Atheism IS Irrational Belief

jeffreyalex
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Atheism IS Irrational Belief

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. The premise clearly underlying that position is that it is irrational to take a position that is unsupported by evidence. The popular atheist books abound with this precise claim: there is no evidence; we shouldn’t believe it.

 

 

Here is a proposition: “God exists”.

 

Here is a position on that proposition: “The proposition ‘God exists’ is false”.

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”.

 

There is no evidence for that position. So, if it is irrational to hold a position without evidence, it is irrational to hold that “God does not exist”.

 

P1) it is irrational to believe that a proposition is true without evidence.

P2) there is no evidence for the proposition “God does not exist”.

C)  it is irrational to believe that God does not exist.

 

 

Whatever response you may have, do not claim that atheism is really just a “lack of belief”. That is semantics, in the bad way.

 

I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God. Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

 

 


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Yes, as I said, I'm talking

Yes, as I said, I'm talking about a creator God, a deist God, who is not an interventionist God.


ProzacDeathWish
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   Oh, I thought you gave

 

  Oh, I thought you gave a hypothetical where god caused or "made" a tree to  fall which would seem to be an act of intervention and then used it as "physical evidence" to support your argument.

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ProzacDeathWish wrote:  

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

 

  Oh, I thought you gave a hypothetical where god caused or "made" a tree to  fall which would seem to be an act of intervention and then used it as "physical evidence" to support your argument.

I didn't make an argument. I was responding to someone who offered a quote to the effect of "if god dipped his hand into the universe it would be dripping with physics". I said that's not necessarily so, though in retrospect I corrected that I don't really understand that statement or what its point was.

The person responded that if God intervened without evidence he would be a deceitful brat. To which I responded if he made a tree fall, the evidence is a fallen tree. The point I wanted to make was that if God changes something, that change is the evidence that something was changed. If we were observing that change and saw it to be in contradiction to physical law, well, there's the evidence, and God is not being sneaky. In the case that God for who knows what reason makes a tree fall, he isn't tricking anyone.

 

 


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jeffreyalex wrote:First of

jeffreyalex wrote:
First of all, let me digress an little bit. Like you said, it may well be subjective what constitutes "strong evidence". As an example, let me ask a rhetorical question to illustrate the subjectivity of evidence: is the fine-tuning of the universe evidence for God?

To digress on your perhaps rhetorical digression, if you were to use this as an argument for god you'd have to go ahead and show that these parameters are indeed "tunable", then define what you mean by "fine-tuning" and then present an analysis where you vary all parameters simultaneously.


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  That's fine.  I forgot

  That's fine.  I forgot that you hold to the deist god concept.   The number of deists who visit this site are even more rare than the panentheists who come here and argue for their own interpretation of "god". 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.

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jeffreyalex
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KSMB wrote:jeffreyalex

KSMB wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:
First of all, let me digress an little bit. Like you said, it may well be subjective what constitutes "strong evidence". As an example, let me ask a rhetorical question to illustrate the subjectivity of evidence: is the fine-tuning of the universe evidence for God?

To digress on your perhaps rhetorical digression, if you were to use this as an argument for god you'd have to go ahead and show that these parameters are indeed "tunable", then define what you mean by "fine-tuning" and then present an analysis where you vary all parameters simultaneously.

Could you paraphrase and elaborate a little so I'm sure that I'm understanding your point?


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I'm confused if you actually

I'm confused if you actually want to use fine-tuning arguments for whatever god is to you. So I point out what you need to do if you were to indeed go there.


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KSMB wrote:I'm confused if

KSMB wrote:

I'm confused if you actually want to use fine-tuning arguments for whatever god is to you. So I point out what you need to do if you were to indeed go there.

Okay, so what you said is:

To digress on your perhaps rhetorical digression, if you were to use this as an argument for god you'd have to go ahead and show that these parameters are indeed "tunable", then define what you mean by "fine-tuning" and then present an analysis where you vary all parameters simultaneously.

So I understand that you are 1) raising a question about the mathematical constants (parameters) observed in the universe, and 2) asking me to define "fine-tuning".

Regarding (1), you wonder whether they are tunable. Certainly you are not wondering whether I can tweak them with a wrench. I can only take you to mean that perhaps they cannot be any other way. I can accept that that may be the case. That would entail that there is some reason that the constants can be what they are and only what they are. That does not preclude us from examining a counter-factual scenario, as has been done. For example, we can ask what would happen if the nuclear force was stronger than it is, while the other constants remain as we observe them. What would happen is that hydrogen would fuse into diprotons, instead of into deuterium and helium. The physics of star formation would be drastically different, and life would not be possible. In The Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking writes, "The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life."

Regarding (2), you can forget I used the term "fine-tuning" altogether. I merely observe that the constants are what they are. And being what they are, they permit life to form.

As pointed out, there is a range of values for these constants which permit a universe, just not a life sustaining universe, or not a very long-lived universe.

Finally, regarding the request that I "vary all parameters", I am certain you aren't suggesting I start making my own little universes and running experiments. As an example of running the numbers, you have the above case of the nuclear force. Hawking mentions the electric charge of electrons and their mass ratio to protons.

 


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Ok. Before I start to pick

Ok. Before I start to pick at this stuff, I need to know if you actually believe in or use this argument as part of your justification for god? If it was merely thrown out as an example (rhetorical or otherwise) of a different point then it's not really worth it beyond what I have already explained.


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KSMB wrote:Ok. Before I

KSMB wrote:

Ok. Before I start to pick at this stuff, I need to know if you actually believe in or use this argument as part of your justification for god? If it was merely thrown out as an example (rhetorical or otherwise) of a different point then it's not really worth it beyond what I have already explained.

 

My claim is that belief in God is not irrational. In support of that claim, I would cite this argument as a reason to believe there is a God. I would really like to hear your input on it.


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jeffreyalex wrote:
Let me respond by copying something I posted in another thread. It contains an example of evidence for God, and also responds to the common point that if a positive position such as "God exists" provides no strong evidence, then the right thing to do, in all cases, is to hold the negation of that position.

Further misrepresentation. Any negation is limited to the specific presentation based upon the supposed evidence presented. It never goes beyond the specific case as doing so would be illogical. The qualification "strong" is also a misrepresentation as it implies there is weak evidence when in fact there is no evidence. 

You have run out of bullshit cover for your theist agenda.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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jeffreyalex wrote:
Now, I'm defending reasonable belief in a non-interventionist God, like you say. But I would not simply grant that God's hand should be dripping with physics if it were an interventionist God.
 

Belief without physical evidence is never rational. What is not rational is not reasonable. It is the unreasoning mind that assumes motive and intent.

A god that leaves no evidence cannot be distinguished from tooth fairies save the latter leave money. A god without evidence is no different from godS without evidence nor of anything which can be imagined for which there is no evidence.

That one describes this imagined thing as a god and brings in centuries of baggage with the word does not make it any more rational the tooth fairies and unicorns.

To talk about the nature of a god which does not produce evidence means its nature has to be imaginary the same as the nature of tooth fairies and unicorns.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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jeffreyalex wrote:
I'm not seeing the point you're trying to make. Are you asking me why God doesn't go about breaking physical laws?

The question is why do you imagine the things you imagine can make trees fall?

When people get close to your absurd theist agenda you do not understand.

Here you reveal your agenda with a upper case G God and in the singular.

Not even the Septuagint/OT says the universe was created theological translations to the contrary.

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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Could you tell me what your

Could you tell me what your position is, because you might make sense to yourself, in your head, but I have no idea what you're going on about.

Which of these represents your belief:

a) there is a god

b) there is no god

or c) you don't know


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jeffreyalex wrote:

Could you tell me what your position is, because you might make sense to yourself, in your head, but I have no idea what you're going on about.

Which of these represents your belief:

a) there is a god

b) there is no god

or c) you don't know

Get your partner in these posts to teach you how to quote.

d) none of the above

If you cannot see that you are not very bright and it is clear why you are the dumb half who cannot figure out the quote function. If you think you can limit the choices such that they support yoru foolish nonsense you are a virgin to public debate, like the Virgin Jesus.

Only an idiot would choose to believe what he freely chooses to imagine. It is like a psychotic who knows he only imagined his imaginary friend but still considers him real because he was imagined.

Imagining something into existence is no different from wishing into existence is silly magic of the dumbass kind.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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A_Nony_Mouse

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Could you tell me what your position is, because you might make sense to yourself, in your head, but I have no idea what you're going on about.

Which of these represents your belief:

a) there is a god

b) there is no god

or c) you don't know

Get your partner in these posts to teach you how to quote.

d) none of the above

If you cannot see that you are not very bright and it is clear why you are the dumb half who cannot figure out the quote function. If you think you can limit the choices such that they support yoru foolish nonsense you are a virgin to public debate, like the Virgin Jesus.

Only an idiot would choose to believe what he freely chooses to imagine. It is like a psychotic who knows he only imagined his imaginary friend but still considers him real because he was imagined.

Imagining something into existence is no different from wishing into existence is silly magic of the dumbass kind.

 

 

Well, at least I have a bright half, you idiot troll.


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jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Could you tell me what your position is, because you might make sense to yourself, in your head, but I have no idea what you're going on about.

Which of these represents your belief:

a) there is a god

b) there is no god

or c) you don't know

Get your partner in these posts to teach you how to quote.

d) none of the above

If you cannot see that you are not very bright and it is clear why you are the dumb half who cannot figure out the quote function. If you think you can limit the choices such that they support yoru foolish nonsense you are a virgin to public debate, like the Virgin Jesus.

Only an idiot would choose to believe what he freely chooses to imagine. It is like a psychotic who knows he only imagined his imaginary friend but still considers him real because he was imagined.

Imagining something into existence is no different from wishing into existence is silly magic of the dumbass kind.

Well, at least I have a bright half, you idiot troll.

So far that is not in evidence as I exposed your Virgin Jesus thumping Christianity in a half dozen posts after you worked so hard to pretend you were otherwise.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


jeffreyalex
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A_Nony_Mouse

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Could you tell me what your position is, because you might make sense to yourself, in your head, but I have no idea what you're going on about.

Which of these represents your belief:

a) there is a god

b) there is no god

or c) you don't know

Get your partner in these posts to teach you how to quote.

d) none of the above

If you cannot see that you are not very bright and it is clear why you are the dumb half who cannot figure out the quote function. If you think you can limit the choices such that they support yoru foolish nonsense you are a virgin to public debate, like the Virgin Jesus.

Only an idiot would choose to believe what he freely chooses to imagine. It is like a psychotic who knows he only imagined his imaginary friend but still considers him real because he was imagined.

Imagining something into existence is no different from wishing into existence is silly magic of the dumbass kind.

Well, at least I have a bright half, you idiot troll.

So far that is not in evidence as I exposed your Virgin Jesus thumping Christianity in a half dozen posts after you worked so hard to pretend you were otherwise.

 

 

Yes, you made many great points, eloquently, and with rigorous logic. I should bow down to you instead of Virgin Jesus. 


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jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

So far that is not in evidence as I exposed your Virgin Jesus thumping Christianity in a half dozen posts after you worked so hard to pretend you were otherwise.

Yes, you made many great points, eloquently, and with rigorous logic. I should bow down to you instead of Virgin Jesus. 

 

What kind of insecure god would want to be worshiped? An impotent one.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


jeffreyalex
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A_Nony_Mouse

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

So far that is not in evidence as I exposed your Virgin Jesus thumping Christianity in a half dozen posts after you worked so hard to pretend you were otherwise.

Yes, you made many great points, eloquently, and with rigorous logic. I should bow down to you instead of Virgin Jesus. 

 

What kind of insecure god would want to be worshiped? An impotent one.

 

 

Oh yes, oh most impotent one.


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jeffreyalex

jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

So far that is not in evidence as I exposed your Virgin Jesus thumping Christianity in a half dozen posts after you worked so hard to pretend you were otherwise.

Yes, you made many great points, eloquently, and with rigorous logic. I should bow down to you instead of Virgin Jesus. 

 

What kind of insecure god would want to be worshiped? An impotent one.

Oh yes, oh most impotent one.

You god was not a man, just a boy like the avatar you use.

Do you think he was gay too?

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


KSMB
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I'm finally able to get to

I'm finally able to get to this, sorry for the delay.

jeffreyalex wrote:
So I understand that you are 1) raising a question about the mathematical constants (parameters) observed in the universe, and 2) asking me to define "fine-tuning".

Regarding (1), you wonder whether they are tunable. Certainly you are not wondering whether I can tweak them with a wrench. I can only take you to mean that perhaps they cannot be any other way. I can accept that that may be the case. That would entail that there is some reason that the constants can be what they are and only what they are.

Great, so now we have established that this whole question is a giant 'what if' game, kinda like theology. But unlike theology, this discussion will be informed by actual evidence, so it's not that bad.

jeffreyalex wrote:
For example, we can ask what would happen if the nuclear force was stronger than it is, while the other constants remain as we observe them.

See that last part? "while the other constants remain as we observe them". That's completely unjustified. Why would we need to do that in this scenario? If one parameter can indeed be varied for the sake of argument, then so can all the others. For your example, consider what happens if you vary the strong nuclear force, and at the same time vary the electromagnetic force strength. Since the change in the electromagnetic force can compensate for the change in strong nuclear force, there's a whole range in parameter space that allows for stable nuclei.
 

Incidentally, I happen to know why people like to just vary one parameter at the time. It gives them the numbers that they want, and it's easy. I can do it myself.

jeffreyalex wrote:
In The Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking writes, "The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life."

Did you read what he then went on to write?

jeffreyalex wrote:
Regarding (2), you can forget I used the term "fine-tuning" altogether. I merely observe that the constants are what they are. And being what they are, they permit life to form.

As pointed out, there is a range of values for these constants which permit a universe, just not a life sustaining universe, or not a very long-lived universe


I'm curious. What would be the parameter space range be for something to be fine-tuned (or whatever you want to call it)? If there's a range that the values can have and still allow for life (as an example) then I don't see how fine-tuning can be claimed. Then or current point in parameter space is just one of many points that allow for life.

jeffreyalex wrote:
Finally, regarding the request that I "vary all parameters", I am certain you aren't suggesting I start making my own little universes and running experiments. As an example of running the numbers, you have the above case of the nuclear force. Hawking mentions the electric charge of electrons and their mass ratio to protons.

No, I'm suggesting that you do the calculations while varying all parameters, to see if and how they can compensate for each other. They might even be interdependent for all you know.


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What is that ?

 

Quote:
.. was not a man, just a boy like the avatar you use.
  This is uncharacteristically belligerent  going to have to flag you.

Henry V  Quick,   Be friends, you English fools, we have french quarrels enough.             In this particular case would the French be Solipsists ?

 Jeff  Them's 'is' mouse ears (the avatar), you might want to watch the temper


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I'm glad you did get to it,

I'm glad you did get to it, thanks. 

 

I don't see that this really addresses the question, though. I've seen this response, and I've seen the reply to it—that what you bring up is accounted for in the math to begin with. 

 

Imagine we have only two constants (Ca and Cb). Say the possible values are 1 - 1000 for both. They can only line up in certain ways, and if they do, I get a candy. 

Suppose that for Ca the value is given: 1. The constants must line up in a certain way, and Given Ca=1, Cb must equal 239 in order for me to receive my prize. Given Ca, the chances of Cb coming out to 239 is 1/1000. 

Suppose Ca=2. The Cb value that wins a prize is 478. The chance of Cb lining up is still 1/1000. So yes, there may be a Cb value that gives me a candy for any possible Ca value. That chance, however is still 1/1000. 

This example has only 2 constants with values that must line up to only a few significant digits. Imagine three constants, values 1-100,000. The chance of a line-up shoots up to 10 billion. 

 

So, the math done in calculating these odds is indeed calculating possible "line-ups". Otherwise, we should read the odds as simply stating that a certain constant must be precise to a given number of decimals—that is not what is being suggested at all. 

When physicists observe that these constants have really worked out quite nicely for us (whether by chance or providence), they are observing not only that if one constant were off life would be F'd, but also that the chance of any happy line-up is tremendously slim. 

 

 

 


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 Don't flag anyone on my

 Don't flag anyone on my account. My avatar is a recent photo of me, and yes, it is boyish. And I can deal with the fact that the mouse thinks I'm a theist moron who can't use the quote function. I haven't ever cared what a mouse thinks of me, and don't plan to start now. 


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Please do tell me all the

Please do tell me all the possible constants, and which of those life could arise, also we need to know all the possible forms in which life can arise. There is the issue with the fine tuning arguments, how much of a change before life cannot arise, if one changes how does it affect the rest, do they change as well? Once those questions are answered then we can play the whole fine tuning argument. What if the universal constants aren't actually constant as some scientists have theorized as well? That they do change, what is the exact variation before these universal constants change enough that this known reality cannot hold itself together? Or more so what if due to the nature of the beginning of this universe and the energy that was released at the time, that these constants were the only possibility merely due to the fact of how it all began. None of these require a god.


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jeffreyalex wrote: I will

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

I will respond to (1). (2) is a psychological observation and you're entitled to make those all you like. I will respond to the last part, though.

To respond to (1) I'd like to quote a part of an article from Philosophy Now. The article is titled Where's the Evidence, it's by Michael Antony:

To retain evidentialism in the absence of positive evidence for atheism, the New Atheists appear to need a principle which states that, in the absence of good evidence for theism, atheism is thereby evidentially supported. This may seem like magic, but a major theme of Norwood Hanson’s 1967 essay ‘What I Don’t Believe’, is, “When there is no good reason for thinking a [positive existence] claim to be true, that in itself is good reason for thinking the claim to be false.” Michael Scriven proposed a similar principle. So following Thomas Morris, I’ll call this the Hanson-Scriven Thesis, or ‘HST’. HST is a version of the idea that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Hanson defends HST in some of the ways we’ve already rejected. However, his rhetorically most effective defense involves pointing to things for which we have no good evidence – the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster, Shangri-La, goblins – and which we also believe do not exist. His idea is that we believe these things don’t exist because we have no good evidence for them. However, he offers no argument for this latter claim. Presumably the examples are meant to just show that we reason in accordance with HST.

More recently the New Atheists have employed Hanson-like examples to defend atheism. We now hear of Zeus, the Tooth Fairy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster; then there is Bertrand Russell’s example of a china teapot orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars, too small to be detected by our telescopes. In spite of our being unable to disprove the existence of such a teapot, this doesn’t mean we must take its existence seriously. On the contrary, the rational attitude to adopt is that the teapot doesn’t exist. Russell’s point, according to Dawkins, “is that the burden of proof rests with the believers, not the non-believers” (The God Delusion).

It's difficult to construct a very detailed argument, describing lack of evidence to support a non-existent entity. That sentence pretty much said it all.

jeffreyalex wrote:

To evaluate this example-based defense of HST, I want to distinguish two broad types of evidence. Let us call evidence for a proposition P which is usually insufficient on its own to persuade a disbeliever that P is true, weak evidence. Weak evidence, however, can accumulate to make a compelling case, and it can also support different or even incompatible propositions (think of facts in a criminal case which are cited in arguments for incompatible conclusions). By contrast, strong evidence comprises sufficient or compelling grounds for rational belief, or at least, powerful considerations which competing theories cannot account for. It’s strong evidence we’re after when we ask, “What is your evidence for that?”

This distinction is important because the “good reason” in HST must be understood as strong evidence if HST is to apply to the case of divine reality. That is because there is weak evidence for a divine reality – religious experience, the fine-tuning of physical laws and constants, the apparent contingency of the universe, etc. These and other points, although far from decisive, and although explicable in other ways, could conceivably be mentioned in a compelling argument for the existence of a divine being. Therefore, if HST is about the absence of weak evidence, one cannot infer from HST that no divine being exists. So for HST to stand a chance of applying in the atheist case, ‘good reason’ must be understood as something closer to strong evidence.

Religious experience is moot here. As authentic one would be to a person having it, we why they happen. It's similar to a mirage. I'd think that the majority of people ever stranded in a desert would literally see a water fountain, or a lake, or a 7-11 with a 2 for 1 slurpee deal. Since belief of a divine being is in just about every case tied to a statement modifying the nature of our mortality, it's certainly a strong enough thought, or belief, to open the possibility of experiencing a delusion. The fine-tuning argument is moot for 2 simple reasons. Reason one is that we still have much to learn about the exact nature of the physics involved that allowed this event to unfold exactly like it did.  It may have been more likely to turn out this way than not. The second reason is quite simple; if it didn't happen the way it did, you simply wouldn't exist to observe it. The nice part about the time spent before you're alive, is that you don't have to wait in line. You don't have a brain to perceive time, so cosmic events like the big bang could have certainly happened before in some way that didn't permit life. There could've been a trillion of the things that never did produce life. Thus far though, everything we've been able to actually observe, investigate, and collect data on is a result of "the big bang" as we know it. Much of this is beyond my own cranial ability (and regrettably I have yet to educate myself enough about it for now). However, I would certainly take the word of people who devote their lives to studying this, teaching others, and be completely transparent in their work, allowing others to verify.

jeffreyalex wrote:

We can now see why HST is false. Consider the claim that earthworms have a primitive form of consciousness. There is little evidence for this, certainly no strong evidence. Nevertheless, many consciousness researchers believe it (with varying degrees of confidence). Or take the proposition that physical reality is much richer and more mysterious than our current physical theories represent. There is no strong evidence for this either, but it is believed by many (the astrophysicist Martin Rees, for one). Or consider string theory. Again, there is nothing that could properly be called strong evidence for it, yet many physicists believe it. Such examples could be multiplied. Yet if we were to take HST seriously, given that there’s no strong evidence for any of the above propositions, we would rationally have to conclude that the negations of the propositions are true: that earthworms are not conscious, that physics is not far from completion, and that string theory is false. But that is absurd! These negative conclusions can be believed – indeed, many people do believe them – but there is no reason to suppose that they must be believed.

Well, in that sense you're correct. But the above statements are scientific ones, and work is being constantly done to verify them. The God claim is in a completely different realm.

jeffreyalex wrote:

It gets worse. For whenever the negations of propositions like those above can be rephrased as positive existence statements lacking strong evidence, HST will counsel us to believe contradictions. For example, the statement ‘earthworms are not conscious’ can be substituted with ‘the boundary between conscious and non-conscious creatures is above the level of earthworms’. Since there is no strong evidence for that, according to HST we should believe there is no such boundary – which means believing that earthworms are conscious! So, according to HST, to be rational we should believe that earthworms are both conscious and not. This is a reductio ad absurdum of HST.

It is now easy to see where Hanson and the New Atheists go wrong with their example-based defense of HST: they select examples that conform with HST and ignore cases of the sort just offered that conflict with it. Not only does this generate the false impression that HST is true, it suggests that religious belief, because it lacks strong evidence, must be judged to be just as ridiculous as the Tooth Fairy or goblins. But given that there are numerous non-ridiculous beliefs that lack strong evidence, it remains open that belief in a divine reality is more like those than like the ridiculous beliefs. Certainly neither Hanson nor the New Atheists have said anything to argue otherwise. Moreover, it is clear that they have no argument that religious belief is ‘ridiculous’: If they did, they would have no need to justify atheism without evidence – the argument would itself be the evidence. Here it may be objected that believers have no argument that religious belief is serious rather than silly either. That may be true, but it is irrelevant. My point is just that, in presenting ridiculous examples and ignoring non-ridiculous ones, Hanson and the New Atheists create the misleading impression that the silliness of religious belief is a result of their reasoning rather than an unsupported presupposition.

 

So what you're saying is that MAYBE belief in god isn't as ridiculous as we make it sound? Nice, the atheists have been doing a great job lately. This is what the other side has retreated to!

Ok, I joke there, but here's the thing. When it comes to science and physics, occasionally very startling discoveries are made that require us to make many changes. When it was discovered that the Earth was flat and that it revolved around the sun, there was a whole lot of things that needed changing. We still use words such as sunrise, but we know that the sun is not literally moving up and down the sky. Taken scientifically, that last sentence is even quite absurd, since we can't really use words like up and down when speaking of entire planets or stars. The point here is, even if it involved throwing away almost everything we know about physics, and re-write it, we would indeed do it out of necessity. 

Religion on the other hand is quite different. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the most prominent mono-theistic religions on Earth, and while Judaism is unlikely to be the very first one-god concept, it's the first of the remaining ones. All three have their own scriptures that make historical and scientific claims. For some reason, though, when we end up disproving them, they still hold on to that one central claim; the supernatural, all-powerful, omnipotent omniscient creator. Every time a new discovery is made, they just say "well ok fine, that part's not correct, BUT THE REST IS TRUE!" 

jeffreyalex wrote:

As I said, I'm skipping (2). But to reply to your claim that non-belief is the default position:

What do you even intend to say by that? That a position is a 'default' position does not mean neither that it's a true position nor a rational position. Furthermore, if I see a pineapple on a tree, what sense does it make to say that my default position is disbelief that there is a pineapple in the tree? Clearly, I see evidence for a pineapple in the tree (namely, the pineapple in the tree). Similarly, someone who sees evidence for a God in the experience of everyday life would have a default position of believing in God.

What I mean to say by that is, if the idea of god were to not exist (or if you lived in an isolated society where it indeed didn't), I would find it very unlikely that someone would honestly come to believe it. The belief in a god is typically tied to culture, and family. It was probably much easier to conceive for our ancestors, who attempted to explain the world around them without nearly enough knowledge to tackle those difficult questions. Furthermore, an autocratic ruler of a society was likely seen to be a person of much knowledge and power. If they come up with such an explanation, it does a variety of great things for them. It allows for people to be happier while slaving away, awaiting a reward in the next life. We all know how important morale is in a workplace. It likely also is attached to the monarch being closer to god than his plain citizens, which increases his safety (regicide I'm sure was quite rampant). Then, when you examine the laws in the scriptures, you can see how all of those laws would benefit a king as well. 

If we were somehow able to erase all god belief on earth, while maintaining the rest of our knowledge, I don't think it would come back, and if it did, it would be most likely to happen in North Korea. 

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


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latincanuck wrote:Please do

latincanuck wrote:

Please do tell me all the possible constants, and which of those life could arise, also we need to know all the possible forms in which life can arise. There is the issue with the fine tuning arguments, how much of a change before life cannot arise, if one changes how does it affect the rest, do they change as well? Once those questions are answered then we can play the whole fine tuning argument. What if the universal constants aren't actually constant as some scientists have theorized as well? That they do change, what is the exact variation before these universal constants change enough that this known reality cannot hold itself together? Or more so what if due to the nature of the beginning of this universe and the energy that was released at the time, that these constants were the only possibility merely due to the fact of how it all began. None of these require a god.

 

Wow, atheism of the gaps. The world's leading scientists report their scientific findings, both theist and atheist and agnostic scientists alike: it appears that there are constants, it appears that different values for those constants are theoretically possible and consistent with a universe, and the constants that produce a universe capable of supporting life as we know it (and life has conditions of which science informs us) are a tiny sample of all the possibilities. 

If you want to know the answers to your questions pick up a calculus and mathematics for physics book, grab some physics textbooks, some biology textbooks, read some JSTOR articles. That's the reason professional scientists (or philosophers) don't raise those questions, they come prepared, they know the answers. 

Yeah, I know this sounds like I'm hiding and avoiding the questions. But really, I'm one person. I can't explain all of science, probability, and math here. I've done my reading and studying and I don't talk out of my ass. I also know this is rude. Sorry. But every time I have this debate with someone who thinks they're real clever I wind up having to go through 101 science lessons with them, to the same result every time: uh, doy, well neither of us are professional scientists so let's agree to disagree. Like, enough. Really.

 

 


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Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky wrote:

 

 

Religious experience is moot here. As authentic one would be to a person having it, we why they happen. It's similar to a mirage. I'd think that the majority of people ever stranded in a desert would literally see a water fountain, or a lake, or a 7-11 with a 2 for 1 slurpee deal. Since belief of a divine being is in just about every case tied to a statement modifying the nature of our mortality, it's certainly a strong enough thought, or belief, to open the possibility of experiencing a delusion. The fine-tuning argument is moot for 2 simple reasons. Reason one is that we still have much to learn about the exact nature of the physics involved that allowed this event to unfold exactly like it did.  It may have been more likely to turn out this way than not. The second reason is quite simple; if it didn't happen the way it did, you simply wouldn't exist to observe it. The nice part about the time spent before you're alive, is that you don't have to wait in line. You don't have a brain to perceive time, so cosmic events like the big bang could have certainly happened before in some way that didn't permit life. There could've been a trillion of the things that never did produce life. Thus far though, everything we've been able to actually observe, investigate, and collect data on is a result of "the big bang" as we know it. Much of this is beyond my own cranial ability (and regrettably I have yet to educate myself enough about it for now). However, I would certainly take the word of people who devote their lives to studying this, teaching others, and be completely transparent in their work, allowing others to verify.

Well, in that sense you're correct. But the above statements are scientific ones, and work is being constantly done to verify them. The God claim is in a completely different realm.

So what you're saying is that MAYBE belief in god isn't as ridiculous as we make it sound? Nice, the atheists have been doing a great job lately. This is what the other side has retreated to!

Ok, I joke there, but here's the thing. When it comes to science and physics, occasionally very startling discoveries are made that require us to make many changes. When it was discovered that the Earth was flat and that it revolved around the sun, there was a whole lot of things that needed changing. We still use words such as sunrise, but we know that the sun is not literally moving up and down the sky. Taken scientifically, that last sentence is even quite absurd, since we can't really use words like up and down when speaking of entire planets or stars. The point here is, even if it involved throwing away almost everything we know about physics, and re-write it, we would indeed do it out of necessity. 

Religion on the other hand is quite different. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the most prominent mono-theistic religions on Earth, and while Judaism is unlikely to be the very first one-god concept, it's the first of the remaining ones. All three have their own scriptures that make historical and scientific claims. For some reason, though, when we end up disproving them, they still hold on to that one central claim; the supernatural, all-powerful, omnipotent omniscient creator. Every time a new discovery is made, they just say "well ok fine, that part's not correct, BUT THE REST IS TRUE!" 

What I mean to say by that is, if the idea of god were to not exist (or if you lived in an isolated society where it indeed didn't), I would find it very unlikely that someone would honestly come to believe it. The belief in a god is typically tied to culture, and family. It was probably much easier to conceive for our ancestors, who attempted to explain the world around them without nearly enough knowledge to tackle those difficult questions. Furthermore, an autocratic ruler of a society was likely seen to be a person of much knowledge and power. If they come up with such an explanation, it does a variety of great things for them. It allows for people to be happier while slaving away, awaiting a reward in the next life. We all know how important morale is in a workplace. It likely also is attached to the monarch being closer to god than his plain citizens, which increases his safety (regicide I'm sure was quite rampant). Then, when you examine the laws in the scriptures, you can see how all of those laws would benefit a king as well. 

If we were somehow able to erase all god belief on earth, while maintaining the rest of our knowledge, I don't think it would come back, and if it did, it would be most likely to happen in North Korea. 

 

1) I don't buy your argument that if we got rid of all religious ideas they'd simply be gone for good. I don't believe we could get rid of religion anymore than we could get rid of history, or myths, or storytelling, and at any rate it would be a sad world that does that. The questions of where we came from and why we're here and where we're going would go on occupying the hearts and minds of man, that's what has made man more than an animal. Regardless, that doesn't speak to the truth of a belief. 

2) The new atheist claim is that we should not believe anything without evidence, for it is irrational to do so. There is no evidence for the claim that "the universe is entirely naturalistic". You have not addressed that lack of evidence. You have suggested there can't be any evidence, and the logical conclusion is then that you cannot rationally hold that belief. 

3) Regarding the teapot, that is an absolutely ridiculous and absurd comparison. We know how ridiculous and unlikely that statement is. Assuming a teapot occupies 1/100 of a cubic meter and that we make teapots here on earth and there are only about a few billion teapots, if that many, and given that the approximate volume of the observed universe is 3.5 x 10^80 cubic meters, the chances of randomly finding a teapot at any location in the universe are absolutely astronomical. 

4) As far as are there reasons to believe in God, the answer is "yes", there are sufficient reasons to justify belief in God, if not to prove God's existence beyond doubt. 


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 Jabberwocky: I based the

 Jabberwocky:

 

I based the tuning argument on what our leading physicists have told us, across the board. And I addressed the anthropic principle you invoke. If I was being executed by a firing squad and all hundred missed me, I should NOT be surprised I'm not dead (if I WERE dead, I would not be observing). However, I SHOULD be surprised that I'm alive. I can write this out for you in predicate logic if you require.

Also, I'm not saying MAYBE God isn't a ridiculous idea. I'm saying he unequivocally is not a ridiculous idea. 


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Exchanges and not anyone's Avatar

 Your avatar is perfectly handsome ..

 


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Exchanges and not anyone's Avatar

 Your avatar is perfectly handsome ..

  I should have been more specific it was the exchange  You called some guy  a  Troll  and then we witnessed the end product, that's all I meant/wanted TO flag

If you look at the quote I am sure the majority of the flag went to A_Non_Mouse mouse ears himself. Didnt mean to single you out like that I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression..I often have an entire Thread in my head and the exchange stood out

 

   The Science Channel aired  an episode of their series “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” a couple of years back entitled “Is there a Creator?” I’m a fan of the show in general and an even bigger fan of Morgan Freeman and have been watching the show since it lasted re-runned. I have always been strangely fascinated by physics and I have a love astronomy. And  I always kind of smile and shake my head when specials like this one air on television, the same way you might if you passed by a person trapped inside a box and heard them declare confidently “There is nothing outside the box!”
It’s an act of worship, I think, to study "the" creation and stand in awe of the processes he used to bring it into being and sustained.
  As  I recall, I thought to myself as it started “all of the episodes so far have been pretty good”. In the opening dialogue, Morgan Freeman says of God: “Perhaps he only exists inside our mind” – how they think it might shed some light on the question of God's existence. You would have liked what they started out with;First, there is a discussion of the “Goldilocks Constants” that make up our universe. Basically, all of the fundamental forces of the universe have inexplicably been set just perfectly for our universe to exist. If gravity was a little more powerful, matter would collapse in on itself, a little weaker and matter would fly apart. The same goes for all the forces at work. All are set perfectly and are set to work together perfectly. The odds of this happening by chance are literally too great to be believed. Something is obviously going on here. They interview the sole Christian in the program, physicist John Polkinghorne who had some generally nice things to say and they mention how he became a priest. Certainly God all the more likely, for the reasons the Anglican gave, TO HIS MIND. It inspires belief in some Scientists too

 


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jeffreyalex wrote: 1) I

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

1) I don't buy your argument that if we got rid of all religious ideas they'd simply be gone for good. I don't believe we could get rid of religion anymore than we could get rid of history, or myths, or storytelling, and at any rate it would be a sad world that does that. The questions of where we came from and why we're here and where we're going would go on occupying the hearts and minds of man, that's what has made man more than an animal. Regardless, that doesn't speak to the truth of a belief. 

2) The new atheist claim is that we should not believe anything without evidence, for it is irrational to do so. There is no evidence for the claim that "the universe is entirely naturalistic". You have not addressed that lack of evidence. You have suggested there can't be any evidence, and the logical conclusion is then that you cannot rationally hold that belief. 

3) Regarding the teapot, that is an absolutely ridiculous and absurd comparison. We know how ridiculous and unlikely that statement is. Assuming a teapot occupies 1/100 of a cubic meter and that we make teapots here on earth and there are only about a few billion teapots, if that many, and given that the approximate volume of the observed universe is 3.5 x 10^80 cubic meters, the chances of randomly finding a teapot at any location in the universe are absolutely astronomical. 

4) As far as are there reasons to believe in God, the answer is "yes", there are sufficient reasons to justify belief in God, if not to prove God's existence beyond doubt. 

1. I don't know how you can possibly lump history in here. History isn't something being made up. As far as it being sad if myths and story-telling went away, I agree. However, I think that it's entirely possible that religion wouldn't be back, and I believe it's certain that whatever new religions humanity would come up with, would be very different from the ones we have now. 

2. Actually that claim has more evidence supporting it scientifically than just about every other claim you could possibly make! Every scientific experiment ever is evidence for the natural order. Everything we have ever observed and confirmed has supported exactly that claim. If the order of the laws of physics starts to break down somewhere, perhaps you'd have a leg to stand on here, but they haven't. I'm not sure why people attempt to shift the burden of proof to those that have as much proof as you could possibly have. 

3. Not sure how you got back to the teapot, but I'll say a bit about it. It is highly unlikely, but not entirely impossible. Someone from earth would have had to deliberately put it there that's for sure. Also, if someone were to set up surveillance in space, we could potentially verify the status of such a teapot existing.

4. I doubt you could provide much reason to justify belief, and I'm certain you can't prove his existence beyond a doubt. Were anybody capable of that, they would have done it, and this discussion would not be had. 

To touch on the post below, which physicists? Provide sources please. 

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


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danatemporary wrote: Your

danatemporary wrote:

 Your avatar is perfectly handsome ..

  I should have been more specific it was the exchange  You called some guy  a  Troll  and then we witnessed the end product, that's all I meant/wanted TO flag

If you look at the quote I am sure the majority of the flag went to A_Non_Mouse mouse ears himself. Didnt mean to single you out like that I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression..I often have an entire Thread in my head and the exchange stood out

 

   The Science Channel aired  an episode of their series “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” a couple of years back entitled “Is there a Creator?” I’m a fan of the show in general and an even bigger fan of Morgan Freeman and have been watching the show since it lasted re-runned. I have always been strangely fascinated by physics and I have a love of all things astronomy. It’s an act of worship, I think, to study God’s creation and stand in awe of the processes he used to bring it into being and sustain it. And so I always kind of smile and shake my head when specials like this one air on television, the same way you might if you passed by a person trapped inside a box and heard them declare confidently “There is nothing outside the box!”

  As  I recall, I thought to myself as it started “all of the episodes so far have been pretty good”. In the opening dialogue, Morgan Freeman says of God: “Perhaps he only exists inside our mind” – how they think it might shed some light on the question of God's existence. You would have liked what they started out with;First, there is a discussion of the “Goldilocks Constants” that make up our universe. Basically, all of the fundamental forces of the universe have inexplicably been set just perfectly for our universe to exist. If gravity was a little more powerful, matter would collapse in on itself, a little weaker and matter would fly apart. The same goes for all the forces at work. All are set perfectly and are set to work together perfectly. The odds of this happening by chance are literally too great to be believed. Something is obviously going on here. They interview the sole Christian in the program, physicist John Polkinghorne who had some generally nice things to say and they mention how he became a priest. Certainly God all the more likely, for the reasons the Anglican gave, TO HIS MIND. It inspires belief in some Scientists too

 

 

Thank for the compliment, ha. 

Of course I saw that series! Between you and me (all you other folks overt your eyes), I'm sometimes surprised by the amount of immediate evidential evidence a staunch atheist has to close his eyes to in order to hold that not only is he fairly certain there is no God, but also that there's absolutely zero reason for God, and he can't imagine why other's would believe. 

And I agree, it did inspire scientists, some of the greatest scientists, at that. Speaking of, I majored in philosophy and sociology, with a minor in econ (I'm really boring). But now I'm taking classes in physics so I can apply to grad schools for that—it's just too interesting not to study it. I shoulda majored in it to begin with, but oh well. I got time to catch up. 


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Hi again, Jeff.

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

So, Gauche (and Gadfly and the_brainless_mouse), I'd say that life is overwhelmed with evidence. I just think that often the atheist side blows off evidence that isn't of the rigor of a mathematical proof, as if it weren't evidence, at all—demanding that we twirl our wand, make diamonds fall from the sky, turn the oceans into cheese dip, and take them to the burning bush.

 

 

I'm interested in what you'd consider as evidence for a given argument.

My impression talking with you is that at times, as most of us would, you'd agree with Galileo that logic cannot tell us things about the empirical world by itself. I tend to think logic/reason/rationality collectively represent the brain's mechanisms for dealing with empirical inputs from the material world. These functionalities of mind give us the ability to conceptualise ideas that data may or may not subsequently support. Processing empirical information usefully requires the application of reason but I don't think this necessity suddenly means reason alone has the ability to know things in the absence or in defiance of supporting data. Do you think it does?

In the threads we've shared over the past week, I'm still not certain exactly what you consider to be evidence of the existence of god that does not represent a space in our comprehension of consciousness/mind, your sense based on in-universe empirical experience of cause and effect, the mysteries of abiogenesis, or simply the existence of a possibility that seemingly cannot be proved wrong. Up-thread you say you are an agnostic but you also say elsewhere that if a being provided you with sustenance it would be right to feel deep gratitude to it and to give thanks. These are very personal sounding feelings for an agnostic deist to have.

Does this desire, this baseline belief influence your reasoning? I'm the child of fundamentalist christians and apparently alone in my family I have an inherent liberal sense of the injustice of what I see as the whole-group politics of monotheism. It's a belief system that from root to tip denigrates the individual and to my subjective sense of right, it is deeply immoral. So - I have to acknowledge that I don't want there to be a judgmental torture god. On one hand I don't believe there's evidence of a god, on the other I loathe the very idea of the monotheistic god. What about you? Would you like there to be a loving, personal, creator god?

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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What is this

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

I'm sometimes surprised by the amount of immediate evidential evidence a staunch atheist has to close his eyes to in order to hold that not only is he fairly certain there is no God, but also that there's absolutely zero reason for God, and he can't imagine why other's would believe. 

 

 

immediate evidence of an actual god? The anthropic principle? 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Jabberwocky wrote: 1. I

Jabberwocky wrote:

 

1. I don't know how you can possibly lump history in here. History isn't something being made up. As far as it being sad if myths and story-telling went away, I agree. However, I think that it's entirely possible that religion wouldn't be back, and I believe it's certain that whatever new religions humanity would come up with, would be very different from the ones we have now. 

2. Actually that claim has more evidence supporting it scientifically than just about every other claim you could possibly make! Every scientific experiment ever is evidence for the natural order. Everything we have ever observed and confirmed has supported exactly that claim. If the order of the laws of physics starts to break down somewhere, perhaps you'd have a leg to stand on here, but they haven't. I'm not sure why people attempt to shift the burden of proof to those that have as much proof as you could possibly have. 

3. Not sure how you got back to the teapot, but I'll say a bit about it. It is highly unlikely, but not entirely impossible. Someone from earth would have had to deliberately put it there that's for sure. Also, if someone were to set up surveillance in space, we could potentially verify the status of such a teapot existing.

4. I doubt you could provide much reason to justify belief, and I'm certain you can't prove his existence beyond a doubt. Were anybody capable of that, they would have done it, and this discussion would not be had. 

To touch on the post below, which physicists? Provide sources please. 

1) History grounds us in the sense that it's such a fundamental part of our story, or it is our story. Anyway, this point is neither here nor there. 

2) No. I think you're misunderstanding a basic idea in the philosophy of science. The fact that we observe a physical universe is evidence that a physical universe exists, yes. It is not evidence that only a physical universe exists. 

3) We agree here. So Russel's comparison of belief in God to the claim of a floating teapot is inept. We may not know the exact probability that a teapot would be found somewhere in space, but we know it's astronomically small— 1 out of 3.5 x 10^81. That is a number we can put our finger on, and it's so small we can't even differentiate it from zero. 

4) I think the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the argument from morality, the argument from consciousness, the argument from order, and the ontological argument (to some extent) provide reasons to believe in God. 

Paul Davies

Martin Rees

Stephen Hawking

Roger Penrose 

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 ^^ Well that cut and paste

 ^^ Well that cut and paste failed royally. 


jeffreyalex
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Atheistextremist wrote:I'm

Atheistextremist wrote:

I'm interested in what you'd consider as evidence for a given argument.

My impression talking with you is that at times, as most of us would, you'd agree with Galileo that logic cannot tell us things about the empirical world by itself. I tend to think logic/reason/rationality collectively represent the brain's mechanisms for dealing with empirical inputs from the material world. These functionalities of mind give us the ability to conceptualise ideas that data may or may not subsequently support. Processing empirical information usefully requires the application of reason but I don't think this necessity suddenly means reason alone has the ability to know things in the absence or in defiance of supporting data. Do you think it does?

In the threads we've shared over the past week, I'm still not certain exactly what you consider to be evidence of the existence of god that does not represent a space in our comprehension of consciousness/mind, your sense based on in-universe empirical experience of cause and effect, the mysteries of abiogenesis, or simply the existence of a possibility that seemingly cannot be proved wrong. Up-thread you say you are an agnostic but you also say elsewhere that if a being provided you with sustenance it would be right to feel deep gratification to it and to give thanks. These are very personal sounding feelings for an agnostic deist to have.

Does this desire, this baseline belief influence your reasoning? I'm the child of fundamentalist christians and apparently alone in my family I have an inherent liberal sense of the injustice of what I see as the whole-group politics of monotheism. It's a belief system that from root to tip denigrates the individual and to my subjective sense of right, it is deeply immoral. So - I have to acknowledge that I don't want there to be a judgmental torture god. On one hand I don't believe there's evidence of a god, on the other I loathe the very idea of the monotheistic god. What about you? Would you like there to be a loving, personal, creator god?

I think reasoning can provide support for a claim, yes. That's how science works: we observe, make measurements, seek explanations. We don't simply observe, forget, move on, observe, etc.

And I consider belief in God to be reasonable because I hold that God makes sense of human experience. The explanation of God has explanatory scope: God makes sense of our moral intuition, and of our sense that there is meaning. God makes sense of the existence of minds. God makes sense of the existence of the universe, at all; of a universe that is ordered and comprehensible, and mathematical; and of the so called "fine-tuning" of the universe. 

I believe I said I was an agnostic agnostic, but that I would defend a deist belief in God, at least. I think we probably cannot know, and I certainly do not know. So what I said regarding myself is accurate. 

Regarding my claim that thanks to a deist God seems appropriate, I stand by that. That seems logical. A deist God would be the cause for the existence of the universe and by extension our lives. Being omnipotent, God could choose to stop the show, but does not. 


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 I'm in agreement with you

 I'm in agreement with you on the monotheisms. This is related to my point with the watermelon. If you recall, I said if I returned to the kitchen to see my watermelon missing I could reasonably say someone took it. I could not say Zeus took it, and he wear's overalls, and has a club foot, etc. That's how the monotheisms appear to me. They want to tell me a) God exists, to which I answer "I don't know", but then they add b) "and I know what he wants and who he is and how you have to live" and so on, to which I answer "suck a fat one".

Regarding my desire to believe, I don't have one in the sense I think you mean. I was not religious as a child. For a few teenage years I might've said "yeah, I guess there's a God". By seventeen I was certain God was the dumbest idea ever, and by eighteen or nineteen the new atheist books appeared and I was ready to go out and start taking names". 

My position today is the result of reason, and I don't believe it's been influenced by the desire to believe. 

For example, take the cosmological argument: 1) What begins to exist has a cause 2) The universe began to exist 3) The universe has a cause. That is a logically valid argument. The premises may be questioned, but I have yet to see these premises to be shown more likely false than true. Another version doesn't rely on (1) or (2). It states that the universe's existence is a brute fact, whether it is eternal back in time, or finite. Then it merely points out that either the universe is a brute fact or a creator God is the brute fact, and invokes the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which is reasonable. 

You say that I have problems with the conception of God and his relation to physicality and time, and with causality. Those aren't new points. I've read enough of the old atheist philosophers to have heard them, and I have read plenty of responses. Professional philosophers have stopped pushing these points precisely because they have been addressed, for example by Hartshorne, Plantinga, and in Craig's more serious work, to name a few of the more recent and prominent examples. I'm satisfied that the concept of God is coherent. I'm not going to pretend that I'm up to having this debate on this forum though. 


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jeffreyalex wrote: 1)

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

1) History grounds us in the sense that it's such a fundamental part of our story, or it is our story. Anyway, this point is neither here nor there. 

Yes, because it is our best understanding of what's taken place. If there is something we don't know of history, we're fine with that. We would not make up fake history, we would work diligently to uncover the real things. As far as myths and stories, since they are fiction, we can easily come up with new ones that are different, but perhaps just as exciting. Now which side of this coin do you think religion would fall into if that was wiped from our memories? 

jeffreyalex wrote:

2) No. I think you're misunderstanding a basic idea in the philosophy of science. The fact that we observe a physical universe is evidence that a physical universe exists, yes. It is not evidence that only a physical universe exists. 

There can be billions of other universes I agree. But just to speak of one does not make it exist. Furthermore, if you grant one claim validity without evidence, you have to grant it for all those claims, and there just isn't room for that large an amount of utter bullcrap. 

jeffreyalex wrote:

3) We agree here. So Russel's comparison of belief in God to the claim of a floating teapot is inept. We may not know the exact probability that a teapot would be found somewhere in space, but we know it's astronomically small— 1 out of 3.5 x 10^81. That is a number we can put our finger on, and it's so small we can't even differentiate it from zero. 

I like how the odds of finding a celestial teapot are 1 in the volume of the universe in cubic metres times 10. Interesting to note. But I have to say that Russell's teapot may be slightly more likely. As I said, somebody would have had to put it there, deliberately and discreetly (quite hard I'd imagine). But it's technically possible. But if you deem that a physical object in space can't be compared to an omnipotent dude in another dimension, then replace Teapot with Flying Spaghetti Monster. 

jeffreyalex wrote:

4) I think the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, the argument from morality, the argument from consciousness, the argument from order, and the ontological argument (to some extent) provide reasons to believe in God. 

 

Paul Davies

Martin Rees

Stephen Hawking

Roger Penrose 

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Firstly, what is the argument from order?

I don't have time to touch on them all here (not today anyways)

There is very little in all of the other ones though. Your implication is that God is required for the universe to exist (cosmological argument/first cause). Stephen Hawking knows more about the physics behind this all than likely any other person alive, so when we're talking about the possibility of the universe coming into existence as it did, I'd think he knows what he's talking about when he says an intelligent first cause is not required. Pretty well everybody educated on the topic would agree (Roger Penrose being one). As I said earlier, this is a topic which I'm not too well versed (but intend to educated myself on at least a little bit this year). I would put stock in these people being right about that fact. 

I'll discuss the rest tomorrow.

 

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


Atheistextremist
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Mmmm

 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

I believe I said I was an agnostic agnostic, but that I would defend a deist belief in God, at least. I think we probably cannot know, and I certainly do not know. So what I said regarding myself is accurate. 

Regarding my claim that thanks to a deist God seems appropriate, I stand by that. That seems logical. A deist God would be the cause for the existence of the universe and by extension our lives. Being omnipotent, God could choose to stop the show, but does not. 

 

I wasn't implying you said you were agnostic in the way I think of as agnostic in attempt to trap you - you just make statements that appear at odds to me. This may be due to the fact that such sophistication in a deist position is unusual to find here. I generally doubt true agnosticism is actually possible for humans. We carry our biases. I guess I was showing some of mine in order to get a look at yours. Perhaps yours relate to the elevation of the knowledge of knowledge to a position of eminence over the scurf of the real molecules of which you are undoubtedly made. I never the lose the sense theists belittle empiricism in their adulation of human mind. 

Nevertheless you hold unusual combinations of opinions. Your apparent universal objectification of a standard of morality. The concept of a universe designed for existence, despite the evidence that shows life terraformed our planet by itself, adapting to its self-environment and exists as a profoundly interconnected system of genetic exchange. Your seeming rejection of the possibility of life from an RNA world. I wonder what you would define as life, Jeff? And would you agree evolution by selection of useful adaptation is true or false?

There must be a reason you find it logical to personalise an abstract noun. Whether this is the result of exposure to all of Copleston or simply the product of what I will assume is a western upbringing, or some other aspect of your cultural heritage or exposure, I cannot say. You seem comfortable with some very nebulous concepts. God, omnipotent, objective morality. The idea that these undefinable concepts are the most logical explanations for a set of systems that apparently exist simply to carry environmental energy into a state of equilibrium is a curious one.

In any case, I have no fierce argument with a true deist. These sorts of discussion at the verge of comprehension are always a pleasure. 

 

  

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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 jeffreyalex wrote:For

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

For example, take the cosmological argument: 1) What begins to exist has a cause 2) The universe began to exist 3) The universe has a cause. That is a logically valid argument. The premises may be questioned, but I have yet to see these premises to be shown more likely false than true. Another version doesn't rely on (1) or (2). It states that the universe's existence is a brute fact, whether it is eternal back in time, or finite. Then it merely points out that either the universe is a brute fact or a creator God is the brute fact, and invokes the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which is reasonable. 

 

I'm sure I long ago agreed a deist position could be rational. I just don't think it can be proven from this place. We can't prove anything outside the universe needs a cause to exist, or define or prove the existence of nothing, or of random chance. Instead there are assertions that seek to define god into existence to fill the comprehension gaps. 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

You say that I have problems with the conception of God and his relation to physicality and time, and with causality. Those aren't new points. I've read enough of the old atheist philosophers to have heard them, and I have read plenty of responses. Professional philosophers have stopped pushing these points precisely because they have been addressed, for example by Hartshorne, Plantinga, and in Craig's more serious work, to name a few of the more recent and prominent examples. I'm satisfied that the concept of God is coherent. I'm not going to pretend that I'm up to having this debate on this forum though. 

 

And yet there is still no coherent definition of what god is, just a list of asserted characteristics that cannot be measured or proved true. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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 Firstly, what is the


 


Firstly, what is the argument from order?

I don't have time to touch on them all here (not today anyways)

There is very little in all of the other ones though. Your implication is that God is required for the universe to exist (cosmological argument/first cause). Stephen Hawking knows more about the physics behind this all than likely any other person alive, so when we're talking about the possibility of the universe coming into existence as it did, I'd think he knows what he's talking about when he says an intelligent first cause is not required. Pretty well everybody educated on the topic would agree (Roger Penrose being one). As I said earlier, this is a topic which I'm not too well versed (but intend to educated myself on at least a little bit this year). I would put stock in these people being right about that fact. 

I'll discuss the rest tomorrow.

 

The cosmological argument does not have to rely on the physics of the start of the universe, and I will say how this is so. But first, I will say that Stephen Hawking entertains a range of possibilities for how the universe began/ was like in its earliest states. To my knowledge, he has said that a certain type of universe, one that is completely self-contained, would seem not to require a creator. 

 

But, if you read Richard Swinburne's book, The Existence of God, you will see a cosmological argument that simply argues that the question of why a universe exists, at all, is beyond science, by definition. Science (physics, specifically) codifies observations and discovers mathematical laws. These mathematical laws describe the behavior of matter. 

Swinburne observes that if the universe is finite back in time, that is has a finite number of past states, that means at some point it began. That is to say that it began from nothing, which is inconceivable for nothing can have no properties or potentialities. It cannot be explained in terms of substances, powers, and liabilities, because those do not exist without the universe, and cannot be part of the explanation precisely because they are part of what needs explaining. The start of the universe is a brute fact. 

Swinburne further observes that if the universe is eternal, that is it's number of past states is infinite, there is still no explanation for its existence throughout infinite time. The existence of the universe is a brute fact. 

He argues for the contingency of the universe and proposes that we are justified in asking for an explanation of its existence, and goes on to argue for God in a way you would not expect. I don't want to rewrite a whole academic work here, but I hope you'll read his book while you're learning this year. 

 

I think it's premature to say there's very little in the other ones. The point is, that they may all be inductively valid, even if they are not deductive. Collectively, they add up to a good case. Take the analogy of a crime:

Bob was murdered. Two days later Tim was seen washing something red out of his shirt. Someone comes forward and says she saw Tim argue with Bob a few nights before the murder. It's learned that Tim has access to a gun. Tim was seen not too far from the crime scene shortly before it took place. It's discovered Tim needed money, and Bob's wallet was missing money.

None of these are very strong evidence on there own. But cumulatively, what do you think? 

 

Now, I have to say, I'm not finding all this to my liking (being on a forum). This has been my first forum experience, actually, and I don't think it's for me. First, there seems to be only one person on my side—me. I want to respond to everyone, but I just can't. Second, there are too many people that think they're making points when they aren't. Third, this is my last week working nightshift—I work as a research assistant one shift during the day, and then I take on the more glamorous job of making sure no one comes in without ID for the nightshift—so I won't have so much time available. Fourth, I really just wanted to see what points the average or intelligent atheist would bring up; I hadn't planned on defending so many positions from 1000 sides. I was looking for a hint to direct my reading, and I've got some new ideas. 

Basically, I'm saying, if you (or anyone) wants to continue this conversation you can have my email. But I don't think I want to continue devoted time to responding to everyone (especially people who don't feel any need to do any of their own reading or research, and feel fine misquoting scientists when it suits them, I hate when that happens on both sides of a debate).

So yeah, my email is jeffreyalix@gmail.com (yes, with an 'i', that's not a typo: alix). If you want to continue the conversation as you read more, feel free. Otherwise, peeeeacceee folks.


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 I said in a post above

 I said in a post above that responding to all these responses is a bit too much, so I won't be checking the forum much, if at all, from this point forward. However, my email address is also above, if you care to continue any of these discussions. I admit I'm interested to continue the conversation about the coherence of "God".  

I do actually want to explain why I capitalize, personalize, God. 

As I've mentioned, I think the existence of the universe through finite or infinite time is beyond a scientific explanation by definition (it is a brute fact), and I agree with Colin McGinn, that our cognitive set-up isn't up to the task of comprehending the hard problem of consciousness. It seems to me that we have just the amount of understanding ability and the universe provides exactly the amount of evidence, that we could suspect a creator, without knowing. What we see and experience leaves room for great faith and great doubt. I believe that's where we have to live—somewhere between certainty and unknowing, sometimes more to one side than the other. But it seems to me, that IF there is a God, then it is by its "grace" (to use a perhaps more readily understandable term, even if a little loaded with Christian association) that the universe was created and continues to exist. If there is a God it is because of it that we can love, care, experience purpose, meaning, moral goodness, beauty, art, music, math and science. 

So, in a sense it's a Pascalian thing. I don't know the truth, and I don't think I'm going to hell for not knowing or doubting, or anything like that. But if God exists then to God everything is owed, and to play it safe, I use a capital "G". I owe that much to either God or reason, which as you know, I don't hold to be enemies. 


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jeffreyalex wrote:If there

jeffreyalex wrote:
If there is a God it is because of it that we can love, care, experience purpose, meaning, moral goodness, beauty, art, music, math and science.

 

  So who do we thank for all the disease, natural disasters, birth defects....? 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:
....I don't know the truth, and I don't think I'm going to hell for not knowing or doubting, or anything like that.

 

    Is that a scientific observation as well ?  

 

jeffreyalex wrote:
But if God exists then to God everything is owed.... 

 

      So a deist god maintains a ledger and we are somehow indebted to it for receiving our existence ?    BTW, despite your doubtful claims to not being a follower of Abrahamic monotheism you conceptualize your deist god in ways they scarcely differ from your average snake handling, speaking in tongues, faith healing fundamentalist.

 

jeffreyalex wrote:
...and to play it safe, I use a capital "G". I owe that much to either God or reason, which as you know, I don't hold to be enemies. 

  Then why don't you capitalize the "R" in reason as well just to demonstrate consistency ?

 

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Goodness gracious, I can't

Goodness gracious, I can't help myself, I need to respond. 

 

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

  So who do we thank for all the disease, natural disasters, birth defects....? 

Surely this is a rhetorical question meant to bring up the problem of evil.  I think you're behind on the times—this question has been asked and answered. And so I recommend you learn how to do some research and explore this debate. I will suggest an answer you may find: even given those the things you mention, this may be the best possible world. 

A more naive but not necessarily inadequate response would be to point out that without sickness we would never cherish health. Without absurdity we'd never ask "Why"? Without tragedy we wouldn't be human. I think you get the idea.

 

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

  So a deist god maintains a ledger and we are somehow indebted to it for receiving our existence ?    BTW, despite your doubtful claims to not being a follower of Abrahamic monotheism you conceptualize your deist god in ways they scarcely differ from your average snake handling, speaking in tongues, faith healing fundamentalist.

No, that isn't what I said, at all. My mother and father have fed and clothed me, taken care of me, loved me, but they don't keep a ledger. Nonetheless, it is thanks to them I exist and it is appropriate that I would be grateful to them.

 

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

Then why don't you capitalize the "R" in reason as well just to demonstrate consistency ?

 

Because reason isn't a person, by any stretch of the imagination. If it were, though, I could imagine the laugh She would have at your expense. 

 


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danatemporary wrote:

 

Quote:
.. was not a man, just a boy like the avatar you use.
  This is uncharacteristically belligerent  going to have to flag you.

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 Jeff  Them's 'is' mouse ears (the avatar), you might want to watch the temper

Ever since kindergarten I have been told I do not play well with others.

As to the nature of the response I get a Jesus freak to reveal himself and then he continues. As the Jesus freak was pretending to engage in rational debate but was in fact a lying Jesus freak I consider my response quite mild.

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jeffreyalex wrote:
I'm glad you did get to it, thanks. 

I don't see that this really addresses the question, though. I've seen this response, and I've seen the reply to it—that what you bring up is accounted for in the math to begin with. 

Imagine we have only two constants (Ca and Cb). Say the possible values are 1 - 1000 for both. They can only line up in certain ways, and if they do, I get a candy.

There is nothing to imagine. You are a Jesus freak and anything other than that is deception.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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jeffreyalex wrote:

 Jabberwocky:

I based the tuning argument on what our leading physicists have told us, across the board. And I addressed the anthropic principle you invoke. If I was being executed by a firing squad and all hundred missed me, I should NOT be surprised I'm not dead (if I WERE dead, I would not be observing). However, I SHOULD be surprised that I'm alive. I can write this out for you in predicate logic if you require.

Also, I'm not saying MAYBE God isn't a ridiculous idea. I'm saying he unequivocally is not a ridiculous idea. 

He and singular means you have your virgin Jesus god in mind and as such you are not open minded at all. You are not considering anything that does not lead to your Virgin Jesus. Because nothing you have presented leads to your singular virgin jesus you have not posted honestly or with any suggestion of integrity.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

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