Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Inductive Philosophy And The Strawman Shuffle

Blog Philosopher Keith Devens opines about the inductive principle and how it illustrates the "futility of the atheistic worldview".

Hmnn.

[link] One of the nicest illustrations of the futility of atheistic philosophy is the fact that the inductive principle -- essentially, the principle that past experience is a good predictor of future events, or in short, that "the future will be like the past" -- is simply without justification on an atheistic worldview.


Now, inductive reasoning can indeed be a valuable tool in the scientific method's toolbelt that can be used to ferret out truths, or pointing the way towards possible truths, and it does indeed have it's limitations, but where Kevin missteps is where he makes the assumption that atheism is science, and visa versa.

This is, "of course" (to quote Kevin), bullshit.

[link] An atheist believes in much more than "there are no gods". Of course he also claims to have other knowledge, the ability to do science, and so on.


Atheism is the absence of god-belief in a human being. Period. The end. It does not imply anything else. It is a descriptive label, just like "theist" indicates the presence of god-belief in a human being.

To attribute these mythical "beliefs" or "other knowledge" to either of these descriptive labels is not only fallacious, but disengenious as well.

Atheism and science are not synonyms, just as theism and "drooling idiocy" are not synonyms.

Some individual atheists may lay claim to this "other knowledge", and to the ability to "do science", but it is not a requirement of atheism. Some theists may think that a trillion-year-old alien being named Xenu captured the universal bad guys and allowed our thetans to inhabit our lesser organisms, but this belief is not a requirement of theism.

Why is this so hard for people to understand? So, Kevin's blithe and completely inaccurate characterization of atheists as holding some monolithic set of beliefs and claiming "other knowledge", and of atheism as a worldview (it's not), is the only thing supporting his assertion that the "atheistic philosophy" is futile. (This is another bold-faced boner - because there is no "atheist philosophy" subscribed to by all atheists. Atheism may be a component of an individual's philosophy, but atheism itself is not a "philosophy".)

Straw man much?

13 comments:

Samuel Douglas said...

I'm glad somone actually publically agrees with me. I think you hit it bang on.

MichaelBains said...

... theism and "drooling idiocy" are not synonyms.

Oh! Its... so... hard... not to... go... there...

LOL! Of course doing so would make me as bad as ol' Kevi... And I DO respect alot of thinking done by alot of theists.

Thanks to Orac for reminding me of this annex site. I hope they get those "beats the hell outta Wintel" (LMAO!!)servers up and running again real quick. I missed you guys' stuff big-time this long weekend!

dAVE said...

My favorite bit explaining the idea of atheism is as follows, I think it my be Dawkins who said it:

"Most people are atheist in regards to all of the gods that have ever existed. Some of us just go one god further."

Simeon said...

I don't think that Kevin did make the assumption that atheism was science. I, as a Christian would refute that. I'm very interested in science and think it is very valuable. Some of the greatest scientists of all time have actually be Christians afterall.

What Kevin said in the quote you have provided is that 'an atheist believes in much more than "there are no Gods"'

Are you basing your argument against this specific statement? If you are, then you are saying that 'atheists only believe 'that there are no Gods'. You therefore surrender claim to any other opinions and claims.

You have said by implication that IF an atheist claimed to be able to do acience' then he would have misstepped. (If Kevin's *mistake* was saying that atheists claim to do science)

Your post is fine if you then claim NOT to have other knowledge or the ability to do science.

Kevin did not say quite what you claimed he did. He said that there was no justification for induction if you hold an atheistic worldview. Basically he's saying that IF an atheist claims to do science, then he's hit a contradiction, because he has no justification for that claim.

In Christ
Simeon

Brent Rasmussen said...

"If you are, then you are saying that 'atheists only believe 'that there are no Gods'. You therefore surrender claim to any other opinions and claims."

Did you read my post Simeon? I said, and I quote:

"Atheism is the absence of god-belief in a human being. Period. The end. It does not imply anything else. It is a descriptive label, just like "theist" indicates the presence of god-belief in a human being."

Some atheists (folks in whom there is an absence of god-belief) may indeed make the positive claim "there are no gods." However, this is by no means a requirement of being an atheist. To be an atheist all you have to do is lack god-belief. For whatever, or no reason. It is a default state to which other attributes are added depending on the individual person.

That is my point. Saying that "an atheist" (implying atheism in general) is incapable of inductive reasoning, is complete and utter nonsense. Just like saying the same thing about "a theist" would also be nonsense.

You're not getting it. Those two descriptive labels imply nothing except the presence or absence of god-belief in a human being.

Kevin's misstep was the implication that all atheists hold the same beliefs and philosophies. This is untrue, just as it is untrue for all theists.

"He said that there was no justification for induction if you hold an atheistic worldview."

Again with the non-reading thing. Sheesh, Simeon. It's all right there in my original post.

There is no such thing as an "atheistic worldview". It's a made up, nonsensical phrase that seems to mean something when it really doesn't. Semantic content equals zero.

Now, I have no problem with Kevin making his argument against specific individuals who actually do hold the philosophical outlook that he is arguing against. But when he generalizes to all atheists, that is where I have a major problem with it. Because it just isn't true.

All atheists are not the same. There is no "atheistic worldview". Not all atheists claim to be able to "do science". "Doing science" is not a requirement of atheism. Claiming "other knowledge" is also not a requirement of atheism. When Kevin says "An atheist believes..." he is immediately talking out of his asshole because atheism is NOT a belief, and all atheists do NOT believe the same things. Atheism is the lack of one, single, very specific belief - the belief in the actual, physical existence of a god or gods. That's it. What individual atheists may or may not believe is entirely up to them, but their beliefs do NOT make them atheists.

Crap I'm tired of explaining this to people.

Next, I can guess that you're going to quote a dictionary at me or something. That would be typical. All praise Noah Webster, amen. The argument's over, the dictionary has spoken.

Sorry. I'm a little peeved today and I'm taking it out on you. Aren't you lucky? ;)

Simeon said...

I completely agree with you that the only thing that makes an atheist is the belief in there not being a God.

I don't really want to get in to the debate over whether or not the 'absense of belief in God' equates to 'a belief in there not being a God' or not. - It just comes down to definitions and ultimately goes nowhere, so lets forget about it for a while :)

What i said or tried to say was that I think *all* atheists (just as all humans of all beliefs) hold more views *beyond* their atheistic requirements.

Yes, the only thing an atheist needs to be an atheist is the above statement, but show me an atheist who does not believe anything more than that.

The position Kevin advances, as i see it...is that when an Atheist, who does not believe in God, holds those other extra views within their worldview, then inconsistencies arise.

"Saying that "an atheist" (implying atheism in general) is incapable of inductive reasoning, is complete and utter nonsense."

I don't think anyone is incapable of practising inductive reasoning - Everyone can of course look at things based on experience and *assume* the outcome for the future, but i do think that within the worldview that begins with 'There is no God' it is impossible to hold such a view as anything *more* than assumption. One who claims things based on inductive reasoning will always have to accept that they are assumptions and not proofs.

Christians within their worldviews, IF they are correct, as i believe they are, are able to believe that B will always follow A and maintain coherence with their worldview.

However, at the end of the day we can look at whether or not the Christians views are actually true or not, because it is that question alone that actually affects this debate. The only thing that matters is what is actually true, not what people think is true.

If the Christian view is fabricated then Christian views on this matter are completely irrelevant. If on the other hand the Christian view is ultimately correct, then the perspective of the Christian is going to be quite rightly very different to that of any atheist.

No worries, sorry to hear you've had a bad day.

In Christ
Simeon

Anonymous said...

'at the end of the day we can look at whether or not the Christians views are actually true or not, '

Simeon,

Which Christian worldview? There are over 10,000 of them. You will find no consistency on any issue. So what exactly is a 'Christian' worldview?

Simeon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simeon said...

"You will find no consistency on any issue"

A Christian is someone for whom the highest priority is to follow Jesus. That is the most important issue and there is very definately consistency.

Most Christian statements of faith are actually very similar. I just did a google search for one: http://www.crossmap.com/about/faith.htm

All of those points come directly from the bible.

If someone disagrees with those statements then i question if they are truely Christian.

I define a Christian as someone who follows Jesus and is guided by the bible. With that definition it is very easy to find consistency. How do you define Christian?

In Christ
Simeon

Mark said...

Ahesisim asserts that God is unproven. The burden of proof lies with those that believe in God. To date, they (the believers) have not submitted sufficient (any?) credible evidence.

dave106 said...

the more you know yourself the more clarity there is.you may wander all over the earth but you have to come back to yourself.

dave106 said...

Only sheep need a shepherd.

dave106 said...

God is a waste of time and space one must be free of fear and of Belief.