RE: [asa] The theist challenge

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Mon Dec 01 2008 - 12:26:00 EST

Hi Dick- think of it this way- what fact would you encounter to lose all your faith in God?

Here's one I would propose. I think the "fine tuning" argument for God is very strong. If science can easily explain how "something can come from nothing," then this may be a strong case against God. I have no inkling on how science could do such a thing...

...Bernie

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Dick Fischer
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:26 PM
To: 'John Burgeson (ASA member)'
Cc: ASA
Subject: RE: [asa] The theist challenge

Hi Dave, you wrote:

"... that I would link to any theist who was willing to post a list of
things they would accept as proof that atheism is true. That offer has
been open since I first posted the essay in 2001; it is still open now
and will remain open as long as practical."

As I remember from seminary, atheism is the belief there is no God. Did
I remember correctly? So you are looking for someone to offer proof
there is no God? Dave, there can be no proof that God doesn't exist, or
the spaghetti monster, or the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus, or Superman,
or the Great Pumpkin, or anything else. You can't prove something does
not exist; you can only prove something does exist or is likely or
unlikely. But you could never prove the nonexistence of anything -
including God.

So it was a trick question, right?

Dick Fischer, GPA president
Genesis Proclaimed Association
"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
www.genesisproclaimed.org

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of John Burgeson (ASA member)
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 3:48 PM
To: ASA
Subject: [asa] The theist challenge

The following is copied from the blog I mentioned earlier today.

http://www.daylightatheism.org/2008/11/a-clarification-on-the-theists-gu
ide.html
---------------------------------------------------------------------
In my Ebon Musings essay, "The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists",
I wrote that I would link to any theist who was willing to post a list
of things they would accept as proof that atheism is true. That offer
has been open since I first posted the essay in 2001; it is still open
now and will remain open as long as practical.

However, for me to consider your essay a valid answer to that
challenge, it must answer the question I actually posed: What argument
or observation could convince you to not believe in God? If what your
essay argues is, "You could never persuade me to not believe in God
and here's why," then you are not answering the question that I asked.
I will not link to responses that do not give a legitimate answer to
this question.

In fact, responses of this nature emphasize my point rather than
contradict it: for most theists, belief in God is an unfalsifiable
construct bearing no relation to the facts of the world. That is what
I wrote at the beginning of the Theist's Guide:

Many theists, by their own admission, structure their beliefs so that
no evidence could possibly disprove them. In short, they are
closed-minded, and have been taught to be closed-minded.

What this means is that, for me to account your answer valid, it must
consist of something that we could, at least in principle, either
agree upon or discover to be true. This rules out logical
impossibilities, such as "I would become an atheist if I died and then
discovered that there was no consciousness after death." (I've heard
that one.) It also rules out counterfactual statements - saying that
you would cease to believe in God only if the world was different than
it is, for example, that you would become an atheist if there were no
such thing as love or goodness. (I've heard both of those as well.)

If all the items that would drive you to atheism are counterfactuals,
i.e., things that we already know not to be true, then what you're
essentially saying is that there are no possible discoveries that
would make you an atheist, and you have again failed to respond to the
point of the challenge. This would be like me saying, "The only
possible thing that would make me believe in God would be if the world
was a perfect paradise that contained no death, evil or suffering." I
think most theists would consider this unfair, and rightfully so. I'm
ruling out their answer from the start by making my belief contingent
on something that we already know is not true.

Now, if you're arguing that you would cease to believe in God if some
particular, widely held proposition were falsified, that is a
different matter. But in that case, I'd expect that you would
supplement this answer by explaining what evidence would falsify the
proposition in question. On the other hand, when someone says they'd
be an atheist only if there was no love in the world, that's clearly
not their intent. They're not imagining a discovery that might be made
in this world, but speculating that they'd be an atheist in a
different world altogether. I trust that the difference between those
two things is clear.

--
Burgy
www.burgy.50megs.com
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Received on Mon Dec 1 12:27:54 2008

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