The philosophic problems of God

nigelTheBold
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The philosophic problems of God

There's a couple of new theists on the boards. Some are mostly just trolling, and some are a little more sincere, though no less arrogant. During debates with these new theists, though, I've noticed a common theme: an appeal to God as the ultimate generic answer to all unanswered questions. In fact, in one thread, God was essentially defined as the ultimate answer to every unanswered question.

So, I would like to address why an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God is a philosophically bankrupt concept.

It's simple, really, and can be summed up in a single sentence: This God presents an unworkable epistemology.

First, let me state that I think philosophy has served its purpose, by creating (or discovering) the single effective epistemology: science. Science obsoleted all other epistemologies, as it is the only one that demonstrably and provably produces correct results. There is no other known epistemology that is effective at all, let alone as effective as science.

Now, this isn't to say that science is perfect. Science doesn't really prove things, per se. It's very good at disproving things, though. Once an hypothesis or theory has been disproven,  that concept is no longer valid nor accepted. This is important when many ideas compete to explain a set of data. If you can disprove all but one, you have a good candidate for the correct idea.

It's also good at increasing confidence in hypotheses and theories that appear to be correct. Even though our confidence in a concept may never quite reach 100%, we can converge on absolute certainty to within acceptable bounds, to where our confidence and absolute certainty are indistinguishable. (Take, for example, the theory of evolution through natural selection.) The ontology derived from application of the scientific method has many theories that are so close to certain that they are indistinguishable from certain; there are many more theories that are accepted, but not necessarily unassailable; and there are quite a few that are still heavily debated (I'm looking at you, string theory). Further, there are huge areas of ignorance or near-ignorance, such as we have with the origins of the universe.

The demonstrable success of science as an epistemology gives me hope that we will be able to illuminate these dark swaths of ignorance. As I try to base my beliefs on evidence, I point to the historical success of science to not only fill in our ignorance, but to point to hitherto unknown areas of ignorance.

The metaphysics derived from the scientific method is naturalism, a universe which is comprised solely of matter, energy, and the relationships between them. As this metaphysics is derived from the epistemology of science, it is the only metaphysics with a solid foundation.

Now that you know my bias, I will present the exact opposite epistemology:

God.

The problem with an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God as creator of the universe is simple. Once you assume the universe was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, you can no longer assume anything about reality. And by that, I mean anything. You can't even assume that reality itself exists.

Reality could be nothing more than a figment of God's imagination. Or, perhaps God created the universe ten seconds ago, with the appearance of antiquity (fossil light from distant galaxies lensed by gravity, for instance). Or perhaps God hasn't created the universe yet, but intends to Any Time Now, and all this that you think is happening at the moment is really just a memory of the "you" created in an hour, simply because God wanted you to have a history.

All of these options are equally valid. The metaphysics based on the epistemology of God is completely undefined, as all potential options of an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God are limitless.

One might say that science works, and what we observe about the universe is true, including its great antiquity; but that God merely set things in motion. From an epistemological standpoint, that option is no more valid an any other potential option. Choosing any option is completely arbitrary.

If you choose to believe that God created this universe at the Big Bang, and that naturalism has essentially prevailed (with only minor meddling), you do so by corrupting the essence of the one epistemology which is known to work. You introduce the ultimate wild card: "God did it."

And by introducing "God did it," you throw out any claim to a known reality. The epistemology of God doesn't support a knowable, coherent metaphysics.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Quote:So, I would like to

Quote:
So, I would like to address why an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God is a philosophically bankrupt concept.

The Gods I believe aren't omniscient(but can be very wise), omnipotent(but can posess great strength), nor infinite(but can live a long time).

 

So I guess I won't be very helpful in this discussion.


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Ciarin wrote:Quote:So, I

Ciarin wrote:

Quote:
So, I would like to address why an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God is a philosophically bankrupt concept.

The Gods I believe aren't omniscient(but can be very wise), omnipotent(but can posess great strength), nor infinite(but can live a long time).

 

So I guess I won't be very helpful in this discussion.

Nope. I certainly wasn't addressing anthropomorphic pantheons. There are other philosophic problems with them, but: they are a lot more fun than the infiinite God.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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I really like this treatment

I really like this treatment of the subject matter. I liked Hamby's, Topher's, and todangst's, too, but I think this might be my favourite.

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HisWillness wrote:I really

HisWillness wrote:

I really like this treatment of the subject matter. I liked Hamby's, Topher's, and todangst's, too, but I think this might be my favourite.

Thanks, Will. I appreciate that.

I was looking for Topher's version in response to Chuck, desertwolf9, and L0ather. But I couldn't find it (after about 10 seconds of searching -- who's got that kind of time?!?), so wrote my own thoughts down.

And now Chuck has spectacularly imploded, desertwolf9 is AWOL, and L0ather isn't answering my calls. I mean, you work your heart out for someone, and this is the kind of thanks you get.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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 desertwolf9 and L0ather

 desertwolf9 and L0ather might be back. They probably just need to check with their respective local religious leaders. Mig_killer's a riot, though, isn't he/she?

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I like to point out that,

I like to point out that, the regularity, the 'order', we perceive in nature is not a good argument for God, since science shows how what we see as order and complexity naturally arise from the regularity of the basic physical laws.

The only kind of God that this could really point to is the Deist God who 'designs' those physical laws, 'creates' the Big Bang or whatever is thought of as the initial state of the Universe, and then remains 'hands off'.

The signs of an intelligent interventionist God would be the opposite of this order, namely behaviour which did not fit into any predictable pattern, which contradicted well-established 'laws'. IOW where a well-defined set of objects in a well-defined state suddenly behaved in a wildly different way from how such a setup had behaved in all previous tests. Obviously we would merely assume some natural factor we were not aware of was the cause, but my point is that such a violation would be much stronger case for "God".

But of course the Theist will typically claim both sides: the order proves Divine design, the "inexplicable" violation of that order also proves God, with his 'God-of-the-gaps' hat on.

If we had an experiment where the outcome varied from test to test despite tightly controlled conditions, we would need to examine the statistics. If repeated tests fitted ever more closely to well-defined probabilistic distribution, we would still be justified in rejecting any supernatural explanation, since it seems to me that it would be a strange sort of super intelligence whose decisions were as statistically predictable as the toss of a perfect coin. This is an interesting area, since many Theists have a problem with fitting such probabilistic behaviour, where the outcome of any individual interaction is essentially unpredictable, into their metaphysics, where 'materialism' produces perfectly deterministic 'mechanical', cause-effect behaviour, and the only alternative 'causal' agent was Mind.

Some have tried use this to argue that Quantum mechanical behaviour like this is evidence that Materialism is false, which is true in the case of primitive reductionist Materialism, but in typical fashion insist that this proves that the only alternative they can conceive, namely some form of Dualism, which allows for souls and supernatural entities, must be valid.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:But of

BobSpence1 wrote:

But of course the Theist will typically claim both sides: the order proves Divine design, the "inexplicable" violation of that order also proves God, with his 'God-of-the-gaps' hat on.

Not this theist.


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Ciarin wrote:BobSpence1

Ciarin wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

But of course the Theist will typically claim both sides: the order proves Divine design, the "inexplicable" violation of that order also proves God, with his 'God-of-the-gaps' hat on.

Not this theist.

I did say 'typically'...

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Ciarin wrote:BobSpence1

Ciarin wrote:

 

Not this theist.

  So you, in a mannerof speaking, are practicing a newer version of the real "Old Time Religion" ?  ..at least as it relates to ancient European history.    Am I close ?

I clicked your web link and did a quick bit of browsing around.  (  ps, you were really a cute kid and your little daughter is too. )

 

[ edited for clarity  ]

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BobSpence1 wrote:Ciarin

BobSpence1 wrote:

Ciarin wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

But of course the Theist will typically claim both sides: the order proves Divine design, the "inexplicable" violation of that order also proves God, with his 'God-of-the-gaps' hat on.

Not this theist.

I did say 'typically'...

So you did. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to "theist probably means christian" in these forums.


 


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ProzacDeathWish wrote:  So

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

  So you, in a mannerof speaking, are practicing a newer version of the real "Old Time Religion" ?  ..at least as it relates to ancient European history.    Am I close ?

I clicked your web link and did a quick bit of browsing around.  (  ps, you were really a cute kid and your little daughter is too. )

 

[ edited for clarity  ]

Yes. And thank you.


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Ciarin is a cutie.

Ciarin is a cutie.


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Ciarin wrote:So you did. I

Ciarin wrote:
So you did. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to "theist probably means christian" in these forums.
It's better to think of it as always about the "typical" or "average" theist of any stripe, really. We all understand that it's never been everyone who hangs on to any of the arguments we regularly refute here.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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 Quote:I really like this

 

Quote:
I really like this treatment of the subject matter. I liked Hamby's, Topher's, and todangst's, too, but I think this might be my favourite.

Hey!  I say this all the time:

Nigel wrote:
The problem with an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God as creator of the universe is simple. Once you assume the universe was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, you can no longer assume anything about reality. And by that, I mean anything. You can't even assume that reality itself exists.

Well, technically, I say that this is the problem with the supernatural, so I guess it's just two sides of the same coin.  Any infiniite, omniscient, omnipotent entity would have to exist outside of the natural because it is internally contradictory and therefore impossible in the natural.  

Now that I'm done prickling, yes... I agree that this is a really good wording of the problem.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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 Quote:I like to point out

 

Quote:
I like to point out that, the regularity, the 'order', we perceive in nature is not a good argument for God, since science shows how what we see as order and complexity naturally arise from the regularity of the basic physical laws.

Oh, hell... what's the name of that neato math trick where you make a sequence from the previous two numbers?

1,2,3,5,8,13,...  It's called the __________ sequence, and it's hidden in damn near everything on earth, apparently.  I have no memory for math stuff.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:I

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
I like to point out that, the regularity, the 'order', we perceive in nature is not a good argument for God, since science shows how what we see as order and complexity naturally arise from the regularity of the basic physical laws.

Oh, hell... what's the name of that neato math trick where you make a sequence from the previous two numbers?

1,2,3,5,8,13,...  It's called the __________ sequence, and it's hidden in damn near everything on earth, apparently.  I have no memory for math stuff.

Fibonacci sequence.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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 Damn, that was fast.

 Damn, that was fast.  Thanks!

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: Damn,

Hambydammit wrote:
Damn, that was fast.  Thanks!
You're quite welcome. Now, before anyone gets to thinking I know much about math: I watched "The Da Vinci Code" last night. >.>;


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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 LOL!That's a perfect

 LOL!

That's a perfect example of people getting things completely ass-backwards (or so I've heard... haven't seen or watched it).  It's like the article I wrote on NDE's.  Some people see similarities across cultures between NDEs and say, "See!  That means it's god!"

The correct answer is, "Duh, you nitwit!  Everyone having them happens to be human.  There's your common thread."

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:Hey!  I

Hambydammit wrote:
Hey!  I say this all the time:

Shit, we all do. I just like how Nigel's version has been refined down. It's like the culmination of all his posts folded and hammered into one sharp sword. I just agree with this presentation the most. Especially the hard line about metaphysics and epistemology. I usually say the same thing, only in fluffier terms.

Hambydammit wrote:
Now that I'm done prickling, yes... I agree that this is a really good wording of the problem.

You know, eventually we're all going to be able to have these arguments in the absence of apologists. It's already not fair. I already feel like a bully even discussing these things. At best, the talk turns metaphysical, and out comes the smack-down. Then it's Tacitus this and Josephus that, and it turns out they don't read Latin OR Greek, nor did they know that all the manuscripts we have for these guys were already copied five times before someone found it in the 9th to 11th centuries. Then it's Quantum Mechanics, which it turns out absolutely NOBODY seems to understand AT ALL. The final phase involves the most ridiculous type of metaphysics, which is quickly crushed by the above epistemological treatment. Then you're just left feeling sorry for the idiot who brought it up.

I probably just have a bias for Nigel's writing because we joined the boards at the same time. Remember ganging up on Marty? He never emailed me back! Or that poor earnest bastard who used to be a bouncer at a strip club or something? Good times.

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Whereas I'm just lurking

Whereas I'm just lurking right now, waiting for Nigel to get a name wrong so I can pounce yet again!

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Quote: Now, this isn't to

I am about to make a series of intelligent, civil comments on the OP. I predict that they will be wildly misconstrued, mocked, quoted out of context, and other very silly things. And yet I persist.

I hope to show that the Christian epistemology does not have the alleged flaw, and that the secular epistemology presented has problems.

Quote:
Now, this isn't to say that science is perfect. Science doesn't really prove things, per se. It's very good at disproving things, though. Once an hypothesis or theory has been disproven,  that concept is no longer valid nor accepted. This is important when many ideas compete to explain a set of data. If you can disprove all but one, you have a good candidate for the correct idea.

You are not correct. Science can't construct final disproofs for the same reason it can't construct final proofs. Look, suppose we have a theory, call it theory A. Suppose further that A is falsified by fact f. Now, a fact does not interpret itself. It must be interpreted by a theory if we are to make any sense of it. So call the theory that interprets f such that A is falsified, theory B. Suppose further that B is later falsified by some other fact. Now A is UNfalsified, because we can no longer interpret f such that A is falsified. Because we cannot construct a final proof of B, we cannot construct a final disproof of A through f.

Let me concretize that. Suppose it's the year 200 BC. Let's pretend I'm a geocentrist (Yes, I know, ha, the Christian is a geocentrist. Get it out of your system.) and you're a heliocentrist. I think the earth does not move, and you think it moves. To decide between the two theories, we go to the top of a tower and drop a rock. The rock lands right at the bottom of the tower, below where we dropped it. Interpreting that observation on Aristotle's physics, we conclude that the earth must not be moving, because if it was moving, the rock would have landed farther away.

So here's what happened: The dropping of the rock (f) interpreted on Aristotle's physics (B) falsifies heliocentrism (A). Now fast forward to when Aristotle's physics is falsified. Notice that the dropping of the rock no longer falsifies heliocentrism. In other words, heliocentrism has been UNfalsified.

Quote:
 The problem with an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God as creator of the universe is simple. Once you assume the universe was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, you can no longer assume anything about reality. And by that, I mean anything. You can't even assume that reality itself exists. 

Why? This is simply bizarre. P does not imply Q here, buddy. The fact that an omnipotent entity exists does not mean that I have to become a skeptic. I mean, the fact that I can imagine God doing some crazy stuff does not imply that God actually does that stuff. And I don't have any evidence to that effect. This is no different from asking how you don't know you're a brain in a vat. (I can imagine a theist writing a similar OP: "once you concede that you're a physical brain, you can't assume anything about reality, etc." ) You reject the idea because there is no evidence for it, and I can reject this with equal validity.

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

Let me concretize that. Suppose it's the year 200 BC. Let's pretend I'm a geocentrist (Yes, I know, ha, the Christian is a geocentrist. Get it out of your system.) and you're a heliocentrist. I think the earth does not move, and you think it moves. To decide between the two theories, we go to the top of a tower and drop a rock. The rock lands right at the bottom of the tower, below where we dropped it. Interpreting that observation on Aristotle's physics, we conclude that the earth must not be moving, because if it was moving, the rock would have landed farther away.

So here's what happened: The dropping of the rock (f) interpreted on Aristotle's physics (B) falsifies heliocentrism (A). Now fast forward to when Aristotle's physics is falsified. Notice that the dropping of the rock no longer falsifies heliocentrism. In other words, heliocentrism has been UNfalsified.

There is a sense in that facts can be found wrong. One definition of fact that I like is something that is known well enough that to withhold the information would be wrong. But that is not what you are saying. What you are talking about it reference frames. We live with approximate truth. Given a reference frame, heliocentrism is falsified and we cannot go back unless we find a reference frame larger than relativistic physics to bring it back. I am confident enough to say that it is a fact that it will not be shown to be approximately true ever again.

And I have to agree with Nigel. It would be impossible to prove that my revealed knowledge of God is better than someone elses revealed knowledge about God. If God does not communicate to you personally, there is no knowledge of God. It has to be subjective. Even when we agree with other christians we probably aren't talking about exactly the same concepts, only approximate concepts and approximate truths.


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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:
You are not correct. Science can't construct final disproofs for the same reason it can't construct final proofs. Look, suppose we have a theory, call it theory A. Suppose further that A is falsified by fact f. Now, a fact does not interpret itself. It must be interpreted by a theory if we are to make any sense of it. So call the theory that interprets f such that A is falsified, theory B. Suppose further that B is later falsified by some other fact. Now A is UNfalsified, because we can no longer interpret f such that A is falsified. Because we cannot construct a final proof of B, we cannot construct a final disproof of A through f.

I think you may misunderstand falsification (at least in the modern sense, as Popper would have it). Given any hypothesis A that does not completely conform to the available evidence, it is discarded. It's discarded because it doesn't fit. You don't go back to considering it plausible. However, if you've taken "proof" in it's correctly stringent meaning, then you've just pointed out Nigel's ambiguous use of the term.

Presuppositionalist wrote:
So here's what happened: The dropping of the rock (f) interpreted on Aristotle's physics (B) falsifies heliocentrism (A). Now fast forward to when Aristotle's physics is falsified. Notice that the dropping of the rock no longer falsifies heliocentrism. In other words, heliocentrism has been UNfalsified.

I think you really do misunderstand falsification at this point, but I understand what you mean. If we have an over-arching hypothesis like "heliocentrism", then it would be no problem to demonstrate that we could falsify all over the place without getting anywhere. That's more of a philosophical criticism of the hypothesis than of the process of falsification. What I mean is that poorly-formed hypotheses are "unfalsifiable". Heliocentrism is just a bad hypothesis.

Presuppositionalist wrote:
The fact that an omnipotent entity exists does not mean that I have to become a skeptic. I mean, the fact that I can imagine God doing some crazy stuff does not imply that God actually does that stuff. And I don't have any evidence to that effect. This is no different from asking how you don't know you're a brain in a vat. (I can imagine a theist writing a similar OP: "once you concede that you're a physical brain, you can't assume anything about reality, etc." ) You reject the idea because there is no evidence for it, and I can reject this with equal validity.

You may have misunderstood what Nigel was saying. Outside of a religious context, there are no creatures of godly description. Since none show up, they resemble figments of someone's imagination much more than they resemble things in reality.

 

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Aristotle's physics, at

Aristotle's physics, at least that part which predicted how a rock would fall when dropped from a moving object could have been falsified easily at the time, if anyone had thought to perform the simple experiment of dropping an object while riding in a moving chariot.

Actually even the path of a thrown object strictl falsifies Aristotle's physics. So it was only the fallacy of argument from authority that kept Aristotle's physics in its place of respect, with the help of a lot of specious hand-waving straw-clutching argument to 'explain' the anommaly

So what was actually falsified was the totality of heliocentrism in the context of Aristotle's physics, which remains falsified. It's just that we now know the error was in Aristotle's physics, not heliocentrism. And this could have been easily established at the time, if anyone had thought to try.

if the discipline of Science had been in place at the time, Aristotle's ideas would have been thrown out long before, but we had to wait for people like Galileo for this to start happening. But genuinely new ways of understanding take time to develop and spread, as it should be to some extent, otherwise we have the opposite problem of crazy but intuitively appealing ideas to overwhelm whole societies.

So the real core problem here is basing 'knowledge' heavily or entirely on Authority, such as Religious dogma or sacred texts....

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I'm confused. Y'all keep

I'm confused. Y'all keep talking about heliocentrism being falsified. I thought it was geocentrism that was Aristotle's thing.

I also thought heliocentrism was an accepted (if less than detailed) idea about the local sol/plantes system, as it means sun-centered.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:I'm

JillSwift wrote:

I'm confused. Y'all keep talking about heliocentrism being falsified. I thought it was geocentrism that was Aristotle's thing.

I also thought heliocentrism was an accepted (if less than detailed) idea about the local sol/plantes system, as it means sun-centered.

The idea is that according to Aristotle's 'physics', they would have expected to see a difference in the path of a dropped object if the Earth was actually moving, since they did not recognise inertia or what came to be the Laws of Motion, let alone 'Inertial Frames of Reference'.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:The idea is

BobSpence1 wrote:
The idea is that according to Aristotle's 'physics', they would have expected to see a difference in the path of a dropped object if the Earth was actually moving, since they did not recognise inertia or what came to be the Laws of Motion, let alone 'Inertial Frames of Reference'.
Yes, I get that bit. But I thought that's why Aristotle came to a geocentric conclusion.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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nigelTheBold wrote:There's a

nigelTheBold wrote:

There's a couple of new theists on the boards. Some are mostly just trolling, and some are a little more sincere, though no less arrogant. During debates with these new theists, though, I've noticed a common theme: an appeal to God as the ultimate generic answer to all unanswered questions. In fact, in one thread, God was essentially defined as the ultimate answer to every unanswered question.

So, I would like to address why an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God is a philosophically bankrupt concept.

It's simple, really, and can be summed up in a single sentence: This God presents an unworkable epistemology.

First, let me state that I think philosophy has served its purpose, by creating (or discovering) the single effective epistemology: science. Science obsoleted all other epistemologies, as it is the only one that demonstrably and provably produces correct results. There is no other known epistemology that is effective at all, let alone as effective as science.

Now, this isn't to say that science is perfect. Science doesn't really prove things, per se. It's very good at disproving things, though. Once an hypothesis or theory has been disproven,  that concept is no longer valid nor accepted. This is important when many ideas compete to explain a set of data. If you can disprove all but one, you have a good candidate for the correct idea.

It's also good at increasing confidence in hypotheses and theories that appear to be correct. Even though our confidence in a concept may never quite reach 100%, we can converge on absolute certainty to within acceptable bounds, to where our confidence and absolute certainty are indistinguishable. (Take, for example, the theory of evolution through natural selection.) The ontology derived from application of the scientific method has many theories that are so close to certain that they are indistinguishable from certain; there are many more theories that are accepted, but not necessarily unassailable; and there are quite a few that are still heavily debated (I'm looking at you, string theory). Further, there are huge areas of ignorance or near-ignorance, such as we have with the origins of the universe.

The demonstrable success of science as an epistemology gives me hope that we will be able to illuminate these dark swaths of ignorance. As I try to base my beliefs on evidence, I point to the historical success of science to not only fill in our ignorance, but to point to hitherto unknown areas of ignorance.

The metaphysics derived from the scientific method is naturalism, a universe which is comprised solely of matter, energy, and the relationships between them. As this metaphysics is derived from the epistemology of science, it is the only metaphysics with a solid foundation.

Now that you know my bias, I will present the exact opposite epistemology:

God.

The problem with an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God as creator of the universe is simple. Once you assume the universe was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, you can no longer assume anything about reality. And by that, I mean anything. You can't even assume that reality itself exists.

Reality could be nothing more than a figment of God's imagination. Or, perhaps God created the universe ten seconds ago, with the appearance of antiquity (fossil light from distant galaxies lensed by gravity, for instance). Or perhaps God hasn't created the universe yet, but intends to Any Time Now, and all this that you think is happening at the moment is really just a memory of the "you" created in an hour, simply because God wanted you to have a history.

All of these options are equally valid. The metaphysics based on the epistemology of God is completely undefined, as all potential options of an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God are limitless.

One might say that science works, and what we observe about the universe is true, including its great antiquity; but that God merely set things in motion. From an epistemological standpoint, that option is no more valid an any other potential option. Choosing any option is completely arbitrary.

If you choose to believe that God created this universe at the Big Bang, and that naturalism has essentially prevailed (with only minor meddling), you do so by corrupting the essence of the one epistemology which is known to work. You introduce the ultimate wild card: "God did it."

And by introducing "God did it," you throw out any claim to a known reality. The epistemology of God doesn't support a knowable, coherent metaphysics.

Even atheists missuse language in discribing Science as an absolute. Science is not an answer, scientists use scientific method to determine the most likely ratio to a given question.

We don't want to sell science as an absolute and as you have said, science is not perfect. But that is not that scientific method is not the most solid, as you have stated, it is only imperfect because those who implement it or bastardize it are not following method correctly.

Scientists can self correct because scientific method allows for challenges to a hypothisis and objectivity in scientific method will cause the scientist to give up bad data only if they are objective.

Humans are capable of error, scientific method is the only universal quality control that transends personal whims.

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JillSwift wrote:BobSpence1

JillSwift wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
The idea is that according to Aristotle's 'physics', they would have expected to see a difference in the path of a dropped object if the Earth was actually moving, since they did not recognise inertia or what came to be the Laws of Motion, let alone 'Inertial Frames of Reference'.
Yes, I get that bit. But I thought that's why Aristotle came to a geocentric conclusion

The problem arose with any objects apparently suspended in the air, such as birds, clouds , or presumably falling objects, which 'should' be left behind as the Earth rotates on its axis. So the actual problem is not strictly with heliocentrism, but with a spinning Earth, which could still be at the center of the Universe.

It is not a problem with an Earth moving through space, since objects were supposed to fall toward the center of the Earth, which would still fit observations.


 

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BobSpence1 wrote:The problem

BobSpence1 wrote:
The problem arose with any objects apparently suspended in the air, such as birds, clouds , or presumably falling objects, which 'should' be left behind as the Earth rotates on its axis. So the actual problem is not strictly with heliocentrism, but with a spinning Earth, which could still be at the center of the Universe.

It is not a problem with an Earth moving through space, since objects were supposed to fall toward the center of the Earth, which would still fit observations.

I must be missing something here.

To fit Aristotle's idea of physics, the observation that things fell toward the center of the earth, should earth move (including rotate) it would leave all things suspended in air behind, or otherwise demonstrate this motion as the falling object's path shifted to meet the earth's new position. This led to the geocentric conclusion, which remained even after Aristotle's physics were eventually replaced, until the heliocentric hypothesis was later re-examined to explain the movements of the planets.

Where've I gone wrong there?

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:BobSpence1

JillSwift wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
The problem arose with any objects apparently suspended in the air, such as birds, clouds , or presumably falling objects, which 'should' be left behind as the Earth rotates on its axis. So the actual problem is not strictly with heliocentrism, but with a spinning Earth, which could still be at the center of the Universe.

It is not a problem with an Earth moving through space, since objects were supposed to fall toward the center of the Earth, which would still fit observations.

I must be missing something here.

To fit Aristotle's idea of physics, the observation that things fell toward the center of the earth, should earth move (including rotate) it would leave all things suspended in air behind, or otherwise demonstrate this motion as the falling object's path shifted to meet the earth's new position. This led to the geocentric conclusion, which remained even after Aristotle's physics were eventually replaced, until the heliocentric hypothesis was later re-examined to explain the movements of the planets.

Where've I gone wrong there?

Being left behind applies most simply with rotation, since the object would still be moving in a straight line toward the center of the Earth which would be assumed stationary, whereas everything in contact with the Earth would presumably be carried away from it.

If the Earth is moving without rotation, I guess it would depend where you were on the surface relative to the direction of motion, so it would have different effects on the path. If you were on the side facing back down the path of the Earth through space, and the Earth was moving faster than the speed with which the rock would fall in the stationary case, then presumably they would expect the stone to fall up...

My head hurts...

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:Being left

BobSpence1 wrote:
Being left behind applies most simply with rotation, since the object would still be moving in a straight line toward the center of the Earth which would be assumed stationary, whereas everything in contact with the Earth would presumably be carried away from it.

If the Earth is moving without rotation, I guess it would depend where you were on the surface relative to the direction of motion, so it would have different effects on the path. If you were on the side facing back down the path of the Earth through space, and the Earth was moving faster than the speed with which the rock would fall in the stationary case, then presumably they would expect the stone to fall up...

My head hurts...

Thank goodness for Newton.

So, does this mean that I'm misunderstanding the argument then: I'm reading it as Aristotle's physics made for a heliocentric conclusion - which doesn't make sense.

Instead: It was Aristotle's physics that undid a previous heliocentric model and introduced a geocentric model. Once Aristotle's physics were replaced with a better physics model it brought a new heliocentric model. Yes?

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:I also

JillSwift wrote:

I also thought heliocentrism was an accepted (if less than detailed) idea about the local sol/plantes system, as it means sun-centered.

I'm sorry, I'm taking into account the gravitation of general relativity. The sun isn't the center of anything but our solar system. But that's irrelevant to the action of gravity.  Gravity acts upon things with mass. The more massive the things, the more gravity they incur. That's the kind of hypothesis you can falsify.

Saying "the sun is in the center" is something you can't falsify because it's not specific enough. If something can be falsified, it's more solid. Counterintuitive sounding, but philosophically sound.

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HisWillness wrote:JillSwift

[edit: double post]


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HisWillness wrote:I'm sorry,

HisWillness wrote:
I'm sorry, I'm taking into account the gravitation of general relativity. The sun isn't the center of anything but our solar system. But that's irrelevant to the action of gravity.  Gravity acts upon things with mass. The more massive the things, the more gravity they incur. That's the kind of hypothesis you can falsify.

Saying "the sun is in the center" is something you can't falsify because it's not specific enough. If something can be falsified, it's more solid. Counterintuitive sounding, but philosophically sound.

Does that help, Jill, or have I confused you further?

You've confused me further Sticking out tongue But no worries, that's so easy to do folks manage it without even knowing I exist Eye-wink

Where my real confusion lies is in what hypothesis was first falsified and by what which itself was later falsified bringing back the earlier hypothesis.

Aristotle and gang held a geocentric position, if I recall correctly. Once their physics hypothesis were falsified, later models were heliocentric. Heliocentric models were later falsified as the understanding of the universe and our place in it was expanded.

My confusion is that it seems like it's being said that Aristotle and gang held a heliocentric hypothesis.

I'm sorry I'm not getting this. Sad

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:HisWillness

JillSwift wrote:

HisWillness wrote:
I'm sorry, I'm taking into account the gravitation of general relativity. The sun isn't the center of anything but our solar system. But that's irrelevant to the action of gravity.  Gravity acts upon things with mass. The more massive the things, the more gravity they incur. That's the kind of hypothesis you can falsify.

Saying "the sun is in the center" is something you can't falsify because it's not specific enough. If something can be falsified, it's more solid. Counterintuitive sounding, but philosophically sound.

Does that help, Jill, or have I confused you further?

You've confused me further Sticking out tongue But no worries, that's so easy to do folks manage it without even knowing I exist Eye-wink

Where my real confusion lies is in what hypothesis was first falsified and by what which itself was later falsified bringing back the earlier hypothesis.

Aristotle and gang held a geocentric position, if I recall correctly. Once their physics hypothesis were falsified, later models were heliocentric. Heliocentric models were later falsified as the understanding of the universe and our place in it was expanded.

My confusion is that it seems like it's being said that Aristotle and gang held a heliocentric hypothesis.

I'm sorry I'm not getting this. Sad

Ok I checked back in the thread - this argument started with Presup saying:

Quote:

Let me concretize that. Suppose it's the year 200 BC. Let's pretend I'm a geocentrist (Yes, I know, ha, the Christian is a geocentrist. Get it out of your system.) and you're a heliocentrist. I think the earth does not move, and you think it moves. To decide between the two theories, we go to the top of a tower and drop a rock. The rock lands right at the bottom of the tower, below where we dropped it. Interpreting that observation on Aristotle's physics, we conclude that the earth must not be moving, because if it was moving, the rock would have landed farther away.

So here's what happened: The dropping of the rock (f) interpreted on Aristotle's physics (B) falsifies heliocentrism (A). Now fast forward to when Aristotle's physics is falsified. Notice that the dropping of the rock no longer falsifies heliocentrism. In other words, heliocentrism has been UNfalsified.

IOW, if someone, back in the time when Aristotle's theories were accepted, proposed Heliocentrism, and someone else drops a rock from a tower, Presup is saying that the fact that it fell straight down would have disproved ('falsified') that theory, at least within the context of that time, because Aristotle assumed that if the Earth were moving the rock would have been 'left behind' while in flight.

Then when a later theory disproved Aristotle, that experiment no longer 'disproves' Heliocentrism.

I'm not sure it really amounts to much of an argument for anything in particular, just that what is accepted as knowledge, or truth has changed over time... d'uh.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:IOW, if

BobSpence1 wrote:
IOW, if someone, back in the time when Aristotle's theories were accepted, proposed Heliocentrism, and someone else drops a rock from a tower,

Presup

is saying that the fact that it fell straight down would have disproved ('falsified') that theory, at least within the context of that time, because Aristotle assumed that if the Earth were moving the rock would have been 'left behind' while in flight.

Then when a later theory disproved Aristotle, that experiment no longer 'disproves' Heliocentrism.

I'm not sure it really amounts to much of an argument for anything in particular, just that what is accepted as knowledge, or truth has changed over time... d'uh.

Ah!

Ok, yes. Thank you, thank you. I completely missed the hypothetical there.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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 Looks like I have no

 Looks like I have no choice but to hire Bob as my personal translator. Which is weird, since we're both speaking a version of English.

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HisWillness wrote: Looks

HisWillness wrote:

 Looks like I have no choice but to hire Bob as my personal translator. Which is weird, since we're both speaking a version of English.

please dont' be mean. I know I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, k?


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:HisWillness

JillSwift wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

 Looks like I have no choice but to hire Bob as my personal translator. Which is weird, since we're both speaking a version of English.

please dont' be mean. I know I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, k? 

You think I was being mean to you? I was serious - I'm a terrible communicator. It would be handy for someone to translate what I was saying so the humans could understand.

Come to think of it, case in point: you thought I was being mean!

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HisWillness wrote:You think

HisWillness wrote:

You think I was being mean to you? I was serious - I'm a terrible communicator. It would be handy for someone to translate what I was saying so the humans could understand.

Come to think of it, case in point: you thought I was being mean!

*facepalms*

Sorry. I was feeling a little stupid and took your post personally. My bad.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:My

JillSwift wrote:
My bad.

Hardly. Teh intarnetz are fertile grounds for the sowing of miscommunication.

Anyway, stop thinking you're stupid, dummy!

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HisWillness wrote:I probably

HisWillness wrote:

I probably just have a bias for Nigel's writing because we joined the boards at the same time. Remember ganging up on Marty? He never emailed me back! Or that poor earnest bastard who used to be a bouncer at a strip club or something? Good times.

I have a bias for my writings 'cause I'm fuckin' brilliant. And a damned good writer. And humble, to boot. But, I don't believe anything I write.

Yeah, I actually bagged out on Marty. He wrote me a very good message, I gave a brief reply to say that life had gone to hell (it had) and I would write back later, and then I didn't. He at least had a bag full of subtle bullshit. It smelled like a nice pinot grigio.

I reckon I should take a refresher course on symbolic logic and linguistics and crank out a reply. I find I'm interested in the philosophical arguments for God. They all seem to boil down to, "I don't see how everything fits together without God, ergo God," but some are definitely more intellectual than others.

Very good times. Very good times indeed.

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BMcD wrote:Whereas I'm just

BMcD wrote:

Whereas I'm just lurking right now, waiting for Nigel to get a name wrong so I can pounce yet again!

DAMN you and your mad proper noun skillz!

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Brian37 wrote:Even atheists

Brian37 wrote:

Even atheists missuse language in discribing Science as an absolute. Science is not an answer, scientists use scientific method to determine the most likely ratio to a given question.

You are absolutely right. I think I failed to distinguish properly between the scientific method (the epistemology of science) and the ontology of science (the metaphysics of science, the totality of the data and the interpretations of that data based on application of the scientific method).

Quote:

We don't want to sell science as an absolute and as you have said, science is not perfect. But that is not that scientific method is not the most solid, as you have stated, it is only imperfect because those who implement it or bastardize it are not following method correctly.

Scientists can self correct because scientific method allows for challenges to a hypothisis and objectivity in scientific method will cause the scientist to give up bad data only if they are objective.

Humans are capable of error, scientific method is the only universal quality control that transends personal whims.

I like that: "quality control." That's an excellent phrase.

The scientific method fails us not only because of the poor or improper application of the scientific method. It also fails because the ontology is incomplete. There are some areas in which we simply can't speculate yet. So we are left in the position of answering some questions with a shrug of the shoulders and an assertive, "I don't know." The scientific method currently fails us in those areas.

I say "currently" because I see our knowledge of the universe as a big ol' sodoku puzzle. You can't just blindly start filling in squares with numbers. When you start, it's not even possible to fill in some square until you've filled in others.

Of course, it's worse than that, since we don't even know the boundaries of knowledge. It's more like, you don't even know the unfilled squares exist until you fill in other squares. And then you get people speculating about what might go into those unfound squares: "Maybe it doesn't take numbers at all. Maybe it takes letters of the alphabet. Oh! Maybe it takes dragons or magic nose goblins instead of letters!"

Or maybe I'm taking the analogy way too far.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Presuppositionalist wrote:I

Presuppositionalist wrote:

I am about to make a series of intelligent, civil comments on the OP. I predict that they will be wildly misconstrued, mocked, quoted out of context, and other very silly things. And yet I persist.

Okay. I'll see if can do all that, but it's a pretty tall order. I'll see if I can simply manage to wildly misconstrue your argument.

Quote:

I hope to show that the Christian epistemology does not have the alleged flaw, and that the secular epistemology presented has problems.

Quote:
Now, this isn't to say that science is perfect. Science doesn't really prove things, per se. It's very good at disproving things, though. Once an hypothesis or theory has been disproven,  that concept is no longer valid nor accepted. This is important when many ideas compete to explain a set of data. If you can disprove all but one, you have a good candidate for the correct idea.

You are not correct. Science can't construct final disproofs for the same reason it can't construct final proofs. Look, suppose we have a theory, call it theory A. Suppose further that A is falsified by fact f. Now, a fact does not interpret itself. It must be interpreted by a theory if we are to make any sense of it. So call the theory that interprets f such that A is falsified, theory B. Suppose further that B is later falsified by some other fact. Now A is UNfalsified, because we can no longer interpret f such that A is falsified. Because we cannot construct a final proof of B, we cannot construct a final disproof of A through f.

Okay, to take this out of context (and to shorten this post) I'll clip the example, which has been discussed thoroughly in this thread.

I'll have to agree with you here. At least, I'll have to contingently agree with you here.

No, I'm not mocking you. I'm completely serious. And this has been discussed to death, most notably by Thomas Kuhn. Essentially, the have at best a provisional understanding of nature. As we don't know everything, our interpretation of data may change. The data itself remains the same, as data is objective. The interpretation of that data, though, is contingent upon our understanding of the relationship of that data to other data.

In your example (and as has been discusses), the proposed experiment is based on an understanding of Aristotle's physics, which was essentially, "It seems to work this way to me" kind of physics. Basically, he made shit up. It seemed to fit the facts as he saw them, but he just made shit up.

So, we perform the experiment, and we notice that the objects fall straight down. (We also notice that the 1kg lead weight strikes the ground at the same time as the 10kg lead weight, but we don't worry too much about that, and certainly don't write it down in our book, because that doesn't fit with what we know about the world. Heavier things fall faster. Duh!)

There are two things wrong with this scenario: first, we based our experiment not on our hypothesis that the world revolves around the sun and rotates about its axis, but on Aristotle's physics. What's wrong with this? Aristotle's physics was never scientifically vetted. We are trying to apply scientific methodology to an assertion that was made up wholecloth based on a flawed understanding of reality.

Now, to get to the part where I agree with you:

Aristotle's physics slowly gave way to Newtonian physics, which was based on observation, hypothesis, prediction, and testing. Newtonian physics stood up for over 300 years as an accurate description of the relationship of bodies. He revolutionized our understanding of physics, and demonstrated resoundingly the power of the scientific method in the hands of a brilliant person.

Then, around 100 years ago, other brilliant minds, armed with the powerful tool of the scientific method, discovered that Newton was wrong.

Okay, he wasn't wrong. He was just too limited. Newtonian mechanics still works, at least in most everyday settings. At extremes of velocity or mass (both very large and very small), though, Newton's Laws break down. Between Einstein's relativity, and the discovery of quantum mechanics, we learned that Newton's Laws are really just very good generalized approximations, at a human-observable scale.

Now, was there ever an hypothesis that was based on Newtonian mechanics that was erroneously disproven due to our limited knowledge? Not of which I'm aware.

The thing about science (the ontology) is that it is self-correcting. As I stated in the OP, there are some theories in which our acceptance is essentially indistinguishable from absolute certainty. There are others that are under more scrutiny. Others still are accepted only tentatively.

Once something has been disproven (usually by predictions made by the hypothesis itself), it is no longer accepted. That doesn't mean it won't come back later as our understanding of nature changes. It does mean, based on our current best understanding, it does not fit our ontology.

And so I stand by my original statement. I also agree with you. In principle, if our ontology is incorrect, disproofs based on our erroneous ontology might also be incorrect.

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 The problem with an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God as creator of the universe is simple. Once you assume the universe was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, you can no longer assume anything about reality. And by that, I mean anything. You can't even assume that reality itself exists. 

Why? This is simply bizarre. P does not imply Q here, buddy. The fact that an omnipotent entity exists does not mean that I have to become a skeptic. I mean, the fact that I can imagine God doing some crazy stuff does not imply that God actually does that stuff. And I don't have any evidence to that effect. This is no different from asking how you don't know you're a brain in a vat. (I can imagine a theist writing a similar OP: "once you concede that you're a physical brain, you can't assume anything about reality, etc." ) You reject the idea because there is no evidence for it, and I can reject this with equal validity.

Exactly! You get it! (Sorry, I couldn't resist mocking a little. You said I had to.)

You can ask how you know you're not a brain in a vat. Or an instance of an object in a particularly-advanced simulation of the universe. Or that you were born with absolutely no sensory input, and are kept alive only because your parents don't have the heart to pull the plug, and everything you think is "real" is really just a long, drawn-out fantasy.

These are all just variations of the "brain in a vat" theme, of course. My point is, once you assume any one of these are likely, you have to assume all of them are just about as likely. You couldn't tell me exactly in which brain-in-a-vat scenario you are living.

The same goes for an all-powerful God. Once you assume an all-powerful God is responsible for reality, you wouldn't be able to tell which scenario the all-powerful God has chosen. If you further assume that the all-powerful God continues to meddle in his creation, you would be unable to determine exactly how he is meddling, and what his ultimate purpose might be.

At this point, reality becomes mutable, as an all-powerful God can change reality to suit his whims. That is, if reality exists as an independent realm outside God's mind.

The simplest explanation is that our senses don't lie, that our observations of the universe are correct, and that we can abstractly consider the patterns we see in nature as actual physical processes and constructs. If you assume no meddling by a God, you can consider the universe as a cohesive, consistent whole.

Now, at the beginning of this post, you said, "I hope to show that the Christian epistemology does not have the alleged flaw, and that the secular epistemology presented has problems." You pointed out a flaw that I had glossed over. I hope I have admitted this flaw exists, and also demonstrated that this flaw is not severe in any way.

You did not present any argument supporting the lack of flaws in the Christian epistemology, though. Would you care to do so now?

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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The basic problem is the use

The basic problem is the use of the word "final". That is ultimately the same error displayed by any argument based on criticising Science, or Atheism, etc, for not being able to strictly 'prove' anything about ultimate reality, or the non-existence of God, etc.

It is valid, as nigel concedes, to point out that even the 'falsification' criterion cannot be taken as absolute, or 'final'.

However, within any context, or currently accepted paradigm, it remains valid that 'falsification' is a much stronger test than the positive evidence for a hypothesis, so it is still appropriate and useful to apply it. And when major shifts occur, it is true that all prior conclusions should be re-examined, even ones that had been 'disproved', and, AFAIK, this is ultimately what does happen.

So really, Presup's point is little more than a semantic quibble, rather than revealing a fundamental flaw, equivalent to pointing out that when a theory is said to be 'proved' by experimental tests, this is not in the strict sense of logical 'proof'.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Several points...1. You

Several points...

1. You ramble way too much. 

2. Epistemology is the "study of knowledge." More specifically, it is determining what contstitutes knowledge." Traditionally, "knowledge" has been defined as "justified true belief." The bottom line is that we don't know anything with absolute certainty, barring "conscious-awareness." 

3. Contrary to the popular viewpoint of members on this forum, atheists do not have a monopoly on science.

4. I may be willing to concede (for the sake of argument), that science operates under the working assumption of metaphysical materialism. But science itself does not make metaphysical pronouncements. To say otherwise is to misrepresent science. Certainly, science has never proven its working assumption - namely, that matter constitutes ultimate reality. (Actually, it's quite the opposite. The theory of relativity and quantum mechanics undercut materialism).

5. Science leads to technological innovation and as such has a utilitarian function. But science does not provide humanity with "meaning and values."

6. "Metaphysical naturalism" is not interchangeable with materialism or physicalism. 

7. Theology is traditionally defined as "faith seeking understanding." The difference between believers and unbelievers is that believers have faith.

8. To be without faith is to be without hope. And to be without hope is to be in a state of despair. The only thing you have to offer is despair.

"Scientists animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study." - Alfred North Whitehead


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Quote:Several points...1.

Quote:

Several points...

1. You ramble way too much.

Funny that you stand alone with this criticism

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2. Epistemology is the "study of knowledge." More specifically, it is determining what contstitutes knowledge." Traditionally, "knowledge" has been defined as "justified true belief." The bottom line is that we don't know anything with absolute certainty, barring "conscious-awareness."

Nigel's post largely says the same thing (albeit with less yawnsome dialogue).

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3. Contrary to the popular viewpoint of members on this forum, atheists do not have a monopoly on science.

Please provide one example where a predictive thery of science was borne out of religious faith rather than observation + deduction.

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4. I may be willing to concede (for the sake of argument), that science operates under the working assumption of metaphysical materialism. But science itself does not make metaphysical pronouncements. To say otherwise is to misrepresent science. Certainly, science has never proven its working assumption - namely, that matter constitutes ultimate reality. (Actually, it's quite the opposite. The theory of relativity and quantum mechanics undercut materialism).

Really? Well, since you're obviously an expert on the subject matter:

 - Please detail what 'quanta' means, and explain how this concept undercuts materialism.

 - Please detail what relativistic velocities are, and explain how such velocities undercut materialism.

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5. Science leads to technological innovation and as such has a utilitarian function. But science does not provide humanity with "meaning and values."

Please explain how the story of God refusing to forgive Eve's transgression, punishing every human being to live after her because of it & only relenting after a blood sacrifice was paid provides us with 'meaning and values'.

Moreover, please explain how the scientific study of altruism, morality and ambition has not provided us with any understanding of 'meaning and values'.

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8. To be without faith is to be without hope. And to be without hope is to be in a state of despair. The only thing you have to offer is despair.

Please explain how the scientific pursuit of achieving greater understanding and finding solutions to problems offers 'no hope' and strictly despair.

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"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940