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Author Topic: The Rabbit and President Bush's statement about atheists.
The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Goldner:
Not "Reliable." ANY.

No, the argument has to be "reliable evidence" or its a moot argument. There is all kinds of evidence that God exists from the testimony of witnesses to the existence of sacred texts. You can argue that none of this evidence is objectively reliable and you would have a point, but if you claim it doesn't exist you are factually incorrect.
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Raymond Arnold
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The only point that still strikes me as ambiguous is this:

quote:
As Sherman tells the story, the exchange took place at a news conference. Sherman has yet to find anyone at the news conference who will confirm that the exchange took place. Earlier, he gave names of several people who he claimed heard the exchance, they have denied it.
I know you said you don't have time to go source hunting, but I'd like some clarification on that. Apart from that, what we have is "a journalist made a claim that was, frankly, not unreasonable given the time period," and the politician in question didn't deny the claim.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
As I've been told many times by Atheists, in the absence of reliable evidence that something does exist, it is most reasonable to presume it does not.
An eyewitness account by a credentialed journalist is not "an absence of reliable evidence." Calling it such is an ad hominem attack.

In your original criticism you claim that Sherman has changed his story. I've been following this story since I first heard about it in 1997, and I've NEVER seen any version of it other than the quote that was given. For that matter, while I've seen many criticisms of Sherman's style, and dismissive criticisms of his credibility, I've never seen any claim that he has been caught in a lie. And I've never heard that any atheist organizations have branded his story a myth. So I asked you for citations. If there's information out there, I want to know about it.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
And that, essentially, is the crux of the argument against Sherman. He's an atheist, and therefore, he's just "uppity," not worthy of any sort of respect. So without any evidence, it's easy to just dismiss his account, sew seeds of doubt, and allow them to grow.
That's simply not true. The exchange in question isn't even widely known outside atheist circles. Google it and see. The people who told me its validity was highly suspect are member of the freethinker movement which is hardly anti-atheist.

If this really happened at a news conference as is claimed, then lots of people heard the statement. It should be easy to find one of them to verify the exchange took place but Sherman hasn't been able to do that. The people who he has said could verify, denied they heard the exchange. It wasn't just that the mainstream media ignored, Sherman didn't even publish it for over a year. Doesn't any of that strike you as suspect?

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Glenn Arnold
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It strikes me as suspect that you keep making claims but you refuse to provide citations.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
An eyewitness account by a credentialed journalist is not "an absence of reliable evidence." Calling it such is an ad hominem attack.
I have seen so much misreporting, perpetuation of myth and outright lying from credentialed journalists that I do not consider the word of one reporter to be reliable evidence. All you have to do to be a "credentialed journalist" is be employed by a print or broadcast media organization. Sherman's credential was as editor of American Atheist magazine. That hardly makes him an unbiased, objective observer.

And when one is discussing the validity of a persons testimony, ad hominem attacks are not a logical error.

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Glenn Arnold
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What you are accusing him of is not misreporting or perpetuation of myth. You are accusing him of an outright lie. But once again, you have provided no evidence that Sherman has been caught in a lie or misrepresentation. He has not been caught here either. If you want to discredit him, you could provide some evidence. It's not like he hasn't been active other than this in case, you'd think he might have put his foot in his mouth elsewhere.

And when "discussing the validity of a persons testimony," ad hominem attacks are just that: attacks; unless you provide evidence that his testimony is suspect. You have failed to do that, other than to say they he is an atheist, and therefore biased, which is another attack.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Apart from that, what we have is "a journalist made a claim that was, frankly, not unreasonable given the time period,"
This is the point on which we disagree. I remember this time period very well. I had a large number of atheist friends and associates at the time and I don't find it in the least bit probable for that time period. If it is, then you should be able to find many similar statements being made in that time frame.

quote:
and the politician in question didn't deny the claim.
He denied the substance of the claim without addressing the claim itself.

I think people are being a bit disingenuous on this issue. The thing that makes this statement so inflammatory and so offensive is that Bush didn't merely say atheists shouldn't be considered good citizens, he says "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens."

When I google it, I see dozens of sites outraged that Bush said atheists should be denied the rights of citizenship. He clearly denied that. And I haven't heard anyone, even the right wing wackos, claiming atheists aren't citizens. Not in the 1970s, not in the 1980s and not today. That's why I find this quote so improbable.

If the issue is merely that Bush doesn't think your a Patriot because your an atheist, I understand the offense but it just isn't the same. Bush doesn't think anyone who disagrees with him is a Patriot. He doesn't think I'm a patriot either. So what? I don't think he's a good citizen or a true patriot himself.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
He clearly denied that.
Wait what now?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
He clearly denied that.
Wait what now?
quote:
President supports the Constitution and laws of the United States, and you may rest assured that this Administration will proceed at all times with due regard for the legal rights of atheists, as will as others with whom the President disagrees.
That's a pretty clear denial of the accusation that Bush doesn't think atheists should have the rights of citizenship. Like I said, its a really classic example of political speak. He denies the substance of the allegation without ever actually addressing the accusation.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
And that, essentially, is the crux of the argument against Sherman. He's an atheist, and therefore, he's just "uppity," not worthy of any sort of respect.
Glen, Since you are pointing out ad hominem attacks let me point out this one. It is not just an attack on a person, its an attack on a person you are talking to. You are attacking my motives for distrusting Sherman. Please apologize.

I have explained my motives. I have the highest respect for many atheists who I know, I have expressed my sincere regrets that you have been beaten for your beliefs, like you I am a person who many consider unpatriotic simply because I disagree with them and you have no reason to insult me in this way.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
You are attacking my motives for distrusting Sherman. Please apologize.
You have provided no evidence for why you think Sherman is distrustworthy, yet you continue to maintain that he can't be trusted. Why should I apologize for pointing that out?
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Raymond Arnold
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I actually think the eyewitness testimony a year later thing is pretty reasonably. I think it is fair to say the event is questionable enough that I would not use it as the sole evidence to back up another point. However, I think proclaiming it a "myth" is still stretching it a lot.
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Paul Goldner
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" There is all kinds of evidence that God exists from the testimony of witnesses to the existence of sacred texts."

None of what I know of existing along these lines are actually evidences for the existence of god.

Sacred texts, for example, are evidence for the existence of god in exactly the same way that OSC's books are evidence for the existence of Ender. I am sure that you understand that this isn't evidence for the existence of Ender unless you are using the word "Evidence," to mean something other than "Evidence."

In the same way, eyewitness accounts of events are not evidence for the witnesses interpretation of those events being correct, the account is evidence for events transpiring in the way described by the witness.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
None of what I know of existing along these lines are actually evidences for the existence of god.
Paul, the entire point of the gospels is that they are supposed to be eyewitness testimony of Jesus, and the existence of 4 different witnesses theoretically adds credibility to the story.

The common counter-argument is that there are numerous reasons why the gospel testimony is suspect (the first known copies not having been written down for decades afterward, for example), and the claims being made require significantly more proof than what 4 somewhat contradictory accounts can hope to provide.

I don't think the gospels are nearly compelling enough to prove what they want to prove, but comparing them to a book that does not claim to be anything other than fiction is silly.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
quote:
You are attacking my motives for distrusting Sherman. Please apologize.
You have provided no evidence for why you think Sherman is distrustworthy, yet you continue to maintain that he can't be trusted. Why should I apologize for pointing that out?
I don't think you should apologize for pointing that out. I think you should apologize for saying I distrust Sherman because I think atheists are uppity and not worthy of my respect. I have explained my motivation. What reason do you have to doubt my word?

I have provided two reasons why I think Sherman's account of the exchange is not trust worthy.

1. He did not publish it or speak of it publicly for a year after the event. I find that some what suspicious. If George Bush had said that in my presence, I would have had it in a letter to the editor before I went to bed, and I'm not even an Atheist let along editor of an atheist magazine. Given what we know about memory and how it changes over time, that the conversation wasn't recorded and my experience with the accuracy of journalist in general, this alone is a good reason to doubt the accuracy of the quote.

2. No one else present at the new conference can confirm that the statement was made. This was a news conference with a recently declared Presidential candidate. Lots of credentialed journalists were present. It shouldn't be hard to identify several who reported the event and ask them if they heard the exchange but Sherman hasn't been able to do that. I am told that he has named individuals who supposedly overheard the conversation and they have all denied ever hearing.

If you do not find those compelling reasons to question the veracity of Sherman's statements, then your judgement differs from mine. But it is completely unfair of you to keep repeating that I have no reason to doubt him except prejudice against atheists when I have repeatedly given you my two reasons.

What reason do you have to believe his report is accurate besides your prejudice against Bush and for atheists?

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The Rabbit
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quote:
In the same way, eyewitness accounts of events are not evidence for the witnesses interpretation of those events being correct, the account is evidence for events transpiring in the way described by the witness.
Paul, You are splitting hairs. Evidence is no the same as proof. The Torah reports that Moses spoke with God "face to face". If you were to question my existence and BlackBlade told you "She's real, I spoke with her face to face.", would that not be considered evidence for my existence? Certainly it wouldn't be incontrovertible evidence maybe not even good evidence, but it is certainly evidence.

As I've already said, there are plenty of good arguments for considering all the evidence pointing to the existence of God invalid. Why not stick with these easily defensible arguments rather than the rather preposterous claim that there is no evidence at all.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Paul, You are splitting hairs. Evidence is no the same as proof.

Only when you are using explicit and specific legal terminology. In all other contexts, evidence is proof and the dictionary even defines it as such.

quote:
Why not stick with these easily defensible arguments rather than the rather preposterous claim that there is no evidence at all.
That is not really a preposterous claim unless you loosen one's personal definition of evidence to be anything that could be self-interpreted as grounds for belief. In which case, there is evidence for god much in the same way that there is evidence for santa claus.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Paul, You are splitting hairs. Evidence is no the same as proof.

Only when you are using explicit and specific legal terminology. In all other contexts, evidence is proof and the dictionary even defines it as such.
By that definition, there is also no evidence that Bush ever spoke to Sherman. It still comes back to the same point.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
This was a news conference with a recently declared Presidential candidate
Just to be clear, the press conference in question took place on August 27, 1987. Bush announced his candidacy in October 1987. Bush's visit to Illinois was to oversee disaster response to a flood. I've never heard any description of the news conference, but my impression was that it was hastily thrown together at his arrival at an airport.

quote:
I am told that he has named individuals who supposedly overheard the conversation and they have all denied ever hearing.
In my opinion, the fact that he pointed to people who might have heard the exchange lends credence to his belief that they would back him up. The fact they they didn't hear it, or didn't remember it, is unfortunate, but it proves nothing. From what I can see of such events, every reporter is concentrating on getting their own story, not someone else's.

quote:
But it is completely unfair of you to keep repeating that I have no reason to doubt him except prejudice against atheists when I have repeatedly given you my two reasons.
You gave this as a reason why you distrust him:
quote:
Sherman's credential was as editor of American Atheist magazine. That hardly makes him an unbiased, objective observer.
Beyond that, my statement with the word "uppity" refers to the general public's dismissal of his claim, not yours in particular. How much that general dismissal weighs in your opinion, I have no idea.


quote:
What reason do you have to believe his report is accurate besides your prejudice against Bush and for atheists?
Again, I've given my reasons, but I'll repeat: Politicians refute such claims all the time. I believe that if he hadn't made the comment, that he would have refuted Sherman's claim. He was asked, his office responded, and they carefully avoided the issue. Even after this many years, the Bush library still won't offer a direct comment on it. It would be easy to put to rest, but they won't do it.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Paul, You are splitting hairs. Evidence is no the same as proof.

Only when you are using explicit and specific legal terminology. In all other contexts, evidence is proof and the dictionary even defines it as such.
By that definition, there is also no evidence that Bush ever spoke to Sherman. It still comes back to the same point.
1. I'm not speaking to that point, and
2. That wouldn't make what you stated any less in need of correction.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
I'm not speaking to that point,
So you're just trying to derail my thread?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Paul, You are splitting hairs. Evidence is no the same as proof.

Only when you are using explicit and specific legal terminology. In all other contexts, evidence is proof and the dictionary even defines it as such.
By that definition, there is also no evidence that Bush ever spoke to Sherman. It still comes back to the same point.
1. I'm not speaking to that point, and
2. That wouldn't make what you stated any less in need of correction.

Context is more important in determining the meaning of a word than a dictionary definition.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Only when you are using explicit and specific legal terminology. In all other contexts, evidence is proof and the dictionary even defines it as such.
Certainly not all other contexts. In science and mathematics and logic, evidence and proof are distinctly different concepts.

I don't know what dictionary you use that gives that definition. The first dictionary I pulled up gives only the folllowing 3 definitions for evidence when its used as a noun.

1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
2. Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner's face.
3. Law The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law

All of those a distinctly different from proof.

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Raymond Arnold
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Yeah, Sam, I have never heard anyone use the word evidence to mean "proof" before today. Good evidence can provide proof, but it doesn't have to and even something we know is true can have evidence suggesting otherwise.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Context is more important in determining the meaning of a word than a dictionary definition.

Then it is a good thing that I spoke explicitly to the importance of context when making my statement.

quote:
I don't know what dictionary you use that gives that definition.
websters, american heritage, RH dictionary, most notably:

that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.

quote:
[/qb]So you're just trying to derail my thread?[/qb]
No, Glenn. I'm making the side note because I feel it is worth pointing out that it is not ridiculous to assert that there is no evidence for god unless one reduces the definition of 'evidence' to something so meaningless as to also apply to anything we personally believe for any reason.

I do so because a statement is being called preposterous when it is not. I can do so even if I don't want to or haven't yet involved myself in the discussion about what tests are being proposed here to claim anything about what GHWB said or didn't say.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
no evidence for god unless one reduces the definition of 'evidence' to something so meaningless as to also apply to anything we personally believe for any reason.
What you are saying is that eye witness accounts do not count as evidence. I disagree strongly with that statement. They may not be particularly good evidence. In the case of proving a supernatural event that is not documented in any other fashion, they are woefully inadequate evidence.

I think there is plenty of room to ridicule the people who consider it the evidence remotely substantial in that particular case without either declaring eye witness accounts to be meaningless or constructing a hazy line between "real" eyewitness evidence and meaningless hearsay.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
By definition, that would be dead.

By that definition, Moses was dead when he received the Torah.
Panim el panim has a different meaning and context than al yad.
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malanthrop
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2000 year old eye witnesses don't count. Just as a 200 year old constitution is deemed antiquated and obsolete.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
no evidence for god unless one reduces the definition of 'evidence' to something so meaningless as to also apply to anything we personally believe for any reason.
What you are saying is that eye witness accounts do not count as evidence. I disagree strongly with that statement. They may not be particularly good evidence. In the case of proving a supernatural event that is not documented in any other fashion, they are woefully inadequate evidence.

I think there is plenty of room to ridicule the people who consider it the evidence remotely substantial in that particular case without either declaring eye witness accounts to be meaningless or constructing a hazy line between "real" eyewitness evidence and meaningless hearsay.

Thank you Raymond. Weak and fallacious arguments, like those put forth by Samp and Paul support the idea that atheism is indeed a kind of religion.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
I'm making the side note because I feel it is worth pointing out that it is not ridiculous to assert that there is no evidence for god unless one reduces the definition of 'evidence' to something so meaningless as to also apply to anything we personally believe for any reason.
Not sure I follow, but are you attempting an argument by reduction to absurdity? I don't see where that would serve any purpose.

In any case, I think Rabbit and I are using compatible definitions of proof and evidence. Neither of us has proof, and we both recognize that. But evidence is subjective, and her interpretation of the evidence is quite different from mine.

As for a goal in this argument, I originally asked Rabbit for citations for her counter claims. She hasn't provided any. Short of that, I'd be happy if she would refrain from calling the story a "myth" or an outright untruth. There is no evidence for it being untrue, only that it is not well substantiated. There is some evidence that it is true, and as such, I think it's perfectly reasonable to cite the quote as an example of an opinion of atheism. Whether he said it or not, the attitude is reflected in many conservative arguments, including the BSA's Declaration of Religious Principles.

And again, I have never thought that on reflection of the actual wording, that Bush truly believes that atheists have no legal right to citizenship. The quote is a reflection of an attitude, not an understanding of the constitution.

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Paul Goldner
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"Weak and fallacious arguments, like those put forth by Samp and Paul support the idea that atheism is indeed a kind of religion. "

Its only "Weak and fallacious," because you, personally, believe in god. Neither gospels, nor the tanakh, nor any other sacred text, are evidence for the existence of god. Not under a definition of "Evidence," that you would accept when doing scientific research. You might accept them as providing a body of evidence, but you wouldn't accept them as being evidence for the truth of any claims made within those texts. Which is the argument I'm making. That "for," in my above posts is important.

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Raymond Arnold
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I do not believe in God, and I still find your arguments weak and fallacious.

If my sister comes up to me and says "today I found a penny," I consider that adequate evidence that she found a penny. If she came up and said "yesterday I had a dream and then it came true" it would not be enough to persuade me to believe in psychic powers. But if a lot of people I trusted started to do so, it would be enough for me to start looking into the claims and finding some kind of explanation.

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Mike
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Indeed. Which says more about your prior estimates of the likelihood of a person finding a penny and a person having psychic powers than is does about how much credence you give to your sister's testimony.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Weak and fallacious arguments, like those put forth by Samp and Paul support the idea that atheism is indeed a kind of religion.

Interesting kind of religion that is, with no god, no rituals, no unified organization, no dogmas, no central texts, nor anything else that makes it anything like a religion, except perhaps that atheists are people too, meaning they act a lot like other people do, including making fallacious arguments.

Interesting that the one thing you can pin on atheism that makes it *like* religion is fallacious argumentation. I do find that to be interesting.

Know how you know atheism isn't a religion? If you sequestered 10 people (with no memories) on a large island and let them live and breed there for a thousand years, there would be zero chance of any of them becoming Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Pastafarians. There would be a decent chance of some of them becoming atheists. It's a philosophy, not a religion. Again, religious people broadsiding the English dictionary with overly generously inclusive word choice.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Which says more about your prior estimates of the likelihood of a person finding a penny and a person having psychic powers than is does about how much credence you give to your sister's testimony.
No, it says exactly the same amount about both of them (it doesn't say the SAME thing, but it says things of similar value).

Lets say that any given claim requires 1000 arbitrary units of evidence in order for me to operate under the assumption that it's true. The word of my sister is worth, say, 20 evidence points.

"Finding a penny" is a common event which comes with extra evidence all by itself, simply because I know it can and often happens (it's also largely inconsequential if it does - if I'm wrong about it, I haven't wasted much of my life or caused any suffering). So it comes with, say, 999 evidence-points from past experience. All I need is the say so of a reasonably trustworthy person for me believe that it happened, unless I find additional evidence (such as I think the person is deliberately tricking me to try and prove a point).

Whereas psychic powers not only have no reputable examples for me to work off of, I actively know about ways people can deceive themselves or others about it. So I might even assign it a starting point of negative evidence. The 20 arbitrary credibility points (you might think of it as "credibility credit") that my sister provides wouldn't be enough for me to take her seriously.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I do not believe in God, and I still find your arguments weak and fallacious.

If my sister comes up to me and says "today I found a penny," I consider that adequate evidence that she found a penny. If she came up and said "yesterday I had a dream and then it came true" it would not be enough to persuade me to believe in psychic powers. But if a lot of people I trusted started to do so, it would be enough for me to start looking into the claims and finding some kind of explanation.

Okay, so an argument to popularity proves that my position is weak and fallacious?

I don't understand.

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Samprimary
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quote:
No, it says exactly the same amount about both of them (it doesn't say the SAME thing, but it says things of similar value).

Lets say that any given claim requires 1000 arbitrary units of evidence in order for me to operate under the assumption that it's true. The word of my sister is worth, say, 20 evidence points.

How many Arbitrary Units of Evidence do we need to believe in the sole omnipowerful omnipresent omniscient source and director of the universe and controller of the afterlife? Do we reach this A.U.I. standard based on, say, eyewitness accounts in the Bible?
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Okay, so an argument to popularity proves that my position is weak and fallacious?
No, an argument to popularity proves Paul's point wrong. Paul's point being that Rabbit only finds the argument fallacious because he believes in God and therefore wants to be able to say there is evidence for God. I have no particular attachment to there being evidence for God or not. I disagree with your argument because its a bad argument.

The definition you provided says evidence is "that which TENDS to prove or disprove something," not something that automatically proves it one way or another. Different evidences have different tendencies and tell us different things in different situations. Evidence doesn't stop being evidence when counter evidence comes along to show that something else is more likely to be true. You still have to consider all the evidence, even if one thing is so persuasive as to make other things meaningless in a particular situation.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
How many Arbitrary Units of Evidence do we need to believe in the sole omnipowerful omnipresent omniscient source and director of the universe and controller of the afterlife? Do we reach this A.U.I. standard based on, say, eyewitness accounts in the Bible?
If we're using the same arbitrary scale I was using before, then you still only need 1000 points, but you might start with some rather large negative number of "base evidence" due to the extreme nature of the claim. You might, instead, say that all claims start at 0 but require different target AUE numbers. Either way, unlike finding a penny, I have no particular framework for how likely an omnipowerful omniscient omnipresent entity is to exist. (I'd wager it is somewhat less likely than the possibility of psyhic powers. Although it could be accomplished fairly easily if this world happened to exist in either the imagination of a being with infinite intellect or as a computer program run by a master sentient machine with an all access pass. Still, I must admit that since an infinite amount of power requires an infinite amount of proof, the technical AUE would be infinite. Though I'd not that at some point "arbitrarily powerful" and "infinitely powerful" become rather meaningless distinctions).

EDIT: I would say that whatever numbers you end up using, for practical use in the day to day life of human beings, it is best to have the target AUE number be based on how much effort you'd have to make to deform your life and/or how much suffering would result from you operating under the assumption that the claim in question was true, and that the "base evidence" you assign to the claim be determined by what past experience you have that corroborates the claim. If for some reason the existence of the penny my sister claims to have found will result in the life or death of an innocent person, I'd probably make a bigger effort to find corroborating evidence)

The purpose of the example was to answer Matt, pointing out that my sister's word is worth a specific amount of credibility, which is enough for me to believe somethings and not others.

If I'm going to elaborate on the example (for fun, mostly), I would say that specific eyewitness accounts in the Bible are evidence for the specific things they are claiming to witness. The New Testament in particular is evidence that a particular guy existed who said some things, did some miracles, died and came back. (I'd say that they are NOT evidence that said guy was the son of God and that God is an omnipotent all knowing diety, because none of the things he did really demonstrated that.)

If the events in question were instead, say, that a particular guy showed up, said some things, and then died, I'd have no problem operating under the assumption that that happened. I wouldn't deform my whole life based on that assumption, but I'd be okay believing it. I know from experience that people can show up, say some things, and die. That knowledge is evidence that stacks with the eyewitness account to add up it being a reasonable assertion.

But I know that people do perpetuate hoaxes from time to time and/or grossly misunderstand things. I also know that a lot of major events in the New Testament that would likely have been recorded elsewhere if they actually occurred (such as the sky darkening), but they weren't. So this counter-evidence vastly outweighs the eyewitness testimony an causes me to consider it far more likely that the testimony is wrong.
contradictory

[ March 07, 2010, 06:18 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Samprimary
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Okay, so, now that I've stumbled into a bizarrely semantic argument and have nobody to blame but myself, let's work with your definitions? Disregarding whether or not it is SUFFICIENT evidence, if I make the claim that I have had a face to face talk with santa claus, this counts as evidence of santa claus?
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Raymond Arnold
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not particularly compelling evidence, but yes.

My turn: going with your definition, if some random close friend of yours told you they found a penny, is that evidence that they found a penny?

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Raymond Arnold
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More significant and emotionally evocative example: if a girl says she got raped, is that evidence of her having been raped?
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malanthrop
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The burden of proof in a free society is on the accuser. Religious people don't tell atheists to prove that there is no god. The evidence of god is equal for or against. It can't be proven that there is no god and it can't be proven that he exists. Hence, faith.

Atheism is a theism. If you lived in a theocracy, you would understand. Religious freedom means you are free to not believe. Without a nation of religious freedom, the nonbeliever could be burned at the stake or imposed an infidel tax.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
not particularly compelling evidence, but yes.

My turn: going with your definition, if some random close friend of yours told you they found a penny, is that evidence that they found a penny?

I would consider it testimony and not really care if it could be more substantively shown.

quote:
More significant and emotionally evocative example: if a girl says she got raped, is that evidence of her having been raped?
I would consider it testimony and care if it could be more substantively shown.

But we're again back at what I said, about there being no evidence for god unless one reduces the definition of 'evidence' to something so meaningless as to also apply to anything we personally believe for any reason. If we want to use the strict terminology of what constitutes evidence, especially the legal one, I don't believe pointing at a book or a series of people's beliefs in, say, God, becomes admissible as evidence.

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malanthrop
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Many women have woken up in the morning, felt the remnants of sexual activity with no memory of consensual sex. Lacking memory "evidence" of consent, they accuse rape. A woman in the midst of a drunken blackout might be the best sex a man ever has. Passed out is rape. Blackout is not passed out. I'm sure there are many men serving time for this. You can't prove consent if the willing participant can't remember. I've been told of fights I engaged in that I couldn't remember. Having a black eye doesn't prove you were jumped.
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Raymond Arnold
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So, you draw a distinction between testimony and evidence? Okay, I guess. But in the times before cameras and DNA tests, did evidence even exist? If a guy mugs another guy in broad daylight, and 40 people identify him but there's no DNA or fingerprints or whatever available, that's only testimony? Is that enough to convict him, whether or not "evidence" was used?

I do, by the way, draw a distinction between eye witness testimony (which might be a lie, misinterpretation or delusion but at least falls under the category of some external event that you can describe) and a "feeling" which is entirely subjective.

Also, for the record, dictionary.com defines Testimony as:

quote:

–noun,plural-nies.
1.
Law. the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.
2.
evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.


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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
So, you draw a distinction between testimony and evidence? Okay, I guess. But in the times before cameras and DNA tests, did evidence even exist? If a guy mugs another guy in broad daylight, and 40 people identify him but there's no DNA or fingerprints or whatever available, that's only testimony? Is that enough to convict him, whether or not "evidence" was used?

Convict? If we're trying to convict him, then we're talking legal definitions of what legally constitutes evidence. Something I have afforded for. In this case, testimony, when ruled admissable, can constitute evidence.


quote:
Also, for the record, dictionary.com defines Testimony as:

quote:

–noun,plural-nies.
1.
Law. the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.
2.
evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.


SO then we're back to the point I pretty much entered into: that even the dictionary defines evidence as proof. Something I could use to say that no, I still don't think that it's absurd to say that there's no evidence for God.
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malanthrop
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I don't trust interracial eye witness testimony. I'm sure there are innocent blacks in prison due to a white's eye witness testimony. I know it's completely un-pc to say this but they do all look alike to me, unless they have a unique hairstyle, beard or mark of some sort. Put them up in a lineup with someone of similar build and hairstyle, just as unreliable.

Facial characteristics are different than someone who witnesses a well known beggar being cured of blindness or dozens of people watching someone walk on water. Identifying the thickness of the brow is much more difficult than talking to a man who was a corpse three days ago.

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Samprimary
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quote:
I don't trust interracial eye witness testimony. I'm sure there are innocent blacks in prison due to a white's eye witness testimony. I know it's completely un-pc to say this but they do all look alike to me, unless they have a unique hairstyle, beard or mark of some sort. Put them up in a lineup with someone of similar build and hairstyle, just as unreliable.

Facial characteristics are different than someone who witnesses a well known beggar being cured of blindness or dozens of people watching someone walk on water. Identifying the thickness of the brow is much more difficult than talking to a man who was a corpse three days ago.

Well, malanthrop, that's insane.
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