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Introduction: How to reason

Section 12: Summary

Reason - examining facts and applying logic - helps us to understand and come to conclusions about ourselves, our lives and the world and universe we live in.

O.12a The function of reason

Reason can be used in any situation - should I buy this soap powder? who should I vote for and why? (Ask yourself who profits when you buy a certain soap powder? Do you know if that powder cleans better than others, or than other methods of cleaning? What are the alternatives? What are the costs and benefits of using each? And so on...)

On this website we use reason for two purposes - (i) to determine if there is a God and, (ii) if there is no God, to determine how we should lead our lives.

O.12b Basic principles

Effective reasoning depends on the following principles (examples referring to God and religion are in parentheses):

1. Distinguish what we know from what we think we know (we know we are alive; do we know if God exists?). Section 2

2. Reason, don't rationalize. Start with the question not the answer ("how did the universe begin?", not "God created the universe; now let us prove it."). Section 3

3. Take into account all the facts, not only those that support your theory (how did the koala get to Australia after the Flood?). Section 4

4. Distinguish between cause and correlation and be prepared to accept that events may not be linked at all (does everything, including God, need a cause?). Section 5

5. Don't jump to conclusions (a Biblical event may the result of natural causes not divine intervention). Section 6

6. Proof of part of a theory is not proof that the whole theory is correct (we can prove parts of the Bible are true but that does not mean the whole Bible is fact). Section 6

7. We can prove some negatives (so perhaps we can prove God does not exist) Section 7

How good is your reasoning?

Can you distinguish lies from truth? Or a good argument from a false one? Can you when tell someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes?

We keep physically fit by exercising regularly and eating healthy
food. The same is true of our minds - we need regular mental exercise and a good diet of solid facts and logic.

This chapter offers basic reasoning skills to help you understand the contradictions that lie at the heart of all religion.

0.1: Basic principles
Start at the beginning

0.2: What do we know?
Separate fact from fiction

0.3: Start with the question ...
... not with the answer

0.4: All the evidence ...
... not just some of it

0.5: Cause, correlation and no connection
What's the difference?

0.6: Don't jump to conclusions ...
... or you could land in the ...

0.7: No way
Proving a negative

0.8: Occam's Razor
The simplest solution

0.9: Facts, knowledge and science
What we know and how we know it

0.10: Know or believe?
The impossibility of God

0.11: Reason and faith
Understanding the difference

0.12: Summary

Finished the introduction? Move on to

Chapter 1
Defining God

Does God exist? Before we try to answer that question we need to have a clear idea of who or what God is. How do we describe God? What versions of God are on offer?

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8. The simplest explanation is usually closest to reality. (if the idea of God makes the universe more complicated, then God probably does not exist). Section 8

9. Science is the only method we have of determining facts. (only science can tell us if God exists). Section 9

0.12c You choose

Having come to this point, you have a choice.

If you still think God might exist, go to Chapter One: Defining God, the first of four chapters looking at the question "Does God Exist?".

If you want to remind yourself of the arguments that prove that God does not exist, go to Instant Atheism!!!

If you're way past the idea of God but are uncertain about morality and life in a godless world, go straight to A Moral Code.

Whichever way you go, welcome to the refreshing, challenging and ultimately fulfilling world of reason.

If you didn't see it earlier, here's another opportunity to watch this basic lesson on reasoning from Qualia Soup

Chapter 1: Defining God

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If God existed, he would...

admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create

recognize that eternity is meaningless

deny both heaven and hell

disown all men and women who speak in his name

denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"

help the human race to thrive without him

If God existed, he would be an atheist.

What is the difference between science and faith?

science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything

faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing

Which do you trust?

"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"

Check the answer

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