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Shaker
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
A more realistic description of an atheist is a person who knows what is meant by "god" and has decided that there isn't one.

I for one don't know what's meant by "god" - that's why I'm a non-cognitivist. A word without referent or definition is just noise, and while some people have attempted to supply definitions for the word (there's still no referent, of course), there are so many of them, and they're so vastly different, and usually mutually incompatible, and certainly incoherent, that the word is meaningless.

As somebody or other once said, the less the concept "god" becomes incomprehensible the more it becomes absurd, and the less it becomes absurd the more incomprehensible it becomes.
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Last edited by Shaker on Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
A more realistic description of an atheist is a person who knows what is meant by "god" and has decided that there isn't one.

I for one don't know what's meant by "god"


You have been using the word an awful lot for someone who has no idea what it means!
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
You have been using the word an awful lot for someone who has no idea what it means!

In the very long and so far fruitless attempt to get those who claim to believe in such a thing to explain precisely and clearly what they mean by it. Most of the time what comes out is the conceptual equivalent of candyfloss, but insofar as anybody occasionally gets a bit more concrete, Tom says this, Dick says this and Harry says that ... so I consider myself justified in forming the opinion that it's man-made, self-created verbiage in the first instance.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"The Atheist does not say 'There is no God,' but he says: 'I know not what you mean by God; I am without idea of God; the word 'God' is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. I do not deny God, because I cannot deny that of which I have no conception, and the conception of which by its affirmer, is so imperfect that he is unable to define it to me'."


Charles Bradlaugh, 1864.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
You have been using the word an awful lot for someone who has no idea what it means!

In the very long and so far fruitless attempt to get those who claim to believe in such a thing to explain precisely and clearly what they mean by it. Most of the time what comes out is the conceptual equivalent of candyfloss, but insofar as anybody occasionally gets a bit more concrete, Tom says this, Dick says this and Harry says that ... so I consider myself justified in forming the opinion that it's man-made, self-created verbiage in the first instance.


Well, if I say that I believe in a First Cause, which unlike that which we observe, exists without being caused and which confers existence upon other things, and which continues to exist, and which has awareness.. I do not think you would struggle to realise that you could apply the noun 'god' to what I am describing. It is disingenuous of you to pretend you have absolutley no idea what people mean when they use the word (What? Is it an antelope of some sort? Or a kind of soup?)

Of course, people who believe in that thing have different ideas about what it wants and how it makes its wishes known, but that is neither here nor there.
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genghiscant
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
You have been using the word an awful lot for someone who has no idea what it means!

In the very long and so far fruitless attempt to get those who claim to believe in such a thing to explain precisely and clearly what they mean by it. Most of the time what comes out is the conceptual equivalent of candyfloss, but insofar as anybody occasionally gets a bit more concrete, Tom says this, Dick says this and Harry says that ... so I consider myself justified in forming the opinion that it's man-made, self-created verbiage in the first instance.


Well, if I say that I believe in a First Cause, which unlike that which we observe, exists without being caused and which confers existence upon other things, and which continues to exist, and which has awareness.. I do not think you would struggle to realise that you could apply the noun 'god' to what I am describing. It is disingenuous of you to pretend you have absolutley no idea what people mean when they use the word (What? Is it an antelope of some sort? Or a kind of soup?)



Of course, people who believe in that thing have different ideas about what it wants and how it makes its wishes known, but that is neither here nor there.


Your description of god is bound to be different from other peoples description. There are probably as many descriptions as there are believers. You said on here once that god doesn't have arms & legs or kidneys. I've met people who picture exactly that.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
Well, if I say that I believe in a First Cause, which unlike that which we observe, exists without being caused and which confers existence upon other things, and which continues to exist, and which has awareness.

... you will have all your work ahead of you demonstrating (1) that such a thing even exists in the first place and (2) that even if you fulfill condition (1) and that it does exist, that this First Cause is the sort of conscious, personalistic, bodiless person with likes and dislikes, preferences for this and that state of affairs which a great many theists mean when they use the word God (and not First Cause). If there even was such a thing as a First Cause, why should it be readily identifiable as a rather obviously super-inflated version of a human being with human emotions (pretty well all of them) rather than some entirely impersonal, neutral, abstract principle (which is what I would expect a First Cause to be) unless the whole kit and caboodle is a wholly man-made concept, a projection of entirely human characteristics?

For example, I see that "awareness" was quietly smuggled in there. Where did that come from and why? If I actually believed (I don't - I don't have any beliefs at all in this regard; I don't know anything and don't believe anything) that there was such a thing as a First Cause of the universe, I wouldn't/couldn't believe that that thing, that First Cause, was "aware" because I would immediately think to myself that that would be ruled out of court by being parochial and anthropocentric. I would be embarrassed to hold to such a position because I would take it to be so very painfully obviously a humanly-created idea - that the thing, whatever it may have been, which gave rise to the cosmos (if anything actually did, which we don't know) was "aware" in the way that I as a human being am aware.

It all strikes me as nothing more than exactly the sort of thing that this kind of mammal would cook up, just as you would expect if you know a little about the human species and know a bit of anthropology and psychology. As for those who think otherwise, I see absolutely no justification for that assumption whatsoever. Saying that a, or the, First Cause of the cosmos is "aware" strikes me as self-evidently ad hoc, some made-up whatsit drafted in at the beginning of the discussion simply to shore up the idea of an "aware," which is to say conscious, personal, personalistic deity, essentially a great big super-inflated human being, supernatural (that is to say, imagined to be not made of matter-energy as actual human beings are) but with all the human likes and dislikes, approvals and disapprobations, punishments and forgivings and all the rest of it with none of the apparatus which gives rise to them in humans.

Quote:
It is disingenuous of you to pretend you have absolutley no idea what people mean when they use the word (What? Is it an antelope of some sort? Or a kind of soup?)


Antelope and soup I'm rather familiar with. I had some soup last night, for example. I've never seen an antelope in the flesh, but I've seen many of them on the telly.

Without a similar level of apprehension of the concept as antelope and soup, "God" is just noise and remains so. If you're trying to explain an unfamiliar concept to somebody else who has no grasp of it then it's practically always possible to approach it by means of the familiar - that's to say by comparison with the known, through analogy, metaphor, simile and so forth, however rough-and-ready and imperfect these may be. But "God" is a perpetually moving target: even when those few who are able to do so try to put their case over by comparison with the familiar, it simply vanishes into thin air.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
But "God" is a perpetually moving target: even when those few who are able to do so try to put their case over by comparison with the familiar, it simply vanishes into thin air.


This simply isn't true. If someone presented you with a cup of tea, and called it God, and acte dlike that is what they usually think people mean when they say "God", it would certainly occur to you that this is different from what people usually mean when they say "God". If it were "just noise", then this could not be the case.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Well, if I say that I believe in a First Cause, which unlike that which we observe, exists without being caused and which confers existence upon other things, and which continues to exist, and which has awareness.

... you will have all your work ahead of you demonstrating (1) that such a thing even exists in the first place


To whom would I need to demonstrate that, and why?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
To whom would I need to demonstrate that

Anybody whom you expect to take your belief seriously.

Quote:
and why?

If you wish them to give your beliefs credence.


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