I find atheism fascinating, and while lurking about in a Google+ community for Atheism, I encountered Syne the Sage who wrote, "...a theistic perspective is unjustified, and so as are all the claims that such a perspective is meant to justify."
I wasn't quite sure what this statement meant, so I asked for clarification.
Me: Could you clarify what you mean? God or gods exist or don't exist. It is an open question. What determines which position one takes should be determined by the evidence, should it not?
Syne: Yes, and not only does the evidence consistently point towards naturalistic causes, and away from a deity being necessitated, but that lack of necessitation along with the fact that deities are manmade concepts used by primitive tribes to explain mysterious and unintuitive natural phenomena, only discredits the concept to the point of being asymptotically close to falsehood. And it is only not absolutely false, because it is still unfalsifiable - which really is a gap in absolute falsification which fills itself, because unfalsifiability is a sign of the weakness of a hypothesis, not its strength - hence why "not only are you not right, you're not even wrong" is a major insult to a hypothesis, as unverifiability and unfalsifiability are absolutely worthless from a scientific perspective, and are always a result of embarrassingly fundamental errors in the hypothesis itself.
This is all including the monotheistic deities, which are designed to be all-encompassing explanatory tools, which necessitates more assumptions being made, which further invalidates the assertion in the absence of validating evidence - thereby making paganism, while still unjustified, less invalid than the abrahamic religions, while they are still both asymptotically close to absolute falsehood.
Therefore, assuming a theistic perspective is not only unjustified, and not only is it not on the same level as the counterposition in the slightest, it is a logical absurdity of the highest possible degree, while the absence of validating evidence (which would have to be extraordinary to compensate for the magnitude of the collective assertion) stands.
When Occam's Razor is enough to invalidate a perspective, it's grossly unjustified.
Me: Naturalistic causes without appeal to deity do make sense, and great scientific minds like Newton followed that path of inquiry into how the universe works. However, empirical experimentation (i.e. the scientific method) isn't the only way to discover truth about reality. This is also where detractors of Intelligent Design Theory get it wrong. It is not a "God of the gaps" appeal or Creationism in disguise. There is evidence of design in nature, and ID seeks to understand that. And there are evidences of God through philosophical and metaphysical arguments, so I don't agree with you that theism is unjustified. To make such a claim leads me to think you've fallen for scientism rather than actual science.
Syne: Science collects data from the environment, finds patterns, uses those patterns to create predictions, experiments to verify those predictions, and then repetition of those experiments by third parties under different conditions and variables, through which predictive trends can be further solidified. And regardless of the results we are bound to find some truth about reality in the results of an experiment. Even if that truth is "prediction x is not true", because upon that new information other new understandings can be built.
You say that intelligent design seeks to find truth, I say you need to show how.
Science is designed for self-correction, removal of all unnecessitated fluff and assumptions, and the maximized mitigation of human error through the collection of objective data and application of the scientific method to that data.
If you have a similarly effective method of finding truth about reality, I'd love to hear it. As far as philosophical arguments (metaphysics falls under this umbrella) for god goes, they're always inherently flawed, and not only that; they're insufficient to be solid evidence by themselves for anything, as we haven't pulled any objective data from the environment to validate the hypothesis.
That being said, I'd be happy to engage in a debate on the evidence of design and whatever philosophical arguments you find compelling evidence for a deity. But in order for me to properly address your position right now, I need to know what it's based upon. The rest of what I wrote above is only partially addressing anything, much less fully addressing your position.
(Just want you to know that my tone isn't intended to be cold or antagonistic or anything, that seems to just be how I write in text.)
Me: If all we could know about reality was determined by scientific experiment, then we could know nothing about love or consciousness (mind) to give two examples. It seems to me that you may be operating from a position of naturalistic materialism which is an ad hoc assumption that nothing beyond the material realm can exist. If by definition you ignore the possibility of soul, spirit, mind, love, deity, i.e. that which is beyond the natural realm - supra-natural, then there is no point in further dialog b/c you cannot discuss that which you have definitionally eliminated from possibility.
Syne: "if all we could know about reality was determined by scientific experiment, then we could know nothing about love or consciousness (mind) to give two examples."
But we can. Nothing about consciousness or love necessitates a supernatural explanation.
"It seems to me that you may be operating from a position of naturalistic materialism which is an ad hoc assumption that nothing beyond the material realm can exist."
ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes... In other fields the term may refer, for example...or a purpose-specific equation. ad hoc can also mean makeshift solutions, shifting contexts to create new meanings, inadequate planning, or improvised events.
In science and philosophy, ad hoc means the addition of extraneous hypotheses to a theory to save it from being falsified. ad hoc hypotheses compensate for anomalies not anticipated by the theory in its unmodified form. Scientists are often skeptical of theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. ad hoc hypotheses are often characteristic of pseudoscientific subjects such as homeopathy.
Not that nothing beyond material explanation can exist, and not an assumption. I want to be clear that I'm not injecting any premises into my logic.
1. Every phenomenon ever observed has had a naturalistic explanation. (this is an obvious first point of contention - you may offer an example against this if you wish and I'll do my best to explain why it doesn't necessitate supernatural elements at play)
2. No supernatural explanation has ever been verified, and they have almost always ended up falsified and replaced by alternative, more coherent and justified explanations. (I can't imagine the example you would give against this would not be applicable in response to the first premise, but if there is one that you can think of, or if you want to offer another example for the sake of thoroughness, feel free.)
3. Supernatural explanations always contain unjustified assumptions. Example: all traits of all deities, ever, have been, while usually due to [faulty] philosophical logic, assumptions, lacking necessitation save for in the presence of its presupposition - effectively, it needs to be presupposed to necessitate it and its traits.
4. Therefore it is unjustified to assume a supernatural explanation.
"If by definition you ignore the possibility of soul, spirit.. deity"
I moved "deity" over here and separated my responses to these things, as they are different, and I object to their conflation on the ground that the next set of concepts have naturalistic explanations, and verifiable manifestations in reality, as opposed to these three, which have no necessitation, and are definitionally nebulous.
"mind, love, , i.e. that which is beyond the natural realm - supra-natural,"
These two are not supernatural concepts, and are entirely explainable by naturalistic processes.
"then there is no point in further dialog b/c you cannot discuss that which you have definitionally eliminated from possibility."
My current position is material determinism, because more than that has not necessitated more. It is a conclusion, not a premise. That conclusion is subject to change if my reasons for having it is successfully challenged. If there is anything that makes my position unfalsifiable, it's the unverifiability of the contrary position, not a weakness in that position, as that is how a default position works; the one making claims about reality has to justify them.
--------------- end exchange from Google+ -----------------
I'm encouraged by this exchange, and hopefully we can continue the dialog in the comments below. Syne the Sage seems willing to dialog on fact and evidence without the bluster I've encountered with Todd/Toad the Atheist, Jen Koontz, my Atheist friend who thinks I'm brainwashed. We'll see where it goes. Hopefully we both learn something in the process as that is always my hope.