How do atheists rationally 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'd like to thank ViceRegent for creating this debate. I'm sure it will be as eye-opening as it is brief, given the low character-limit.
I'll be answering the following question for ViceRegent: "How do atheists rationally know truth from fiction?"
We'll start by defining "rational". Something is "rational" if it is "based on or in accordance with reason or logic". So the question can effectively be reformulated to say, "How do atheists use logic and/or reason to know truth from fiction?" The other words in the question do not need to be defined, as it is well understood what they mean. (They may need defining if the opponent's response demands it.)
[As a brief note, the opponent claims that one should not accept this debate if they rely on their senses and reasoning to describe the world. I assume this was a mistake on his part in not realizing that the term "rationally" directly requires the use of "reason".]
First, it is important to note that many things are not knowable. As the opponent states, our senses are fallible and that is our only means of observing the world around us. However, many things become knowable once we make certain assumptions, or axioms about the world.
For one, we assume that logic is a valid form of reasoning. A == A is always true and A != A is always false. We assume that if A implies B and B implies C that A implies C is true. We also make the assumption that our observations of the universe can be mostly believed.
Once this assumptions are made, determining truth from fiction becomes trivial in many cases. If some observation X follows our understanding of logic under repeatable circumstances, that thing is "true", unless otherwise proved false. The inverse of that statement is also the case.
"Science" and "mathematics" are simply an extended form of logic -- reasoning on a larger scale.
I'd like to thank the opponent for his quick response.
I'd also like to express my disappointment that the opponent has chosen not to be engaged in this discussion. While his passion is apparent, it may be being used in a negative way. Instead of providing a detailed, thought-out response -- he has insulted me and invalidated the voting process by making the claim that if I don't meet his arbitrary standard of success, I've lost.
Fortunately, the voters decide the winner.
Restatement and Clarification
The opponent correctly states that I rely on my senses and reason, but is incorrect in claiming that I cannot validate truth. As I stated, certain "common sense" axioms are assumed to be true ("a rock is a rock", "the sun is not a tree", "If I like red and red is a color, I like a color", etc.). By holding these axioms as self-evident, we can make use of reason (read: rationality) to come to meaningful conclusions about truth and fiction.
No one can ultimately prove with absolute objectivity that anything is true, with the possible exception of the proposition "I exist."
I have answered ViceRegent's question about how rational thinkers (atheist or not) come to conclusions about what is and is not true. It does not matter whether he likes the answer, as his preference that there is not a "correct answer" is independent of whether there actually is one. A rational thinker's standard of truth may be different than ViceRegent's, and that is his right. All people must come to their own conclusions about what qualifies something as "truthful" or "real".
Ultimately, however, ViceRegent's conclusion on truth may not match the rational thinker's conclusion. And it is in this case that debates are useful -- as they increase knowledge for both parties.
I recommend you present a lengthy, meaningful response so that we can both learn through discourse.
I am again thankful for the opponent's quick response, but his attitude seems to indicate that this debate isn't going to go anywhere. Instead, we'll turn this into an education tool about what not to do.
1. Fail to hold a position.
We can see that VR proposed a question in his opening statement, but failed to maintain a position on the issue. This is a no-no as it is nigh impossible to debate an issue if one of the contenders is not claiming to hold any position on the issue at hand. VR could have remedied this by claiming that "you cannot rationally know truth from fiction" or "atheists don't think rationally" or any similar definitive position.
2. Insult the opponent or a class of people.
How one behaves in a debate is a voting issue. If you do not treat others with respect, the voters will likely turn against you. Even if you hold a strong position, some voters are less likely to fully listen to a person if they are distracted by the person's behavior. It's not just what you say; it's how you say it.
3. Don't address your opponent's remarks.
We can see that all content I provided was not mentioned by the opponent. This is generally bad in a debate, as the only way to combat your opponent's ideas is by talking about them. Do not expect the voters to make arguments for you, even if you think it's "obvious".
4. Be unwilling to explore an idea you don't agree with/are unfamiliar with.
The opponent's first response to my argument was a negative one that he clearly didn't agree with. But instead of exploring this different belief, he provided a brief statement that ignored what was said. You cannot learn if you are unwilling to explore new areas of thought and consider the perspectives of others.
In conclusion, I've answered the opponent's question and the opponent has failed to address this. If this debate even has a win/lose condition, I am clearly the winner.
In this, our final round, the opponent has presented an argument of sorts. Better late than never, I always say. Let's respond to ViceRegent's critique.
As I mentioned, VR's definition of truth is different from a rational thinkers. In my first response I presented the definition of "rational", which refers to the use of "reason and/or logic". I further pointed out that the terms "true" and "fiction" (false) are terms directly rooted in logic. Without logic, "true" would have no real meaning, as it itself refers to a logical state.
Logic itself makes some assumptions about the world, called axioms. While in some sense these are just assumptions, they are made because they are considered to be self-evident. Regardless of whether these assumptions are valid, they are a part of logic, meaning they are a part of a rational thinker's toolkit. Because VR specifically geared this question toward (atheist) rational thinkers, he effectively asked how logic and reasoning can be used to know truth.
Whether logic and reasoning is itself valid is irrelevant, as the opponent asked for how a *rational thinker* comes to conclusions, meaning he asked how someone who uses logic comes to conclusions. It would obviously be unfair to limit your contenders to logic users, then disallow the use of logic.
The axioms logic sets make it possible to know truth. This is detailed in my Round 2 response.
I have met VR's challenge, in that I have answered his question from the framework of a rational thinker. Whether he agrees with this framework is neither here nor there. Chaulk it up to the dangers of asking a question as a resolution instead of taking a specific position.
Vote Pro, and thanks for reading.
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