Talk:Atheism/archive4

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As far as I can tell

the majority of editors want some analysis of atheism itself to come before the Bible verses, and want the text of the article to be written as though atheists actually believe what they believe. Thorough analysis and debate are above. Can we agree to move forward with this project without a revert war on these two ground rules? Ungtss 09:58, 31 August 2007 (EDT)

There's a question that takes priority over this. Do we want Atheism to be an attack article, or one that simply describes atheism in a scholarly way?
Or can we combine the detached objectivity of the scholarly approach with the fervor of the committed believer, in some way? --Ed Poor Talk 12:38, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
I think we will have done a marvelous thing, if we can take the last approach you identified. I suggest:
  • Taking a neutral tone in the article, so it doesn't come off as an "attack article."
  • Sympathetically articulating the atheistic point of view as a point of view, from a variety of high quality, cited sources.
  • Analyzing and challenging every aspect of the atheistic point of view from theistic points of view,
  • with only good reasoning, and
  • only after accurately articulating the atheistic point of view. Ungtss 13:09, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
Ungstss, I don't think you demonstrated your contention that a majority of the people want the Bible verses to come later in the article I would also state that we have many atheists who comment on the talk pages and have unwarranted hostility to the Bible verses so merely using mob rule is not advisable.Conservative 17:32, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
I'm not aware of any atheists who chimed in on this issue. I counted TK, Ed Poor, DanH and myself. Far from mob rule, I think that the article should start out with a "big picture, encyclopedic" analysis, and add the bible verses later ... Ungtss 17:35, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
Ed Poor, based on my research regarding the brain I think research bears out that emotion can actually aid sound reasoning. But rather than get into a long discussion I will merely say that one who is infinitely more intelligent than both of us is said to get angry and if you read the Old Testament or the book of Revelation I think you can guess who I am talking about. I would also state that pointing out the deficiencies and invalidity of a position ("attacking") and those engaged in the position is not contrary to being scholarly. At the same time, I do think we should give an accurate picture and not leave out important facts. Conservative 17:41, 31 August 2007 (EDT)

Conservapedias principles take priority over political correctness or any supposed "neutrality"

Conservapedias principles take priority over political correctness or any supposed "neutrality". So while I included much of Ungtss edits I excluded some edits. I think the below article on Conservapedia helps explain why:

Conservapedia Challenges 'Anti-Christian' Wiki By Linda Zhang:

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070306/26179_Conservapedia_Challenges_%27Anti-Christian%27_Wiki.htm

Conservative 20:14, 31 August 2007 (EDT)

The article in the Christian Post describes and endorses the purpose and aims of CP, but in the end it is still an article by a third party. For the aims and guidelines of CP it is more reasonable to look at the Editor's Guide and the Guidelines directly. Despite request to discuss changes that might be contentious first, and requests to assume a more descriptive style, you behave like you own the atheism article. Order 21:14, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
  • It is easy for one to become seduced by the Media, worry obsessively about numbers, hits, and all of that to the point where one sells one's soul chasing the false god of "Media" and numbers. I believe that obsessing with hits, search engine placement and all of that is the modern-day version of vanity and avarice. It saddens me that some are only guided by the mistaken notion that they, and they alone, will be the "salvation" of this encyclopedia, that their judgment is better than anyone else's because, in their thinking, everyone who disagrees with them is a heathen, atheist or perhaps even a demon. If it is God's will, this venture will be a huge success. I pray that it will be his will. I do know any one man or woman, claiming to know better than everyone else what is God's will, is almost always a false prophet. If one willingly submits their pride and cooperates with others, they will be blessed. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 23:56, 31 August 2007 (EDT)

"So called neutrality"

I am a Christian, Conservative. But I think that we as Christians need to understand and represent atheism in a balanced way. We don't have to exclude or censor other points of view ( like the atheist one) -- if ours be meritorious, it will speak for itself. If we exclude other points of view entirely, we're no better than WP. Ungtss 21:24, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
What does balanced mean? We have no NPOV policy and our encyclopedia's name has no pretentions of being "balanced" whatever that is. We don't have to be "balanced" in our abortion articles or any other articles. I see no reason to pretend atheistic propaganda has any merit. Conservative 21:59, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
By the way, I doubt Britannica has a "balanced" view of astrology. I am guessing it makes no allusions that astrology is true. Conservative 22:01, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
Give it a read[1]. The only bit that seems to be critical of it is the last two paragraphs of the last page. And at that "There were even attempts to reestablish a firm theoretical basis for it, notably by the French psychologist Michel Gauquelin in his The Scientific Basis of Astrology (1964), though with results that are at best inconclusive." is hardly out of balance. And thats page 12, after 12 pages of explaining the basis and history of various forms of astrology without a single contrary statement. --Rutm 22:31, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
What does balanced mean?
Balanced means the article does not "take sides" -- it describes without having an agenda, lets each side speak for itself, and let's the reader decide what's right.
We have no NPOV policy and our encyclopedia's name has no pretentions of being "balanced" whatever that is.
I like to think one can be a conservative and still be balanced. It means taking the time to fully understand other points of view, and how they fit into one's own.
We don't have to be "balanced" in our abortion articles or any other articles.
I know we don't have to be -- but I think we should, because it's better.
I see no reason to pretend atheistic propaganda has any merit.
No one's suggesting we do. I'm suggesting the article present all the facts accurately and without spin, and let the reader decide.
By the way, I doubt Britannica has a "balanced" view of astrology. I am guessing it makes no allusions that astrology is true.
Perfect example. As Rutm rightly pointed out, the article is quite balanced. It doesn't "pretend astrology has merit." It simply describes without having an agenda. That's what balanced means. Balanced means you're so confident in your own beliefs that you're not afraid to let the other side have a say -- because you know your ideas are better. Ungtss 00:18, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
  • That somewhat reminds me of the many parables about Pride and Vanity. "Be not afraid" Jesus said. If we as Christians and Conservatives are given a fair platform to state our case, if it is God's will.....it will be done! We do not need to attack others, indeed if we do so, we have crossed from God's intended path. God is, among all things, Truth, Wisdom and Love. Whenever we stray from that, we are doomed to failure. Whenever we follow God, we shall always win. Anyone who says differently is a false prophet. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 00:28, 1 September 2007 (EDT)

Footnote #3

The Website it directs you to, has this notice on their new site (You get to it by clicking the link at the very bottom of the page):

Welcome to The Divine Conspiracy. The material presented on these pages is of the highest quality available anywhere on the Web. This is a unique Christian site in that not all the material found here is written by, or for Christians. However, this tradition - of providing material from non-Christian points-of-view - has been a part of The Divine Conspiracy from the very beginning. In most cases, the accompanying abstracts (where available) should give sufficient information as to the author's viewpoint.

Inasmuch as that particular citation forms one of the major cornerstones of the premise of the piece, I suggest it be removed, or another, better, more academic source be found. Because pieces written on some kind of blog are not proper sources for an encyclopedia. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 05:29, 1 September 2007 (EDT)

The site is not a blog (although it does include a blog), and I don't see any obvious problem with the site from a quick glance. And your quote doesn't indicate any obvious problem with the site. Philip J. Rayment 06:46, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
  • Click the link to the "new" site....the material appeared to me to be taken from the blog, and the site doesn't appear to have much substance, Philip...one couldn't use it as a reference for a real scholarly article, IMO. But I have the same complaint about many articles, here and elsewhere, using references from "Mom and Pop" sites, local churches, very small companies, etc. They are simply not the scholarly references I was taught to use at University. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 07:08, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
From the new site, the article can be found in the left-hand navigation under "Atheism", not "Blog". On the "Atheism" page, it's the third last entry, where it says "This article traces the etymology of the word "atheism." "
So it's still not from a blog. As for the site itself, I haven't investigated to see how good it is, but it's hard to know where to draw the line on these. There are good sites run by individuals which I wouldn't want to exclude, and even blogs run by experts in their fields which are probably quotable. Each one has to be judged on its merits, I believe, including taking into consideration how they are being quoted, such as are they being quoted as an authoritative source in their own right, or because they gather together and/or quote information from authoritative sources in a useful manner. For example, in discussions with people I often quote articles that are written not unqualified people, not to quote them as authorities, but simply because they put the argument better or in more detail than I could.
Philip J. Rayment 14:20, 1 September 2007 (EDT)

A source that I would consider definitely unacceptable is that of footnote 19. Philip J. Rayment 00:42, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

To be frank, I wouldn't consider the current CP on atheism a good source for information either, not just because it lacks a proper discussion, but also because in the section on Atheism and Logic it still rests on the wrong premise that "universal negatives" cannot logically be proven. If anything strikes me as postmodern then it is the sentiment that basic mathematics and logic do somehow not apply because it would ruin some of your most beloved arguments. Anybody who ever some formal education in logic will realize immediately that this article wasn't meant to inform. Order 06:16, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I've retitled and slightly reworded that section. I doubt that you're totally satisfied, but I think it's better than it was. Philip J. Rayment 09:26, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
The title Atheism and Logic wasn't that inappropriate. The current title makes the mistake more obvious and prominent, but I am not if that is what we are looking for. As most of us agreed on earlier, if the Kennedy quote is really that much appreciated, we should keep it there with an explanation that he didn't mean it that way. But it has been tried, and been deleted, and I feel no urge to fix it. Just as long as we aware that this article should, and probably won't be mistaken for a scholarly article.Order 09:37, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
It's not inappropriate to have a heading "Atheism and Logic", but I didn't think it was appropriate to have that heading for that content. That you can't prove a universal negative may not be a law of logic, but it is still a valid principle/argument. So the argument is still used, but not mis-labelled. Philip J. Rayment 11:05, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
That you can't prove a universal negative is not just not a law of logic, a law of logic is that you can. So much to the validity of the argument. But we discussed this before, and I already said that if anything is postmodern, then the thought that laws of logic don't apply to you if you don't want to. Order 11:44, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I have not noticed or understood in your earlier posts that there is a law of logic that says that a universal negative is always provable, and common sense tells me that it can't be so. For example, how can you prove that there never was a person named Josiah Anton Rowbottom III? If you think that it can be done, then please explain how. On the basis that you can't your conclusion about the laws not applying is therefore based on a false premise and can be dismissed. Philip J. Rayment 00:02, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
There are a few different issues that we should keep separate.
  • There is a laws of logic that tell you how to prove a universal negative logically. One method to do it is contradictio ad absurdum. Another would be proof by induction. There are other methods as well.
  • In some logics, like propositional logic, there is a law in logic that all statements are decidable, this means there exist for each true conclusions from true assumptions a proof. Guaranteed.
  • What you mean is that is empirically difficult to prove a certain thing. But that doesn't mean that it is logically impossible. To prove that there is no Anton Rowbottom III alive, you can use one of the most straightforward techniques to show a universal negative, called complete enumeration. All you have to do is to check the name of every living person. This is a finite set, and logical law will tell you once you check every element in this set, you are done.
  • If you want to check whether there has never been an Anton Rowbottom III, you can first wait for time travel to be inveted, which might take time, go back to the dawn of man, and then ask every person. We already established that there is no logical problem with asking all living persons at a certain time, and afaik there is also no logic problem with time travel either. There might be a practical problem though, like that time travel will never be invented.
  • If you don't want to wait until time travel is invented, you can try to use the reductio ad absurdum method. You come up with assumptions about who might be called Anton Rowbottom III, which you assume to be true, and rule out all the people who do not fall under that assumption. It would be fair to assume that Anton Rowbottom III is an Anglo Saxon name. You rule out every person living in Australia before it was discovered by the Dutch by default. Likewise you can rule out most Chinese people living in the Ming dynasty. If you do it well, you might either find such a person, or you rule out all people, or you can't tell because you ran into a practical problem.
  • As said, you might run into practical problems, but no logical ones.
  • It might be easier to prove the positive if it comes to the Rowbottoms. In the Australian whitepages there are about 20 A. Rowbottom, and the US census data [2] shows that there are quite a few Rowbottoms with a first name derived from "Anton", even a few actual Antons. I'd call them first to find out if they know by any chance an Anton Rowbottom III. Order 01:55, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
So the sum of all that is that universal negatives, unless they can be proved by reductio ad absurdum, cannot in practice be proved. Which was my point. There is nothing in logic that says that they can always be proved (i.e. in practice). Kennedy's argument, ignoring the point about it being a law of logic, and assuming that you can't use reductio ad absurdum (as I believe you can't in this case), is therefore a valid argument. Philip J. Rayment 04:23, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
Sorry to contradict. First they can be also proved by complete enumeration, and by induction, and probably a few other proof techniques. Second, complete enumeration can be difficult in practice, but the keyword is practice. Your statement was that they can't logically be proved. And that is wrong. They can. By any of the said methods.
Kennedy's and your universal negative claim, namely that it is impossible to prove a universal negative, has been proven to be wrong using reductio ad absurdum. Because, there are countless proofs of universal negatives, like Fermat's last theorem, the impossibility of a rational solution for the root of 2, and the fact that there are no square circles (you don't need to draw all possible circles to prove that). Hence, we found a counterexample, and hence, your argument is wrong. QED. This article explains it for the general public [3].
Sorry if I am a bit agitated, but it happens that you posted said article yourself a few days ago, on this very page. I have therefore to assume that you are just trying to needlessly drag the discussion on, since you were perfectly able to understand the difference a few days ago, and even posted a comment explaining the difference between logic proof and empirical proof, while you now pretend that you never heard of it. Order 05:00, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
You contradict by saying that they can be proved by complete enumeration, yet complete enumeration is impracticable! I didn't say (recently at least) that "they can't logically be proved". You've misrepresented me there.
You claim that the universal negative claim has been proved wrong using reductio ad absurdum but the examples you provide are to different claims, so you've provided no evidence that this claim of Kennedy's is provable in that way.
Yes, I posted that article, but nothing in that article says that you can necessarily prove the non-existence of God.
Philip J. Rayment 09:49, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
  • Sure, certain universal negatives can be proven by complete enumeration. Like that there exists no person called Anton Rowbottom III. It might be impractical, but it is not illogical.
  • Your claim is "you can not prove universal negatives". Assume your claim you be true. In this case it would be impossible to prove Fermat's last theorem, since it is a universal negative. However, it was possible. Therefore you claim is wrong. See, this is reductio ad absurdum in practice. All other examples are also "universal negatives" that have been proven to be true, and they all prove your claim to be wrong.
  • No, the article doesn't make any claim about God? Why should it. It is about the distinction between empirical proof and logical proof. And it concludes with the statement that while it is logically very well possible to prove universal negatives, in practice it can be difficult. And that is what we discuss right now. And that is what you explained yourself a few days ago quite capable.
  • We are talking all the time about logical and empirical proof, so there is no need to hide behind your motive of defending the existence of god. What you do is to defend a bad argument. Maybe because you think that Kennedy is a good preacher. Maybe he is, but he is a poor logician, making a bad argument. And a bad argument in favor of the existence of gods, is in the end just a bad argument. Why don't try to make good arguments instead. They do exist. The article that you posted says all that needs to be said. Order 11:33, 3 September 2007 (EDT)

The four color theorem which can be phrased as "there does not exist a map that cannot be colored with four colors that do not touch" was proved in '76 had two parts - first that all maps can be reduced to one of 1,476 maps and the second a 500 page stack of paper showing that each one of these maps can be colored with only four colors. Thus, an example of complete enumeration of the search space.= as the proof of a universal negative. --Rutm 11:55, 3 September 2007 (EDT)

I think the key problem here is a different use of the phrase "logically impossible." Order is using the phrase in the philosophical sense, and rightly pointing out that it is not logically impossible, because you have reductio and complete ennumeration. However, I think Dr. Kennedy is using the term in the more colloquial, "common sense" meaning of the term. Meaning, "it's common sense that you can't do that." Dr. Kennedy is not a philosopher. What say we give him the benefit of the doubt as to his use of the word "logic?" Ungtss 12:05, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
"It might be impractical, but it is not illogical." Which is the point. I'm not talking about logic, but what's (reasonably) possible. That's why I changed the heading to not refer to logic.
"Your claim is 'you can not prove universal negatives'.". My claim is that as a general rule, you can't prove a universal negative, but I acknowledge that there are some cases that can be proved. So your examples of ones that can be proved are consistent with that claim. I guess part of the claim relies on how "big" the universal negative is. If there are a small number of places to look (e.g. 1476 maps), then it's easy to check all 1476. But it's not so easy if we're talking about everywhere in the universe and beyond. Is the map one truly "universal"? Technically, perhaps, but not in the same league as "everywhere in the universe" (let alone outside the universe).
"It is about the distinction between empirical proof and logical proof.". Yes, and I'm not disputing that distinction, so the article is therefore not answering my claim.
"We are talking all the time about logical and empirical proof, so there is no need to hide behind your motive of defending the existence of god." I'm not "hiding" behind anything. This is about the feasibility of empirically proving the atheists' prime claim, God's non-existence.
"...he is a poor logician, making a bad argument. And a bad argument in favor of the existence of gods, is in the end just a bad argument." Apart from him claiming that it's a law of logic and you pointing out that disproving a universal negative is possible in some (unrelated) cases, you've yet to explain how it is a bad argument.
Philip J. Rayment 12:21, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
  • So, if you are not talking about logic, why do you keep saying that something is logically impossible. But lets agree on the principle that logic proof, and empirical proof are different.
  • I wasn't talking about atheists to begin with. I was talking about the logic claim, that is made in the article. Logic really doesn't care if it is about God, or something else.
  • Judging from you comment on the four color problem, you struggle with the concept of 'proof'. The four color problem states that any conceivable map, in this universe or outside of it, can be colored with only four colors. The problem is not that they didn't try hard enough, it has been established beyond doubt that there exists no map. Not now, not in the future, nor in the past, imagined maps, or real maps. You just can't find or even conceive of such a map.
  • As general rule, universal negatives are as easy to prove as anything else. It is done all the time. Scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists do it daily, and even normal people do it informally all the time every day. You establish that there are no two matching socks by enumeration. As a general rule enumeration is less powerful than proof by induction or proof by contradiction, but it is still used all the time, because it is easy to implement.
  • The examples I gave weren't unrelated. Proofs are a logic/mathematical objects like anything else. You made a claim about proofs. A theorem on theorems. There are branches in mathematics like proof theory that do this for a living. Indeed this a meta theory, so you might be a bit unfamiliar to you.
  • Your statement on proofs is: There exists no proof for a universal negative. Which ironically is a universal negative itself; about the absence of proofs. Unfortunately there are proofs for universal negatives. The proofs of Fermat last theorem, the four color problem, etc. They are all relevant, because they are proofs, and you made a statement about the absence of proofs.
  • Kennedy is a priest, so no blame for making a math or logic mistake. But if you make a mistake in math and logic, it does not help to reject math and logic once the mistake is pointed out, just because you don't like that it ruins your argument. It actually hurts you, because math and logic mistakes don't look good.
  • But I figure that we now for the second time already have established, that Kennedy didn't quite mean what he said. He meant "practically" or "empirically" but not "logically". And that should be clarified in the article. Order 20:06, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
Why do you ask me why I keep saying that something is logically impossible when I'm not saying that??
I have no problem with the concept of proof. I don't know how my comment on the four-colour maps causes you to think that I do.
You said: Is the map one truly "universal"? Technically, perhaps, but not in the same league as "everywhere in the universe" (let alone outside the universe) There is no conceivable map that can't be colored with four colors anywhere in the universe, nor outside of it. The four color theorem is that true. Order
My comment was based on the 1476 possible map types, which is a limited set to enumerate through. See my next comment. Philip J. Rayment 02:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
I do reject your claim that universal negatives are as easy to prove as anything else, and that it is done all the time. Enumeration only works on sets small enough to enumerate, and in talking about universal negatives, we are talking about things with virtually unlimited sets. Now perhaps this confusion is over just what is meant by that term, and I'll even concede that I may not be using it strictly correctly. Establishing that there are no two matching socks in a drawer is easy. Establishing that there is no matching sock anywhere in the world for the one in your hand is another matter entirely. Establishing that there has never been a matching sock is even more difficult. Perhaps "universal negative" does cover those small, easily enumerable, sets as well. But I'm talking about those virtually unlimited sets, such as the number of places in the universe that you would need to look to show empirically that God doesn't exist.
Enumeration works only on finite sets indeed. The keyword is still practically. I am not exactly sure what you call small, but sets with more elements than there are atoms in the universe are enumerated routinely in some branches of computer science. For sets that can't be enumerated, the infinite sets, there are other proof techniques. Proof by induction can be used, if a set is infinite, ordered, and countable. And for the sets that are even bigger, the uncountable sets, you can always used proof by contradiction. Every proof of a negative over the real numbers is an example. The universe isn't that big. Mathematically speaking the three or four or eleven dimensional space that we call universe, isn't any bigger than the set of real numbers. Order
By "small" I mean within our capabilities of enumerating them. This is going to vary depending on the circumstance, and clearly searching through 10^50 (or whatever) numbers with a computer is a whole lot easier than searching every galaxy in the universe. "The universe isn't that big" must be the understatement of the year, by the way! Philip J. Rayment 02:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
10^50 is a fairly big number, but a decent database can easily have more possible states than that, and if you prove (with the help of a computer, indeed) stuff about such a system, 10^50 doesn't seem that big anymore. But it's a long walk from on end of the universe to the other. The practicality doesn't depend so much on the numbers, but on the effort per number. Proving a single thing, can be much more cumbersome, than proving a lot of things. Proving that there is no Anton Rowbottom in the US census data is easy, even though you are talking about 300 million Americans, but proving that President Putin is not wearing silk underwear might be fairly difficult, even though we are talking over a single Russian. Order 03:57, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
You cling to the idea that enumeration is only valid way to proof things, but when it comes to philosophical and abstract concept, this is actually an extremely unusual proof technique. You are not traveling the world to prove that there exist no square circle. You write down the properties of circles, and the properties of squares, and then conclude that an object can't be both. We don't go to Mars to see what circles look like on another planet. We don't even have to. Order
No, I'm not clinging to the idea that enumeration is the only valid proof. I'm limiting the discussion to that sort of proof because that's the sort of argument under discussion, but have acknowledged that other proofs are potentially available. Philip J. Rayment 02:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
Despite your assertion that I made a claim that there are no proofs possible for a universal negative, I in fact did acknowledge that proofs were possible in some cases.
Ok, lets agree that the in general it is possible to prove universal negatives, and that it has been done. And that enumeration can be time consuming and cumbersome in practice. But that there are other techniques than enumeration as well.Order
I agree that it is possible in some cases. Whether those cases constitute a minority or majority I don't know, and I doubt that it's possible to determine anyway, so I'm not comfortable with the word "generally" if that refers to "in most cases". Otherwise I agree with that statement. Philip J. Rayment 02:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
Kennedy is a minister (of religion), not a priest. And nobody is rejecting maths and logic, and certainly not because you think it's ruined an argument.
You say that it should be clarified in the article that he didn't mean "logically", but we've already removed all reference to logic in that section outside his quote, and we can't actually change his quote, and I think that a pointed qualification is overkill. But I'm open to suggestions on ways of doing it without it being pointed.
Philip J. Rayment 00:37, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
If somebody would make a mistake in a spoken conversation, it is customary and appropriate to ignore the mistake and look on, and save the person public embarrassment. This is the the proper course of action in social situations. But, in an encyclopedia, not addressing an obvious mistake looks either like negligence on behalf of the encyclopedia, or like subtle vandalism, or as an subtle way to make somebody look bad, by presenting an erroneous statement prominently. Order 01:52, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
I think it depends on how pertinent the mistake is to the point being made. I did invite you to offer suggestions on how it could be improved. Philip J. Rayment 02:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
As I said before, quite a few of us already agreed some time ago on a version, which was later deleted as nonsense. This didn't increase my urge to fix the article any time soon. This discussion lasts way to long anyway, given that nearly all of us agree on the principle. Order 03:57, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Postmodernism/moral relativism are not conservative concepts. Conservapedia is a conservapedia encyclopedia and clearly states so. "Balancers" and "neutralists" please read this

Postmodernism states there is no objective/absolute truth. Thus, I would argue that a person who wants to impose postmodernism standards on a conservapedia article would merely offer a menu of choices regarding various views and make no indication on which view is the correct view or the more likely correct view. A article written from a moral relativism point of view would abhor an article which makes any moral judgements. Now postmodernism and moral relativism are certainly not conservative concepts. And I would argue that Ungtss methodology in editing the atheism article have displayed postmodern and moral relativistic characteristics. For example, Ungstss merely layed out the various views for the Causes of atheism (both theistic and atheistic views) and apparently wanted the reader to decide for themselves. Ungtss stated: "Balanced means the article does not "take sides" -- it describes without having an agenda, lets each side speak for itself, and let's the reader decide what's right." Now I would argue that there is objective truth. I don't think it is misguided for a encylclopedia for example to not bother laying out the arguments for a flat earth and merely laying out the arguments for the earth being a oblate spheriod. Next, I told Ungtss that Professor Vitz who says he was a former atheist stated he had self serving reasons for being a former atheist. Therefore, I stated to Ungtss it is appropriate to mention that selfishness/evilness enters into being a causal factor of atheism. Ungtss stated: "Will you allow the article to be written as though (at least some of them) actually disbelieve, and remain neutral as to whether their belief stems from good or bad reasons? Now I would argue that Ungtss is argueing that the article be written from a postmodern perspective and the postmodern perspective includes moral relativism. Am I saying that Ungtss is a postmodernist? No, I am not saying that because I don't know Ungtss that well but I would argue that he wants the article written from a postmodern perspective. And postmodernism is not a conservative perspective and conservapedia clearly states on its main page that we are a conservative encyclopedia. Next, I stated that a fellow Sysop told me that Ungtss was a liberal. Now that I think about it more, that is not what the Sysop stated. The Sysop stated if memory serves that Ungtss is not that conservative. Now I don't care if Ungtss is a liberal or not. However, I see no reason to allow Ungtss to impose a liberal ideology on a Conservapedia article in how its written.

Lastly, I would argue that Conservapedia makes no pretentions about being "balanced" or postmodern. Here is how the conservapedia Jesus article begins and the Jesus article is very well trafficked so general ignorance of how it begins is not an issue: " Jesus Christ is the only Son of God who, in the fullness of time, was sent by God the Father to be the propitiation for our sins and to ransom us from death. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary, and became man in an event known as the Incarnation, as possibly referred to in Isaiah 7:14."[4] Now the article is protected so only Sysops can edit it. I therefore issue a challenge to any Sysop who champions "balance" in the conservapedia atheism article. I challenge you to edit the Jesus article so it reads that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and then to make the article more "balanced" put the pro and con argumentation on the important point of whether Jesus really was the Son of God in the article. I don't believe that any current Conservapedia Sysop will take me up on this challenge although I might be surprised. Conservative 14:58, 1 September 2007 (EDT)

Conservative, I agree with you on this issue. As a conservative Christian, I don't want the Atheism article to be balanced. Atheism is false doctrine and as a trustworthy encyclopedia, we should make that perfectly clear in this article.
No, I will not edit the Jesus article to make it balanced. It is true that Jesus is the Son of God. --Crocoite 15:43, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
What about looking at another religious encyclopedia and see how they handle the article? The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say on atheism. It is well written, and presents the arguments of atheism reasonably. Should Conservapedia at least attempt to be as balanced as that the Catholic Encyclopedia which can do a good job of describing the history and arguments of Atheism without fear of leading people into believing it? --Rutm 16:23, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
Rutm, I looked at the Catholic Encyclopedia article earlier and I was not impressed with it. First, I done believe there is any such word as "philisophical". Secondly, I don't think the article spends enough time on the obvious invalidity of atheism. Lastly, given the so called "debating prowess" of Doug Jesseph, who is mentioned and whose debate transcript is cited in the Conservapedia atheism article, your allegation of fear is hardly potent. Conservative 16:38, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
There are other instances of that spelling [5]. As best as I can tell, the word is an older alternative spelling. Even if it wasn't, typos are hardly a reason to discredit the entire article. A look at this article with a spell checker shows "Suprised", "Conditionality", "Nonconditionality", "acknowledgement", and "obsene" as words that do not exist or alternative spellings (acknowledgement doesn't appear to be the American spelling according to my spell checker - thats acknowledgment). Should this article be discounted similarly? Those who have faith generally don't need to be lectured on the merits or lack of merits in atheism. The encyclopedia is attempting to show what the arguments are and the background. It doesn't need to state its opinions (which is not the place of an encyclopedia). The writers of the Catholic Encyclopedia understand that their articles are not a place for debate but rather to state both sides fairly (fairly depends on one's biases, but it still means presenting both sides) and to educate the reader - not to try to preach to the reader. With preaching to the reader, you alienate anyone who isn't your desired audience from reading anything else. In 1907, it wasn't just Catholics who had the Catholic Encyclopedia in their homes and libraries. It was a reference for a much wider audience than just devout Catholics because it didn't force the Catholic viewpoint down the throat of the reader. --Rutm 16:57, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
Rutm, I stand corrected in regards to the alternate spelling. Obviously, I didn't wish to discredit a whole article merely on a type or misspelling as I raised another point as well. Also, I will avoid the issue of whether the article informs or lectures as I don't think you made a case here and I think it would lead to needless wrangling. Lastly, I think I made my point about this being a conservative encyclopedia and not a postmodern encyclopedia. Conservative 17:37, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
And I would argue that Ungtss methodology in editing the atheism article have displayed postmodern and moral relativistic characteristics.
My good friend Conservative, I am displaying nothing of the kind. There is nothing post-modern or morally relativistic about seeking to maintain a neutral tone. Balance does not mean the article says "there is no absolutely truth." -- balance means you are fair in your description of the other side, and neutral in your tone, so that the facts themselves show that your side is superior. Balance lets the other side have its say, and then carefully and deliberately shows where the other side has gone wrong. Balance requires the intellectual courage to allow other voices to be heard alongside your own, so that the reader can understand the issues, and truly understand why your opinion is superior. Using strawman arguments, non-sequitur, ad hominem, and other logical fallacies (as this article does, repeatedly), betrays fear that if the other voice is heard on its own terms, it will win. This article does not help the conservative cause. It hurts us, because it reflects fear, misunderstanding, and unjust misrepresentation throughout. And that's not what Christianity is about. In theory, at least. Ungtss 00:22, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, one of the tenets of many liberals is that man's nature is basically good.[6] However, Jesus said to a crowd, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13). The prophet Jeremiah stated: “The heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). So I have two question for you: Is an atheist's nature essentially good or evil? Secondly, given the history of the atheistic community and given the studies I cited, is it fair to say that moral depravity is a powerful explanatory factor for atheism?.[7][8][9][10] Conservative 13:08, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
If I may say so, my atheist friends seem by and large to be a fairly moral group of people. I have yet to encounter anything I would consider "moral depravity" amongst their number. Teddy 13:22, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

Teddy, Moral depravity has been demonstrated in the atheist community though history and through various studies.[11][12][13][14] Conservative 13:27, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

These appear to be articles, not studies. Only the forth appears to even refer to a study, which basically reports that a greater percentage of atheists have more permissive attitudes to specific behavior of others. Teddy 13:32, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
"is it fair to say that moral depravity is a powerful explanatory factor for atheism?" At least, not in all cases. In some people, wouldn't the fact that there is no hard, scientific evidence for the existance of a god be enough for some people to become atheist?--Goldstein 13:31, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Goldstein, you didn't demonstratte your "fact". Conservative 13:34, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I always though my Christianity was due to faith. Teddy 13:36, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Teddy, False dichotomy. The apostles emphasized to their audiences that they were eyewitnesses. Secondly, the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 1 stated that the creation clearly testifies to the existence of God and that men are without excuse.Conservative 13:39, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Alright, here's some demonstration. In the spirit of the articles you posted in response to Teddy: [15] And a bit more serious one: [16] Thank you. --Goldstein 13:40, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Goldstein, I did not bother to study the first link as you stated it was not serious. Secondly, in the second link the first footnote is to Michael Martin, a man who was afraid to debate his atheism (If I am not mistaken Martin has stated that Jesus never existed although I could be wrong [17]). Your material was hardly compelling material. Conservative 13:49, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

So I have two question for you: Is an atheist's nature essentially good or evil?

That depends how you define your terms. If you're a Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical, you believe that every man's nature is essentially evil (a la original sin), not just atheists', and we are only cleansed by the power of Christ -- so yes, atheists are "essentially evil," just like everybody else. But if you mean that atheists are by their very nature incapable of good, moral behavior, I'd say no -- I know many atheists capable of good and moral behavior, and I'm sure you do too. If you mean the reason of an atheist is so corrupt that they are incapable of discerning Truth, I'd point you to the myriad converted atheists out there whose reason brought them to Christ. So what exactly do you mean? Ungtss 20:22, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

Secondly, given the history of the atheistic community and given the studies I cited, is it fair to say that moral depravity is a powerful explanatory factor for atheism?.

I'd argue that moral depravity is a powerful explanatory factor for all evil human behavior -- and that people calling themselves atheists have done harm as have the "theistic" legalistic Pharisees throughout history against whom Jesus fought. In fact, Jesus appeared to me to be much more concerned with the moral depravity of the self-righteous and judgmental than he was with the moral depravity of the hookers and sharks. Personally, I am more concerned with the moral depravity of the proud than of the broken. I'd take a humble atheist over a hypocritical theist anyday. Ungtss 20:22, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, Is an atheist's nature essentially good or evil? Conservative 20:26, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Conservative, your question is imprecise. I asked you to clarify in my answer above. Please clarify what you mean by "Good" and "Evil" in this context. Ungtss 20:43, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, I don't see why I have to explain what "essentially evil" is. Look up the Adolph Hitler article and see how the word evil is used there. Then look up the word essentially. I could ask you what you mean by "imprecise" and use your tactics but I will not sink to your level here. Conservative 20:48, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I'm not messing with you. My answer depends on what you mean. If you believe in original sin and total depravity, then you believe that all people are "essentially evil," including atheists, me, and you. If that's what you mean, then yes. On the other hand, if you mean that no atheist can ever do anything good, then no -- I know too many moral atheists to believe that. So explain your question better. Your question is like asking, "Are guns good or evil?" Well, that depends what you're using them for. You have to be more specific with your question. Ungtss 20:56, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, go to dictionary and look up the word "essentially". It is not that difficult. Please do not overcomplicate. Conservative 20:59, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
You're avoiding the issue here by refusing to tell me exactly what you're asking. Are you asking:
a) whether atheists are corrupted by original sin?
b) whether atheists are incapable of moral behavior?
c) whether atheists are incapable of recognizing Truth when they see it?
d) something else.
Here's why this is important: If I think you're asking question c), but you're actually asking question a), then I' answering the wrong question. I think all these questions could fall under your "are they essentially evil" question, so I want to know which one, exactly, you are asking. Ungtss 21:10, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, Here I will make it easy for you. I will use the word inherently ( "involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit" [18] )Conservative 21:02, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Then yes, atheists are essentially evil, just like you and me. Ungtss 21:10, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, by the way is atheism a sin? Conservative 21:03, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
What do you mean by "sin?" Ungtss 21:10, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, I don't think we are going to come to any accord. You want to esteem your "humble atheists" and ignore the pride, uncharitableness, tens of millions of people who unecessarily died under atheistic regimes (some say as high as 100 million), and other matters cited under the table. I think you are unreasonable and wish to cling to liberal ideology despite the facts. Next, you are going to tell me that the biblical fools who say there is no God are described as often engaging in virtuous behavior and certainly not unrighteous behavior. However, I don't think your attempt to whitewash atheist tombs is very successful. Conservative 21:17, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
  • "What do you mean by "sin?" Ungtss 21:10, 2 September 2007 (EDT)" Ok, that even ticked me off, Ungtss. Enough is enough. And don't make the mistake of testing me, asking me what I mean by enough, okay? --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 21:20, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
TK, I certainly agree. While Ungtss has been helpful in the past it is clear he has a liberal agenda. I clearly bolded the word "habit" but he became the "artful dodger" who was very inartful. Conservative 21:26, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
You still haven't clarified your question in a way I can answer. I can only assume you want to paint all atheists with the same overgeneralization, and are not interested in precision. But I guess we can move on. Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
You want to esteem your "humble atheists" and ignore the pride, uncharitableness, tens of millions of people who unecessarily died under atheistic regimes
When have I ever said that? Who said I want to ignore the horrible things done by horrible atheists? All I want to do is point out that not all atheists are horrible like Stalin, and some theists are as horrible as they were (like child molesting priests). Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I think you are unreasonable and wish to cling to liberal ideology despite the facts.
Why? Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Next, you are going to tell me that the biblical fools who say there is no God are described as often engaging in virtuous behavior and certainly not unrighteous behavior.
Why don't you leave me to tell you what I'm going to say next, k? I think that unless you learn to be more precise in your language and meaning, we'll not move forward. But if you're interested in clarifying what you mean, I'll be here. Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
What do you mean by "sin?" Ungtss 21:10, 2 September 2007 (EDT)" Ok, that even ticked me off, Ungtss. Enough is enough. And don't make the mistake of testing me, asking me what I mean by enough, okay?
I don't see any problem with asking for precision. If by "Sin" you mean "error," then yes. If by sin you mean "something that angers God," I'd say "depends on why someone is an atheist." Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
While Ungtss has been helpful in the past it is clear he has a liberal agenda. I clearly bolded the word "habit" but he became the "artful dodger" who was very inartful.
If you meant "evil habits," you could have just said that. I think that atheists have evil habits, just like you, me, the phrarisees, and the crusaders. Ungtss 21:33, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, you have lost all credibility. Next, you are going to tell me that atheists don't give SIGNIFICANTLY less to charity on average and that biblical fools who said there is no God were the heroes of the Old Testament whose descendants God promised to multiply as sands of the sea. Well I am not buying what you are selling. Conservative 21:48, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
I'm not selling what you're accusing me of selling. You might try responding to what I actually say sometime -- it's harder than responding to straw-men, but worthwhile in the long run, I think. Ungtss 21:57, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, my sarcasm arises because you won't deal with what the Bible says about the biblical fool and you refuse to deal with the gross uncharitableness of of the average atheist ( I think you need to read about the story about the rich man and Lazarus) among other matters. Did Abraham sin on more than one occasion? Do New Testament believers sin upon occassion? Of course. But that doesn't mean you have a strong case. I also think you are not doing the Koukl essay justice. Conservative 22:12, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
What "case" do you think I'm trying to make? Ungtss 22:17, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, Once again, you ignore the uncharitableness issue, the biblical fool, and the thrust of the Koukl essay among other things. I refuse to believe you are acting in good faith. Please go to BalancedWiki or Wikipedia and spread your wares there. Conservative 22:31, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Conservative, answer my question or quit wasting my time. What do you think I am trying to prove/spread/preach? Ungtss 22:41, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Ungtss, in case you didn't notice, I stated you are not acting in good faith. Good luck at BalancedWiki. Conservative 22:44, 2 September 2007 (EDT)
Disagreeing with you isn't per se acting in bad faith, you know. Often, people disagree with each other without calling each other liars. If we keep it civil, we might learn something, you know.-αmεσ (!) 22:46, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

Conservative, Ungtss' question about "evil" was a fair question, particularly given that he listed several options to choose from. Why couldn't you simply pick one of his options, as he asked? I did wonder about his question about the meaning of "sin", but he's provided a reasonable explanation of that question also. And you really should respond to what he says rather than what you think he is going to say next. Please assume good faith. Philip J. Rayment 23:53, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

  • Because unlike some, the majority of Sysops here (and Andy), decided long ago to stop wasting time debating ad-infinitum, that's why. His continued questioning seems posted to deliberately inflame and continue the argument, with little results possible. That is against our rules. Please find some productive editing to do, and stop with the endless arguments that will not change someone's mind. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 05:28, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
"His continued questioning seems posted to deliberately inflame and continue the argument..." (emphasis added). It doesn't seem that way to me at all. Philip J. Rayment 09:52, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
Mr. Rayment, his refusal to answer the question "Is atheism a sin?" showed he did not wish to act in good faith. I also don't believe the words "essentially" and "inherently" are difficult words to understand. In addition, Ungtss does not wish to address the biblical fool and atheists charitable giving either as I think it chaffes against his liberal view of the what essential nature of man is. Conservative 16:14, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Objective fact versus subjective opinion

I realize throwing my hat into this ring will obligate me to reply like it's my full-time job, so I'm going to say right now that that's now what I'm going to do. Also, I want to remind any sysops who may be watching me like a hawk that I'm certainly abiding by your debate-squelching, arbitrary rule 90/10 rule. That said...

One of you guys wrote this:

Conservative, I agree with you on this issue. As a conservative Christian, I don't want the Atheism article to be balanced. Atheism is false doctrine and as a trustworthy encyclopedia, we should make that perfectly clear in this article.

Whoever wrote that, when you talk about facts, but before defining them say "as a conservative Christian," you should realize that you're not talking about facts anymore, and actually talking about opinion. Trustworthy encyclopedias aren't opinion volumes. Trustworthy blogs can be opinion volumes. But not encyclopedias.

Now back to my self-imposed exile until class starts. Peace.-αmεσ (!) 22:32, 2 September 2007 (EDT)

The sysop you are quoting didn't mention "facts" in that quote, but more to the point, the thing immediately preceded by "as a conservative Christian" is "I don't want the Atheism article to be balanced", which is clearly an opinion, and not claimed as a fact. The next point ("Atheism is false doctrine"), which he is presumably claiming as a fact, is not prefaced by "as a conservative Christian". Philip J. Rayment 00:36, 3 September 2007 (EDT)

The definition of atheism

As defined by the english language:

Prefix A = Without, Is not

Root Theism = The belief in God or gods, or faith in God or gods.

Atheism = Without belief in God(s), Is not a believer in God(s).

That is the Literal definition of atheism.

Sources:

The first prefix on the page is 'A', it means without

http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/prefixtext.htm

The definition of theism:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&defl=en&q=define:theism&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by BronzeEnt (talk)

I wish we could get past which is the "real" definition. Despite all the chest beating on both sides, it doesn't matter -- words are just a tool for communication, so why not explain the different ways people use the word and move on? Ungtss 17:02, 3 September 2007 (EDT)


I believe that the analysis is wrong anyway (although I'm not a Greek scholar). First, the word is Greek in origin, so that's where it should be studied, rather than in English. "Theism" is composed of "theos" = God and "ism", belief. And "Atheism", rather than being "a"+"theism" is really ("a"+"theos")+"ism". To condense that, it becomes "atheos" = no god + "ism", which becomes "belief in no god", not "without belief in god". (Which is not to deny that it is also used in the sense of "without belief in God".) See here and here. Philip J. Rayment 18:01, 3 September 2007 (EDT)

"Attempts to Dilute the Definition of Atheism"

This section states as "fact" that there has been an effort "since 1979" and "by proponents of atheism" to dilute the "true definition" of atheism, into strong/positive atheism and weak/negative atheism. However, as you can see in this article, theists have been distinguishing between "positive atheism" and "negative atheism" since at least 30 years before this alleged atheist conspiracy to redefine the term began. In other words, the article cited in that section is demonstrably wrong, and yet is stated as fact. I suggest we either delete the section entirely, or attribute it to the source, and then refute it with the article linked above. Either way, I think it should come after the "types of atheism" section, because it sets a poor tone for the remainder of the article. Honestly, I think it makes us sound paranoid from the very beginning. Opinions? Ungtss 15:22, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Theists? I counted one person cited. Secondly, you did not refute there has been a significantly effort on the part of atheists since 1979. Conservative 16:08, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
The point is that the multiple definitions and types of atheism are not the result of an atheistic attempt to "water down" the definition since 1979. At least one theist described the difference thirty years earlier. Therefore, the idea is not necessarily "atheistic" in origin, and the concept certainly did not originate in 1979. I see no reason to spin the different definitions of atheism as an "effort to water down" -- I think we should just clarify the different concepts described by the same word, and then analyze each concept in turn. Ungtss 17:51, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Warnings about excessive discussion

Given TK's earlier warnings to me not to discuss excessively, I am not going to respond to Conservative's comments. TK, if you will grant me permission, I will respond. Otherwise, I am curious whether any other editors have an opinion on Conservative's recent edits to this page. Does the CP community want this to be an encyclopedia article or one editor's personal rant? Ungtss 17:09, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

  • You go right ahead. I never meant anything personal, it is just that when I see forever discussions, and nothing changing, I wonder why anyone bothers. The primary editor here believes that the first few paragraphs are very important for search engine hits. That is why he is resistant to just stating the unencumbered facts in the first two paragraphs or so. This he has publicly posted. --şŷŝôρ-₮KṢρёаќǃ 17:27, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
TK, I don't believe that is the case. I just believe that Ugtss wishes to impose a liberal agenda in the article. Conservative 17:31, 4 September 2007 (EDT)
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