on the subject.
If you dispute my characterization of the arguments, put your money where your mouth is and give me some page numbers. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:56, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Forgot about this! Thanks for the reminder!
Must I point out that Christians were considered "atheists"
So are you making the positive assertion that there was no implicit atheism before modern science?
As any one of Prof. Dawkins's arguments in The God Delusion is not per se a proof of atheism's "probable" truth, but only a proof against creationism's truth.
He says that gods almost certainly do not exist, but obviously cannot prove the negative. He does not make any positive claims about an atheistic truth. Atheism is the absence of theism.
It favors polytheism if you have taken as a premise that there is at least one God.
So as long as you assume the truth of something, then your argument favors it? Um, that is not very persuasive. If I assume that there is a godly sandwich in my computer, your argument favors that.  :If I take as a premise that there are no gods, then it favors atheism. Haven't you essentially just said that your argument is meaningless without assuming your own end goal?
In Catholic theology I understand that "God" is considered to be a nature or property
Nope. Look at the catechism again. It is different than Lutheran stuff and your own understanding of Catholicism.
. It is not as if there is a fixed definition of "divinity" with which to claim this for a contradiction.
Being fully human is contradictory with being full divine. Not "partially divine" or "possessing of the nature of God." Fully human and fully divine. It's a contradiction, but one I assure you that Catholicism is comfortable with.
And while it is true that non-creator Gods fall out of the purview of the cosmological argument, they also fall out of the purview of the arguments against creationism, and those are the only arguments Prof. Dawkins makes
So give me one. Please. You have been saying this over and over, but won't give me any of these arguments. I am not going to pick them out of your essay, I'm sorry. If there's an argument you want to make, then I would ask you to please make it. I am not going to go through your essay, try to pick out something, restate it, have you correct me and then rewrite it in your own words anyway.  :Just tell me, please.
Otherwise, what this amounts to is this:
You: There are arguments for my gods that Dawkins does not address.
Me: Such as?
You: The chaos in the universe implies that there is more than one god.
Me: Or no gods.
You: The argument has as its premise that there are gods.
I'm sure you see the problem here. The only argument you supply has the plus side of already assuming theism. It is as if I were insisting there was a sandwich in my computer, and saying that the proof of it is that I have a glass of milk next to it which would go very well with a sandwich. That argument only makes sense if you assume my assertion to begin with.
It's hard for me to give page numbers, because you won't tell me the arguments you say he doesn't address. If you would tell me the arguments for Odinism that his book does not deal with, I could tell you where he perhaps deals with it. This is aside from your above argument, since that one requires as its premise that there are gods.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 04:29, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
":So are you making the positive assertion that there was no implicit atheism before modern science?" The argument was more that the accusation against Socrates was that he was dragging youths away from the State cults, rather than that he was an atheist as we understand the term today.
"Haven't you essentially just said that your argument is meaningless without assuming your own end goal?" Monotheism and hard polytheism are very different beliefs. The basis is theism in general and the conclusion is polytheism.
"Nope. Look at the catechism again." In stating that God was a nature or property (Greek ousia) I was quoting the catechism.
"Being fully human is contradictory with being full divine." Is there a place in the Catholic catechism where this is stated?
"Otherwise, what this amounts to is this:..." Let us settle this. Firstly, I am not claiming that argument for a valid one. Secondly, I originally offered the argument not to stump for paganism, but as a counterexample to your statement that "there is no argument that can be made for paganism's truth that will vary substantively from the arguments made for monotheism's truth."
The main argument I put forth in my essay is: The existence of the cult implies the existence of the God, though not in any way independent of human perception, or any scientifically testable way. In his essay "Wotan," Carl Jung put it in a similar manner, referring to Odin as a collective presence in the minds of the German people. I do not think he got it right, but he was correct when he said, "The idea that anything could be real or true which does not come from outside has hardly begun to dawn on contemporary man." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:49, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Monotheism and hard polytheism are very different beliefs. The basis is theism in general and the conclusion is polytheism.
So, yes, then? The conclusion is only polytheism if you assume theism, so it's not much of an argument for theism, right? It's just an argument for one particular kind of theism.
I was quoting the catechism.
Oh, cool. I'm looking for that part and don't see it. Please provide me with a section number or similar.
Is there a place in the Catholic catechism where this is stated?
It is implicit in the gift given to man later, contrasted with the full godhood of Jesus in Catholic doctrine. God is omnipotent and all-powerful in his capabilities, whereas man is not. To be both fully divine - fully an omnipotent (1.2.1.1.3.268) part of the Trinity possessing of all the power of the Father - and to be fully man - finite in body (1.2.2.3.1.476). This innate and total godhood is in contrast to gifting men with divine sonship and making us "partakers of the divine nature" through the Eucharist (1.2.2.3.1.460). The third Ephesians laid out this mystery for the most part, I think.
The existence of the cult implies the existence of the God, though not in any way independent of human perception, or any scientifically testable way.
Excellent. So your version of god has no qualities independent of human perception or feelings. That falls very neatly into the idea of an Einsteinian deity, deliberately excepted by Dawkins from his "God Hypothesis." As I said a long time ago in this debate:
He does knock what he can, but "what he can" includes virtually every version of theism that exists - be it fundamentalist or otherwise. That kind of contradicts your earlier claim that he attacks only "creationist-style monotheism." He doesn't redefine what he cannot knock, he simply points out that any version of theism whose idea of God is so nebulous as to consist entirely of a feeling of awe (or simply a "feeling" in general) is one that can't be rationally addressed at any point. A physicist could similarly be excused for choosing not to refute those rivals who think string theory is correct because of a "feeling," and instead concentrating on those who use math.
Your god consists essentially of feelings in the same way. He cannot be rationally addressed, or proven or disproven.
So, a long way back you said Dawkins defined god in a way to suit himself. I challenged that. Since then, I have asked you for arguments which he was evading. You have now admitted that you have no such arguments, after long debate. The only argument you did provide, you admit only distinguishes one version of theism from the other, without providing reason to think theism itself was in any way true rather than atheism. And now you have admitted that your own god - which you held as being unfairly redefined by an obfuscating Dawkins - actually does not admit of qualities independent of human perception (and thus of proof or argument) - the very variety Dawkins from the beginning said he was not attempting to address!
I hold that I have wholly proven my case, and that Dawkins did not create strong men, but only excluded those gods that did not admit to rational address, and that your god falls into the latter category.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 07:00, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
"It's just an argument for one particular kind of theism." For the umpteenth time, I have never claimed otherwise.
"Please provide me with a section number or similar." I did. Stave 252.
"It is implicit in the gift..." Pray tell, what are these great long strings of numbers that I know cannot be IP addresses?
"Excellent. So your version of god has no qualities..." Wrong. The difference between this sort of paganism and Einsteinian theism is that the God of the latter is dependent on the emotions of the individual person, while the Gods of the former are independent of emotions as they are based on the experiences of a group of people. Note also the use of the phrase based on rather than synonymous with; one point on which I differ from Jung is that while a god is created and sustained by the cult, he has an existence of his own through the process.
"I hold that I have wholly proven my case..." As I have noted several times above, to a deafening silence from you, my own case is only an example. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 08:28, 20 December 2009 (UTC)