The Instigator
ViceRegent
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Overhead
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

How do atheists rationally know truth from fiction?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Overhead
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 715 times Debate No: 88986
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (50)
Votes (2)

 

ViceRegent

Con

Atheists love to live under the delusion that they are the guardians of rationality. But how can they hold this title when they cannot even articulate a rational way to know truth from fiction. If they cannot do this, they are literally ignorant and the ignorant cannot guard anything. So, what atheist can give me a rational way atheists know truth from fiction?

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.
Overhead

Pro

Thank you ViceRegent for making this debate.

The issue with trusting our senses is not something specific to atheists. It is one of the most basic and fundamental ideas that is required to have any point of view about anything. It's a question of epistemology that can be applied to coming to a conclusion of anything besides out own existence.

All knowledge, regardless of religious orientation, requires certain basic assumptions to form a firm foundation to build off. The most basic of them all is "I think, therefore I am". That our minds exist at all. Trusting that the information from our senses is accurate is then the next basic step towards searching for wider truth. If you have ever accepted that anything exists outside of yourself - the computer screen you're looking at, your friends, your family, your house, the planet you live on - then you have made this assumption. Likely you make this assumption constantly about everything.

Perhaps some might say that this is an unacceptable assumption. I doubt that though as regular life means that every voter will implicitly accept these assumptions as reasonable assumptions to all knowledge. Everything we experience is based on the assumption that information from our senses is real and that what we perceive through our senses is an accurate representation of the rest of the universe (putting aside areas of semantic quibbling like dreams, I'm only giving basic definitions).

Following from this, the only way anyone can judge this debate and choose to vote on it is if they trust their senses to be real. If someone does not buy into my argument and thinks the assumption that their own senses describe reality is an unfair leap of logic - well then they have no reason to believe my argument actually exists nor that the button to vote actually exists. After all, any argument for either of these existing relies on the the information from their senses being accurate.

Anyone who votes must logically vote PRO.
Debate Round No. 1
ViceRegent

Con

So your answer is that you don't know your senses are valid, but simply trust them arbitrarily with no rational basis do to so. So you could be wrong about everything you believe to be true?
Overhead

Pro

No, you seem to be confusing "assumption" with "arbitrary" and "irrational".

If you have a friend who every day buys a particular brand of chocolate snack, it is neither arbitrary nor irrational to assume that they will buy the same chocolate snack tomorrow. While there is the potential to be wrong, it is still a rational deduction based on evidence - with rationality rather than iron clad proof being what is required as per the topic for debate.

We think, therefore we exist. The most basic assumption. From that we know that we are a mind with thoughts that receives sense data. But is the sense data real?

Our existence does not automatically mean that matter outside of ourselves (e.g. everything else in the rest of the universe) exists, but our minds do receive sensory data. We must choose the most rational explanation for what this sensory data is and what it means.

One option is that I live in an imaginary dream world and nothing really exists but my mind, everything else just being mere-sense data that doesn't actually exist - no matter existing. The other option is that what I perceive is real and represents matter.

Of these two possibilities the idea that what we live in a dream world is the least simple and most irrational as it is hardest to account for the nature of our sense data that way. Sense-data representing actual matter is the simplest and most rational explanation for many phenomenon, for instance how the sense-data of a person can have ideas that I haven't thought of and teach them to me - because it is an actual other person that exist. It also explains the nature of how our sense-data is remarkably consistent and runs according to complicated internal logic (the objects of sense data seeming to exists even when I don't see them, the sense-data I perceive as a dog seeming to get hungry even when I'm not looking at it).

So an assumption, yes, but a rational one and one you and every voter makes.
Debate Round No. 2
ViceRegent

Con

So, again, you do not know you senses are valid, but simply assume them to be so. So you could be wrong about everything you believe t be true, right?

And since you imply your assumption is non-arbitrary and rational, tell us how you know this is not true with your senses?
Overhead

Pro

So, again, you do not know you senses are valid, but simply assume them to be so. So you could be wrong about everything you believe t be true, right?

The topic under debate is whether it is possible to rationally to accept our senses as true. It is possible to rationally assume something is true and still potentially be wrong, as per my example in the last round that you didn't respond to. This point is irrelevent.

And since you imply your assumption is non-arbitrary and rational, tell us how you know this is not true with your senses?

This was explained (and not just implied) in my last post, please go and check the last three paragraphs.
Debate Round No. 3
ViceRegent

Con

No, the topic is how atheists rationally know truth from fiction. You have claims you know based on your senses, which you "know" are valid because you assume them to be so. I then asked you to admit it is possible or you wrong about everything you know if this assumption is wrong. I am still waiting for an answer.

With this latest post, you are saying that the claim your assumptions are valid is not an assumption at all, but is a position ratiionally held by you. But you do not give us this reason. Given how you have radically condracted yourself, I doubt you actually have such a reason, but I will ask you not only what it is, but how you know it is true.

I deny your explained anything in your last post. Please tell us how you know your position is both non-arbitrary and rational with your senses?

This dude is so confused.
Overhead

Pro

I find it unfortunate that you believe you are still waiting for an answer about things like whether it is possible assumptions are wrong, seeing this was implicitly answered in round 1 and explicitly in round 2. You've therefore used your time not engaging with my argument and not putting forward a comprehensive position of your own, instead only repeating issues that have already been dealt with and hence are inconsequential. As you haven't offered any rebuttals I believe there is little more for me to add.

In the small space allotted (I've consistently been reaching the char lim in each post) I've given a small sample of the rational method that philosophers from Descartes to Kierkegaard to Russell have been outlining and explaining for hundreds of years that allows people to go from first principles to the seeking of knowledge in the material world around us. Out of necessity it has had to be truncated to keep within the fairly small car limit, so for those interested I'd suggest looking at Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy(https://www.gutenberg.org...) where he covers this in an a more detailed but easily understandable manner to newcomers.

Finally I'd like to say that not only has my opponent continually failed to engage with my argument and only reiterated questions that have already been covered, by that if you are going to vote in this debate then it necessitates that you accept the assumption that what you perceive is real and not a mere illusion. This means that by definition you agree with my argument about being able to know our senses are real and reject ViceRegent Argument.

Vote PRO.
Debate Round No. 4
50 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jjjohn 8 months ago
Jjjohn
"Last chance to answer my Q or I will simply dismiss you as a mentally ill, intellectual coward."

and yet you refuse to answer my question. are you then a mentally ill, intellectual coward?

try again: I'll answer yours if you answer mine: can you be wrong about everything you claim to know?
Posted by ViceRegent 8 months ago
ViceRegent
No red hearings, for they are irrational. Last chance to answer my Q or I will simply dismiss you as a mentally ill, intellectual coward.
Posted by Jjjohn 8 months ago
Jjjohn
ViceRegent, can you be wrong about everything you claim to know?
Posted by ViceRegent 8 months ago
ViceRegent
And yet you cannot answer it.
Posted by Jjjohn 8 months ago
Jjjohn
Con is spewing that old sye ten bruggencate line of sophistry. he is even using some of the same attack lines.
Posted by klaralein 8 months ago
klaralein
In my opinion, conduct would go to pro because con was offensive and refused to engage in the debate. He instead reiterated the same questions. He did not follow the rules of debate by refusing to engage in the argument at hand, along with his offensive nature, would give conduct to pro. Arguments would go to pro for two main reasons. First, con provided no arguments. Second, pros arguments flowed through the entire round and so, since they remained unrefuted and flowed through the entire round without a single counterargument from con, argument would go to pro.
Posted by Saska 8 months ago
Saska
@overhead

I am with you on that. I only meant to say that I can understand the approach of saying how can we know anything. I am an atheist through and through and find that logic and reasoning is the most rational approach. I just wanted to show that I get what VR is trying to do in terms of questioning everything. I am asking him to explain why, when using the approach he uses, he can find a way to separate theism and atheism. When you can't trust anything you see/hear/feel, how can you claim that a God provides you with ultimate truth. Why should that God be immune to the skepticism that you apply to everything else around you? (Directed at VR, not you, of course)
Posted by Overhead 8 months ago
Overhead
@Saska

Well although we can question the reality around is, that does not mean we can't rationally come to the conclusion that it is real, these questions aren't valid and that we can trust our senses.

To rationally do something means to do it with logic or reasoning.

To come to a conclusion and know something from reasoning does not require absolute iron-clad certainty. Of the three types basic types of reasoning of reasoning; deductive, inductive and abductive - only one of them (deductive) provides a logically certain conclusion. therefore it is possible to rationally conclude something as known while potentially being wrong.

If we can inductively or abductively reason that we can trust the reality around us, the criteria for this debate have been proven for PRO as it has been shown rationally.

This is what I did in the debate by showing that the most likely explanation for what our senses perceive is that matter actually does exist, as alternative hypothesises like it being an illusion have trouble accounting for what we perceive with our senses.

The most obvious problem for the illusion theory is that we can understand complicated ideas from the sense-data we receive. It's easy to understand how this can happen if our senses are accurate and the material world exists (other people with minds exist who can have ideas different or better than mine) but this cannot be accounted for in the theory that everything is an illusion and the "people" I see who can out argue me with superior logic are mere illusionary phantasms. What we perceive with our senses being real is therefore the most likely outcome.

This is an example of abductive reasoning. As I have used reasoning to conclude my senses are real, by definition I have done so rationally as to rationally know something is to know something due to reasoning.

I think Vice Regent could only really make his argument if he specified deductive reasoning at some point.
Posted by Saska 8 months ago
Saska
I challenged VR to a debate entitled "atheists are more capable of rational thought than atheists" in hopes that he can explain that to us un enlightened ones, but VR declined. I honestly would agree with VR if he simply claimed humans are not capable of rational though on the grounds that we can always question the reality around us. I am simply baffled at how he thinks a theist can have some claim to rationality that an atheist is incapable of.

Any claim made by VR can be repeated with the added, "how do you know your God is real?" If you want to play that game, it never ends, but it also doesn't set atheists and theists apart in any real way.
Posted by Saska 8 months ago
Saska
I await your answer.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Saska 8 months ago
Saska
ViceRegentOverheadTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro addresses the issues. Con ignores most of pro's arguments and just tries to refute a few points, all while making no argument from his side. Given that this is a question and not a definite resolution, both sides are required to argue their side and con massively fails on that front. Conduct goes to pro based on con's unwillingness to actually engage in any sort of debate but just question reality at every turn, despite claiming that such an attitude is not welcome in this debate.
Vote Placed by Greg4586 8 months ago
Greg4586
ViceRegentOverheadTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro has put foward many arguments about how we reach conclusions by our senses and our reason, which is rational even if there is a slight chance of that basis being false. Con really doesn't offer any rebuttal besides claiming that we can not base our perception of reality based on senses and reason because we can not prove our senses and reason, but con never really proves or demonstrates that our senses and reason might be wrong but rather just asserts that they could be false. Therefore, I can not give any weight to that argument