Comment by Great Dane on August 17, 2011 at 6:37pm

Did you actually watch the clip? It's amazing! :D

Comment by Joseph on August 17, 2011 at 8:30pm

Luke, you didn't waste your time.  I found your descriptions of evidence quite interesting and well-versed, and even spent a few brain cells re-learning the Raven's Paradox (it had been awhile). So, thanks.  Eric, don't be so quick to jump on him, brother.  He's an atheist like you.

Comment by Luke Scientiae on August 17, 2011 at 9:26pm

Joseph,

 

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad someone found something of value in my remarks. It's so disappointing, as with Eric, when you hear people advocating a position of reason when they're clearly determined not to actually do any reasoning themselves. I'm sad to say it's far too common, even amongst atheists. But again, thanks for the positive feedback.

 

Luke

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on August 17, 2011 at 9:48pm

Luke - you seem to know your philosophy.  Would you mind taking a look at a little blog I wrote about the nature of 'knowledge' and gods?  http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/an-argument-against-allah-1

Comment by STEVIE NICHOLL on August 17, 2011 at 10:06pm

My brain hurts.

Comment by matt.clerke on August 17, 2011 at 10:39pm

I got as far as Luke and Eric arguing about what constitues evidence and decided to skip the rest and settle this for you.

 

Wikipedia says this and I think it explains evidence quite well:

Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either (a) presumed to be true, or (b) were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth.

So evidence is either presumed to be true(not the case with holy books or testimony from theists) OR evidence has been proven true via other evidence(still not the case with holy books or testimony from theists). Therefore we can say that by this definition of evidence, holy books cannot be considered evidence, and testimony cannot be considered evidence, as neither can be proven to be true.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on August 17, 2011 at 10:48pm

Well more than a billion people presume the bible to be true and it has been presumed to be true by the majority of western civilization for about 1000 years.  We have several proofs as to why much of it is simply not true, and some counter evidence to indicate it is not true - but that does not disqualify it as evidence.  If you have simply presumed that it isn't true, then your basis for being an Atheist isn't well founded at all.

Comment by Luke Scientiae on August 17, 2011 at 11:55pm

Hi Matt,

The first lines of a Wikipedia entry are always going to be simplistic, and more refined considerations are made in the same article. Take the notion of scientific evidence and compare against the two criteria you provided from Wiki (1. evidence is either presumed to be true or 2. it proven true). It's nonsensical to presume any scientific evidence as true; it needs to be corroborated. It also cannot be "proven" true, because there are always underlying assumptions (e.g. the instrument was correctly callibrated), there are error bars and so on.

Take the presumption criterion. As Heather pointed out there are problems there too. And who is to do the presuming? A religious person is considering whether the Bible is evidence for their beliefs. Eric, in whose defence you submitted the Wiki criteria, says no, the Bible isn't evidence at all. The believer applies the Wiki criterion and simply presumes the Bible to be true. And now what? Since the Bible is presumed to be true it suddenly constitues evidence in favour of belief? By that logic we're in a worse position than the Raven paradox takes us to (see a couple of comments back), because now anything at all can be counted as evidence for anything else merely by presumption.

Moreover, the Wiki definition completely leaves out considerations of anecdotal evidence (a form of evidence, however weak), circumstantial evidence and so on...

I don't think the Wiki definition from that part of the article is very satisfactory. It certainly is at odds with even rudimentary considerations in epistemology (the philosophy of what can be known and what can't be, as well as the philosophy of science).

 

---

For rigour (from dictionary.com)

To presume:

1. To take for granted as being true in the absence of proof to the contrary: We presumed she was innocent.
2. To constitute reasonable evidence for assuming; appear to prove: A signed hotel bill presumes occupancy of a room.
3. To venture without authority or permission; dare: He presumed to invite himself to dinner.
Comment by matt.clerke on August 18, 2011 at 12:02am

Heather, I don't think evidence of type (a) can be considered evidence at all, that whole category is there to make reasoning easier. Also 1 billion people is less than 1/6th of the population, hardly a majority view. I heard that 2 billion identified as Christian(from the Catholic church I think), that would still be only 1/3rd of the population.

 

In regards to presuming the bible isn't true: It is just words on paper, in a book.... what reason do I have to consider it more true than lord of the rings or harry potter? At least their author's are known...

 

but that does not disqualify it as evidence.

You can't disqualify something which never qualified.

Comment by Luke Scientiae on August 18, 2011 at 12:06am

"what reason do I have to consider it more true..."

Yeah, but you didn't say "consider", Wiki said "presume". And it didn't say it had to be you that does the presuming. The Wiki definition is useless here, although Wiki does have better descriptions elsewhere on that page and others.

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