Are theists and atheists epistemic peers?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wynn, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Are theists and atheists epistemic peers?


    Give your justification for each answer.
     
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think they are. I think it requires a special epistemic qualification in order to be a theist, and that that obtaining that epistemic qualification is not under one's control.
     
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  5. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    'Epistemic', meaning knowledge, and even science is not usually a trait of those satisfied with internal introspection alone, and probably even causes some to shun external knowledge, as in what is called 'neglect'. They thought of it, so that's about all that matters.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Do you mean they share the same theory of knowledge?
     
  8. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    If your talking about communities then no one is.( Except Me ) We don't utilize people that have the knowledge to full potential . My same old harp of cronyism rains . I really don't see were belief falls into the equation thou . You can believe what ever you want and still be someones peer in a specialized industry . If you mean an Atheist can't be a peer to a professional super preacher , I don't know that is an interesting question . The Picture that comes to my mind is there is no room for and Atheist to profit from religion even being it is still a vital industry. Maybe there contribution is not wealth motivated . I don't know , your question could be a cottage industry in it self with the right marketing scheme
     
  9. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    Neglect is a mouth full . Sci baby I knew I liked you . That is the thing . it is the shunning ( that kind of sounds like the shinning , wonder what the fuck that movie was all about , Made Me want to hack up flesh with an axe ) I had a shinning experience once !! I won't go into it right now as it might appear to be trolling and I am trying to work my way up the S.F. latter of credibility ( fuck like that is going to ever happen ) Shunning creates contempt . Contempt ripples threw out the community and manifest in criminal activity
     
  10. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    I should say that theists tend to disregard information contrary to their beliefs, as their infallible feelings cannot be trumped.
     
  11. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

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    I am not to sure Theist have a monopoly on that . Lots of people justify there jobs in the same manner. Hell if your chosen career is lie dependent what ya going to do? Have faith that it is true and hope for the best ? I see it all the time in many industries and not just the Industry of religion
     
  12. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    I have often considered what a great thing it would be to enlist the aid of an infallible person in a religious debate.
     
  13. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Theists typically claim to have "special knowledge". This may come from taking an initial leap of faith, experiencing the results of that faith and from reviewing all other evidence in the light of that faith. Over time such positive reinforcement can result in feelings of absolute certainty about the existence of God. Since this kind of "evidence" is not available to the atheist for examination, all other things being equal an atheist is not the epistemic peer of a theist. The real question however is whether or not the internal experience of the theist which results in those feelings of certainty has any bearing whatsoever on the question of the existence of an entity and/or agent that is external to the theists own mind.
     
  14. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Theists are infallible by their own claim.
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    On the one hand, I agree.

    On the other hand, the very notion of there being "something external to one's mind" invokes some concept that could pass for "God" in some way.

    IOW, if we insist that in order for there to be proper epistemic justification for something, said thing needs to be external to the individual person, then we already invoke some concept of God. Of course, we do this is a very abstract, general sense, but the internal-external divide sets us up for that.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Epistemic peers share the same (or at least compatible) theory of knowledge and (in general) the same qualifications (e.g if you had infrared vision, we wouldn't be epistemic peers).
     
  17. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Both camps would typically agree that there is an actually existing natural world external to themselves, so the playing field has already been established. My argument, then, is applicable to the proposed existence of something that is beyond that.
     
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    You keep asking this same question over and over again in new and different ways.

    My answer is 'yes'.

    My justification is that theists and atheists are all human beings, with the same basic sensory apparatus and indigenous to the same planet.

    I don't know of any reason to believe that either group has access to any privileged source of information concerning natural or supernatural matters that the other group doesn't.

    It probably would, if we assume that the "theism" (there are many inconsistent varieties) is indeed true and that it's motivated or justified by evidence. In theism's case, that might require some kind of supernatural evidence.

    Of course, people like myself would obviously question the premise that theism is true, and whether theistic belief is even motivated or justified by evidence. It may well have other kinds of psychological origins.

    I realize that some Christians, particularly the anti-Arminian sort of Protestants, believe that religious faith is a gift of the holy spirit or something, and not an inner movement that a person can make for themselves. So on that theological theory, every true Christian has been kind of elected and enabled by God's own action to be that Christian.

    It's always easy to create a self-justifying circle -- We have faith that Christian theology is objectively true because of our subjective feeling of faith, and that theology in turn assures us that the subjective feeling of faith indeed has a supernatural origin and hence is always reliable and true.

    Your whole position seems self-contradictory to me. How can you possibly believe that theists possess an epistemological connection to the divine that non-theists lack, without you already being precisely the theist that you stoutly deny that you are?
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Well, Hitler was human, and from this planet.
    (I wanted to mention also an overwhelmingly positive example of human genius, but couldn't think of any ...)


    And yet each group (at least on principle) claims to have just that.


    We both agree that theists are special in some way, and that religious belief is fascinating.

    There aren't that many ways to explain theistic faith. In fact, I can think of only two: either the theists are insane, or something special is going on (ie. theists possess an epistemological connection to the divine that non-theists lack).

    I don't like to think of anyone as insane, and I believe there are rational explanations for everything, however unusual those explanations may be.

    (I am sure there may be self-declared theists who believe out of psychological reasons or other, perhaps social or economical. But in my discussions, when I use the term "theist", I mean the 'ideal theist', unless specified otherwise.

    Of course, just like there is an ongoing debate in linguistics over the "ideal speaker", we could debate over the "ideal theist".)
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I wrote:

    I fail to see Hitler's relevance.

    Atheists don't insist that they have privileged access to supernatural sources of information that are imperceptible to theists.

    Most theists don't seem to make that kind of claim either. Theists have traditionally argued that God's existence should be obvious to everyone from natural theology, that everything we need to know is contained in special (in the Christian case Biblical) revelation, or even that anyone can potentially know God directly from religious experience.

    No, no, no and no.

    Yes, I agree that religion and religious belief are fascinating.

    But I most emphatically don't think that theists are special.

    My opinion is exactly the reverse. I don't think that the broad category of religion should be equated simply with theism. There are very important non-theist religious traditions. I've argued in several threads that atheists often display behaviors and modes of thinking very similar to those observed among theists. The differences between the two groups might be smaller than either group would like to imagine. And I've strongly expressed my own agnosticism and stated pretty emphatically that I question whether human beings (whether theist or atheist) have any epistemological access to knowledge about transcendental matters.

    Perhaps theists are simply human beings, behaving in religious ways. And again, what about people who are religious in non-theist ways?

    That's why I've written about how I suspect that human religiosity is generated as kind of an 'unintended consequence' of some of our other innate social instincts. There's quite a bit of work currently being done in the cognitive science of religion. That's where I'd personally look to find the "rational explanations".

    But if we choose instead to insist that theists, whether from a particular theistic tradition or from all of them (however inconsistent they might be), really do have privileged access to the divine, then presumably we would have to be theists ourselves. We would already be assuming that this supposed divine source of information is real and that it's indeed possible for some special people to know it.

    Divinely favored people, presumably. Not only would this kind of view represent an implicit theism, it's also seemingly suggesting something akin to a non-Arminian Protestant Christian theology of election by divine grace.

    Sure, and that's Calvinist-style theology too. They've always emphasized that not everyone who calls themselves a 'Christian', not even everyone who truly believes, can be certain that they are included among God's elect.

    We sure could. That's the whole argument. If somebody's being an 'ideal theist' implies that they enjoy some special supernatural channel of divine revelation, then I don't believe that any 'ideal theists' exist among us human beings.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    I tried to illustrate a point about "theists and atheists are all human beings, with the same basic sensory apparatus and indigenous to the same planet". Namely, even though we all seem to be human beings, with the same basic sensory apparatus and indigenous to the same planet, there are sometimes vast differences between us, such as Hitler compared to the rest of us. And I wanted to add a positive example of human genius, but couldn't think of one that would be as extreme as Hitler, but in a positive sense.


    In one sense, atheists are doing that when they write off theists as "weak" or "ruled by their emotions"; according to those atheists, reason is foreign to theists, information that can be obtained by reason is imperceptible to theists.


    Yes and no. I find that the theist line of reasoning is ambivalent on this point.

    On the one hand, they do argue that God's existence is obvious etc.
    On the other hand, they argue that God is "easy for the simple and hard for the crooked".


    I tend to use "religion" to mean 'service to God', but I realize the word has many uses. It was a simple miscommunication.


    I do think there is an important difference between (mono)theistic religions and those that are not.


    No, I do not think we would have to be theists ourselves to explore this. See below.


    A kind of election by divine grace is also found in Hindu theology, for example.


    I do think that it is primarily "ideal theism" that is worth exploring. Only after this form of theism has been understood, can we move on to the lesser variations, namely those born out of psychological, sociological etc. factors.
     
  22. Regular0ldguy This is so much fun! Registered Senior Member

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    I doubt that there are that many people postulating a supernatural explanation of our surroundings who came upon that theory based upon testing competing theories for their ability to systematically explain, predict and control our environment. (Not much basis to discriminate among the various theories). That probably applies to some atheists too who unreflectively buy what their atheist parents told them.

    To actually have an epistemology kind of requires you examine how it is you come to know things and apply your method in order to choose the things you believe to be true.

    If you just believe what you were told or taught to believe because you are either lazy or obedient, I'm not sure that fully qualifies as a theory of knowledge or a method of determining truth. (It IS a method technically, but there isn't much actual method to it.)

    So to the extent you have decided how to learn the truth and you apply that method, you are peers with others who also have selected some method. You are closer peers to those that have the same method.

    This is kind of fundamental, isn't it?
     
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Why not?
     

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