3 AM Philosophy

Response to Aron Ra on Facebook

I wrote a pretty lengthy response to Aron Ra on my Facebook page and I think it is decent enough to put in a blog for future reference so I’m not in the future having to defend positions that I do not hold. Let me be *EXCEPTIONALLY* clear here…I do adore Aron and have the highest respect for him as an educator and as a friend. He is an astronomically kind and honest person, but he does constantly strawman the ever living shit out of me and so I want to make this into a post for clarity of my positions and that because Aron keeps insisting I hold positions that I simply do not hold anyone can view this and see that he is simply misrepresenting my position. I have also taken the liberty of putting as a comment a response by Uriah Christian who understands logic and this topic very well as it seems to have mirrored much of what I wrote and was worth attaching it to this post in some form. Aron’s word are in italics. Some of the formatting is off and I can’t seem to fix it properly, my apologies…and I fixed a few spelling errors for ease of readability.

I told you that an atheist is anyone who is not convinced that an actual deity really exists. So it makes no sense to add an extra negative to reverse that to even ask about disbelief in not-God too. “

You seem to agree there are philosophical understandings of words that differ from your usage, therefore using those understandings the statement “an atheist is anyone who is not convinced that an actual deity really exists.” is merely YOUR usage, not mine and not how it is commonly understood in the academic literature. In philosophy the *sufficiency* condition for atheism is the belief Gods do not exist, not merely the *necessary* condition of not believing…this has been explained by many people many times and again goes back to you just not understanding the logic here.

You think there is a useful purpose in treating a lack of belief as though it were an assertion of belief in the negative, pretending there’s an actual position between being convinced and not being convinced.”

NO! NO! NO! NO! Aron you keep strawmanning me…like every time. Even other people tell you that you are strawmanning me as they can easily see it…I have NEVER said ~Bp is the same as B~p, lack of belief is NOT the same as believing p is false. NEVER would I make such a puerile mistake and yet you keep insisting I make such a silly claim I do not, nor have I ever made. Nor have I ever said that there is a position between being convinced and being not convinced. This is a dichotomy, Bp V ~Bp there is NO middle ground here in classical logic…so please stop saying I believe things that I do not believe.

People notice you continually making these false accusations of my positions which they infer means you either do not understand what people are saying nor do you seem to want to honestly fix your misconceptions.

Let me state UNEQUIVOCALLY: Lack of belief is NOT assertion of belief in the negative. ~Bp <> B~p
And let me state UNEQUIVOCALLY: There is no position between being convinced and not being convinced. Bp V ~Bp.

If you strawman me on this again, claiming I believe things that I simply do not, nor have I ever, believed I will refer you back to this post as I don’t see how I can be any more clearer on this.

But there is no useful purpose in that: nor in comparing that to not being unconvinced. There is no positive benefit that even can come from your argument. If you were right, then the only possible outcome undermines the work we’re doing against religion, by playing along with the believers and putting restrictions on atheists, to keep minimizing our strength with the entirely false implication that we have an unreasonable position of pretending to know things no one even can know. No. That’s what believers do, and they want to project their own faults onto us. “

I could not disagree more. Atheists are seeing the value of my position, it does not undermine anything…it actually provides a much more rational, logical, and solid position against theism. My arguments disarm the theist arguments that atheists are agenda driven more than rational, that they are burden shifting, and philosphical illiterate. It removes those arrows from their quiver to so speak. The atheists who are moving towards my side on these things are becoming much better interlocutors by owning their burden of proof and shutting down theist with good argumentation rather than empty rhetoric like “I don’t believe you!”…they say “I don’t believe you and let me explain why you’re wrong!”. You are agenda driving here, I am fact and logic driven, and that does not hurt atheists to show them how to think critically and logically.

“We atheists are not necessarily making assertions of negative belief. “

You don’t speak for all atheists…many atheists do make this assertion and are more than happy and able to take on a burden of proof and successfully met it by good argumentation. And you do believe Gods do not exist right? You believe that they are bullshit right? You are necessarily making a positive claim of a negative belief by doing so. A claims, be they positive or negative existential claims, are positive claims (Russell). So if you think all Gods are made up bullshit, you *ARE* making a positive claim and do not merely lack a belief and do have a Burden of Proof, so why not own it and obliterate theist with it?

I feel that I was lied to about what atheism really is, and I’m happy now to belong to a growing community of unbelievers, which include a subset who are also disbelievers.

So how are how using “disbelievers” here now? Yesterday you claimed disbelief was merely lack of belief, same as “unbelief’…now disbelievers is a subset of unbelief? So is disbelief not believing p or believing p is not true (which entails not believing p).

Were you correct in your assertion, that would dramatically damage everything we’ve been working for.”

Facts do not care about feelings. I am correct. Everyone who is educated in this topic will tell you that I am correct…and I find it very dubious you have any philosophers in your circles that tell you otherwise. This is a bitter pill to swallow, but you can’t just ignore inconvenient facts like logic. This is one huge appeal to consequence fallacy. And it wouldn’t damage anything, it would actually put atheists on much more rational, logical and solid foundation from which to build.

We’d have to come up with a new word to mean the very thing that you admit atheism legitimately already means. “

Legitimately means? It is understood in the literature to “mean” the belief God does not exist which entails not believing. You just use it as not believing, but I have yet to find an academic paper which uses in that context. Dr. P.K. Moser identifies simple atheism as “God does not exist”. This is standard throughout the literature. Again, these are material facts here.

Contrary to some of the unwarranted accusations made against me by at least one asshole in this thread, I will never reject or lack respect in the facts.”

I think honestly you do here. Have you shown our logical facts are wrong yet? Have you shown the logic to be invalid? (even though I have asked a number of logic experts, and proof checked it myself using an online checker). That is a fact the proofs are valid…do you accept that fact?

“I have had to change my position on significant points multiple times, sometimes painfully, and I will always be honest about that. “

I AGREE HERE! I *KNOW* firsthand you will…I *KNOW* you are an honest person, which is why I have never nor will ever question your integrity or honesty. You are a VERY VERY honest man…on this particular point though you just have a major blindspot because you want to place your ideology and agenda over the material facts. I mean how many times have I and others had to explain you keep getting my positions wrong?

My existence would be meaningless if I were not. So it disgusts me that someone who should be so much wiser than I would immediately assume that I would instantly pervert to the very opposite of everything I stand for or believe in–ironically over a belief, and that someone could make such an accusation without even questioning their own obviously false assumptions of my position, or how I might reasonably and justifiably interpret what I’m hearing differently. “

I know you’re not being dishonest, but you are misunderstanding most of what is being told to you. Logic is not your forte’ here.

I freely admit that I don’t know enough about philosophy myself, yet I sincerely believe that you must be wrong about this; not because I’m like an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, but because there are so many prominent atheist philosophers who definitely do understand this very well, much better than you seem to, according to popular opinion, yet prominent philosophers evidently agree with me instead of you. I did not create my own definition or position. They did, and I followed them to it.

Prominent philosophers agree with you? Name one please. I read the literature and talk to many “prominent philosophers” including just not too long ago Dr. Oppy…I have yet to find one person in the philosophy communities with an Phd education in the field that agrees with your and/or disagrees with me on the logic or material facts I provide. Give me the name of a philosopher who agrees with you and I will email them that day.

Look at Daniel Dennett for just one of several examples. He’s not just one of the most famous atheists, but possibly the most famous philosopher alive today. When he explained “How to tell you’re an atheist” in at the Global Atheist Convention in Australia, I was in the room, one of 5,000 attendees in the Melbourne Civic Center; except that I was literally front row center. “

You name one, but DD doesn’t help your position at all!

Dennett doesn’t say that atheists are only those who assert that every god does NOT exist, but that we can also be anyone who does NOT assert that any god DOES exist. Dennett doesn’t say that atheists are only those who assert that every god does NOT exist, but that we can also be anyone who does NOT assert that any god DOES exist.”

DD is right here. Where have I argued otherwise? I have never, once again, said otherwise. I do not make the argument to be an an atheist you *MUST* assert that there are no Gods, I make the argument that asserting there are no Gods is a sufficiency condition for atheism as commonly held in philosophy…meaning that if someone says that they are “atheist” they can mean that they either lack of belief or believe Gods do not exist (which entails lack of belief)…but I can not know which using your definitions, I can know which using mine.

He specifically says that atheists are “non-believers”, that atheists are outsiders to religion, because “it’s almost impossible to find good evidence for the sentence, “X belief in p”, where p is a proposition of religion”.

Atheists ARE non-believers.
Agnostics ARE non-believers.
Agnostics are NOT atheists.
(See Dr. Malpass’s image of View #2 from usseofreason…this is the schema I and pretty much every paper I can find uses in academia…is this wrong? Can I and academia not use this view?)

“Having no reason to believe something is a pretty good reason not to believe it. But I don’t have to dis-believe it either. We don’t have to have theism. Nor do atheists have to have the opposite of theism. I noticed some of you misunderstood that about my position, while jeering what you thought my misunderstanding was. Prominent philosophers agree that we LACK theism. Even according to your own sources, we should not propose agnosticism as an alternative either. Absence of belief is not necessarily the same thing as belief in absence. So “not believing p” and “not believing not p” together collectively is still atheist. “

You *DO* misunderstand. That is painfully clear to people reading this. ALL atheists lack a belief, not all who lack a belief are atheist…if you do not accept that then I honestly do not think you are understanding any of this and should again see the image attached. Agnosticism is ~Bp ^ ~B~p (again see Dr. Malpass’s image…are you saying Alex is wrong too as that is notation he uses as well).

Don’t expect another response from me about this. You’ve wasted too much of my time with your pointless and entirely counter-productive divisiveness already.”

No response is required…I am changing minds and positions just fine either way. I will always continue to promote facts, logic and proper understanding. And atheists are turning to me left and right and becoming better atheist for it. 😃

You’re still awesome Aron! Just wrong…but awesome!


One comment
  1. Avatar
    Steve McRae

    Posted by Steve McRae
    Uriah Christensen to Aron Ra

    That appears to be a long argument from consequence fallacy. You don’t like the possible undermining of the work of a political group. So, you conclude that Steve is wrong.
    You again misrepresent him in saying that he thinks “there is some useful purpose in treating a lack of belief as though it were an assertion of belief in the negative.” He has not said this at all. However, I DO assert the negative of “a god exists.” Saying “we atheists are not necessarily making assertions of negative belief” is either a presumptuous statement, or sloppy language. I necessarily DO make such an assertion. Now, it may not be necessary to do so to self identify as an atheist, but to say it is not necessary for “we atheists” is a broad brush that does not apply to all atheists.

    I do not know where Steve has ever said theism is false. Some versions of theism, maybe.
    You are treating implication as a biconditional. Saying “If one believes not-p, then one lacks belief that p” is not equivalent to “one believes not-p if and only if one lacks belief that p.” This is a fundamental ignorance of logic. Being convinced that a god exists, and not being convinced that a god exists is a dichotomy, but it is not an opposite. The opposite of being convinced that a god exists would be being convinced that a god doesn’t exist. This is seen in other cases, like “the water is cold, or not cold” is a dichotomy, but the opposite of cold is hot. A dichotomy is “left, or not left,” but the opposite of left is right.

    Your reference of Dennett agrees with what Steve McRae and I have been saying. It CAN also be anyone who does not not assert that any god exists. You are highlighting your ideology key words, but ignoring the term that shows it to be conditional. Atheists are nonbelievers, but not all nonbelievers are atheists. Much like saying squares are rectangles does not mean all rectangles are squares.

    And as we have been stating all atheists lack theism. But that doesn’t mean that all that lack theism are atheists.

    “Not believing p” and “not believing not p” cannot together collectively still be atheist. As “not believing not p” includes theists. So, you are saying that something that is an atheist and a theist is an atheist. Without some in between category, you end up with being self contradictory.
    Please, look at the reality of the statements, and how implications do not work both ways. Just look at “if the shape is a square, then the shape is rectangle.” This does not mean rectangles are squares.

    (Posted from Steve McRae’s Facebook, spelling errors corrected)

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