Is god-talk meaningless, or do I just lack the ability to understand it?

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Is god-talk meaningless, or do I just lack the ability to understand it?

I suppose it is no secret, per my ramblings on this site, that I am a critic some of the thing that atheists throw at theism. This is not because I like theism and hate atheism, rather that I have a distaste for ear-tickling arguments that get accepted without any rational discretion. One in particular that is often thrown around is the idea that god-talk is meaningless, and it is on this idea that I witch to camp out for a moment.



The root of these assertions can be traced back to a school of thought known as logical positivism which got started in the early 20th century in Europe with a group called the Vienna Circle. Influenced by the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, logical positivism asserted that anything meaningful should be empirical verified. Anything else then was categorically meaningless. This sort of principle seemed to be the doom of theism because gods, at least in the sense of classical theism, are transcendental, thereby not empirically verifiable. Gods were then placed into the placed in the meaningless category.



Positivism was not met with the optimism one might hope, as philosophers here and there began to point out that the verificationist principle was self refuting, asking how one would empirically verify the positivist's assertion that statements must be empirically verifiable. Wittgenstein grappled with this idea and felt that event his own work was in danger of falling into the nonsense category. Wittgenstein later backed off his bolder claims and took a weaker approach to it.



One critic of note that gains some fame because of his distaste for positivism was Karl Popper. Popper did not object to the principle. Rather, his concern had to do with the problem of empirical induction. He proposed that along with every assertion that is empirically verifiable, it should also be empirically falsifiable. Popper's falsification principle works well in the context in which was intended (empirical induction) but others have attempted to extend it beyond this. The problem in doing so, is that it, like verificationism, attempts to impose a form of empiricism upon meaningfulness, and in turn falls on the same knife verificationism does.



Because verificationism and falsification cannot be universals, the meaninglessness they entail then is at best a possible, but not a necessary description about metaphysical claims. Evidently, if an assertion is possibly meaningful to John, but not Jack, then it is not necessarily meaningless. This, of course, does not preclude that John's assertion is not indeed meaningless, but it could be the case that Jack lacks the ability to meaningfully understand such claims. It is therefore, it is possible that Jack does indeed lack the understanding. What is necessarily true though, is that Jack cannot say whether John's assertion is meaningless or if it because he lacks the understanding. Evidently, however, there may be meaning because John seems to have meaning. Therefore it is more likely the case that Jack lacks the understanding needed to have meaningfulness from John's assertion.



Assertions about the existence of gods then, need to be defeated on other grounds, but not this one. I think that theist make the same sort mistake when they begin to make universal statements and then attempt to prove them, as probably one of the biggest problem with how proponents of intelligent design argue.


 

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The Positivists were on the

The Positivists were on the right track, but they seem to have insisted on 'verification', which is far stronger a test than required.

All that is necessary is enough empirical evidence to give the concepts being discussed some minimal plausibility, roughly comparable to that of the other concepts being jointly considered.

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:The

BobSpence1 wrote:

The Positivists were on the right track, but they seem to have insisted on 'verification', which is far stronger a test than required.

All that is necessary is enough empirical evidence to give the concepts being discussed some minimal plausibility, roughly comparable to that of the other concepts being jointly considered.

In what sphere? I mean, how far does one extend it?

 

 

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

The Positivists were on the right track, but they seem to have insisted on 'verification', which is far stronger a test than required.

All that is necessary is enough empirical evidence to give the concepts being discussed some minimal plausibility, roughly comparable to that of the other concepts being jointly considered.

In what sphere? I mean, how far does one extend it?

 

Every sphere investigating 'external reality', ie not based on axiomatic/deductive processes.

All one can aim for is to be able to assign a degree of confidence in each bit of raw empirical data, which is going to inevitably have a degree of fuzziness, and use the techniques of Bayesian Analysis to calculate rigorously the consequent likelihood of a conclusion based on those inputs. For a hypothesis which matches reality well, this will produce a high figure for 'degree of confidence', or likelihood of 'truth'.

For deductive systems, such as logic and math, the raw input assessments of confidence would be for the initial axioms or starting assumptions, and how closely they are assumed to match 'reality'. This would only apply to the assessment of the truth value of any conclusions as applied to the 'real world', domains beyond that of the deductive system itself. In an elementary example, the confidence we can have in the results of elementary arithmetic would depend on our confidence in the input figures, such as our confidence that there really are N items in that collection which we are multiplying by some other figure.

This is at least the way we should be going - rather than pursuing the futile, recursive attempt to 'prove' anything about reality, we need to tighten up the management and assessment of uncertainty.

Remember, Gödel showed that rigorously deductive systems can have well-formed statements which are inherently undecideable, so conclusions in such systems are either totally true (in the context of the axioms) or totally undecidable. IOW the confidence within such systems is either 100% or zero.

Inductive, probability-based systems allow a continuum of confidence levels.

EDIT:

So in the 'God talk' context, we apply likelihood levels, rather than saying a God statement either has meaning or is meaningless. We assess its 'meaningfulness', based on all our personal experience and judgement. and go from there.

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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BobSpence1 wrote:Every

BobSpence1 wrote:

Every sphere investigating 'external reality', ie not based on axiomatic/deductive processes.

All one can aim for is to be able to assign a degree of confidence in each bit of raw empirical data, which is going to inevitably have a degree of fuzziness, and use the techniques of Bayesian Analysis to calculate rigorously the consequent likelihood of a conclusion based on those inputs. For a hypothesis which matches reality well, this will produce a high figure for 'degree of confidence', or likelihood of 'truth'.

For deductive systems, such as logic and math, the raw input assessments of confidence would be for the initial axioms or starting assumptions, and how closely they are assumed to match 'reality'. This would only apply to the assessment of the truth value of any conclusions as applied to the 'real world', domains beyond that of the deductive system itself. In an elementary example, the confidence we can have in the results of elementary arithmetic would depend on our confidence in the input figures, such as our confidence that there really are N items in that collection which we are multiplying by some other figure.

The process or the conclusions of the process....I'm confused. If the scientific enterprise is based on logic then then it is based on a an axiomatic/deductive process.

BobSpence1 wrote:

This is at least the way we should be going - rather than pursuing the futile, recursive attempt to 'prove' anything about reality, we need to tighten up the management and assessment of uncertainty.

Which is precisely why I think the positivists enterprise results in the nonsense it was trying to eliminate. There is no certainty in the conclusion it produces.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Remember, Gödel showed that rigorously deductive systems can have well-formed statements which are inherently undecideable, so conclusions in such systems are either totally true (in the context of the axioms) or totally undecidable. IOW the confidence within such systems is either 100% or zero.

Inductive, probability-based systems allow a continuum of confidence levels.

Right.

BobSpence1 wrote:

So in the 'God talk' context, we apply likelihood levels, rather than saying a God statement either has meaning or is meaningless. We assess its 'meaningfulness', based on all our personal experience and judgement. and go from there.

This why I think that it is not neccesarily meaningless, rather possibly meaningless. The problem that creates, as the OP states, is that I cannot determine whether or not  it is indeed meaningless or if it is the case that I do not have the faculties to understand it.

So...what does this leave one with? Something else but not the notion that god-talk is meaningless. For all I know, I may just lack the faculties to grasp the ideas.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Every sphere investigating 'external reality', ie not based on axiomatic/deductive processes.

All one can aim for is to be able to assign a degree of confidence in each bit of raw empirical data, which is going to inevitably have a degree of fuzziness, and use the techniques of Bayesian Analysis to calculate rigorously the consequent likelihood of a conclusion based on those inputs. For a hypothesis which matches reality well, this will produce a high figure for 'degree of confidence', or likelihood of 'truth'.

For deductive systems, such as logic and math, the raw input assessments of confidence would be for the initial axioms or starting assumptions, and how closely they are assumed to match 'reality'. This would only apply to the assessment of the truth value of any conclusions as applied to the 'real world', domains beyond that of the deductive system itself. In an elementary example, the confidence we can have in the results of elementary arithmetic would depend on our confidence in the input figures, such as our confidence that there really are N items in that collection which we are multiplying by some other figure.

The process or the conclusions of the process....I'm confused. If the scientific enterprise is based on logic then then it is based on a an axiomatic/deductive process.

Science, like any other coherent discipline, employs logic and math, as essential tools of analysis. But it also relies on experiment, observation and measurement, and the hypothesis, testing, and modification to iteratively converge on an (hopefully) ever-closer approximations to the 'truth'. That is most definitely NOT an axiomatic/deductive process. That extension takes it beyond the limitations of purely axiomatic/deductive processes, which is my point there.

You seem to have a blind spot on this point.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

This is at least the way we should be going - rather than pursuing the futile, recursive attempt to 'prove' anything about reality, we need to tighten up the management and assessment of uncertainty.

Which is precisely why I think the positivists enterprise results in the nonsense it was trying to eliminate. There is no certainty in the conclusion it produces.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Remember, Gödel showed that rigorously deductive systems can have well-formed statements which are inherently undecideable, so conclusions in such systems are either totally true (in the context of the axioms) or totally undecidable. IOW the confidence within such systems is either 100% or zero.

Inductive, probability-based systems allow a continuum of confidence levels.

Right.

BobSpence1 wrote:

So in the 'God talk' context, we apply likelihood levels, rather than saying a God statement either has meaning or is meaningless. We assess its 'meaningfulness', based on all our personal experience and judgement. and go from there.

This why I think that it is not neccesarily meaningless, rather possibly meaningless. The problem that creates, as the OP states, is that I cannot determine whether or not  it is indeed meaningless or if it is the case that I do not have the faculties to understand it.

So...what does this leave one with? Something else but not the notion that god-talk is meaningless. For all I know, I may just lack the faculties to grasp the ideas.

Simple - you just have to analyse it a bit more. Don't treat it as all or nothing.

'God-talk' may have some vaguely coherent elements, along with much which is pretty close to being 'meaningless'. You then need to dig into it and point out (with arguments) the bits, the aspects, which are clearly indefensible, while acknowledging the parts which have some basis, although not necessarily in the way the Theist would like to acknowledge.

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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BobSpence1 wrote:Science,

BobSpence1 wrote:

Science, like any other coherent discipline, employs logic and math, as essential tools of analysis. But it also relies on experiment, observation and measurement, and the hypothesis, testing, and modification to iteratively converge on an (hopefully) ever-closer approximations to the 'truth'. That is most definitely NOT an axiomatic/deductive process. That extension takes it beyond the limitations of purely axiomatic/deductive processes, which is my point there.

You seem to have a blind spot on this point.

I really do not want this conversation to break down over defining science, but appears to be going that way. It's no mystery that we do not agree as as to what exactly science is.

But it seems rather sneaky to say that science "employs" logical, when the entire enterprise at its foundation is induction. Remove that and science falls apart...really, there is nothing left to it.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Simple - you just have to analyse it a bit more. Don't treat it as all or nothing.

'God-talk' may have some vaguely coherent elements, along with much which is pretty close to being 'meaningless'. You then need to dig into it and point out (with arguments) the bits, the aspects, which are clearly indefensible, while acknowledging the parts which have some basis, although not necessarily in the way the Theist would like to acknowledge.

Right. I suppose this requires me to actually crack a book an learn something about it and attempt to understand it.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Science, like any other coherent discipline, employs logic and math, as essential tools of analysis. But it also relies on experiment, observation and measurement, and the hypothesis, testing, and modification to iteratively converge on an (hopefully) ever-closer approximations to the 'truth'. That is most definitely NOT an axiomatic/deductive process. That extension takes it beyond the limitations of purely axiomatic/deductive processes, which is my point there.

You seem to have a blind spot on this point.

I really do not want this conversation to break down over defining science, but appears to be going that way. It's no mystery that we do not agree as as to what exactly science is.

But it seems rather sneaky to say that science "employs" logical, when the entire enterprise at its foundation is induction. Remove that and science falls apart...really, there is nothing left to it.

I agree that induction is fundamental to Science, which is another way of saying that induction is fundamental to gaining actual knowledge... and the inductive process is NOT an axiomatic/deductive system, which was your initial assertion. Induction also employs logic, as does any serious area of investigation and argument. Science of course goes beyond pure induction in its extended process of testing and hypothesis forming.

Deductive processes cannot discover any new information not already implicit in the axioms and/or initial assumptions, whereas induction is fundamentally based on observation, which means it is continually gathering new information.

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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BobSpence1 wrote:I agree

BobSpence1 wrote:

I agree that induction is fundamental to Science, which is another way of saying that induction is fundamental to gaining actual knowledge... and the inductive process is NOT an axiomatic/deductive system, which was your initial assertion. Induction also employs logic, as does any serious area of investigation and argument. Science of course goes beyond pure induction in its extended process of testing and hypothesis forming.

Deductive processes cannot discover any new information not already implicit in the axioms and/or initial assumptions, whereas induction is fundamentally based on observation, which means it is continually gathering new information.

Is induction not a form of logic? Are you distinguishing between the form induction and the application of the form?

A set of deductive premises IMHO are requisite to ascertaining and sort of inductive knowledge. That is, I have to presume axiomatically that I can indeed obtain knowledge, and that inductive logic is how one might go about doing this.

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I agree that induction is fundamental to Science, which is another way of saying that induction is fundamental to gaining actual knowledge... and the inductive process is NOT an axiomatic/deductive system, which was your initial assertion. Induction also employs logic, as does any serious area of investigation and argument. Science of course goes beyond pure induction in its extended process of testing and hypothesis forming.

Deductive processes cannot discover any new information not already implicit in the axioms and/or initial assumptions, whereas induction is fundamentally based on observation, which means it is continually gathering new information.

Is induction not a form of logic? Are you distinguishing between the form induction and the application of the form?

A set of deductive premises IMHO are requisite to ascertaining and sort of inductive knowledge. That is, I have to presume axiomatically that I can indeed obtain knowledge, and that inductive logic is how one might go about doing this.

Induction is better described as a form of reasoning, rather than logic, since typical examples given as demonstrations of induction, in the same syllogistic form as basic logic, are not sound, IMHO.

For example: (from the Wikipedia article)

All observed crows are black.

Therefore:

All crows are black.

That is not how inductive reasoning works. The conclusion has to be expressed in probabilities. It would have to include, at least, an assessment of what proportion of all possible crows have been observed. The process would then involve likelihoods being assigned to various possible conclusions. In the simplest case one would assign a probability to the conclusion that 'All crows are black', which is the way science employs induction.

And yes, Science has some initial assumptions, call them axioms if you like. That assumption you referred to would be common to every area of formal and informal knowledge. It probably follows from the definition of knowledge.

Again you are not taking on board my argument that the fact that some discipline relies on some more elementary domain such as logic, does not make it a form of that domain, unless it relies exclusively on that domain. This is most definitely not the case with science. 

The fact that all philosophical discussion relies on the rules of language grammar does not make philosophy a branch of grammar.

Induction depends on basic logic AND observation AND probabaility theory.

Science depends on Induction AND math AND experimental design AND independent replication of observations and experiments AND peer review.

You could say with some validity that all those areas really depend on logic and some really fundamental assumptions. But if you are going then to conclude that Science is 'just' a form of logic, that would be like saying that Biology is 'just' a branch of Physics, since they both ultimately depend on the behavior of sub-atomic particles.

Such relationships are best described by a hierarchy of categories, recognizing that the study of complex reality is best pursued by breaking up domains of study in such a way that more fundamental domains such as Physics formulate 'laws' describing the collective behaviour of aggregations of the fundamentals that it studies.

This allows another discipline such as Chemistry to concentrate on studying the behaviour of molecules without having to take into account the properties of quarks.

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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BobSpence1 wrote:That is not

BobSpence1 wrote:

That is not how inductive reasoning works. The conclusion has to be expressed in probabilities. It would have to include, at least, an assessment of what proportion of all possible crows have been observed. The process would then involve likelihoods being assigned to various possible conclusions. In the simplest case one would assign a probability to the conclusion that 'All crows are black', which is the way science employs induction.

And yes, Science has some initial assumptions, call them axioms if you like. That assumption you referred to would be common to every area of formal and informal knowledge. It probably follows from the definition of knowledge.

Again you are not taking on board my argument that the fact that some discipline relies on some more elementary domain such as logic, does not make it a form of that domain, unless it relies exclusively on that domain. This is most definitely not the case with science. 

The fact that all philosophical discussion relies on the rules of language grammar does not make philosophy a branch of grammar.

Induction depends on basic logic AND observation AND probabaility theory.

Science depends on Induction AND math AND experimental design AND independent replication of observations and experiments AND peer review.

I would agree, insofar as scientific empirical induction is concerned, that it employs basic logic, observation, and probability theory.  But I don't think I'm willing to say that inductive reasoning in and of itself needs observation and probability theory (that is presumably in the Bayesean since) per se. That is to say, what the form of induction science  "employs", and the induction in its general form are not the same thing.  I'm not suggesting that science a subset of logic or that logic is a subset science. On the other hand, logic is an essential component of science.

BobSpence1 wrote:

You could say with some validity that all those areas really depend on logic and some really fundamental assumptions. But if you are going then to conclude that Science is 'just' a form of logic, that would be like saying that Biology is 'just' a branch of Physics, since they both ultimately depend on the behavior of sub-atomic particles.

Such relationships are best described by a hierarchy of categories, recognizing that the study of complex reality is best pursued by breaking up domains of study in such a way that more fundamental domains such as Physics formulate 'laws' describing the collective behaviour of aggregations of the fundamentals that it studies.

This allows another discipline such as Chemistry to concentrate on studying the behaviour of molecules without having to take into account the properties of quarks.

Sure.

 

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I already agreed that logic

I already agreed that logic is essential to Science, but surely it is also an essential component of virtually every other discipline or domain of thinking worth taking seriously.

So what is your point?

 

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

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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Influenced by the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, logical positivism asserted that anything meaningful should be empirical verified. Wittgenstein grappled with this idea and felt that event his own work was in danger of falling into the nonsense category. Wittgenstein later backed off his bolder claims and took a weaker approach to it.

I have never heard of anyone referring to Wittgenstein as a positivist, Bertrand Russell maybe, but Wittgenstein? 

Wittgenstein was a believer, influenced by Leo Tolstoy's " The Kingdom of God is Within you", so i don't how well he fits into the positivism you associate with him. 

 

 


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theTwelve wrote:ubuntuAnyone

theTwelve wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Influenced by the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, logical positivism asserted that anything meaningful should be empirical verified. Wittgenstein grappled with this idea and felt that event his own work was in danger of falling into the nonsense category. Wittgenstein later backed off his bolder claims and took a weaker approach to it.

I have never heard of anyone referring to Wittgenstein as a positivist, Bertrand Russell maybe, but Wittgenstein? 

Wittgenstein was a believer, influenced by Leo Tolstoy's " The Kingdom of God is Within you", so i don't how well he fits into the positivism you associate with him. 

 

Wittgenstein was not a positivist, but he influenced them

 

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:I already

BobSpence1 wrote:

I already agreed that logic is essential to Science, but surely it is also an essential component of virtually every other discipline or domain of thinking worth taking seriously.

So what is your point?

 

 I was differentiating between inductive logic and induction "employed" by science.

 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I already agreed that logic is essential to Science, but surely it is also an essential component of virtually every other discipline or domain of thinking worth taking seriously.

So what is your point?

 I was differentiating between inductive logic and induction "employed" by science.

 

I think you making a very 'hair-splitting' distinction.

I do see a distinction between the simplistic version of "inductive logic" as in that quoted example, and the more sophisticated version employed by Science.

As to your apparent objection to my saying that Science 'employs' logic/induction/whatever, rather than is 'based on', I think you are reading something odd into that.

I am just trying to emphasise that the essence of what makes Science what it is, is NOT logic, or even induction (certainly not the most simplistic version) - virtually all other serious discourse employs/uses/applies (pick what verb you are most comfortable with) basic Logic, and I don't think Science is the only domain which applies some form of induction.

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

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Induction is employed by

Induction is employed by science the exact same way it is employed by all metaphysics: observation begets generalization.

The difference between science and other epistemologies seems to be what happens after the induction. In science, the generalization begat from observation must further undergo deductive scrutiny. The employment of this deductive scrutiny falls into one of two camps: positivism (per Wittgenstein, et al), or falsifiability (thank you, Popper). A little bit of credibility is gained by passing the positive tests; a lot is gained by passing the falsifiable tests.

Every time this system works, it increases its own credibility. By "work," here, I mean, "gives us a more-accurate model of the universe." This avoids self-refutation by the simple fact that the deductive premise of science (science will continue to produce a more-accurate model of reality) is supported by the observation that it consistently seems to do so.

 

To get back to the original topic, things make "sense" only when they fit within the framework of our best working model of reality. When I say that theology does not make "sense," it is because it does not comfortably fit within the only known working epistemology: science.

When I read a science fiction or fantasy story, I hope for only one thing: that the story is internally consistent. I also hope for other literary qualities, such as good prose, well-developed characters, plot, and so on; but I will sacrifice one or more of those qualities as long as the story is internally consistent.

Science is internally consistent. Better, it matches reality more and more every day. (It is the only epistemology that can verifiably claim to do so.) If there were a religion that could claim to be both internally consistent and increasingly match observable reality, I would admit it is not incoherent. (This is true of Cpt_Pineapple's old beliefs, however unlikely; it might also be true of Eloise's, if I could ever quite wrap my noggin around what she really believes.)

As it is, many religions do not make sense within both their own context, and the context of observable reality. (This does make the metaphysical assumption of observable reality. I left solipsism behind when I was 12.) For the most part, god-talk is meaningless, as it is either incoherent, or inconsistent with observable reality. This is true whether you assume positivism or not.

For those definitions of "god" that are left, they are completely impotent versions of 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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BobSpence1 wrote:I think you

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think you making a very 'hair-splitting' distinction.

I do see a distinction between the simplistic version of "inductive logic" as in that quoted example, and the more sophisticated version employed by Science.

As to your apparent objection to my saying that Science 'employs' logic/induction/whatever, rather than is 'based on', I think you are reading something odd into that.

I am just trying to emphasise that the essence of what makes Science what it is, is NOT logic, or even induction (certainly not the most simplistic version) - virtually all other serious discourse employs/uses/applies (pick what verb you are most comfortable with) basic Logic, and I don't think Science is the only domain which applies some form of induction.

I beleive one could do science without a lot of the things one see as necessary to science, such as peer-review, falsification, etc. IMHO the two non-negotiables are reproducibility and empirical induction. Without these two, then science is impossible. The more "sophisticated" version obviously assumes the more "simplistic" version. "Employs" seems to imply that science is somehow independent of logic, or that logic is subservient to science.

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nigelTheBold wrote: Science

nigelTheBold wrote:

Science is internally consistent. Better, it matches reality more and more every day. (It is the only epistemology that can verifiably claim to do so.) If there were a religion that could claim to be both internally consistent and increasingly match observable reality, I would admit it is not incoherent. (This is true of Cpt_Pineapple's old beliefs, however unlikely; it might also be true of Eloise's, if I could ever quite wrap my noggin around what she really believes.)

Internal consistency is coherentism, which in and of itself is good for things like novels and what not, but to say that "it matches reality more and more every day" is correspondence. Also, this is to make a presumption about the nature of "reality" which is metaphyiscal. I'm really confused here because this seems to be cross categories all over the place. Sorry if I am anal, (if you haven't noticed) but I'm a person who likes clarity. Some may accuse me if muddying the waters though.

nigelTheBold wrote:

As it is, many religions do not make sense within both their own context, and the context of observable reality. (This does make the metaphysical assumption of observable reality. I left solipsism behind when I was 12.) For the most part, god-talk is meaningless, as it is either incoherent, or inconsistent with observable reality. This is true whether you assume positivism or not.

The OP was contending that meaninglessness is not neccessarily the case, which is why I don't generally like to ascribe things to such categories. Unsound (such as ID as presented by Dembski and Behe) or invalid...now I can deal with these things.


nigelTheBold wrote:

For those definitions of "god" that are left, they are completely impotent versions of god.

Sun gods would be pretty powerful.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think you making a very 'hair-splitting' distinction.

I do see a distinction between the simplistic version of "inductive logic" as in that quoted example, and the more sophisticated version employed by Science.

As to your apparent objection to my saying that Science 'employs' logic/induction/whatever, rather than is 'based on', I think you are reading something odd into that.

I am just trying to emphasise that the essence of what makes Science what it is, is NOT logic, or even induction (certainly not the most simplistic version) - virtually all other serious discourse employs/uses/applies (pick what verb you are most comfortable with) basic Logic, and I don't think Science is the only domain which applies some form of induction.

I beleive one could do science without a lot of the things one see as necessary to science, such as peer-review, falsification, etc. IMHO the two non-negotiables are reproducibility and empirical induction. Without these two, then science is impossible. The more "sophisticated" version obviously assumes the more "simplistic" version. "Employs" seems to imply that science is somehow independent of logic, or that logic is subservient to science.

The more sophisticated version of induction does not include the simplistic version, it corrects it, by replacing true/false conclusions with probability assessments.

Logic is an essential tool of science, as is math.

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BobSpence1 wrote:The more

BobSpence1 wrote:

The more sophisticated version of induction does not include the simplistic version, it corrects it, by replacing true/false conclusions with probability assessments.

Logic is an essential tool of science, as is math.

Am I the one that is hair splitting? Or are we both hair splitting?

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

The more sophisticated version of induction does not include the simplistic version, it corrects it, by replacing true/false conclusions with probability assessments.

Logic is an essential tool of science, as is math.

Am I the one that is hair splitting? Or are we both hair splitting?

On case it wasn't clear it was this response of yours

Quote:

I was differentiating between inductive logic and induction "employed" by science.

which I thought was somewhat 'hair-splitting'.

On another point, I personally feel that, in speaking of forming models of reality, which are really models of the perceived and measured behavior of 'real' entities, I am specifically avoiding making any assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality. I am avoiding making any claims that our theories accurately describe 'reality', just that the behavior and attributes they describe can be mapped quite closely to reality as perceived.

I am finding it increasingly difficult not to see your thought patterns as showing all the worst sort of outmoded misconceptions I would expect from someone immersed in the medieval (or older) thinking that goes with traditional metaphysical and other philosophical world-views. You combine an obsession with categories with a very confusing application of those categories. Sorry...

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

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BobSpence1 wrote:which I

BobSpence1 wrote:

which I thought was somewhat 'hair-splitting'.

On another point, I personally feel that, in speaking of forming models of reality, which are really models of the perceived and measured behavior of 'real' entities, I am specifically avoiding making any assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality. I am avoiding making any claims that our theories accurately describe 'reality', just that the behavior and attributes they describe can be mapped quite closely to reality as perceived.

I am finding it increasingly difficult not to see your thought patterns as showing all the worst sort of outmoded misconceptions I would expect from someone immersed in the medieval (or older) thinking that goes with traditional metaphysical and other philosophical world-views. You combine an obsession with categories with a very confusing application of those categories. Sorry...

I generally approach any given problem with a contemporary understanding of epistemology and metaphyiscs, and I suppose it can come across as hair splitting somtimes. I'm just anal about grappling with ideas such that I try not to take anything for granted. When you say "reality", for someone who has spent a lot of time reading about metaphyiscs, this is a loaded term, and comes with a lot of baggage attached to it. Such is true of words like "knowledge" and "induction" with concerns to epistemology. Obviously, I will hair-split until the cows come home, if you haven't noticed by now.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

which I thought was somewhat 'hair-splitting'.

On another point, I personally feel that, in speaking of forming models of reality, which are really models of the perceived and measured behavior of 'real' entities, I am specifically avoiding making any assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality. I am avoiding making any claims that our theories accurately describe 'reality', just that the behavior and attributes they describe can be mapped quite closely to reality as perceived.

I am finding it increasingly difficult not to see your thought patterns as showing all the worst sort of outmoded misconceptions I would expect from someone immersed in the medieval (or older) thinking that goes with traditional metaphysical and other philosophical world-views. You combine an obsession with categories with a very confusing application of those categories. Sorry...

I generally approach any given problem with a contemporary understanding of epistemology and metaphyiscs, and I suppose it can come across as hair splitting somtimes. I'm just anal about grappling with ideas such that I try not to take anything for granted. When you say "reality", for someone who has spent a lot of time reading about metaphyiscs, this is a loaded term, and comes with a lot of baggage attached to it. Such is true of words like "knowledge" and "induction" with concerns to epistemology. Obviously, I will hair-split until the cows come home, if you haven't noticed by now.

And to me, Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ontology (I don't think you actually mentioned that one, but I always associate it with Epistemology), as formal domains of 'knowledge' and study, or however you want to characterize them in a formal sense, are utterly devoid of real insights into existence and whatever passes for reality, and worse than a waste of time to actually study. But that should be no surprise to you by now...

I specifically enclosed the word 'reality' in quotes to signal that I was not assuming any specific interpretation of the word, but maybe you don't react to that punctuation in that way.

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

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"god" talk is only important

"god" talk is only important because the concept is still around being postulated. We don't argue the existence of a volcano being an angry god, because we know what it is now.

It is not an argument atheist started. "god" is a meaningless word and an utterance of ignorance. BUT, ON ANY ISSUE, when a human utters something it is up to the rest of us to examine the claim "on any issue" to verify the credibility of such a claim.

"god" is nothing more than humans projecting themselves into a gap.

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BobSpence1 wrote:And to me,

BobSpence1 wrote:

And to me, Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ontology (I don't think you actually mentioned that one, but I always associate it with Epistemology), as formal domains of 'knowledge' and study, or however you want to characterize them in a formal sense, are utterly devoid of real insights into existence and whatever passes for reality, and worse than a waste of time to actually study. But that should be no surprise to you by now...

I specifically enclosed the word 'reality' in quotes to signal that I was not assuming any specific interpretation of the word, but maybe you don't react to that punctuation in that way.

I intentionally did not mention ontology to avoid confusion.

Also, I did not really know what you meant by the quotes.

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Brian37 wrote:"god" is a

Brian37 wrote:

"god" is a meaningless word and an utterance of ignorance.

.

.

.

"god" is nothing more than humans projecting themselves into a gap.

How can "god" be "a meaningless word and an utterance of ignorance" and "nothing more than humans projecting themselves into a gap"?

If it is the latter, then it is rather meaningful as a projection of something I (hopefully) know well: myself.

Brian37 wrote:

BUT, ON ANY ISSUE, when a human utters something it is up to the rest of us to examine the claim "on any issue" to verify the credibility of such a claim.

How do you suggest we "verify the credibility of such a claim"? Do we look at the credibility of the claimant, the content of the claim, both, or niether?

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A word such as 'God' can be

A word such as 'God' can be meaningless in the sense that it lacks any coherent definition, while its usage reveals something about the thoughts of the user.

There is no conflict in that quote.

Neither should there be any problem in reading the second quote - we can look at both, at all aspects of a claim. Primarily of course the content of the claim, but if that is hard to verify, we can take into consideration what we know of the claimant, but of course this normal provides much weaker grounds for any level of acceptance of the claim.

You really need to be a bit more subtle in your reading of what people say if you are to have a hope of understanding the full import of the words people utter.

Surely you understand this? Are these rhetorical questions, where you are trying to make some point, or are you truly this confused on these things?

EDIT: It really does seem, based on many of your posts, that you really do "just lack the ability to understand" much of what people say? Or perhaps it is time to rethink your approach of trying to fit everything into a relatively neat category.

  

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:A word such

BobSpence1 wrote:

A word such as 'God' can be meaningless in the sense that it lacks any coherent definition, while its usage reveals something about the thoughts of the user.

There is no conflict in that quote.

In and of itself, yes. That was one thing I noted on the post, Defining Atheism.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Neither should there be any problem in reading the second quote - we can look at both, at all aspects of a claim. Primarily of course the content of the claim, but if that is hard to verify, we can take into consideration what we know of the claimant, but of course this normal provides much weaker grounds for any level of acceptance of the claim.

You really need to be a bit more subtle in your reading of what people say if you are to have a hope of understanding the full import of the words people utter.

Surely you understand this? Are these rhetorical questions, where you are trying to make some point, or are you truly this confused on these things?

EDIT: It really does seem, based on many of your posts, that you really do "just lack the ability to understand" much of what people say? Or perhaps it is time to rethink your approach of trying to fit everything into a relatively neat category. 

I try not to presume anything about what people are saying. I was asking for clarity, not challenging the defintions. I see two definitions that prima facie do not seem to be mutually compatible with one another, so I ask a question about them. I'm not sure if people type things in haste, not really thinking about what they are typing (hopefully not) or whether they actually put thought into what they were typing. Categories help aid understanding like any attempt to clarify. Ambiguity can create all sorts of problems, such as equivocations, categorical mistakes, false dichotomies, contradictions, etc. etc. that can go undetected. If one lets things remain messy, then inevitably then at the end of the day one ends up with a bigger mess. 

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Christians do not believe in a god but only believe they do.

 


Quote:
The logical positivists did not claim that words such as "god" referring to imaginable characters such as Zeus, or the term "Sherlock Holmes", referring to an imaginary person, were meaningless.  They claimed that the word "God" capitalized as it is spoken by modern Christians is meaningless, since they considered "creator of the universe" meaningless.  They claimed as I do, that theism is not a belief in a god, but rather only the psychological illusion of a belief in a god.  In other words, they, as I, did not believe that modern Christians have any concept of any god at all to label "God", but only believe they do. 
 


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"God"-talk is meaningless but not "unicorn-talk"

The term "God" is not like the term "unicorn".  Unicorns can be thought of but nothing called "God" can even be thought of.  That's why I do not say "God does not exist" because that would be just as meaningless as saying "God does exist", and both are as meaningless as saying "Bliffle smoop".

Edwin


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Interesting point.

Edwin McCravy wrote:

The term "God" is not like the term "unicorn".  Unicorns can be thought of but nothing called "God" can even be thought of.  That's why I do not say "God does not exist" because that would be just as meaningless as saying "God does exist", and both are as meaningless as saying "Bliffle smoop".

Edwin

 

Of course, even though we would say it's impossible for something that's undefined to be 'thought of', christians create a powerful anthropomorphic-father god in their heads and then they believe their personal god projection exists. One of the most unusual things christians insist is that god is love. You'd have to assume they mean that god is the personification of selfless human love which dies to save children, etc. Love could arguably be seen to be our great quality despite the fact other animals will die to protect their young and must feel a hot surge of something other than anger to drive them to do it. Mother grizzlies for instance. Father wolves. It's a strange thing for the big monkey to believe, that an all-powerful universe creating deity is the personification of primate brain juice.

 

 

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Theists do not worship any anthropomorphic god. Ask them!

 

Edwin McCravy wrote:
The term "God" is not like the term "unicorn".  Unicorns can be thought of but nothing called "God" can even be thought of.  That's why I do not say "God does not exist" because that would be just as meaningless as saying "God does exist", and both are as meaningless as saying "Bliffle smoop".

Edwin

Atheistextremist wrote:
Of course, even though we would say it's impossible for something that's undefined to be 'thought of',

I claim your words "something that's undefined" is meaningless because *nothing* is undefined, not *something*.  Now you can say that the row of alphabet letters "foof" is undefined.  Something that's undefined is the row of letters "f-o-o-f".  So if you're talking about a row of letters such as "God" or "foof" then you are not talking about a sound like "foof" made with the mouth or written with a pen or typed on a computer, and nothing else but a sound or mark. 

Atheistextremist wrote:
christians create a powerful anthropomorphic-father god in their heads

You believe they do but I don't.   I don't believe they believe any anthropomorphic father god that they could picture in their head is something they believe is a referent for the word "God".   Why do you believe they actually create a powerful anthropomorphic god in their heads and believe that it is something for the word "God" with a capital letter to mean?  Why not instead accept the fact that don't do this at all.  They are instead having the feeling that they are anticipating some kind of a surprise that they believe they will experience some day.  They have no idea what any surprise could be.   So they think they have labeled something "God" when all they have done is have the emotion of anticipating a surprise and spoken as though "God" were the name of something a surprise could be, when they actually have had no thought of anything any surprise named "God" could be.

Atheistextremist wrote:
and then they believe their personal god projection exists.

I don't believe they believe in any god at all, personal or impersonal, or that you even know of anything you could be meaning by your own words "personal god projection exists".  No, they do not have any personal god or even thinking of anything to call a personal god, whatever you think that is.  But they think they do.  But they have merely talked as though they had spoken of one, but they haven't spoken of anything at all.

Atheistextremist wrote:
One of the most unusual things christians insist is that god is love.

That is indeed meaningless.  They don't know of anything they are meaning by those words. 

Atheistextremist wrote:
You'd have to assume they mean that god is the personification of selfless human love which dies to save children, etc.

But they don't think of sensing anything that they believe "God" refers to, which makes "God" an empty 'word' -- it ought to be called a non-word like "foof" is called. 

Atheistextremist wrote:
Love could arguably be seen to be our great quality despite the fact other animals will die to protect their young and must feel a hot surge of something other than anger to drive them to do it. Mother grizzlies for instance. Father wolves.

Love and compassion is an instinct that serves to protect the species.  If nobody loved anybody else, we'd just kill each other off.  Humankind would not have been a unsuccessful animal without fellow love.  Fellow love and caring among the members of the species protects the species. 

Atheistextremist wrote:
It's a strange thing for the big monkey to believe, that an all-powerful universe creating deity is the personification of primate brain juice.

They don't believe that, they only speak their words "an all-powerful universe creating deity must have created the universe" and think they are talking about something they could be thinking about, but all they are doing is saying it and thinking they are thinking of something for it to mean, but they're not.  I wish you would stop believing they are meaning anything they can think of sensing by the sound "God".

Edwin