Issuing a Challenge to Atheists and Unbelievers

by The wanderer 149 Replies latest jw friends

  • skeptic2

    Beardo, I am interested to know what you think it is you saw, and how you arrived at that conclusion, so I can see where my approach would differ.

    And while we are in the mood of recommending things, I will recommend this book:

    Title: Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
    Author: Thomas E. Kida
    Publisher: Prometheus Books
    ISBN: 1591024080


    Mistake #1: We prefer stories to statistics. Even a bad story is preferred over great statistics, and this shouldn’t be surprising. We’re social animals, so whatever seems to connect us to others will have a bigger impact than cold, impersonal numbers. This leads us to making decisions based upon a single story which may not be representative of larger trends while ignoring the statistics that tell us about those trends.

    Mistake #2: We seek to confirm, not to question, our ideas. Everyone wants to be right and no one wants to be wrong. This may be the primary driving force behind the fact that when people look at neutral evidence before them, they almost invariably focus on what seems to confirm what they already believe while ignoring what might count against their beliefs.

    Mistake #3: We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events. Odds are that any randomly chosen person has no idea how odds, chance, and randomness affect their lives. People think that unlikely events are very likely while likely events are very unlikely. For example, people forget how large the numbers around them are — an event with a million to one odds against it will happen given a million tries. In New York City alone, this means that several such events could happen every day.

    Mistake #4: We sometimes misperceive the world around us. We simply don’t perceive things happening in our vicinity as accurately as we think or might like. We see things that aren’t really there and we fail to see things that are. Even worse, our level of confidence in what we have perceived is no indication of just how likely we are to be right.

    Mistake #5: We tend to oversimplify our thinking. Reality is a whole lot more complicated than we realize. Indeed, it’s more complicated than we can deal with — every analysis we make of what goes on must eliminate lots of factors. If we don’t simplify, we’d never get anywhere in our thinking; unfortunately, we often simplify too much and thus miss things we need to take into account.

    Mistake #6: Our memories are often inaccurate. To be fair, this isn’t a mistake because we can’t help the fact that our memories are unreliable. The real mistake is in not realizing this, not understanding the ways in which our memories can go wrong, and then failing to do what we can to make up for this fact.

    Well worth reading. I also recommend:

    Title: The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

    Author: Carl Sagain

    ISBN: 0345409469


    Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific thought, which offers him marvelous opportunities to entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the newspaper morgues, UFO stories, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience. Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-healing, and channeling; refutes the arguments that science destroys spirituality, and provides a "baloney detection kit" for thinking through political, social, religious, and other issues.

  • LittleToe


    Since I have nothing physically in my hand to show or demonstrate to another individual, how can I even attempt to offer objective proof? To grasp at a example off the top of my head: It would be a similar issue if I gave you a phone call and noone believed it, after all, why should LT put in an international call? If you were in aposition where you didn't have the means available to prove it one way or another then it would be left with your hearers to either believe or disbelieve you. Such is the situation with those who claim to have had a brush with the Divine, and those with whom they speak.

    The burden is not on all non-claimants to disprove a claim, but on the claimant to prove it.

    While that's valid for debate, it's not good science, ole boy. Science has a bit more imagination than that, and seeks to prove or disprove assertions. Unfortunately some assertions are ignored because there's little glory in them.

  • skeptic2

    "In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded".

  • skeptic2

    Science and other uses

    Outside a legal context, "burden of proof" means that someone suggesting a new theory or stating a claim must provide evidence to support it: it is not sufficient to say "you can't disprove this". Specifically, when anyone is making a bold claim, it is not someone else's responsibility to disprove the claim, but is rather the person's responsibility who is making the bold claim to prove it.

  • skeptic2

    LT your understanding of the burden of proof seems the exception rather than the norm.

  • Beardo
    Beardo, I am interested to know what you think it is you saw, and how you arrived at that conclusion, so I can see where my approach would differ.

    @ Skeptic2

    The incidents I partially detailed are not my own, but those of a group of friends who I trust implicitly. I have had my own encounters, but nothing I wish to share, as they would be perceived as lightweight and will always remain 'personal'.

    I'll have a look at the info' you posted a little later - gotta go out

  • LittleToe

    I'm not quite sure of your point.

    Science isn't an entity in its own right. The scientific community comes up with a hypothesis to test and goes about testing it. You don't take a wild assertion and make application to a body collectively called "Science". The "someone" that your googled article refers to would likely be someone within the scientific community, usually with a Phd, who would be expected to accomplish a test that could be replicated and stand up to critical peer review.

    Nor for that matter is it an "exact" science, in that statistical probability is involved to discard a null hypothesis. Having done my fair share of t-tests I do have a reasonable idea of the process involved, and how exacting and rigorous the demands are. With this knowledge in mind I made no attempt to argue that there was empirical evidence for the supernatural.

    And even yet, I still believe. Maybe you'd like to offer a hypothesis of your own as to why that should be? Can you demonstrate the impartiality required to do so in a critical manner? Or have you got to the point where you're just arguing with me for the sake of it?

  • plmkrzy

    finger lickin'good!

  • plmkrzy

    This thread is calling for pudding and all we have is popcorn.

  • BlackSwan of Memphis
    BlackSwan of Memphis


    I'm curious about something with you.

    Let's say you saw, with your own two eyes, a table move across the room.

    You Know there is no one else in the room. You Know that You didn't make it happen.

    Since You didn't make it happen, you cannot recreate it.

    Were you hallucinating or did it really happen?


    Let's say you and a friend were sitting in a room and the piano (pretend you have one) starts playing by itself.

    You didn't make it happen. Your friend didn't make it happen. There is no logical explanation as to why it has happened.

    You didn't make this happen, you're more then a little freaked out. There is no way for you to prove that it happened. There is no way for you to recreate it. Therefore, when you bring it up on the board, yes this one, people say you're having delusions or you're a liar. Until you can prove it, it must not have happened.

    Now, mind you, I mean no disrespect with this comment, I am just very much interested in how you would go about dealing with this.

    Remember with the second time around you had an eyewitness.

    People claim that you and your friend are making it up. You have no other way to prove it.

    Just curious is all.

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