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Sagan's Skepticism

Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
dee-em
Posts: 6,481
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12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.
Kyle_the_Heretic
Posts: 748
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12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind. I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Mhykiel
Posts: 5,987
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12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any athiest uses.
RoderickSpode
Posts: 2,382
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12/24/2014 11:19:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind. I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.
If you haven't yet, you might want to check out the Science Channel (if your provider offers it). It's not really a science channel in the educational sense in that they mostly present programs on UFOs, Bigfoot, etc. like most other documentary networks. It's more the documentary version of the SyFy Channel. But even their non-paranormal programs on the cosmos seem to be way out there. So much so that even the orbiting teapot is just as likely as any theory.
Kyle_the_Heretic
Posts: 748
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12/24/2014 12:04:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 11:19:15 AM, RoderickSpode wrote:

If you haven't yet, you might want to check out the Science Channel (if your provider offers it). It's not really a science channel in the educational sense in that they mostly present programs on UFOs, Bigfoot, etc. like most other documentary networks. It's more the documentary version of the SyFy Channel. But even their non-paranormal programs on the cosmos seem to be way out there. So much so that even the orbiting teapot is just as likely as any theory.

I don't have that channel in my basic package. It's just as well, because I'm an extreme skeptic. I just happen to be one of those rare extreme skeptics that believes in God. As such, sensational fringe programming irritates me in much the same way that religious programming irritates atheists. I'll watch it on occasion, but only to rip it apart. I'd actually give possibility to an orbiting teapot over much of today's sensationalistic nonsense; sensationalistic religion included.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,132
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12/24/2014 1:00:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any athiest uses.

4 post in, and the strawman/ad hom have begun. Good job. We must live up to the negative image of the religion forum.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Mhykiel
Posts: 5,987
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12/24/2014 1:14:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 1:00:38 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any atheist uses.

4 post in, and the strawman/ad hom have begun. Good job. We must live up to the negative image of the religion forum.

If your going to claim it is a straw-man please identify how. If you don't then what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

If your going to claim I made ad ad hom please identify who I attacked in my argument? Maybe you are revering to side comment, but my argument then has no such ad hom. unless you point it out, what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens, Atheist

If you disagree with the Argument that "somewhere in the universe there is a teapot orbiting a mars like planet through only natural causes".. Please provide a rebuttal.

If not then you are being trollish, and I have no clue as to why you would disagree... I'm following all the tenets of sound rational atheist reasoning.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,132
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12/24/2014 2:35:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 1:14:02 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:00:38 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any atheist uses.

4 post in, and the strawman/ad hom have begun. Good job. We must live up to the negative image of the religion forum.

If your going to claim it is a straw-man please identify how. If you don't then what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

The Teapot analogy is not believed to be true by anyone rational. It is a strawman to act as though it is a real belief.

If your going to claim I made ad ad hom please identify who I attacked in my argument? Maybe you are revering to side comment, but my argument then has no such ad hom. unless you point it out, what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

The Ad hom comes from claiming your strawman is equivalent to the "the logic of atheists" while clearly insinuating it is not logical. Most atheists would agree the Teapot analogy is not logical, and it is directly analogous to belief in god without evidence.

"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens, Atheist

If you disagree with the Argument that "somewhere in the universe there is a teapot orbiting a mars like planet through only natural causes".. Please provide a rebuttal.

If not then you are being trollish, and I have no clue as to why you would disagree... I'm following all the tenets of sound rational atheist reasoning.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,132
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12/24/2014 2:43:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 2:35:22 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:14:02 PM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:00:38 PM, Skepticalone wrote:
At 12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any atheist uses.

4 post in, and the strawman/ad hom have begun. Good job. We must live up to the negative image of the religion forum.

If your going to claim it is a straw-man please identify how. If you don't then what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

The Teapot analogy is not believed to be true by anyone rational. It is a strawman to act as though it is a real belief.

If your going to claim I made ad ad hom please identify who I attacked in my argument? Maybe you are revering to side comment, but my argument then has no such ad hom. unless you point it out, what is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

The Ad hom comes from claiming your strawman is equivalent to the "the logic of atheists" while clearly insinuating it is not logical. Most atheists would agree the Teapot analogy is not logical, and it is directly analogous to belief in god without evidence.

"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens, Atheist

If you disagree with the Argument that "somewhere in the universe there is a teapot orbiting a mars like planet through only natural causes".. Please provide a rebuttal.

If not then you are being trollish, and I have no clue as to why you would disagree... I'm following all the tenets of sound rational atheist reasoning.

To be fair, you are not guilty of ad hominem since you were not avoiding any arguments. My apologies. Let's just label it as derogatory remarks.
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
dee-em
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12/25/2014 4:17:51 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind.

Look up the definitions. There are plenty of weak atheists around.

I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I don't dispute your experience, but it might be a fallacy to extrapolate from that to the wider world.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

Imagine there was no 2,000 years of history with Christianity and you haven't been indoctrinated into the religion from a young age. A copy of the Bible, brand new, is thrust into your hands and you are told to read it from cover to cover. If it was me, I would find the orbiting teapot a more plausible story.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.

That's not what I meant.
dee-em
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12/25/2014 4:50:57 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 10:53:36 AM, Mhykiel wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

If you are not 100% sure, then you are saying there is a chance. Becuase there is this chance I postulate that the universes is sooo big and sooo old that there is a tea pot orbiting some mars like planet.

Unfortunately, I didn't say "Mars-like". Nice try, though. :-)

This tea pot ofcourse does not have a creator, it just came about from natural cuases. Tho we have found no natural cuase that could make a tea pot, but it takes a long time to do so. I have faith, I mean, confidence that if scientist looked for a means sometime in the future a natural un-intelligent cuase for a tea pot could be found.

If you believe that, I have some land in Antarctica I would like to sell you. Lol.

yes i'm being sarcastic but the logic is as sound as any athiest uses.

Not quite. A parody, maybe.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 8:19:47 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 4:17:51 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind.

Look up the definitions. There are plenty of weak atheists around.

Are "weak" atheists truly atheists anymore than "weak" Christians are truly Christian?

I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I don't dispute your experience, but it might be a fallacy to extrapolate from that to the wider world.

Agreed. Nonetheless, "aggressive" is strongly apparent in this forum.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

Imagine there was no 2,000 years of history with Christianity and you haven't been indoctrinated into the religion from a young age. A copy of the Bible, brand new, is thrust into your hands and you are told to read it from cover to cover. If it was me, I would find the orbiting teapot a more plausible story.

I also find it more plausible than believing that existence simply popped into being, and then had an accident that led to the intelligence that allows us to have this internet conversation about how a greater intelligence is not plausible.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.

That's not what I meant.

I wasn't being facetious, I sincerely can't see what else that means.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Dragonfang
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12/25/2014 11:20:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
If you are nothing but a skeptic, then you will learn nothing new; skepticism doesn't generate any new knowledge, in fact it often acts as the psychological barrier for cognitive dissonance.
"Truth seeker" is much more appropriate.

I lost Sagan when he started making philosophical statement while talking about making a cult of scientism. Oh, I would love to see how he derived his core truth statements scientifically. He also started talking about conscience and purpose, and started mixing *facepalm*. He also seems to mix between rationality and science, there is no continuum between technology and a first cause.

At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

Are you sure about the universal negative statement? Cause I am pretty sure that "A universal negative cannot be proven" is a negative statement. It all sounds like a poor joke or a bad excuse.
In fact, if that was the case, nothing could be proven; using the law of double negative you can turn any statement into a negative statement and vice-versa: If I prove that a car exists, I have also proven that the car is not non-existent.

I know that God exists in the same sense that I know that I exist! See! I can use analogies too!
So... Do you have an argument with premises and a conclusion or not?
Beastt
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12/25/2014 12:23:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

I've long been a fan of Sagan, but I don't find that he was always careful with his words. For starters, atheism is a lack of "belief" in any gods. It's not a statement of proposed knowledge. Other times the problem is that his statements were removed from the context in which they were uttered such as his famous statement "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Within context he was presenting a very relevant point. Taken without that context, it's pure rubbish. If you open a drawer looking for a pen, and after carefully observing each item in the drawer, find no evidence of a pen, is that not evidence that there is no pen in the drawer? The absence of evidence is the ONLY means by which we can conclude non-existence. It's how we drive, how we prepare our shopping lists and the process we use in seeking our car keys once our shopping list is ready. It prevents us from stepping into empty elevator shafts and driving onto non-existent bridges. All things considered, it works very well.

Absence of evidence is most certainly, evidence of absence. It's the only evidence of absence one can have. Theists often tend to confuse the term "evidence" with "proof", and they use the words "proof", "prove" and "proven" in place of more appropriate phrases such as "conclusive evidence".

What baffles me is why anyone would conclude that the question "does God exist?", is any more rational or relevant to reality than, "do fairies exist?", or "do unicorns exist?".

If we have absolutely no evidence for a proposed entity, then the only rational conclusion is disbelief that such entities exist. And while theists often proclaim that there is evidence for God, when called upon to present that evidence, they are seen always to fail and grow silent, or they try to substitute inductive arguments for evidence. One can present an inductive argument for absolutely anything. In summary;

- Atheism is a statement of belief, not a statement of knowledge.
- The difference between knowledge and belief goes farther than one's confidence in their belief.
- The concept of God is no more, and no less, credible than other concepts calling upon suspension of physical laws, such as fairies, Leprechauns and genies, and should be offered no more assumed credibility.
- Credibility is earned through evidence.
- Objective evidence is indicative of existence
- Non-existence is indicated by a lack of evidence.
"If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities." -- Voltaire
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 12:28:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 11:20:00 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
If you are nothing but a skeptic, then you will learn nothing new;

If you're responding to me, I did not state that I was nothing but a skeptic. I stated that I was an extreme skeptic. There's a difference.

skepticism doesn't generate any new knowledge,

No, skepticism filters new knowledge, so that one doesn't mix the trash with the truth.

in fact it often acts as the psychological barrier for cognitive dissonance.

Not when it's used correctly.

"Truth seeker" is much more appropriate.

That largely depends on what you call "truth."

I lost Sagan when he started making philosophical statement while talking about making a cult of scientism. Oh, I would love to see how he derived his core truth statements scientifically. He also started talking about conscience and purpose, and started mixing *facepalm*. He also seems to mix between rationality and science, there is no continuum between technology and a first cause.

Sources?
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 1:05:08 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 12:23:27 PM, Beastt wrote:

I've long been a fan of Sagan, but I don't find that he was always careful with his words. For starters, atheism is a lack of "belief" in any gods. It's not a statement of proposed knowledge. Other times the problem is that his statements were removed from the context in which they were uttered such as his famous statement "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Within context he was presenting a very relevant point. Taken without that context, it's pure rubbish. If you open a drawer looking for a pen, and after carefully observing each item in the drawer, find no evidence of a pen, is that not evidence that there is no pen in the drawer? The absence of evidence is the ONLY means by which we can conclude non-existence. It's how we drive, how we prepare our shopping lists and the process we use in seeking our car keys once our shopping list is ready. It prevents us from stepping into empty elevator shafts and driving onto non-existent bridges. All things considered, it works very well.

Absence of evidence is most certainly, evidence of absence. It's the only evidence of absence one can have. Theists often tend to confuse the term "evidence" with "proof", and they use the words "proof", "prove" and "proven" in place of more appropriate phrases such as "conclusive evidence".

I have always understood Sagan's antimetabole to be used appropriately, as in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Not to defend the existence of an invisible dragon in the garage.

In many a blog I have asked, "If the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, then what is the absence of evidence, evidence of?

What baffles me is why anyone would conclude that the question "does God exist?", is any more rational or relevant to reality than, "do fairies exist?", or "do unicorns exist?".

Fairies, unicorns, and such do not have a religious history, but an easily proven mythical or fantastic history, giving them a secular base. God has never claimed to be secular, only men have brought him down to earth.

If we have absolutely no evidence for a proposed entity, then the only rational conclusion is disbelief that such entities exist. And while theists often proclaim that there is evidence for God, when called upon to present that evidence, they are seen always to fail and grow silent, or they try to substitute inductive arguments for evidence. One can present an inductive argument for absolutely anything. In summary;

We have no scientific evidence. Even God says that such evidence doesn't exist. If we restrict our search for God to known scientific parameters, then the only possible result is rejection of existence.

- Atheism is a statement of belief, not a statement of knowledge.

More a statement of disbelief, and often a very aggressive one.

- The difference between knowledge and belief goes farther than one's confidence in their belief.

Sometimes so far that we can no longer see it.

- The concept of God is no more, and no less, credible than other concepts calling upon suspension of physical laws, such as fairies, Leprechauns and genies, and should be offered no more assumed credibility.

True, if physical laws are the only laws, and understood correctly, because they are, after all, self-correcting.

- Credibility is earned through evidence.

And, in the case of God, we're asked to find evidence in a non-secular way.

- Objective evidence is indicative of existence

Within known scientific parameters.

- Non-existence is indicated by a lack of evidence.

Also within known scientific parameters.

I reject Christian fundamentalist interpretations of God and religion, and take a more "heretical" scientific approach. As such, though I stand far away in belief, I stand closer to your logic than I appear to, but that would be another topic.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Beastt
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12/25/2014 1:16:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 1:05:08 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/25/2014 12:23:27 PM, Beastt wrote:

I've long been a fan of Sagan, but I don't find that he was always careful with his words. For starters, atheism is a lack of "belief" in any gods. It's not a statement of proposed knowledge. Other times the problem is that his statements were removed from the context in which they were uttered such as his famous statement "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Within context he was presenting a very relevant point. Taken without that context, it's pure rubbish. If you open a drawer looking for a pen, and after carefully observing each item in the drawer, find no evidence of a pen, is that not evidence that there is no pen in the drawer? The absence of evidence is the ONLY means by which we can conclude non-existence. It's how we drive, how we prepare our shopping lists and the process we use in seeking our car keys once our shopping list is ready. It prevents us from stepping into empty elevator shafts and driving onto non-existent bridges. All things considered, it works very well.

Absence of evidence is most certainly, evidence of absence. It's the only evidence of absence one can have. Theists often tend to confuse the term "evidence" with "proof", and they use the words "proof", "prove" and "proven" in place of more appropriate phrases such as "conclusive evidence".

I have always understood Sagan's antimetabole to be used appropriately, as in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Not to defend the existence of an invisible dragon in the garage.

In many a blog I have asked, "If the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, then what is the absence of evidence, evidence of?

What baffles me is why anyone would conclude that the question "does God exist?", is any more rational or relevant to reality than, "do fairies exist?", or "do unicorns exist?".

Fairies, unicorns, and such do not have a religious history, but an easily proven mythical or fantastic history, giving them a secular base. God has never claimed to be secular, only men have brought him down to earth.
I had no problem with any of your comments until this one. Not only are gods suggested to actually exist, but they're often claimed to affect the physical. Applying the word "religious" doesn't magically separate them from the need for credible evidence. If they can affect the physical, then physical evidence should be expected. If they can't affect the physical, they're of no consequence to us. And before one can make a credible statement about anything being non-physical, the realm of "non-physical" needs to be demonstrated with some plausibility.

If we have absolutely no evidence for a proposed entity, then the only rational conclusion is disbelief that such entities exist. And while theists often proclaim that there is evidence for God, when called upon to present that evidence, they are seen always to fail and grow silent, or they try to substitute inductive arguments for evidence. One can present an inductive argument for absolutely anything. In summary;

We have no scientific evidence. Even God says that such evidence doesn't exist. If we restrict our search for God to known scientific parameters, then the only possible result is rejection of existence.
I didn't use the term "scientific evidence". It's a phrase from which I steer away. I used the term "objective evidence", which we most certainly do have, and can separate from subjective evidence.

- Atheism is a statement of belief, not a statement of knowledge.

More a statement of disbelief, and often a very aggressive one.
I see no reason why anyone should be less aggressive in their disbelief in gods, than they should be for any other purely unevidenced concept.

- The difference between knowledge and belief goes farther than one's confidence in their belief.

Sometimes so far that we can no longer see it.
Knowledge should carry with it, some degree of demonstrability. Belief can be held without any suggestion of demonstrability.

- The concept of God is no more, and no less, credible than other concepts calling upon suspension of physical laws, such as fairies, Leprechauns and genies, and should be offered no more assumed credibility.

True, if physical laws are the only laws, and understood correctly, because they are, after all, self-correcting.

- Credibility is earned through evidence.

And, in the case of God, we're asked to find evidence in a non-secular way.
And since we are secular beings, there is no way to find evidence other than by secular means.

- Objective evidence is indicative of existence

Within known scientific parameters.
Within any demonstrable parameters.

- Non-existence is indicated by a lack of evidence.

Also within known scientific parameters.
Again, within any demonstrable parameters.

I reject Christian fundamentalist interpretations of God and religion, and take a more "heretical" scientific approach. As such, though I stand far away in belief, I stand closer to your logic than I appear to, but that would be another topic.
And I sense that you hold little credibility in any form of religious belief, but it also appears that you find anything tagged with "religious" as more credible than those tagged "mythological", and I believe that to be more a matter of semantics, than a variation of credibility.
"If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities." -- Voltaire
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 2:21:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 1:16:47 PM, Beastt wrote:

I can respond to each point, but then I'll just start us running around the same track, getting tired and no better off for it.

The basics:

You're saying that God can't be found in a test tube, and I'm saying you're right, He has to be found my means other than science using prayer and faith. You say that prayer and faith fail in a test tube. And round and round we go.

We're standing in the middle of the Sahara Desert. You demand demonstrable proof of polar bears. Circumstances are such that I can't take you to them, I can't get anyone one to bring me a polar bear, and you've never seen one before.

I call out, "Oh polar bear", but none respond or show up. I show you a book that talks about polar bears, but it's just a book that could have been written by anyone. I insist that thousands of people have seen them, and provide testimony of that fact. You counter that thousands have not seen them, and hear-say proves nothing.

I have nothing more I can give you. Apparently, from our position in the Sahara Desert, polar bears don't exist.

The counter: God is not restricted like the polar bear, and can show up when you call Him.

But He says He doesn't work that way, so if He did, He would be a liar, and therefore would not be God.

I don't confuse the religious with the mythological anymore than I confuse a desert empty of polar bears with the cold north full of polar bears.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Mhykiel
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12/25/2014 2:35:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 12:23:27 PM, Beastt wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

I've long been a fan of Sagan, but I don't find that he was always careful with his words. For starters, atheism is a lack of "belief" in any gods. It's not a statement of proposed knowledge. Other times the problem is that his statements were removed from the context in which they were uttered such as his famous statement "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". Within context he was presenting a very relevant point. Taken without that context, it's pure rubbish. If you open a drawer looking for a pen, and after carefully observing each item in the drawer, find no evidence of a pen, is that not evidence that there is no pen in the drawer? The absence of evidence is the ONLY means by which we can conclude non-existence. It's how we drive, how we prepare our shopping lists and the process we use in seeking our car keys once our shopping list is ready. It prevents us from stepping into empty elevator shafts and driving onto non-existent bridges. All things considered, it works very well.

Absence of evidence is most certainly, evidence of absence. It's the only evidence of absence one can have. Theists often tend to confuse the term "evidence" with "proof", and they use the words "proof", "prove" and "proven" in place of more appropriate phrases such as "conclusive evidence".

What baffles me is why anyone would conclude that the question "does God exist?", is any more rational or relevant to reality than, "do fairies exist?", or "do unicorns exist?".

If we have absolutely no evidence for a proposed entity, then the only rational conclusion is disbelief that such entities exist. And while theists often proclaim that there is evidence for God, when called upon to present that evidence, they are seen always to fail and grow silent, or they try to substitute inductive arguments for evidence. One can present an inductive argument for absolutely anything. In summary;

- Atheism is a statement of belief, not a statement of knowledge.

Atheism was redefined by proponents. At the time Sagan was speaking the definition was oddly enough the same definition it had for centuries, "godless". This goes back to when Christians were even called atheist, because they didn't accept the roman emperor as god.

The definition of atheism has made arguing easier, because it is, as Sagan deduced, a claim that can not be supported. The problem is even the redefined definition is off base.

In linguistics, raising is the construction where a given predicate/verb takes a dependent that is not its semantic argument, but rather it is the semantic argument of an embedded predicate. In other words, an argument that belongs to an embedded predicate is realized syntactically as a dependent of a higher predicate/verb. Not all languages have raising predicates, but English is one that does.

Making "no belief in gods" the same as "belief in no gods".

- The difference between knowledge and belief goes farther than one's confidence in their belief.

belief is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. That goes directly to knowledge about reality.

- The concept of God is no more, and no less, credible than other concepts calling upon suspension of physical laws, such as fairies, Leprechauns and genies, and should be offered no more assumed credibility.

yeah yeah we have all heard this. Fairies is totally different from God, and the claim is there is no evidence for anything. A claim that has been refuted and you can not support.

- Credibility is earned through evidence.

Credibility is earned by utility. It's a real shame but that is how people make most decisions. What you'll find is utility has more effect on how evidence is prioritized.

- Objective evidence is indicative of existence

yeah. but to get rid of god, it doesn't stop people imagining things like quantum gravity, dark energy, multiverse, etc.

- Non-existence is indicated by a lack of evidence.

a lack of evidence resulting from a sufficient search. Your example about the drawer was good because it included a search of the draw.
Dragonfang
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12/25/2014 4:51:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 12:28:49 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/25/2014 11:20:00 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
If you are nothing but a skeptic, then you will learn nothing new;

If you're responding to me, I did not state that I was nothing but a skeptic. I stated that I was an extreme skeptic. There's a difference.

skepticism doesn't generate any new knowledge,

No, skepticism filters new knowledge, so that one doesn't mix the trash with the truth.

When you deal with Skepticism (capital S) and what Sagan meant, it is knowledge-negative as it doesn't produce any knowledge; it merely denies that there can be any knowledge outside of a certain category favored by Philosophical Materalist. Thus, it is knowledge-eliminative. Even worse, they often use their baseless opinion and factoids not logically justified to fill the void and define reality afterward (Reality is only physical!).

in fact it often acts as the psychological barrier for cognitive dissonance.

Not when it's used correctly.

Sure, skepticism can be healthy to filter unjustified and irrational claims. But when someone identifies as a skeptic I have some doubts.
Is the skeptic skeptical of the existence of truth? Is the person skeptic of his/her skepticism (I can't know that I can't know)? Is the skeptic skeptical of dogmas and ideologies (which itself is a dogma and ideology)? Is the sole purpose of the skeptic to attempt discrediting a position by any means necessary or find the truth?

"skeptic" alone kinda implies skepticism of everything which is not comforting.

"Truth seeker" is much more appropriate.

That largely depends on what you call "truth."

Truth is an absolute concept that is exclusive and discriminatory. There is truth and not-truth/falseness. There is no in-between and no partial truths epistemologically. The two categories are, of course, mutually exclusive and highly discriminatory against each other. Tolerating falseness as some value is valuing not-truth, and is therefore false. The form of truth is absolute, but not-truth can take many form and have no restrictions other than being absolutely not true. Truth is independent of outside influence; it doesn't recognize or respond to opinion, no matter how we try to abuse or deny it. Truth cannot be eliminated or destroyed. It is ontologically necessary and epistemologically incorrigible. With no truth, there is no such thing as logical and rational; logic would be impossible, therefore our thoughts would have no value whatsoever.


I lost Sagan when he started making philosophical statement while talking about making a cult of scientism. Oh, I would love to see how he derived his core truth statements scientifically. He also started talking about conscience and purpose, and started mixing *facepalm*. He also seems to mix between rationality and science, there is no continuum between technology and a first cause.

Sources?

http://www.patheos.com...

"In every such society there is a cherished world of myth and metaphor which co-exists with the workaday world. Efforts to reconcile the two are made, and any rough edges at the joints are tend to be off-limits and ignored. We compartmentalize. Some scientists do this too, effortlessly stepping between the skeptical world of science and the credulous world of belief without skipping a beat. Of course, the greater the mismatch between these two worlds, the more difficult it is to be comfortable, with untroubled conscience, with both.

"In a life short and uncertain, it seems heartless to do anything that might deprive people of the consolation of faith when science cannot remedy their anguish. Those who cannot bear the burden of science are free to ignore its precepts. But we cannot have science in bits and pieces, applying it where we feel safe and ignoring it where we feel threatened"again, because we are not wise enough to do so. Except by sealing the brain off into separate compartments, how is it possible to fly in airplanes, listen to the radio or take antibiotics while holding that the Earth is around 10,000 years old or that all Sagittarians are gregarious and affable?"


It should be quite clear that his assumption and conclusion is: No knowledge that is not scientifically derived should ever be accepted.
I am interested how he scientifically derived this statement *rolls eyes*.
Sagan forgets that there is no physical object called "conscience", nor is there a scientific experiment capable of providing "morality" to tweak it.

He claims that there are two worlds, and presupposes that the purpose of the "irrational side" is to provide consolation and remedy anguish.
He claims that the "irrational side" is a science-free zone with nothing but insanity and fictional "myth and metaphor".

So according to him, we can expect moral instruction, learn the purpose of one's life, and get to know what sort of person you should be with the scientific method. I find it hilarious how he states that people who are not part of his cult of Scientism cannot board airplanes for them to be consistent; as I said, there is no continuum between technology and the first cause, and if there was then his assumption/conclusion is violated.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 5:31:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 4:51:45 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
At 12/25/2014 12:28:49 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/25/2014 11:20:00 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
If you are nothing but a skeptic, then you will learn nothing new;

If you're responding to me, I did not state that I was nothing but a skeptic. I stated that I was an extreme skeptic. There's a difference.

skepticism doesn't generate any new knowledge,

No, skepticism filters new knowledge, so that one doesn't mix the trash with the truth.

When you deal with Skepticism (capital S) and what Sagan meant, it is knowledge-negative as it doesn't produce any knowledge; it merely denies that there can be any knowledge outside of a certain category favored by Philosophical Materalist. Thus, it is knowledge-eliminative. Even worse, they often use their baseless opinion and factoids not logically justified to fill the void and define reality afterward (Reality is only physical!).

in fact it often acts as the psychological barrier for cognitive dissonance.

Not when it's used correctly.

Sure, skepticism can be healthy to filter unjustified and irrational claims. But when someone identifies as a skeptic I have some doubts.
Is the skeptic skeptical of the existence of truth? Is the person skeptic of his/her skepticism (I can't know that I can't know)? Is the skeptic skeptical of dogmas and ideologies (which itself is a dogma and ideology)? Is the sole purpose of the skeptic to attempt discrediting a position by any means necessary or find the truth?

"skeptic" alone kinda implies skepticism of everything which is not comforting.

"Truth seeker" is much more appropriate.

That largely depends on what you call "truth."

Truth is an absolute concept that is exclusive and discriminatory. There is truth and not-truth/falseness. There is no in-between and no partial truths epistemologically. The two categories are, of course, mutually exclusive and highly discriminatory against each other. Tolerating falseness as some value is valuing not-truth, and is therefore false. The form of truth is absolute, but not-truth can take many form and have no restrictions other than being absolutely not true. Truth is independent of outside influence; it doesn't recognize or respond to opinion, no matter how we try to abuse or deny it. Truth cannot be eliminated or destroyed. It is ontologically necessary and epistemologically incorrigible. With no truth, there is no such thing as logical and rational; logic would be impossible, therefore our thoughts would have no value whatsoever.


I lost Sagan when he started making philosophical statement while talking about making a cult of scientism. Oh, I would love to see how he derived his core truth statements scientifically. He also started talking about conscience and purpose, and started mixing *facepalm*. He also seems to mix between rationality and science, there is no continuum between technology and a first cause.

Sources?

http://www.patheos.com...

"In every such society there is a cherished world of myth and metaphor which co-exists with the workaday world. Efforts to reconcile the two are made, and any rough edges at the joints are tend to be off-limits and ignored. We compartmentalize. Some scientists do this too, effortlessly stepping between the skeptical world of science and the credulous world of belief without skipping a beat. Of course, the greater the mismatch between these two worlds, the more difficult it is to be comfortable, with untroubled conscience, with both.

"In a life short and uncertain, it seems heartless to do anything that might deprive people of the consolation of faith when science cannot remedy their anguish. Those who cannot bear the burden of science are free to ignore its precepts. But we cannot have science in bits and pieces, applying it where we feel safe and ignoring it where we feel threatened"again, because we are not wise enough to do so. Except by sealing the brain off into separate compartments, how is it possible to fly in airplanes, listen to the radio or take antibiotics while holding that the Earth is around 10,000 years old or that all Sagittarians are gregarious and affable?"


It should be quite clear that his assumption and conclusion is: No knowledge that is not scientifically derived should ever be accepted.
I am interested how he scientifically derived this statement *rolls eyes*.
Sagan forgets that there is no physical object called "conscience", nor is there a scientific experiment capable of providing "morality" to tweak it.

He claims that there are two worlds, and presupposes that the purpose of the "irrational side" is to provide consolation and remedy anguish.
He claims that the "irrational side" is a science-free zone with nothing but insanity and fictional "myth and metaphor".

So according to him, we can expect moral instruction, learn the purpose of one's life, and get to know what sort of person you should be with the scientific method. I find it hilarious how he states that people who are not part of his cult of Scientism cannot board airplanes for them to be consistent; as I said, there is no continuum between technology and the first cause, and if there was then his assumption/conclusion is violated.

Opinion, attached to opinion, accompanied by even more opinion. Even the source led to opinion.

I agreed with some of it, but disagreed with most of it. Any elaboration would be superficial.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
dee-em
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12/25/2014 6:05:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 8:19:47 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/25/2014 4:17:51 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind.

Look up the definitions. There are plenty of weak atheists around.

Are "weak" atheists truly atheists anymore than "weak" Christians are truly Christian?

True Scotsman?

I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I don't dispute your experience, but it might be a fallacy to extrapolate from that to the wider world.

Agreed. Nonetheless, "aggressive" is strongly apparent in this forum.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

Imagine there was no 2,000 years of history with Christianity and you haven't been indoctrinated into the religion from a young age. A copy of the Bible, brand new, is thrust into your hands and you are told to read it from cover to cover. If it was me, I would find the orbiting teapot a more plausible story.

I also find it more plausible than believing that existence simply popped into being, and then had an accident that led to the intelligence that allows us to have this internet conversation about how a greater intelligence is not plausible.

I don't know how "popped into being" entered the conversation. Who believes that and what does it have to do with atheism?

I also don't know what accident you are referring to. You seem to be putting up strawmen to argue against.

Following your line of thinking though, a theist seems to have no problem with a supremely intelligent being popping into existence. Pot meets kettle and all that.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.

That's not what I meant.

I wasn't being facetious, I sincerely can't see what else that means.

It means that the difference from absolute certainty to near-as-damn-it certainty in relation to disbelief about the two entities is so small as to not be worth arguing over. It had nothing to do with whether the existence of God would make a difference to the world. I can't put it any clearer, sorry.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,132
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12/25/2014 6:22:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Are you sure about the universal negative statement? Cause I am pretty sure that "A universal negative cannot be proven" is a negative statement. It all sounds like a poor joke or a bad excuse.

"I mean, you could claim that anything's real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody's proved it doesn't exist!"
- J.K. Rowling
This thread is like eavesdropping on a conversation in a mental asylum. - Bulproof

You can call your invisible friends whatever you like. - Desmac

What the hell kind of coked up sideshow has this thread turned into. - Casten
dee-em
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12/25/2014 6:32:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 11:20:00 AM, Dragonfang wrote:
If you are nothing but a skeptic, then you will learn nothing new; skepticism doesn't generate any new knowledge, in fact it often acts as the psychological barrier for cognitive dissonance.

Galileo was a skeptic about geocentrism. He never discovered anything of consequence though. Lol.

At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:
Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

Are you sure about the universal negative statement? Cause I am pretty sure that "A universal negative cannot be proven" is a negative statement. It all sounds like a poor joke or a bad excuse.

No, it simply means that I can't prove my statement. It doesn't mean that it's false. The only way you could prove my statement false is to find an exception. So here's your homework for tonight. Prove a universal negative of your choosing. Present your answer to class in the morning. Go.

In fact, if that was the case, nothing could be proven; using the law of double negative you can turn any statement into a negative statement and vice-versa: If I prove that a car exists, I have also proven that the car is not non-existent.

Yep. They are the same thing. Your point is what exactly? Lol.

You don't think the above is an example of a a universal negative do you? ROFL.

I know that God exists in the same sense that I know that I exist! See! I can use analogies too!

Is this a joke?

So... Do you have an argument with premises and a conclusion or not?

Why do I need one?
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 6:53:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 6:05:30 PM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/25/2014 8:19:47 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/25/2014 4:17:51 AM, dee-em wrote:
At 12/24/2014 9:40:15 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 12/24/2014 3:06:34 AM, dee-em wrote:

Since a universal negative cannot be proved, most atheists would acknowledge that Sagan is right in principle. However, there are weak and strong atheists. Even strong atheists such as myself, when pressed, would say that we know God doesn't exist in the same sense that we know that the teapot in orbit near Mars doesn't exist. That is, we can't be 100% sure, but we are as close to 100% sure that it makes no difference.

I can't say I've ever known a "weak" atheist. All atheists I have ever encountered, especially in my own family, have been very strong in their conviction that there are no gods of any kind.

Look up the definitions. There are plenty of weak atheists around.

Are "weak" atheists truly atheists anymore than "weak" Christians are truly Christian?

True Scotsman?

I believe the terms "passive" and "aggressive" are more accurate.

I don't dispute your experience, but it might be a fallacy to extrapolate from that to the wider world.

Agreed. Nonetheless, "aggressive" is strongly apparent in this forum.

I can't say that I agree with the teapot analogy. There is nothing to give people throughout history a reason to believe a teapot would be orbiting Mars.

Imagine there was no 2,000 years of history with Christianity and you haven't been indoctrinated into the religion from a young age. A copy of the Bible, brand new, is thrust into your hands and you are told to read it from cover to cover. If it was me, I would find the orbiting teapot a more plausible story.

I also find it more plausible than believing that existence simply popped into being, and then had an accident that led to the intelligence that allows us to have this internet conversation about how a greater intelligence is not plausible.

I don't know how "popped into being" entered the conversation. Who believes that and what does it have to do with atheism?


I also don't know what accident you are referring to. You seem to be putting up strawmen to argue against.

Following your line of thinking though, a theist seems to have no problem with a supremely intelligent being popping into existence. Pot meets kettle and all that.

Not entirely a strawman. A rejection of the Bible would require some belief of the origin of existence, hence existence "popping" into being, and the "accident" that became evolution, bringing us to what we are. And to be clear, I'm not refuting evolution, it makes too much sense.

I don't believe any being popped into existence, but that's another subject. To clarify, I don't believe you were created anymore than I believe God was created.

I also can't agree that the existence of the Biblical God would make no difference.

That's not what I meant.

I wasn't being facetious, I sincerely can't see what else that means.

It means that the difference from absolute certainty to near-as-damn-it certainty in relation to disbelief about the two entities is so small as to not be worth arguing over. It had nothing to do with whether the existence of God would make a difference to the world. I can't put it any clearer, sorry.

Got it. My apologies for the misunderstanding.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
bulproof
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12/25/2014 10:13:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 1:05:08 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Fairies, unicorns, and such do not have a religious history, but an easily proven mythical or fantastic history, giving them a secular base. God has never claimed to be secular, only men have brought him down to earth.
God has never claimed anything, only men make claims.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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12/25/2014 11:08:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/25/2014 10:13:36 PM, bulproof wrote:
At 12/25/2014 1:05:08 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Fairies, unicorns, and such do not have a religious history, but an easily proven mythical or fantastic history, giving them a secular base. God has never claimed to be secular, only men have brought him down to earth.
God has never claimed anything, only men make claims.

Technically, that's true.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
jodybirdy
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12/26/2014 1:59:42 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Carl Sagan was my hero when I was a child. I think I was around 10 years old when Cosmos was televised. He was an amazing person.

I agree with much of what you say here. The extreme stance that there is not a God can be considered as faith based as the opposite extreme. I'm agnostic in that sense, although I fall into the general category of atheist because I don't believe in what I observe are man made Gods. However, I cannot deny the existence of a metaphysical higher power because I have no evidence either way. It's ironic to me that you started this thread, because I had a conversation about this very difference just a couple of days ago with an atheist who is absolute that there is no God. It's a position I will never take unless I have actual evidence. Without evidence it then becomes a faith based belief on either end of the spectrum.

I believe that agnostic is the least biased position that I can take on religion. Simply my opinion!
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
dee-em
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12/26/2014 2:24:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/26/2014 1:59:42 AM, jodybirdy wrote:
At 12/24/2014 1:49:17 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. I have read The Demon Haunted World three times, and I very rarely read a book more than once. My only beef with Carl is that he was an atheist. Or at least that's what I thought, until I learned that he was not. Or, perhaps it would be more correct to state that he didn't like to be called an atheist. Nonetheless, he most certainly was not a theist.

In an interview with Joel Achenbach, Sagan stated the following:

"An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

After Sagan passed away, Achenbach contacted Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, who co-wrote the Cosmos series with her husband, and asked about the above quote. She responded:

"Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care. He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label 'agnostic' but not 'atheist'."

And yet "agnostic" does not quite fit Sagan's skeptical position. One might call him an atheist with agnostic reservations.

I am presently reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is a collection of his Gifford Lectures, compiled by his wife. Just like The Demon Haunted World, it is fascinating. Sagan expresses a very clear irritation with creationism, but doesn't negate theism, despite, of course, expressing strong doubts.

I'm posting this because I see many atheists who attack the existence of God as though they have absolutely no doubt that He is the product of pure imagination. Yet a man, with phenomenal intellect and brilliant insights disagrees. This isn't to dismiss the intellect of atheists on this site and elsewhere, I simply believe that Sagan's logic adheres more to reason than the logic of said atheists.

In closing, I would like to provide one more quote from Carl Sagan:

"An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed."

Carl Sagan was my hero when I was a child. I think I was around 10 years old when Cosmos was televised. He was an amazing person.

I agree with much of what you say here. The extreme stance that there is not a God can be considered as faith based as the opposite extreme. I'm agnostic in that sense, although I fall into the general category of atheist because I don't believe in what I observe are man made Gods. However, I cannot deny the existence of a metaphysical higher power because I have no evidence either way. It's ironic to me that you started this thread, because I had a conversation about this very difference just a couple of days ago with an atheist who is absolute that there is no God. It's a position I will never take unless I have actual evidence. Without evidence it then becomes a faith based belief on either end of the spectrum.

I believe that agnostic is the least biased position that I can take on religion. Simply my opinion!

Fence sitter. :-)