Christian Philosopher Explores Causes of Atheism

James S. Spiegel has an uncomfortable thesis to propose.

He contends: Religious skepticism is, at bottom, a moral problem.

A professor of philosophy and religion at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., Spiegel has written a 130-page book, The Making of an Atheist, in response to the New Atheists. But unlike the numerous responses that have emerged from Christian apologists, Spiegel’s book focuses on the moral-psychological roots of atheism.

While atheists insist that their foundational reason for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural, the Christian philosopher says the argument is “only a ruse” or “a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue – personal rebellion.”

He admits that it could appear unseemly or offensive to suggest that a person’s lack of belief in God is a form of rebellion. But he said in a recent interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society that he was compelled to write the book because he is convinced that “it is a clear biblical truth.”

His goal in writing the book is neither to provoke people nor show that theism is more rational than atheism. Rather, his aim is to direct people to “the real explanation of atheism.”

“The rejection of God is a matter of will, not of intellect,” he asserts.

"Atheism is not the result of objective assessment of evidence, but of stubborn disobedience; it does not arise from the careful application of reason but from willful rebellion. Atheism is the suppression of truth by wickedness, the cognitive consequence of immorality.

“In short, it is sin that is the mother or unbelief.”

God has made His existence plain from creation – from the unimaginable vastness of the universe to the complex micro-universe of individual cells, Spiegel notes. Human consciousness, moral truths, miraculous occurrences and fulfilled biblical prophecies are also evidence of the reality of God.

But atheists reject that, or as Spiegel put it, “miss the divine import of any one of these aspects of God’s creation” and to do so is “to flout reason itself.”

This suggests that other factors give rise to the denial of God, he notes. In other words, something other than the quest for truth drives the atheist.

Drawing from Scripture, Spiegel says the atheist’s problem is rebellion against the plain truth of God, as clearly revealed in nature. The rebellion is prompted by immorality, and immoral behavior or sin corrupts cognition.

The author explained to EPS, “There is a phenomenon that I call ‘paradigm-induced blindness,’ where a person’s false worldview prevents them from seeing truths which would otherwise be obvious. Additionally, a person’s sinful indulgences have a way of deadening their natural awareness of God or, as John Calvin calls it, the sensus divinitatis. And the more this innate sense of the divine is squelched, the more resistant a person will be to evidence for God.”

Spiegel, who converted to Christianity in 1980, has witnessed the pattern among several of his friends. Their path from Christianity to atheism involved: moral slippage (such as infidelity, resentment or unforgiveness); followed by withdrawal from contact with fellow believers; followed by growing doubts about their faith, accompanied by continued indulgence in the respective sin; and culminating in a conscious rejection of God.

Examining the psychology of atheism, Spiegel cites Paul C. Vitz who revealed a link between atheism and fatherlessness.

“Human beings were made in God’s image, and the father-child relationship mirrors that of humans as God’s ‘offspring,’” Spiegel states. "We unconsciously (and often consciously, depending on one’s worldview) conceive of God after the pattern of our earthly father.

“However, when one’s earthly father is defective, whether because of death, abandonment, or abuse, this necessarily impacts one’s thinking about God.”

Some of the atheists whose fathers died include David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche. Those with abusive or weak fathers include Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire and Sigmund Freud. Among the New Atheists, Daniel Dennett’s father died when Dennett was five years old and Christopher Hitchens’ father appears to have been very distant. Hitchens had confessed that he doesn’t remember “a thing about him.”

As for Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, there is very little information available regarding their relationships with their fathers.

“It appears that the psychological fallout from a defective father must be combined with rebellion – a persistent immoral response of some sort, such as resentment, hatred, vanity, unforgiveness, or abject pride. And when that rebellion is deep or protracted enough, atheism results,” Spiegel explains.

In essence, “atheists ultimately choose not to believe in God,” the author maintains, and “this choice does not occur in a psychological vacuum.”

“It is made in response to deep challenges to faith, such as defective fathers and perhaps other emotional or psychological trials,” he states. "Nor is the choice made in a moral vacuum. Sin and its consequences also impact the will in significant ways.

“These moral-psychological dynamics make it possible to deny the reality of the divine without any (or much) sense of incoherence in one’s worldview.”

The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief was released in February.

Read more here: christianpost.com/article/20100318/christian-philosopher-explores-causes-of-atheism/page2.html

I don't think one could hope to find any monocausal explanation for any widespread belief, including Christianity or atheism. People come to these beliefs in different way. Some people discover and consciously adopt Christianity on their own, others are raised with it and consciously keep it close to them, others are raised with it and take it for granted.

Likewise, there are atheists who came to disbelieve in God "naturally," so to speak, without developing any antipathy toward religion. The historian Will Durant is a good exaple of this type, who was a faithful catholic and seminarian who lost his faith, though maintained a generally positive opinion of it even as an unbeliever.

Of course, that type of atheist was only common in the old days; ironically "new atheists" have handed this Spiegel fellow more than enough ammunition by making atheism virtually synonymous with antipathy toward God/religion. It seems one almost never comes across an atheist anymore who still has a positive or even neutral opinion of religion; they seem to think, completely illogically, that disliking religion somehow logically follows from disbelieving it. It is hard to believe that such people aren't driven to their conclusions as much by emotion as by reason.

Religious skepticism is, at bottom, a moral problem.

Our parish priest made much the same kind of proposition. The philosophical problem of evil and scientific objections so often take on the appearances of rationalizations.

First comes the problems with the teaching. then comes the rationalization to justify the rebellion.

In essence, “atheists ultimately choose not to believe in God,” the author maintains, and “this choice does not occur in a psychological vacuum.”

Nonsense. Belief isn’t subject to the will (i.e. it’s not a choice). Belief is the state of being convinced of a proposition. If one is not convinced – whether through evidence, appeals to emotion, or the like – one cannot will belief.

For example, I am unconvinced of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. I cannot choose to believe in one. In a similar way, I am unconvinced of the existence of supernatural beings (including gods of all kinds) and cannot choose to believe in one. [Note that I’m comparing lack of belief to lack of belief…I’m not attempting to compare the Loch Ness Monster to your god – I know that they’re different claims]

Nobody said that all beliefs are subject to the will, but, that atheism is subject to the will.

Like your faith in metaphysical naturalism?

either that or that person is very obstinate in his unbelief.

[quote="Neo_Scotist, post:5, topic:191367"]
Like your faith in metaphysical naturalism?

[/quote]

This is a good example. I don't have "faith" in "metaphysical naturalism." I accept that the material world exists because there is evidence of it; I accept that mental phenomena, like consciousness, are emergent properties of matter because that is where the evidence points; I have never seen evidence to suggest that any world exists that is separate from the material world.

It isn't a "faith" -- I go where the evidence points.

I disagree. Evidence can be interpreted in many different ways, and questions that are not easily resolved by a scientific approach, such as God’s existence, are thus often resolved for individuals by what they bring to the search. In short if you are looking for evidence of God’s existence you are far more likely to find such evidence than if you are looking for evidence of a random universe. To follow your example, only those who want to find the Loch Ness Monster are likely to find the evidence somewhat compelling. If you read the major philosophers of science, none disputes that one forms hypotheses (or preconceptions to be less scientific) before beginning research. The difference is that with God’s existence, current methods do not allow us conclusive proof. Thus what one brings to the table is quite likely to have a big influence on how we interpret the inconclusive evidence. Thus why we form one presupposition relative to another may well be partially motivated by simple human motivations. I would not suggest fully, but certainly partially.

How do you even know your senses on which you accept evidence are reliable without assuming they are reliable?

Where is the evidence that consciousness and self-awareness are emergent properties of matter?

Then I take it that you don’t believe in free-will or the reliability of the inductive method as there’s no evidence in the end for either of them, right?

A more cynical person would say that you’re trying have your cake and eat it too by asserting that your atheism is not based on assumptions (so you don’t have to defend them) on the one hand… and on the other hand assume that the universe makes sense, that our senses are reliable and that we’re responsible for our choices.

Of course I have faith (oops, said the f word)that you’re honest with yourself and others, so you would be able to answer my questions, right?

As difficult as I find it for one to be an actual atheist - one who denies entirely the possibility of a creator - especially because it’s impossible to prove a negative, I can easily see how one can be an agnostic about it or to become a Deist where the creator is transcendent and not imminent to the universe.

I went to a Jesuit prep school and college, and was mildly surprised, but not shocked, to see at my 50th High School Reunion how many of my classmates became agnostics, not rejecting entirely the likelihood of a creator.

This is actually an excellent point, and I’m sorry I didn’t bring it up earlier.

Yes, while belief isn’t subject to the will in the simple sense (we don’t actively choose our beliefs), belief is subject to our desires in the sense that our desires can influence what we determine as evidence.

As you point out, someone who approaches the subject of the Loch Ness Monster wanting there to be a Nessie is much more likely to consider flimsy evidence – anecdotal accounts, appeals to emotion, fuzzy photographs – compelling. It’s identical with the god question: someone who wants it to be true will likely have much lower standards of evidence.

Rich:

As difficult as I find it for one to be an actual atheist - one who denies entirely the possibility of a creator - especially because it’s impossible to prove a negative,

Just for the record, I don’t “deny entirely the possibility of a creator” – I just claim that there is no good reason to think that there is one.

The word atheist, as I and most other atheists use it, is someone who is absent a belief in gods. One doesn’t have to deny possibilities to be an atheist. I don’t think that aliens exist, but I accept that it is possible in theory. I’d be ok calling myself an a-alienist.

If you use words differently, that’s fine. I really don’t care what you call me.

Neo Scotist:

How do you even know your senses on which you accept evidence are reliable without assuming they are reliable?

It might start out as an assumption, but that assumption quickly becomes verified when I start noting that my senses confirm one another and that they report the existence of a consistent world outside of myself.

We can demonstrate that our senses give independent confirmation of an apparently consistent world. Whatever the “ultimate reality” of that world, the fact remains that we can reach conclusions about it through evidence.

Where is the evidence that consciousness and self-awareness are emergent properties of matter?

Neuroscience would be a good place to begin your study. There has been much data collected to show that changes to brain chemistry produce changes in personality, thought, and consciousness, thus strongly suggesting that those things are tied to brain chemistry.

As soon as some evidence comes along to the contrary, I’ll reconsider my position.

Then I take it that you don’t believe in free-will or the reliability of the inductive method as there’s no evidence in the end for either of them, right?

Depends on what you mean by “free will,” but the reliability of the inductive method is something we have a lot of evidence for: every time you’ve induced a conclusion and been right, that’s been evidence that there’s something to the process of inductive logic.

Of course I have faith (oops, said the f word)that you’re honest with yourself and others, so you would be able to answer my questions, right?

Luckily, you don’t need faith, as I’ve provided an adequate amount of evidence in this post that I am honest and even willing to put up with attitudes.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:10, topic:191367"]

It's identical with the god question: someone who wants it to be true will likely have much lower standards of evidence.

[/quote]

It can go the other way around as well, someone who doesn't want something to be true (God, hell, sin, etc.) can lower his standards and take a straw man as powerful evidence, I.E. "I don't believe in unicorns or leprechauns. "

"so?"

"god is exactly like them, so there's no god."

[quote="AntiTheist, post:10, topic:191367"]
The word atheist... is someone who is absent a belief in gods.

[/quote]

Merriam Webster dictionary: atheist; one who believes that there is no deity.

Cambridge dictionary: atheist; someone who believes that God or gods do not exist.

Dictionary.com:atheist; a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

The above mentions atheism not as some "lack," but as something positive; denial, doubt, rejection and other synonyms.

Now tell me why all these professors and scholars in language got it wrong and why I should accept your definition as the right one.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:10, topic:191367"]
Neo Scotist: It might start out as an assumption, but that assumption quickly becomes verified when I start noting that my senses confirm one another and that they report the existence of a consistent world outside of myself.

[/quote]

I beg to differ, behind that verification always lies an assumption; that the universe makes sense, that induction happens, that our senses are reliable, and that (in your case) the universe is all there is. Assumptions you rarely question, in other words a belief in metaphysical naturalism.

quote="AntiTheist, post:10, topic:191367" Neuroscience would be a good place to begin your study.

[/quote]

Thanks for telling me to study neuroscience, I'll keep it in mind. But, I find it exceedingly odd that you don't bother to describe even one argument in favor of consciousness as the lone product of matter... anybody would think your hands are empty.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:10, topic:191367"]
Depends on what you mean by "free will,"

[/quote]

free-will is the ability to choose between two opposites; i.e. sitting down or not, dialing the phone or not. Drinking a beer or not.

with that in mind, do you have evidence for free-will? if not, why believe in free-will at all? or do you believe in free-will even (heaven forbid) without evidence?

[quote="lemonbeam, post:1, topic:191367"]
Read more here: christianpost.com/article/20100318/christian-philosopher-explores-causes-of-atheism/page2.html

[/quote]

While it's an interesting thesis, if the blurb that was quoted is correct, it would seem that the philosopher's theory was designed only to work within christendom. It doesn't seem to take into account those individuals from other times and cultures who identified as atheist or agnostic-some of the ancient Greeks for example. They certainly weren't rejecting the judeo-christian worldview.

OTOH, there is the point that sin makes many believers into practical atheists. There are any number of sins one could name that a believer would never perform in the sight of family or friends, which he or she feels perfectly at ease with performing while in full view of the all-seeing God. This is, in effect, practical atheism.

All in all some interesting thoughts to consider.

a straw man as powerful evidence, I.E. "I don’t believe in unicorns or leprechauns. "

“so?”

“god is exactly like them, so there’s no god.”

See, this is the exact reason that I put the following in my first post in this thread (#4): [Note that I’m comparing lack of belief to lack of belief…I’m not attempting to compare the Loch Ness Monster to your god – I know that they’re different claims]

I knew some lazy reader would make that mistake.

Now tell me why all these professors and scholars in language got it wrong and why I should accept your definition as the right one.

sigh Because that’s the way that actual atheists – and many scholars – actually use the word.

From Kai Nielsen, the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings… Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God”

Paul Edwards, the Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “an ‘atheist’ is a person who rejects belief in God, regardless of whether or not his reason for the rejection is the claim that ‘God exists’ expresses a false proposition.”

I could go on producing quotes from scholars, but my definition doesn’t rest on what scholars think. My definition reflects the way the word is actually used by people in the real world. Definitions aren’t some proscriptive, never-changing proclamations from on high – they change and grow over time.

I beg to differ, behind that verification always lies an assumption; that the universe makes sense, that induction happens, that our senses are reliable, and that (in your case) the universe is all there is.

Ok, and I beg to differ, on the grounds that I have evidence that my senses are revealing a consistent picture of a world, whether or not that world is “ultimately true” or whether or not “metaphysical naturalism” is true or whether or not anything else.

I go where the evidence points – if you want to claim that there’s something “more” than the consistent world revealed by the senses, then you’ll have to present evidence.

I find it exceedingly odd that you don’t bother to describe even one argument in favor of consciousness as the lone product of matter

I find it odd that you cannot read my statement that much data indicates that conscious is rooted in brain chemistry.

As a layman, there’s not much more I can do than appeal to the conclusions of peer-reviewed experts whose findings have proven useful and accurate in the past. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d be glad to take it under consideration.

free-will is the ability to choose between two opposites; i.e. sitting down or not, dialing the phone or not. Drinking a beer or not.

with that in mind, do you have evidence for free-will?

We certainly have the experience of seemingly being able to choose those things. It’s a tricky question to say whether or not our will is “free” – in any given situation, we are essentially measuring preference against options, neither of which we choose. My desire to sit down isn’t something that I choose. I find myself with a desire to sit down – so my choice to sit, in that sense, isn’t completely “free”…it’s determined by the circumstances in which I find myself.

Additionally, there is some data that suggests that a part of the brain makes choices before those choices enter conscious awareness, further complicating the issue. There’s not a simple answer to your question, which is, by the way, really tangential.

At any rate, I really find your attitude unpleasant, so unless you come up with a halfway decent response (which I’m skeptical that you’ll be able to do), I’m done with you.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
Note that I'm comparing lack of belief to lack of belief...I'm not attempting to compare the Loch Ness Monster to your god -- I know that they're different claims
I knew some lazy reader would make that mistake.

[/quote]

Fairies and leprechauns “arguments” are too common and that I never use your lochness monster reference should make it clear I wasn’t trying to single out you. But, I have seen some of your other posts, it is evident you see some value in such comparisons.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
sigh because that's the way that actual atheists -- and many scholars -- actually use the word (atheist).

[/quote]

You still haven’t said what’s the difference between a lack of belief and believing something to be false, rather you pick your favorite quotes… Quotes that don’t make their meaning any clearer.
I’ll make it easy for you to explain, what the difference is between:
“God is immaterial.”
“God is not material.”

“I lack a belief in the materiality of god”
“Matter is a property that fails to be present in god.”
They all mean the same thing; except that the last two sentences use clunky syntax to obscure their meanings.
Is that what “a lack of belief in god” amounts to? An indirect way of saying “I don’t believe in god”? if not, where is the difference?

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
I beg to differ, on the grounds that I have evidence that my senses are revealing a consistent picture of a world,

[/quote]

You’re still missing the point, how do you know any evidence is reliable without assuming, without having faith that your senses are reliable?
The answer is you can’t.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
I find it odd that you cannot read my statement that much data indicates that conscious is rooted in brain chemistry.

[/quote]

You gave me a trivial truth unrelated to my question. You don’t have to be neuroscientist to know that alcohol impairs your judgment or that a blow to the head can change your personality.
My question was not how matter affects consciousness. My question was how consciousness arises from matter…I’m still waiting for your answer.

[quote=AntiTheist;6436968 As a layman, there's not much more I can do than appeal to the conclusions of peer-reviewed experts.
[/QUOTE]

And you believe in the experts because you have faith in their honesty and expertise on fields you are not familiar with.

quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367" There's not a simple answer to your question, which is, by the way, really tangential.

[/quote]

It is not tangential. You don’t have evidence for free-will and yet you still believe we’re responsible for our actions. It is just an example of you believing in something without evidence. That’s why I brought it up.

As you can see I didn’t use any language that can be misconstrued as tongue in cheek (A rule you often don’t follow, if your other posts are any indication) so there’s no need to find my attitude “unpleasant.”

I agree with the theme of this thread; Atheism is a choice, and all too often a moral one, dependency on god, chastity (especially chastity), the need for humility and mortification are a burden to many, especially to guys. That might explain why 80%-90% of atheists are male.
[/quote]

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
Note that I'm comparing lack of belief to lack of belief...I'm not attempting to compare the Loch Ness Monster to your god -- I know that they're different claims
I knew some lazy reader would make that mistake.

[/quote]

Fairies and leprechauns “arguments” are too common and that I never use your specific reference (The Loch Ness mosnter) should make it clear I wasn’t trying to single you out. But, I have seen some of your other posts, it is evident you see some value in such comparisons.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
sigh because that's the way that actual atheists -- and many scholars -- actually use the word (atheist).

[/quote]

You still haven’t said what’s the difference between a lack of belief and believing something to be false, rather you pick your favorite quotes… Quotes that don’t make their meaning any clearer.

I’ll make it easy for you, what's the difference between:

“God is immaterial.”

“God is not material.”

“I lack a belief in the materiality of god”

“Matter is a property that fails to be present in god.”

They all mean the same thing; except that the last two sentences use clunky syntax to obscure their meanings.

Is that what “a lack of belief in god” amounts to? An indirect way of saying “I don’t believe in god”? if not, where is the difference?

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
I beg to differ, on the grounds that I have evidence that my senses are revealing a consistent picture of a world,

[/quote]

You’re still missing the point, how do you know any evidence is reliable without assuming, without having faith that your senses are reliable?

The answer is you can’t.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
I find it odd that you cannot read my statement that much data indicates that conscious is rooted in brain chemistry.

[/quote]

You gave me a trivial truth unrelated to my question. You don’t have to be neuro-scientist to know that alcohol impairs your judgment or that a blow to the head can change your personality.

My question was not how matter affects consciousness. My question was how consciousness arises from matter…I’m still waiting for your answer.

[quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367"]
As a layman, there's not much more I can do than appeal to the conclusions of peer-reviewed experts.

[/quote]

And you believe in the experts because you have faith in their honesty and expertise on fields you are not familiar with.

quote="AntiTheist, post:13, topic:191367" There's not a simple answer to your question, which is, by the way, really tangential.

[/quote]

It is not tangential. You don’t have evidence for free-will and yet you still believe we’re responsible for our actions. It is just an example of you believing in something without evidence. That’s why I brought it up.

As you can see I didn’t use any language that can be misconstrued as tongue in cheek (A rule you often don’t follow, if your other posts are any indication).

I agree with the theme of this thread; Atheism is a choice, and all too often a moral one, dependency on god, chastity (especially chastity), the need for humility and mortification are a burden to many, especially to guys. That might explain why 80%-90% of atheists are male.

Well, your response was not very good, but your confusion on a few points gives me an opportunity to make some things clearer:

But, I have seen some of your other posts, it is evident you see some value in such comparisons.

Of course I see a value in such comparisons, but the comparison in each case is between the lack of belief, not between the entities.

In other words, I’m not saying that your god is like Nessie; I’m saying that my lack of belief in your god is like my lack of belief in Nessie.

What does that mean? It means that I don’t go around with a faith that there’s no Nessie (I don’t hold it as an article of belief) – I simply don’t see any reason to accept the claim that there is one.

Let’s pause here, because the distinction between “believing there’s no god” and “not having a belief in god” is significant but obviously beyond you. So let me use an analogy. Let’s say that I flip a coin and conceal it in my palm. Someone comes along and says, “I believe it’s heads up!” It is obviously possible to disagree with that person – to see no good reason to accept the claim (and thus, to lack belief that the coin is heads up) – without holding the belief “The coin is tails up!”

In other words, atheism is not necessarily a position of faith or belief. In the same way that I can reject the claim that the coin is heads up – without believing that the coin is tails up – I can reject the claim that gods exist without believing that there are no gods.

I can simply say, “I don’t see any reason at all to think the coin is heads up.” And furthermore, if the Heads-ists are claiming that the heads up coin demands that everyone live their lives according to a bunch of rules that were thought up by desert nomads thousands of years ago, an a-headsist would be quite justified in not doing something so silly – all without having to affirm that the coin is really tails up

you believe in the experts because you have faith in their honesty and expertise on fields you are not familiar with.

False. I trust their findings because the findings that have come out of evidence-based, peer-reviewed inquiry have proven themselves to be trustworthy. For example, the computer that you’re reading this message on is the product of evidence-based, peer-reviewed inquiry. All of the benefits we’ve derived from this method give us good reason to trust it. Again, no faith required.

dependency on god, chastity (especially chastity), the need for humility and mortification are a burden to many, especially to guys.

Absolutely. Any irrational and unnatural restrictions are a burden.

Look, if you get your jollies from “chastity” and “mortification,” then knock yourself out. But you can’t seriously expect most reasonable people to agree with you.

I have a feeling Mr. Spiegel is on to something. We cannot intellectualy become an atheist. God is Truth. Thus truth's cannot lead you away from God. Thus only untruth's or deceptions can. Seems like an interesting theory.

Pax

I wondered whether your “lack of belief” defense would hold in other situations, so I thought of this.

A man is brought to the court, the charges? Murder and cannibalism.

“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, so help you god?” said the courtroom guard.

“Truth?” asked the accused. “Truth, falsehood I have never seen evidence for either so I cannot take a position.”

“Never mind that,” said the judge. “The evidence is overwhelming; did you kill that baby and eat her?”

“I certainly did,” said the accused.

“Didn’t your parents teach you the value of human life?”

“I have no evidence for the value of life. Therefore, I lack a belief in the value of life…huge difference.”

“Don’t you dare play semantic games with me."

“Allow me to explain, do you like chicken and pork?”

“Of course,” said the judge.

“Do you have a belief in the value of their life?”

“I don’t think so.”

“But, you’re aware that thousands of chickens and cows are killed every day so you can feast on their meat?”

“Yes.”

“And you don’t believe in the value of their life. I am like that; I just value one type of life less than you: Human life.”

“I don’t think that excuses your crime.”

“A rat, a pig, a child… once you understand why you disbelieve in the value of other life-forms, you will understand why I reject your belief in the value of human life.”

Will Hannibal Lecter JR. get off the hook with such defense? What do you think anti-theist?
Now, onto the main subject.

Actually is quite simple; you are being selective on what kind of things you do not have a belief for.

Why do you keep dodging my requests for evidence for free-will and the material origins of consciousness? Simple, you have no evidence.

Why don’t you lack a belief in free-will?

Why don’t you lack a belief in the material origins of consciousness?

Why don’t you lack a belief in morals?

Why don’t you lack a belief in the value of human life?

You believe that the universe makes sense, that the universe is real. Where’s the reason and justification for believing the universe is real, or that your senses are accurate? Can you give a reason or justification? No, you have no justification.

Why don’t you descend into solipsism?

The reason is simple; it would be inconvenient to lack a belief in all
of the above, you believe in them even without evidence or justification.

Nothing you say will change that simple fact.

But, there’s a type of belief you cannot stand; god. For whatever reason, you find the existence of god inconvenient. You draw line in the sand, raise your eyes and lift your hands on the air and say, “oh, I lack evidence, so I lack a belief in god.”

Why not lack a belief in all of the above?

Do you see you’re using a double standard? You’re being selective on what kind of things you lack belief on. On some things you believe with little or no evidence, but, on others you say “nope, can’t believe without evidence, my default position is disbelief.” (By the way I disagree, there’s evidence for god, but, it is not empirical.) I am starting to see through your game, it is quite clever. I wonder how many people you fooled with that tactic, who knows, maybe you fooled even yourself.

You’re begging the question as to why it is irrational and unnatural.
Besides you will have to contend with the fact that most cultures despised promiscuity and prized moderation…good luck explaining that away.

We're so far into facepalm territory here that it almost isn't funny (almost).

[quote="Neo_Scotist, post:18, topic:191367"]
“Truth?” asked the accused. “Truth, falsehood I have never seen evidence for either so I cannot take a position.”

[/quote]

"Truth" is the word we use for the correspondence between our thoughts and the external world (oh, okay, the apparently external world, Mr. Matrix).

“I have no evidence for the value of life. Therefore, I lack a belief in the value of life…huge difference.”

Values aren't facts that can be determined to be true or false -- they're opinions about facts.

For example, it's true that there's a painting hanging on my wall. That's a fact that we can investigate and determine whether it's true or not.

The value that I personally place on the painting is an opinion. The statement "that painting looks good" isn't true or false...it's a value. Someone could come along and sincerely think that the painting doesn't look good.

Similarly, statements like, "We should appreciate art," "Following your dreams is more important than making money, "Settling down and having a stable family is more important than following an individual dream," "Hang-gliding is fun," and others are all value judgments. They can't be said to be "true" or "false" -- they're statements of value about things that exist.

Similarly, "a human life is more important than an animal's life" is a value statement. It isn't true or false -- it's an opinion that most people hold because human beings tend to place more value on human life than we do on other kinds of life. We partially have valid reasons for accepting this value (obviously, the self-interest of placing our own species above other species), and we partially accept this value because most of us are taught from an early age that the interests of humans trump the interests of other creatures.

Values, to anticipate your next question, come from our natural inclinations, our reason, our training, the mores of society that we've internalized, and probably other sources. We don't need evidence to accept most of our values.

However, our knowledge about the world -- informed by evidence -- can affect values. For example, a person who believes that reincarnation is real and that people who practice the rules of Hinduism faithfully will be reincarnated as a "higher" form of life (or caste) will probably value practicing the rules of Hinduism faithfully.

But someone who realizes that there is zero evidence for reincarnation can then realize that there is no need to value those completely arbitrary rules. Now, a person might still value those rules for other reasons -- because it's tradition, because the person is just the kind of person who enjoys those rules, because it makes the person feel good -- but there's nothing binding the person to follow those stupid rules...and there's certainly no argument for other people having to follow those stupid rules.

Now, imagine if that Hindu turned around and said to you, "The only reason you don't believe in reincarnation is that you don't want to follow the rules of Hinduism! Those rules would be too much of a burden on you, and that's why you choose to ignore the reality of reincarnation!"

Do you see where I'm coming from? The Hindu's argument -- and, by analogy, your argument -- are fundamentally flawed because they've got causality entirely backwards.

It would be a burden for me to start following the ridiculous caste rules of Hinduism, but that's not the reason I don't believe in reincarnation. Similarly, it would be a burden for me to start following the ridiculous rules of any religion -- yours included -- but that's not the reason I don't believe in any gods.

Why don’t you lack a belief in free-will?

I thought I did an adequate job, in my last post, of conveying the information that makes us question whether there really is such a thing as a "free will." It's an open question, and at the very least, I do think that any "will" we have is extremely limited.

Why don’t you lack a belief in the material origins of consciousness?

Because I think it's likely that consciousness, which appears to arise from brain chemistry, is the result of natural processes, such as evolution, which we know produced brain chemistry. See how cool evidence actually is?

Why don’t you lack a belief in morals?

I do. I'm a moral nihilist, and I think that "morality" -- defined as codes of behavior that exist apart from human consciousness -- have no existence.

Why don’t you lack a belief in the value of human life?

I personally place a value on human life -- because it's a value, an opinion I have about facts that I've internalized from my society. I don't think that objectively -- outside of a human's mind -- there's any such thing as value at all.

Where’s the reason and justification for believing the universe is real, or that your senses are accurate?

"Reality" is the word we use to denote the consistent world reported to us by our senses.

It is irrelevant what the "ultimate nature" of that reality is. I fully admit that the world my senses report could be an illusion, that I could be trapped in the Matrix. It doesn't change the fact that I use the words "reality" and "real" to refer to the world reported to me by my senses, illusory or not.

This got cut off from my last post:

you will have to contend with the fact that most cultures despised promiscuity and prized moderation…good luck explaining that away.

Um...the existence of social norms and the desire for social stability very nicely explain what you point to.

Just to be clear, I think that avoiding excessive sexual promiscuity and valuing moderation are perfectly fine things. But ideas like "chastity" and "mortification" -- particularly as conceived by your religion -- strike me as bizarre and completely unnecessary, as bizarre and unnecessary as avoiding eating cows, avoiding the "untouchable" caste, and any of the bizarre rules of Hinduism.

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