The Instigator
nonprophet
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
diddleysquat
Con (against)
Winning
9 Points

Atheism is the default position

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
diddleysquat
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,253 times Debate No: 52462
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (38)
Votes (4)

 

nonprophet

Pro

First round is for acceptance only.

For this debate, it must be accepted that the definition of Atheism is "The Lack of the Belief in a God".

Due to the threats of conduct points being taken away by terrorist users Actionsspeak & Teemo,
before this debate has even started, I will ask airmax to plaese counter vote any such undeserved votes by these harassing users.
They seem to believe they have a right to dictate what my debate can or can't be about with the use of extreame harassment tactics and vote bomb threats.
"I will say this one more time, and I insist you listen." "He should change his definition."
"we will surely be voting now. We are already prepared to take away your conduct points" -Teemo
diddleysquat

Con

I accept Pro's definition of atheism, and thank them for their invitation to debate this topic.

Please present your argument.
Debate Round No. 1
nonprophet

Pro

Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. The moment we are born, we have no beliefs at all. All babies are born Atheists.
That's why it's the default position. The only way to be a Theist is to learn what a God is and choose to believe in it. That means you must BECOME a Theist from the default position of being an Atheist. Nobody is born a Theist. If you lose your faith in a God, you automatically (without having to choose to) go back to the default position of being an Atheist.

It's that simple.
diddleysquat

Con

It's never that simple :)

According to your reasoning, my pet tortoise and my electric arc welder are atheists - I'm fairly certain that neither of them believe in God. But it is silly to describe either as an atheist, just as it is silly to describe a newborn as an atheist simply because it doesn't believe in something of which it has no knowledge. We might just as well describe a newborn as an acowist or atelevisionist.

The key to the debate is in the word "position". A position is a point of view, opinion, stance, perspective or policy. Clearly none of the above mentioned three have a "position" on whether or not God exists. They are neither theists nor atheists.

Once the baby has grown to an age where it is capable of forming an opinion, it may then adopt a position. And in the majority of cases throughout human recorded history, rightly or wrongly, that position has been that a God or gods exist. As Voltaire said in his Epistle to the author of the book The Three Impostors - "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him".
Debate Round No. 2
nonprophet

Pro

I want to thank my worthy opponent for accepting this debate and
for being respectful.

Here is my response:

Paragraph one:
Yes, according to the agreed upon definition of Atheism, inanimate objects can be atheists.
Just because something is "silly" doesn't make it false.
It would be silly, for example, to call water, "hydrogen dioxide", yet,
by definition, that's exactly what it is. So, yes, calling a baby an atheist
might be defined as silly, but it still is true, by definition.

Words like "acowist" or "atelevisionist" may also sound silly, but again, silly does not equal
wrong.

Paragraph two:
You can be either a theist or an atheist. That's a true dichotomy, because there is no third POSITION.
Since it is agreed that Atheism is "The Lack of the Belief in a God", a baby's position is atheism by default.

Paragraph three:

My worthy opponent claims, "Once the baby has grown to an age where it is capable of forming an opinion, it may then adopt a position."
That may be true. However, until that time comes where a baby is capable or forming a position, it remains
in the default position of being an atheist by the definition we agreed upon.

My worthy opponent also claims, "in the majority of cases throughout human recorded history, rightly or wrongly, that position has been that a God or gods exist"
That, may also be true. However, that does not make it the default position. To claim something as the default position, because the majority believe it, is in fact,
a logical fallacy known as "ad populem".

Let me explain it this way:

There are only two ways to believe something exists.
1 You believe something exists until you find evidence to prove that it doesn't exist.
2.You believe something doesn't exist until you find evidence to prove that it does exist.

Number 2 is the default position. If number 1 was the default position, we would be forced to
believe EVERYTHING ever thought up, including leprechauns, unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters and
The Loch Ness Monster, until we could prove they don't exist.

It's impossible to prove a "nothing". But, that's what is expected when someone demands that you prove something doesn't exist.
Demanding proof that unicorns don't exist, is equivalent to demanding proof that nothing does exist. It's impossible to prove, because you can't examine a "nothing".
So, if number 1 was the default position, we would be forced to believe everything.
That is the ultimate in gullibility.

Number 2 makes logical sense and is the best way to avoid being gullible. It is possible to prove something does exist.
That's why it's the default position to not believe something exists until it is proved to exist.
Since we agreed that atheism is "the lack of a belief in a god", it has to be the default position.
An atheist lacks the belief in a god until it can be proved to exist.

In other words, since it's impossible to prove a nothing exists, but possible to prove a specific something does exist, the default position would be to
believe nothing exists until something specific is proved to exist, otherwise you end up believing everything exists.

That is why atheism is the default position.

https://www.youtube.com...

I want to thank my worthy opponent once again for the debate. It was a pleasure.
diddleysquat

Con

Thanks to my opponent for their kind words.

I will start by making note of a few points of departure between my opponent and myself:

Firstly, Pro has claimed that "according to the agreed upon definition of Atheism, inanimate objects can be atheists". But do babies and inanimate objects "lack" belief in God? I don't think so. The term lack describes a "deficiency or absence of something needed, desirable, or customary" .(http://dictionary.reference.com...=/)

Belief in God for inanimate objects and newborns is not needed, desirable or customary. For exactly the same reason, it would be ludicrous for me to claim that my motor vehicle "lacks" a basement.

However, even if we were to concede that objects and infants could be "atheists" this does not justify the proposition That Atheism is the Default Position. I have pointed out (and this has not been challenged by my opponent) that a position of any sort implies an opinion, a stance or a point of view. My opponent echoes Dawkins and others in claiming that babies are born atheists, but clearly they are not born with opinions regarding the existence or otherwise of God(s). And tortoises and arc welders don't form points of view on the subject either. So it is not their "default position".

What my opponent has done is to create a false dichotomy - the only two possible positions are to believe in a God or gods, or not to believe. What is left out is the third group - "belief or otherwise is not applicable". The "default position" only applies to those capable of adopting one.

Which basically leaves us with cognizant human beings as potential atheists. My point about people throughout history having, in the main, formed the opinion that one or more gods exist is not, as my opponent claims, an ad populem fallacy. I did not make any claim that because most people believe this to be true, it is in fact true.

Pro has suggested that it is necessary to assume (until proven otherwise) that something (in this case God) doesn't exist because proving "nothing" is impossible. I find this terminology confusing. It sounds very similar to the often made claim that it is impossible to prove a negative. Of course, if that is what my opponent is claiming, then the irony is that if they can supply proof of this claim, they will have succeeded in proving them self wrong. There are also very few philosophers who would agree that it is impossible to prove a negative.

Getting back to the question of existence - is it true that we can't prove that the dragon in my garage really exists? Well, the fact that neither I nor anyone else can see, hear or feel it may be a reasonable indication that it's not there. The fact that the temperature in the garage remains relatively constant and doesn't experience sudden rapid increases might be another. But no doubt however much trouble I go to, someone will find some explanation for every piece of evidence presented. What it boils down to is that I may be able to prove the nonexistence of a dragon in my garage (or the Loch Ness monster, or flying spaghetti monsters, or God) beyond any reasonable degree of doubt, such that any normal person would be convinced; but I certainly cannot prove it beyond any possibility of doubt.

The crucial point as far as "default positions" go is that this doesn't only apply to negatives. There is no no way to prove beyond any possibility of contradiction that the pink unicorn does exist. Supposing I actually capture one. I conduct DNA tests and various examinations to determine that it's not a horse with a cone glued on its nose. Finally, there is no question - this is an animal that has never been discovered before. But how do I know that the entire process is not a dream that I'm having, and the pink wonder is no more than random electric signals in my sleeping brain? Can it be proved that dinosaurs once walked the earth? What if all of the fossils ever found are fakes planted there by alien pranksters eons ago?

In summary:

Atheism can be regarded as a "lack of belief in a God or gods". However, this definition only makes sense when applied to cognizant beings. It does not make sense to say (as my opponent does) that it applies to babies and inanimate objects. These examples are therefore invalid.

Neither theism nor atheism can be positively proved beyond any possibility of a doubt. However, it should be possible for either to be proved beyond any reasonable question given appropriate evidence and correct presentation of the arguments. It does not seem appropriate therefore, to claim that one position or the other is naturally the "default position".

The bottom line - if you claim God exists - prove it. If you claim that God does not exist - prove it. Neither side can legitimately claim a head start. The onus is not always on the affirmative to prove their case because proving a negative is too difficult. Otherwise, there would be far more Con winners than Pro right here in DDO.

I would again like to thank my opponent for their invitation to debate this topic, and congratulate them on the way in which they have presented their case. It has been an enjoyable debate for me as well. Thanks also to those who have taken the time to read our arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
38 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
Wylted, your stalking is annoying...and creepy
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Wylted
Nonprophet, that type set is annoying.
Posted by diddleysquat 2 years ago
diddleysquat
Your definition did not include anything about babies. You posted in your first argument that babies should be included as non-believers, I said that they shouldn't. Your problem lies in the fact that I argued that what you call a "position" is not a position at all. Again, there is nothing in your definition to stop me taking this line.

Your problem is that you thought you had sewn the topic up so tight that it was unarguable - which, btw is not the point of debating. It turned out you were wrong, that is all.
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
You claimed the definition didn't fit babies, which is not accepting the definition.
Posted by diddleysquat 2 years ago
diddleysquat
I never disputed your definition - go check.
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
"Con beat Pro's definition on fair grounds. A semantic argument against a semantically dubitable defintition."

The definition was not up for debate. It was agreed upon by accepting the debate as it was defined.
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
"I think Con wins by a hair, helped a lot by his final round definition"
Yeah, totally unfair. Definitions are supposed to be set at the beginning of a debate.
Whatever.
I don't care about votes. It's all BS.
Posted by Mhykiel 2 years ago
Mhykiel
@ nonprophet Well this is the comment section but if you started a debate I would debate you. I'm trying to help you, if you intend on using babies are atheist you have to prove they are. If you prove rocks are atheist I would not be convinced because rocks are a bad analogy.
Posted by nonprophet 2 years ago
nonprophet
Just because a baby has a brain, doesn't mean it has enough information in it to believe something.

So, if I prove rocks are atheists, will you then accept atheism as the default position?

I'm not trying to prove "how to live any kind of live (sic)".
That's not what a "default position" is about.
I never said a default position was "superior"
A default position is the position you start with.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by The_Scapegoat_bleats 2 years ago
The_Scapegoat_bleats
nonprophetdiddleysquatTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con beat Pro's definition on fair grounds. A semantic argument against a semantically dubitable defintition.
Vote Placed by Sojourner 2 years ago
Sojourner
nonprophetdiddleysquatTied
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Reasons for voting decision: For me the debate came down to one issue. Pro argued that either there is a position of the atheist or the theist. Con argued for a third option which is one of "no position". This essentially went unrefuted, so arguments to Con.
Vote Placed by Anon_Y_Mous 2 years ago
Anon_Y_Mous
nonprophetdiddleysquatTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments relied on the assumption that there were only two points of view, which is a false dilemma fallacy.
Vote Placed by Actionsspeak 2 years ago
Actionsspeak
nonprophetdiddleysquatTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con lost because he failed to tie in his argument with the definition of atheism made up by Pro. He then decided to say that inanimate objects being dedined as atheists is just silly, however he did accept the definition made by pro when he accepted the debate. Pro loses conduct because he used ad populem, attempted to shift to proof to pro, and even attempted to do away with the definition he agreed to when he accepted the debate.