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Agnosticism: To believe or NOT to believe...

 
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Feb, 2004 05:49 pm
dlowan,

IMO excellent angle !

(PS your comments on my maths and reality thread would be welcome)
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Feb, 2004 05:56 pm
LOL! I don't know nothing about no mathematics, Mr Fresco!
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Feb, 2004 06:10 pm
I know nothing about Chaucer but I can see where you are coming from !
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Feb, 2004 06:18 pm
LOL!
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2004 12:25 am
Craven

Let me say that I am EXTREMELY reluctant to get into an argument with you on the issues you've just raised, because I am especially grateful for the remarks you've made in this and the other thread on this same subject. We've had some bad moments recently - and I appreciate the fact that you were able to overlook those moments and offer comments that aided my position.

But I want to give your questions the courtesy of a response -- and we will see where it leads.



Craven de Kere wrote:
If a belief is only a belief when it's self-identified as a belief all the believers who wish to think they are in some special category of "knowing" only with no beliefs can delude themselves into thinking so.

Frank,

Do you believe that I do not have enough information to draw a sound conclusion that there is no god?


My suspicions are that you do not have enough information to reasonably conclude there are no gods.

It is not a belief in any sense of the word. It is a guess I am making based on my conversations with you -- (and with other atheists.)

In the past, I have told you that the only arguments I've ever gotten from atheists to back their contention that it is reasonable to conclude that there are no gods -- is that the theists cannot produce proof or evidence that any of their gods exist.

As far as I am concerned, that argument does not hold water.

It is entirely possible that there is a GOD -- and that no humans will ever be able to produce evidence of that GOD's existence.

The absence of evidence that there are gods -- IS NOT truly valid, reasonable evidence that no gods exist. It is only evidence that they appear unable to produce such evidence.

I have asked you in a couple of threads for ANY evidence you have that there are no gods OTHER THAN variations on "the theists cannot produce evidence or proof of the existence of their gods."

You have never produced anything.

So I am guessing that you don't have it.


Quote:
If you do not believe this but "know" this then I have a follow up.


I neither "know" it nor do I "believe" it.

I suspect you don't have reasonable evidence -- but hope springs eternal with me.

So to show that there still are doubts in my mind about whether you do or do not have enough evidence to conclude there are no gods...I will ask again:

What evidence -- OTHER THAN "they cannot produce evidence that their gods exist" -- do you have that there are no gods?

I'll consider it.

Maybe I will change my mind.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2004 05:18 pm
Frank, there's really not much argument. I consider this a logomachy.

We've gone over the evidence thing. Suffice it to say that what I consider evidence you consider to ambiguous.

Because certainty is impossible all evidence has a different degree of ambiguity. Precisly what degree is subjective and prone to individual interpretation.

Now I really think you use "belief" with a much more powerful meaning than I do. You characterize your position as a "guess". And what I'm saying is that since certainty is impossible all beliefs are guesses as well. You, yourself, have gone out of your way to note that when some religious folks state things in absolute terms. You told them that it was a guess.

And to me, anything one guesses at is a belief.

"I believe I'll have a ham sammich."

It's a guess.

I suspect you dislike the word "belief" because of guilt by association with particular types of beliefs. But I do not believe such "guilt by association" is necessary. Earlier I went out of my way to characterize comparisons between beliefs as flawed if they compare classes of belief that are inherently different.

So to me it's just a logomachy. You don't want to call your guess a belief, but that's what I think it is. I think you believe/guess/evaluate the conclusion drawn from available evidence differently than I do.

You believe your guess is sound and I don't, for example.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2004 10:27 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Frank, there's really not much argument. I consider this a logomachy.

We've gone over the evidence thing. Suffice it to say that what I consider evidence you consider to ambiguous.


I have never seen you or any other atheist offer a single piece of evidence that is not a variation on "They cannot produce their gods."

If you have ANY evidence that falls outside that category...PLEASE present it right here and let us discuss it.

I don't think there is any. That is a guess -- not a belief.


Quote:
Because certainty is impossible all evidence has a different degree of ambiguity. Precisly what degree is subjective and prone to individual interpretation.

Now I really think you use "belief" with a much more powerful meaning than I do. You characterize your position as a "guess". And what I'm saying is that since certainty is impossible all beliefs are guesses as well.


I agree with you. All beliefs are guesses.


Quote:
You, yourself, have gone out of your way to note that when some religious folks state things in absolute terms. You told them that it was a guess.

And to me, anything one guesses at is a belief.


Well, you are mistaken there.

While I agree that all beliefs are guesses -- there is no way I can agree to the propostion that all guesses are beliefs.

If you want to discuss that -- we can.


Quote:
I suspect you dislike the word "belief" because of guilt by association with particular types of beliefs. But I do not believe such "guilt by association" is necessary. Earlier I went out of my way to characterize comparisons between beliefs as flawed if they compare classes of belief that are inherently different. So to me it's just a logomachy. You don't want to call your guess a belief, but that's what I think it is.


Well, I think you are wrong.

Until someone actually characterize a guess (or estimate) as a belief -- it is not a belief.

My problem with "belief" is that it is a way of disguising a guess.

I do not attempt to disguise my guesses. My guesses are clearly labelled as guesses.

When a person takes a guess -- and pretends it is something more than a guess by calling it a belief -- then it is a belief.

My problem has never been with guesses.

Hell...anyone can guess anything they want.

But when you get someone insisting...as many, many have, that "oh...I am not guessing, I truly believe that. I mean, I truly and firmly believe that" -- then you have a belief.



Quote:
I think you believe/guess/evaluate the conclusion drawn from available evidence differently than I do.


Well, I don't think so, but I will await the evidence you say you are evaluating. I have asked for it several times -- here and in other threads.

What is the evidence that you find so compelling?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2004 11:14 pm
Frank Apisa wrote:

I have never seen you or any other atheist offer a single piece of evidence that is not a variation on "They cannot produce their gods."

If you have ANY evidence that falls outside that category...PLEASE present it right here and let us discuss it.

I don't think there is any. That is a guess -- not a belief.


There is no evidence that there is not a magical green ape that dances inside the moon that is not a variation on the "they cannot produce the ape" argument.

And what I am saying is that you believe it is appropriate to ignore burden of proof when it comes to gods.

Quote:
While I agree that all beliefs are guesses -- there is no way I can agree to the propostion that all guesses are beliefs.

If you want to discuss that -- we can.


Not much to discuss, it's a logomachy. Watch:

Quote:
My problem with "belief" is that it is a way of disguising a guess.


My problem with "guess" is that it is a way of disguising a belief.

Quote:
What is the evidence that you find so compelling?


We've gone over this before. And it's not true that everything I cited was a variation on "They cannot produce their gods."

In fact much of what I consider evidence is the indications that the hand of man is clear in every single variation of gods.

It's not definitive evidence, but more than enough by my estimation, given that the burden of proof is not on those who disbelieve the green ape stories.

It's never been something I put much effort into, namely because you are ignoring burden of proof and because I know you have heard of the things you request and simply disregard them as evidence that is not definitive.

That's a standard that can't be met, you are asking people to disprove a negative with all the burden of proof on them. This impossible standard is an excercise in futility. <shrugs>
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 01:48 am
Craven,

Your "logomachy" angle is a key issue. I have just made the following statement on another thread in relation to mathematics.

<< "ordinary language philosophers" are unaware that words like "logic" "proof" and "evidence" as related to "reality" tend to belong in "the playroom">> (edited) My my own admission this is a chauvanistic position but (a) I am not alone in this view and (b) its purpose to break into the torpor of "language roundabouts" .

It seems to me (and here Frank please don't trigger your "seem response" which is pre-empted by the para above) that Frank needs to defend his position in order to justify specific life choices e.g perhaps regarding the priesthood. I am NOT being personal here Frank, we all have similar needs whether or not my particular view is "correct". Such a "need system" could equally be termed a "belief system" with respect to justfying our lives.

But to call ourselves "philosophers" we surely must be attempting to recognize and break free from personal needs and conditioning and aspire see them from another level. Such a level requires a "metalanguage" from which perhaps we can glimpse the pitfalls of ordinary language.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 05:59 am
I am an agnostic.

I do not have a belief system.


People who want to deal with the question: "Is there a God?"...

...by saying "YES" or "NO" -- are dealing with "beliefs"...

...unless they are saying, "It is my guess or my estimate that the answer is YES or NO...and I acknowledge that I may be wrong."


Agnotics, on the other hand, simply acknowledge that they do not know the answer to that question.

There is no "belief" involved -- although it seems very difficult for some people to acknowledge that basic truth.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 06:27 am
Well Frank, I really do think we are using incompatible definitions. When you speak of "basic truth" I can't help but think we see these things differently.

I see "truths" as largely subject to the belief of the person asserting it. Certainty is not possible.

But this is tangential, I've avoided charactering your "guess" about gods' existence as a "belief".

What I've been unsucessful in communicating to you is the following:

Criteria for evidence is subjective. We can look at the same evidence and disagree on its worth.

When you say you don't know of any evidence to support the conclusion that there are no gods and ask me to provide it, I suspect that you know we are dealing with the same evidence and that I'd not be presenting you with anything new to you.

And this is, to me, the key difference between our opinions. We have drawn different conclusions based on the available information.

Now I've never seen you characterize your claim that the available information is insufficient to draw a conclusion other than agnosticism as a guess. I've never even seen it stated as your opinion.

Is this a guess on your part or do you assert its veracity?

And because our evaluation of the available information is based on subjective criteria how do you qualify our positions?

Here's the formula for what I am asking.

1) Do you believe/guess/think.. that the information available has agnosticism as the only intellectually sound conclusion?

2) If so, is that a guess? A belief? A "truth"?

3) If it is merely a guess then this is moot. I sincerely do not recall you ever stating it as a guess.

If it is a "truth" I'll note that I think that asserting a "truth" is a declaration of a belief and that if we differ on this proceeding with the logomachy is not going to be productive.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 06:30 am
fresco wrote:
Craven,

Your "logomachy" angle is a key issue. I have just made the following statement on another thread in relation to mathematics.

<< "ordinary language philosophers" are unaware that words like "logic" "proof" and "evidence" as related to "reality" tend to belong in "the playroom">> (edited) My my own admission this is a chauvanistic position but (a) I am not alone in this view and (b) its purpose to break into the torpor of "language roundabouts" .


I'm not sure if I am making a tangent of your post but I take this as a subset of the meta-topic of impossible certainty.

That on a grand scale "logic" "proof" and "evidence" are items that one can't "know" with intellectually sound certainty.

We operate with them but on some level they too are subjective. Is that what you are saying?
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 11:27 am
Craven

We operate successfully at that level (logic evidence) in terms of mutual pragmatic decisions. But "subjectivity" basically means "disagreement". There may be no meaning to the dimension "subjectivity - objectivity" from a "dynamic structures" (cognitive schema) point of view. i,e, such a dimension may have no relevance to either same level descriptions or higher level descriptions of the next organizational level (social structures). The question is similar to an anatomical one in which we are asking what is "cell differentiation" and is it a necessary or sufficient condition for "organ differentiation".
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 11:43 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
Well Frank, I really do think we are using incompatible definitions. When you speak of "basic truth" I can't help but think we see these things differently.

I see "truths" as largely subject to the belief of the person asserting it. Certainty is not possible.

But this is tangential, I've avoided charactering your "guess" about gods' existence as a "belief".

What I've been unsucessful in communicating to you is the following:

Criteria for evidence is subjective. We can look at the same evidence and disagree on its worth.

When you say you don't know of any evidence to support the conclusion that there are no gods and ask me to provide it, I suspect that you know we are dealing with the same evidence and that I'd not be presenting you with anything new to you.

And this is, to me, the key difference between our opinions. We have drawn different conclusions based on the available information.


Actually -- (and I have mentioned this to you several time already) -- other than "There is no evidence that there is a God" -- you have NEVER provided me with ANY evidence to substantiate a guess that there are no gods.

Nothing else.

I do not know what you are basing this guess on.

And if all you have got is "There is no evidence that there is no God" -- I definitely do consider that to be VERY inadequate as the basis for a guess of "There are no gods."

As I said in a previous thread: There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there is any life anywhere else in this universe -- but that would be laughed at if offered as evidence that there IS NO LIFE anywhere else in the universe.


Quote:
Now I've never seen you characterize your claim that the available information is insufficient to draw a conclusion other than agnosticism as a guess. I've never even seen it stated as your opinion.


Agnosticism is not a guess. It is a statement of fact -- an acknowledgement that someone simply does not know the answer to a question -- and does not see enough evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess on the question.

It is not a guess -- and it is not a belief.



Quote:
Is this a guess on your part or do you assert its veracity?


See above.


Quote:
And because our evaluation of the available information is based on subjective criteria how do you qualify our positions?


I am not judging your decision to base whatever guess you want to on the evidence as you see it. I am asking -- often begging - you to share the evidence so that I can assess it also.

What evidence other than the fact that there seems to be precious little unambiguous evidence FOR the existence of a God...can you share?

Quote:
Here's the formula for what I am asking.
1) Do you believe/guess/think.. that the information available has agnosticism as the only intellectually sound conclusion?


I am certainly of the opinion that the evidence I see available FOR the existence of a GOD -- is not nearly sufficient to make a reasonable guess that there is a GOD.

I am certainly of the opinion that the evidence I see available that THERE ARE NO GODS -- is not nearly sufficient to make a reasonable guess that there are no gods.

And I know that I do not know if there is a GOD or that there are no gods.

So...the only available, reasonable, logical course of action for me is to acknowledge all that.

That is what an agnostic does. I am an agnostic. It is the only reasonable, logical, ethical, honest course available to me.


Quote:
2) If so, is that a guess? A belief? A "truth"?


There is absolutely no guessing or believing involved here at all. I do not understand why you cannot see that.

If you object to the word truth -- I will withdraw it.

I will call it an acknowledgement.



Quote:
3) If it is merely a guess then this is moot. I sincerely do not recall you ever stating it as a guess.


See above.

Quote:
If it is a "truth" I'll note that I think that asserting a "truth" is a declaration of a belief and that if we differ on this proceeding with the logomachy is not going to be productive.


See above.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 02:39 pm
Ok Frank. The available evidence leads me to believe that you do, in fact, have a belief about holding the "only reasonable, logical, ethical, honest course".

In my case, this is a belief. And not a "statement of fact".
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 04:03 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Ok Frank. The available evidence leads me to believe that you do, in fact, have a belief about holding the "only reasonable, logical, ethical, honest course".

In my case, this is a belief. And not a "statement of fact".


Of course, in order to make that comment sound reasonable, you had to create a straw man by leaving out an essential part of my comment -- the words "...for me."

The straw man you built makes it look as though I were asserting that it is the only reasonable, logical, ethical, honest course for everyone.

What can I tell ya. If you feel comfortable with that -- stick with it.

You do seem unusually intent on characterizing my "I do not know" -- as a belief. You do seem unusually intent on characterizing my "I do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to make a meaningful guess" -- as a belief.

They are not and never will be. But hey, if it is that important to you...stick with that also.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2004 04:08 pm
Frank, I'm not "unusually intent" on pinning a belief on you.

If you want to believe that you are devoid of belief I am perfectly fine with that. Like I sad earlier, there's not much to discuss, we use the word very differently.
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