The Instigator
believer_720
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
Lucretius
Pro (for)
Winning
61 Points

What is the purpose of Atheism?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/7/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,698 times Debate No: 4618
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (24)

 

believer_720

Con

This is not a debate, nessecarily. Since the topic is a question, I'll say that, I am Con, because I disagree with Atheism as a whole, and I'll let an atheist or someone with a good idea of how atheism works take the Pro position.

Now, for my first round, I'll let you answer a question or two that I haven't been able to answer on my own.

What is the purpose of Atheism?
What can be gained from being a Atheist?

If my opponent is interested, I am a Christian.

I can't make an argument until I get one from you, so that's all I have to say for now.
Lucretius

Pro

Hi there,

I'll be glad to give my take on the answers to your two questions. Keep in mind that, because atheism is not in any way a religion, there is no creed that all atheists have to abide by, so my answers may be different than Joe Atheist down the street. This is just my understanding of atheism.

1)What is the purpose of Atheism?

The purpose of atheism? There isn't a purpose. As I stated before, atheism is not a creed, it's a word defining those who lack belief in a God. Since I lack belief in God, that makes me an atheist. There is no real 'purpose' of it. It's just a word defining my understanding of the universe, and it's godlessness.

2)What can be gained from being a Atheist?

What can be gained? Without trying to sound egotistical, I think atheism lets one see the universe for what it truly is; the product of natural law. Then again, I don't think "atheism" is really the cause for all of this. A sound understanding of logic and science will, in my case at least, lead one TO atheism — and from here I can take a look at the natural world and understand it in this new light.

Hope this helped.
Debate Round No. 1
believer_720

Con

Alright, now if you don't mind, I'm going to challenge some of those answers with a few somewhat religious answers.

1) Atheism has no prupose. Simply put, does that mean there is no purpose of being an Atheist.

2) Now, let's look at what theists have to gain from their religion. Theists can gain the thought, even if it is delusional, that there is/are a god/gods out there that love them, and are there to watch out for them. Whether this is true or not, theists gain a sense of happiness from following a God. In most cases, a sense of fulfillment and purpose comes from following a religion as well. The problem I, as well as many other theists, have with Atheists is that a majority of them try to force their 'truth' and science on theists. It makes me wonder what the Atheists can gain from this, because theists certainly have nothing to gain from abandoning their god/gods.

The creation of the universe. The scientific theory sounds more far fetched than the religious theory. And even an Atheist should be able to see why.

Science: The universe randomly spawned out of nothing. Nothing caused it, it just happened.

Religion. Simply put, something caused the creation of the universe.

Something created the universe. Nothing created the universe. Which seems to make more sense?
Lucretius

Pro

My response is as follows:

What I stated does not imply that it's "pointless" to be an atheist. That would be to use the word in two different ways. When I stated that "atheism" has no point; it means that there is no magic value about being labelled an atheist, because by definition it simply implies disbelief in God. To call it pointless implies that those who are atheists are so "just because" and that it would be just as meaningful for them to consider themselves theists. Not so; I would warrant in most cases, most certainly my own, being an atheist implies that one has reached the conclusion of "God most likely doesn't exist" from analyzing evidence. In other words, being an atheist is the sum result of our analysis of the universe we live in. As the result of this process, it certainly isn't pointless. It helps to define who we are.

In regards to theists feeling good because of their beliefs, I do not contest that point. The thought of warm fuzzy bunnies might make me feel good, even though they are not real. You state however that you have a problem with atheists (most) trying to force their "truth" and science on theists. What can we gain from this: well, this issue is more political than anything. It is more reasonable to run a world based on events we can actually verify, versus the happy feelings theists get by praying to a God they think (but can never verify) exists. If theists thought it was okay to murder people because they'd go to heaven, would it be reasonable to allow this? No; what we can verify is that when people die, we bury them, and they stop existing in our universe. Does this mean they DON'T all go to heaven? Not necessarily, but we can't verify it, so we have no reason to assume it to be true. Atheists (and most other people) want a government based off of real, testable things (this includes science) and so the main reason for "forcing" the acceptance of science is exactly that; to run a decent society based on that which is most reasonable.

The creation of the universe only sounds more far fetched than the religious idea when one doesn't understand cosmology. This saddens me especially, as I am a college physics major with a heavy interest in cosmology. To say that "the universe randomly spawned out of nothing" and then in the same paragraph to complain about "[the scientific explanation] sounding far fetched" is to have greatly misrepresented the actual scientific understanding of cosmology. Truth be told, while I could explain the basics of the Big Bang Theory, if you want to nitpick you simply have to understand the more difficult concepts in cosmology. You'd rightfully complain if I were to misquote some Bible verse to attack it; likewise I am complaining here that you are making a strawman out of cosmology in order to attack it.

Basically, if you don't understand general relativity or quantum mechanics, you can't even begin to hope to understand all the myriad interplay between particles and fields that help to explain our universe. Newer (as in the last thirty years or so) scientific theories don't even suppose the universe formed "from nothing" (devoid of both particles and fields). As an atheist myself, I can tell you I am fairly positive the universe was necessarily here forever (like your God, except that, in this case, the universe we can verify exists, so it is a simpler hypothesis and thus, everything else being equal, is more reasonable.)

The same lesson goes for evolutionary theory, abiogenesis, or anything else in science. Do not complain about anything being false or far fetched (implying it is unreasonable with respect to another idea) without grasping the ideas themselves.

Hope this helps.
Debate Round No. 2
believer_720

Con

Our society is working fine as it is. There are some religious conflicts, sure, but the point is, people are happy. Life is short. Would it not be more beneficial to live your short life with happiness?

Now, I'm going to make a point that will challenge your view as an atheist, if you are willing to consider the possibility. Now, what if science is a result of intelligent design? What if God created what we now know about science, knowing that someday, we would search for knowledge on our own? What if science is nothing more than something a God created to keep us occupied? I know this sounds ridiculous, but if you place your mind in that situation, it can very easily level the playing field in the atheist/theist debate.

That would mean that, science is a result of intelligent design. That would also mean that there is no way to prove either. And that would end the debate. Sure, people would aimlessly try to prove their side, but it would not go anywhere. Science would not be able to prove religion wrong.

You will realize that this is a valid argument if you just give it a bit of thought. This may be hard, since many of us are so used to automatically regarding science as fact. Step outside of your comfort zone and see how it changes your way of thinking.
Lucretius

Pro

Again, my rebuttal is as follows:

Living my life with happiness is fine. Anyone can do it, religious or not. What I am saying is that, policy that affects everyone should be based on testable, real things. God is untestable, so no governmental policy should be based around such a concept (thus the separation of church and state.) I have no problem (nor do almost all atheists I would assume) have a problem with people believing in their God as long as religion isn't forced on them. Religious folks don't have the right to complain about science being taught to them in public schools because science is the result of actual testing, the ultimate product of empiricism and the several centuries of tangible progress. Science is taught because reality is important. If you want fringe religious view (Creationism/Intelligent Design) you have to go somewhere that wants to do that, but it has no right in a public school where only scientific claims about science can go.

Now, about your argument, don't worry I took all of the logic classes the philosophy department in my college had to offer. I can tell you your argument is trivially valid, but impossible to verify as sound, which is the important issue. Assuming God created nature then Intelligent Design or Creationism might be true. The problem is, your assumption: namely that God created nature (let alone exists) is entirely unverifiable. Your argument is thus useless because the premises cannot be considered true.

Now, what do we do? Your argument is impossible to demonstrate true, and mine, logically, is ALSO impossible to "prove" (I can affirm my understanding of science with truckloads of evidence; while I can't philosophically prove it, this alone should be enough). Here is where William of Ockham comes in. When there are two competing views, all things being equal, the one with the least amount of assumptions prevails. My view presumes only the natural world, which we know exists. Your view posits an entirely new realm, that of the supernatural, which we cannot ever know if it exists (by definition, anything we can sense is natural). So, my view, that of the naturalist and of all credible scientists, (even if only methodologically so) is more reasonable than yours.

As a practicing student of science, I can tell you that I don't take everything as ‘fact'. I've been there to study how atoms move about, why stars shine, etc. etc. It is all knowledge that has been built upon itself by great minds for the past thousands of years by minds infinitely more brilliant than my own: and yet the experimental verification is all there: given the knowledge and equipment, anyone can test these claims and see for themselves if they are accurate; that is the beauty of science.

As an addendum, I'd like to address some things you wrote in the comment section:

"Opposed to the other theories you've provided, the theory that God created it makes some amount of sense if you think about it. Perhaps God chose to create life? Perhaps that's why the Earth is just the right distance from the sun? Perhaps that is why our Earth is so filled with beauty?"

The sun is the "right distance" from the Earth. I hope you realize that the sun was here before people, and not vice versa. It's like looking a rain-filled pothole and saying "wow, look at how perfectly the rain fits that hole". If the sun wasn't there, we wouldn't be here complaining about it being ‘too far' or ‘too close'. We're here BECAUSE it's there. Another race on another planet might say the same thing about their own star. Stars that are this close to a planet allow carbon-based life to form. That's it. As for beauty; it's simply a word we attribute to our surroundings when we find them pleasing. If we had grown up in a desert, you'd call that beautiful. If you grew up in a forest, you'd say the same thing. And yet, someone from a forest might not find a desert beautiful, and vice versa. It's all about your surroundings; there is nothing intrinsic about beauty.

Thanks for having this debate. If you'd like another on this topic or one similar, just let me know.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
"If you're trying to offer this as proof against my 'bacteria = metaphorical dirt' theory, it won't work for one simple reason. Yes, bacteria can live in space, but that doesn't mean that they've originated from space. How can we know that these bacteria aren't from our continuous explorations of the moon?"

Lol. I was just proving that your assertion that the earth has to be JUST A SPECIFIC DISTANCE AWAY FROM THE SUN in order to support life. It is clear here that you are digressing. But I'll refute that too:

I never said bacteria originated from space.

GG.
Posted by Lucretius 8 years ago
Lucretius
But believer, the most reasonable explanation is that:

The bible is totally wrong. The problem with this "metaphorical" approach is that you're a priori assuming the Bible is right. Thus, when a literal interpretation is deemed (for obvious reasons) illogical, you jump to the conclusion that it must be metaphorical AND that this metaphor has a meaning in science discovered thousands of years after the authors of the various Biblical books were long dead and gone. That in itself is entirely unreasonable.

You seem to be hung up on 'proof' and 'disproof'. You don't prove anything based off of induction deductively, it's impossible. If I give you all the cases plausible for something, it is still possible for it to happen another way. What we do in reality is choose which idea is most reasonable and run with it. It is most reasonable that your idea is wrong, for reasons given above. Hence I can dismiss it with a strong degree of certainty (not absolute, but enough to be quite sure)
Posted by believer_720 8 years ago
believer_720
If you're trying to offer this as proof against my 'bacteria = metaphorical dirt' theory, it won't work for one simple reason. Yes, bacteria can live in space, but that doesn't mean that they've originated from space. How can we know that these bacteria aren't from our continuous explorations of the moon?
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
"I don't need to. This isn't a theory, this is a fact. Look at Venus, how hot it is. Look at Mars, and Jupiter. How cold they are. There is no issue here."

OBSERVE!
Life in SPACE.
http://www.panspermia.org...
Posted by believer_720 8 years ago
believer_720
There is no way to prove my theory on the bible's metaphorical view, but it seems to make sense and it seems to make enough sense to fill the gaps in the logic of both sides. Again people do not believe that humans were made from dirt. It covers the religious side, it was a metaphorical statement. It also covers the scientific side. The bacteria we supposedly evolved from had to get onto this planet somehow, didn't they?

Think about this. How could God have created the earth in 7 days when the Earth didn't exist yet? Earth is used to measure days. The only reasonable explainataion is another metaphorical phrase.

"Prove it."
I don't need to. This isn't a theory, this is a fact. Look at Venus, how hot it is. Look at Mars, and Jupiter. How cold they are. There is no issue here.
Posted by Lucretius 8 years ago
Lucretius
believer_720,

The whole problem though, with your "science being a product of ID" is that it is an utterly untouchable claim.

Just because I can't prove it wrong doesn't mean it exists on equal footing with the normally accepted idea that it is just the natural world; not a product of any design. When you make a claim, unless you have some way to back it up, it is most reasonable to not accept that claim – to accept the denial of it.

Otherwise, I could be claiming pink unicorns are dancing around your head so fast you can't see them; that leprechauns actually hide in closets but they're also invisible and untouchable, and whatnot. Since you can't prove this false; by your reasoning it would then stand on equal footing with the negation of these two statements. By proper reasoning though, this falls apart. There is no reason to think this; thus it is most reasonable NOT to think it.

Thus, yes, the Bible could metaphorically refer to the origin of life: but there is no evidence for this; in fact from all we know about the ancients, they had no knowledge of bacteria and whatnot; this speaks to the contrary. Thus, your idea still stands as unreasonable upon analysis.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
"Yes, I know that the Sun was there first, but the fact still remains that, if the Earth wasn't the distance it is from the sun it is now, Earth couldn't sustain human life."

Prove it.
Posted by believer_720 8 years ago
believer_720
For one, I don't remember even suggesting tying government with religion. I agree, a society with more than one view should not be built on a single one of those views.

I see what you're saying about your William of Ockham solution. But look at it like this. Let's step into the scientific side for a minute. Sure you have proof that something else might have happened. But you have no proof saying that God does not exist. You might have proof against what the bible might have said, but you have no proof that says God does not exist. Now, into my proposed view, that the science we know now is a result of ID. When you think about it like that, science is still unable to prove it right or wrong, but this situation provides many more possibliities to be investigated. For instance, maybe the 'dirt' that humans were made from in the bible was a metaphor for bacteria? Perhaps when he created the 'world' from nothing, he created the universe from nothing?

Yes, I know that the Sun was there first, but the fact still remains that, if the Earth wasn't the distance it is from the sun it is now, Earth couldn't sustain human life.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
believer, there is a simpler way to describe why our planet is exactly the right temperature, distance from the sun, chemical composition, magnetic field etc. It's called the weak anthropic principle. Simply put, the reason why we observe a hostile universe around our seemingly unique oasis of a planet is that if there were ever to be a planet that sprung up with ideal conditions, life would eventually start up on it and the life forms would look around and say "hey, we are pretty lucky to have been put here and not on any of the other planets with hostile conditions". with the billion billion or so planets in the universe one was statistically likely to have been ideal for us. To turn around and say that it must be God that is responsible is a practice in lethargic reasoning; instead of actually putting in the effort to explain why everything is going on, people would rather give up and turn to superstition.
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
The Difference between the Big Bang theory (and Evolution for that matter) and the ID or God theory is that there is a plethora of evidence to support it, where as there is no evidence for God. That is why the big bang cannot be added to list i mentioned. As i stated if you choose to believe in God you must provide a reason for choosing that belief among the infinite other explanations that have no reason. If one chooses to believe in the big bang providing a reason is no trouble at all.

Evidence now shows us that there are probably more than 100 billion billion planets in the universe. (yes I used billion twice, its a 100 billion billion.) that means that even if the likelihood of a planet being "just the right distance from the sun" (and having all other conditions) is one in a billion then life would have evolved on over 100 billion planets by sheer chance.

getting into depth doesn't prove a theory true or false in any way, as a religious person i would expect you to know that since religious theories by their own descriptions fail to get into nearly the depth that scientific theories do. There isn't even a comparison that can be made on the matters of depth. Not only do religious theories not get into depth but they aren't even logically consistent with themselves.
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