• Pinprick
    924
    The Logic of Atheism debate got me thinking about something. If atheism is defined as a disbelief in the existence of gods, then how does logic apply to that? I’m not sure logic is needed to justify a non-belief. Non-beliefs aren’t really based on arguments, they’re based on a lack of them. Convincing arguments supporting theism are lacking, therefore atheism. If logic is just a tool used to justify/support arguments, then how could it apply to a non-belief that is based on a lack of convincing arguments?
  • DingoJones
    2.7k


    You would still be applying logic to arrive at your position of non-belief right? It is logical to withhold belief in the absence of evidence.
    I don’t see why logic wouldn't be applicable.
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    If atheism is defined as a disbelief in the existence of gods,Pinprick

    It can also be defined as a lack of belief in the existence of gods. Many atheists are like that. They haven't seen any convincing evidence and haven't had any relevant personal experience. Many don't have any particular need or desire to take it any farther than that. Why put energy into something that doesn't seem relevant to your life?

    The people you are talking about have a positive belief that there is no God or gods. With that belief, you have the usual problem with proving a negative. From what I've seen, most of such atheists argue from an anti-religion position. Arguments against god are used as part of an argument to de-legitimize specific religions or religion in general.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    It becomes complicated. Belief is a second-order predicate, so there are four, not two, variations.

    a) One can believe that something is the case.

    b) One can believe that something is not the case.

    c) One can not believe that something is the case.

    d) One can not believe that something is not the case.

    Now (a) contradicts (b); one could not hold both true about the very same thing. That black swans both exist and do not exist, for instance.

    But (c) does not contradict (d) - one can not believe that there are black swans and not believe that there are no black swans, if one has no beliefs about swans. Swan-agnosticism.
  • khaled
    3.4k
    If atheism is defined as a disbelief in the existence of godsPinprick

    It could also be defined as a belief in the non existence of Gods. It just depends on whether you think belief or disbelief is the “default position”. That’s really what burden of proof depends on. And in this debate both the theists and the atheists believe the burden of proof is on the other. Because both consider their own position the default, and the other the one that needs justification.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    They're long necked crows, dude. Swans are white.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    Too big for crows. And crows don't paddle around.

    You know, that recent comment of yours about only one post per week might have merit.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    Too black for swans. and they don't live on the Thames.
  • Pinprick
    924
    You would still be applying logic to arrive at your position of non-belief right?DingoJones

    I don’t think so. I’m starting at a position of non-belief prior to even hearing any of the arguments. It’s the position of ignorance, which seems to necessarily be the default position, since one can’t start at a position of knowledge. Right?

    It is logical to withhold belief in the absence of evidence.DingoJones

    Logic is strictly applied only to arguments. What argument is being presented when you simply find theism’s argument unconvincing?
  • Banno
    18.6k
    Here's a black swan that's white: ABC News
  • Pinprick
    924
    The people you are talking about have a positive belief that there is no God or gods.T Clark

    No, I’m meaning those who do not believe gods exist. Those who fall under “C” in Banno’s example.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    You can't fool me. that's obviously a trans-pigmented long necked crow.
  • Pinprick
    924
    It could also be defined as a belief in the non existence of Gods.khaled

    See this thread for my thoughts on the accuracy of statements like these. Suffice it to say I’m not certain one can have a belief without an object of that belief.
  • khaled
    3.4k
    let me rephrase. A belief that Gods do not exist.

    Suffice it to say I’m not certain one can have a belief without an object of that belief.Pinprick

    Is it coherent to believe that there are no unicorns on earth?
  • DingoJones
    2.7k
    I don’t think so. I’m starting at a position of non-belief prior to even hearing any of the arguments. It’s the position of ignorance, which seems to necessarily be the default position, since one can’t start at a position of knowledge. Right?Pinprick

    I wouldn't say ignorance is a “position” you have. To me “position” implies a transition from ignorance perhaps, but it doesnt seem like “I don’t know” is really a position/stance/belief. How would I have a position about something I had no knowledge of.

    Logic is strictly applied only to arguments. What argument is being presented when you simply find theism’s argument unconvincing?Pinprick

    Ah I see what you are saying now. I wouldn't restrict logic for only arguments, in my view logic is a broader concept that just happens to be present in argumentation.
    If you are defining logic only as it is used as part of argumentation then I think what you are saying follows from that. With no argument present no logic could be present.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    412


    You would still be applying logic to arrive at your position of non-belief right? It is logical to withhold belief in the absence of evidence.
    I don’t see why logic wouldn't be applicable.
    DingoJones

    I don't think everyone gets there through logic.

    A new born baby is a non-believer, and ostensibly does not get there through logic. I'm sure it's the same for many adults: they don't get to non-belief by thinking about the evidence or lack thereof - it's just default.
  • Pinprick
    924
    Believing in the nonexistence of something, is like eating nothing for dinner. It’s actually impossible to eat “nothing,” because if you’re going to eat, there must be some thing you are eating. So, beliefs about “nonexistence” are actually not beliefs. It’s just poor phrasing that leads to the confusion. We assume that if -X=Y, then X=-Y, but that isn’t always true.
  • DingoJones
    2.7k


    The point I was trying to make is that even if you haven’t gone through a logical process to arrive at atheism logic is still present in the sense that your lack of belief adheres to the basic principals of logic such as non-contradiction and excluded middle.
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    If logic is just a tool used to justify/support arguments, then how could it apply to a non-belief that is based on a lack of convincing arguments?Pinprick
    The logic of un-belief may be based on the old adage : "seeing is believing". Anything that I can't see, or otherwise verify for myself, is subjective hearsay. But most "isms" are also also grounded by a pragmatic attitude, which defines what can be accepted without evidence, and what should be treated with skepticism. Of course, it's always easy for us to be skeptical of other people's paradigms, that we don't share. And the emotional feelings of "isms", including Atheism, are often impervious to rational logic.

    For example, Catholic Christians share much of their belief system with Protestant Christians, and non-christian Muslims. Yet, Catholics tend to assume that theirs is the true church, and Protestants are apostates from the truth. At the same time, the Protestant attitude is just the opposite. And centuries of rational (theological) arguments have been insufficient to overcome the feeling-of-certainty attached to their (our) beloved personal paradigms. Therefore, if a person's faith is so dependent on their subjective frame-of-reference, it behooves all of us, not just Atheists, to insist on a more objective foundation for belief, where possible.

    Unfortunately, objective evidence for many human beliefs is not available. So, some things we must accept as more-or-less true (truish), as long as they don't clash with our foundational worldview. And the line-of-demarcation between Atheist and Theist beliefs usually falls into an evidence gap between the categories of "Physics" (Measurable Reality) and "Meta-Physics" (Immensurable Ideality). Ironically, many of us are more emotionally invested in subjective Ideas & Ideals, than in practical objective things, because objective facts are known only indirectly.

    For example, most of us take for granted that the "solid" physical objects we see & touch are made-up of tiny balls called "atoms", because that is the conventional wisdom of classical Science. That's still true, even a century after Quantum scientists concluded from laboratory evidence -- plus lots of reasoning and arguments -- that atoms are nothing more than imaginary "balls" of mathematical probability. Like many Catholics, some of us pretend to go along with the official line (on Abortion, for instance), even as we act based on un-sanctioned beliefs. Besides, intuitive Classical Physics just feels more real than spooky Quantum Queerness, with its ghostly virtual particles.

    So, what we choose to believe or disbelieve may depend more on our established belief system than on any logical or empirical evidence. And that a priori faith is your personal worldview, which in turn provides reasons for logical arguments. If the scenario of "selective truth" is indeed the case for most humans, a modicum of modesty should moderate our judgments of other people's views. And a mirror of skepticism toward our own beliefs, may help root-out fake facts. :cool:


    Hume on Logic :
    Hume argued that inductive reasoning (characteristic of the scientific method) and belief in causality cannot be justified rationally; instead, they result from custom and mental habit. ...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume

    How can we know what's true? :
    We know something is true if it is in accordance with measurable reality. But just five hundred years ago, this seemingly self-evident premise was not common thinking. Instead, for much of recorded history, truth was rooted in scholasticism.
    https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2016/07/how_do_we_know_what_is_true.html

    How do we know that things are really made of atoms? :
    Seeing is believing . . . or because the experts told us so?
    https://www.quora.com/Are-atoms-imaginary-or-real-If-they-are-real-then-how-can-we-see-them
    http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151120-how-do-we-know-that-things-are-really-made-of-atoms
  • Foghorn
    331
    Convincing arguments supporting theism are lacking, therefore atheism.Pinprick

    No...

    Convincing arguments supporting theism are lacking, therefore nothing.

    Convincing arguments supporting atheism are lacking, therefore nothing.

    The whole debate is one big pile of nothing.

    Which in a way is kind of good, given that reality itself is one bit pile of what we typically call nothing.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Non-beliefs aren’t really based on arguments, they’re based on a lack of them.Pinprick
    Not so much argument or lack, but of evidence. You might be reluctant to believe a hippopotamus is in you living room, and it is hard to see what argument could sway your belief. After all, your friends could have put one there. But the entire question is settled by evidence in accordance with criteria for judging evidence.
  • khaled
    3.4k
    So it makes no sense to believe there are no unicorns on earth? And "I had nothing for dinner yesterday" makes no sense either?

    Ok.
  • Christoffer
    1.4k
    A new born baby is a non-believer, and ostensibly does not get there through logic. I'm sure it's the same for many adults: they don't get to non-belief by thinking about the evidence or lack thereof - it's just default.Down The Rabbit Hole

    If you don't prime a person into a specific belief, there will not be any of that belief. If the exposure to such belief isn't present until the child is an adult, his reason and logic will at that age help to question that belief in a way that a child could never do.

    The problem in this world is indoctrination from a young age. Many grow up and have to actively question everything they've been taught in order to dismiss those irrational beliefs. Since most people are biased and don't fundamentally think with reason and logic, very few wake up from that indoctrination. It is their fundamental worldview, their Plato cave.

    Convincing arguments supporting theism are lacking, therefore nothing.

    Convincing arguments supporting atheism are lacking, therefore nothing.
    Foghorn

    Reason, logic, and rationality have always pushed back theism. Whenever a "truth" in theism is debunked, theists and religious people reshape the meaning surrounding that "truth" in order to comply with newly discovered facts. By historical events alone, very much support atheism compared to theism. If we produce an argument for atheism, it's the more rational path, it's the path of reason and logic, compared to a path of pure belief. Since the burden of proof is always on the one making a claim, theists have lacking support in any argument. So atheism already have that as a supporting argument.

    It's rather that theists don't accept arguments against theism. It's a common thread that theists just throw the same argument back at atheists. It's the foundation for the theist's fundamental misunderstanding and disregard for burden of proof.

    There's no rational or reasonable evidence for theist's claims, therefore atheism has a higher truth value than theism since atheism is what comes out of not being able to prove the existence of God. It's the logical conclusion to the failure of rationally proving the existence of God. Without proof, atheism has the higher ground. It's the logical conclusion of burden of proof. If burden of proof is rational, then atheism, since theists need proof to claim any truth, which they don't have.

    But even if they had proof, then atheism still applies, since if atheism is a lack of belief, then with proof there no longer is belief, only facts. So atheism is always higher in truth-value than theism, by the logic of their relation to each other.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    412


    The problem in this world is indoctrination from a young age. Many grow up and have to actively question everything they've been taught in order to dismiss those irrational beliefs. Since most people are biased and don't fundamentally think with reason and logic, very few wake up from that indoctrination. It is their fundamental worldview, their Plato cave.Christoffer

    "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." - Bertrand Russell
  • Pinprick
    924
    The point I was trying to make is that even if you haven’t gone through a logical process to arrive at atheism logic is still present in the sense that your lack of belief adheres to the basic principals of logic such as non-contradiction and excluded middle.DingoJones

    I guess that would be right, unless it’s the default position, which I believe it is.
  • Pinprick
    924
    The whole debate is one big pile of nothing.Foghorn

    Well, at least on this we agree.
  • Pinprick
    924
    Not so much argument or lack, but of evidence.tim wood

    Tomato, tomahto. Arguments are about trying to establish clear evidence. If evidence is lacking, arguments will necessarily fail.
  • Pinprick
    924
    Something like that. There is a clear difference in meaning between “I believe” and “I don’t believe,” regardless of whatever follows. If you use statements like “I believe no unicorns exist,” then you’re defining belief in a way that makes non-belief impossible. I can say I don’t believe unicorns exist, but you’ll argue that I actually believe unicorns don’t exist. Every possible stance on unicorns is a belief. You see the issue?
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." - Bertrand RussellDown The Rabbit Hole
    Good on ya, Bertie. :up:

    Reminds me of Hitchens' Razor. It suffices in general conversation but 'weak atheism' doesn't satisfy me philosophically (hasn't for decades, in fact). I prefer to make the strongest case for unbelief regardless of how weak or non-existent the argument for belief may be. In the last decade or so my particular (contra one g/G at a time) 'posiitive atheism' has developed into an even more rigorous, parsimonous and general (contra g/G-Types, and only consequentially their g/G-Tokens) 'antitheism'. For integrity's sake (contra philosophical suicide), only crushing 'realist-cognitive theism' satisfies me – écrasez l'infâme! – while, without contempt or condescension, leaving alone otherwise inoffense 'noncognitive theists' (of "simple faith", like my mother).

    NB: Hitchen's "antitheism" is only an irreligiously polemical expression of weak atheism, and not at all as rigorous as my argument.
  • Michael
    11.8k
    If you use statements like “I believe no unicorns exist,” then you’re defining belief in a way that makes non-belief impossible. I can say I don’t believe unicorns exist, but you’ll argue that I actually believe unicorns don’t exist. Every possible stance on unicorns is a belief. You see the issue?Pinprick

    Your mother doesn't believe that my name is Michael, which is to say that "your mother believes that my name is Michael" is false. That's different to your mother believing that my name isn't Michael.

    I don't believe that you had toast for breakfast, which is to say that "I believe that you had toast for breakfast" is false. That's different to me believing that you didn't have toast for breakfast.

    You do not believe that unicorns, which is to say that "you believe that unicorns exist" is false. That's different to you believing that unicorns do not exist.
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