Essay:Circularity

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This popped up on ListenerX's why atheism is bullshit essay. It's actually more like a response to Rational Thinker's why religion is bullshit essay. Needless to say, I find the entire response considerably unenlightening, focusing on sound bite style, assertions and circularity.


This is the first mention of god by Rational Thinker, until then he talks about religion and religion is not God.

You must know the concept of God in the Christian faith in His fundamental relation to the universe, which is that God is the creator of everything in the universe that is not God Himself.

And the universe of atheist scientists is smaller than the totality of existence which is the traditional concept of the universe; the totality of existence includes the existence of God, and it has a part that is created by God, that part or component which exists in time and space; but God exists outside time and space and still He is immanent in time and space as the creator and conservator and operator of the universe of the material sciences.

You have to think philosophy to know that there is existence outside time and space.

And you have to think philosophy to know about the concept of the universe as the totality of existence.
See the main article on this topic: Argument by assertion

This is a simple hash of what most people think about when talking about God. You can dress it up in fancy terminology like "immanent in time and space" but it simply boils down to this: 1) God is the creator of everything (that isn't God, duh) 2) there is a universe "beyond" what science can see 3) this universe is where God resides. I've discussed things like this at extreme lengths in other essays so I will merely distil the conclusion here: a universe "beyond science" must be one that we cannot detect, cannot experience and cannot interact with. This "cannot detect, cannot experience and cannot interact with" is pretty much as good a working definition of "not real" as you can get - therefore its "existence" is moot. It is a contradictory assertion to say that God "exists" despite the limits imposed on such a world that state otherwise by the very definition provided.



Rational Thinker has a constricted mind, his universe is only one of material components.

You have to think philosophy to come to the realms of existence not bound by material components; you have to think philosophy to know the universe as the totality of existence.

You see, you have to be human i.e. above animals to think of reaching the moon and succeeding; also you have to think philosophy to know the totality of existence that is the universe instead of a constricted universe of time and space and all things material, nothing transcending materials.

If this refers to the mind being constructed of emergent patterns made of material components rather than being the material components themselves, then this may be getting somewhere. However, context tells me that something this subtle is unlikely to be the implication here - and that we're merely dealing with trope-style assertions of some "other" material, that is not actually material.

As always, there is nothing to this statement if the "material that isn't actually material" cannot meaningfully interact with the world. It would be wrong to think of this as little "soul atoms" that exist floating around our heads giving us a "soul", but let's just think of this transcendent stuff as such for now as it gives us an image to work with. Imagine these "soul atoms" working their magic: then ask how? They must exert an influence of some kind. If it can interact, it is within the realm of observation - and therefore emphatically not "beyond science" as the trope goes. If it is "beyond science", then it cannot interact with the world and can be safely ignored as a proposition. This is true of everything from gods to ghosts to invisible unicorns and garage dwelling dragons... and also these "soul atoms" that are a visual stand-in for our immaterial world for a moment.

Simply "thinking philosophy" doesn't help you here - unless by "thinking philosophy" you actually mean "thinking in baseless assertions with no real world consequences or effects". This is fine, of course. You are free to believe things with no real world consequences (synonymous with the "beyond sciecne" trope) but you have to then ask: what good is it?



That you Rational Thinker are alive and breathing and conscious and thinking and writing, that is a miracle that is possible only because God exists as the creator of everything in the universe that is not God Himself. You have to think philosophy to come to that enlightenment.
See the main article on this topic: Begging the question

1) God creates things. 2) You are alive. 3) Therefore God is real.

Now, without making a complete hash of your definition of "God" to broaden it so far as to be meaningless - i.e., conveying no useful information - this cannot hold. It is circular. It is assertion. It is baseless. Again, unless "thinking philosophy" is a magic word that frees you from the need to follow through your beliefs to the inevitable conclusions, allowing you to call "STOP" once you've hit a few awkward "why?" questions.



You have to think philosophy to come to the existence of the soul from the existence of consciousness in man, and his reason and will faculties. If you only think within the confines of material things you will never come to anything beyond material things.

Amateur theologians are cute when they come up with little phrases like this.



Rational Thinker is back to religion, know that religion is not God and God is not religion.

Now, you have got to think philosophy specifically philosophy of religion to talk at all about NOMA.

All knowledge is one but you have constricted your mind to only know material things and to not go beyond material things.

Traditionally science (scientia) was universal knowledge, it was called philosophy, the philosophy of material things was called natural philosophy; now it has been constricted and restricted to only knowledge of material things.
See the main article on this topic: Non-Overlapping Magisteria

I'm not convinced this actually conveys any meaning. It can probably be ignored.

However, as the NOMA concept specifically asserts two domains - one religious and one scientific - it is emphatically NOT the case that it can be discussed only within the confines of what one could label "philosophy of religion". NOMA is a much abused concept; the theory is that it should separate the scientific world from the religious world (my views on this should be clear from the content above), but the practice is that it simply removes practical observational scrutiny from religious claims - evidenced by assertions such as this. If you were to generate a NOMA-like concept from scratch, you could not do it without understanding the limits of observational evidence first, and feeding the soggy leftovers to religion. So in fact, to reverse this cute little sound bite, "you have got to think philosophy specifically philosophy of science to talk at all about NOMA".



There are good humans and bad humans, good humans are founders of good religions, and bad humans are founders of bad religions.

And bad humans can pervert good religions to their own wicked gains and ambitions.

You have to think philosophy to come to the knowledge of what is goodness and what is badness on transcendental perspectives, and not see everything as survival of the fittest, otherwise you will end up with producing babies from your wives in order to feast on them as delicacies, as some perverts are already feasting on child pornography and into lubricious satisfaction of their libido lust preying on children.
See the main article on this topic: Straw man

This point does not warrant the time for refutation.



In conclusion it's worth remarking what the original responses all mean. Or, as they don't really seem to mean anything, mention at least what the motive behind it could be. In short, it's nothing but denigration. It is the assertion that "I know there's 'more' to the world, because this makes me 'deep'. People who don't believe there is 'more' to the world are shallow and lacking character". Now, what this 'more' is, is actually inconsequential. It doesn't matter. You see it in the argument from beauty and you see it with people who say that they're spiritual but not religious. The why, the what, the hows, and where and what-the-fuck don't matter - all that matters is that this trope leads to some degree of personal superiority: I'm better because I believe. However, this is just a baseless assertion. It is trying to emphasise that someone is somehow better just because they believe in what I'm going to start calling the "Magic More". This would be everything from spirits, to God, to ghosts, to psychic powers; things you'd find in stories rather than reality - dare I suggest it's because people have heard too many stories and can't quite stomach the fact that the world simply isn't that dramatic, running on, as Science of Discworld puts it "on rules, not narrative"? There is no reason given for why believing in the Magic More is good, and this is perhaps what I find most troubling. "Faith" is one particular answer, but this doesn't actually give a reason; faith is simply believe in spite of, and often because of, a lack of real-world consequential evidence. There is still a missing connection between this and its status as a Good Thing. So this is the assertion that as atheists, scientists, rationalists, empiricists and so on, we're somehow... what?... weaker, more confined, less open minded, incomplete, unemotional... I'm not entirely sure. But I'm mostly not sure why this is the case, nor am I sure that it's necessarily a bad thing.

I believe this: Ideas and beliefs should pay their way in empirical observation or be consigned to the scrap heap. I emphatically do not believe this magically makes me an inferior person because of it.