Atheist bus-ads in Madison, Wisconsin

If you are going to get all pedantic you probably shouldn’t make universal statements you can’t prove. If we agree to eschew nihilism, then statement is generally true, because the vast majority of religions and religious people on the planet do make statements of fact about the way the world works and about the nature of god.

There certainly can be religious that are so vague as to make few if any claims about the way the world works, but then they are diffused into a murk of not terribly useful mystery.

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Prove to me that I’ve done so and I’ll retract it. Because that’s what I do - it’s part of my religion. I don’t take things on faith, because there’s no need to.

I honestly don’t think you can prove that either of us exists, if you are going to insist that religion and science are dueling, incompatible systems.

As I said, if we eschew nihilism, then we can talk. Otherwise you are free to argue with yourself as to whether you are just a brain in a box.

Between religion and science, only science has objective truth testing mechanisms. Name me one thing your religion has objectively proved or disproved.


You understand the reality of the divine spaghettified one when your feel hirs noodles tickling your feet, not because some satirist reasoned hir into existence.



Ditto, basically.

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(wandering on a tangent)

Before I went full neuroscientist, I spent a fair bit of time as a philosophy of science guy. Inevitably, the demarcation problem (“how do you define the difference between science and not-science?”) got a lot of attention.

There have been many failed attempts at solving the demarcation problem. Popper was first, coming up with a solution typical of a philosophising physicist: simple, elegant and wrong. Kuhn introduced history into the mix, but paid too much attention to the revolutions and too little to the day-to-day. Feyerabend was a counter-enlightenment troll; Lakatos was a confused attempt to weld Popper’s elegance to Kuhn’s complexity.

Any simplistic fortune-cookie definition of the scientific method or “what is science?” is easily and instantly cracked by counterexamples. Science is not just one single, simple thing.

The thing that comes out of it all though, once you combine the century of theorising with the reality of history, is that Science is the Stuff That Works.

Historically, if something proves to be a sufficiently reliable method of discovering successively closer approximations of an understanding of reality, it becomes adopted into the canon of “science”. The bits that don’t manage that cumulative-accuracy trick to a sufficient degree stay in the humanities; some of those do still build on prior knowledge in a significant way (history, literature, etc.), some not so much.

The usefulness of the various humanities disciplines does seem to correlate fairly well with how much of the cumulative-knowledge trick they can pull off. I suspect at least some empirically-based input is required for it to happen to any significant degree; theology is not notably advantaged in this respect.


That’s simple enough. For example:

  • Religion is an effective driver for conquest.

  • A large organization dedicated to good morals backed by belief in an all-powerful, all-seeing god, can still be staffed at all levels by people willing to run an international pedophile exchange program. And worse.

  • An international pedophile exchange program is still viable even decades after discovery. (This decade’s travel destination: South America)

  • There’s no saint like a reformed sinner.

  • There’s no sinner like a reformed saint. See above.

Sure, their scientific discoveries tend to be in the social sciences, but they’re still valid and backed up by impeccable evidence.


Yay first ammendemnt!


cogito ergo sum strikes me as a pretty serious leap of faith, too, with a lot of unexamined assumptions implicit in every single word of it.


I dunno; IME it makes fine fuel for hallucinogenic excursions. Between LSD and DMT, I’ve seen some mind. blowing. shit*.

*Shit that dovetails pretty nicely with all the best insights of philosophy and religion, BTW. Highly recommended for anyone keen to try their hand at some psychonaut action. Be warned though; it can be heavy going.


Say hi to the machine elves for me.

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Didn’t meet any machine elves, but ‘God’’ says hi.


Not all Quakers are Christian, or even theist:


There’s a banana in my heart. I just look at it.


I think this ad campaign is just trying to tell people … look you don’t have to be religious. Come hang out with us.

One could argue that there’s no need for atheists to spread the word - just sit there and be atheists. The problem some atheists have with religiousness is that
a) it makes some people less curious about this world - and the world is best off with oodles of curiosity. If the whole planet had always be filled with people who took religion’s answers as answers, some think we would not be where we are today
b) there’s a fair amount of war, and some blame some of it on religion
c) religious people turn to thinks that are ineffective and think it’s helping. Namely, prayer - or just assuming that it’s ok. Ben Carson said that lots of evangelicals don’t vote because they assume God’s got it under control. I’ve heard people say they need not worry about the future because the rapture is going to happen within the next X years. That thinking does not help humanity.


That’ll teach to me to trust Wikipedia.


You said that both religion and science make a certain claim - to provide objective truth - but only science fulfils that claim. I said that religion does not make that claim, and that science does not deliver on that claim.

Now you are saying that I have to prove religion does what you said it claims to do, and that I’m not allowed to point out the basic, fundamental flaw in your argument, or you won’t talk to me any more!

I’m not going to take up an extreme position so that you can administer a beat-down, after I’ve already met you on ground of your own choosing and used the weapon of your choice (science and reason) to show you that you’ve made a false claim.

Now, for the benefit of atheists in the peanut gallery: the reason I was able to do this was because @Skeptic tried to combine two incompatible systems; the form of atheism that @CarlMud called “strong” (which theists often call “naive”) and the system of reasoning we call science. He made two categorical claims, and science relies on the ancient Greek laws of reasoning, so I only had to provide two examples to refute those claims. One example of a religion that doesn’t claim to provide objective truth or a means of determing objective truth (very easy) and the logical result of applying the scientific method to the claim that science is not based on unprovable assumptions (@Skeptic calls that nihilism, with some justification).

If I tried these arguments against the form of agnosticism some call “weak atheism” I’d look the fool; they aren’t applicable in the slightest. I have taken the argument of “strong” atheism - which is a faith based argument - and shown that it’s not compatible with fundamental precepts of science; science does not accept absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

I yield to @anon62122146 and others in advance, you’ll have to settle for a forfeit. :slight_smile: The reason I don’t like the labels weak and strong when applied to atheism is because a weaker faith leads to a stronger argument; my belief system can only refute so-called “strong” atheists and their claims.

Of course I’m not recruiting, so I don’t mind that arguments against agnosticism can’t be “won”. I don’t even think the winning/losing metaphor is appropriate, anyway. @Skeptic, let us go forth and prosper and adopt those creatures in need; love beauty and hate injustice, and never stop picking ourselves up or lifting up others; what matter if our chosen faiths differ, when we can run in the wind?

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If I had known you wanted to play, I could have set up my position more precisely. But let us both admit, I hope, that all of the Abrahamic religions make claims about how the world works and of the nature of god - and that they have no objective truth testing mechanisms to prove those claims.


OK, re-reading that it’s more pompous and prolix than I’d like, but I’ll let it stand. We’re mourning recent losses here - two beloved pets - so I’m feeling bleak and taking comfort in philosophy - mostly in the knowledge that time is just a subjective phenomena emergent from the limitations of the meat engine that houses our minds.


Totally agree. I am not a fan of the Abrahamic faiths, and that’s one of my major beefs with them!