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  #21  
Old 17th January 2017, 10:24 PM
Azurisan21 Azurisan21 is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

Hackenslash, you've reinforced what I've long forgotten - simple semantics would do and it does! Thanks... now let's focus on logic of 'god' and 'immortal'.

Yes?
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  #22  
Old 17th January 2017, 11:52 PM
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

Semantics is very much aligned in popular thought but, without it, thought is incredibly difficult.

The real problem is that much of what people think of as semantics isn't actually what semantics is about. People use semantics as a stick to beat each other with. That's not to say that I've never fallen into that trap, because I most assuredly have.

People think of semantics as being a way of showing somebody to be wrong, attempting to win an argument, by asserting that the definition they're working from is wrong. This can be a good approach, but only if you recognise its limitations. Those of us who've been at this internet debate thing for a long time have had much experience of discussion degenerating into whose definition is better, which entirely misses the point and value of semantics.

Properly, the semantic content of an argument should only be to clarify what we as individuals actually mean when we use a term. For example, when I use the word 'atheist', I mean somebody who rejects the truth-claims put forward by theists with regard to the existence of a specific class of entity. Once that definition has been given, the semantic position of the argument is done (although sometimes some discussion will be required to nail precisely what is meant by it).

Semantics is incredibly powerful but, if not properly understood, can stymie discussion and lead to opponents taking up entrenched positions. This is why, for example, Spearthrower eschews the label 'atheist' entirely (or at least that's my understanding; I wouldn't purport to speak for him). As soon as you use a contentiously-defined label, you open yourself up to discussion being closed down in a quagmire of semantic mush.

Once both parties are happy that they understand how terms are being used, discussion should move on to content, but it so often occurs that the back and forth that should only be used for clarification devolves into the definitions becoming the content of the argument, which is tedious and unproductive.

In reality, all labels are arbitrary, and definitions are what we make them. It doesn't matter if I take an existing word and repurpose it, or if I invent an entirely new word, as long as it's clear what I mean when I use it.



Of course, it's also the case that, in many of these discussions, the apologist wants to argue, but is fully aware that they can't provide anything of substance on the sceptic's terms, so they use semantics as a distraction from the main event of providing substantive evidence in support of their deity.

Edit: I should add that reliance on dictionaries is among the most palsied approaches to arguing I've ever come across. Dictionaries are not, nor can they be, prescriptive. If this were actually the case, English would have had no new words or meanings since Dr Samuel Johnson finished his famous tome, and in which he defines 'oats' as a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, I don't have to point out how absurd that conclusion is.
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  #23  
Old 18th January 2017, 03:20 AM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

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Let's narrow down the focus that is practicably arguable at hand and personally relevant - let's go elimination by elimination process.

1)

Gods - where it came from? Mostly constructed as a concept by bibles and scriptures alike... it's very cultural and varies culturally...

NDEs - still baffling I find... let's hold onto this one.

UFOs - still intriguing... so let's keep this one as well.

Souls - it's all a concept and something that anyone can think about - very individualistic as well... so obvious enough to leave it out.
Of all the ideas so far mooted, I would say the most pernicious, the most utterly foolish, the one so joined to human overweened hubris is the concept of the soul. The rest, to some degree or other, have a basis in reason - even if that reasoning is poor - whereas the notion that humans have souls is something that is wholly based on a species-wide basal proclivity for self-pleasuring.



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2)

NDEs - yes... please! I want to have all the experiences of so called 'white light of god', finding deceased loves in the heaven, and so on debunked at once to me.

Firstly, and this is rather important here - the whole notion of NDE's is an experience during an extreme physical shock to the living body and brain reported about some time afterwards.

There's a simple mechanical element here. We feel our way through lives, we sense ourselves through our thoughts, our brains and resulting minds are our only anchor in our existence. This is why mad people think they're not mad, but it's not a symptom of being mad, it's a universal element of being a human.

So with this in mind, what happens as the body and brain are dying? Things stop working - oxygen is not going to the brain, or the brain is responding to an extremely violent onslaught to the body. Any which way, the brain is having to deal with something far outside the norm for it, something it's probably never had to deal with before, and it is either failing, or it is being stripped of superfluous routines via stress or via excessive pain.

One of these superfluous routines, in this context, is the mind, whether that be the result of parts of the brain anatomy failing, or the coordination between parts of the brain anatomy failing; something goes awry and the mind disassociates from its body.

So why are we to trust a report from a person who has experienced this? Surely we don't trust anecdotes with sweeping metaphysical ramifications from people who are mad, under the influence of psychotropic drugs, or whose brain is shutting down its mind?

However, I note that you have picked up on the concept of a white light, sometimes reported as a tunnel. Here's the kicker - that's a very Western concept and very different reported occurrences are found in other nations. For example, in South East Asia people experiencing NDE's often report seeing black cockerels.

Should we then lend credence to this as a metaphysical ramification? Should we ponder the existence of cosmic cockerels?

Or is there a simpler explanation? A more mundane, but more compelling one?

I would say that a mind is made up of the experiences its had in life. With humans, an awful lot of those experiences are cultural, through exchanges with other people, through TV or other entertainment, and just through living in a particular society, speaking a particular language, and being immersed in that culture's symbols and linguistic ideas.

This way, when people whose cultural traditions are steeped in ideas about going to a fluffy white heaven where they will 'see the light' can be explained by reference to the expectations generated by their culture. Similarly, when people are steeped in ideas about black cockerels signifying death, so the failing mind may well erect that as an internal vision about its predicament.

The fact that not all NDE's result in precisely the same vision, and that these visions are culturally loaded should put paid to any notion of them providing some kind of true sight or reality.

Finally, I'm not going to talk about your point regarding seeing dead loves ones here because it's another topic all of its own, and is a perfect example of humans projecting their fears, concerns and hopes onto the cosmos.


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UFOs - I'm still puzzled why would people post such bizarre articles on top governmental 'secret coverups', including Bermuda Triangle, alien abductions and stuff like that.... so I would like them to be disproven at once.

3)

Let's start with UFOs for sure!
Quite simple - the clue is in the name!

A UFO is an unknown flying object. That is a perfectly fair way to describe this occurrence. Person doesn't know what they're seeing because they've never seen that before. Really, that's the end of that particular notion.

However, of course people claim that they've seen spaceships, and aliens, and have been probed etc.

There are two main explanations for this as far as I am concerned with one over-riding explanation.

That latter is that UFO's only started being reported after the first alien invasion type books and films were made. Prior to that, not a single instance of any report ever of people seeing these alien visitors - strange, eh?

Main explanations:

a) there's something else happening to them, some stress, or some psychological problem, and it's being transmuted into aliens through culture.

b) people are funny creatures who can just as easily lie to themselves as lie to others. Either they remembered something wrong and unconsciously convinced themselves that what they saw was a UFO, or they were just lying throughout to get their 15 minutes of fame.

As it stands, it's a peculiar claim because, insofar as we know, intelligent life in this universe has a compulsion to find other life in this universe in order to better understand its predicament. Admittedly, our knowledge is only of ourselves, but it stands to reason that a technologically advanced alien is an intelligent one, and it stands to reason that the reason they become technologically advanced is because they want to know stuff.

Now, either candidate Alien Invader A spends all these resources coming all this way from a distant solar system, arrives at Earth, decides its going to hide from all the most technologically advanced elements of our culture for some reason, then somehow lets itself be seen by a New-Ager driving a car late at night.

Or it comes all this way in order to meet us, learn about us, learn from us, teach us, and otherwise engage with us.

I would assume the latter would be the very first thing we would do if it were in our power, so why do we suppose that an alien technologically advanced enough to cross vast distances to spy on us would either fail to remain hidden, or not want to contact us?

To me, it's best understood from a historical context where no alien/UFO sightings were made prior to the 20th century.

Last edited by Spearthrower; 18th January 2017 at 03:22 AM.
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  #24  
Old 18th January 2017, 03:24 AM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

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Ask yourself if you'd take the word of somebody who almost drove a car on what it was like to drive a car...
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  #25  
Old 18th January 2017, 03:28 AM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

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hackenslash said View Post
Semantics is very much aligned in popular thought but, without it, thought is incredibly difficult.
Just for clarity here, I am pretty sure that was a typo and Hack meant 'maligned'.


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Semantics is incredibly powerful but, if not properly understood, can stymie discussion and lead to opponents taking up entrenched positions. This is why, for example, Spearthrower eschews the label 'atheist' entirely (or at least that's my understanding; I wouldn't purport to speak for him). As soon as you use a contentiously-defined label, you open yourself up to discussion being closed down in a quagmire of semantic mush.
Indeed - it's also why I don't do -ists on the whole.



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In reality, all labels are arbitrary, and definitions are what we make them. It doesn't matter if I take an existing word and repurpose it, or if I invent an entirely new word, as long as it's clear what I mean when I use it.
Indeed! Or to make this even clearer, that everyone accepts the new word or meaning even if just for the point at hand. It's just as reasonable to understand what a new word means or a different meaning of an old word and completely reject its usage - sometimes you have to reject the grounds your interlocutor crafts because they've done it to put their argument in a better position.
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  #26  
Old 18th January 2017, 03:49 AM
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

Correct, on all counts.

The reason I have no problem with being labelled an atheist is because atheism isn't an ism, it's the privative of one.
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Old 18th January 2017, 04:50 AM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

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Correct, on all counts.

The reason I have no problem with being labelled an atheist is because atheism isn't an ism, it's the privative of one.

I think that sometime in the distant past, theists pulled that well-known creationist sleight of hand and made not believing an -ism to make it seem equivalent to their own.
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  #28  
Old 18th January 2017, 11:36 AM
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Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

It is really all very silly. An optimist is not always optimistic, not a pessimist always pessimistic. Optimism and pessimism are tenancies, not inevitabilities. The same for ideology or religion, except in the most extreme forms. Someone on the left might support some rightist views, or someone right wing may support some social programs. The same with religion. Many religious people consider reality now and then, though perhaps not from a catholic* POV.

Fully rational atheists should not only lack a belief in god, but any woo, supernaturalism, reincarnation, etc, etc. Of course nobody is perfect, and so most people believe in some weird shit. Except me, of course!
Critical thinking is critical thinking, so it should be applied universally, if only for internal consistency and intellectual honesty. I just don't understand folks who can lack a belief in deities and still believe in reincarnation and shit. It makes zero sense, and so of course they don't exist!

* meaning = universal
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Old 18th January 2017, 12:29 PM
Spearthrower Spearthrower is offline
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Default Re: Need to be a full atheist

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It is really all very silly. An optimist is not always optimistic, not a pessimist always pessimistic. Optimism and pessimism are tenancies, not inevitabilities. The same for ideology or religion, except in the most extreme forms. Someone on the left might support some rightist views, or someone right wing may support some social programs. The same with religion. Many religious people consider reality now and then, though perhaps not from a catholic* POV.
Yes indeed - humans have this overwhelming penchant for essentializing, for finding pigeons to pop into their pigeon-holes.
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Old 18th January 2017, 12:34 PM
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Yes indeed - humans have this overwhelming penchant for essentializing, for finding pigeons to pop into their pigeon-holes.
I blame Plato. He is dead, so he can't fight back!
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