How do atheists ratiionally know truth from fiction?
Debate Rounds (4)
Answering this question is the sole purpose for this debate. If you are unable or unwilling to answer this question, do not respond to this debate. Likewise, if you do not believe in reality, believe you make it up or deny it is objective or knowable, or if you do not know how to rationally know truth from fiction, do not respond to this debate. If you are terrified of cross-examination or madly in love with red herrings, do not respond to this debate. If you have responded before, do not respond to this debate. After all, if you had nothing rational to say then, you will having nothing rational to say now.
If all you have is "science", do not respond to this debate, for science relies on the your senses and reason, which begs the question of how you know your senses and reason are valid. Perhaps you can tell me, which is fine, but if the way you validate you senses and reason is with your senses and reason, you lose the debate because that is circular reasoning and circular reasoning is not rational.
if you respond in violation of these rules, you automatically lose the debate.
I will briefly sum up the point of this debate for those confused. Simplified, the title of this debate could be, but is not: It is impossible to know truth from fiction.
Pro will be proving that atheists (such as myself) can think rationally by providing a way of separating truth from fiction, whereas con will be doing otherwise.
Con does not believe that atheists can think rationally. He asserts that this must be true as they have no way of knowing truth from fiction. If you cannot know truth from fiction, then you cannot claim to think rationally. Con is therefore asking pro (me) to give an example of a rational way that atheists can know truth from fiction without quoting science (science is simply an epistemology, or theory of knowledge, which states that we can gather knowledge with our senses) as he believes that your senses are not an adequate measure of the world as your senses could be lying to you (a belief held in common with Rene Descartes who believed his senses could be being controlled by evil demons). I will attempt to prove to con that his position is untenable by using a rational argument.
Rene Descartes stated Cogito ergo sum, or 'I think, therefore I am.' This is the most basic rational thought that has to be true. If you did not exist you could not be around to question your existence. That is a basic truth that can be found in the realms of rationalism (an epistemology in and of itself which is separate from the scientific epistemology). If you start from the basic knowledge that you exist then you can move on from there. The next assertion would be 'I exist, therefore I must be in a place where things can exist.' Here I have given two truths which can be verified simply due to the fact that it would be impossible for them not to be true, and therefore they cannot be fiction. The word count is very limited, and I would like to say more in my next round if con would allow me to.
Rene Descartes stated Cogito ergo sum, or 'I think, therefore I am.' This is the most basic rational thought that has to be true.
In other to know truth from fiction as his "most basic thought", he must assume this thought to be true. Why? Because it has to be. But this is circular reasoning, making it irrational and a failure as an answer to my inquiry. And he contradicts himself, which is more evidence of irrational thinking on his part, for the more, more basic rational through is that truth exists, for the most basis rational throught cannot be true unless truth exists. But how does he know truth exist? He does not, or least he does not rationally.
And how does he know that he is not some machine, that he does not really exist, but is merely putting on the screen that he was programmed to put in response to a given stimui? He is begging the question again.
Finally, he is relying on the Law of Non-Contradiction, but how does he know if that is true? He does nto.
My opponent is using standard debating terms such as 'circular argument' and 'begging the question' in a misleading way.
These terms both mean essentially the same thing. A circular argument is an argument which affirms a conclusion by means of the same premise. For example: 'The bible states that it tells the truth, and as the bible must tell the truth, it must be telling the truth when it says that. But I am not doing that here. My reasoning is logical without circular arguments being needed.
My opponent has stated 'how do I know that I am not a machine and therefore do not really exist?' I would argue that if I was a machine or any other sort of thing, then I would still exist in the form of a machine - I am a machine, therefore I exist. I never presumed to state 'I think, therefore I am human.' I (or Rene Descartes) simply stated that 'I think, therefore I am.' Even if I exist only in the form of a thought questioning my own existence, I still exist in the form of that thought and therefore must exist in a place where thoughts can take form.
My opponent errs when he states that in order to know the thought 'I think, therefore I am' to be true, I must assume it to be true because it has to be. I have explained why, rationally, there is no conclusion to reach but that I must exist and it is an argument which avoids the use of any of the five senses, hearing, taste, smell, sight or touch.
My opponent is correct that in order for any rational thought to be true the most basic rational thought must be 'truth exists.' But in order to prove that you would have to first find a truth before you can know that it exists. Therefore the thought 'truth exists' could only be formed after you have reasoned out an existing truth, such as 'I think, therefore I am.' It is arguable that 'truth exists' must follow that.
And he still has not told me how he knows Decarte was right.
My opponent asserts that machines do not think as they only respond to a given stimuli in keeping with their programming. But does not a human do the same thing? He has stated that our senses deceive us and therefore we cannot rely on them to come to our assumptions, but by saying that he has implicitly stated that we respond to our senses, which are a stimuli. Responding to a stimuli in keeping with our programming (our programming being that which we are able to perceive) is the definition of thinking, and therefore machines do think even if it is a more limited form of thinking (due to our more limited programming) than we are able to perform. Therefore, any form of questioning my existence proves that I exist to question it. Even if I only exist in the form of a question about my existence, I still exist in some form.
Therefore, when Descartes stated cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am - he was right that to question his existence he must first exist to question it. Even if it is only in the form of the question 'do I exist.' That does not prove we exist in the form we perceive ourselves to exist, but it does prove that we exist in some form that allows us to question our existence. Even if we do not have a choice as to what we think, we are still forming that question and so we must exist, even if it is only in the form of a thought about our existence.
As for the truth, we know the truth must exist as we as a race have created the term truth. The truth is therefore a phenomenon which must exist because if it did not then I could not say 'the truth does not exist.' Because then I would be telling the truth, which cannot exist whilst that statement is true. The creation of this paradox certainly goes to prove that our idea of what the truth is exists in the capacity of which we are able to think about it.
Your entire last argument is strewn with baseless insults towards atheists and appeals to emotion whilst making few real points. The only point I can ascertain you trying to make is that an atheist cannot know the truth from fiction because atheists do not see truth and fiction as being relevant. To the voters - I would deduct conduct points for the kind of baseless insults he is spewing towards atheists. Besides, atheists use science as well as rationality - it is my opponent who have disallowed me to use rationality based upon his own prejudice towards science because he assumes that our senses deceive us always and therefore we cannot trust them, but he has not proved that that is the case. He simply makes a baseless assumption that it is the case and therefore assumes we cannot trust our senses. I have answered his question without science as a courtesy, but the fact that he set that as a part of the debate does not make him right. Therefore he cannot state that 'atheism says humans are nothing more than machines that are slaves to the laws of nature.' Atheism holds no such assertion and many atheists believe many different things about the laws of nature and human interaction with them. The only assertion all atheists hold in common is that we do not believe in a God. Which in itself is a belief. We do not pretend to know that God does not exist for a fact. Atheism is just as much of a belief as a religious belief in God is a belief. We do not pretend to know that we are right for a fact. It is just a theory we have that has just as much value as any other theory.
My opponent states that atheists cannot know the difference between truth or fiction because atheists do not ascertain a difference between the two things as we only think things are right because we are 'programmed to think they are right.' Here my opponent references learning. All humans do it.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Behold 4 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Multiple ad-hom attacks by Con. Spelling grammar: Con is missing capitalization and has obvious misspellings. Arguments: Con mostly kept restating the same argument after Pro refuted it pretty solidly. Pro made multiple counter-arguments that hit the problem at its core. Perhaps Con should brush up on epistemology before he makes the same debate AGAIN, or at least what constitutes logical fallacies.
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