Common Sense Atheism in a Nutshell

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 10, 2010 in Quotes

John Loftus pulled out a Sam Harris quote that expresses “Common Sense Atheism” in a nutshell:

Consider: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian. And yet you do not find their reasons compelling….

Why don’t you lose any sleep over whether to convert to Islam? Can you prove that Allah is not the one, true God? Can you prove that the archangel Gabriel did not visit Muhammad in his cave? Of course not. But you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims as absurd. The burden is upon them to prove that their beliefs about God and Muhammad are valid. They have not done this. They cannot do this….

The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims. Isn’t it obvious Muslims are fooling themselves? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who thinks that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe has not read the book critically?…

Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity. And it is the way I view all religions.1

To accept a religion’s claims, you can’t use the reasoning you apply to other religions – your “common” sense – or else you would reject your own religion for the same reasons you reject other religions. The religious person must employ special thinking.

  1. Letter from a Christian Nation, pp. 6-7. []

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob August 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

But none of those false religions have The Four Facts. Only Christianity has The Four Facts. Only Christianity is true. QED.

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Welsh August 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Many religious folk apply special thinking for their own religion and reject others out of hand. Let’s do one better and measure and validate the concrete claims of the offending religions.

I suggest concrete claims because I believe it’s too easy to talk yourselves in circles if you focus on metaphysical claims. At least with physical claims comes physical evidence.

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G'DIsraeli August 10, 2010 at 10:54 pm

“And yet you do not find their reasons compelling….”
Nice wording!

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Ajayraju August 10, 2010 at 11:13 pm

What i find really puzzling though is that all religious followers are united in the opinion that somehow atheists are bad and weird. Muslims dont seem to be too much bothered that Christians reject Mohammed the same way that atheists reject him and the same with Christians etc.

But everyone thinks that there is something wrong with atheists just because they dont belong to any religion no matter how stupid that religion is.

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John W. Loftus August 11, 2010 at 1:06 am

Thanks for the mention Luke! I do think this point of Harris’s needs to be driven home at every opportunity. It’s akin to Stephen Robert’s quote on your banner. This is a simple but profound argument. Keep up the great work.

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Beelzebub August 11, 2010 at 3:47 am

A related point is that all religions can’t be true. Specifically, Christianity and Islam cannot both be fundamentally true. This means that it is logical fact that at the very least TWO BILLION people on this planet are utterly deluded about the nature of the universe.

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Reginald Selkirk August 11, 2010 at 5:04 am

A new religion sweeps the globe: Slothism
Four fun facts about sloths

Not only does it have four facts, but it is fun!

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Edson August 11, 2010 at 5:51 am

But religious people find that there are no good reasons to believe in atheism.

They find themselves in a position where to be an atheist is such a difficult position to maintain, and in a way, they will rather believe in a god of some sort ( whether warranted or not, they will ask that question later).

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Reginald Selkirk August 11, 2010 at 6:11 am

… and in a way, they will rather believe in a god of some sort ( whether warranted or not, they will ask that question later).

Sounds a lot like wishful thinking.

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Márcio August 11, 2010 at 7:55 am

“you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims”

For me this is bullshit because all atheists i personally know are 100% sure that God doesn’t exists. For them, atheism is not the lack of belief in God, but the knowledge that God doesn’t exists.

So, that is the definition of atheism that i see in practical terms and in no sense i think that i’m an atheist because i only believe in the christian God and not in other gods.

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plutosdad August 11, 2010 at 9:11 am

When I was a christian the response to this I used was Christianity is the only religion with substitutionary atonement. Since that’s the central feature of Christianity, a christian doesn’t have to bother learning about another religion if it doesn’t also posses substitutionary atonement.

Of course another religion might claim there is no need for atonement, then you’d have to talk about that question independent of religion. But I see that as kind of a different issue though one worth them thinking about.

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Reginald Selkirk August 11, 2010 at 9:33 am

For me this is bullshit because all atheists i personally know are 100% sure that God doesn’t exists. For them, atheism is not the lack of belief in God, but the knowledge that God doesn’t exists.

Big Yawn. Your inability to produce evidence to support the existence of your god does not prove that atheists would ignore such evidence.

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Rick B August 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

@plutosdad

Substitutionary atonement is practiced in some Jewish sects. This is going out on a limb, but you weren’t a Christian Jew were you?

It’s this kind of combination of arrogance and ignorance that drives a lot of religious arguments; I’m willing to say there’s some causal effect going on when one considers the well-studied phenomenon of more education less religious belief.

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Rick B August 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

@Marcio

We haven’t met.

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Roman August 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

Luke, are you trying to give some kind of logical argument for a conclusion? If so, what’s the conclusion and what are the premises?

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

Ajayraju, good post!

I chalk the negative reaction to atheists by theists as something like the following;

Guy 1: “Picard was the best captain!”

Guy 2: “What, are you crazy, Kirk could whip him any day!”

Guy 3: “Guys, it’s fiction. Performed by actors.”

Guy 1 & 2: “Screw you!”

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

Edson (with a few tweaks): But Mormons find that there are no good reasons to believe in auto repair.

They find themselves in a position where to be an auto-repairist is such a difficult position to maintain, and in a way, they will rather believe in lost Jewish tribes of some sort ( whether warranted or not, they will ask that question later).

It really doesn’t sound any stranger to me in your original version or in this modified one.

An atheist is in a very simple position; lack of belief in a deity till credible reasons are given for positive belief. This is no different than a specific narrow reasonable skepticism.

For a skeptic — and not all atheists are skeptics — if something is claimed and it is out of the ordinary or fantastic in scope, the default position is to have the person claiming that to be true to come up with support for it. In other words, show me. If you can’t or won’t there’s not much to discuss.

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Matthew D. Johnston August 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

For me this is bullshit because all atheists i personally know are 100% sure that God doesn’t exists. For them, atheism is not the lack of belief in God, but the knowledge that God doesn’t exists.

I don’t know of any gnostic atheists, although you are welcome to introduce me to them. It is quite possible the movement has just flown under my radar. (Although, it should be pointed out that even Richard Dawkins, as rabidly anti-religious as he is, remains an agnostic atheist and says so repeatedly.)

I think you’re trying to conflate many forms of atheism into one, which is exactly what this post is trying to undermine. The question is really which God are we talking about? You can’t ascribe a lump probability to the concept because the concept means something different to every person who conceptualizes it. Your concept of God might seem highly unlikely to the person (atheistic or otherwise) you are trying to persuade, but that’s just one concept in a sea of many. To a person who holds a different concept of God, a concept which you find highly unlikely (probably based the exclusivity of your God), you are going to look strongly atheistic in his/her eyes (especially if that’s the only concept of God you discuss!).

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

Márcio: For me this is bullshit because all atheists i personally know are 100% sure that God doesn’t exists. For them, atheism is not the lack of belief in God, but the knowledge that God doesn’t exists.

So, that is the definition of atheism that i see in practical terms and in no sense i think that i’m an atheist because i only believe in the christian God and not in other gods.

Question: Did you actually ask what those people who called themselves atheists — or theists or whatever — believe?

I did. I even ran a poll on it;

What is your religious position?

Go vote if you want, but note what the top items are.

What you might be encountering is that you only think about your one deity, and discount the rest. You even ask about capital-G “God” not “any god” or “any deity”, so you get an answer based on what they have been exposed to. That deity you get a response to may not be your specific deity.

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Hermes August 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

For what it’s worth, depending on the specific deity claims, I’m either a…

agnostic atheist – I do not know for certain, but I think there are no gods.

ignostic atheist – While the concepts of god(s) are meaningless, it is likely that there are no gods.

apnostic atheist – I don’t care if there are any gods, but I guess there are no gods.

gnostic atheist – I know for certain that there are no gods.

In the poll, each person can vote for multiple items. For the most part, I’m an agnostic atheist though many of the claims about the Christian deity are self-refuting and thus I take the gnostic atheist stance for those narrow individual deity claims.

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lukeprog August 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Roman,

No, not really. It’s more like an invitation to examine the reasons why we believe things more closely and to strive for consistency.

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lukeprog August 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Roman,

No, not really. It’s more like an invitation to examine the reasons why we believe things more closely and to strive for consistency.

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Thomas Lantern August 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I do value what Mr. Harris has written here, as well as Luke’s contribution, in the sense that they both seem to suggest that we should all be diligent in seeking truths, and being as reasonable as we can be about the whole process.

That being said, Luke, I also think you’re painting with far too broad of a stroke if you think all theists believe for the exact same reasons. The fact is that I’m not very sure at all why other people do or do not believe and that’s why I’m here… to listen, and to learn (and, when appropriate, to share my far-from-perfect point of view as a theist.)

I also appreciate the open-mindedness that seems to be characteristic of the other responses to this post.

Cheers.

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Ajayraju August 11, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Hi Hermes

You said:

**************************
Ajayraju, good post!

I chalk the negative reaction to atheists by theists as something like the following;

Guy 1: “Picard was the best captain!”

Guy 2: “What, are you crazy, Kirk could whip him any day!”

Guy 3: “Guys, it’s fiction. Performed by actors.”

Guy 1 & 2: “Screw you!”
***************************************

I think it is more like as follows:

Guy 1: Picard was the best captain
Guy 2: Hey, He is just fiction. So, i think Kirk is the best captain.
Guy 2: Oh ok. I dont agree with u and think Picard is awesome and real but i still respect you since u mention the name of a fictional character like Kirk as someone u like.

Guy 3: Guys both are fictional characters
Guy 1 & 2: Screw You.

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Edson August 11, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Reginald and Hermes,

How do you help a person who do not have good reasons to be an atheist?

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

Edson, I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Why would someone need to have any reasons at all to be an atheist? It’s the simplest thing in the world.

To put it another way: Does a Christian need good reasons to not be a Buddhist, a Hindu, … a Myan, or all of the popular religions out there? More precisely;

What good reasons do you have to individually address each and every deity?

I’m kinda doubting that you’ve gone through the whole list, and I would be surprised if you gave even large groups any serious thought.

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 3:12 am

Edison, note what I wrote earlier;

An atheist is in a very simple position; lack of belief in a deity till credible reasons are given for positive belief.

For example, the Piraha (Daniel Everett, anthropologist).

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 3:17 am

Ajayraju, that’s about right!

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plutosdad August 12, 2010 at 5:16 am

Rick B, no I grew up Catholic, changed to evangelical … and didn’t study other religions except for some Islam & middle eastern history in college.

But yes, that was just something I was told, not a conclusion I came to by studying. So how much was trust in the wrong people and how much arrogance I don’t know.

Though I haven’t heard of the substition in other religions (mainly because it’s no longer an issue for me :)) I have only recently become interested in philosophy which ends up including some theology, when I started studying other religions a few years ago it was mainly from a historical and “story” perspective. I really wish I took a comparative religion class while in school, or someone had slapped me and said “look at this, it’s no different!” Better late than never.

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Edson August 12, 2010 at 5:34 am

Mr. Hermes, sure I get what your point is.

You say there is no good reasons to believe in any kind of god. For that, I respect your position.

Yet, there are people who do not see good reasons to be atheists. If atheism was the simplest thing to do, everyone living today would likely be an atheist. But that isn’t the case, is it?

Please, again, what positive arguments are you going to offer to some body, like me, to convince them of the truth of atheism? I would be very happy to be one.

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Ajayraju August 12, 2010 at 5:47 am

“When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Roberts

I sometimes come across people here in India who believe in the opposite of the above quote.

They believe in all religions. They go to hindu temple, mosque and church all on the same day to wish for something good to happen and pray. Such people are generally regarded as very open and broadminded people here and is most often done by politicians as well.

Just learnt that this concept is called Omnism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnism)

I believe the religion of Bahai Faith falls under this.

I find this position of believing in all religions hundred times more stupid than believing in one religion. I just cant understand how any one can really do that.

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Al Moritz August 12, 2010 at 5:50 am

Good question, Edson. I am waiting for Hermes’ answer too, because I think his statement,

Edson, I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Why would someone need to have any reasons at all to be an atheist? It’s the simplest thing in the world.

is an all too easy cop-out from difficult fundamental philosophical questions.

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Edson August 12, 2010 at 6:23 am

Mr. Hermes to assure you that I understood you and to make my question even more clear:

“To be atheist is to lack a belief in all gods.”

That is a standard definition of being an atheist, isn’t?

My question is why should I “lack a belief in all gods”?

Your argument to me is “there is no credible reason to have a belief in a god or gods”. Which means it is objectively true for you to have reasons to lack a belief in god or gods.

So please, tell me, why is atheism objectively true?

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Al Moritz August 12, 2010 at 6:31 am

So please, tell me, why is atheism objectively true?

Prrobably the real question would be, why is naturalism objectively true? If we should believe atheists, atheism is not really a worldview. However, it definitely leads to positive worldviews in most cases, specifically naturalism (i.e. the natural, physical world is all there is — our local universe or a wider universe).

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 6:37 am

Good question, Edson. I am waiting for Hermes’ answer too, because I think his statement,

Edson, I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Why would someone need to have any reasons at all to be an atheist? It’s the simplest thing in the world.

is an all too easy cop-out from difficult fundamental philosophical questions.

Al, with honest respect not as a slight to you, I do choose my words carefully. In this case, I wrote exactly what I meant. The reference to the Piraha (~pier-a-ha) emphasized that. If you are in a rush, the last minute shows exactly what I mean, though the whole talk Daniel Everett gave is fascinating if you are interested in anthropology or linguistics. (Note: It’s not an hour+ long add for atheism, as he only mentions these topics a few times briefly as in the clip.)

(One take-back: My editing often is hurried, to that I confess.)

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 6:40 am

*** IGNORE THE LAST POST ***

I’ll re-post in a few minutes. (Itchy finger pressed submit prematurely when a phone rang.)

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Rick B August 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

plutosdad,

glad it’s not an issue anymore :)

And I reread my above post. I meant to characterize willful and blithe assertions like ‘Xtianity is the only religion that has X’ as arrogant/ignorant, not your post. I’m glad you didn’t take offense to my poor writing skills!

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 8:06 am

Now, hopefully this is better…

Al Moritz: Good question, Edson. I am waiting for Hermes’ answer too, because I think his statement, …

is an all too easy cop-out from difficult fundamental philosophical questions.

Al, with honest respect and not as a slight to you, I do choose my words carefully. In this case, I wrote exactly what I meant.

While these topics can be discussed in philosophical terms, they are not exclusively philosophical questions any more than they are exclusively Christian theological questions.

In the basic case, it is one of general skepticism. A person says something to another person, and the person listening says they don’t believe it. There doesn’t have to be any deep reasoning at all, just enough to set off a person’s $hit filter — and that may be simply intuitive or obvious to the individual.

We deal with similar things like that all the time and I see no reasons offered by theists for treating their claims with a greater level of thought.

Besides, if a theist doesn’t use reason and evidence that is available for a mutual discussion — where it is not given special consideration — why would I need to fill in that gap? Where’s my responsibility when I’m not making a knowledge claim?

Now, I *personally* have done much of that extra work. I’ve had those long and detailed conversations over the span of decades of online chats (not just on the Internet). I’ll grant specific versions of theistic claims are possible even if they aren’t probable or even provable (in the common sense of the word, not the mathematical or the typically philosophical sense), such as claims about deistic or pantheistic deities.

I did that work and made those ground rule concessions because of the audience, I used to tell myself. Meanwhile, what I write is largely ignored with what amounts to an unphilosophical and areligious “yes, but” assertions based on a point of dogma where the flavor seems to be unique to each religious person. This is done by the same people who demand that I follow their rules and not leave their playground. It’s like a constantly shifting Calvinball league where each player on each team sets the rules that must be followed at that moment.

I am increasingly less willing to grant large tracts to philosophical or (separately) theological arguments that really amount to bare assertions often tied to switching out a deist god at the last moment for Jesus/Yahweh. Such goose chasing leaves us deepening the same ruts with each passing. So I ignore them. Consider that to be an easy cop-out if you must, though I have indeed paid my dues in chasing those geese.

Meanwhile, basic skepticism really is simple;

Show me. Can’t? OK, I don’t believe you. I have to believe you? Er … why? What about this other guy with a different story?

Usually any evidence — show me — runs out at this point in discussions of religious claims and switches to assertions of dogma.

The reference to the Piraha (~pier-a-ha) expressed that as well as I could, and doesn’t have Christian theism as the territorial default.

Excerpt (please click): The Piraha (Daniel Everett, anthropologist)

Full program:
Daniel Everett: Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge

[ Note: If you are in a rush, the last minute shows exactly what I mean, though the whole talk Daniel Everett gave is fascinating if you are interested in anthropology or linguistics. (Note: He only mentions Christian theism or general atheism a few times briefly primarily to emphasize his research and his role in it.) ]

I will add one more thing; It is not the responsibility of the atheist or skeptic to do anything at this point as they have not claimed to know anything about the claim being made by the (usually) Christian except that the non-theist has no belief that what the theist claims is true. All the work — all of it — rests with those making theistic claims.

Speaking of work having been done, I even ran a poll on religious positions and had multi-year discussions on the topic. (That’s the third version of that poll, and the partial result of talking with people for many years before that.)

(One take-back: My editing often is hurried, to that I confess.)

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Hermes August 12, 2010 at 8:08 am

Edson, in light of what I just wrote in response to Al, do you want to re-phrase your questions to me? If not, I’ll address them and may reference to what I’ve already written if appropriate.

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Roman August 12, 2010 at 8:29 am

Luke, cool. I like the sound of that!

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Rick B August 12, 2010 at 8:47 am

Edson,

Atheism is not objectively true unless it’s supported by objective facts &ct. But the default position for belief in the invisible pink unicorn is the same as that for any other non-universal human experience: prove it exists and we’ll believe. Until then, I’m not wasting my time believing in Shiva, Allah, Zeus, Ulysses, Hera…. at least, not until doing so is rational.

Atheism is most often [mis]defined by the person objecting to someone else’s ‘atheism,’ even if that person merely believes in a different god. Gnostic atheists believe there is no god, while agnostic atheists remain open/unconvinced on the subject. Basically a lot of arguments stem from semantic abuse and folks not coming together to agree on terms before disagreeing on stuff.

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Edson August 12, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Hermes, sorry for a delayed response.

Apparently, your only answer as to why should I lack a belief in a god or gods is what you call “basic skepticism”. Someone has been a believer in god or gods for his entire life and there comes an intrepid atheist his way to convert him:

“You have to be an atheist”, an atheist says.
“But why should I be an atheist”, a believer ponders back.
“You have to be because I don’t believe in god or gods – there are no credible reasons to believe”.
“But I have been a believer all my life. Are you saying I have been out of my mind?”
“No, you are not out of your mind, it is just that I don’t believe and therefore you shouldn’t – because you see, that is basic skepticism”.

Your method may be counter-missionary effective but if your only answer to convert me to “the lack of belief in god or gods” is because of the “basic lack of belief” – that will be circular and boring at best and irrational at worst.

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 4:24 am

Edson: Apparently, your only answer as to why should I lack a belief in a god or gods is what you call “basic skepticism”.

Nope. What I’ve said is quite different, and it’s important that we agree on what I intended so that there is not a misrepresentation of what we’re talking about.

First off, where did I tell you why you should do or think or believe anything? I can’t remember the last time I’ve told anyone who has a belief in deities what they should believe.

Unless you can show where I did that, please acknowledge that I did not tell you or anyone what they should do.

I was explaining a response people can give to theistic claims. By process of elimination, the person in my example is not a theist.

I know that you asked me why you should believe as I do, but I did not answer that question since it represents a misunderstanding of what atheists are saying on a basic level.

Till you understand the basics, you will not understand my later answers dealing directly with your question to me.

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 4:26 am

Edson, with this in mind, please state what you think I meant by my previous post to Al and the others from yesterday, and then I will be glad to address your question with detail and care.

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 5:07 am

Edson, for reference note what I wrote to Márcio (on the 11th) and Al (yesterday) and recent messages to you where I mentioned the Piraha and the “What is your religious position?” poll I ran at WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com. Both are external links but can be reviewed in a minute or two each, maximum.

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Edson August 13, 2010 at 5:33 am

Hermes, I already said that your tactics are probably effective to counter evangelical missionary instincts – putting yourself in a far corner and shielding yourself with the typical “implausible, not credible, not natural, etc.” to every theistic argument.

However, I, wrongly, had the impression you probably aspire to popularize your position. For that I was curious: If I wanted to not believe, like you, what should I do?

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Edson August 13, 2010 at 5:41 am

Sorry, Hermes, I posted before reading your post above.

The link – WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com.

agnostic atheist – I do not know for certain, but I think there are no gods – was the majority position.

Are you an agnostic atheist?

Is this your position of belief,Hermes?

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 9:17 am

Edson, what would the Piraha say if you told them about your deity?

What would they say if you said the same thing to them that you said to me right now?

The rest was probably handled in messages I’ve posted and gave references to today;

* * *

What I wrote on the 11th to Márcio;

For what it’s worth, depending on the specific deity claims, I’m either a…

agnostic atheist – I do not know for certain, but I think there are no gods.

ignostic atheist – While the concepts of god(s) are meaningless, it is likely that there are no gods.

apnostic atheist – I don’t care if there are any gods, but I guess there are no gods.

gnostic atheist – I know for certain that there are no gods.

In the poll, each person can vote for multiple items. For the most part, I’m an agnostic atheist though many of the claims about the Christian deity are self-refuting and thus I take the gnostic atheist stance for those narrow individual deity claims.

Note the separation between someone claiming to know for a fact that something is true or not, and stating (not claiming) what personal beliefs are held or not.

* * *

Part of what I wrote to Al yesterday;

… I’ll grant specific versions of theistic claims are possible even if they aren’t probable or even provable (in the common sense of the word, not the mathematical or the typically philosophical sense), such as claims about deistic or pantheistic deities.

* * *

There are other parts, but it seems at a minimum that these parts slipped by you even though they directly address your questions.

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 9:21 am

Edson, I’ll address more once I am confident that you get what I’ve said so far.

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Hermes August 13, 2010 at 10:39 am

[I may not comment over the weekend ]

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Hermes August 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Anyone have any comments, or is this thread dead now?

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rvkevin August 15, 2010 at 3:58 am

Anyone have any comments, or is this thread dead now?

Have you read Daniel Everett’s book? If yes, would you or would you not recommend it?

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Hermes August 15, 2010 at 4:19 am

No, I haven’t read Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes. I have a long reading list and simply don’t have time for everything. It gets good to excellent ratings on Amazon with a few noted criticisms that seem plausible, though even on some of those points there isn’t full agreement (ex: The quality of the editing.)

I have read about some other Amazon tribes, mainly the Yanomamo, and what he offers in his presentation about the Piraha seems to be roughly consistent with what I’ve learned previously.

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Hermes August 16, 2010 at 3:23 am

Edson?

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JS Allen August 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I was out in the wilderness with no Internet access for the past week, so I’m just catching up.

The whole “Outsider Test” formulated by Loftus makes no sense at all to me. It was the one part of his book I felt was weakest. It reminds me of the scene from Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby is telling his dad “You said ‘If you’re not first, you’re last’”, and the dad replies, “Hell, Ricky, I was high when I said that — it makes no sense. You could be second, or third, or…”

I keep half expecting Loftus to say, “Hell, I was high when I said that. You could reject Islam for any number of reasons that don’t apply to Christianity”.

Personally, I’ve studied Islam for around 20 years, and I don’t think it’s all that easy to dismiss. So, you’ve already lost me when you say something like, “you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims as absurd.” I’m thinking, “WTF? Who said the beliefs of Muslims are absurd?” You have to be pretty ignorant about Islam to reject their entire belief system as absurd.

It feels like Harris and Loftus are pandering to Christian mistrust of Muslims to sneak past an absurdly illogical argument. It’s not a whole lot different from saying something like, “When you realize why you consider Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer to be sexual predators, you’ll know why I consider your grandpa to be a sexual predator. The reasons that people trusted Ted Bundy are precisely the same as the reasons you trust your grandpa.”

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Lucian December 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

There are no Muslim miracles I know of, so it’s absurd to say that “every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian. And yet you do not find their reasons compelling“. I am not aware of Muslim holy men who read into people’s past, hearts, minds, and future, like so many Christian Saints did, even in this century. Nor am I aware of any incorrupt relics of Muslim holy men, like the preserved bodies of Christian Saints, some of whom were from this century. Etc.

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Luke Muehlhauser December 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Lucian,

There are no Muslim miracles that you know of? You’re not aware of Muslim holy men who read into people’s past, hearts, minds, and future? These are facts about your own ignorance, not facts about the external world.

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