The God Delusion

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Apollo's picture
Sheldon, you use the word

Sheldon, you use the word "epistemological" Give me the name of an epistemology book that read and that you agree with.

Sheldon's picture
So a blind man walks into a

So a blind man walks into a bar, then a table, then a chair...

I'll get my coat....

Sheldon's picture
What do you call a man with

What do you call a man with one shoe?

Anything you want, he is never going to catch you...

Cognostic's picture
@Sheldon: I like dog jokes.

@Sheldon: I like dog jokes. Why did Hellen Keller's dog commit suicide?
You would kill yourself too if your name was ARRGGGAAHGGGHHH.

What do you call a dog with no legs?
You will be taking him out for a drag after all.

What do you call a dog with no legs?
What the hell difference does it make,
he's not coming when you call.

How do you make a dog Meow like a cat.
First you catch a dog.
Next you stuff it in the freezer for a week.
Once it is good and solid, you take it out of the freezer and into the garage
You turn on the band saw (Table saw will do.) and you cut it in half.

How do you make a cat sound like a dog.
Step one is to catch a cat.
Step two is to take the cat into the garage and fill a bucket with gas, lighter fluid or charcoal starter fluid.
After that you are going to grab the cat by the tail.
Dip it head first into the starter fluid, gas or lighter fluid several
Throw the cat into a corner of the garage
Strike a match and toss it on the cat...

Tin-Man's picture
What do you call a dog with

What do you call a dog with steel testicles and no rear legs?


Sheldon's picture
A blind man is crossing a

A blind man is crossing a busy road with his guide dog, when the dog takes him into the path of a car, he's struck by the car and flies in the air, landing in a heap nearby. Everyone rushes to his aid. "Quick" says the blind man "get my dog".

They bring him his dog, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out a sweet, and offers it, the dog takes it enthusiastically.

The people are amazed, "that's astounding" says one observer, "your dog got you run over, and yet your first thought is to reward him with a treat."

"Oh I just wanted to know where his head is" says the blind man, "now help me up so I can kick him in the fucking bollocks."

Sheldon's picture
What do you say to a dog that

What do you say to a dog that sees a blind dinosaur?

Dyathinkhesaurus rex....

Cognostic's picture
A blind man walks into a

A blind man walks into a supermarket and finds the potato chip isle. Suddenly takes the leash by both hands and swings his god to the left. Bags of potato chips pop and crunch as they are swished from the shelves. The dog lets out a mighty yelp. The man takes a few steps and swings the dog to the right. Boxes of cereal come flying off the shelves. The dog screams again. The man rounds the corner and lets fly again. Butter and cheeses are knocked from the deli shelves. The dog, half unconscious can only whimper now. He turns again and flings the dog to the right, canned goods bounce from the shelves and smash onto the floor next to the dog laying there limp.

Hearing the ruckus the store manager rushes up to the man. Sir! Sir! What in the hell are you doing he shouts!

Nothing, says the blind man, just looking around.

Cognostic's picture
Why don't blind people

Why don't blind people skydive?
It scares the shit out of their dogs.

Sheldon's picture
Apollo 1. The meaning of

Apollo 1. The meaning of delusion is belief in something that is impossible.

Wrong straight away Apollo, a delusion is defined as an idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder. So we see you were always dishonest, even when you last came here using straw man fallacies.

Apollo "Charles Darwin was a christian"

More dishonesty, Darwin's loss of his Christian faith is well documented.

Apollo Herein lies another strange issue with Dawkins: he seems to assume that all Christians are fundamentalist Christians.

An outright lie, that Dawkins himself has denied many times publicly.

Apollo There are no arguments to prove the existence of God, but there are plenty to show that belief in God is reasonable.

I've never read one, and you have never even attempted to offer one on here.

boomer47's picture


There was a little boy who wanted a watch for christmas.

So they let him.

What's the difference between a truckload of babies and a truckload of coal?

You ca't unload coal with a pitchfork

"What do you call a cat with half a brain?

A dog " (Garfield)

Health tip; "Never eat more than you can lift" (Miss Piggy)

Grinseed's picture
All arguments, or beliefs,

"Apollo There are no arguments to prove the existence of God, but there are plenty to show that belief in God is reasonable."

All arguments, or beliefs, can be shown to be reasonable with adherence to logic.

But arguments and beliefs, no matter how logical in their construction, can still be unreasonable or meaningless, when the propositions they are based on fail the primary tests of physical experience and critical application of rationality.
Gods cannot be reasoned into existence. Beliefs in gods do not require reasonable arguments, just assumptions of faith.

edited, quote added

Apollo's picture
1. I don't employ "arguments"

1. I don't employ "arguments". I employ the coherence theory of knowledge. For example,

the empiricist view that only observation was the foundation of knowledge failed by virtue of it not being able to empirically verify itself. Subsequently attention turned to the coherence theory of knowledge.
2. To reiterate, the idea that observation was the sole foundation of knowledge failed is own primary test of "physical experience..." So it was abandoned. the fact that you cling to an outmoded idea of knowledge is a philosophical issue. since it failed it'w own criteria, and you cling to it, it is your pure faith.
3. I accept that you find theists views meaningless. Similarly, this theist, finds your faith in observation as the sole component of the foundation of knowledge meaningless.
4. People can believe what ever they want to believe. All this stuff about the "primary tests of physical experience.." is just your personal subjective unevidenced perspective.

No matter how you slice and dice, the idea that observations are the sole foundation of knowledge is empirically unverified.

Reason and coherence still have a foundational place in knowledge despite the fact that you have a philosophical objection to that.

I suspect that your philosophical objection to rationality also being part of the foundation of knowledge is due in part to justify disbelief in God. I don't care if you are atheist. Suit yourself. Within the coherence theory of knowledge, as long as your claims are coherent with each other, no one can prove you wrong in your disbelief in God.
By "coherent with each other" it is meant that your claims mutually imply each other. Its not an argument. Its mutual coherence.

You folks seem to be so obsessed with seeing or not seeing that you trip yourself up.

Sheldon's picture
Apollo " I don't employ

Apollo " I don't employ "arguments".

Well nothing remotely cogent or rational anyway, on that we can agree.

MinutiaeAccreted's picture
Apollo - "No matter how you

Apollo - "No matter how you slice and dice, the idea that observations are the sole foundation of knowledge is empirically unverified."

But in the end, you have NOTHING AT ALL except your physically bound senses with which to perceive or interact with our universe. Sure, you can pretend or postulate (with nothing even nearing sound evidence) that there are "supernatural" senses or psychic phenomena - but you can't verify/demonstrate/produce anything like that in the slightest. Not a lick. And so, it must be admitted that physically-supported perception IS (most definitely) at the root of any and all things we label "knowledge." There's really no way around this. You can also pretend that there is knowledge given to us by "something" and that's how we have our start - but you have no good evidence for that either. Meanwhile the rest of us who don't buy into the woo and magic very much CAN produce mounds and mounds of valid, mutually-experienced evidence for the idea that our senses produce and procure for us what we end up calling "knowledge."

There are even simple thought-exercises that, when contemplated, lead you to these conclusions. For example - think of a true "brain in a vat" - but one that is not hooked into any sensory perception devices at all (no eyes, ears, nerve-endings, etc. and no input to these channels) This brain is "born" a clean slate - and let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that there are not even any traces of instinctual pre-programming inherent in this brain. Tell me - what could this brain possibly "think" about? Can it even formulate a subject for its thoughts? Perhaps some rudimentary wonder at its "existence." However it couldn't contemplate any aspects of its condition, can't even contemplate the very idea of "location" - there is no "space", there is just void, except for a simple thread of UNDIRECTED thought. And that's all you'd get... nothing more.

Apollo's picture


Your passionate treatise is a statement of your beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. I'm trying to think of how to improve on it, to make it more articulate and believable. You seem to be objecting to the idea that observation AND reason are two components of the foundation of science. You wish to show that ONLY observation is the basis of knowledge and science.

I'm trying to think of a way to prove your thesis. To prove it we would have to have immutable observables as our foundation, but not reasons as part of our foundation. That would seem to eliminate thought experiments such as a brain in a vat, since neither you nor I can observe a brain in a vat. the brain in a vat has to go, be cause we can't observe a brain in a vat. The Thought experiment part has to go too, because we want to prove that ONLY immutable observation is the foundation of science and knowledge. You see, if you include "thought experiments" in your proof, you are admitting to reason as part of the foundation of knowledge and science. We don't want to admit that reason is part of the foundation, otherwise, bad things will follow. For example, a rationalist might give reasons for God. There are many rational proofs for God, after all. And if we accepted reason as part of the foundation of knowledge, we could be in trouble. It is better to stick to pure observation as the foundation of knowledge. That way we can always say we can't see God. The rationalist can't get us that way.

Given that basis, we must, I think stick to pure observation to explain and produce knowledge. Our task then will be to catalog immutable observables and go from there. I hope the job is not too tedious.

Right now that's the best I can do to help you. You seem like a thoughtful individual and I encourage you to keep thinking about these issues. In saying so, I just noticed I contradicted the program of collecting observables - I encouraged you to think about it, when really we should be getting our foundational observables in order first.

David Killens's picture
@ Apollo

@ Apollo

"There are many rational proofs for God, after all."

Such as?

algebe's picture
@David Killens: Such as?

@David Killens: Such as?

The most convincing argument for god is the Kleenex proof. But it's pretty flimsy and doesn't hold water. Just a tissue of lies really.

Grinseed's picture
I for one don't think that

I for one don't think that observation is the sole foundation of knowledge. I don't believe many AR atheists do either. The most often posed question to theists on this site concerns the objective evidence of the existence of a god or gods, which by its frequency alone might make theist visitors think evidence is the only thing we ever consider valid. It is, by the way, a rhetorical question that no atheist here expects a theist to answer legitimately. I suggest that rationality and to a point probability also, on top of physical evidence, play a large part in the outlook of atheists generally. They will tell me if I am wrong.

I note you only quoted bits and pieces of what I wrote to support your ... view. Just to put things right what I wrote was "arguments and beliefs, no matter how logical in their construction, can still be unreasonable or meaningless, when the propositions they are based on fail the primary tests of physical experience and critical application of rationality." By which I mean the proportioning of evidence physically experienced to those things not directly perceive. Its an application of reasoning.

So my perception of reality relies on physical experience, (abberations of perception and neurology, aside) and on rationally reasoned assumptions derived from that experience. The upshot being, as I know there are mountains on Earth, which I have seen and have climbed, I can reasonably propose there are mountains, formed by similar geothermal forces, on the recently discovered Kepler 'earths' detected in other solar systems light years away. But while I believe in these extra terrestial mountains I can readily discard that belief if the first pictures beamed back from these planets reveal surfaces smoother than a ping pong ball.

Logical positivism was a philosophical movement against metaphysical presumptions that dominated formal philosophy for centuries, as exemplified in the well known ontological, teleological and cosmological arguments. It was never considered very effective. I can see why you are eager to bury it.
I am also aware of the differences between scientific and philosophical empiricism that came as result of the late arrival of Aristotelian 'science' to the West, somewhere in the 12th century, from the caretaker Muslims. Philosophical empiricism may well have 'failed' and been 'abandoned' but as far as I know the empiricism of the scientific method derived from the works of Aristotle remains valid and as meaningfully dynamic as ever.

Coherentism is a belief or sets of beliefs or propositions forming a coherent internal system deemed to be true only because of the congeniality of those propositions. It can only suggest a probable veracity of that belief system.
While that sounds very comfortable, probability is a numerical function that doesn't always attest to truth. Probability can determine some sort of index for propositions possibly being true, or not, due to their compatibility.
But rationality, the proportioning of reason based on experience and measurement, would be a more effective path to knowledge, especially if that rationality were applied in the manner of the scientific method.

Coherentism smacks a bit like some sort of glorified circular reasoning. The system, it is argued, is true because the propositions all agree with each other. What about the propositions being independently true first? And as pointed out in that Stanford link, there are a still lot of unresolved problems not yet addressed its supporters. But you are free to believe as you want. I have no problem with that either.

In the meantime scientific empiricism bounds ahead to discover
the cure for cancer millions have been merely praying for.

Apollo's picture


Yes. A coherent system of beliefs, isn't proof, as the opposite is still coherent. A coherent system and its opposite can't both be right even though both are coherent. But people incorporate the empirical into their coherent system. Many of their beliefs are tied to empirical observations. For example, I believe that the "Little Foot" creature exhibited in a fossil collection is the ancestor of apes and humans. I used to believe in the fact that humans came from the apes, but that fact is now non-operative. In the coherence theory, a candidate belief, to be incorporated into my belief system must imply a belief I already hold, and the belief I already hold must imply the new belief (about Little Foot, for example). It is mutual implication. Sometimes new beliefs contradict old ones, so the old one has to be dropped. Not all my beliefs need to be empirical, but the non-empirical ones need to be coherent with the empirical ones. In that manner, both reason and the empirical form my knowledge. Its being empirical as well as rational but it isn't positivist/empiricist.
Core beliefs: An atheist who is aware they want coherent knowledge, would want a mutually implying system that coheres with their disbelief in God. (Mutually implying is what you describe as circular.) Nothing wrong with that. Everyone has a core position. A theist would want a coherent system that is coherent with belief in God. In principle, both theist and atheist can each have a coherent system of beliefs. In part, that's because there is no autonomous knower who is in possession of absolute truth.
Your example of physical experience is quite simple and understandable: a belief in a mountainous planet being abandoned after photos show it to be smooth. Noting wrong with that. I change my beliefs too. But not all seeing is that simple, so it isn't representative of other types of seeing. For example, in the middle ages, people (the intellectuals anyway, if not people in general) saw the physical world in Aristotelian terms. Post Newton, seeing changed. People now saw the world through a Newtonian lens, or paradigm. So seeing is always so simple as the terrain of a planet. Believing in a Newtonian framework contributes to seeing and knowing what he believed. But if someone of that era disbelieved Newtons views, that person could not see or know the universe the way Newton did. They would still be stuck in the Aristotelian perspective. These days Einstein's views changed the way we see things once again. Seeing is seeing from within a model of the universe. It isn't as simple as seeing if a planet is smooth or not. Too, believing is seeing. While many people believe Einsteins' theory, few people actually know his theory. E=Mc2 looks simple on the surface but the actual justification for it is beyond what most people are capable of. So many people believe without knowing. Some people who believe it as children, for example, then study mathematics to a level in which they can know it as well as believe it. But someone who disbelieved E=mc2 might not bother to learn the required math to know it. Disbelief can contribute to lack of knowledge. Believing can contribute to knowledge.
Compartmentalization: In principle, its possible that in Newton's time some people held to both Aristotelian perception, and Newtonian perception, but not at the same time. They might switch between the two from moment to moment or day to day. Perhaps a clearer example of compartmentalization is a fundamentalist christian who on Sunday sees the universe in an ancient way where heaven is just above the clouds and mountain tops, and that's where God, Jesus, and the angels reside, while Monday to Saturday they switch to a more modern view and function as a modern person. On Sunday they might believe in healing by faith, and prayer, but on Monday visit the doctor as faith in the doctor is sometimes more reliable. This relates to the coherent theory of truth: due to compartmentalization, they don't have a coherent worldview they have two mutually exclusive worldviews that they switch between. Although I find that strange, the switching between ways of seeing might contribute to understanding that believing is seeing, and switching beliefs changes what one sees. Positivists also compartmentalize. One compartment for them is things like neutrons, protons, electrons. they don't actually see them as one might directly see the terrain of a planet. Electrons and so on are abstract theoretical models of some phenomenon. Strangely, positivists don't use abstract models as examples of seeing. Instead they use very simple examples such as is a planet smooth or not. So we have one compartment of everyday seeing the terrain, and another compartment in which seeing is seeing thorough the lens of a theoretical model. Positivism is in some sense in denial of theory and the assumptions that the theory is tied to. In that way they misrepresent believing, seeing and knowing in science. The incoherence between the positivist's simple examples of seeing, and the reality of theoretical science was a serious problem that could not be resolved. That's why Scientists such as Polanyi, Kuhn, Popper and others went after those erroneous ideas of knowledge until the positivist/empiricists gave up.
What about the propositions being independent true first? I'm not convinced there are any propositions being independently true. Independence of what? Its conceivable that everything everyone and anyone believes is false.
Cure for cancer: One of my beliefs is science will cure cancer. But it isn't as simple as the planet is smooth, the grass is green, I see a tree...If you want to confine yourself to such observable s, nothing will get cured.
I think you misunderstand the word "belief" as I use it. It can be, and often is about empirical observations. But the word "belief' acknowledges in part, that some facts change. It used to be a fact that humans came from the apes. It is currently a fact that humans and the apes came from whatever Little Foot is/was. "Beliefs" is a fairly general term. Some of my beliefs are facts, while others beliefs are not. The essential thing is that my beliefs that are not facts are coherent with my beliefs that are. I believe in atomic theory. But do I know it as a fact? No. In order to know it in that way, I would have to be deeply educated in atomic physics. Only such educated people really believe it and know it. most people just believe it without knowing it.
I have long suspected that knowledge is beliefs that are true, and that believing contributes to knowing. When I was young I disbelieved in evolution, and declined, therefore, to actually read any of it. Consequentially, disbelief contributed to hampering education and knowledge. In my disbelief, I was being a a positivist/empiricist. No one ever saw a human come from an ape, so why should it be taken as fact? Once I became open to it, believed it, I read about it in a different way. I had to remove the shackles of positivism/empiricism in order to accept that humans came from the apes. Despite the fact that I and no one could see the first human emerge from an ancestor, I believe it. If you confine yourself to observables such as the planet is smooth and disbelieve evolution because no one can see the first human emerge, you get nowhere. Believing contributed to knowing.
Recently there is an atheist cosmologist who has a perspective on the origin of the universe coming from nothing. He admits he can't prove it, and obviously there are no observable employed. Just as positivism/empiricism would throw the Atheist Hawking under the bus, they would tie this other guy to the railroad tracks. Positivism/empiricism can't help them. He might end up employing the coherence theory of knowledge.

Sheldon's picture


Another indigestible word salad, with a large helping of woo woo.

If as you claim "Yes. A coherent system of beliefs, isn't proof, as the opposite is still coherent"

Then the belief the world is flat, is equally as coherent as the belief it is not?

You seem to have totally pissed the bed here. So I'll ask again, since you keep ignoring it....

Is it objectively true that the world is not flat?

Do you seriously think people won't notice your reticence on this simple question, or make the obvious inference?

You are funny Apollo....

Sheldon's picture
Apollo "An atheist who is

Apollo "An atheist who is aware they want coherent knowledge, would want a mutually implying system that coheres with their disbelief in God."

Utter nonsense, that's an argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy dressed up and tossed into a word salad if ever there was one.

Until someone demonstrates sufficient objective evidence to support any claim, I withhold belief.

Do you believe it's an objective fact that the world is not flat?

You obviously can't claim, as you have repeatedly done, that objective truth doesn't exist, and answer yes to the above questions. The fact you refuse to answer a simple yes or no question can only infer you know the only answer your verbiage has left you is no, and you are obviously aware how ridiculous that answer is, hence you ignore the question, or answer with irrelevant rhetoric to evade an honest but ridiculous answer.

Cancer isn't a single disease, it is a general or umbrella term, characterized by the uncontrolled production of cells. Malignant cells reproduce and form tumors or, in the case of blood cancers, crowd out normal cells in bone marrow and the bloodstream. There are lots of different kinds of cancer in different tissues that act in different ways, so it is extremely unlikely there will ever be a "cure for cancer".

You see Apollo, it helps if your beliefs encompass some VERY basic objective facts. Your thinking is so befuddled it's almost incomprehensible, however it misses one important fact, beliefs supported by objectivecevidence have been demonstrated to be more often valid than beliefs without sufficient objective evidence, or indeed as with theism no evidence at all.

Superstition will not trump objective methods like science, to claim they're remotely on a par is asinine, and you can wrap as many words, or drop as many names as you like, it won't change this simple objective fact.

Newton and Einsteins views changed the way we view the world ONLY because their science was objectively evidenced, that is how science lends no credence to Newton's religious beliefs, any more than it does to his other superstitious beliefs in astrology and alchemy. Again the reason is that his physics is objectively evidenced, his superstitious beliefs, like yours, were not...

Cognostic's picture
@Opollo: Have you any idea

@Opollo: Have you any idea at all what the word "coherent" means? Seriously, any idea at all. The only person calling that drivel coherent is its author. Hopefully they will bury it with him when he dies.

Whitefire13's picture
Scrolling through, reading

Scrolling through, reading the jokes - love it... then this;

@ Apollo ...3. I accept that you find theists views meaningless. Similarly, this theist, finds your faith in observation as the sole component of the foundation of knowledge meaningless.

I wasn’t sure if you were joking. This foundation of knowledge (observation) has meaning because I am reading your text on my phone. Maybe you (I wouldn’t lump all theists in) don’t find this meaningful, but I do.

... having a serious, important, or useful quality or purpose.
"making our lives rich and meaningful"

Sheldon's picture


One of the many questions you seem to have ignored:

....could you please tell us why, in your subjective opinion, murder or rape are wrong or immoral?

Apollo's picture
Why do you, in your unproven

Why do you, in your unproven objective proving way think they are immoral?

David Killens's picture
@ Apollo

@ Apollo

"Why do you, in your unproven objective proving way think they are immoral?"

Human are social and empathic. If not, they have a wire loose in their heads.

I someone punched you in the head, you would feel pain and wish it never happened. A sane and empathic person understands that punching someone in the head is bad thing, they sure would not want it to happen to them.

So would you object to being murdered or raped?

Sheldon's picture


You haven't even tried to answer my question, so why do you think you can simply ignore it, and demand an answer from me?

could you please tell us why, in your subjective opinion, murder or rape are wrong or immoral?

Is it too difficult for you?

Incidentally I have given an answer to your question in every single thread where morality is discussed.

You have also ignored my earlier question, is it an objective fact that the world is not flat?

Again your reticence underpins the vapid errant nature of your rhetoric.

David Killens's picture
Sheldon, same old, same old

Sheldon, same old, same old lame tactic. Instead of honestly replying to a question, instead some form of diversion.

Sheldon's picture


You have to wonder if he genuinely thinks we're fooled. I've said it so many times before, but for his sake, I do hope he is trolling.


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