(REMS) Reason, Evidence & Methodological Skepticism
We don’t really defend atheism, to me as much as present reason and evidence to why theism is unjustified, unwarranted and found baseless to the point that atheism is almost like a default conclusion; it is reasonable when the belief proposition of theism fails as it always will. I have been told that me challenging or correcting people’s religious falsehoods was harmful. I say, “what”, ((sarcastically)) then responded, “yes”, just like challenging or correcting people’s lies is harmful…. Well, ok it’s harmful to falsehoods keeping their unjustified persuasive power.
My style when doing atheist outreach is basically to challenge with valid and reliable reason and evidence with a “reflective equilibrium” to what appears to be, has some high likelihood of being or has some strong confirmation.
The rationale of why reason is first, is because if you can’t reason with them and at times this is obviously a factor with some people, just stop as all things revolve around reason. Thus, roughly stated as rationalism (which for me is reasonable use or application of things in philosophy methods or tools like reason, logic, axiology, ontology and epistemology, etc.), and empiricism (which for me is reasonable use or application of things in philosophy methods or tools like evidence ie. facts like science, history, and archeology, etc.) as well as navigating all this with “methodological skepticism” is stead of (Philosophical skepticism) which is an approach that subjects all knowledge claims to scrutiny with the goal of sorting out true from false claims.
Rationalism is any view appealing to intellectual and deductive reason (as opposed to sensory experience or any religious teachings) as the source of knowledge or justification. I personally lean to a type of modern rationalism similar to what was held during the middle of the 20th Century where there was a strong tradition of organized Rationalism (represented in Britain by the Rationalist Press Association, for example), which was particularly influenced by free thinkers and intellectuals.
However, Rationalism in this sense has little in common with traditional Continental Rationalism, and is marked more by a reliance on empirical science. It accepted the supremacy of reason but insisted that the results be verifiable by experience and independent of all arbitrary assumptions or authority. (1)
Rationalism, since the Enlightenment, historically emphasized a “politics of reason” centered upon rational choice, utilitarianism, secularism, and irreligion – the latter aspect’s antitheism later ameliorated by utilitarian adoption of pluralistic rationalist methods practicable regardless of religious or irreligious ideology. In this regard, rationalism, as a methodology, became socially conflated with atheism, In the past, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, the term ‘rationalist’ was often used to refer to free thinkers of an anti-clerical and anti-religious outlook. The use of the label ‘rationalist’ to characterize a world outlook which has no place for the supernatural is becoming less popular today; terms like ‘humanist‘ or ‘materialist‘ seem largely to have taken its place.(2)
Moreover, both rationalism and empiricism are known as two major approaches to natural philosophy. Empiricism involved the method of inductive reasoning, which was applied on experience, including observation and experimentation. Rationalism, while not discounting induction entirely, maintained that deductive reasoning was the means to establish true knowledge. Deduction is reasoning from given premises to necessary conclusions. (3)
The modern scientific method synthesizes rationalism and empiricism. The logic of the rationalist is combined with the observational experience of the empiricist. There is an overwhelming consensus, though, that empiricism is the main emphasis. No matter how much logical deduction and mathematical analysis is used, at some point the world must be checked for the confirmation of a belief. The modern scientific method synthesizes rationalism and empiricism. The logic of the rationalist is combined with the observational experience of the empiricist. There is an overwhelming consensus, though, that empiricism is the main emphasis. No matter how much logical deduction and mathematical analysis is used, at some point the world must be checked for the confirmation of a belief. Historically, however, spurred on by the power of mathematics and the tendency to conclude that we know something even though complete empirical observations are not available, rationalism has played both a constructive and creative role in development of science.
The criticism of those who are too rationalistic and who create ivory-tower fantasies from speculative logic, overlooks the fact that many great discoveries have been made by scientists sitting at desks or standing in front of chalkboards. It is difficult for many people today to imagine that the Earth is moving and not the Sun. We do not experience ourselves moving at 1,000 miles per hour; instead we “observe” the Sun to move. That a belief is inconsistent with our common observational experience is not by itself a conclusive argument that it is false. Empirical scientists do believe in the ability of the human mind to figure things out. Any fundamental inconsistency between common sense and reason is seen as nature’s way of taunting us, of revealing one of her important secrets. The confidence in the logical and mathematical powers of human thinking has been a key ingredient in the development of modern science. “Theory Must Agree With Reality” (4)
Radical skepticism cannot be reasonable, we should nonetheless take his method seriously enough that we remain diffident in our judgments – that we not take things dogmatically, but rather critically, ready to recognize evidence that can challenge the rational acceptability of those judgments. So long as we do not take ‘clear’ and ‘distinct’ as rigidly, it is not a bad rule to include nothing more in one’s judgments than what presents itself to one’s mind so clearly and distinctly that one has no reason to doubt it. This is what reasonable persons do, to many it is now the norm. (5)
A question to believers: “if your religion was false would you want to know about it?” If you’re sure of your response is that truly coming from a place of open honesty. We must never forget that just because an idea or belief has mass approval or a wide acceptance, this tells nothing of its truth status, its accuracy, or any provable validity.
I am aggressive with ideas, but I am kind to people. My motto is attack thinking not people. I do not respect religion, but I respect people. I do not believe in religion as it has a high potential for bad, but I believe in the potential for good in people. That is my style as a Firebrand Atheist that is a Humanistic Person.
My Atheist Activism Acknowledged in College Paper: http://damienmarieathope.com/2015/11/20/my-atheist-activism-acknowledged-in-college-paper-2/
I often say to believers on the street, no, you don’t believe in god or religion. What you do or did was were told, (most often by family) this is what you need to believe or this is what we believe and you say ok, only after that as an adult, (especially when challenged) you try to support this post-acceptance commitment as if it has a rationalization. You are attempting to support that you did not choose wrong overlooking any faults or defects in order to feel justified and the psychological desire to stay consistent to that commitment.
So, what you likely have now is a kind of Post-purchase rationalization. Which is also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome, a cognitive bias whereby someone who has purchased an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase. It is a special case of choice-supportive bias. This rationalization is based on the Principle of Commitment and the psychological desire to stay consistent to that commitment. (6)
By all means be harsh or even cruel to ideas, but always strive to be kind to other people.
By Damien Marie AtHope
Do all you can in life. Love all you can, be kind when needed and help where you can. As this is the only chance to do anything, before we settle in the field of dreams. I do attack flawed ideas but I try to be multicultural. However, never confuse this to be cultural relativism. Be careful what you pick up or champion as useful tools to navigate life, make it positive if possible. Give someone a hammer and it is too likely, that they find things everywhere that are seemingly in need of smashing. Thus, it is the thing we champion that is of concern; may it not be the lowly ego. What we choose to champion, can help or help us stumble. Some commit the error of assuming that the multiculturalist position necessarily implies an attitude of cultural relativism, or is subsumed under it. Observe the thinking of one of the most prominent advocates of multiculturalism: Canada’s Will Kymlicka. He includes under this heading all approaches which maintain that there are certain claims made by ethnic / cultural groups which are in keeping with the liberal principles of freedom and equality, and which justify granting certain special rights to minorities. Thus multiculturalism “in contrast to communitarianism“ does not stand in opposition to liberalism; rather, a liberal order is a condition of multiculturalism’s very existence. So Kymlicka terms his position “liberal culturalism.” The multiculturalist calls for certain group rights as complementary to the liberal order that until now has borne the stamp of the white, middle-aged, heterosexual male with no disabilities. But the liberal order claims universal “not relative“ validity. Hence the multiculturalist advocates a monistic or pluralistic world view, not one of cultural relativism (http://www.signandsight.com/features/1240.html). Be watchful of your ego, let it not devourer your mind, or your sense of kindness as the entrapment of egocentrism is to be alone in a crowd and to be inflicted with the twisted passion for an egotistically inflated self-centrism, it’s demands can be all consuming; mostly at the expense of others but also many times to one’s self as well. The ego, while a great champion of pride, can also be the enemy of one’s moral character, one’s empathetic nature, or one’s ability to clearly reason and choose right actions. Such an infected individual or group, espouses an egocentric philosophy that ignores social cares/causes, cares little for that which one is not involved or affected, having little or no regard other than for one’s own self-centered compulsions; seeming to willfully own a selfish psychosocially disconnected and disruptive self-identity. Therefore, we must continue to fight our destructive base ego driven behavior and this is best accomplished by thoughtful interacting with others as equals; not betters not lessers, just fellow thinkers. What are the philosophical views of 1,972 contemporary professional philosophers?
*No God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
*Meta-ethics: moral realism 56.4%; moral anti-realism 27.7%; other 15.9%.
*Moral judgment: cognitivism 65.7%; non-cognitivism 17.0%; other 17.3%.
*Moral motivation: internalism 34.9%; externalism 29.8%; other 35.3%
*Science: scientific realism 75.1%; scientific anti-realism 11.6%; other 13.3%.
*Truth: correspondence 50.8%; deflationary 24.8%; epistemic 6.9%; other 17.5%.
It should be acknowledged that this target group has a strong (although not exclusive) bias toward analytic or Anglocentric philosophy. As a consequence, the results of the survey are a much better guide to what analytic/Anglocentric philosophers (or at least philosophers in strong analytic/Anglocentric departments) believe than to what philosophers from other traditions believe (http://philpapers.org/archive/BOUWDP).
Believer in gods, if you could find evidence against your claims would you want to see it? Would you be willing to accept it if it means you would have to change or stop your old beliefs? If after finding one discrediting evidence will you be such a lover of truth that you try to find more debunking evidence against your now hopefully ex beliefs? How willing are you ready to let go of your old beliefs if you have sufficient evidence disproving them?
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