YEC Atheists



The difference is that the existence of other people can at least be empirically determined, as can their actions. We can even use methods like fMRI and neurochemistry.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #62

That’s equivocation. Just because they have a brain similar to you doesn’t mean they have a mind. You directly perceive your own mind (I think therefore I am), but you don’t directly perceive others.


Nonetheless, they are examples of empirical measurements that we can use to test our ideas about other minds. Dualism v. Monism is a long running debate, but for the moment I think it is worth pointing out the empirical difference between God and people. We can’t put God in an MRI machine.

(r_speir) #64

The God of the Bible is exclusive to all other religions and their gods. No other possibility exists inside his possibility.

I am satisfied that you have conceded what you have. You have perhaps realized more today than at any other time.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #65

Yes there are emperical differences.

However, skeptical empiricism leaves us unable to conclude that there are other minds. That is the problem. Of course, no one actually goes this way, because we know (how?) that this is absurd. How do we know? Proper basic belief. It is a correct belief we have innately, that we cannot justify against the sharp razor of empirical skepticism.


Really? Can you please show us how you disproved the existence of Zeus and Odin?


I strongly disagree. The correlation between neural activity and minds is strongly supported by empirical evidence.

(Matthew Dickau) #68

This just isn’t correct. We have direct experience of our own minds. We have empirical evidence of correlation between behavior like our own and activity in brains like our own, but no possible access to the experiences of other minds to make the link between brain activity and experiences (and only those who have undergone, e.g. fMRI themselves can even make that link in their own case).
It’s an inference to the best explanation to say that behavior like our own in other people implies that they have minds and experiences like we know ourselves to have. We don’t even have an inductive case for it, since our sample size of people whose experiences we can directly access is limited to exactly 1. Even if we did, inductive reasoning itself (like inference to the best explanation) relies on non- empirical, properly basic rational intuitions. (This is the problem of induction in the philosophy of science.) Empirical evidence relies on such properly basic beliefs for it to have any evidential force at all.

(Kenneth Turner) #69

Some do it b/c it’s an easy target. Others do it out of ignorance of the full landscape. Sometimes the latter is aided by non-confessing biblical scholars who present the Bible (especially on origins) as if it was written by agrarian simpletons who just didn’t know better (e.g., James Barr, despite his much appreciated contributions to scholarship). Any sophistication found (by others) in biblical literature and theology is considered suspect. (YECs often have the same impulse toward nuanced readings of the text.)

But many atheists/agnostics are aware of top-level biblical scholarship, and use this as evidence against the literalism of creationists. E.g., I appreciated Prothero’s (Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters) attempt to understand biblical scholarship and show how the more pop-level of biblicism was at odds on its own front.


That’s why I call it empirical evidence instead of absolute proof.

That’s a lot of philosopher lingo that doesn’t seem of much use at a pragmatic level. I am using the same approach to the existence of God that I use to diagnose problems with my car or understand how the weather works. I suspect I am using the same approach that you use for these questions. I just happen to apply the same approach to questions about deities.

(Matthew Dickau) #71

How do you know that I do not apply that same approach to questions about deities as well? I’ve written a little bit about this, if you’re interested…

Edit to clarify: the rational foundations of science and everyday knowledge are just what we believers use to reason that God exists.

(John Harshman) #72

Well of course I can’t completely rule out anything. All science can do is provide strong support for hypotheses. And all the evidence can do is provide strong support for the hypothesis that you are a conscious being rather like I am. I think it’s strong enough that other notions can be ignored. How is this a problem?

(Matthew Dickau) #73

Also, this “philosopher lingo” is the kind of terminology that gets used in studying how we know things, and it’s as pragmatic for knowing how we know things as, say, knowing the specific terminology used to define and describe evolutionary theory is for knowing about biology. So…

(John Harshman) #74

This seems to be a phrase increasingly used by creationists as a code for “not real science” or “not a reliable way to knowledge”. I see nothing wrong with it, and it’s the way a lot of science works.

(Matthew Dickau) #75

It’s not a problem. But Plantinga’s whole point was that the inference that other minds exist is not so different from the inference that God exists.

You’re misunderstanding me, I think. Inference to the best explanation is crucial in science and everyday life. I think it is reliable. But it doesn’t come from science; it is something that science presumes.

(r_speir) #76

You already did that by conceding the possibility of God.

You see, all possibilities being equal, all Gods are not. The nature of the God of the Bible is such that he does not co-exist with any other god. When you conceded his possibility you eliminated Zeus and Odin.

You did this.

(Matthew Dickau) #77

… I don’t think that is how it works, @r_speir. Epistemic possibility is not the same as alethic possibly; what is consistent with our current knowledge is not identical with ways that reality could be or could have been.

When @T_aquaticus conceded the possibility of God’s existence, I’m pretty sure he meant “for all I know, maybe God exists,” not “I believe the nature of reality is such that it allows for the existence of God”. Your argument needs the latter (at least); the former is not enough.

(r_speir) #78

You could only be correct if we were discussing the knowledge of God or the possibility of our knowing him. However, since the discussion is about the reality of his possibility, your argument fails.

(John Harshman) #79

How did he manage to make that point, because I don’t see it?

(John Dalton) #80

The implications of YEC–that scientific knowledge can be disregarded for external reasons–are more concerning to me, and I think other atheists in general. I think this leads to a focus on YEC. I’d like to see a world without religion (but don’t think it’s a reasonable possibility for many reasons.) But I’m not troubled by many forms of religion. Other forms do trouble me. I try not to conflate the two, but they do both fall under the heading of “religion”, and this is a problem for religious people to some degree.

I’d say that’s unlikely. You’re not breaking new ground here. People do think about these things.