"Existential" questions outside the boundaries of knowledge?

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"Existential" questions outside the boundaries of knowledge?

Someone recently said to me: "There is no evidence for a soul or a God, but there is no evidence against the existence of such things either. Since neither are falsifiable, they can't be subject to scientific testing. As a result, it is simply a matter of opinion." Also went on to say: "Existential questions do have answers. It's just that there is no one right answer, but various ways of answering them which satisfy a multitude of cultures and societies.You are assuming souls are empirical. I would argue that the concept of a soul is not empirical and can't be tested for, as it has no physical form. Hence, one does not need evidence to believe he has a soul. However, one does not need evidence to believe he doesn't have a soul."

Is there a name for this argument? I already explained that you could apply the same logic to any magical thing e.g., Unicorns, angels, and zombies which would be ridiculous.  I notice people who don't really want to "loose" in a discussion usually resort to this, which I always feel is a cop out. I always think to myself you know this is bullshit but I'm not erudite enough to explain in detail why this argument fails. As I understand it we want to believe things in practical terms as often as possible, we don't live under the assumption that the existence of a unicorn is unknowable, we generally agree that their is no such thing. Off course nothing can be said with absolute certainty but that's really just jumping through intellectual hoops and solid position on the existence of something. I hear this even from relatively smart people, as far as I can tell it's basically fence riding and being neutral not wanting to take sides.


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Because we have incomplete

Because we have incomplete information about the universe, there are a ton of conjectures where one could say it can't be proven true or false, therefore one belief is just as valid as another. As if these are all 50/50 propositions. One could say nothing is provable or unprovable because there could be facts we don't know about. We can't know what we don't know. So if I asked 'Does this computer I'm typing on exist?', perhaps the world is just a Matrix-like simulation and this is all an illusion.

The scientific way to view beliefs and theorems is 'it consistent with other other facts and laws of nature.' So for example, you might ask 'does intelligent life exist on moon?'. From what we currently know about the moon and biology, one should believe no with almost 100% certainty. But there could always be some evidence or information we're missing. But it's such an obscure possibility, it's not worth even considering. So I think 'Do we have a soul?, or Is there a god?' would fall into this category. It's not even worth considering unless there is some major new discovery about the nature of the universe.

But if you ask 'Does intelligent life exist in other solar systems somewhere in the universe?' This does not contradict what we currently know about the universe. Scientists try to calculate the probability and try to get information about this possibility.

The flaw in human thinking that religion exploits is that when a conjecture is not provable or unprovable, we tend to think of it as a 50/50 proposition of being true or false. Also, if people want something to be true or if other people believe something to be true this greatly increases it's believability.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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 Well yah, knowledge in the

 

Well yah, knowledge in the abstract sense is probably always going to be incomplete. That much being said, just because something is not known at any given moment does not mean that one may invoke multiple truth values for a proposition.

 

Take Uranus as an example. Five hundred years ago, the solar system had yet to be mapped to the level of precision that would be required for anyone to even articulate that it was there. Yet I assure you, it was there.

 

Now you could retreat into your ancient text of choice and claim that because it was not mentioned, that is grounds to deny that it exists but that will not make it “not there for you personally”. In the same vein, claiming the existence of something that cannot be determined to exist based on some ancient text does not make that thing “there for you”.

 

So basically, some ancient text that asserts the existence of the soul or of god is a load of bunk.

 

Which brings us to the point of asking if something may be real even though the proof is not available. Well sure, stuff may well be real without the evidence being there. However, the fact that the assertion of real existence is bunk ought to be telling in this regard.

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funknotik wrote:Someone

funknotik wrote:

Someone recently said to me: "There is no evidence for a soul or a God, but there is no evidence against the existence of such things either. Since neither are falsifiable, they can't be subject to scientific testing. As a result, it is simply a matter of opinion." Also went on to say: "Existential questions do have answers. It's just that there is no one right answer, but various ways of answering them which satisfy a multitude of cultures and societies.You are assuming souls are empirical. I would argue that the concept of a soul is not empirical and can't be tested for, as it has no physical form. Hence, one does not need evidence to believe he has a soul. However, one does not need evidence to believe he doesn't have a soul."

Is there a name for this argument? I already explained that you could apply the same logic to any magical thing e.g., Unicorns, angels, and zombies which would be ridiculous.  I notice people who don't really want to "loose" in a discussion usually resort to this, which I always feel is a cop out. I always think to myself you know this is bullshit but I'm not erudite enough to explain in detail why this argument fails. As I understand it we want to believe things in practical terms as often as possible, we don't live under the assumption that the existence of a unicorn is unknowable, we generally agree that their is no such thing. Off course nothing can be said with absolute certainty but that's really just jumping through intellectual hoops and solid position on the existence of something. I hear this even from relatively smart people, as far as I can tell it's basically fence riding and being neutral not wanting to take sides.

 

I think this is an example of a very clever and simple logic.  I see no problem with such argumentation.  It simply separates materialstic world from idealistic concepts.  Why does it bother you if someone claims he believes in immaterial things?  It shouldn't be a problem, right?   The problem comes when someone claims the bible is an accurate history book and Jesus together with his daddy are real guys, and those who think differently are the enemies of our country (whatever country it is). 


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funknotik wrote:Is there a

funknotik wrote:

Is there a name for this argument?

I think some people would call it "bullshit".

If (a) one has reason to beleive that something exists (b) and one searches ferviously to find it, and (c) fails to do so then he or she can conclude that that something does not exist based on the fact that attempts to find it failed. Such is "negative" evidence. Even if the soul is not empirical, one must be able to show how one has knowledge of such things in order to discern such things that are purely imaginative. Otherwise, the best conclusion is to say that such things are fiction.

But in any case, one may not need evidence to believe something, one need certainly needs reason to believe something. If correspondent justification is ambivalent (That is, there is no evidence) one can use pragmatic arguments to whisk superfluous beliefs away. That is, if I don't have a good reason to or not to believe in something, then I just don't concern myself with such things. Those that do just complicate their lives unnecessarily.

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100percentAtheist

100percentAtheist wrote:

funknotik wrote:

Someone recently said to me: "There is no evidence for a soul or a God, but there is no evidence against the existence of such things either. Since neither are falsifiable, they can't be subject to scientific testing. As a result, it is simply a matter of opinion." Also went on to say: "Existential questions do have answers. It's just that there is no one right answer, but various ways of answering them which satisfy a multitude of cultures and societies.You are assuming souls are empirical. I would argue that the concept of a soul is not empirical and can't be tested for, as it has no physical form. Hence, one does not need evidence to believe he has a soul. However, one does not need evidence to believe he doesn't have a soul."

Is there a name for this argument? I already explained that you could apply the same logic to any magical thing e.g., Unicorns, angels, and zombies which would be ridiculous.  I notice people who don't really want to "loose" in a discussion usually resort to this, which I always feel is a cop out. I always think to myself you know this is bullshit but I'm not erudite enough to explain in detail why this argument fails. As I understand it we want to believe things in practical terms as often as possible, we don't live under the assumption that the existence of a unicorn is unknowable, we generally agree that their is no such thing. Off course nothing can be said with absolute certainty but that's really just jumping through intellectual hoops and solid position on the existence of something. I hear this even from relatively smart people, as far as I can tell it's basically fence riding and being neutral not wanting to take sides.

 

I think this is an example of a very clever and simple logic.  I see no problem with such argumentation.  It simply separates materialstic world from idealistic concepts.  Why does it bother you if someone claims he believes in immaterial things?  It shouldn't be a problem, right?   The problem comes when someone claims the bible is an accurate history book and Jesus together with his daddy are real guys, and those who think differently are the enemies of our country (whatever country it is). 

It doesn't bother me that they believe in immaterial things, what bothers me is that they are not saying they do or don't believe. They are saying it's "unknowable," this seems to me like something a christian apologist would say. It's a multiple choice cop out when you could just say (there is no soul, no god, and no afterlife.) Again I have a suspicion that the person who said this just didn't want to offend the religious or mystical minded people in the conversation. But I do understand the premise, it's just so... unsatisfying.


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funknotik wrote:It doesn't

funknotik wrote:

It doesn't bother me that they believe in immaterial things, what bothers me is that they are not saying they do or don't believe. They are saying it's "unknowable," this seems to me like something a christian apologist would say. It's a multiple choice cop out when you could just say (there is no soul, no god, and no afterlife.) Again I have a suspicion that the person who said this just didn't want to offend the religious or mystical minded people in the conversation. But I do understand the premise, it's just so... unsatisfying.

 

My husband used to be of the "it is unknowable" school.  And then he read 50 Reasons People give for  Believing in a God.  Now he says he is an atheist.  If you haven't come across this book, it is really about refuting those 50 reasons.  I think I remember this argument being one of those 50.  The author's refutations are very good.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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 I've always thought of it

 I've always thought of it as a last ditch effort when they realize their position is weak. When they can't prove their god or soul or whatnot exists they turn to well prove that anything is real. And ultimately, when you get down to the bottom of it, nothing can be "proven" including your own existence without making an assumption. Basically you get it from people who have taken one or two philosophy classes in college and think they are brilliant or someone who is well versed in philosophy and is just screwing with you for fun. If you get someone who really has their head in the clouds so much they aren't even sure of their own existence it is usually best to let them be in their fantasy world. No matter what you say they will simply respond with "well how do you know it is real?" They are not really seeking an answer, they are simply evading the question which is why it is unsatisfying.   

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This argument is an argument

This argument is an argument from dialetheism- an argument coming from the principle that true contradictions are possible.  In other words, a rejection of logic.

 

In Latin, it's been called "ex falso sequitur quodlibet", or "from contradiction whatever you like"- simultaneously the nature of the argument itself, and the counter-argument.  In other words, it's the equivalent of the toddler's game of "I win".  If applied fairly it results in logical explosion, which makes any argument about anything, ever, completely meaningless.

 

The flaw in this argument is the idiocy upon which it is founded- I think the Latin says it well enough.  If you accept contradictions-- that is, if you reject falsification through logic-- you can make up whatever you like.  Any statement can be proved with the acceptance of a single contradiction; it demolishes not only the use of logic in the "existential" realm of discussion, but in all discussion, throughout all reality.  One can not break a part of logic and expect the rest to remain intact, respecting one's arbitrary exceptions.

These people want an isolated instance of "well, I get to allow contradictions here and reject logic in *this* subject matter, but it doesn't apply to anything else because I said so"-- that is, they usually don't want that to bleed over into everything else. 

These people are being idiots.  You can call them on that- if they have a shred of intelligence or respect for logic or reality, they might see reason on that one.  If they don't, there's not very much of a point in arguing with a dialetheist, because they will inevitably cheat without a shred of conscience to get to whatever point they desire.

 

If they do accept reason, however, you can explain to them falsification through internal contradiction, or contradiction with other elements of accepted reality- then proceed to falsify these supernatural concepts in that manner.


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funknotik wrote:I would

funknotik wrote:
I would argue that the concept of a soul is not empirical and can't be tested for, as it has no physical form. Hence, one does not need evidence to believe he has a soul. However, one does not need evidence to believe he doesn't have a soul."

Is there a name for this argument?

In 2004, Christopher Hitchens stated "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof." I doubt one can put it any shorter. If no one has done that before, we should invent a catchy name for it - any suggestions? Smiling

 

funknotik wrote:
we don't live under the assumption that the existence of a unicorn is unknowable, we generally agree that their is no such thing.

That would be a mistake. You can rule out very specific versions of that (like "There is a visible unicorn in my room right now"). But you have no ground for claiming "There are no horse-like creatures with a horn on any planet in the universe." How could you do that? Have you searched all of them? How do you know they haven't communicated telepathically with us in ancient times and thus created the saga of unicorns? Or that they are a spacefaring civilization which observes us in cloaked vessels?

Theists claim to know things they cannot know, but atheists are usually no better. It's a common human mistake; if you are interested in avoiding it, you will surely find the history of epistemological philosophy and philosophy of science helpful.

 

@ Blake

There is no contradiction here. Think of Sagan's Dragon, think of Russell's Teapot. They are constructed in a way that they won't contradict empirical findings:

"What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true."

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense."

The thing is, by placing things beyond measure, they aren't any different from fantasies. So you can ask as well: Is it a matter of opinion whether my imaginary childhood friend exists outside my imagination? And you will find that the question contains the answer already. If it exists outside the imagination, then it *cannot* be just a matter of opinion. However, the *belief* is indeed a matter of opinion, for it cannot be *anything else* than a matter of opinion...


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Athene, I can see that you

Athene,
 

I can see that you are trying to be intellectually honest here, and I appreciate that, but you are missing one key point: falsification by logic.

 

Empiricism, that is observation, can not realistically prove that something doesn't exist anywhere.  Logic, however, can- when the nature of that thing is inherently impossible, it DOES NOT exist anywhere because it CAN NOT exist, period.

 

Athene wrote:

Theists claim to know things they cannot know, but atheists are usually no better. It's a common human mistake; if you are interested in avoiding it, you will surely find the history of epistemological philosophy and philosophy of science helpful.

 

Not very many atheists claim to know things they can not know.  However, you do seem to be claiming to know something that you can not know:  You claim to know that certain things are unprovable/unknowable, and you can't know that because in many cases you are simply wrong.

Everything I know is contingent upon the validity of my observations or simple logic- only the latter is absolute, and only logical falsification is certain, because that's the only thing that isn't contingent upon empirical observation (although it does depend on the claim being made- that is, it is certain provided that there has been no miscommunication).

 

Athene wrote:
There is no contradiction here. Think of Sagan's Dragon, think of Russell's Teapot. They are constructed in a way that they won't contradict empirical findings:

 

Yes, there is- you just don't see it, probably because you haven't thoroughly investigated the claims being made.  I encourage you to do so- not empirically, but with an eye to logical internal consistency.

 

Athene wrote:

The thing is, by placing things beyond measure, they aren't any different from fantasies. So you can ask as well: Is it a matter of opinion whether my imaginary childhood friend exists outside my imagination? And you will find that the question contains the answer already. If it exists outside the imagination, then it *cannot* be just a matter of opinion. However, the *belief* is indeed a matter of opinion, for it cannot be *anything else* than a matter of opinion...

 

What are you on about?  That something exists or not in some context is a matter of fact, not opinion.  Making it practically impossible to empirically measure does not relegate it to opinion- it remains a matter of fact, just one that we can not empirically demonstrate at the moment, but that we may still be able to logically invalidate regardless.

Your argument, whatever you are trying to demonstrate, is only really serving to showcase your confusion as to what qualifies objective fact, and what qualifies subjective opinion- it's a little unnerving.

 

For all your attempts at intellectual honesty, you will come up entirely empty handed if you completely ignore the most important element of coherent reality- logical falsifiability. 

 

You seem nice enough, and I'm not saying this to be mean, but out of concern--  I strongly suggest that you stray from this path to dialetheism that you find yourself on; it's not a path to free thought or open mindedness, but quite the contrary- a mind that rejects falsification can be nothing but completely closed.


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Blake wrote:This argument is

Blake wrote:

This argument is an argument from dialetheism- an argument coming from the principle that true contradictions are possible.  In other words, a rejection of logic.

 

In Latin, it's been called "ex falso sequitur quodlibet", or "from contradiction whatever you like"- simultaneously the nature of the argument itself, and the counter-argument.  In other words, it's the equivalent of the toddler's game of "I win".  If applied fairly it results in logical explosion, which makes any argument about anything, ever, completely meaningless.

 

The flaw in this argument is the idiocy upon which it is founded- I think the Latin says it well enough.  If you accept contradictions-- that is, if you reject falsification through logic-- you can make up whatever you like.  Any statement can be proved with the acceptance of a single contradiction; it demolishes not only the use of logic in the "existential" realm of discussion, but in all discussion, throughout all reality.  One can not break a part of logic and expect the rest to remain intact, respecting one's arbitrary exceptions.

These people want an isolated instance of "well, I get to allow contradictions here and reject logic in *this* subject matter, but it doesn't apply to anything else because I said so"-- that is, they usually don't want that to bleed over into everything else. 

These people are being idiots.  You can call them on that- if they have a shred of intelligence or respect for logic or reality, they might see reason on that one.  If they don't, there's not very much of a point in arguing with a dialetheist, because they will inevitably cheat without a shred of conscience to get to whatever point they desire.

 

If they do accept reason, however, you can explain to them falsification through internal contradiction, or contradiction with other elements of accepted reality- then proceed to falsify these supernatural concepts in that manner.

Awesome you broke it down perfectly! This ended up being a situation of the individual not really being interested in the truth and more so just wanting to be right about everything. I find that the primate in us really comes out in discussions and people just want to be right and will do whatever it takes to do just that. I forwarded your explanation to the individual hopefully they will come to their senses however I suspect that their new age, mystical, crystal ball gazing ass will never come to reason and accept reality.


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Blake wrote:Empiricism, that

Blake wrote:
Empiricism, that is observation, can not realistically prove that something doesn't exist anywhere.  Logic, however, can- when the nature of that thing is inherently impossible, it DOES NOT exist anywhere because it CAN NOT exist, period.

Oh, but logic is empirical itself. They weren't given to mankind by revelation, but he found out through observation and testing. If you change the rules of the world, you may have to change the rules of logic, too. But how do we know of the rules of the world? Through observation and testing, again. So how do you know the rules of the world aren't already different than how you consider them? If you don't make your positions falsifiable, then you cannot know.

 

Blake wrote:
Not very many atheists claim to know things they can not know.

Almost all of them do, according to my experience. They mostly fall for epistemological antitheism ("There is no God!" ) or objective morality ("There is a true good and bad independent of human appraisal!" ).

 

Blake wrote:
However, you do seem to be claiming to know something that you can not know:  You claim to know that certain things are unprovable/unknowable

If you *construct* something to be unprovable, yes, certainly, you can assume that it is unprovable. And I don't even have to defend that in a dogmatic way: If you claim that you can prove that unprovable things are provable, then just do it. I won't even argue why that's most improbable to occur, I can simply wait to be shown that it is possible.

 

Blake wrote:
You seem nice enough, and I'm not saying this to be mean, but out of concern--  I strongly suggest that you stray from this path to dialetheism that you find yourself on; it's not a path to free thought or open mindedness, but quite the contrary- a mind that rejects falsification can be nothing but completely closed.

Thanks, however, that doesn't have anything to do with Dialetheism, but simply with the foundations, justifications, chances and limits of logic. While the denial of dialetheism is actually necessary for many theist arguments, this case is a different one. It resembles the case of the black swans which are declared to be non-existent. And to say it bluntly, that ain't scientific thinking, that is faith...


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The foundation of logic is

The foundation of logic is not really empirical, it is a pair of 'laws' which specify the minimal requirements for a coherent reality, namely:

1. that there are distinguishable components within 'reality', ie some parts or aspects of perceived reality which can be distinguished from others to some minimally useful degree and duration - The Law of Identity, and 

2. that what constitutes entity or item A is usefully distinguishable from that which is not A - The Law of Non-Contradiction.

3. a third Law is often mentioned, but it is not really a requirement for logic as such, but for classifying a particular category of logic, which is binary, where conclusions are allowed to be only True or False - The Law of The Excluded Middle.

All the theorems of basic logic follow deductively from these principles, not empirically.

Mathematics is similarly not empirical, but it is dependent on what axioms are assumed. The choice of which axioms to apply does have elements of empiricism, in that they are selected to be of maximum utility, and different sets can be chosen if they can be shown to be more useful. But the rules applied to them derive from logic, so are not really empirical.

Logic and Math do not strictly reveal truths about external reality in themselves, but are essential tools to be applied to analyse empirical data as part of science.

 

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But you can easily imagine a

But you can easily imagine a reality where specific logic laws aren't in effect - for example, the logical invalidity of ad hominem-arguments. It is only empirical evidence which teaches us that they don't lead to valid conclusions. We don't have any base to judge whether the method of drawing a conclusion is valid despite checking it against reality; if we choose another base (like "Every reasoning is logically valid that makes me happy" ), then we use a definition of logic which has no relevance in science. Therefor, logic cannot be separated from empiricism. The moment someone claims the opposite, I can simply answer "You are wrong because you are male/short/blond/Chinese..." - and I would be right according to his own claim!

 

The rules of reasoning we use don't need to be backed up by empirical findings every time, but their origin is definitely empirical. I we forget that, then we might think that they possess magically authority of their own and where given to us by some kind of revelation about the functioning of the universe...which is nothing but laying excellent groundwork for theistic arguments.


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Athene wrote:But you can

Athene wrote:

But you can easily imagine a reality where specific logic laws aren't in effect - for example, the logical invalidity of ad hominem-arguments. It is only empirical evidence which teaches us that they don't lead to valid conclusions. We don't have any base to judge whether the method of drawing a conclusion is valid despite checking it against reality; if we choose another base (like "Every reasoning is logically valid that makes me happy" ), then we use a definition of logic which has no relevance in science. Therefor, logic cannot be separated from empiricism. The moment someone claims the opposite, I can simply answer "You are wrong because you are male/short/blond/Chinese..." - and I would be right according to his own claim!

 

The rules of reasoning we use don't need to be backed up by empirical findings every time, but their origin is definitely empirical. I we forget that, then we might think that they possess magically authority of their own and where given to us by some kind of revelation about the functioning of the universe...which is nothing but laying excellent groundwork for theistic arguments.

The logical invalidity of the standard fallacies is not empirical. You are simply wrong here.

The logical invalidity of ad hominem-arguments is not a logical law, it is a deductive conclusion of the primary laws of logic. It follows from the fact that the truth or otherwise of ad-hominem statements have no necessary logical connection with the substance of the argument, IOW, neither the truth or falseness of a general ad-hom leads to a contradiction with the propositions in the substance of the argument.

Invalid arguments can lead us to conclusions which may happen to be true, but that has nothing to do with the validity or otherwise of the argument. The only thing that logic can do is demonstrate when some conclusion is not compatible with the starting propositions, ie, it leads to a contradiction. This asymmetry, that logic can only prove contradiction, not truth, that allows you to make the claims you are making. 

To demonstrate that there was something wrong with a particular style of argument, you would have to show that something it clearly indicated was a contradiction, turned out to be demonstrably true.

 

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

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The insight that there is no

The insight that there is no logical connection between the truth of a statement and the person of the speaker is an empirical finding. In a reality where there is such a connection (let it be a dream, for that matter, or a computer program), it is actually illogical to assume no one. So when you deny the empirical roots of logic, then what speaks against claiming that there were a logical connection where according to our experience there is none? How should you prove otherwise without referring to empiric findings?


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Athene wrote:The insight

Athene wrote:

The insight that there is no logical connection between the truth of a statement and the person of the speaker is an empirical finding. In a reality where there is such a connection (let it be a dream, for that matter, or a computer program), it is actually illogical to assume no one. So when you deny the empirical roots of logic, then what speaks against claiming that there were a logical connection where according to our experience there is none? How should you prove otherwise without referring to empiric findings?

You are applying the standard deductive non-empirical conclusions of logic in your argument right there, especially when you use the phrase "it is actually illogical to assume no one". 

The observation that individuals do not issue only one category of statement, ie always true or always false, is indeed an empirical 'truth'.

That empirical truth is established by a strict logical analysis of data on the truth value of the statements of a sample of speakers. The logic used in the analysis is deductive, not empirical. If any individual is shown empirically to have issued both true and false statements, that logically implies that it is invalid to assume that they only ever issue either true or false statements.  What is problematic about that?

The 'ad-hom' fallacy is established as a fallacy, based on the simple 'truism' (ie not even a logical theorem) that propositions whose truth status has no effect on the conclusion of  the main argument are not relevant to it. You are confusing the empirical observation, that speakers are not consistent in only making one class of statement, with the logical conclusion that propositions that can be shown to have no effect on the outcome of a specific logic argument do not need to be considered when applying that argument to any set of propositions. The observation in any particular case that some particular factor is not relevant to some particular argument may almost be considered an empirical fact, but that does not make the logical analysis supporting that conclusion empirical in themselves.

It would be exactly like saying that the multiplication tables have been empirically established - we don't know what 3 times 4 is until we lay out a set of objects in 3 groups of 4 and count them. Logic and math are both deductive systems, not empirical.

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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funknotik wrote:Awesome you

funknotik wrote:
Awesome you broke it down perfectly!


Thanks, glad I was able to help.  Hopefully you can use that the next time you encounter one of *those* types.

When I get into an argument with somebody about that kind of thing, establishing whether they accept logic is pretty much the first thing I do- if they don't, there's no point in discussion, because they're aren't going to play by the rules... or really understand anything.  I am patient, but only within those contexts.




BobSpence1,

Thank you.  You saved me at least a couple of hand fulls of hair Smiling


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Bob, you are using circular

Bob, you are using circular reasoning. You are claiming that the person of the speaker is irrelevant because there is no logical connection, and that there is no logical connection because the speaker is irrelevant. However, circular reasoning always has a massive weakness: What if there *is* a logical connection? One would never notice or have to admit that. And why? Because the reasoning is non-empirical and therefor non-falsifiable. The missing contradiction supports the belief that there's nothing wrong with this argument, and any other  reasoning can be dismissed by stating a contradiction to the original circular reasoning, despite the circumstance that the original isn't valid itself. That is why I suggested that you imagine a world where such a logical connection actually *exists*. It may be just a thought experiment, but the purpose of these experiments isn't proving the existence of the scenarios anyway, but pointing to the flaws of the traditional reasoning. You would then find out pretty quickly that a dogma of ad-hominem-fallacy wouldn't be defendable anymore.

 

BobSpence1 wrote:
It would be exactly like saying that the multiplication tables have been empirically established - we don't know what 3 times 4 is until we lay out a set of objects in 3 groups of 4 and count them. Logic and math are both deductive systems, not empirical.

That reminds me of the "Evil is absence of Good"-Story: "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen air, oxygen, molecules, atoms, the professor's brain? Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? It appears no one here has had any sensory perception of the professor's brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I declare that the professor has no brain!"

And the professor answers: "Science is empirical, but also rational. We can make inferences from evidence of things that we do see, back to phenonema that we might not be able to directly see. Such as a functioning brain." So when we say that is empirically affirmed that humans have a brain, then that doesn't mean we have split the skulls of all humans open or have scanned all heads of the human population.

Similarly, we *can* know what 3 times 4 is when applied to reality, even without laying out a set of objects, just as we can assume that the professor has a brain. Maybe this is the point of our misunderstanding? You don't need empiricism for creating rules; you can just as easily think of a set of rules applied to numbers that totally differs from our math and which would lead to totally different conclusions. However, that version of math wouldn't be very helpful in our world - and therefor we wouldn't know what 3 times 4 were when applied to reality, for the experience would differ from the thought. Now that doesn't make the "strange math" absolutely wrong (you always need a system to give substantial meaning to the classifications "right" and "wrong" in the first place), it just wouldn't be useful in our specific environment. Which leads us to empiricism again.

 

So we have several phenomenons here which shouldn't be confused:

- A limited experience with this world ("Empiricism" )

- An unlimited number of possible Codices of Reasoning

- A single Codex which contains the Rules of Reasoning useful in regards to our limited experience with the world ("Logic" )

 

By claiming that choosing and applying this single Codex has nothing to do with our experience with this world, one would simultaneously claim that all other Rules of Reasoning are just as good. Or claim that there *must not be* other Rules of Reasoning for that would lead to contradictions with the first claim. The same problem occurs when a theist tries to shield his god from criticism by claiming he hasn't anything to do with experience (how do we know about him, then?). Now, by refusing to call any other system than the chosen one "logic" or "math" we can prevent this situation from being named. Analogy: Any sentence about other gods loses its meaning when the word "god" is defined as always referring to the one who is worshipped by the society/church. But that's just a semantic solution; while it is actually impossible for other gods to exist according to this language, the concept of "powerful beings" - or however you want to define god - isn't refuted by that.

Of course you don't need empiric affirmation to *make up* a Codex of Reasoning, just as you don't need it to make up gods. But the claim that the Codex is applicable to this reality (= a god exists outside the personal imagination) needs empiric affirmation as well as the claim that no other Codex can exist (=no other gods can exist).


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Awesome intellectual warfare

Awesome intellectual warfare going on here I am reading the responses and I'll get back with my conclusion. Interesting to note the variety of positions on the same subject in a rationalist website. Also the original person in question has responded to my/our statements regarding the "knowability" of previous claims.

" The use of logic in a theological discussion is pretty pointless. Logic is to be used in science, that is, the natural empirical world we live in that is testable and falsifiable. Since we can neither prove nor disprove existential questions, all the answers to those questions are simply matters of opinion. If you believe in god, great. If you don't believe in god, great. It's all a matter of personal opinion." 

This is particularly infuriating as we seem to to have come full circle only to arrive at the beginning. This is so stupid that I can't think of a retort, epic fail.

 


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funknotik wrote:Awesome

funknotik wrote:

Awesome intellectual warfare going on here

That's not intellectual warfare, that's a confused person who doesn't understand what logic is trying to convince everybody else that logic is empirical.

I was hoping Bob would finish this off, but he probably got tired of having everything he said misunderstood (just a guess)

 

For my part, educational charity only goes so far.  If somebody demonstrates his or herself unwilling to learn, I write him or her off.  There are plenty of other people I could be teaching who aren't as closed minded.

 

funknotik wrote:
I am reading the responses and I'll get back with my conclusion. Interesting to note the variety of positions on the same subject in a rationalist website.

 

That's because not all of the people here are rationalists- this Athene person is not by definition.

We have drive-by crazies here just like anywhere else.

 

Anyway, I'll respond to your original idiot's reply.

 

original idiot wrote:
The use of logic in a theological discussion is pretty pointless. Logic is to be used in science, that is, the natural empirical world we live in that is testable and falsifiable. Since we can neither prove nor disprove existential questions, all the answers to those questions are simply matters of opinion. If you believe in god, great. If you don't believe in god, great. It's all a matter of personal opinion.

 

Paul Tillich, Christian existentialist philosopher, wrote:

God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him.

See, even some Christians can understand logic.

 

Logic predates the scientific method and any concept of objective empiricism by epochs, and was traditionally used in philosophy and religious debate- the only thing they were lacking was the objective empirical findings to conflict with their assumptions and give them a sense of probability- and that probability is completely irrelevant to possibility (so, science is still irrelevant to the debate of possibility unless somebody accepts some metric of evidence).

Various concepts of a god have been proven impossible by way of logic (all the while the theists tried to prove their god necessary using logic) for thousands of years.

Logic isn't any more dependent on science than circles are dependent on frisbees- science is a tool for discovering empirical probability, and logic is a means of determining absolute falsification (regardless of empirical factors) or conditional truths.

The confusion of science and logic is nothing short of the most profound ignorance about how we understand our world.

 

 

If one suggests that a god is immune to logic, then one has in so doing demonstrated only that such a god does not exist.

 

funknotik wrote:

This is particularly infuriating as we seem to to have come full circle only to arrive at the beginning. This is so stupid that I can't think of a retort, epic fail.

 

Simple, borrow money from him or her. 

Then pay him or her back with a toe nail, and explain, illogically, how it is equivalent to full repayment of the loan. 

When he or she protests, explain that it is your opinion that loans are immune to logic, and so the toe nail is equivalent to full repayment in your opinion. 

If he or she further protests, explain to him or her that it isn't fair that he or she is the only one who gets to claim a domain of discussion is immune to logic- in his or her opinion, religion is immune to logic, great!  In your opinion, loans are immune to logic- also great! 

Both are things that are postulated to exist, and if one can be immune to logic, then so can the other- unless one or the other doesn't exist? 

 

If it turns out that god doesn't exist, then you will admit that your loan can't be immune to logic, and thus repay it.

If it turns out god does exist, and your loan doesn't exist, then you'll be free and clear anyway.  Free money.

 

This is all based on the principle of explosion:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion

You *can* prove that the toenail is adequate repayment of the loan following from that god may exist independently of logic.

As soon as somebody breaks logic, you can prove anything you want.  In fact, he or she owes you money.


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person wrote:"The use of

person wrote:
"The use of logic in a theological discussion is pretty pointless. Logic is to be used in science, that is, the natural empirical world we live in that is testable and falsifiable. Since we can neither prove nor disprove existential questions, all the answers to those questions are simply matters of opinion. If you believe in god, great. If you don't believe in god, great. It's all a matter of personal opinion."

What does "It's all a matter of personal opinion" mean? If it implies that all opinions are equally justified, it's just completely wrong. If I cannot show that a statement is false beyond a reasonable doubt, that doesn't mean you're justified in believing that the statement is true. You still have to provide positive evidence because the default position is that you're neither certain that the statement is true nor certain that the statement is false. When you don't know something, it doesn't mean you get to say whatever the hell you want. It means that the correct position is you don't know.

I am curious as to what this person thinks theologians should employ in religious discussions in lieu of logic. Eating contests? Snowball fights? I'm guessing he didn't think this all the way through.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Blake, I haven't go back to

Blake, I haven't go back to this because I haven't figured out how to explain 'logically' something so basic as the way logic and theorems of logic work, to someone who so profoundly misunderstands what logic is. That and being distracted by the Bloody_Cross OA thread and subsequent spam explosions.

Someone who doesn't seem to grasp the basic difference between axiomatic, deductive systems, such as logic and math, and empirical, inductive, probabilistic based systems such as science (at the most formal level), or ordinary rational analysis of everyday events, at the more basic level. And how they work together.

I looked at my attempts to explain, and I'm sure they could be improved, but I can't figure out yet what else I could say to bridge such a gap between the way I understand this stuff and such a profoundly different way to 'read' so many common statements.

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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funknotik wrote:Awesome

funknotik wrote:
Awesome intellectual warfare going on here

"Intellectual warfare" *lol* Glad you are enjoying it ^^

 

funknotik wrote:
" The use of logic in a theological discussion is pretty pointless. Logic is to be used in science, that is, the natural empirical world we live in that is testable and falsifiable. Since we can neither prove nor disprove existential questions, all the answers to those questions are simply matters of opinion. If you believe in god, great. If you don't believe in god, great. It's all a matter of personal opinion."

Actually, he is quite right about that. Someone who has viewpoints like "My imaginary friend makes me happy, therefor I believe in him" cannot be disproven. It really is a matter of opinion which imaginary friend you choose or whether you choose one at all. Notice that such a person doesn't care about empirical truth in the first place (at least in that case), so he doesn't suffer of owing the proof at all. But that goes perfectly well with logic, so there is no need to disregard it; except when he wants to believe in logically unsound concepts like omnipotence, but that's another topic.

Also notice that you are never able to disprove the imaginary friend. There *could* be an entity communicating with chosen individuals in a way we aren't able to detect. A theist who doesn't even challenge the claim that he might just be fantasizing cannot be rationally criticized further regarding that aspect. Any attack in the direction of "But your opinion doesn't prove that your imaginary friend exists outside your mind!" therefor misses the point entirely. Besides that, one should ask what's wrong about imaginary friends anyway as long as they aren't confused with "objective" reality.

 

@ Blacke + BobSpence

Theist: "That's not intellectual warfare, that's a confused person who doesn't understand what god is, trying to convince everybody else that god is empirical."

Do you recognize your mistake? Of course the *concept* of a specific god doesn't need to be empirically grounded. You can make up even thousands of them right from the spot where you are standing! And if you are happy with that, if you don't claim that your god is anything more than that, then that's not even contestable. See the guy above; from what I've read he seems to know his limits, where knowledge ends and where pure speculation begins (though one would has to clarify in detail what he means when speaking of "existential questions" ).

But as I said before: The claim that a god exists outside the personal imagination needs empiric affirmation as well as the claim that no other gods can exist. Likewise, the consequence of questioning the stand of logic would be two results: First, there is an endless number of possible Codices of Reasoning imaginable. Second, the choice of the right Codex demands empiricism. Just as with theism: Questioning the stand of a specific god would also lead to the insight that endless gods are imaginable, but that the choice of the right god demands empiricism (experiencing him, collecting data which indicate his existence and godliness). Otherwise, your god is no better option than the other made-up gods.

Now, at first glance the attempt to remove a god from the realm of empiricism may seem to be a great defense against empiric counter-arguments. But that's as wrong as it can be: For by doing that, one would legitimate *any* alternative god to be just as good! Treating dandruf by decapitation is quite a good description of this method. Operation successful, patient dead.

So the question is: How do you explain choosing a specific god out of the innumerable imaginable gods (=choosing the specific Codex of Reasoning out of the innumerable imaginable Codices) ? And your answers so far are (only slightly exaggerated):

- "You are close minded if you don't want to accept God!"

- "You don't understand the nature of God!"

- "It is irrational to doubt God!"

- "There is only one God, our God, end of the debate!"

 

And that are pretty weak answers. They are even worse when you recall the fact that we *have* to use of some reasoning anyway - thinking is impossible without it, if we don't want to live in a state of total madness. So it's like living in a world where there *is* a god, and while you probably worship the right one most of the time (because you wouldn't get far if you didn't), you refuse any empirical debate gruffly. You refuse to understand the nature of your god, the nature of the other possible gods and why your god is actually the appropriate one for this world. You won't even dare to *think* of other gods, let alone worlds where praying to them might be more appropriate than praying to the god of our world.

This is one of the reasons why I don't identify myself as an atheist: They often commit the same logical mistakes, yet they are sure that any disagreement must stem from missing education, and when you challenge their wrongful beliefs they get unpleasant. The idea that they might be wrong themselves isn't easy to sell.

 

Finally, what I find most confusing about this quarrel is that no real disadvantage would come from accepting plurality and limits of knowledge, except another shattered illusion about what we can know for absolutely sure. However, science has disregarded that goal with Popper's Critical Rationalism already 60 years ago, so what's there to lose? Or do we still have people who see themselves as rational but aren't Critical Rationalists? Well, that would be unfortunate, because only by overcoming the urge to know something for absolutely sure one will gain the next best thing to absolute certainty: knowing that one's present knowledge is empirically backed up and not shielded from the truth by logical fallacies. "Real" scientists are never afraid to admit the possibility of the existence of black swans; on the contrary, they are rather proud of knowing what they don't know. On the other side, an atheist making use of blind faith in questions of "objective" truth has no reason to consider himself more rational than a theist.


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Athene, I agree with almost

Athene, I agree with almost everything you say there.

One point I don't get is this "Codices of Reasoning" thing - I have never heard that term, and apparently neither has Google.

Logic itself is based on two really basic axioms, or 'laws'. We can develop from there a whole range of possible deductive systems, based on adding various different starting assumptions, or axioms, which can lead to an arguably infinite number of different systems of theorems. Mathematics would be one such core system, with different branches adding different axioms to facilitate analysis of specific realms. The selection of which system to use is arguably empirical, based on which set of initial assumptions seems to produce a set of theorems which seem to best match our observations. Maybe this is what you are referring to? Basic logic is common to all. The various formal systems are tools for analysis of empirical data.

I don't really see how that diversity of what could be called 'formal systems' is matched in the basic principles of inductive and empirical reasoning, which I see as starting from a minimal set of initial working assumptions, and adding further propositions as suggested by observation and analysis and hypothesis and testing. If the new propositions and principles don't enhance the usefulness and accuracy of prediction of our models of reality, they are discarded, or at least put on the shelf until further progress finds some area in which they may be useful. All assumptions are to be treated as provisional, right back to the initial ones, except perhaps for the basic idea that propositions that can be calculated to have higher probability in the context of all available evidence are to be treated with correspondingly higher confidence. So, apart from that idea, empirical induction is not really much like the variety of formal systems, each based on a very specific and precisely defined set of axioms.

And that final sentence  makes no sense to me - atheism is, to me, very much on the same side as science. Karl Popper's position went a bit far in the way he tries to use his Falsification principle as a fundamental requirement. There are most definitely ways to make useful assessments of different hypotheses which may have no clear falsification possibility. It would basically be an application of Occam's Razor, those ideas which introduce unnecessary new 'principles' and/or entities should be discounted accordingly.

Maybe our disagreement is a matter of emphasis, or difference in terminology, perhaps.

 

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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Oops, my bad, it has to be

Oops, my bad, it has to be "Code" and "Codes" in English. Sorry about that, I mixed that up with Latin. And no, that's not an established expression, but I hope it's clear what I meant.

Formal systems can be based on *any* arbitrary set of rules, that's the point. Just like a god can be enriched with any arbitrary attributes. You probably heard of Stephen Roberts saying in 1995: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Similarly, to understand what makes one Code of Reasoning better than all the others, one has to accept that there are other possible Codes in the first place - and then look for an argument that applies only to the one. Because otherwise, the other Codes are just as good at least.

And the way of finding the best Code consists in applying it to reality and see what works best. Now, of course neither I nor mankind sat in their caves, developed thousand formal systems and then checked with reality. We learned about the laws of logic through empirical means. To be precise, people *still* learn about logic through empirical means. Even those who are dedicated to search for truth commit many fallacies; after all, it took mankind thousands of years to finally develop Critical Rationalism. And let me drop that it did *not* take that long because it was that hard; any clever child with the necessary interest could have done this in old Greek already, and maybe some actually did - who knows? Eye-wink

While any idea can exist without being justified by empirical findings, applying this idea to reality *does* need these justifications. This is the reason why the simple imagination of a god isn't sufficient proof for his existence. And this is the reason why creating a formal system isn't sufficient proof for its validity in this world. *Any* god and *any* formal system meets this criteria! And while a retreat to an axiomatic argument is possible ("He IS the only true god!" "My formal system IS the only correct one!" ), axiomatic arguments can most easily be overthrown by simply refusing to accept the precepts.

 

Atheism only falls together with science when the atheist says about gods that "he has no need for such hypotheses" (friendly greetings to Pierre-Simon Laplace!). Any other position - animism, antitheism etc - is as far from science as theism. And regarding good ol' Ockham, it is a rule of thumb, not an instrument to test the truth of an explanation. It's a principle which aims at constructing efficient theories - well aware of the fact that the more complex explanation can actually be the correct one and therefor be incorrectly discarded. There are also non-pragmatic reasons why Ockham's Razor is a very important heuristic in science, but they don't mean a change to this either.

BTW: Ironically, William of Ockham claimed the authority of the Scripture to be a valid source of knowledge - talk about unnecessary assumptions! Eye-wink


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BobSpence1 wrote:Blake, I

BobSpence1 wrote:

Blake, I haven't go back to this because I haven't figured out how to explain 'logically' something so basic as the way logic and theorems of logic work, to someone who so profoundly misunderstands what logic is. ...]

I looked at my attempts to explain, and I'm sure they could be improved, but I can't figure out yet what else I could say to bridge such a gap between the way I understand this stuff and such a profoundly different way to 'read' so many common statements.

 

Ah, alright.  Yes, I can certainly understand that.  By the way, I'm glad to hear the spam thing is nothing to worry about. 

 

If it might help, a little constructive criticism for your earlier explanation of ad hominem- I would have given some extraordinary examples (if I wasn't being snarky).

For example, by explaining a universe in which it was true in some situation.

 

Ad hominem is not evidence against what a person says provided there is no evidence of a connection between the quality of the person and what he or she says.

Ad hominem is not proof against an argument provided that there's no proof that the validity of a person's statements are contingent upon the person's character.

 

If we had absolute logical proof that a person's statements were contingent on character- such as a robot that was programmed to make false statements, wherein we can deconstruct the programming and demonstrate that the statements must be false- ad hominem is a completely valid argument.

However, in order to make the ad hominem argument work, we would have to demonstrate that proof for that scenario-- using logic.

 

Your explanation that it derived from logic is good, but showing how and where it is contingent on reality with concrete examples *might* be useful to some people.  Even if the examples are pretty silly, it can help people visualize... sometimes... if they're actually trying.


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Athene wrote:Atheism only

Athene wrote:

Atheism only falls together with science when the atheist says about gods that "he has no need for such hypotheses" (friendly greetings to Pierre-Simon Laplace!). Any other position - animism, antitheism etc - is as far from science as theism. And regarding good ol' Ockham, it is a rule of thumb, not an instrument to test the truth of an explanation. It's a principle which aims at constructing efficient theories - well aware of the fact that the more complex explanation can actually be the correct one and therefor be incorrectly discarded. There are also non-pragmatic reasons why Ockham's Razor is a very important heuristic in science, but they don't mean a change to this either.

BTW: Ironically, William of Ockham claimed the authority of the Scripture to be a valid source of knowledge - talk about unnecessary assumptions! Eye-wink

"Animism" is not in any sense associated with atheism, it would not be consistent with the basic rationalist approach of normal concious atheism, ie leaving out the atheists who simply don't care about any 'philosophical' or related arguments justifying an absence of belief in God(s).

More agressive denial of God are frequently based on scientific style arguments, based on demonstrating that we now have far more plausible and empirically supportable explanations for origins of everything, including the emergence of intelligence and moral motivations, than any Theistic concepts.

If we reach a position of no specific evidence available to decide among alternative propositions, that is the context where I referred to Occam's Razor being applicable. I am also referring to the principle itself, not any inconsistencies the person himself held to. He accepted Revelation as a valid source of knowledge and the existence of God. In the context of his time with little relevant science, and the deep hold such ideas had on society, such a position may well be argued to be consistent with his Principle.

I see no justification for your assertion that any other atheist 'position', that still would be regarded as atheism, is "as far from science as theism". Obviously, there is nothing stopping any individual who doesn't accept the existence of God holding any other belief, as long as that belief does not assume the existence of something like a God.

Could you provide any specific examples?

 

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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Blake wrote:funknotik

Blake wrote:

funknotik wrote:

Awesome intellectual warfare going on here

That's not intellectual warfare, that's a confused person who doesn't understand what logic is trying to convince everybody else that logic is empirical.

I was hoping Bob would finish this off, but he probably got tired of having everything he said misunderstood (just a guess)

 

For my part, educational charity only goes so far.  If somebody demonstrates his or herself unwilling to learn, I write him or her off.  There are plenty of other people I could be teaching who aren't as closed minded.

 

funknotik wrote:
I am reading the responses and I'll get back with my conclusion. Interesting to note the variety of positions on the same subject in a rationalist website.

 

That's because not all of the people here are rationalists- this Athene person is not by definition.

We have drive-by crazies here just like anywhere else.

 

Anyway, I'll respond to your original idiot's reply.

 

original idiot wrote:
The use of logic in a theological discussion is pretty pointless. Logic is to be used in science, that is, the natural empirical world we live in that is testable and falsifiable. Since we can neither prove nor disprove existential questions, all the answers to those questions are simply matters of opinion. If you believe in god, great. If you don't believe in god, great. It's all a matter of personal opinion.

 

Paul Tillich, Christian existentialist philosopher, wrote:

God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him.

See, even some Christians can understand logic.

 

Logic predates the scientific method and any concept of objective empiricism by epochs, and was traditionally used in philosophy and religious debate- the only thing they were lacking was the objective empirical findings to conflict with their assumptions and give them a sense of probability- and that probability is completely irrelevant to possibility (so, science is still irrelevant to the debate of possibility unless somebody accepts some metric of evidence).

Various concepts of a god have been proven impossible by way of logic (all the while the theists tried to prove their god necessary using logic) for thousands of years.

Logic isn't any more dependent on science than circles are dependent on frisbees- science is a tool for discovering empirical probability, and logic is a means of determining absolute falsification (regardless of empirical factors) or conditional truths.

The confusion of science and logic is nothing short of the most profound ignorance about how we understand our world.

 

 

If one suggests that a god is immune to logic, then one has in so doing demonstrated only that such a god does not exist.

 

funknotik wrote:

This is particularly infuriating as we seem to to have come full circle only to arrive at the beginning. This is so stupid that I can't think of a retort, epic fail.

 

Simple, borrow money from him or her. 

Then pay him or her back with a toe nail, and explain, illogically, how it is equivalent to full repayment of the loan. 

When he or she protests, explain that it is your opinion that loans are immune to logic, and so the toe nail is equivalent to full repayment in your opinion. 

If he or she further protests, explain to him or her that it isn't fair that he or she is the only one who gets to claim a domain of discussion is immune to logic- in his or her opinion, religion is immune to logic, great!  In your opinion, loans are immune to logic- also great! 

Both are things that are postulated to exist, and if one can be immune to logic, then so can the other- unless one or the other doesn't exist? 

 

If it turns out that god doesn't exist, then you will admit that your loan can't be immune to logic, and thus repay it.

If it turns out god does exist, and your loan doesn't exist, then you'll be free and clear anyway.  Free money.

 

This is all based on the principle of explosion:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion

You *can* prove that the toenail is adequate repayment of the loan following from that god may exist independently of logic.

As soon as somebody breaks logic, you can prove anything you want.  In fact, he or she owes you money.

Sorry it took long been busy but I have been reading all the responses. Your statements about logic predating Science and the scientific method are true and very relevant to the conversation. I've been reading about Epicurus recently and he mentions logic as being necessary when discussing things out side of our view of reality mainly the gods in his case. I'm sure you've all read it, the problem of evil:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Here he applies logic to an existential question, something outside of our view of reality. This is 340 bce, way before scientific research existed. I believe this is the kind of thinking Athene is not grasping. We apply logic to the question of the existence of (supernatural claim,) we realize inevitably that we may never prove it's non existence. Just because we cannot prove, using data, the negation of some entity does not mean that it is reasonable to believe in that entity. Since we cant disprove the claim using direct observation we would use logical deduction as a means to validate a belief in said claim. Off course we could imagine a million possible situations, in a video game world, in a dream, in another dimension where logic would not apply but those would be products of our imagination and not in direct relation to the Universe we currently reside in. 


Blake
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funknotik wrote:We apply

funknotik wrote:
We apply logic to the question of the existence of (supernatural claim,) we realize inevitably that we may never prove it's non existence.

 

I think you might have missed my point.

 

By applying logic, and discovering an internal contradiction, the impossibility of the existence of the thing has been proven.  When you discover a contradiction, you *do* prove a thing's non-existence, regardless of any other facts at hand.

 

funknotik wrote:
Just because we cannot prove, using data, the negation of some entity does not mean that it is reasonable to believe in that entity.

I don't think anybody here is saying it's reasonable to believe in such an entity.  What I'm saying is that is is unreasonable to believe anything other than the non-existence of such an entity when logic has demonstrated it to be self contradictory.

 

funknotik wrote:
Since we cant disprove the claim using direct observation we would use logical deduction as a means to validate a belief in said claim.

 

We can't prove a positive using direct observation any more than proving a negative.  Is there a rock in my hand?  Well, it *looks* like it, but maybe we're all hallucinating.

Nothing can be proven empirically- only evidenced to extreme probability.  Most importantly, scientific evidence is the only rational evidence there is, and should supersede anything else in determining probability- so it's the only reasonable thing to believe when considering the bounds of empiricism.

However, we CAN absolutely disprove the claim.  Logic, unlike empirical evidence, is absolute- if there is a contradiction, there's a contradiction and that's all there is to it.  A contradictory entity is impossible and contradictory in any possible universe.

 

funknotik wrote:
Off course we could imagine a million possible situations, in a video game world, in a dream, in another dimension where logic would not apply but those would be products of our imagination and not in direct relation to the Universe we currently reside in. 

No, we can't.  There is no situation you can imagine where logic doesn't apply.  There is no possible universe where logic doesn't apply.

The only way you can pretend to imagine such a situation is by conceptualizing it while ignoring the details.

 

"Oh, a square circle, I can totally imagine that"

No, no you can't.  You can imagine something called that, but you can't imagine the thing itself- and if you try to visualize it, you will fail by visualizing a square with slightly rounded sides and imagine "that's close enough, it would be something like that" before giving up and pretending like you succeeded.

You only "imagine" such situations by creatively suspending your disbelief and ignoring entire swaths of the imaginary reality that you can't resolve, pretending all the while that they are somehow resolved in a way you can't quite comprehend.

 

This point is of paramount importance!

 

If you don't grasp that, you've completely missed the point of logic in entirety.

Any universe in which the slightest tolerance of logical contradiction were allowed would be broken in a fundamental way- it causes logical explosion, and makes all statements true and false, demolishing any coherence to the universe (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion  <- please read ).

In fictional writing this is called a PLOT HOLE- it breaks the story precisely because you can only ignore it, but not imagine a legitimate resolution.  In practice, all fiction is riddled with small plot holes- it is only by virtue of our limited knowledge and memory, poor perception, and willingness to ignore things like that via willing suspension of disbelief that we are able to soldier through any work of fiction at all.

 

I don't mean to rag on you, but it is imperative that you understand this point- anything short of that is simply wrong.


funknotik
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Blake wrote:funknotik

Blake wrote:

funknotik wrote:
We apply logic to the question of the existence of (supernatural claim,) we realize inevitably that we may never prove it's non existence.

 

I think you might have missed my point.

 

By applying logic, and discovering an internal contradiction, the impossibility of the existence of the thing has been proven.  When you discover a contradiction, you *do* prove a thing's non-existence, regardless of any other facts at hand.

 

funknotik wrote:
Just because we cannot prove, using data, the negation of some entity does not mean that it is reasonable to believe in that entity.

I don't think anybody here is saying it's reasonable to believe in such an entity.  What I'm saying is that is is unreasonable to believe anything other than the non-existence of such an entity when logic has demonstrated it to be self contradictory.

 

funknotik wrote:
Since we cant disprove the claim using direct observation we would use logical deduction as a means to validate a belief in said claim.

 

We can't prove a positive using direct observation any more than proving a negative.  Is there a rock in my hand?  Well, it *looks* like it, but maybe we're all hallucinating.

Nothing can be proven empirically- only evidenced to extreme probability.  Most importantly, scientific evidence is the only rational evidence there is, and should supersede anything else in determining probability- so it's the only reasonable thing to believe when considering the bounds of empiricism.

However, we CAN absolutely disprove the claim.  Logic, unlike empirical evidence, is absolute- if there is a contradiction, there's a contradiction and that's all there is to it.  A contradictory entity is impossible and contradictory in any possible universe.

 

funknotik wrote:
Off course we could imagine a million possible situations, in a video game world, in a dream, in another dimension where logic would not apply but those would be products of our imagination and not in direct relation to the Universe we currently reside in. 

No, we can't.  There is no situation you can imagine where logic doesn't apply.  There is no possible universe where logic doesn't apply.

The only way you can pretend to imagine such a situation is by conceptualizing it while ignoring the details.

 

"Oh, a square circle, I can totally imagine that"

No, no you can't.  You can imagine something called that, but you can't imagine the thing itself- and if you try to visualize it, you will fail by visualizing a square with slightly rounded sides and imagine "that's close enough, it would be something like that" before giving up and pretending like you succeeded.

You only "imagine" such situations by creatively suspending your disbelief and ignoring entire swaths of the imaginary reality that you can't resolve, pretending all the while that they are somehow resolved in a way you can't quite comprehend.

 

This point is of paramount importance!

 

If you don't grasp that, you've completely missed the point of logic in entirety.

Any universe in which the slightest tolerance of logical contradiction were allowed would be broken in a fundamental way- it causes logical explosion, and makes all statements true and false, demolishing any coherence to the universe (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion  <- please read ).

In fictional writing this is called a PLOT HOLE- it breaks the story precisely because you can only ignore it, but not imagine a legitimate resolution.  In practice, all fiction is riddled with small plot holes- it is only by virtue of our limited knowledge and memory, poor perception, and willingness to ignore things like that via willing suspension of disbelief that we are able to soldier through any work of fiction at all.

 

I don't mean to rag on you, but it is imperative that you understand this point- anything short of that is simply wrong.

These are lofty concepts and I had to read up in order to fully digest them. I've also been busy and too disorganized to respond, But your typing was not in vain!!! I read the wiki link on the principle of explosion and I understand your point perfectly now. You could imagine a laymen would have difficulty understanding this barrage of context. I attempted no further explanation for the character who claimed god is outside of logic. I was content with learning these things and I realize it's a dead end. Anyway thanks Blake and Bobspence for your time. 


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Metaphysics

Blake wrote:

If applied fairly it results in logical explosion, which makes any argument about anything, ever, completely meaningless.

It's first year philosophy syndrome. People get confused about metaphysics; they think it is something other than a mental exercise. The reason metaphysics is taught in first year philosophy is to limber up the mind and to teach it to ask questions. It does this by rejecting even axiomatic truths we cling to like "am I really here?" or "can anything be known?". This exposes the student to the idea that assumptions can get in our way and we should BE ABLE TO dismiss them if it adds to the discussion.

Problem is, people think that dismissin knowledge entirely is an actual argument. They are convinced, somehow, that questioning reality at its core somehow adds value to their argument. When, as Blake pointed out, it just means that no discussion can take place at all. It means that we all have to agree that there is no such thing as knowledge or reality and that we all might as well just... well... whatever because we'll never know if we exist anyway.

It is a mental exercise, not an argument. Assumptions based on observable fact have to be allowed or we agree that we just don't want to talk about the subject (whatever it is) at all.