Re: [atheists-27] Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists

From: Mathew G.
Sent on: Sunday, March 24, 2013 12:04 PM
We all have beliefs about how the world works.  Are those beliefs properly grounded?  If we are holding our beliefs proportionate to the overall weight and direction of the evidence then our beliefs are properly grounded.  It would be inaccurate to say that we are agnostic about everything.  But in fact, there is a sense in which we must be agnostic about everything because weight of the overall evidence is inherently limited and imperfect, we don't have complete access to all of the evidence from everywhere and everytime.

Any assertion about how the world works, including existence assertions, that violate the laws of physics, are ipso-facto counter-evidenced.  It seems to me to kind of obvious that assertions that there is an immaterial mind and immaterial agent are strongly counter-evidenced.  So I strongly reject any such claim.  It would be misleading for me to say that I am agnostic about this, because agnosticism implies a large uncertainty that is associated with mixed evidence or lack of evidence, and I see the empirical evidence as being lopsidedly favoring a materialistic universe over an immaterial or mixed universe.

As far as definitions go, I simply define god as an immaterial mind and agent.  If other people want to try to rationalize their theism by making the definition as vague as possible that doesn't convince me that they have a properly grounded belief.  On the contrary, it just illustrates that they are not properly grounding their beliefs in empirical evidence.  Understand that to properly ground beliefs in empirical evidence requires taking an evidence first approach of following the evidence wherever it takes us.  We are the slaves here, we don't create the evidence, we just obey the evidence, whatever the evidence says.

Why do this?  Because we have accumulated centuries of success versus failure results about what method works and what methods fail.  All of recorded human history points in a single direction here, the only method that, in any way shape or form, reliably delivers in separating the false from the true is empirical evidence.  It is far from perfect, like I said we are not omnipresent and omniscient, but being imperfect is far from being useless and anything that works is better by far than everything else that simply fails.

On Mar 24, 2013, at 10:57 AM, Zhibo Lai <[address removed]> wrote:

Matthew, good points and good question "why are we atheists." I've always been curious about this answer from other people as well.

My answer is I consider myself an "atheist" more so on the grounds of semantics, after long discussions with a good atheist friend. Though, what I really consider myself is an agnostic--one who does not know whether there is a god or not. Again, it's purely a semantic difference here. If to be an atheist is to say "I do not believe in god," then I'm an atheist. However, a belief is not the same as "I know there is no god." For to "know" in this case is to say I'm absolutely certain there is no god. And I can be absolutely certain of nothing, not even "I think, therefore I am." <- this is another topic, i won't get into here> Thus, I still consider myself an agonistic.

The word God is an overloaded term which means many different things to different people. If you define god as an all good, all powerful, all knowing creator of everything that sent Jesus down to absolve our sins, then I can safely say I'm 99.99% certain this god does not exist. But, if you say god is simply the creator of our universe, and that's all we know (it could be limited in power, intelligence, or even dead by now), then I would be fully agnostic in this definition, for I have no evidence or experience to suggest that this god does or does not exist.

I'm also a fan of quantum physics, though it's way above my IQ grade, I read the dumbed down laymen's books of it. In this relatively new field of physics, it opens up a lot more possibility for there to exist this creator/god. For example, in recent science news, physicist are now searching for proof that we live in a simulation. Here's one such article

If it turns out to be true that we live in a matrix like simulated world, then there is a God(s)--with respect to the definition that it is our Creator(s). What then do we make of such a group called the atheists?

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, March 23,[masked]:56 PM
Subject: [atheists-27] Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists

An obvious topic for an atheist email group is to answer the question why we are atheists.  Some people treat this as a question about personal history: When I was xx years old such and such happened.  But I see this as primarily being an intellectual question.  

I am a philosophical naturalist, and my belief that there are no gods (note that I am asserting positively that my belief is there are no gods, I am not merely asserting I don't believe in any gods) is just a by-product of my conclusion that we live in a material world, to quote from a Madonna song.  Like all of my conclusions about what is true or false about how the world works, this is justified based on "looking at", or "reading from", what the overall empirical evidences depict, or say.  In other words, if the overall empirical evidences favored the conclusion that there is one or more gods, then (and only then) I would be a theist.  

Here is as article by Sean Carroll that illustrates how to go about properly justifying beliefs from the empirical evidences, an essential skill that I think far too many people fail to practice, and that I think is worth reading: Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists

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