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Libertarians and Atheism

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JCFolsom Posted: Tue, May 20 2008 3:11 PM

I have the impression (perhaps mistaken) that there is a much larger than average proportion of libertarians who are atheists. I am aware of the existence of some of the Christian anarchists and the like, but I get the sense that the religious here (though there are arguments to be made that atheism is its own religion) are a distinct minority. I am a religious fellow myself (though no Christian) and consider atheism to be silly. The statement "there is no God" unsupportable, so far as I can tell.

My first instinct in regards to this issue (no doubt this will be rather hotly contested by some) is that the authoritarian character of traditional religions predisposes many of the freedom-minded to steer away, and alas, as with most atheists, people who dislike Judeo-Christian paradigms assume they can discard theism as a whole. Not very creative, but people who like to think of themselves as "rational" don't need much encouragement to deny the transcendent.

As for a bit of background, I was an enthusiastic investigator into the Intelligent Design movement for awhile, and still find many of the arguments compelling although I have grown weary of the movement itself.

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Ego replied on Tue, May 20 2008 3:21 PM

Instead you of asking me, "why you are atheist?", I'll ask you, "why are you religious?".

I have views different from most atheists; still, the idea of a supreme being which desires human worship makes little sense to me.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Stranger replied on Tue, May 20 2008 3:23 PM

What does it matter how many of a certain group there are? We are not interested in quantity, but quality.

 

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Caley replied on Tue, May 20 2008 3:32 PM

Rothbard said about this that most intellectuals are atheists and most libertarians are intellectuals.

 

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JCFolsom:
My first instinct in regards to this issue (no doubt this will be rather hotly contested by some) is that the authoritarian character of traditional religions predisposes many of the freedom-minded to steer away, and alas, as with most atheists, people who dislike Judeo-Christian paradigms assume they can discard theism as a whole. Not very creative, but people who like to think of themselves as "rational" don't need much encouragement to deny the transcendent.

Well, If you're trying to avoid rational, respectful discussion and get straight to name calling and mud slinging, chalking up the opposing belief to a childish reactionary fallacy is a good way to start.

I too have grown weary of the ID movement.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 4:07 PM

Ego:
Instead you of asking me, "why you are atheist?", I'll ask you, "why are you religious?".

I have views different from most atheists; still, the idea of a supreme being which desires human worship makes little sense to me.

 

Well, I never said anything about worship. My understanding is that atheists disbelieve in the existence of God. The worthiness or desire for worship that God has is a separate issue. There have been dystheist belief systems, after all. I guess my issue is, what makes you make the jump from agnosticism to atheism?

For my part, in my education as a biologist and my rather more valuable independent study of general science, I find Paley's watchmaker argument to be compelling (and Hume's refutation not). Only in life do we have such complex machines (.) that supposedly arose through unconscious processes, and the fact is, we've never actually seen the origination of biological order. It is an assumption that it happened so. When Darwin made his theory, cells were still thought to be mostly formless blobs of goo. We now know that, from the molecular level up, living bodies are series of orders of tremendously complex machines. The only time we ever see such orders arise is when a conscious agent creates them.

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It seems to be my understanding that religion discredits libertarianism because to worship God you have to believe you have no free will, that you came into existance by some master plan.

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Ego replied on Tue, May 20 2008 4:13 PM

I disagree with most atheists in that I recognize that consciousness cannot come from the brain; the brain is simply a computer!

If we are to believe that the consciousness comes from the brain, why doesn't a calculator have a limited form of consciousness? Why not a bolt of lightening? Why not a rock?

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 4:22 PM

Friedreich:
It seems to be my understanding that religion discredits libertarianism because to worship God you have to believe you have no free will, that you came into existance by some master plan.
 

Interesting. Most religionists would say that atheism (or, rather, materialism which I admit I probably should have used from the start) is what precludes free will. If all we are is a series of electrochemical reactions in a fairly complicated web of organic goo, free will is illusiory. In such a context, we see that all we are is an ultimately deterministic, albeit difficult to predict, series of causes and effects, inputs and outputs. All the material world is determined by cause and effect. We could not choose the brain we were born with, nor our first experiences. These shaped us further, and we reacted as our initial state led us. No variation from this series of causes and effects is possible, if we are material only.

On the other hand, if we have an element, a self, that transcends the material, we need not necessarily be bound by cause and effect. I admit that free will is a fairly sticky subject, but I think you will find that it is atheist authors, rather than theist ones, who most often argue against it. Calvinists were determinists, sure, but I'm hardly advocating that rather grim view.

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 4:28 PM

Stranger:
What does it matter how many of a certain group there are? We are not interested in quantity, but quality.
 

I'm more curious than anything. Plus, I like a bit of lively discussion. Here be a topic, admittedly tangential to this forum, for which semantics and fine points need not be the only thing debated. We're all so close politically here, but it is interesting to see the different trains of thought people rode to get here. It may provide valuable insights, and in any case, having rational arguments (admitting again that I stirred the pot with a bit of confrontational spice) can be a harm to no one, methinks. Especially ones we're less used to.

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Roderick Long has an interested article speculating about religious influences on political structures.

JCFolsom:
For my part, in my education as a biologist and my rather more valuable independent study of general science, I find Paley's watchmaker argument to be compelling (and Hume's refutation not). Only in life do we have such complex machines (.) that supposedly arose through unconscious processes, and the fact is, we've never actually seen the origination of biological order. It is an assumption that it happened so. When Darwin made his theory, cells were still thought to be mostly formless blobs of goo. We now know that, from the molecular level up, living bodies are series of orders of tremendously complex machines. The only time we ever see such orders arise is when a conscious agent creates them.

That last sentence simply isn't true. Theories of spontaneous order and social evolution actually predate Darwin's theory of evolution. Check out Scottish Enlightenment and classical liberal thinkers like Adam Ferguson. A modern libertarian example is F.A. Hayek. Theories of spontaneous order and evolution (social and biological) help to override the human tendency to ascribe anything we don't understand to conscious design.

Yours in liberty,
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista University
Webmaster, LibertarianStandard.com
Founder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 5:03 PM

Geoffrey Allan Plauche:

JCFolsom:
The only time we ever see such orders arise is when a conscious agent creates them.

That last sentence simply isn't true. Theories of spontaneous order and social evolution actually predate Darwin's theory of evolution. Check out Scottish Enlightenment and classical liberal thinkers like Adam Ferguson. A modern libertarian example is F.A. Hayek. Theories of spontaneous order and evolution (social and biological) help to override the human tendency to ascribe anything we don't understand to conscious design.

 

I'm not asking for theory, I'm asking for an example. Show me one instance of a complex  and ordered machine (I don't want to wrestle too much with semantics here, I think you know what I mean) that was either not designed by humans or that we observed come about naturally. My point is that we can theorize all day, but we have never seen a case of abiogenesis, and we have no real reason to think it's even possible.

To clarify, for anyone who doesn't know, Paley's argument, paraphrased is this:

If you are walking along the beach and you stub your toe on a watch, you can be sure (and you indeed would be, if you weren't mad), that someone made that watch on purpose. A mind was behind it. This is even without a maker's mark or any sign of the maker around. You know it, because things like watches just don't occur naturally.

The most elaborate watch ever made, however, is a trifling simplicity compared to the complexity of even the least cell. What makes you think, then, that if the watch could not arise spontaneously, that life could?

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JCFolsom:

Geoffrey Allan Plauche:

JCFolsom:
The only time we ever see such orders arise is when a conscious agent creates them.

That last sentence simply isn't true. Theories of spontaneous order and social evolution actually predate Darwin's theory of evolution. Check out Scottish Enlightenment and classical liberal thinkers like Adam Ferguson. A modern libertarian example is F.A. Hayek. Theories of spontaneous order and evolution (social and biological) help to override the human tendency to ascribe anything we don't understand to conscious design.

 

I'm not asking for theory, I'm asking for an example. Show me one instance of a complex  and ordered machine (I don't want to wrestle too much with semantics here, I think you know what I mean) that was either not designed by humans or that we observed come about naturally. My point is that we can theorize all day, but we have never seen a case of abiogenesis, and we have no real reason to think it's even possible.

To clarify, for anyone who doesn't know, Paley's argument, paraphrased is this:

If you are walking along the beach and you stub your toe on a watch, you can be sure (and you indeed would be, if you weren't mad), that someone made that watch on purpose. A mind was behind it. This is even without a maker's mark or any sign of the maker around. You know it, because things like watches just don't occur naturally.

The most elaborate watch ever made, however, is a trifling simplicity compared to the complexity of even the least cell. What makes you think, then, that if the watch could not arise spontaneously, that life could?

 

I fail to see how you expect to have a rational discussion if you exclude theory from consideration. As for examples, evolutionary biologists will point to various lifeforms and their parts (like the eyeball) as complex and ordered machines for which we have sound scientific reasons to believe that they came about spontaneously through evolution and were not designed or created by any conscious being. Social scientists will point to markets, law, culture in general as complex spontaneous orders that, to paraphrase Hayek, are the result of human action but not of human design.

Yours in liberty,
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista University
Webmaster, LibertarianStandard.com
Founder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 5:30 PM

Geoffrey Allan Plauche:
I fail to see how you expect to have a rational discussion if you exclude theory from consideration. As for examples, evolutionary biologists will point to various lifeforms and their parts (like the eyeball) as complex and ordered machines for which we have sound scientific reasons to believe that they came about spontaneously through evolution and were not designed or created by any conscious being. Social scientists will point to markets, law, culture in general as complex spontaneous orders that, to paraphrase Hayek, are the result of human action but not of human design.
 

Mayhap not human design, but certainly human designs. The overall structures are made by individual, conscious, rational decisions. Hayek may point to such structures as markets and law, but I would tend to argue that such things are fundamentally different categories of structures than hands or automobiles. As for the just-so stories of the Darwinists, there are no such sound scientific reasons. We have really barely scratched the surface as to how biological information is stored and processed. Just a few years (and a good bit of wishful thinking) ago, Darwinists still proposed that DNA contained vast "junk" regions, which it has since been found are important for regulation and in some cases are better-conserved than functional genes.

I've seen at least the popularly-distributed explanations of the eye. It started as a mere light-sensitive spot (how it even got there is a mystery), then slowly curved in and eventually added such things as fluid-filled cavities and a lens. But it's not really the eye that has to change, but the information that goes into it. And we haven't the foggiest how that is determined, really. Sure, we can put an eye on a fly's leg (through a conscious, intelligent intervention) but we are only changing the instruction of where to grow it. We still don't know where the instructions of HOW to grow it are. Indeed, much of the science now suggests that many aspects of body plan are not carried by heritable molecules at all, but chemical cues on various surfaces of the germ cells.

The more we learn, the less we know, and it is merely hubris that allows Darwinists to claim they can prove so much as they do.  Until such a time as their understanding is more than illusory, the burden of proof is upon THEM, for it is their position that defies the common sense that a watch requires a watchmaker.

I am no Biblical creationist here; I believe life has changed and evolved over vast periods of time (though, perhaps not so gradually as once thought), just not without some planning and design. I am what is termed a theistic evolutionist.

 

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 6:05 PM

Perhaps to tie back in to the purpose of this site a little, don't believe the hype that biological or other sciences are any different than economic science. In ALL sciences, people come up with theories that correlate well with the data we have available at the time. If no one else comes up with an alternative theory in fairly short order (or the alternate theories or their creators, for one reason or another, are unpopular), and the theory is significant enough, the creator of the theory can become a star (think Darwin or Keynes). Their theories are applied across the board. People build careers basing their work on that initial theory. Some become professors, and teach them to their students. If there are enough of them, they can come to be the dominant group in a field of study.

The problem is, what happens is an inter-generational dependence on the theory. Not only is any particular scientist's life's work based on a certain paradigm, so was his mentors', his teachers', his friends'. In the case of evolution, he was taught it from a young age at his government schools, it is repeated over and over in the nature programs he loves. His judgment is anything but objective. Thus, if new insights (the odds against life arising by random processes are astronomical AT BEST) come about that challenge current knowledge and theories (Darwinian evolution), then rather than questioning the basic theory, scientists will often introduce a basically unprovable and on-its-face ridiculous concept (multiple/infinite universes).

We can see it in the statists who think they can manage economies, the economists who think you can manage inflation for perpetual prosperity. People cling to wrong, albeit dominant ideas long after they've received a killing blow and are shuffling around as zombies, animated only by their desperate devotion.

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JCFolsom:
I have the impression (perhaps mistaken) that there is a much larger than average proportion of libertarians who are atheists.

There was a similar thread on this a few months ago:

http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/1814.aspx?PageIndex=1

IMHO, it doesn't matter if you believe in God, multiple gods, or no God(s) at all.  Just as long as we give each other the freedom to choose, and not restrict that freedom.  I happen to lean towards the Atheist position, but many of my good friends are hardcore Christians.  The reason we get a long is that we give each other the freedom to be who we desire to be, and not try to change their belief system in regards to the veracity of a diety(ies).

On a slightly peculiar note, it is interesting that many individuals are Atheist with respect to other Gods but their own.

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majevska replied on Tue, May 20 2008 6:41 PM

I am personally agnostic. I was raised Christian and went through phases of exploring all sorts of religions, mystical doctrines etc. Through all of it I do find the idea of atheism nearly as distasteful as that of organized religion. I should clarify that what I mean by "atheism" is the sort of naive intolerant atheism I seem to run into so often. This atheism is a sort of arrogant atheism, one which posits that any belief system that even considers the possibility of a higher power to be hopelessly childish and immature. I have not entered a church for years except on occasions like a wedding or funeral and even then I wish such occasions could be held somewhere else. I was at a synagogue not too long ago and found it just as disgusting as a church. Anyways, the main point I'm trying to make is that what's really so distasteful about a proselyte is that they look at you with the intention of "saving" you. If you don't believe what they do you're somehow incomplete. Most atheists I know have the same mentality but in reverse. As long as you have the faintest spark of theism in you, even if all it's only a faint agnosticism, they think that part of your belief system is childish and in need of "saving."

I might add that libertarianism as pertaining to pure philosophy (the belief in free will) is not requisite for a belief in political libertarianism. One can be a staunch determinist and an uncompromising anarchist with absolutely no logical inconsistency. I'm personally agnostic on the matter of free will.

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Juan replied on Tue, May 20 2008 6:45 PM
I thought that religious libertarians would tend to be deists like they actually used to be in the 18th and 19th centuries.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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majevska:
I should clarify that what I mean by "atheism" is the sort of naive intolerant atheism I seem to run into so often. This atheism is a sort of arrogant atheism, one which posits that any belief system that even considers the possibility of a higher power to be hopelessly childish and immature.

Perhaps it is anything that is arrogant and intolerant that is distasteful. 

Not to sound arrogant, intolerant, or distateful, but one of the advantages of libertarianism is that everyone gets to do, and believe whatever they want, granted they are not harming anyone else.  It's not a philosophy that everything thinks and acts the same, but are given the freedom to think and act different (or the same).

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majevska replied on Tue, May 20 2008 7:39 PM

That sounds just about right to me. I'm not implying that either side of the coin is better... and of course the initiation force to effect any sort of change would be out of the question for a libertarian.

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 7:39 PM

ViennaSausage:

Not to sound arrogant, intolerant, or distateful, but one of the advantages of libertarianism is that everyone gets to do, and believe whatever they want, granted they are not harming anyone else.  It's not a philosophy that everything thinks and acts the same, but are given the freedom to think and act different (or the same).

I quite agree, and I'm not going to try to do any conversions by the sword. Nonetheless, I believe that valid beliefs are based on reason, and I believe atheism is unreasonable. Given that reason is something of a theme here, I thought I'd explore the arguments back and forth amongst the Austrian populace.

 

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JCFolsom:
I am a religious fellow myself (though no Christian) and consider atheism to be silly. The statement "there is no God" unsupportable, so far as I can tell.

You are thinking about it wrong.  The statement "there is a god" is a positive and unsupported claim.

 

 

 

 

 

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JCFolsom:
I quite agree, and I'm not going to try to do any conversions by the sword.

Understood. 

JCFolsom:
Nonetheless, I believe that valid beliefs are based on reason, and I believe atheism is unreasonable.

What makes Christianity reasonable?  or Theism?  or even Deism?

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Juan replied on Tue, May 20 2008 7:55 PM
...I thought I'd explore the arguments back and forth amongst the Austrian populace.
Agnosticism : humans can't really figure out whether the universe is ethernal, or has been created, whether it is infinite...or something else, whether there's a god or not, etc., etc.

I think it's pretty reasonable to realize that reason has some limits...

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 8:39 PM

IDigSluts_ky:
You are thinking about it wrong.  The statement "there is a god" is a positive and unsupported claim.

IDigSluts, huh? Charming, Beavis.

In any case, I have tried to support it. You might not agree with my supports (if you've even read them), but theism is a natural option for answering the question, "How did we get here?"

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JCFolsom:
IDigSluts, huh? Charming, Beavis.

If you want to engage in childish attacks and name calling, then that is your prerogative.  My name is a play on words from Eugene Slutsky; a well known economist known for the Slutsky decomposition.  It is an equation that decomposes the income and substitution effect.

In any case, I have tried to support it. You might not agree with my supports (if you've even read them),

Argument from design fails.  It also begs the question of who created the creator?

but theism is a natural option for answering the question, "How did we get here?"

The only correct answer is to the question "How did we get here"?  "I do not know".  That is the honest and correct answer.  To assume god is to be presumptious.  Just because we don't understand something, does not mean "god did it". Your statement is nothing more than a God of the Gaps argument.

 

 

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 9:18 PM

IDigSluts_ky:
If you want to engage in childish attacks and name calling, then that is your prerogative.  My name is a play on words from Eugene Slutsky; a well known economist known for the Slutsky decomposition.  It is an equation that decomposes the income and substitution effect.

You are pulling my leg, of course. You are not really telling me you are serious about the name IDigSluts_ky (as in jelly?). I feel like a sucker just asking. Otherwise, you really need to reconsider that, no matter how much you like Mr. Slutsky.

IDigSluts_ky:
Argument from design fails.  It also begs the question of who created the creator?

Because you say so, right. Well, I disagree. In any case, since we can only scientifically observe physical reality, the necessity for causation can only be established for physical objects.

IDigSluts_ky:
The only correct answer is to the question "How did we get here"?  "I do not know".  That is the honest and correct answer.  To assume god is to be presumptious.  Just because we don't understand something, does not mean "god did it". Your statement is nothing more than a God of the Gaps argument.

I'll give you this much credit, oh digger of sluts. You at least aren't coming out and saying you do know it came about by naturalistic processes. I still think it is a reasonable conclusion to say someone had to make all this, to think up its exquisite order. We can't know for sure, of course, but on the other hand, I can't actually know that you exist, either, or that any of us existed before this very moment. Nonetheless, we make such assumptions all the time, because otherwise the world becomes incoherent.

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JCFolsom:
I still think it is a reasonable conclusion to say someone had to make all this, to think up its exquisite order.

Relating this to economics, this is a Keynesian/NeoClassical arguement, someone has to run the economy, to think up it exquisite (dis)order.  In Austrian Economics, the economy would spontaneously order itself, quite similar to how many Atheists would view how the word was made, spontaneous order (over a couple billion years).

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JCFolsom:
You are pulling my leg, of course. You are not really telling me you are serious about the name IDigSluts_ky (as in jelly?).

In jelly?  I am not following.  I would suggest you either google "Eugene Slutsky" or the "Slutsky equation".  It is an equation that links Marshallian and Hicksian demands.  My name is a play on words.

Because you say so, right. Well, I disagree. In any case, since we can only scientifically observe physical reality, the necessity for causation can only be established for physical objects.

Complexity does not imply a creator. Why would it?  It is being presumptuous.  It also suffers from infinite regress.

I still think it is a reasonable conclusion to say someone had to make all this, to think up its exquisite order.

Who made the creator?   What god are you referring to?  An Abrahamic god or countless other abstractions of god created throughout human history.  God is man's creation, not the other way around. 

If you want to believe in god, then that is your right.  I really don't see this conversation going anywhere productive and I do not want to get into a long drawn out debate about this.

 

 

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, May 20 2008 10:21 PM

IDigSluts:
Complexity does not imply a creator. Why would it?

Only because it always has. In all cases where we can actually confirm the origin of ordered complexity in physical objects, we find a conscious actor. It's inductive, sure, but so is the law of gravity.

IDigSluts:
Who made the creator?   What god are you referring to?  An Abrahamic god or countless other abstractions of god created throughout human history.  God is man's creation, not the other way around.

A non-physical consciousness with the ability to produce the physical universe and guide it somewhat in its evolution.

IDigSlutshehhehwhodoesnt:
If you want to believe in god, then that is your right.  I really don't see this conversation going anywhere productive and I do not want to get into a long drawn out debate about this.
 

True, it is my right. It is your right to disbelieve, that is, be wrong. Congratulations, we're all within our rights. Any more superfluous statements or atheist slogans you'd like to spout? Or even maybe an actual argument or a justification of your position that "It also suffers from infinite regress"?

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ViennaSausage:

JCFolsom:
I still think it is a reasonable conclusion to say someone had to make all this, to think up its exquisite order.

Relating this to economics, this is a Keynesian/NeoClassical arguement, someone has to run the economy, to think up it exquisite (dis)order.  In Austrian Economics, the economy would spontaneously order itself, quite similar to how many Atheists would view how the word was made, spontaneous order (over a couple billion years).

I think we have a keeper here.

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JCFolsom:
Only because it always has. In all cases where we can actually confirm the origin of ordered complexity in physical objects, we find a conscious actor. It's inductive, sure, but so is the law of gravity.

Who created this "complex" creator?  You are stating that all complexity is derived from a creator.  This creator has to be complex.  Hence, this creator needed a creator.  Hence, infinite regress.

A non-physical consciousness with the ability to produce the physical universe and guide it somewhat in its evolution.

How does this creator guide the universe's evolution?

 

 

 

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Nitroadict replied on Tue, May 20 2008 10:56 PM

I'm actually surprised there isn't more mentions of Ignosticism; I used to be an Athiest (and before so, a Deist), but eventually felt Ignosticism had the more logically consistient argument.

In any case, I'm intriqued by this supposed evidence some in physics have proposed that gives creedence to a "creator", but the concept of infinite regress seems to take out the hype.

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Juan replied on Tue, May 20 2008 11:56 PM
Are you refering to 'Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts" ?

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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majevska replied on Wed, May 21 2008 12:10 AM

What do people think about this http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ckank/FultonsLair/013/nock/earning_immortality.html

It's a little piece from Mr. Nock about spirituality.

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Nitroadict replied on Wed, May 21 2008 12:16 AM

Juan:
Are you refering to 'Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts" ?

 

That's one of the definitions, but I was more referring to the following:

"...The first view is that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless.

The second view is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by God?" before proclaiming the original question "Does God exist?" meaningless."

And the later:

"...abstractions, taken singly or in combination, cannot be said to be false; rather, they are muddled, self-contradictory, linguistically empty, or perhaps poetic. Hence, one cannot meaningfully expound on the existence or nonexistence of God."


I'm mainly just simply curious that Ignosticism doesn't seem to come up though, although that could be due to misconceptions that equate Ignosticism as either synomous with  apatheism or agnosticism, or that it's simply a mis-spelling of agnosticism. 
What do you think? 

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 1:55 AM

JCFolsom:

I have the impression (perhaps mistaken) that there is a much larger than average proportion of libertarians who are atheists.

Funny; I get the opposite impression - I never encounter anyone who's genuinely religious in real life, AFAICT (I only know of one woman, a friend of my mother; some people go to church on occasion, etc., but just as a social thing).  Online, they seem to be everywhere, and among libertarians there seem to be a disproportionate number of the really crazy ones.

The statement "there is no God" unsupportable, so far as I can tell.

What does that mean?  The statement that "there is no God" is as (un)supportable as the statement that "there is no hunk of Swiss cheese orbiting Alpha Centauri" - while there's certainly no way to prove there isn't such a hunk of cheese, there's no reason at all to think there might be - to take the position that there is one, or even might be one, is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 2:01 AM

Ego:

I disagree with most atheists in that I recognize that consciousness cannot come from the brain; the brain is simply a computer!

If we are to believe that the consciousness comes from the brain, why doesn't a calculator have a limited form of consciousness? Why not a bolt of lightening? Why not a rock?

First, define what you mean by "consciousness".

I'll take the Jaynesian position: consciousness is a learned phenomenon, and requires language.  Calculators, lightning and rocks don't have language and can't learn consciousness...

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 2:08 AM

JCFolsom:

Until such a time as their understanding is more than illusory, the burden of proof is upon THEM, for it is their position that defies the common sense that a watch requires a watchmaker.

Your position doesn't even attempt to solve the "problem"; you just hand-wave over it.  The existence of a watchmaker, in the literal sense, requires the existence of the watchmaker's parents...and their parents, and so on and so forth.  You're putting the watchmaker in the position of the watch and saying there must be some "god" who made the man, but that's just raising the same question: where did the god come from?  If you have an answer to that question - any answer at all - you can use the same answer for the man and dispense with the need for the god!

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There are a few things that were touched on in this thread that sparked my interest.

Firstly, I think that the notion of spontaneous order may very well apply at the meta or universal level. That is, I think that both creationists, intelligent design proponents and the vast majority of secularists and scientists alike are wrong in the assumption that the universe had to have been created from a central point or plan. I believe that the big bang theory contains some of the exact same fundamental flaws that creationism does in that the big bag theory is merely a secularized creation theory that still assumes that there had to be a "first cause". Furthermore, it makes little sense to me how someone can reject that our earthly existance requires a human planner yet somehow still cling to the idea that it requires a divine central planner to function in an orderly manner. And the inverse is true as well, I.E. I think that consistancy would force someone who rejects the notion of a divine central planner to apply the concept to earthly or human matters. So I see a certain synergy between atheism and anarchism in that both of them ultimately deny the need for a central planner, anarchism being in earthly terms and atheism in more metaphysical terms.

Secondly, it has always struck be that both the "god as watchmaker" notion and the secularized versions of the same thing have fatalistic implications that inherently make it incompatible with any notion of free will (or compatibalism). The notion that god created some central "divine plan" that essentially makes your entire life function as if you were merely god's sock puppet runs entirely against the notion that you have any degree of control over yourself and the world around you whatsoever. It cannot be both fatalistic and free at once, although it can be deterministic and free at once (determinism may only imply deterministic factors while fatalism is more of a hyper-determinism that leaves no head room at all for the individual to be a causal agent themselves). I've struggled with the free will vs. determinism debate for a while and it seems to me at this point that compatibalism makes the most sense (ironically, I used to attack compatibalism more than I did incompatibalism).

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