AS143: Atheists Say the Darnedest Things, with Elijiah T.

Elijiah was a guest about a year ago, and now he’s back for another round! This time, we’re going to discuss what Elijiah alleges are bad arguments atheists make. It’s a really cool discussion and I had a great time. 2 episodes, filled to the brim!

7 thoughts on “AS143: Atheists Say the Darnedest Things, with Elijiah T.”

  1. Wow, so I could talk and talk and talk about so many of his points and where he goes wrong, my mind almost wants to explode. I’ll try and keep it concise.

    # 1 (around 23 min) his definition of what constitutes evidence is very lacking. Here is why http://goddoesnt.blogspot.ca/2014/06/a-problem-with-evidence.html. So instead of spending an hour reading the blog post, I’ll just post one snippet. (James A. Lindsay blog)

    “My preliminary proposal is pretty straightforward, and it sort of blends two of the understandings that philosophers use and tries to keep to the scientific understanding of evidence, which is actually useful and not misleading. Further, I think it reflects the everyday “folk” use of the word in many applications.
    A body of observations O is evidence for a hypothesis H if, and only if, it is a consistent part of a larger body of observations called evidential closure of O, comprised of all observations bearing significantly upon H, such that the probability that H is true given O (plus its evidential closure) is sufficiently great to warrant justified belief that H is true. In this case, we could call an observation A in O an evidential observation.
    To summarize this definition in plainer language, I’m saying that an observation should only be considered “evidence” (more carefully, an evidential observation) for a hypothesis if it is a consistent part of a large number of observations that taken together, along with all other observations that have relevance, constitute support that justifies belief in the hypothesis. In short, we only have evidence if all of the relevant information we have, taken together, justifies accepting the hypothesis at a given level of confidence, and then the specific body of observations that provide inferential or direct support for the hypothesis is the evidence.

    The body of observations that collectively justify acceptance of the hypothesis, not any observation individually, is what we should consider to be evidence, and we could call an observation in that body an “evidential observation” if we wanted to. The key here is that something should only constitute evidence for a hypothesis if that hypothesis has, on the whole, strong enough reasons to be believed to be taken as provisionally true.

    Thinking of evidence as a body of observations, instead of thinking of individual observations themselves as being evidence, comports fairly well, but imperfectly, with the way lay people, scientists, and lawyers use the word, so it is not a radical overhaul to suggest that it be treated specifically as such.

    So, about God…?””

    It should also be noted if the thing you are trying to prove turns out to be false then none of those evidential observations you made were actually evidence. If you are trying to prove something true that is false, then there is no evidence, only coincidence. There cannot be evidence of something that is false.

    I explain with an example.

    If my neighbor kills my wife and all (evidence) points to me being the killer, then is that really evidence or is it coincidence. There cannot be evidence of false things just data points that we incorrectly thought was evidence. If I didn’t kill her then those things that appear to be evidence I did it, in the end, actually are not pieces of evidence. They simply connect be since I did not kill her. They are simply interesting coincidences.

    That may be why you didn’t like his evidence argument. You were saying there is something wrong with it but not sure why (or something like that).

  2. I must admit I struggled to follow some of the discussion, but when it came to the ‘if it is not A or B, then it must be C’ argument, that means that anything we can’t understand at this point must be god?!? But there is a large possibility that I misunderstood what he was trying to say.

  3. I have some more to say. I must point out the hypocritical duplicity of one’s argument who wishes to point out the bad or failed arguments of one side while holding completely irrational , illogical and unreasonable beliefs themselves. He seems so bold and sure of why these arguments atheists make are bad but at the same time I’m sure if you pushed he would eventually concede that he actually believes he has a personal relationship with the creator of the Universe.

    I’ve only listened to the first half but I think this needs to be clarified, none of the arguments he claims are bad arguments are bad and here is why. Because when you are arguing with someone who’s claims are completely irrational and ridiculous there needs to be no room for corrective rules for formal logic. If your argument has small logical errors but your opponent’s is completely nonsensical then how hypocritical is it of them to try and convince you why your argument is bad.

    In regards to evidence again, he may say the resurrection (again this is a story found in a book, not physical evidence) is evidence for God. Wait, what? No, if the resurrection actually occurred, it’s evidence that someone died and came back to life, not that they died, came and back to life and also get to claim to be god. Who makes such a ridiculous leap? It’s ludicrous.

    Other arguments I’m quite positive he would make. God exists outside of reality or God is non physical.
    Take a moment to think about that. Take all the time you need.
    A being that is time-less and space-less exists nowhere and no-when. After all that is precisely what it means to have no time and no space. Try to distinguish something that is timeless, space-less and indescribable from “nothing”. How can we distinguish the presence of such a thing from its absence?
    What are the attributes of “nothing”? Try to explain what “nothing” is. It’s the absence of anything…Nothing…timeless, space-less, lacks attributes, ineffable, indescribable;
    -Nothing has no measure of time (timeless)
    -Nothing occupies no space (space-less)
    -Nothing has no attributes to describe or define (ineffable)
    Expressed another way we can call “nothing” timeless, space-less and ineffable which remarkably coincides with the definition of something else. Now replace the word “nothing” with the word “god” and there you have it. You have a definition of a god that can never be pinned down, can never be evaluated for accuracy, and can never be distinguished from nothing – because it is quite literally the definition of “nothing”.
    This is just perfect for beliefs that rely on proving negatives that put the onus on disproving claims rather than proving them. After all how do you dispute nothing?
    A slick and clever switch-a-roo, even if I do say so myself.
    What distinguishes an omnipresent god from an omni-absent god? I submit that the answer is nothing. They are indistinguishable from each other and any idea indistinguishable from “nothing”… is, well… nothing.
    People can ascribe whatever ideas they want to “nothing” and pretend they know all sorts of details while on the other hand argue that it exists outside the natural world immune from examination. A person claiming to know any details at all about something that is said to exist outside space and time that cannot be examined is, by its very definition, pretending to know things one cannot possibly know. Not rational and not logical at all
    Since there is no evidentiary basis for god claims there is no way to verify the accuracy of the claims. There is no object to examine. This is why we have people professing tens of thousands of religions and thousands of gods. Accuracy cannot be verified therefore each idea is as valid (or invalid) as the next. The evidence one person points to for their god is the same evidence the next person points to as evidence for their god – with the only differentiator being the religion they started with.
    When there is no object to examine all we’re left with is talk. Theology is a study without an object therefore all theologians do is talk about what other theologians say. How dare they claim atheists make bad arguments.

  4. A comment for your guest about when he said:
    “God is the greatest conceivable being”
    “If god were not as powerful as possible, would he really be god”
    “If there is a being out there that isn’t as powerful as possible… it could create the universe and that would just be an alien… I wouldn’t call a being like that god”
    Those seem to contradict each other.

    Or maybe by “conceivable” you mean possible, as I am interpreting it to mean imaginable. We can easily conceive the impossible, so at least one of those statements has to be wrong.

    If we can conceive of a god that could create the world instantly rather than over seven days, does that mean the greatest conceivable being isn’t the god of the bible?

    Also, as far as we can tell, having a consciousness without a physical brain of some kind is not actually possible. Something “possible” would have to be a physical being. To say god is as powerful as possible necessarily puts god in the natural realm rather than the supernatural realm.

    It is possible to prove the existence of a deity but simultaneously disprove christianity by doing so, and that seems to the consequence of your arguments.

  5. If we’re talking about an omnipotent god then I fail to see how evidence for or against such a god is possible. An all powerful god is consistent with all possible worlds, any observed state of affairs can be “explained” by invoking omnipotent deity. Our current world, all powerful god, a world of pure energy with disembodied minds, all powerful god any world can be explained away therefore it explains nothing, therefore evidence for or against it is impossible. That’s what happens when you start throwing around “omni”s.

  6. A faulty argument is not evidence. Elijiah does not understand the fundamental tenants of epistemology, most especially burden of proof.

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