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107

I think part of the problem is: Science doesn't prove anything. Science, at its core, is simply a method of generating testable hypothesis that explain events, which are valued because of their use in predicting future results. Let me give an example. Based on observations, science came up with a theory for an orbital period, correlating orbital speed and ...


99

I will be writing this answer from the frank, blunt perspective of someone who is inclusive and accepting of all peoples and belief systems, but who tries to analyze my own personal pattern-matching. I would not say that faith is a sign of weakness, nor do I think it is seen as one. Rather, it implies the existence of a 'hole' in someones rationalism that ...


70

There are already some excellent answers which cover most of what I want to say, but I can't resist jumping in as well... I'm going to refer to "me" as an (hopefully) relevant example of someone with the reaction you describe. When you say you consider faith an unexplored opportunity, that's certainly not enough to discard your views unseen, but it will ...


59

There is a difference between belief and theism I am more familiar with Hitchens's views and arguments than with Harris's ditto, so I will answer from that perspective only. Hitchens differed completely between "holding a belief" and "being a theist". Hitchens's view was that you are perfectly entitled to have any belief you wish. To place a restriction ...


51

But I barely heard: We don't need to respect other people's religion but just respect people There is a whole movement called the New Atheists, who have a similar view to this (Richard Dawkins is probably the most recognized New Atheist). Their central idea is, we don't need to respect other people's religion and in fact we shouldn't respect other ...


50

This is not the only issue with Pascal's Wager, but what is described in the question is called the fallacy of proving too much. It happens when an argument is structured in such a way that the reasoning can be extended to reach "absurd" conclusions. This gives an effective strategy for refuting arguments on the arguer's own terms by exposing the fact they ...


49

"Atheism" is a lack of belief in deities. As such, it can come about in two ways. You can decide that you aren't convinced that any theory of the world which requires a deity is correct. You can become convinced that there cannot exist any correct theory of the world which requires a deity. It is perfectly possible to adopt position #1 as a scientist, in ...


45

I believe you're thinking of the anthropic principle. There are actually two variations: The strong anthropic principle says that the universe was made the way it is so that humans could exist. The weak anthropic principle says that the universe must be such that humans could exist, since here we are. The strong anthropic principle is considered ...


42

dimension of comparison = something you can compare things about. i.e., consider two dogs: a toy poodle and a doberman pinscher. You can compare them in terms of size in which case size is the dimension of comparison. You can compare then in terms of weight in which case weight is the dimension of comparison. This is not a term of art in philosophy. This ...


38

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." and The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God This is in contrast to the popular image of hell being a place primarily of physical torment. Rather, evil is viewed as an absence of a ...


37

The underlying problem (and fallacy) with this argument is sometimes referred to as the 'Texas Sharpshooter' fallacy. One is standing from a position of a known situation and asking what are the odds that everything turned out exactly as it has, which is always going to be incredibly improbable. If one shuffles a pack of cards, then looks at the order and ...


36

From a Deontological point of view, I think that ethics are naturally identifiable by virtue of reason alone, that is : There is something in us humans that belongs to our nature, and that has this ability to identify what is right, what is wrong and what might be suspected to be wrong. How can you identify what is morally right without the help of ...


34

I should know better than to jump into this fray. But I can't help myself since this is something I've wondered about myself. Here are the reasons I've collected over the years. Often times I don't remember where I first learned of these reasons, I'm going to leave this un-cited. How do you distinguish faith from gullibility? Perhaps faith is sometimes ...


32

Dawkins is using the concept of smelliness for laughs, but the serious point that he's making is that we are capable of judging smelliness without a supremum of smelliness. The same goes for elevation: we do not need an "Absolute Up", like some sort of absolute zero, to make height comparisons. Humans are perfectly capable of making relative judgements of ...


30

I would argue that only an atheist can be moral. Imagine two men in a convenience store: one walks to the counter, makes a purchase, and leaves. Another has a knife in his pocket and intends to rob the store. When he gets to the counter, he notices a police car pulling up, so he changes his mind, buys something, and leaves. Which of these men was more ...


29

The argument you want to rebut seems to come in two parts, the second of which doesn't get much attention from your idealised religious person: morality requires a "fixed moral center" religious texts are the only source of a fixed moral center. I think the latter can be directly rebutted. Atheists could have an externally-delivered "fixed moral center" ...


25

The problem with the most literal meaning of 'faith': "belief in something without proof" with respect to religion is that it's a philosophical dodge. For example if you (as a religious person) are debating someone who is agnostic and they challenge you about why your beliefs, at some point there will be something that cannot be proven. Often the answer is ...


24

I want to add something to the answer of @AlexanderSKing: The question may be reformulated as "Should I be dogmatic?". Dogmatism can be understood as stating a "truth" and not only defending it (by rational argument), but also discrediting every other weltanschauung. In not respecting a religion, you implicitly are dogmatic: You say that the foundations ...


24

Because we live in an age in which science, which can be defined as a reason-based epistemic framework that relies on testing and evidence, is, at an unprecedented speed, closing the gap of knowledge of universal phenomena. Not all answers are here yet but we're getting there. Skepticism and doubt in the existing knowledge are some of the fundamental ...


22

In my opinion this isn't actually a philosophical problem. What Dawkins is attempting to point out is that the fact that any two elements are comparable doesn't mean there are absolute maximums or minimums. A less contentious example is the set of integers. Sure, it is the case that 2 is greater than 1 in the usual metric, but that doesn't magically imply ...


20

This is a good question, and it's one people have known and thought about for a long time. The problem is so old that it has gone through several different formulations. What Einer writes above is great, so +1 to him for that, but there's a few interesting bits and possible arrangements that I want to add in. The Euthyphro version is a debate about whether ...


20

Well there are far fewer scientists than there are believers. Personally, I think believers find religion more relevant to their life than science. The main-stream religions have had millennia in learning how to build up community than science. And in fact science has no sense of mission of building up community in the wider world. It's only sense of ...


19

As a religious person, the way I usually hear this argument presented is a little different: Either morality is objective or subjective. Certainly, many common conclusions of subjective morality make sense (for example, not stealing: many people appeal to a Social Contract style argument to say if everyone stole, society would break apart). However, ...


18

Whether atheism can be reached by scientific reasoning depends on whether scientific reasoning is the only way to form justified true belief. Can I only say that I know something if it can be scientifically demonstrated? More weakly, can I only know that a deity exists if that deity can be demonstrated scientifically? I cannot see an analytic argument which ...


17

Dawkins and Hitchens aren't particularly philosophically sophisticated. Dawkins often attacks straw man versions of theistic arguments. (Search on this site for some discussion why his understanding of Aquinas's arguments for the existence of God miss the mark.) Further, they utterly fail to take into account criticism of their own epistemology. One crucial ...


16

The traditional theological response to this is to see new divine commandments as still conforming to the deity's plan; these new commandments were simply planned to be introduced at a certain time in man's development. There's therefore no need to view the calculation as a miscalculation, or the introduction of new rules as "forgetting" to have introduced ...


16

Taking the latter part first: yes, there are definitely religions/philosophies which have proven difficult to categorize. The government of Australia, if I understand correctly, is currently trying to decide if Buddhism qualifies as a religion; the government of the US has decided that Scientology counts as a religion for tax purposes, while the government ...


16

Is it that New Atheism isn't philosophy? Yes -- it is not a philosophy; wikipedia describes it as "a social and political movement" first associated with Sam Harris, an American writer who holds a B.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D in neuroscience but does not practice either professionally in the sense of having academic tenure. Harris's works appear to be ...


16

Your description is somewhat vague so that the reasoning might mix several things. 1) Base rate fallacy. "The laws of physics are perfectly situated for humans to exist the way we do" is either tautological or it is unclear how probabilities are being assigned to "collections" of laws of physics that allow "humans to exist the way we do." The sample space ...


16

There is a strong hostility toward theistic views in academic science. I read a poll about ten years ago that indicated that the majority of scientists in academia identified as atheists; among the most elite, that number jumped to something like 98%. I can't find the poll now, but my experience has been consistent with this. It didn't use to be this way; ...


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