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I Am Psychic

Jamie

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out...
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Seriously, I'm psychic. I can read your mind or move things with my mind. It's pretty cool, actually.

Oh what? You don't believe me? Well then prove I'm not psychic. Go ahead, prove it. I'd show you I'm psychic, but I don't feel like it. You're the one who doesn't believe me, after all. I have nothing to prove.

Yeah, you can't prove I'm not psychic, can you? Well then don't even try to pretend that I'm not. That's just silly. Besides, you know I'm psychic. Why? Because psychic people always tell the truth, so you know I'm telling the truth about being psychic. Duh. And I know I'm psychic because I can feel it. Can't argue with that.

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Faith is something that has always interested me--I find it very difficult to believe in something with little evidence. However, I respect those that do. What always bothered me, is when people use circular logic or try to reverse the burden of proof (using the burden of disproof, I suppose) to prove their point. This doesn't only refer to people who use this logic to prove religion, but also things like ghosts or magic or what have you, but have never actually shown them to exist. Using things like "I feel it" or "I know it" as evidence.

What is your opinion on this kind of logic?
 

Batman

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Carl Sagan says it well:

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage." Suppose I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
This argument is a great way of illustrating the concepts of burden of proof and falsifiability and how all of us as people engaging in rational discourse should value them. Those making supernatural claims tend to employ increasingly ad hoc reasoning to describe their belief in the face of further questions. The goalposts are moved in such a way as to render the initial assertion unfalsifiable.

As an intellectual concerned with truth, I am under no obligation to believe theistic claims until they can provide demonstrable, verifiable, repeatable, and falsifiable evidence for their claims. Being unable to disprove God or whatever is not a strength of theistic arguments any more than it is a strength of the Dragon argument or the statement that one cannot disprove that a Russian teapot is currently revolving around a planet on the other side of the galaxy.

If we are going to live our lives with some level of assumption, provable or not, that there is an external objective reality that our internal subjective minds are part of, then it is fundamentally necessary to use methods that help weed out personal bias when seriously contemplating truth claims. Those methods are science and logic, and they work.
 

DarkestLink

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Except in the case of religion, the idea of God is a common "fact" accepted by the majority and you're the one that asserts there is no God. Here, you are the one asserting that you are psychic without this being established. You could argue on whether it's commonly accepted by the majority that psychics are real are not, but it is not accepted by anyone that you are psychic. Likewise, if I claimed I was God in human form (or Jesus returning to earth), I would be the only challenging the accepted fact that God currently isn't here.

As for proof, it's usually history of Jesus and various prophets and their miracles as proof. In the end, that's our proof that George Washington was real. Whether it's suitable proof or not is up to discussion.
 
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Jamie

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No one is asserting that there is no God, but only that there is no reason to believe that there is a God. Also, I fail to see how the majority believes in the Judeo-Christian God(actually less than 3 billion I believe), or how that's even relevant. The majority believing something doesn't mean there is a case for believing it, and saying "prove me wrong" is not proving yourself right. At one point, the majority believed the world was flat, but that does not mean it was logical to say "prove the world isn't flat" as a proof that it is flat.
 

Ganondork

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Also, I fail to see how the majority believes in the Judeo-Christian God(actually less than 3 billion I believe),
There are 2.18 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, and 15 million Jews. So that comes out to almost four billion. Still a pretty large population, though Buddhism and Hinduism take up another huge chunk of the population. Do keep in mind that Buddhism is nontheistic, as well as a handful of other Eastern "Religions," (looking at you, Confucianism). I'd be interested to see how many atheists there are these days.
 
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Jamie

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I apologize, there are a lot more Christians than I thought(thought it was closer to 1 billion). Either way, a majority believing something doesn't make it more logical.
 

DarkestLink

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I apologize, there are a lot more Christians than I thought(thought it was closer to 1 billion). Either way, a majority believing something doesn't make it more logical.
Perhaps, but it's the status quo. Just like with gravity, the idea the earth revolved around the sun, and evolution challenging the status quo. The burden of proof was on them and they succeeded. Now these days you could make a fair argument that most people--including religious people--believe in evolution.
 

Jamie

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This is 2014. You need proof to make a logical argument for something.
 

Batman

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Except in the case of religion, the idea of God is a common "fact" accepted by the majority and you're the one that asserts there is no God.
No one asserted there is no God. People have asserted that there are no good reasons for believing in a God until the burden of proof is met with falsifiable claims and good evidence. Also, what in the world does the notion that the majority of people are theists have to do with this topic whatsoever? Since when is truth decided by committee? When do claims change what is expected of them because of population numbers?

Here, you are the one asserting that you are psychic without this being established. You could argue on whether it's commonly accepted by the majority that psychics are real are not, but it is not accepted by anyone that you are psychic. Likewise, if I claimed I was God in human form (or Jesus returning to earth), I would be the only challenging the accepted fact that God currently isn't here.
Again, what in the world does this have to do with anything? I think you've bought into the Argumentum ad populum logical fallacy which is one of the grossest and easiest to dispel argument mistakes of all time. When talking about truth, what "society" believes is totally irrelevant and everyone should know this. Society and the masses are wrong all the time about all sorts of stuff. The burden of proof and falsifiability have absolutely nothing to do with the number of individuals who have opinions on what the claim involves. The same rules of logic apply no matter how many or who believes what.

As for proof, it's usually history of Jesus and various prophets and their miracles as proof. In the end, that's our proof that George Washington was real. Whether it's suitable proof or not is up to discussion.
Nope. There is overwhelming historical evidence that George Washington was real and existed and did what was said of his major achievements. There is no evidence that Jesus and his various prophets existed (especially in their Gospel form) and no proof of their miracles. In order to accept the Jesus story as historically valid, you'd have to accept that the Bible is an accurate historical document. There is no evidence that the Bible is an accurate historical document, so any defense becomes circular. There is lots of corroborating evidence that the materials containing information about George Washington are absolutely accurate for a number of reasons that anyone who takes an introductory History class would understand. Your insinuation that the Bible is historically valid literally absolutely makes you also concede that every other Holy book (the Koran, the Vedas and Upanishads, the Tripitaka, the Book of Mormon, etc) and myth (such as the Epic of Gilgamesh or Beowulf or tales about Zeus) are also historically valid because all of these books and scriptures and sources have relatively same amounts of historical reliability (all being far below the bar set by evidence showing George Washington to be real). The reason we can tell myth from reality in history (and it's not always easy) is that there are certain corroborating standards and criteria in the discipline of history (tried and tested) that allow us to make value judgments about the likelihood of events and people actually happening and existing in the real world (confidence in documentation coming from multiple sources is actually just one aspect in determining historical reliability). See here, here, and here for refutations of the Christological argument and the historicity of the Gospels.

Perhaps, but it's the status quo. Just like with gravity, the idea the earth revolved around the sun, and evolution challenging the status quo. The burden of proof was on them and they succeeded. Now these days you could make a fair argument that most people--including religious people--believe in evolution.
The status quo matters nothing. Atheists are not trying to prove there is no God. Atheists are simply pointing out the glaringly obvious fact that theism has not supported its claims. Status quo or no status quo, it's an assertion without evidence and we demand the evidence to believe the theists. They don't (and cannot) show any, so we don't believe them. Lacking belief in theism = atheism. That's it.
 
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Akuhime-sama

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Except in the case of religion, the idea of God is a common "fact" accepted by the majority
NOPE.
There are godless religions.
-Just sayin'

This is 2014. You need proof to make a logical argument for something.
No- not if you are making an 'a priori' argument.

Logic doesn't need existential proof. Logic is logic. You can make a logical claim or argument that is valid without any of the things existing.
for instance:
1.) All unicorns have a horn
2.) Sam is a unicorn
3.) Therefore, Sam has a horn

Not once does this prove the existence of Sam, or unicorns, nor does it make a claim to something that exists. This is a logical argument based solely around logic itself.
 
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