When I suggested that we ought to keep philosophy and philosophy communities and forums clear of religious discussions, I was greeted by comments similar to the following comment.
Kierkegaard is often considered to be a “Christian Existentialist.” How is one to discuss Kierkegaard without drawing on Christianity? One of his most famous books (Fear and Trembling) is about Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac. How can ‘Fear and Trembling’ be discussed without “appealing to religion to prove a point” [he’s citing me saying that somewhere else]? read more...
I cannot remember reading any serious philosophy article or book, either by authors of antiquity or contemporary writers, in which the author engages in a fist-fight. I frequently see such fist-fights in some on-line philosophy communities. One reason might be because there is usually a monologue in those texts and no opponent’s voice can be heard. Yet, Plato’s dialogues do not suggest too many fist-fights between their participants either.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotleread more...
Note: words in italic are technical terms with clear definitions in logic, which I’m going to omit explaining. Words in bold are substitutes for logical symbols with clear definitions and functions, which I’m going to omit explaining.
There are different kinds of impossibilities. One is physical. Another one is logical. Logical impossibilities are impossible, no matter what, no matter where, no matter the circumstances, no matter the universe, no matter the laws of nature, and no matter anything else. They are impossible and that’s the end of story.read more...
My answer to the question that, ‘What is the point of engaging in a philosophical conversation?’ has always been “None!” At least to me. Most questions that make any difference to me are asked outside of philosophy, mostly in different sciences that, themselves, are born out of philosophy.
Given that, I have always been curious as for why people ask questions in a philosophy community. What do you want to know?
If it matters, it is most probably being investigated in sciences. If it is not, it most probably does not matter.read more...
The book I have worked on for the past three years is finally finished and ready for order. You can find it here.
It was a journey! From start to finish, everything is done by myself and my partner (she created the gorgeous cover and the logo for Bright Press. She also proofread the book for me).
A similar work has always been on my mind for many years. With ignosticism turning to my main focus for the past three years, I found myself in need of a reference framework for the concepts discussed in
ignosticism. However, there were none. Nothing philosophical enough at least.read more...
[…] My entire life and work
has been based on logic, analysis
and systems. Everything was centered around processes in my head. Got me and the World nowhere. For the last part of my
journey I am going to follow my heart for a change and see what happens. […] Scientific belief is a nice crutch to hang on to but […].
Based on what he said, let us do a little thought experiment
Here is Mr. Johns (an imaginary character of course). He recently realized something interesting and said:read more...
Note: This is written by an atheist for other atheists. You can rarely (if at all) convince a believer by an approach like this. Please don’t use this tone when conversing with your believer friends. It will not work.
Any believer I have ever seen so far, without a single exception, have had a moral standard that has been at best equal to the lowest moral standards I keep seeing in non-believers, and at worse a degree of magnitude lower.
That does not prove anything of course. That is a personal observation and can be biased. Although the number of believers and non-believers I have seen is large, still someone can object to the sample being non-representative of the actual population. That can very well be the case.read more...
Mythology, astrology, humanity’s spiritual relationship to the stars
, the soul, and God’s judgment on the soul, reincarnation, supernatural beings such as angels and demons, Plato wrote about all of those things.
An anonymous forum user. Edited for grammar and style.
Plato is particularly one of the worst examples one could have come up with to justify a position against my stance. If by that example she means that we have to study poetry, astrology, music, mathematics, mythology, reincarnation, demonology, the judgment day and the like because Plato has done so, then that’s not reasonable.read more...
I am sure the reason you accept the validity of the Law of Noncontradiction (I would call it the law from now on) is not that you have faith in it. It does not even make sense to say that one has faith in the law.
Also, the law is not like physical laws or language laws, or social laws. Certainly, we all understand it. But, I have to emphasize this reality a bit further for my sake.
Laws of physics are called “law” and they are known to be established facts about the universe. However, they are contingent. There is nothing in the fabric of the universe that necessitates this set of laws over any other conceivable laws. Not a thing. They just happened to be how they are. They very well could have been different and no violation of anything would have happened had they been different. So, the laws of physics are contingent. One way to know it is to imagine universes with different laws and see if such imaginations ask for assumptions that might be inconceivable to be true. People have done so, and they have discovered that all of “the laws of physics” can be different without talking about anything inconceivable.read more...
Religions are false alright, but why can’t believers see it?
My point was rather that you seem settled on the fact that God doesn’t exist. Fine. We can debate that for years and probably not get anywhere (but who knows?). What I find surprising though is that, given that there are so many intelligent and thinking people who do believe in God, why you would trust your conclusion that they are all insane (famous or otherwise) uncritically. You might be right (I am not the guardian of truth) but we aren’t insane because we hold wrong beliefs. I read your posts with interest and I don’t find them convincing at all. This is not because I am insane!read more...
“They call them extremists. We have our own names. We call them senators, congressman, governors, mayors, state legislators.” [Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition Executive Director]
It’s a disturbing observation that some people discuss matters not to learn or to investigate them but merely to convert you. I am talking about mystical minds, supers, and those who believe in things beyond the natural world or outside of the Universe, whatever that might mean.
There is a nice saying, attributed to Socrates by no one less than Plato, “I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.” And this is what the horror story I am going to tell you is formed around.
Let us assume, just for the sake of the argument, that we defined the word “god” already in such a way that it is coherent, consistent, and meaningful. That’s to say, let’s assume that we know what we are talking about. Then, we would be able to talk about what we called “god” without uttering pure nonsense. Only then! That is a big problem right in the beginning. In order for us to talk about an entity, call it x, we need to know something about it. Maybe we need to know what relationship(s) it might have with some other entities like y. Or perhaps what properties x might posses and lack. Even if x is an imaginary, abstract entity that we just made up, we need to know something about it.
How much do we need to know about x before we can start talking about it? Do we need to know everything about it before we can start? Everything that there is? Obviously not. Then, how much knowledge do we need to have, as a bare minimum, before we can start to talk about x?
In different sciences, when we postulate an entity such as x and we try to find its relationship with other entities, we usually know at least one thing about x, that x, whether it exists or not, might have some relationships with other entities.
Look at a very interesting entity called i, the imaginary unit, whose core property we decided to be i2 = -1. Pretty funny, eh? So, right away we know a few things about i:
i2 = −1
Solving i is not possible with axioms of elementary arithmetic, (as Edgar Brown said, “Simple equations such as a × a = −c cannot be solved even though a and −c are inside the real field unless we close the field with the addition of “i””); it goes against axioms such as:
a × 1 = a
a × −1 = −a
The product of two negative numbers is the same as the product of the same two positive numbers:a × b = (−a) × (−b) Here are the proofs for the axioms by the way (http://goo.gl/OqBDw).
As you can see, as soon as we assumed the existence of i as an imaginary friend, we started to know a few things about it. Nevertheless, all what we knew about it, or all what we assumed was nothing but i × i = −1.
This example shows us something important: That what we know or assume about x cannot be nothing. Either we have to know something about x or we have to assume something about x.
Now, when it comes to the concept of “god,” people seem to either assume or claim to know something about it. Let us investigate each options separately.
Assuming that x exists
We usually assume something when we don’t know enough about what we are assuming. What comes after the assumption, is usually derived through induction or deduction. If our assumption is false, the consequences of our reasoning after the assumption does not matter. The consequences might be true (in case of invalid arguments from the false assumptions) or false (in case of valid argument from the false assumptions). In both cases, the consequences do not matter. No sound argument can be made that has false assumptions, valid arguments, and also true consequences.
If the assumption happens to be true though, and our arguments also happen to be valid, then we will have nothing but true consequences.
However, the big problem with this, when it comes to assuming the existence of “god” is this: How do you know that your assumption is true?
How do we know if an assumption is true?
There is one way, and only one way to make sure if an assumption is true: Testing.
There are many ways of testing an assumption to see if it’s true or false. But, all of them are testing, one way or another. You might be able to test it by:
Comparing it with other established facts and see if it conflicts with them
Find an example that contradicts the assumption
Try to gather evidences to support the assumption
There are many more ways of testing an assumption but all of these methods are different ways of testing. Among these methods, the weakest one is the third one. What the third method can do for us at best is to give us some hints. Examples and evidences alone are not enough for an assumption to be true. They must also coincide with (i.e. be corroborated by) other methods of testing our assumptions. Here is an example to show you why mere evidences are not enough to conclusively show an assumption to be true.
a. Let’s assume that all swans are white
b. We go to a park in Dusseldorf with a beautiful lake in the middle and see four white swans in there
c. Can we conclude that, “Yeah! ALL swans are white”?
d. No, we cannot.
e. How many more observations do we need before we can conclude that a is true?
f. Does seeing 100 white swans prove a?
g. No, it doesn’t.
h. Does seeing 100,000,000 white swans do the job?
j. How many then?
k. The number doesn’t matter. Evidences alone cannot prove an assumption like a to be trueread more...