Atheists and Logic


Logic and Religion

This debate took place on Channel 4:

November 2008

malcolm/monia said:

"my LOGIC,might be diferent to another person's LOGIC".
Fair point I am thinking,but..Oxford Concise...the science of reasoning,proof,thinking or inference.
Particular scheme of or treatise on this.
A chain of reasoning.
The correct or incorect use of reasoning
It goes on at length....

Kinder Bueno said:

what an interesting point.
Firstly, let me just go a little off track in order to make a point.
Many people such as Athiests or Agnostics, may not be convinced God exists because of unanswered prayers.
There "logic" is that, there is no god, hencewhy prayers do not get answers.
Also, when prayers are answered for other people, it may be coincidential.
Well thats one way of looking at it...
In Islam, the "logic" is that unanswered prayers is actually a test. I believe (and many Muslims) believe that Allah is testing us to see if we have enough faith in him, and carry on praying to him even if he doesnt answer our prayers, its just a test of how strongly we believe in him.
This is what Athiest/Agnostics and Muslim believe (well the points I've made..seperatley ofcourse)
Secondly, with the idea of evil occuring on Earth.
An athiest/agnostic believe that if God was all powerful, wouldn't he be able to stop evil from taking place?
Which leads them to believe that there is no god - and thats fair enough...It is pretty logical to believe that way.
However, a Muslim believes that again Allah is testing us.
With Natural evil; earhtquakes, draughts etc, he wants to see more fortunate people helping the poor and by causing natural pain and suffering, it is testing if we will donate money to help the les fortunate (I know it sounds cruel, and this is what causes the big argument about if God was "good", why would he do - but this is what we believe)
With Moral evil such as robbery etc, this again is a test.
It seems sometimes that evil people are getting the more luxirious things in life by stealing etc, an Athiest may argue, if there was God, why would he let evil people have a good life...which again is their "logic".
A muslims "logic" is that, again it is a TEST. (I know Im boring you with just using 1 explanation for this, but this is the simplest way of putting it)
We believe that, again "Good things come to those that wait" and if someone has enough faith in God, it will lead them to paradise, as they had trust and faith in God...which is what he tests.
There is a Muslims logic, which differs from an Athiest.
Sory for being ignorant, but I'm unsure what Christians believe about this; Can any christian give any points on what they believe evil is taking place etc...?
Hopefully I have stuck to the point...?

The Carpenter said:

"my LOGIC,might be diferent to another person's LOGIC".

Strictly, no. E.g. If someone told you that their mathematics was different to yours you'd probably start smiling nervously & edging towards the door.

Logic, in the "if A then B" sense is formally structured and in the same way that maths questions have correct & incorrect answers, logic has correct & incorrect chains of reasoning.

Less strictly, logic still provides a very useful framework and can tell us when someone has drawn an erroneous conclusion and where the error has occurred.

I suspect the real difference though is in the "real" world rather than the "logical" world. Here we're looking at the evidence, some of which may be contradictory & deciding how much weight can be attached to each part. Chances are, you're attaching more importance to some pieces of evidence and they are attaching more to others. The point here is to be clear about what is evidence and to establish whether the logic (/ reasoning) is sound.

(In religious debates, there are clearly some source of evidence that are better than others, but sooner or later you'll probably run into the "But god wrote this book" argument & the "I think my anecdotes are really important" argument, there don't seem to be many others. I'm guessing this is a religious argument btw.)

Try asking how their logic differs to yours; what their evidence is; and to show their reasoning (just like a maths exam really)

malcolm/monia said:

May you GOD bless you for your views.I am so gratefull for your caring approach to this sensitive topic!
Yes TESTING appears to be the core 'raison d'etre' of apparant poor or nil response from 'god'.But logic now tells me that this is strong evidence of 'his' non existance.It also seems to me a 'heads,he wins,tails we lose,situation.
I would furthermore like to appogise to you and your tolerant brothers & sisters for what might come accross as an arrogent posture,with a tendancy to ridicule.
I am a very kind and caring person who just does not 'buy' God,and get Soooo angry with the extreemists in your,or in any religion,but it does appear that your religion is the worst.
I really feel that we you and your moderate scholars are not proactive enought to head off Muslims who advocate that God is the only power to punish,and our police are sinners,etc,etc.This attitude is corrosive not only to the stability of the moral framework of any society,but nothing to engender a better relationship between religious & non religious world wide.
Sorry to moralise & go off topic,but much work needs to be done by good & caring folk like us.
Faith is ilogical,in it's entireity by definition.
So Yuze has postulated that logic has a gradient & you have implied that 'they' have evidence, by the use of the word 'others'...I am now even more confused.

The Carpenter said:

Logic has a gradient!? I have no idea what that even means. Maths doesn't have a gradient, neither does logic.

I'm a bit more sure about what "evidence" actually is, though so I'll deal with that. It's fair to say I probably wasn't clear enough on this point.

There are some pieces of evidence that are reliable, these are called evidence.

Then there are the types of "evidence" that religious types tend to use in their arguments. These tend to fall into two categories:
1 - "But god wrote this book" &
2 - "But my anecdotes are really important".

Religious types tend to call these things "evidence", often they actually think that they are evidence, but they aren’t. They should be called anecdotes, or irrelevant, or anything else, just not evidence. The argument is in showing that they are not evidence & why they are not evidence (but anecdotes/ not provable etc etc) and, to a lesser extent, what is evidence & why it is evidence.

So, I agree. There is no evidence that god(/s) exist (*); there are anecdotes; there are (badly written) books claiming divine providence; and there are some really strange attempts to string these into a coherent world view. But evidence? NIL.

Hope that helps.

(* - That I'm aware of/ that stands up to scrutiny.)
one other point, you'll frequently see that a religious argument runs out of steam at exactly the point you or I might think it gets interesting.

Kinder Bueno's initial response, is probably quite a good example of this. With God "testing" us (/ humanity/ Muslims/ etc) by making other people suffer. The idea of God wanting to test 'us', probably does satisfy (on some level) KB's curiosity.

At this point you or I might want to start asking about why 'we' need testing; why god couldn't find some other test that doesn't involve torturing other people; why does an omniscient god need to test anyone etc etc. But KB seems happy with the answer that we're being tested without needing/ wanting to explore further.

KB - I really don't mean to put words into your mouth or misrepresent you. I'm using your post as an example purely because it's to hand and is fairly typical of this type of response. I hope you do think of and ask the sort of questions I've suggested and that you keep thinking through whatever answers you get.

You have to apply logic to the answers you get as well as to the initial premise.

malcolm/monica said:

I have just read that the Islamic fifth article of faith states that paradise is a physical place where MEN will be allocated a harem of beautifull WOMEN who will bear them children.
NOW....logically who will raise them?,the women,the angels or God ? ...Or as Yuze would say,who knows,who cares Allah knows best...or was it Osman.To tell you the truth,it is all becoming a bit of a blur.
I think that is the game plan.
I think that this is the 'muddy pool' that you,Carpenter,are looking for!

The Carpenter said:

...and why are these children given free entry to heaven without going through the whole earthly life tests process first?

Fundamentally, this whole "afterlife" malarky (whether Xian/ Islamic or whatever) is just an excuse to get round the absence of evidence of God operating in a just way. By pushing the rewards/ punishments into the realm of the unknowable they gain an excuse for the lack of evidence they have for a just (/benevolent) god here on earth, without then going on to examine whether the position they put themselves in is in anyway reasonable/ logical.

Mycor said:

Presumably it's a test of your faith, so if you lose faith or question god as a result then you've failed.

The points KB made about prayers, evil etc being a test make sense within the constructed world of a religion and are a man made explanation of why things happen based on the premise that a god exists. They are not logic as they arrive at a conclusion based on information that cannot be confirmed ie that a god exists.

Pure logic will be the same for everyone, but as TheCarpenter said we live in the real world and people come to conclusions about 'evidence' based on their preconceived ideas. That's why I don't think logic can really effectively be used to argue against religions. I wonder whether, since in the real world not all information is available or reliable, that strictly speaking you can never come to a purely logical conclusion on anything anyway - perhaps those with a wider knowledge of logic and philosophy would like to comment on this please.

I think you can lay out a pretty good logical argument for the non existence of a god to someone of faith but they will still keep their faith. Why is this? What is it in the human mind that makes someone have faith and someone else not to? That's the bit which fascinates me.

A couple of general thoughts; since, as I said above, logic seems to be irrelevant to faith why do some people of faith try to argue that their position is logical? This seems wrong to me, why not just stick to the 'I believe' line, it would seem much simpler. I saw a program about the Medieval Mind recently and was interested that although they talked in those days about natural disasters being acts of god and believed comets to be portents and signs, they also understood that these events were natural. It was bit like 'we know a comet is natural but it is a bad idea to do something important on a day when one is in the sky. I thought that was an interesting way of thinking and maybe not how we would imagine it.

malcolm/monica said:

I think that they keep the faith really to hedge their bets,but that can't be right cos God would know.
I think maybe they are just gullable or stupid...but that can't be right either.
I think that the average human suffers from the survival instinct of 'save me ,save me'syndrome.
That's gotta be it!!!!

thank you for your comments Mycor.

As a non-believer,the Coran states that I shall not be befriended by a true Muslim.Why is this,where is the logic,& who has the hidden agenda?

Omrow said:

Obviously, God would have the true logic.

He made the stuff.

Therefore, no matter how much we may try,
we cannot change the rules of the game.

Since God is said to be the "most logical" Being in the Universe,
it should be obvious to any thinking person that all of God's laws would be reasonable.

And, as is evident in this thread, as well as many other discussions,
most Atheists are incapable of using simple logic.

Also, the Atheists have no understanding of what religion is.
They make up their own twisted definitions and try
to make the rest of humanity swallow their irrational crap.

I mean, what do Atheists know anything about how to reason.

Most Atheists are intellectually bankrupt.

Just take a look at their own words.

Freethinker15 said:

Who ever said god was logical? There are countless examples of where this is not the case; if you are attributing logic to the logic in this world, which is the only logic that is worth caring about anyway. Any other logic outside this is irrelevant to our well being as it does not exist.

None of god's law are reasonable; only those created by man as man knows man
(god has no clue, btw I am talking as if he exists which has not yet been proven so I should say fairy dude). If god was reasonable he should have known that the kind of demands put on human are impossible to adhere to and are counter to reason and evidence.

I think (which can be verified with evidence) ultimately logic and reason is universal, no matter one's viewpoint.

The only thing that stands in it's way is the god virus as demonstrated on this forum and many others.

It's no surprise that where ever you are born in the world as soon as you start to think and embrace science etc, people become atheists. Religion, on the whole, depends on your geographical and cultural location.

so why do reguarly either not answer my questions or, by your own admission, fail to understand them?

You should try picking up a book that challenges your own narrow preconceptions of the world for a change. Of course, your books of myths wont let you as you might miss out on all the goddies in heaven (which is hilariously materialistic btw).

Omrow said:

Because, as is the case with silly statements put forward by most Atheists, many of your questions and claims are replete with irrationality.

Basically, you do not know how to talk sense.

Kinder Bueno said:

I think you are being disprectful to an Athiest's views. How can you expect them to respect your views, if you don't do the same.

Omrow said:

They dont. Thats the problem.

They want to force their Atheism on everyone else. Just take a look at them.

Atheists say all religious people are deluded.

That is their opinion.

As for me, I think Atheists tend to use absurd methods. They dont stick to scientific way of establishing the facts.

Any thinking person can easily see that most Atheists cannot use their brain properly.

Freethinker15 said:

hmm, sorry I forgot your love of the scientific method. lol. Note your respect for the scientific method! If you truly respected it you would try to learn all that it has to offer instead of mindlessly repeating the same old garbage.

well, yeah religious people are deluded that's invit if you can't provide any facts or evidence. You et al have to prove this is not so.

Instead of being derogatotory, I dear you to actually back up your claims with reason and evidence independent of the Koran! If the Koran is true, should be easy. Now, lets hear of your scientific expalanations for life etc.

The Carpenter said:

[Omrow claims Atheists tend to use absurd methods. They dont stick to scientific way of establishing facts. ]

Let's pretend for just a few more seconds that you can actually answer questions without resorting to pointless insults.
- What exactly do you mean by the "scientific way of establishing facts"?
- What "absurb methods" are used by atheists?

sinic said:

I suppose the clever dick who created the title of this thread thought that he had identified a contradiction religious contemplation cannot possibly have a logical basis.

It really depends on what you mean by religion.
If you believe that religion is only identified by the silly anthropomorphic trivial moral directives found in say Catholicism or Islam then of course it is possible to argue that logic and religion are incompatible.

Pointing this fact out is what makes Dickie Dorkins feel so good about himself.

However if you are intelligent enough to recognise, and it seems not many are, that limits appear to exist to the logical insights of which puny dangerous socio pathological humans are capable then the so called dilemma is seen for what it is...a dichotomy for dimwits.

Mr Whizz said:

Science's approach is as follows:-

1. Be sceptical about claims and explanations.
2. Demand evidence before believing something to be true.
3. Test to see whether the evidence supports the claims.
4. Consider whether alternative explanations better explains the evidence.
5. Look for evidence that shows the claim to be false.
6. Repeat from the top.

It's the best way of exposing explanations and claims as being false. It's also the best way of homing in on what might be true.

It's striking how different the above approach is to religious dogma.

Regardless of what particular explanations you might believe to be true, applying the above method should help highlight where you need to be doubtful.

Again, science sees doubt as a strength and absolutely necessary in improving our understanding/knowledge. Religion sees it as a weakness and strongly advocates having "faith" rather than having "doubts".

One advances knowledge. One holds it back.

It's not about differences in logic - it's about differences in attitude.


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