[LINK] atheism

Brendan Scott brendansweb at optusnet.com.au
Fri Mar 2 18:20:43 AEDT 2007

Ok, I am just in this for the sake of the argument now. 

Stewart Fist wrote:
> Brendan writes:
>> I have not read the book.  However, if this is his thesis it is plainly false.
>> Everyone believes something - indeed I believe most of everyone's daily lives
>> is dictated by one belief or another.

> My definition:
> "belief" a feeling of certainty about something without any (or with little)
> basis in verifiable evidence.  Beliefs of the kind we are discussing are
> generally "absolute".

I think the more important issue is not whether something is or is not a belief but, rather, whether the belief is amenable to change.  I believe that, if I were to read the book, I would rate Mr Dawkin's beliefs no higher than those he is criticising since at the base of it all they are just beliefs. 
> "knowledge" a feeling of certainty in proportion to the supporting
> verifiable evidence.  Knowledge of this kind is always uncertain, but
> progressive.
> If you accept my definitions, then I don't agree with your proposition,
> except in the way that most decisions in my life are far too trivial to
> worry about following the chain of evidence back to some firm basis

<devil's advocate>

But that's the point.  As soon as you make a choice about what is appropriate to believe and what isn't you expose yourself to the same criticisms that [people have said that] Dawkins makes against religion. 
Eg. Which of the following are beliefs on your definition:
Jesus healed the lame and the sick (from earlier email) 
Blood occasionally flows from some statues of the Blessed Virgin.
This is an email unless it's a sentence or a word.
The United States exists.
The United States has landed a person on the moon and returned them safely to earth. 
The CIA killed JFK.
The scientific or rational method is an appropriate basis on which to live my life.
The scientific or rational method is not an appropriate basis on which to live my life.  

There is plenty of verifiable evidence about all of these.  It's just that some people might apply different standards when determining what is verifiable and what is evidence - and that is a matter of politics.

</devil's advocate>

> In those areas that do matter intellectually, I try to rely on knowledge as
> much as possible, rather than depending on a whole series of absurd or
> non-rational beliefs instilled in me before I was old enough to know better.
> Like everyone, I am a product of my past.  But we aethists try to do better.

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