Tuesday, September 24, 2013

So what if it's Convincing?

I'm not entirely sure if I've discussed this in depth, but it's something I've encountered a few times, and here I am, thinking about it once again.

Ancient philosophers made convincing arguments for the existence of a god.

... and?
This comment is what spurred me this time (there's a couple stitched together):

Sorry, but atheistic claims are not provable either. There are very sound logical arguments for the existence of God, but you just choose to either not discover them or believe them. Thats fine. But its not self evident! 
... 
Do your own research but Plato, Aquinas, Augustine, Descartes, to name a few of the philosophers who made such arguments. This is NOT to say that makes it so, I am simply saying that there are far greater minds that have pondered this question than any of us in this room.
To believe that we know for certain and these people have nothing valid to say is foolish and arrogant and that defies logic.
...
I apologize for using a general term for a technical logical term. But you know I meant there are reasonable strong arguments that while you may not fall on the same side you would have to argue that it is reasonable but perhaps just to completely convincing.

The commenter's point, if it's not clear, is that these individuals from philosophical history made convincing arguments, and that we atheists are pretty much just in denial about the "reality of God" all around us.

People like this are maddening, because, once again, we're paying "telepath", where the person pretends to be able to read your mind... and then proceeds to to make absurd claims as though they're factually true.

So basically, the standard Apologist.

This particular person has already revealed that he thinks atheists "hold the absolute position that God does not exist", and other fun topics such as "your science is borrowing from Christianity", "it takes more faith to be an atheist", and the utter obliviousness to the idea that atheists don't hold the burden of proof. Needless to say, that thread has been... active.

The specific point that I find myself thinking about more than the others, is this idea of "smart men made convincing logical arguments".

Does it matter if an argument is convincing?

Do I really have to point out the obvious fact that most people on this planet have heard "convincing" arguments for opposite positions? Does it matter more that ancient philosophers, who knew less about the world than the average person today, made convincing arguments to theists, than that the science has produced convincing data and arguments contrary to the religious arguments?

Anyone can be convinced of something for bad reasons. We're vulnerable to our own psychology - biases, priming and heuristics - that cause us to fall for con artists, swindlers, magicians and politicians. This isn't unusual.

Clearly, whether an argument is convincing is an ineffectual and inaccurate approach to learning about reality... but I'd venture a guess that Mr. Apologist here presumes that, since he finds the arguments convincing, if we don't, it's because we're in denial, or rebelling. Then again, I can't read his mind. I can only speculate.

What we need is a process - a set of protocols, procedures and standards - that is demonstrably effective at consistently accurately investigating reality. We have that. It's called "science"... yet those brilliant minds didn't employ science.

They employed thinking about things in the abstract, without any attempt at empirical confirmation.

That's why I don't  find them convincing. Their process sucked.

I think I'll stick to the process that demonstrably works.

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