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DataPacRat
05-01-2010, 11:03 PM
Hello and Peace;

I've been using computers since 1980, the name 'DataPacRat' since 2001, and live in the Niagara region of Canada.

I'm not a Muslim - some of the terms I have used to describe myself include rationalist, skeptic, freethinker, empiricist, scientist, materialist, naturalist, secular humanist, igtheistic ignostic, libertarian monarchist, and, yes, atheist. If you wish to try to convert me, feel free, and I will do my best to read what you write and respond politely and rationally; however, before you make any such attempt, you should be aware that my atheism is based on a particular piece of evidence - that I have never found any reliable evidence that any form of the supernatural exists - and the logical principles of Russell's Teapot and Occam's Razor, and it seems unlikely I will be converted without encountering some reasonable evidence that the supernatural exists.

I am here not in hopes of converting or being converted, but of learning what I can about Islam and Muslims, and answering any questions asked of me and responding to any misunderstandings of my beliefs which I notice are mentioned.


I can't seem to find the option to edit a signature - I'm guessing that it will appear after I've passed some probationary period. Below is what I plan for my signature to be, unless images are allowed, in which case I will replace the quote with the same words in non-Latin characters. A rough translation into English is '"(skepticism) Why should I believe that?" is the most important question.'. If I am able to have a custom avatar, I intend for it to be the second word, ".iacu'i", which means, roughly, "the emotion on the neutral point halfway between belief and disbelief", in non-Latin characters, which roughly resembles .i'dlj and can be seen as my avatar at ummah . com.


Thank you for your time,
--
DataPacRat
lu .iacu'i ma krinu lo du'u .ei mi krici la'e di'u li'u traji lo ka vajni fo lo preti
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PouringRain
05-02-2010, 03:29 AM
Welcome.... why are you interested in learning abut Muslims and Islam? :) I am just curious. If you believe what you believe, and do not expect to be converted, then why do you find Islam and Muslims of interest? I suppose what I am asking is more specifically what it is you hope to gain from this place and what do you hope to contribute? What does it benefit you or what things are you looking to take away? Knowledge for knowledge's sake? Understanding?
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DataPacRat
05-02-2010, 04:15 AM
Originally Posted by PouringRain
Welcome.... why are you interested in learning abut Muslims and Islam? :) I am just curious. If you believe what you believe, and do not expect to be converted, then why do you find Islam and Muslims of interest? I suppose what I am asking is more specifically what it is you hope to gain from this place and what do you hope to contribute? What does it benefit you or what things are you looking to take away? Knowledge for knowledge's sake? Understanding?
Those are some quite good questions, which I'm happy to answer.

When it comes down to it, I suppose that one of the main things I want to learn here, is what it would take for me and Muslims to co-exist, and how peacefully that can be managed. I have had discussions with Muslims who insist that eventually the entire world should be run by governments run on Islamic principles, and in which all people be given the choice to 1) Convert to Islam; 2) be People of the Book, accept dhimmi status, and pay jizya instead of zakat; or 3) be killed. Until such time as I encounter reasonably good evidence that miracles really do happen, I cannot honestly convert to Islam; since I am not a Person of the Book of any sort, I cannot become a dhimmi by those peoples' standards; which, given the only option remaining to me under their plan, gives me a rather direct incentive to oppose their particular interpretation of the Quran and Hadith. Sun Tzu has been quoted as saying something along the lines that the greatest warrior is not the one who fights a hundred battles and wins them all, but the one who wins without fighting - thus, I hope to learn how to convince Muslims to take a path other than one which involves coming into physical conflict.

There are many other things I hope to learn, of course, such as enhancing my own critical thinking skills, which logical fallacies are commonly used in attempts to convert others to Islam, how Muslims tend to respond to evidence that directly contradicts a belief they hold (whether that belief is Quranically or Hadithly based or otherwise), and, of course, generally refining my understanding of how Islam is practiced in practice, rather than described in theory. "Knowledge for knowledge's sake" is a pretty good description, as is "understanding".

As for what I hope to contribute... I have had some success in some forums in being the Friendly Neighbourhood Atheist, explaining my own beliefs, and, more importantly, why I have them; as well as demonstrating that it's entirely possible to be an atheist who is a good, moral person, rather than someone who, say, goes around killing kittens for fun just because I don't have any fear of any consequences in the afterlife. Once I've been here a few days and gotten a better feel for the board, I'll probably start up a thread in Comparative Religion called "An atheist would like to converse", or the like, to open the floor to anyone who has any questions. I am hoping to encounter at least one Muslim who can at least understand what my arguments for my beliefs /are/, and accept that, at least from one standpoint, my thinking processes on the matter are rational, even if they disagree with the conclusions I have reached; because that seems to me to be the minimal level of respect necessary to lead to the start of some /real/ conversation on matters of shared interest.


Thank you for your time,
--
DataPacRat
lu .iacu'i ma krinu lo du'u .ei mi krici la'e di'u li'u traji lo ka vajni fo lo preti
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Woodrow
05-02-2010, 04:30 AM
Welcome to LI DataPacRat,

I hope you discover that us Muslims come from a very diverse group. I can not think of a single member who could be considered representative of all of Islam. We are very much individuals. The only actual representation of Islam would be quotes from verified sources such as the Qur'an, Ahadith, Fiqh ul Sunnah and some recognized scholars.

Please enjoy your stay with us and may you find what you are seeking. You are correct you do have some posting restrictions as a limited member, which will disappear after 50 posts and you reach full membership.
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Muhammad
05-02-2010, 02:47 PM
Greetings DataPacRat,

Welcome to LI and thanks for your introduction. :)

I would question the concept of "evidence" that you mentioned in your post.

When you say you have not found any reliable evidence that any form of the supernatural exists, this does not itself become "evidence" to disprove the supernatural exists. You could say it is what you choose to believe, but to claim to have evidence is a different thing altogether. One might claim there is lack of evidence that life exists on other planets. Can one then, based upon this statement, use it as evidence that no life exists whatsoever on other planets?

You also mentioned skepticism. But this can go both ways can it not - that one could ask, "Why shouldn't I believe that?"

There are many other things I hope to learn, of course, such as enhancing my own critical thinking skills, which logical fallacies are commonly used in attempts to convert others to Islam, how Muslims tend to respond to evidence that directly contradicts a belief they hold (whether that belief is Quranically or Hadithly based or otherwise)
Again, I have yet to come across "evidence" that contradicts a belief I hold.

I am hoping to encounter at least one Muslim who can at least understand what my arguments for my beliefs /are/, and accept that, at least from one standpoint, my thinking processes on the matter are rational, even if they disagree with the conclusions I have reached; because that seems to me to be the minimal level of respect necessary to lead to the start of some /real/ conversation on matters of shared interest.
I might be able to gain a better appreciation for what arguments you use for your beliefs, but that does not mean I should agree they are rational, in the same way I should not be expected to agree with the conclusions reached. If I disagree with the conclusions reached, then it follows that I must consider the thinking processes behind them to be flawed.

This is probably the wrong place for this discussion, but seeing as you mentioned quite a few things here I thought I'd comment in case I miss them later on.

Peace.
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Abdul Wahid
05-02-2010, 03:11 PM
Welcome to the forum.

Hope you enjoy your stay and find it beneficial.

Peace.
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Misz_Muslimah
05-02-2010, 03:33 PM
Welcome to the forum DataPacRat!
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DataPacRat
05-02-2010, 04:59 PM
Woodrow, Abdul Wahid, and Misz Muslimah, thank you for your welcomes.

Originally Posted by Muhammad
Greetings DataPacRat,

Welcome to LI and thanks for your introduction. :)
And thank you, too. :)

I would question the concept of "evidence" that you mentioned in your post.
Fair enough. In many conversations I've had, many disagreements about all sorts of things turn out to be disagreements about epistemology - how we know what we know.

When you say you have not found any reliable evidence that any form of the supernatural exists, this does not itself become "evidence" to disprove the supernatural exists. You could say it is what you choose to believe, but to claim to have evidence is a different thing altogether. One might claim there is lack of evidence that life exists on other planets. Can one then, based upon this statement, use it as evidence that no life exists whatsoever on other planets?

You also mentioned skepticism. But this can go both ways can it not - that one could ask, "Why shouldn't I believe that?"
The main concept here is 'burden of proof'. Let's take something a little more down-to-earth... dowsing. (Or acupuncture, or chiropractic, or astrology, or ear candling, or iridology, or homeopathy, or feng shui, or numerology, or etc.) It is not up to people who think dowsing doesn't work to prove it doesn't - that requires proving a negative, which is almost always impossible in practice. On the contrary, it is up to the person who makes the claim to provide evidence for that claim.

If they do not produce any evidence which is useful in distinguishing whether our universe is one in which dowsing works or is one in which dowsing does not work, then we use the principle of Russell's Teapot , a thought experiment where somebody proposes that there is a teapot floating in orbit somewhere between Earth and Mars, too small to be detected by our telescopes. Russell said that just because the existence of his teapot cannot be disproved, does not mean that it is reasonable to believe it exists. This is a form of Occam's Razor , in which one hypothesis is our universe of atoms-and-photons, which can be derived from the existence of H2O, and a universe of atoms-and-photons-and-unproven-supernatural-events.


Again, I have yet to come across "evidence" that contradicts a belief I hold.

I might be able to gain a better appreciation for what arguments you use for your beliefs, but that does not mean I should agree they are rational, in the same way I should not be expected to agree with the conclusions reached. If I disagree with the conclusions reached, then it follows that I must consider the thinking processes behind them to be flawed.
I'm going to quote from an short essay I've grown to appreciate, "Twelve Virtues of Rationality" by Elizier S. Yudkowsky.

Originally Posted by Yudkowsky
The fourth virtue is evenness. One who wishes to believe says, “Does the evidence permit me to believe?” One who wishes to disbelieve asks, “Does the evidence force me to believe?” Beware lest you place huge burdens of proof only on propositions you dislike, and then defend yourself by saying: “But it is good to be skeptical.” If you attend only to favorable evidence, picking and choosing from your gathered data, then the more data you gather, the less you know. If you are selective about which arguments you inspect for flaws, or how hard you inspect for flaws, then every flaw you learn how to detect makes you that much stupider. If you first write at the bottom of a sheet of paper, “And therefore, the sky is green!”, it does not matter what arguments you write above it afterward; the conclusion is already written, and it is already correct or already wrong. To be clever in argument is not rationality but rationalization. Intelligence, to be useful, must be used for something other than defeating itself. Listen to hypotheses as they plead their cases before you, but remember that you are not a hypothesis, you are the judge. Therefore do not seek to argue for one side or another, for if you knew your destination, you would already be there.
This is probably the wrong place for this discussion, but seeing as you mentioned quite a few things here I thought I'd comment in case I miss them later on.

Peace.
No worries, and I hope to chat with you further.
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Muhammad
05-02-2010, 06:18 PM
Hello again,

Originally Posted by DataPacRat
Russell said that just because the existence of his teapot cannot be disproved, does not mean that it is reasonable to believe it exists.
The thing with faith in God, however, is that it's very different to a random thought experiment. People throughout time have held the belief in the existence of God. It isn't something that one or two people invented and used the lack of opposing evidence as the sole support for their claim.

On the other hand, we need to consider the converse of Russel's Teapot principle (if we can call it that) - because you haven't found satisfactory evidence that the teapot exists, does not mean you have sufficient evidence to prove it doesn't exist.

I'll leave it there for now.

Peace. :)
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DataPacRat
05-02-2010, 10:11 PM
Originally Posted by Muhammad
On the other hand, we need to consider the converse of Russel's Teapot principle (if we can call it that) - because you haven't found satisfactory evidence that the teapot exists, does not mean you have sufficient evidence to prove it doesn't exist.

I'll leave it there for now.

Peace. :)
I'd like to continue this conversation, if you're interested - and since this subforum seems to be the wrong place, I'll try starting up that conversational thread in Comparative Religion earlier than I was planning, and we can do so there, if you'd like.
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Beardo
05-02-2010, 10:13 PM
Originally Posted by DataPacRat
I'd like to continue this conversation, if you're interested - and since this subforum seems to be the wrong place, I'll try starting up that conversational thread in Comparative Religion earlier than I was planning, and we can do so there, if you'd like.
Ah, an experienced forumer! Most people don't know the rules regarding categories and threads. You'll mix in quite well in this forum, God willing. :)
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Muhammad
05-02-2010, 10:34 PM
Greetings,

Originally Posted by DataPacRat
I'd like to continue this conversation, if you're interested - and since this subforum seems to be the wrong place, I'll try starting up that conversational thread in Comparative Religion earlier than I was planning, and we can do so there, if you'd like.
Sure, that's probably the best thing to do. I can copy/move our posts there whenever you wish to make the thread. Perhaps anyone else wishing to contribute can also do so there.
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DataPacRat
05-03-2010, 03:19 AM
And here's a question which really is appropriate for the newcomer's subforum:

Is there any way to tell whether a new thread I've tried to post has been rejected, or is just still pending review?


Thank you for your time,
--
DataPacRat
lu .iacu'i ma krinu lo du'u .ei mi krici la'e di'u li'u traji lo ka vajni fo lo preti
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PouringRain
05-03-2010, 04:08 AM
Originally Posted by DataPacRat
And here's a question which really is appropriate for the newcomer's subforum:

Is there any way to tell whether a new thread I've tried to post has been rejected, or is just still pending review?


Thank you for your time,
--
DataPacRat
lu .iacu'i ma krinu lo du'u .ei mi krici la'e di'u li'u traji lo ka vajni fo lo preti
I think if it is rejected they will send you a PM stating such? Otherwise you just wait. I could be completely wrong. :)
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جوري
05-03-2010, 04:31 AM
Originally Posted by DataPacRat

The main concept here is 'burden of proof'. Let's take something a little more down-to-earth... dowsing. (Or acupuncture, or chiropractic, or astrology, or ear candling, or iridology, or homeopathy, or feng shui, or numerology, or etc.) It is not up to people who think dowsing doesn't work to prove it doesn't - that requires proving a negative, which is almost always impossible in practice. On the contrary, it is up to the person who makes the claim to provide evidence for that claim.

.
Greetings,

:welcome: aboard and we hope you enjoy your stay with us.

I like what you have said above.. and hope indeed that you can see that such is a two way stream.. for atheism is a religion all its own.. not only does it not accept the current 'theories' on the origin of the universe or its originator but sadder still it fails to provide for us a logical concise data-based alternative to how it all came to be and a chart for everything in existence without resorting to equally fallacious if not down right hilarious claims/beliefs albeit they are varied from atheist to atheist!

The claims for Islam span compendiums, and it is up to the individual to the decide whether that is in fact in concert with logic and abridges some of the more occult aspects that we have no answers to or not--But atheism has unfortunately done nothing of the sort.. in fact any attempt at intelligent conversation with atheists usually descends down to some derisory dialogue from which all parties prefer to ditch.

I speak for myself when I say, I have formed a very poor opinion of atheists in general and I can't imagine 'disagreements about epistemology' spanning more than a paragraph especially when you have no interest in 'converting' or being 'converted' and no strong doctrine beyond the usual run of the mill dawkins diatribe for comparison..


nonetheless we welcome you aboard and hope you find our many sections here enjoyable!

all the best
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DataPacRat
05-03-2010, 04:54 AM
Originally Posted by τhε ṿαlε'ṡ lïlÿ
:welcome: aboard and we hope you enjoy your stay with us.
Thank you for the welcome. (It appears I'm unable to click on posters' profiles; do you mind being called "The Vale's Lily", or are your non-ASCII characters important to you?)

I hope to have a chance to converse with you further about your perceptions of atheism and atheists, and, perhaps, a chance to try to gently correct any misunderstandings you may have acquired, much as I have had a number of my misunderstandings about Islam corrected by Muslim posters I've read. If you're interested, then as soon as the thread I started in Comparative Religion is approved, we can go into further details.
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جوري
05-03-2010, 06:00 AM
Originally Posted by DataPacRat
Thank you for the welcome. (It appears I'm unable to click on posters' profiles; do you mind being called "The Vale's Lily", or are your non-ASCII characters important to you?)

I hope to have a chance to converse with you further about your perceptions of atheism and atheists, and, perhaps, a chance to try to gently correct any misunderstandings you may have acquired, much as I have had a number of my misunderstandings about Islam corrected by Muslim posters I've read. If you're interested, then as soon as the thread I started in Comparative Religion is approved, we can go into further details.
yes you can call me the Vale's lily or anything within those confines you like..
the atheists I have met in real life differ greatly from forumers I suspect the anonymity gives a chance to many to just be plain uncivilized.. but the fact of the matter is, I suppose there is no agreement on what civility is now a days.. and indeed as a member you should feel free to start or gauge any topic you desire..

all the best
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