Brian and Kelly: Please explain what you mean by "theism is irrational"

Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Brian and Kelly: Please explain what you mean by "theism is irrational"

Brian and Kelly have claimed that theism is irrational. I’ve asked them to clarify what they mean by this claim. Now, they don’t have to explain the very nature of rationality itself; that would be an unfair demand. My request is modest. Just provide the rough definition of rationality that you’re working with when you claim that theism is irrational. You can do this by filling in the blank of the following schema:

A person’s belief in some proposition is rational if and only if, roughly, _________________________________________________________________.


I want to know what exactly Brian and Kelly would write here. They make the claim about theism being irrational. What precisely do they have in mind when they say this? So far they haven’t answered, and no doubt this is due to their busy schedules. As we’ve been waiting for their response, Scottmax (in another thread) has tried to answer my question from his own perspective. Here’s his answer:

"A person's belief in some proposition p is rational if and only if, roughly, all propositions supporting that belief are non-contradictory and all objections proposed for that belief can likewise be answered without contradiction. "


I am a theist. That is, I believe in the proposition God exists. So am I rational or not, given Scottmax’s definition? Well, I cannot find any contradictions among the set of propositions in favor of that belief, nor have I asserted any contradictions in response to objections. So it appears to me that I've satisfied the conditions in Scottmax’s definition; given his view of rationality, he shouldn’t hesitate to count my belief in theism as rational. Of course, it doesn't follow from the fact that one is rational in believing that God exists, that God in fact exists. People have rational but false beliefs all the time. As I stated in another thread, the truth value of a proposition is to be distinguished from the reasons one has for believing in that proposition. Remember, what we’re concerned with here is not whether God exists, but whether it’s rational to believe he exists. So far it seems to me that Scottmax should say that I’m rational for believing in God, given that I’ve conformed to his view of rationality. I await his objections to this.

Tilberian also attempted to answer the question. I cannot hold my theistic belief on rational grounds, says Tilberian, “because there is no evidence for God and God as described in all theologies violates logic and known natural law.” But it’s unclear what Tilberian means by “evidence”. Under what conditions, according to Tilberian, does something count as good evidence for something else? It’s also unclear what he means by “violates logic and known natural law”. So I’ll wait for him to be more precise before we discuss his view of rationality.

Cheers,

 

W. Gavagai

 

P.S. For the interested reader, I have provided a list of some contemporary analytic philosophers and logicians who are theists. The list includes Alexander Pruss, Peter Forrest, Michael Bergmann, William Vallicella, Lynn Rudder Baker, Robert Koons, Douglas Groothius, Nicholas Rescher, Bas van Fraasen, Timothy McGrew, John Hawthorne, Dean Zimmerman, Hud Hudson, Richard Davis, Eleonore Stump, Robin Collins, Peter van Inwagen, William Alston, Keith Derose, Michael Sudduth. There are hundreds more. (Send me a private message for more resources.) The reason I provide this list is so we have something against which we can test the definitions different people proffer. A plausible definition should be such that if we were to apply it as a rule of thumb to the relevant theistic beliefs expressed in the writings of these philosophers, we would be able to legitimately classify the philosophers as irrational to the extent that they hold those theistic beliefs.


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
scottmax wrote: Vorax

scottmax wrote:
Vorax wrote:
Gavagai wrote:

I'll now take up your two tasks. First, why do I believe in God? In short, I think theism makes better sense of certain data than does naturalism.

Then I'm afraid you loose the question in your first statement. God logically can not be a better epxlanation for anything in this universe simply because the concept of God requires a greater leap of reasoning then a universe without god.

Vorax, I agree with you based on what I know now. However, I found the fine-tuning arguments fairly compelling for awhile. Not with a god of the all-alls, but at least with some vague sort of deism. Those fine tuning arguments ended up not being all they were cracked up to be, but until I knew that, I think the possibility of an intelligent creator that took no active role in the universe was a reasonable position.

Gavagai's position can still be rational based on lack of knowledge or lack of thinking through all of the implications of his position. It only becomes irrational if he holds onto those positions once those ramifications are made clear. Gavagai seems genuinely interested in dialogue. I don't think we should pronounce the debate over just yet.

 

I agree that if he hasn't thought his position through then it may be rational based on lack of information or diligence.  So you are right, I should give him the opportunity to show that an eternal god that is all powerufl and has the knowledge and will to create a universe is more likley then the universe itself is eternal (or originated via natural means such as Hakwing-Turok Instanton theory) and didn't require a creator.

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


scottmax
scottmax's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: 2007-03-12
User is offlineOffline
Vorax wrote: So you are

Vorax wrote:

So you are right, I should give him the opportunity to show that an eternal god that is all powerufl and has the knowledge and will to create a universe is more likley then the universe itself is eternal (or originated via natural means such as Hakwing-Turok Instanton theory) and didn't require a creator.

Yeah, and to be fair, when you have been brought up with the concept of God your entire life, God seems like a simple idea. I've been an agnostic/atheist for 17 years but when I read The God Delusion back in December and Dawkins said that God was complex, I still initially rejected the argument. It took another few weeks to let the concept sink in and override my indoctrination.

I wonder what other indoctrination I have still failed to shake...


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Tilberian wrote:

Tilberian wrote:

*sigh* I suppose that admits that a theist could hold a rational belief in God if he starts with bad data. However ignoring flaws in your data is equally an irrational act.


'Ignoring' data sounds like a deeper carelessness than making an honest calculation error.

Quote:

Also, when it comes to God, we are all working with the same raw data: history and the universe. There's no doubt that at least one side in the debate is being irrational, and it ain't the scientists.


I wasn't aware that the existence of God was a scientific question and that scientists had claimed to answer it. It also seems to be assuming that scientific reasoning is the only possible kind of reasoning. That's a big assumption.

Quote:

Actually I like number 1, where reason includes the principle that we must have evidence to support our beliefs.


Evidence as we usually mean it is empirical. Either you are using a less clearly defined use of 'evidence' of that statement is false.
The most obvious counter example is a priori reasoning such as mathematics. Metaphysics has an element of empiricism and observation but doesn't use evidence in the scientific sense as the observations are more general than singular and concrete.

Another point is that as worldviews are holistic, you have to start with some kind of a priori frame work that you gradually fine-tune with evidence. Have you ever come across the notion of paradigms in science? Evidence is looked at in light of the paradigm and only when serious problems are shown with the coherence or explanatory value of the paradigm does it move on. This is why the evidence will look different depending on the paradigm rather than good or bad reasoning. By our paradigm of naturalism, theistic beliefs are clearly flawed beyond consideration, but I don't think that a person being in an 'inferior' paradigm is a matter of their bad reason.

Quote:

I do love what philosophers do and I hate to cramp your style by insisting that your thought be constrained by reality. Tell you what, just ignore me and carry on. Wink


Cheeky sod! shooting
I am talking about reality though.
There's more to our reality than the facts of the world.
Science tells us what the empirical facts are, but that's only a part of what we call knowledge. The 'Humanities' department is about knowledge of our world that isn't handled by the scientific method, like geography and history.

In other news, I think that our moral beliefs would be irrational by your definition. So far, we are yet to get an coherent account of morality that completely justifies our moral practice. I think that by your strict definition of rational, it would make our moral practice irrational as it hasn't yet been fully justified by reason and is mostly intuitive. Bear in mind that I'm not saying this as a certainty, just using it as an example to challenge your definition of rationality.

Quote:

The "End of Faith" chapter "The Nature of Belief" articulates my view of rational thought pretty much exactly. Yes, yes as a philosophical work it is very much skimming the surface but it is a good summary.


I've lent the book to my girlfriend but I'll take a look at it when I get it back.

Quote:

I think that all rationality springs from the natural world and the order that it imposes on us. Therefore, I'd like to see all our thought mirror, as closely as possible, natural modes of interaction, for example evolution (good ideas flourish, bad ideas perish), physics (cause and effect) and biology (first term fetuses aren't considered persons because the woman's body doesn't treat them the same way it treats a more advanced baby). I think if you can't connect your thought to the natural world, you are incapable of distinguishing correct understanding from fantasy.


I disagree with this. One of our main uses of reason is to rise above base instincts. Our rational normativity certainly can't be explained by natural order. Our rational normativity must precede our knowledge of natural phenomena as it instructs us on how to go about attaining this knowledge.

Quote:

Check out Chaoslord's comments here.


Sounds like the work of a few mavericks rather than contemporary philosophers in general. The texts I've been reading have always been aware where scientific work was relevent. Chaoslord made a good point about 'causation'. The aristotelian "every event has a cause" has been out of date since Newton introduced his laws of motion! The Kalam Argument was designed for a different paradigm.


D-cubed
Rational VIP!
D-cubed's picture
Posts: 715
Joined: 2007-01-04
User is offlineOffline
Eloise

Eloise wrote:
Straightforward allegory actually 1 Samuel 2 is in poetic form from start to finish. I twisted nothing and you probably could apologise for your false allegation. But will you?

1 Samuel 2

8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust; from the dung-hill he lifteth up the needy, To set [him] among nobles; and he maketh them inherit a throne of glory; For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He keepeth the feet of his saints, but the wicked are silenced in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

Yeah, the Bible never says what it means even when it says it often. So when the Bible says that the earth is flat, covered by a polished oopper dome with windows to let the elements in and this is all supported by giant pillars you take that to mean that they all believed in a spherical earth on the edge of the universe held in place by forces of gravity and orbital velocity?

Yes, once again theists prove that theism is irrational. 


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Scottmax, Thanks for your

Scottmax,

 Thanks for your reply. I’ll respond to all the main points you brought up, and leave aside the less important ones for the sake of concision. You say you’re agnostic about the contingency of our universe.  But do you have any reason at all to suppose that some concrete material objects are broadly logically necessary?  To most philosophers, it’s perfectly conceivable that there are some possible worlds in which our physical universe does not exist. What’s your reason for suspecting otherwise?         

You ask if I’ve based my idea about our universe exhibiting unlikely life-permitting conditions on the work of Hugh Ross. Answer: no; I’ve heard of the name, but I haven’t read anything of his. My view is influenced, in part, by the research of analytic philosophers of science and cosmology, as well as philosophers of religion and several metaphysicians. For example, John Leslie, Paul Davies, Alexander Pruss, Peter van Inwagen, Robin Collins, Robert Russell and other members of CTNS, several of the researchers at Metanexus, John Polkinghorne, Michael Rota, Roger White, and dozens of others. The fine-tuning of our universe is to be distinguished from ‘intelligent design’ of the sort advocated by Dembski and Behe.  Moreover, I am open to the idea that fine-tuning points to a multiverse.         

  On to the main subject.  Yes, I believe some actions would be wrong for both humans and God to perform. For example, if God tortured babies for fun, then she would perform a morally wrong action.  But given my conception of God as essentially good, that antecedent is impossible. Yes, I also believe God is omnipresent. I am open to nonspatially based accounts of omnipresence, according to which God is “everywhere” in virtue of omniscience or omnipotence. I’m also open to a variety of spatially based accounts, and I’ll invoke various metaphysical resources to cash them out if you suspect that anything I’ve said here is contradictory.  Regarding omniscience, yes, God knows future contingents. This isn’t a problem for human freedom, given that God knows the subjunctive conditionals of free actions (I took care to specify this in my last post).          

You say that if God created the universe, then she has to exist “outside of time and thus simultaneously throughout time as we know it.”  Not necessarily.  There are several alternative views in the literature.  For example, time is static and both God and the universe exist coeternally, or God is atemporal and the B-theory of time is correct, or God’s creative act and the beginning of the universe would be an instance of simultaneous causation with God thereafter "entering into" time, and so on.  As I say, I’m somewhat of an agnostic with respect to God’s relation to time.  This hardly means that I’m not rational. A person can be rational in believing something even if she does not have complete and exhaustive knowledge of that something.         

You finally point out what you think is a contradiction.  Let “God” name the being I’ve been describing. To put your point concisely, you think my belief that God exists and my belief that evil exists are contradictory.  I agree with you that animal suffering is an instance of evil, and further I agree with you that animals really experience pain (i.e. they aren’t automata).  But why should I believe that this contradicts the existence of God?   You don’t say. You do ask a series of ‘why’ questions, but it’s unclear to me how your argument is supposed to go exactly.  Which version of the argument from evil are you pushing here?  It appears on face value to be the traditional logical version, but you’ll need to state it precisely in your next post before I can respond.   For the sake of clarity, you should formulate your main argument with numbered premises and conclusions, and make sure the conclusion is something like “Therefore, Gavagai has contradictory beliefs.”  This way, we can get at the heart of your objection without talking past each other.  

Cheers,  

Gavagai

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
D-cubed wrote: Eloise

D-cubed wrote:
Eloise wrote:
Straightforward allegory actually 1 Samuel 2 is in poetic form from start to finish. I twisted nothing and you probably could apologise for your false allegation. But will you?

1 Samuel 2

8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust; from the dung-hill he lifteth up the needy, To set [him] among nobles; and he maketh them inherit a throne of glory; For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He keepeth the feet of his saints, but the wicked are silenced in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

Yeah, the Bible never says what it means even when it says it often.

 

This is a compositional constant of literature by it's very nature. It is written in a language, and that is at best consistent with itself not with the reader. Ideally the reader can relate, but plausible relating surely is the most you should expect from a text if that the full extent of how you are going to analyse it is going to be cursory and non ideal.

 

D-cubed wrote:

So when the Bible says that the earth is flat, covered by a polished oopper dome with windows to let the elements in and this is all supported by giant pillars you take that to mean that they all believed in a spherical earth on the edge of the universe held in place by forces of gravity and orbital velocity?

 

Please, when Einstein said 'God does not play dice' and Hawking said 'he does and sometimes he throws them where they can't be seen' did you take that to mean that the universe is made up of literal cubic shapes with dots on them?

 It's not irrational to characterise what you have not classically formulated, it helps you to further your idea, it is a useful rational process and as I have mentioned in other threads which you might not have seen in real reality autistic savant human calculators get exact results with high complexity calculations by doing precisely that. Characterisation is a rational process in the evolution of thought. No cursory look at any text will help you come to this understanding, so I don't doubt it's not a well realised fact. On the other hand lets just say, I am satisfied that most of the apparent contradictions in theological assertions can't be much better explained than that.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Gauche
atheist
Gauche's picture
Posts: 1565
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
simple theist wrote: First

simple theist wrote:
First of all I believe in a singular God, not gods. I assume nothing. Since my God exists, and created everything (except himself) he is not bound by anything. Since I now God exsists (and since no one can refute that knowledge). In reguards to what does it mean to not be bound by natural laws is simple, He can and does defy natural laws. For example by preforming miracles.

 

I think the problem with this is that if you follow it to its logical conclusion it would negate the usefulness of any method you would need to use to know that it was true. If god is not bound by logic then god can make something be true and false. If that is possible then logic doesn’t even exist and since you would need to use logic to prove that god exists you can’t reach the conclusion anymore.

This would also apply to induction. If god could make anything occur or prevent anything from occurring then induction wouldn’t be a useful anymore, and you wouldn’t be able to use induction to prove that god exists. The existence of the thing that you would like to prove exists would cancel out all the things you would need to use to verify it.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


D-cubed
Rational VIP!
D-cubed's picture
Posts: 715
Joined: 2007-01-04
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: Please, when

Eloise wrote:

Please, when Einstein said 'God does not play dice' and Hawking said 'he does and sometimes he throws them where they can't be seen' did you take that to mean that the universe is made up of literal cubic shapes with dots on them?

It's not irrational to characterise what you have not classically formulated, it helps you to further your idea, it is a useful rational process and as I have mentioned in other threads which you might not have seen in real reality autistic savant human calculators get exact results with high complexity calculations by doing precisely that. Characterisation is a rational process in the evolution of thought. No cursory look at any text will help you come to this understanding, so I don't doubt it's not a well realised fact. On the other hand lets just say, I am satisfied that most of the apparent contradictions in theological assertions can't be much better explained than that.

I've never read about Einstein or Hawking in the Bible.  I did read in the Talmud how the sun and moon had a conversation and god settled the argument by declaring that as time progresses the moon will become as large as the sun and as bright as the sun (conversly the sun will reduce in size and dim until they are equal).

Circles are still flat, but thanks for not being able to assert your irration theistic assertions about the history of your religion. 


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Scottmax,

 Thanks for your reply. I’ll respond to all the main points you brought up, and leave aside the less important ones for the sake of concision. You say you’re agnostic about the contingency of our universe.  But do you have any reason at all to suppose that some concrete material objects are broadly logically necessary?  To most philosophers, it’s perfectly conceivable that there are some possible worlds in which our physical universe does not exist. What’s your reason for suspecting otherwise?

Don't mean to butt in but I had a couple of questions I thought you might be willing to answer. First;

How can there be a possible world (existence)without a physical universe? I see no way to hold a coherent concept of existence that is not reliant on physical existence. This is a sincere question. If you can explain how something can exist non-physically I would love to hear it.        

Quote:
You ask if I’ve based my idea about our universe exhibiting unlikely life-permitting conditions on the work of Hugh Ross. Answer: no; I’ve heard of the name, but I haven’t read anything of his. My view is influenced, in part, by the research of analytic philosophers of science and cosmology, as well as philosophers of religion and several metaphysicians. For example, John Leslie, Paul Davies, Alexander Pruss, Peter van Inwagen, Robin Collins, Robert Russell and other members of CTNS, several of the researchers at Metanexus, John Polkinghorne, Michael Rota, Roger White, and dozens of others. The fine-tuning of our universe is to be distinguished from ‘intelligent design’ of the sort advocated by Dembski and Behe.  Moreover, I am open to the idea that fine-tuning points to a multiverse.

Second.

 One thing has always confused me about this whole concept of a 'fine-tuned' universe. If there were a creator which created the life forms we know to currently exist in this universe, as well as the universe itself, then how can that be considered a 'fine-tuned' universe? 

If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning. It seems to me that the whole premise that the universe is fine tuned depends on the presently existing life forms being the only possibly existing life forms but that would be an odd restriction to try and reconcile with a creator concept.        

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Hi Vessel,

Hi Vessel,

Try not to think of possible worlds as concrete objects that exist 'out there'. Possible worlds semantics is used mainly as a way of getting clear on different forms of modal discourse. For example, 'it's possibly the case that p' just means that 'p is true in at least one possible world'. 'It's necessarily the case that p' can be rewritten as 'p is true in every world'. (If you're at all familiar with first-order predicate calculus, you'll notice that the notions of necessity and possibility involve existential and universal quantification over worlds, respectively.) To say that 'p is contingent' is to say that 'p exists in some worlds and not in others'. All of this should get you to see that "world" is not synonymous with "the physical universe".

"World" is, roughly, a word used to refer to a totality. A "possible world" is just a way that everything might have been. Now, some think the actual world is exhausted by the physical universe (it seems this is also what you think). But there are possible worlds in which nothing exists, or in which a single particle exists, or in which everything is the same as the actual world except you are 4 inches taller, etc. Pretty much anything you can conceive of that's broadly logically possible is a way that some possible world is. Perhaps now that the distinction between "world" and "universe" is clear, you might see how there's a possible world in which our universe doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, I don't understand what your second question means. Specifically this part:

"If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning."

I'm not sure I follow. Can you spell this out a little more? What do you mean by "parameter of existence" and "necessary parameters"?

Cheers,

W.G.

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Vessel wrote:

Vessel wrote:

If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning. It seems to me that the whole premise that the universe is fine tuned depends on the presently existing life forms being the only possibly existing life forms but that would be an odd restriction to try and reconcile with a creator concept.

Is your question here about original parameters assuming universally singular boundary conditions as opposed to a union of enlaced parameters. As in the first case I would say you would be right fine tuning boundary conditions would be analagous to cutting the corners of a piece of blank paper, you change the shape of the paper but thats all the detail there is. However if you simply connected that piece of paper instead, the the prime example being folding it repeatedly, and then fine tuned boundary conditions trimming corners and such, the unfolded paper is now more detailed and internal parameters have changed in synchronicity.

I guess that suggests a prerequisite for a fine tuned universe is a simply connected universe, would you agree?

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
'Ignoring' data sounds like a deeper carelessness than making an honest calculation error.

The sense I get from most theists is that they are working so hard to arrive at the God conclusion that all manner of carelessness and doublethink are admitted to their processes.

Strafio wrote:
I wasn't aware that the existence of God was a scientific question and that scientists had claimed to answer it. It also seems to be assuming that scientific reasoning is the only possible kind of reasoning. That's a big assumption.

It's the only kind of reasoning I've seen that works, and since I'm a pragmatist, that's the only kind of reasoning I'm interested in.

The existence of God certainly is a scientific question. God either exists of he doesn't. I don't think anyone contends that the idea of God doesn't exist, or that belief in God doesn't exist. But the question of whether those ideas and beliefs point to something real can only be answered by in the paradigm we use to discover real things: science.

Strafio wrote:
Evidence as we usually mean it is empirical. Either you are using a less clearly defined use of 'evidence' of that statement is false. The most obvious counter example is a priori reasoning such as mathematics.

Mathematics is also contingent on its ability to deliver useful results. The day 2+2=4 stops working is the day I'll believe 2+2=5.

Strafio wrote:

Metaphysics has an element of empiricism and observation but doesn't use evidence in the scientific sense as the observations are more general than singular and concrete.

In that case I would say that metaphysics is telling us more about how we think than about how the world actually is.

Strafio wrote:

Another point is that as worldviews are holistic, you have to start with some kind of a priori frame work that you gradually fine-tune with evidence. Have you ever come across the notion of paradigms in science? Evidence is looked at in light of the paradigm and only when serious problems are shown with the coherence or explanatory value of the paradigm does it move on. This is why the evidence will look different depending on the paradigm rather than good or bad reasoning. By our paradigm of naturalism, theistic beliefs are clearly flawed beyond consideration, but I don't think that a person being in an 'inferior' paradigm is a matter of their bad reason.

Wait a second. The theist rejects reason (ie naturalistic cause-and-effect evidentiary links) as their paradigm for establishing knowledge and you are saying they can't be accused of bad reason? Perhaps not...but they can be accused of NO reason!

Choosing a non-naturalistic paradigm is irrational! Naturalism is the paradigm associated with rationality. If you have purposely discarded reason, the charge of irrationality shouldn't offend you. The reason it does offend many Christians is because irrationality destroys their political credibility.

Strafio wrote:

Cheeky sod! shooting

Sorry! Sealed

Strafio wrote:

I am talking about reality though. There's more to our reality than the facts of the world. Science tells us what the empirical facts are, but that's only a part of what we call knowledge. The 'Humanities' department is about knowledge of our world that isn't handled by the scientific method, like geography and history.

I dispute that! Geography and history departments make use of the scientific method and scientific paradigm all the time. Think of demographics and standards for verifying the authenicity of old documents. History conclusions are usually impossible to purge of all bias, but then they are subjected to a kind of "peer review" process where the work is analyzed and critiqued by other historians. I think historians and geographers would be pretty pissed off at the suggestion that they weren't discovering scientific facts.

Perhaps the English department would be a better target for this claim, but I don't think most English majors claim to be discovering anything other than the contents of the human heart. This is real discovery, but the usefulness of its results are confined to the paradigm where it was discovered, just as the discoveries made in a particle accelerator have little application in relationship counseling.

Bringing the point back to religion, I think it's great if spritual people want to think about spiritual things and make a lot of spiritual discoveries that they apply in their spiritual lives. But do not accept their leap from the spiritual paradigm to the scientific. They simply have no grounds for making pronouncements about the reality we all share just by investigating their navels and holding up the lint within.

Strafio wrote:

In other news, I think that our moral beliefs would be irrational by your definition. So far, we are yet to get an coherent account of morality that completely justifies our moral practice. I think that by your strict definition of rational, it would make our moral practice irrational as it hasn't yet been fully justified by reason and is mostly intuitive. Bear in mind that I'm not saying this as a certainty, just using it as an example to challenge your definition of rationality.

Rational morality is indeed a field that is struggling to be born, but has never had a chance amidst the strident claims of theists to moral hegemony. I think there is an excellent basis for rational morality out there through reference to our genetically coded social behaviours, but it has yet to be discovered. I can observe that people around the world share similar concepts of decency and compassion, regardless of their religion, and that makes me hopeful that a rational morality is possible.

However, morality in some form or another is definitely rational. People need a common standard of behaviour or else society falls apart.

Strafio wrote:

I disagree with this. One of our main uses of reason is to rise above base instincts. Our rational normativity certainly can't be explained by natural order. Our rational normativity must precede our knowledge of natural phenomena as it instructs us on how to go about attaining this knowledge.

Our rational normativity was established when the first amoeba responded to the first painful stimulus by moving away from it rather than toward. It is an empirical fact that rationality preceded our ability to understand it for what it was, or to use it purposefully to aquire new facts. The connection between our senses and the outside world is rationality. Cause -> effect. If -> then. That is how every living thing on the planet governs its actions, whether it knows it or not.

Strafio wrote:

Sounds like the work of a few mavericks rather than contemporary philosophers in general. The texts I've been reading have always been aware where scientific work was relevent. Chaoslord made a good point about 'causation'. The aristotelian "every event has a cause" has been out of date since Newton introduced his laws of motion! The Kalam Argument was designed for a different paradigm.

I will hereby bow to your superior familiarity with philosphers and their relative levels of scientific understanding. For all I know, 9 out of 10 philosphers could build a space station. Just wasn't the impression I got from the small, unrepresentative sample I've met/spoken to/read. Wink

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote: Hi

Gavagai wrote:

Hi Vessel,

Try not to think of possible worlds as concrete objects that exist 'out there'. Possible worlds semantics is used mainly as a way of getting clear on different forms of modal discourse. For example, 'it's possibly the case that p' just means that 'p is true in at least one possible world'. 'It's necessarily the case that p' can be rewritten as 'p is true in every world'. (If you're at all familiar with first-order predicate calculus, you'll notice that the notions of necessity and possibility involve existential and universal quantification over worlds, respectively.) To say that 'p is contingent' is to say that 'p exists in some worlds and not in others'. All of this should get you to see that "world" is not synonymous with "the physical universe".

"World" is, roughly, a word used to refer to a totality. A "possible world" is just a way that everything might have been. Now, some think the actual world is exhausted by the physical universe (it seems this is also what you think). But there are possible worlds in which nothing exists, or in which a single particle exists, or in which everything is the same as the actual world except you are 4 inches taller, etc. Pretty much anything you can conceive of that's broadly logically possible is a way that some possible world is. Perhaps now that the distinction between "world" and "universe" is clear, you might see how there's a possible world in which our universe doesn't exist.

Yes, I understand this. Let me try to be more clear by illustrating where in my thought process my question arose.

To simply state that a physical universe is contingent seems odd to me. While it may be true that OUR physical universe is not the only possibly existing type of universe, if there is a physical existence at all, then the fact that it is our type of universe is hardly surprising. For a physical universe to exist it has to exist as some type of physical universe.

It is like finding a naturally formed rock of some particular non-descript shape on the ground. It makes no sense to wonder 'why' the rock has the shape it does. If a rock is to exist, it must exist in some shape. Therefor, the shape of any given naturally formed rock should not be surprising nor should the shape in which it exists require explanation. If the rock resembles something (to a human observer) that seems unlikely to occur in a natural way, it would be appropriate to ask 'how' the rock came to be in the shape it is, but the 'why' (without first finding evidence of intent in the shaping of the rock) makes no sense.

Saying that a physical universe is contingent is saying that the question 'why' has meaning in relation to the existence of the universe. Why does our universe exist? Now, what do we oppose this to? Other universes? Well, that really makes no sense being as that any universe that exists must exist in some form, so no particular form should be surprising or require explanation for the way in which it exists. So, all we are left with is the existence of any existing universe as opposed to nothing.

Here is where my question comes in. I did not word it so well (in fact I ended up asking a question of non-physical existence when I should have been asking about non-existence) in my first post so let me retry. For what reason should nothing be considered a possible world? Why should one afford ‘possible’ status to something that can not even be held as a coherent concept? If I can’t even know what true nothingness is, or how true nothingness could be, why should I consider true nothingness a possibility?

Quote:
Unfortunately, I don't understand what your second question means. Specifically this part:

"If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning."

I'm not sure I follow. Can you spell this out a little more? What do you mean by "parameter of existence" and "necessary parameters"?

Cheers,

W.G.

From a naturalist’s perspective, there exists a universe in which life formed, and thus, the life that formed must necessarily be a type of life that can exist within the naturally existing universe. From the theists perspective, anything can exist in any environment if it is desired by the creator to exist within the given environment, and any environment can support any existence if it is desired by the creator to support the given existence. From the theistic view there are no physical requirements, constraints, parameters, to existence and therefor nothing can be fine tuned. From the naturalist view, there are physical requirements, constraints, parameters, to existence and therefor only things that are naturally fine tuned to exist within the environment can exist.

If I start with nothing but a goal of creating some type of physically existing thing then what type of environment I create to support the physically existing thing is necessarily arbitrary being as there can be no pre-existing physical requirements, constraints, parameters, what have you, within which I must create. These things, physical requirements, constraints, parameters are properties of existing things.

It seems to me that by the very nature of what it would mean to create everything that exists, to be able to infer a creator from the existence of its creation would be impossible.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: Vessel

Eloise wrote:
Vessel wrote:

If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning. It seems to me that the whole premise that the universe is fine tuned depends on the presently existing life forms being the only possibly existing life forms but that would be an odd restriction to try and reconcile with a creator concept.

Is your question here about original parameters assuming universally singular boundary conditions as opposed to a union of enlaced parameters. As in the first case I would say you would be right fine tuning boundary conditions would be analagous to cutting the corners of a piece of blank paper, you change the shape of the paper but thats all the detail there is. However if you simply connected that piece of paper instead, the the prime example being folding it repeatedly, and then fine tuned boundary conditions trimming corners and such, the unfolded paper is now more detailed and internal parameters have changed in synchronicity.

I guess that suggests a prerequisite for a fine tuned universe is a simply connected universe, would you agree?

Oh creator of confusing metaphors... What???? Eye-wink

Seriously, you lost me. Did my other response answer your question? If not if you could re-word it, preferably in English, or even Southern if possible, I will try to address it.

From what I was able to wrap my pea brain around it seems like your question was in relation to the 'fine' part of 'fine-tuning' where as what I was addressing was the 'tuning' part in general. Being as that it seems impossible for a creator to tune his creation at all in an ex nihilo scenario the fineness of  the tuning seems irrelevant.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Vessel wrote: Eloise

Vessel wrote:
Eloise wrote:
Vessel wrote:

If the creator creates every parameter of existence and everything that exists within those parameters then nothing can be 'fine tuned' as there is no necessary parameters within which to do the fine-tuning. It seems to me that the whole premise that the universe is fine tuned depends on the presently existing life forms being the only possibly existing life forms but that would be an odd restriction to try and reconcile with a creator concept.

Is your question here about original parameters assuming universally singular boundary conditions as opposed to a union of enlaced parameters. As in the first case I would say you would be right fine tuning boundary conditions would be analagous to cutting the corners of a piece of blank paper, you change the shape of the paper but thats all the detail there is. However if you simply connected that piece of paper instead, the the prime example being folding it repeatedly, and then fine tuned boundary conditions trimming corners and such, the unfolded paper is now more detailed and internal parameters have changed in synchronicity.

I guess that suggests a prerequisite for a fine tuned universe is a simply connected universe, would you agree?

Oh creator of confusing metaphors... What???? Eye-wink

Seriously, you lost me. Did my other response answer your question? If not if you could re-word it, preferably in English, or even Southern if possible, I will try to address it.

From what I was able to wrap my pea brain around it seems like your question was in relation to the 'fine' part of 'fine-tuning' where as what I was addressing was the 'tuning' part in general. Being as that it seems impossible for a creator to tune his creation at all in an ex nihilo scenario the fineness of the tuning seems irrelevant.

You're too modest. I'm responding to both your replies here. 

OKay, just assuming nothing is impossible for an omnipotent creator, IF we are going to consider a creator in light of our current known world the 'why' does seem relevant to me. That's a big IF so I always like to qualify before I go on with the question, IF you are considering the possibility of a creator..... there are other ways to look at the God question but my view is that the rationality of theists generally starts there ..... and if you are considering the possibility of a creator you will allow it to exist under it's own constraints, this is where some theists end up with the absoluteness answer "You can't constrain God, so stop trying", I wouldn't do that, I'd take it further and say, OK, so you would need to go beyond certain constraints that might be introduced by your thinking, but you do want them to remain in a rational constraint of their own. The only best way I think to do that is to allow the intention, the constraints of benevolence, judgement, rationality, into the question, if God cannot be benevolent for example I would not be a theist, I'd draw the line there, regardless of what else was possible a less than benevolent God would be nothing that interests me and I would reject that unequivocally. So we assume reason behind the observation, If God were rational there would be reason regardless of omnipotence, were he of good judgement the reason would be benevolent and so forth. Does that sound fair?

So then we get to the observable physical world and to this observable thing there are laws. Why are there laws, to what purpose is the existence of laws within creation relevant to a creator. Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why, and that it is basically good. 

 Vessel wrote:

If I start with nothing but a goal of creating some type of physically existing thing then what type of environment I create to support the physically existing thing is necessarily arbitrary being as there can be no pre-existing physical requirements, constraints, parameters, what have you, within which I must create. These things, physical requirements, constraints, parameters are properties of existing things. 

And this is what I meant by boundary conditions. Yes, They would be necessarily arbitrary within the realms of 'all possibility'. But they are not arbitrary from the inside of their own parameters. Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why to the original boundary conditions, and since that why does not apply outside the boundary - to the outside of the boundary the fundamental parameters are arbitrary - then clearly if they were selected, all "why"s to that apply on the inside.  

Assuming a nice God is to assume that theres a benevolent reason for the Laws which govern the existence life which is not arbitrary to the life itself. This would entail some aspect of fine tuning between the two. So to say, yes an omnipotent creator could just lay down any environment around life, it needn't have any basis of it's own, omnipotence means you can make up your own basis and just plonk it there, but benevolence does not mean that. Benevolence would entail choice that was not arbitrary to one or the other. So then you set out to see if the environment falsifies a nice God over life, from that you could possibly infer a creator's nature from it's creation. 

In terms of fine tuning, if you wanted to examine life being fine tuned for it's environment then like you said, an omnipotent God could just arbitrarily lay down any darn thing he liked hence why I said fine tuning that would be like trimming edges off paper, more pointless and arbitrary handiwork in the realms of all possibility. But if you remove the arbitrariness from the parameters and what they bound and say they are a simply connected set fine tuned to each other by a creator with benevolent intentions. You have something to falsify.  First you'd have to ponder if life and it's sustaining environment are a simply connected set. The start of pantheism.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Topher
Topher's picture
Posts: 513
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
I think rationality

I think rationality requires rational methods, as well as correctness. Although I think it should be based on the knowledge of the time. i.e. if all evidence points to X, then that becomes the rational position. However if new evidence (sa, down to new technology) says that Y is actually correct, then that now becomes the rational position, and it would be irrational to still hold the refuted position.

In a sense I think rational methods should, by defintion, reach the correct conclusion of the avaliable evidence.

Strafio wrote:
For example, Newton's physics was eventually replaced by relativity. Was Newton's beilef in the correctness of classical physics irrational? It turned out to be incorrect, despite it's derivation being an act of rational genuis!

Newton wasn't incorrect, nor was his theory replaced by Einstein's Relativity.

Einstein simply progressed Newton's work further where is broke down (I think at the atomic level, though not entierly sure). But Newtonian gravity is still valid and is still use in most situations.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
Topher wrote: Newton

Topher wrote:


Newton wasn't incorrect, nor was his theory replaced by Einstein's Relativity.

Einstein simply progressed Newton's work further where is broke down (I think at the atomic level, though not entierly sure). But Newtonian gravity is still valid and is still use in most situations.

Newton's model of gravity was incorrect, but it gave good results as long as you didn't measure too closely or move too quickly. I think Newton was even aware of this at the time.

Still, Newtonian mechanics is going to get you so close to the correct answer for most situations that it rarely makes any difference.   

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote:Vessel

Eloise wrote:

You're too modest. I'm responding to both your replies here. 

OKay, just assuming nothing is impossible for an omnipotent creator, IF we are going to consider a creator in light of our current known world the 'why' does seem relevant to me. That's a big IF so I always like to qualify before I go on with the question, IF you are considering the possibility of a creator..... there are other ways to look at the God question but my view is that the rationality of theists generally starts there ..... and if you are considering the possibility of a creator you will allow it to exist under it's own constraints, this is where some theists end up with the absoluteness answer "You can't constrain God, so stop trying", I wouldn't do that, I'd take it further and say, OK, so you would need to go beyond certain constraints that might be introduced by your thinking, but you do want them to remain in a rational constraint of their own. The only best way I think to do that is to allow the intention, the constraints of benevolence, judgement, rationality, into the question, if God cannot be benevolent for example I would not be a theist, I'd draw the line there, regardless of what else was possible a less than benevolent God would be nothing that interests me and I would reject that unequivocally. So we assume reason behind the observation, If God were rational there would be reason regardless of omnipotence, were he of good judgement the reason would be benevolent and so forth. Does that sound fair?

So then we get to the observable physical world and to this observable thing there are laws. Why are there laws, to what purpose is the existence of laws within creation relevant to a creator. Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why, and that it is basically good. 

And this is what I meant by boundary conditions. Yes, They would be necessarily arbitrary within the realms of 'all possibility'. But they are not arbitrary from the inside of their own parameters.

But 'from the inside of their own parameters' and the way 'their own parameters' interconnect and co-exist would also necessarilly be a product of the god unless this god is bound by natural law. This is supposedly an ex nihilo creation scenario so there is no necessary condition for any other condition to exist.

Let's look at it this way. This god supposedly placed the earth just the right distance from the sun for our type of life form to be able to exist. But, if this god had wanted to place the earth where Mercury is and make it so that our life form could exist just as it does now in such close proximity to the sun there is no reason it should not be able to do this. The fact that the earth is where it is, that temperatures are what they are, that water and the atmosphere are fairly stable with the earth where it is under our present physical law, would all be arbitrary because the laws that govern their behavior under any given circumstances would be arbitrary. There is no necessity to water boiling boiling at the temperature we have defined as 100C. A creator god could have made it so that water boiled at what we call 1000C. There are no restrictions upon a creator god so its creation and the laws that govern that creation and the way the creation exists in relation to itself from the inside must be wholly arbitrary.

 

Quote:
Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why to the original boundary conditions, and since that why does not apply outside the boundary - to the outside of the boundary the fundamental parameters are arbitrary - then clearly if they were selected, all "why"s to that apply on the inside.

Assuming the best possible god? How does one make the leap from looking at the existence of life in the universe and the way things need be just as they are for this life to be able to exist as evidence of a god to the statement assuming the best possible god? We are not discussing an assumed god but whether or not the supposed finetuning of the universe is a rational basis upon which to positing a gods existence in the first place. We can not presuppose the god and then claim that the universe is a rational basis for positing the god's existence.

Quote:
Assuming a nice God is to assume that theres a benevolent reason for the Laws which govern the existence life which is not arbitrary to the life itself.

Again, assuming a god we need not consider whether or not the fine tuning of the universe is a rational basis for holding a god belief in the first place. 

Quote:
This would entail some aspect of fine tuning between the two. So to say, yes an omnipotent creator could just lay down any environment around life, it needn't have any basis of it's own, omnipotence means you can make up your own basis and just plonk it there, but benevolence does not mean that. Benevolence would entail choice that was not arbitrary to one or the other. So then you set out to see if the environment falsifies a nice God over life, from that you could possibly infer a creator's nature from it's creation.

Before we can ascribe qualities like benevolence to a god we must have a reason to posit its existence. The fine tuning argument does not seem to supply this reason and so to discuss whether we can infer the nature of a creator from its creation is irrelevant. We would first need to be able to infer the existence of a creator from its creation which is what I believe can not be done in an ex nihilo creation scenario. 

Quote:
In terms of fine tuning, if you wanted to examine life being fine tuned for it's environment then like you said, an omnipotent God could just arbitrarily lay down any darn thing he liked hence why I said fine tuning that would be like trimming edges off paper, more pointless and arbitrary handiwork in the realms of all possibility. But if you remove the arbitrariness from the parameters and what they bound and say they are a simply connected set fine tuned to each other by a creator with benevolent intentions. You have something to falsify.  First you'd have to ponder if life and it's sustaining environment are a simply connected set. The start of pantheism.

But the way they connect to each other would also have been created by a creator god in an ex nihilo creation scenario so there is no need for fine tuning no matter the perspective. You are leaving your god bound by natural law.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Tilberian wrote: The sense

Tilberian wrote:

The sense I get from most theists is that they are working so hard to arrive at the God conclusion that all manner of carelessness and doublethink are admitted to their processes.


I see where you're coming from.
I agree that many theists, particularly those with a political agenda, are not being rational. However, I think we judge this by their practice and argumentation. The conclusion of theism doesn't necessarily entail irrationality, but I think it can be a hint that something has gone wrong.

Quote:

The existence of God certainly is a scientific question. God either exists of he doesn't. I don't think anyone contends that the idea of God doesn't exist, or that belief in God doesn't exist. But the question of whether those ideas and beliefs point to something real can only be answered by in the paradigm we use to discover real things: science.


I think that some theistic claims are scientifically questionable, but the existence of a supernatural God isn't one of them. Questions of God tend to be metaphysical than physical.
For instance, classical theism was based on Plato's metaphysics with the form of 'good'.
Almost all the arguments in favour of God, e.g. teleological and cosmological are metaphysical and philosophical rather than scientific. They usually say "science states that the world is like this, and philosophically, for a world like this to be possible..."

Quote:

In that case I would say that metaphysics is telling us more about how we think than about how the world actually is.


Most contemporary philosophers would agree with you, but this probably isn't a conclusion to be taken for granted, so I wouldn't consider someone irrational for not starting with this assumption. (I think that this is the gradual result of a person's metaphysical fine-tuning.)

In the meantime, any scientific results will be interpreted through the framework of their current metaphysics. So naturalism isn't a result of science, it's a metaphysical position that stresses the importance of science. Although I think that the success of science has played a major part in its more recent acceptance.

Quote:

Wait a second. The theist rejects reason (ie naturalistic cause-and-effect evidentiary links) as their paradigm for establishing knowledge and you are saying they can't be accused of bad reason? Perhaps not...but they can be accused of NO reason!


It's not a rejection of reason altogether...
It's just that scientific proofs rely on their paradigm and paradigms aren't settled scientifically. So the "evidence -> conclusion" kind of reasoning doesn't settle these metaphysical questions. It's a matter of fine-tuning one's worldview by gradually ironing out inconsistencies. The point in this is to show that a rejection of naturalism necessarily a rejection of reason, because changing the paradigm takes a journey of fine-tuning rather than an acceptance of scientific facts.

Quote:

Choosing a non-naturalistic paradigm is irrational! Naturalism is the paradigm associated with rationality. If you have purposely discarded reason, the charge of irrationality shouldn't offend you. The reason it does offend many Christians is because irrationality destroys their political credibility.


Again, it's not a 'choice' as such.
You try and make sense of the world around you with the most coherent holistic theory you have. Infact, I think that the holism is an important aspect - it explains the appeal of the God of gaps. If you study properly then I think that you gradually find that naturalism is the coherent holistic worldview, but not having arrived there yet is not necessarily a lack of reason.

I highlight the word 'necessarily' as I believe that in a lot of cases it is the case that irrationality is involved. I think that theism is often irrational, especially when combined with politics. But it's not necessarily irrational.

Quote:

Sorry! Sealed


It's cool. The banter is funny! Smiling

Quote:

I dispute that! Geography and history departments make use of the scientific method and scientific paradigm all the time. Think of demographics and standards for verifying the authenicity of old documents.


I thought I might get this, which is why I also brought up morality.
The main reason I brought up humanities is that your idea of rationality seemed to be closely linked to the fact that in maths and science there's a method from distinguishing right and wrong that gives clear, indisputable results. History is an example of a rational enquiry that doesn't have clear cut results in the same way science does.

Quote:

Bringing the point back to religion, I think it's great if spritual people want to think about spiritual things and make a lot of spiritual discoveries that they apply in their spiritual lives. But do not accept their leap from the spiritual paradigm to the scientific.


Yeah. This is the holistic effect of metaphysics.
You feel inclined to give spirituality a natural explanation, or nature a spiritual explanation. I don't think that the latter is necessarily irrational... although in practice it often ends up that way!
For instance, consciously realising that your spiritual view of the world is a metaphoric projection is fine, but if it leads you to believe in literal psychic forces and other supernatural things then something has gone wrong.

Quote:

Rational morality is indeed a field that is struggling to be born, but has never had a chance amidst the strident claims of theists to moral hegemony.


Nooooo! You were supposed to agree that our moral beliefs were rational and that you hereby rejected your previous position based on this! Laughing out loud

To recap on the purpose of this topic:
I believe that to say a belief is rational is synonymous with saying that the person has rational grounds to hold the belief, a form of pragmatism. The pragmatism of science depends on the strict positivism is employs but a person's personal beliefs shouldn't necessarily have the same purpose.

So the idea was to show that some kinds of rational knowledge, e.g. our moral conduct, wasn't of this scientismic kind of knowledge. In the same way, although theistic beliefs are gradually eliminated, compared to the eventual vindication of moral beliefs, they were still both potentially rational in the meantime.

Quote:
I think there is an excellent basis for rational morality out there through reference to our genetically coded social behaviours, but it has yet to be discovered.

I guess this would be an example of an eventual scientific vindication of morality.

Quote:
I can observe that people around the world share similar concepts of decency and compassion, regardless of their religion, and that makes me hopeful that a rational morality is possible.

I'd go as far to say that this is rational grounds to hold moral belief. Infact, I think it would be pragmatically irrational to not hold moral beliefs on this ground.

Quote:

However, morality in some form or another is definitely rational. People need a common standard of behaviour or else society falls apart.


Right, so morality is rational to believe in, even if you don't fully understand it. This is how I think that theism can be rational. I certainly think that Plato was rational. Nowdays it is more difficult to be a rational theist as metaphysics have advanced since then and many religious claims that might've been rational 2000 years ago just can't be justified in the modern paradigm, but as philosophy and metaphysics aren't formally taught in schools, a person's metaphysical starting point is arbitary - and starting position is as rational as another. So naturalism can take a hard journey of fine tuning for these people to arrive at through reason.

Quote:

I will hereby bow to your superior familiarity with philosphers and their relative levels of scientific understanding. For all I know, 9 out of 10 philosphers could build a space station. Just wasn't the impression I got from the small, unrepresentative sample I've met/spoken to/read. Wink


hehe! Attributing us with practical knowledge is going a bit OTT! Laughing out loud
Our skill and purpose is to evaluate claims and arguments to a pedantic degree and be the most effective and efficient smartarses in the world. Scientists are for doing science, our job is to cheer/snipe from the sidelines! Eye-wink


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Vessel wrote:

Vessel wrote:
Eloise wrote:

You're too modest. I'm responding to both your replies here.

OKay, just assuming nothing is impossible for an omnipotent creator, IF we are going to consider a creator in light of our current known world the 'why' does seem relevant to me. That's a big IF so I always like to qualify before I go on with the question, IF you are considering the possibility of a creator..... there are other ways to look at the God question but my view is that the rationality of theists generally starts there ..... and if you are considering the possibility of a creator you will allow it to exist under it's own constraints, this is where some theists end up with the absoluteness answer "You can't constrain God, so stop trying", I wouldn't do that, I'd take it further and say, OK, so you would need to go beyond certain constraints that might be introduced by your thinking, but you do want them to remain in a rational constraint of their own. The only best way I think to do that is to allow the intention, the constraints of benevolence, judgement, rationality, into the question, if God cannot be benevolent for example I would not be a theist, I'd draw the line there, regardless of what else was possible a less than benevolent God would be nothing that interests me and I would reject that unequivocally. So we assume reason behind the observation, If God were rational there would be reason regardless of omnipotence, were he of good judgement the reason would be benevolent and so forth. Does that sound fair?

So then we get to the observable physical world and to this observable thing there are laws. Why are there laws, to what purpose is the existence of laws within creation relevant to a creator. Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why, and that it is basically good.

And this is what I meant by boundary conditions. Yes, They would be necessarily arbitrary within the realms of 'all possibility'. But they are not arbitrary from the inside of their own parameters.

But 'from the inside of their own parameters' and the way 'their own parameters' interconnect and co-exist would also necessarilly be a product of the god unless this god is bound by natural law. This is supposedly an ex nihilo creation scenario so there is no necessary condition for any other condition to exist.

Let's look at it this way. This god supposedly placed the earth just the right distance from the sun for our type of life form to be able to exist. But, if this god had wanted to place the earth where Mercury is and make it so that our life form could exist just as it does now in such close proximity to the sun there is no reason it should not be able to do this. The fact that the earth is where it is, that temperatures are what they are, that water and the atmosphere are fairly stable with the earth where it is under our present physical law, would all be arbitrary because the laws that govern their behavior under any given circumstances would be arbitrary. There is no necessity to water boiling boiling at the temperature we have defined as 100C. A creator god could have made it so that water boiled at what we call 1000C. There are no restrictions upon a creator god so its creation and the laws that govern that creation and the way the creation exists in relation to itself from the inside must be wholly arbitrary.

Quote:
Assuming the best possible God is to assume that there is a why to the original boundary conditions, and since that why does not apply outside the boundary - to the outside of the boundary the fundamental parameters are arbitrary - then clearly if they were selected, all "why"s to that apply on the inside.

Assuming the best possible god? How does one make the leap from looking at the existence of life in the universe and the way things need be just as they are for this life to be able to exist as evidence of a god to the statement assuming the best possible god? We are not discussing an assumed god but whether or not the supposed finetuning of the universe is a rational basis upon which to positing a gods existence in the first place. We can not presuppose the god and then claim that the universe is a rational basis for positing the god's existence.

Quote:
Assuming a nice God is to assume that theres a benevolent reason for the Laws which govern the existence life which is not arbitrary to the life itself.

Again, assuming a god we need not consider whether or not the fine tuning of the universe is a rational basis for holding a god belief in the first place.

Quote:
This would entail some aspect of fine tuning between the two. So to say, yes an omnipotent creator could just lay down any environment around life, it needn't have any basis of it's own, omnipotence means you can make up your own basis and just plonk it there, but benevolence does not mean that. Benevolence would entail choice that was not arbitrary to one or the other. So then you set out to see if the environment falsifies a nice God over life, from that you could possibly infer a creator's nature from it's creation.

Before we can ascribe qualities like benevolence to a god we must have a reason to posit its existence. The fine tuning argument does not seem to supply this reason and so to discuss whether we can infer the nature of a creator from its creation is irrelevant. We would first need to be able to infer the existence of a creator from its creation which is what I believe can not be done in an ex nihilo creation scenario.

Quote:
In terms of fine tuning, if you wanted to examine life being fine tuned for it's environment then like you said, an omnipotent God could just arbitrarily lay down any darn thing he liked hence why I said fine tuning that would be like trimming edges off paper, more pointless and arbitrary handiwork in the realms of all possibility. But if you remove the arbitrariness from the parameters and what they bound and say they are a simply connected set fine tuned to each other by a creator with benevolent intentions. You have something to falsify. First you'd have to ponder if life and it's sustaining environment are a simply connected set. The start of pantheism.

But the way they connect to each other would also have been created by a creator god in an ex nihilo creation scenario so there is no need for fine tuning no matter the perspective. You are leaving your god bound by natural law.

In response to you overall argument, Vessel, I explained why I constrained the God posit - 1. I agree with you that there is no inference possible when nothing can be excluded. 2. If you're going to try you must exclude something and in my opinion you may as well exclude a God that lacks good qualities, why would you care if there were a God which was no less than big arsehole anyway; I'd cheerfully oppose it.

As to what reason you would have for positing a God to begin with, I don't know about you but I take the fact that half the world or more wants to know as reason enough.

Also, I apologise, I must have missed the differentiation between the two arguments that you mentioned here:

We are not discussing an assumed god but whether or not the supposed finetuning of the universe is a rational basis upon which to positing a gods existence in the first place.

I have no argument for fine-tuning opening a question about God existing, my only argument is that fine tuning would have to be an aspect of an inter-connected unity before it could be considered anyway. Not necessarily because of God constraints, but because of the constraints of our own logic, we don't differentiate between infinities in our logic.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: In response

Eloise wrote:
In response to you overall argument, Vessel, I explained why I constrained the God posit - 1. I agree with you that there is no inference possible when nothing can be excluded. 2. If you're going to try you must exclude something and in my opinion you may as well exclude a God that lacks good qualities, why would you care if there were a God which was no less than big arsehole anyway; I'd cheerfully oppose it.

Okay.

Quote:
As to what reason you would have for positing a God to begin with, I don't know about you but I take the fact that half the world or more wants to know as reason enough.

For me, though such a phenomenon may be sufficient reason to question why so many hold some type of belief in a higher power, it falls far short of being a rational basis for justifying a belief, or positing the actual existence of a creator 'god' as the belief is normally known. I have, in fact, never come across what I would consider a sufficient and rational basis upon which to build a 'god' belief.  

Quote:
Also, I apologise, I must have missed the differentiation between the two arguments that you mentioned here:

We are not discussing an assumed god but whether or not the supposed finetuning of the universe is a rational basis upon which to positing a gods existence in the first place.

No need to apologize. The original comment I made in this thread was due to the fact that the original poster seemed to be saying that, among other things, he found fine tuning to be a rational basis upon which to justify positing the existence of a 'god'. Though I may not have made it clear, this was the jumping of point from which I entered our conversation.

Quote:
I have no argument for fine-tuning opening a question about God existing, my only argument is that fine tuning would have to be an aspect of an inter-connected unity before it could be considered anyway. Not necessarily because of God constraints, but because of the constraints of our own logic, we don't differentiate between infinities in our logic.

I see. Well, thank you for the clarification. We seem to have been having one of those conversations where we are starting from different points. It happens alot.

If you care to move to a topic where we both start from the same point, what do you consider a sufficient rational basis upon which to open a question of a 'god' existing?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
  Vessel wrote: No need

 

Vessel wrote:

No need to apologize. The original comment I made in this thread was due to the fact that the original poster seemed to be saying that, among other things, he found fine tuning to be a rational basis upon which to justify positing the existence of a 'god'. Though I may not have made it clear, this was the jumping of point from which I entered our conversation.

 

Quote:
I have no argument for fine-tuning opening a question about God existing, my only argument is that fine tuning would have to be an aspect of an inter-connected unity before it could be considered anyway. Not necessarily because of God constraints, but because of the constraints of our own logic, we don't differentiate between infinities in our logic.

I see. Well, thank you for the clarification. We seem to have been having one of those conversations where we are starting from different points. It happens alot.

 

 Thanks Vessel, and you're welcome.

 

Vessel wrote:

If you care to move to a topic where we both start from the same point, what do you consider a sufficient rational basis upon which to open a question of a 'god' existing?

 

I can do that.

First and foremost I will put forward that I have an opinion on robotic logic, and it's not a great one LOL..... so I am willing to state 'desire to know' as a rational basis for just about any question, provided you're not doing anything harmful or heinously unscrupulous I don't see any lack of rationality in asking questions for the sake of it.  But that's not really what you asked, so I understand if you don't take my general human feelings with ambigious qualifiers as a respectable answer, I just thought I should mention it.

 The most rational basis for positing a God in my opinion is congruence and syntactic pattern recognition, if you're looking at discrete data and a subpattern x exists between multiple discrete data sets and the actual pattern of x reduces clearly to 'God' in few words, you can't avoid positing God without taking an irrational objection to whats right in front of you. 

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Vessel,

Vessel,

First, it's not clear that the only options are either (i) a different physical universe or (ii) nothingness. There are worlds in which, say, abstract objects are the only things that enjoy existence (especially if you think abstract objects are necessary beings). A collection of abstract objects does not constitute a physical universe, but nor is it nothing.

Now I'll get to your main question. You ask why I believe there are worlds with nothingness. For a couple reasons. Here's one: I have no problem at all conceiving of worlds where nothing (better: no thing) exists. It's not immediately clear to me that there's something metaphysically or logically incoherent with the idea. When it comes to modal epistemology, I think that conceivability is a firm (but fallible) guide. Here's another: it seems utterly implausible to suppose that some concrete physical objects are necessary beings. Your chair might not have existed; same goes for my laptop. For any physical object, no matter its size, shape, or complexity, it's not necessarily the case that that object exists. Now our universe just is (uncontroversially) one very big concrete physical object. Therefore, it doesn't exist in every possible world. With me so far? Now assume the following:

For any x, x exists only if there is some y, such that y is part of a physical universe, and x=y.

It follows from this principle and the argument above that there's at least one possible world in which nothing exists. So if you believe this principle is true, you should agree with me that it's possible that nothing exists. If you don't agree with the principle, then you must agree that there are worlds in which no physical universes exist. Either way, you'll have to agree that our universe (and indeed any other physical universe) is contingent.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot of arguing either of us can do. Oftentimes disagreement over what's metaphysically possible and what's not resolves into a clash of modal intuitions.

Let's turn to the other issue. "From the theists perspective," you say, "anything can exist in any environment if it is desired by the creator to exist within the given environment, and any environment can support any existence if it is desired by the creator to support the given existence." This is wrong. Nearly all theistic philosophers I know of would immediately reject this view.

You also say that since initial conditions and constants are properties only of existing things, God's choice to create some universe rather than another would be arbitrarily. Again, not so. Especially to theists who think that omniscience includes knowledge of different possibilities and counterfactuals. Before anything exists, an agent could know propositions of the form were such-and-such physical constants to be created, such-and-such universe would arise. She could then make a creative decision based on that knowledge. Much more can be said in response to your claim, but adopting this view alone would be sufficient. So your conclusion that it's impossible to infer a creator from creation rests on a rather narrow conception of God.

Cheers,

Gavagai

 

 


Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai,

Gavagai,

 

All other arguments aside the question of rationality of belief in a god as a creator of the universe boils down to this:

Which is a simpler explanation of the universe?

a) An undetectable, all powerful being with the knowledge and the will to do so, created the universe

b) All matter in the universe is eternal in one form or another

c) The universe was created via a natural process such as Hawking-Turok instanton theory

 

The irrationality of religion becomse clear when you start at the biggest and first assumption - creation. If you answer (A), then you are begging the question who created god? If you answer that with God is eternal then you are faced with a different razor - which is more likely an eternal universe or an eternal god - since we can see the universe and thus prove its existence and cant' for god, this becomes the default answer - god is the less likely. If you say that God had a creator then you enter an infinite chain of unexplanation and then again god becomes less likely.

Can you show ANY Occams razor that shows god is the more likely scenario without "begging the question?" If you can do that you will be a hero to theists because that is what is required to make belief rational and no one has yet been able to make the idea of god less complex then the idea of no god. God by nature is powerful, intelligent and complex, and that can't form from nothing and it makes no sense that it could always exist as the MORE likely position...complexity isn't born its formed.

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Vorax,

Vorax,

Many of the things you say are unclear. Let's work at clarifying your objections first, and after we do so I'll respond to them. This way, we won't talk past each other. You say that if a person believes in a creator, then she owes an explanation of how the creator was created. I don't know why you think this. So my first question is: what premise is it precisely that you think the theist is committed to, such that her commitment to that premise entails that something must have created God? Please state the premise.

You also talk about rationality quite a bit, but never get around to telling me what you mean by it. It's important that you do this, since different atheists have different (and oftentimes implausible) assumptions about rationality. When is a person rational in believing some proposition, on your view? Please provide a clear definition that we can work with for the remainder of our discussion.

Moving on, you ask which would be more likely: an eternal universe or an eternal God? You then proceed to infer from

(i) We can see the universe and thus prove its existence and cant' for God

that

(ii) An eternal God is the less likely.

How you derive (ii) from (i) you don't say. Which specific inference rule did you use? Please answer this question in your next post. Also, how exactly are you using the word "prove" in your statement above? When, in your view, does something count as "proof" of something else? Please answer this as well.

You then go on to ask me if I can 'show ANY Occams razor that shows god is the more likely scenario without "begging the question?"' I don't know what this means. I know what Ockham's razor is. But I don't know what you're talking about when you say "show any Ockham's razor". Please explain.

Finally, you suggest that it doesn't make sense that the more likely explanation is that something powerful, intelligent, and complex, has always existed. Now why exactly should I believe that? Because, you say, "complexity isn't born its formed." What does that mean?

Please answer these questions, so we're both on the same page and we know exactly what your objections are.

Cheers,

W. Gavagai

 

 

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Topher
Topher's picture
Posts: 513
Joined: 2006-09-10
User is offlineOffline
Tilberian wrote:

Tilberian wrote:

Still, Newtonian mechanics is going to get you so close to the correct answer for most situations that it rarely makes any difference.

Yes, that was the point I was trying to make. That it wasn't 'wrong' as in 'lets dispose of it'.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Vessel,

First, it's not clear that the only options are either (i) a different physical universe or (ii) nothingness. There are worlds in which, say, abstract objects are the only things that enjoy existence (especially if you think abstract objects are necessary beings). A collection of abstract objects does not constitute a physical universe, but nor is it nothing.

Since I see no reason to think abstract objects can exist independent of physical objects (or that an abstraction can actually even be referred to as an object) I could not agree that there could be a non-physical universe that consisted of abstract objects.

Quote:
Now I'll get to your main question. You ask why I believe there are worlds with nothingness. For a couple reasons. Here's one: I have no problem at all conceiving of worlds where nothing (better: no thing) exists. It's not immediately clear to me that there's something metaphysically or logically incoherent with the idea. When it comes to modal epistemology, I think that conceivability is a firm (but fallible) guide. Here's another: it seems utterly implausible to suppose that some concrete physical objects are necessary beings. Your chair might not have existed; same goes for my laptop. For any physical object, no matter its size, shape, or complexity, it's not necessarily the case that that object exists. Now our universe just is (uncontroversially) one very big concrete physical object. Therefore, it doesn't exist in every possible world. With me so far? Now assume the following:

For any x, x exists only if there is some y, such that y is part of a physical universe, and x=y.

It follows from this principle and the argument above that there's at least one possible world in which nothing exists. So if you believe this principle is true, you should agree with me that it's possible that nothing exists. If you don't agree with the principle, then you must agree that there are worlds in which no physical universes exist. Either way, you'll have to agree that our universe (and indeed any other physical universe) is contingent.

My universe is uncontroversially one big physical object? Actually, it isn't. Many would say that the universe is not a physical object but is the set of all known physical objects. Anyway, for now let us use your definition of the universe as one big physical object.

You say that my chair could have not existed and the same goes for your laptop. This is necessarily true in some sense, but not in any relevant sense. You see, we can not make this claim about what comprises my chair and your laptop, the actual physical matter that makes them up. Since it seems that the matter that makes up the chair and the laptop must exist in some form (law of thermodynamics) then for us to claim that what comprises the universe as a physical object (matter and energy) are contingent in the same way an object that is constructed from a collective of this matter and energy is seems not only to be an unsupported assertion but to actually go as far as contradicting what we know scientifically.

As to your other point, that you can conceive of a world of nothingness, what does it look like? Feel? Smell? Sound? Taste? Can you make any coherent claim about this world of nothingness? It seems to me that if you can actually conceive of such a thing then you must be able to describe it in some positive fashion. If not, I would contend that you aren't actually conceiving of it but merely conceiving of conceiving of it and this a wholly different thing. 

Quote:
Other than that, there's not a whole lot of arguing either of us can do. Oftentimes disagreement over what's metaphysically possible and what's not resolves into a clash of modal intuitions.

Yes. Your answers were much as I expected they would be (not that there is anything wrong with that)but I always have to ask just in case someone is going to bring some amazing new line of thought to my attention. 

Quote:
Let's turn to the other issue. "From the theists perspective," you say, "anything can exist in any environment if it is desired by the creator to exist within the given environment, and any environment can support any existence if it is desired by the creator to support the given existence." This is wrong. Nearly all theistic philosophers I know of would immediately reject this view.

On what grounds would they reject this view? Unless physical laws supercede 'god' there does not seem to be any basis to reject this view. 

Quote:
You also say that since initial conditions and constants are properties only of existing things, God's choice to create some universe rather than another would be arbitrarily. Again, not so. Especially to theists who think that omniscience includes knowledge of different possibilities and counterfactuals.

All physical possibilities and counterfactuals are reliant on physical laws which are properties of physical objects and the ways they interact with each other. Unless a 'god' is bound by such physical laws, as opposed to able to dictate the ways that his created objects perform and interact, then there can be no necessary possibilities and counterfactuals tohave knowledge of. All physical possibilities and counterfactuals would necessarilly be dependent on their creator. 

 

Quote:
Before anything exists, an agent could know propositions of the form were such-and-such physical constants to be created, such-and-such universe would arise.

Not unless the physical laws that dictate what type of universe will arise from any given pohysical constants supercede said agent. In an ex nihilo creation scenario the agent would necessarily dictate what universe would arrive from what physical constants and what physical constants create what universe would rely upon the agent.

 

Quote:
She could then make a creative decision based on that knowledge. Much more can be said in response to your claim, but adopting this view alone would be sufficient. So your conclusion that it's impossible to infer a creator from creation rests on a rather narrow conception of God.

Cheers,

Gavagai

Actually, as I eplain, it is a necessary conclusion of any agent that creates from an ex nihilo creation scenario. It is the only possible conclusion when the creator is responsible for every parameter of a universes existence.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: The most

Eloise wrote:

The most rational basis for positing a God in my opinion is congruence and syntactic pattern recognition, if you're looking at discrete data and a subpattern x exists between multiple discrete data sets and the actual pattern of x reduces clearly to 'God' in few words, you can't avoid positing God without taking an irrational objection to whats right in front of you. 

Okay. Can you give any particular example of anything that reduces down to a 'god' in such a manner? Does it truly reduce down to a 'god' or does it actually reduce down to an "I don't know" that is then replaced with an all encompassing term?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
I typed a big long response

I typed a big long response to all your points, Strafio, then I lost it in an ill-advised navigation. So I'll go right to the main point, as I see it. 

Strafio wrote:
If you study properly then I think that you gradually find that naturalism is the coherent holistic worldview, but not having arrived there yet is not necessarily a lack of reason.

I think this is what I am trying to say when I say that theism is not rational. My philosophical language is perhaps not as exact as it should be for these in-depth discussions. However, this is my point: a rational, informed approach to metaphysics in the modern era will deliver us inexorably to a naturalistic worldview. 

I'll grant that theists may be rational, but ignorant. I do think that the RRS's message is still valid, in that they are calling on theists to make the rational investigations of their world that will deliver them to the only rational conclusions when the basic facts are known: God does not exist.

 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote:

Gavagai wrote:

Vorax,

Many of the things you say are unclear.

Only if you are trying to make them unclear to hide the logic from yourself Eye-wink

Quote:
Let's work at clarifying your objections first, and after we do so I'll respond to them. This way, we won't talk past each other. You say that if a person believes in a creator, then she owes an explanation of how the creator was created. I don't know why you think this. So my first question is: what premise is it precisely that you think the theist is committed to, such that her commitment to that premise entails that something must have created God? Please state the premise.

First, I didn't say something must have created god - my point is that rational thinking (not faith) requires one investigate why something is so and not "believe" it is so. In the case of god, this requires you to have a reasonable explanation as to his origin to remove the assumptions. Even if you say he has no origin, that at least is a statement of his origin.

The point here is that to hold a postion by rationality as opposed to faith requies a different set of validation criteria. If I am to hold that something is real without any evidence of it, a logical explanation for why it is likely is required - in contrast, for faith it would not be required. To accept something is real without properly evaluating the likelyhood that said thing is real is irrational. If you are willing to believe in things without questioning the orgin or likelyhood of such things, then I hold your position is irrational due to its incompletness of dilligence and is based on faith not intellect.

Quote:
You also talk about rationality quite a bit, but never get around to telling me what you mean by it. It's important that you do this, since different atheists have different (and oftentimes implausible) assumptions about rationality. When is a person rational in believing some proposition, on your view? Please provide a clear definition that we can work with for the remainder of our discussion.

I hope you don't intend to turn this into a game of semantics - that is a weak position and merly creates strawman arguments. However...

Rationality: My criteria with regards to rational beliefs based on unrpoven hyponthesis is simple - If a hyponthesis is the likliest explanation then it is rational to believe in said thing. Conversly, it is irrational to believe the less likely of two or more scenarios. What constitutes "likely" - Occams Razor - Basically, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. The explanation the requires the least amount of assumptions.

Quote:
Moving on, you ask which would be more likely: an eternal universe or an eternal God? You then proceed to infer from

(i) We can see the universe and thus prove its existence and cant' for God

that

(ii) An eternal God is the less likely.

How you derive (ii) from (i) you don't say. Which specific inference rule did you use? Please answer this question in your next post.

Back to Occams razor.

Consider this example:

Imagine I am standing in an empty room and a puddle of hot coffee is steaming in front of me on the ground - you can see the coffee was poured very recently - I hold an empty cup in my right hand in my other hand I have nothing that you can see - I make the claim: I have a cup in my left hand but it's invisible and it can't be touched and I used it to make the puddle. Which explanation is the simplest - a) I poured the coffe on the ground from the cup in my right hand and am lying OR b) there really is an invisble cup in my left hand that had the coffee?

(a) is simpler because (b) begs the question - where could this invisible cup have come from? What technology could make a cup invisible and also have no detectable surface? We are forced to make other assumptions or ignore questions. See how it works? The simplest explanation does tend to be the right one. It doesn't prove it is, but it represents the rational position until shown otherwise.

Thus I explained the razor for god - "The irrationality of religion becomse clear when you start at the biggest and first assumption - creation. If you answer (A -- god did it), then you are begging the question who created god? If you answer that with God is eternal then you are faced with a different razor - which is more likely an eternal universe or an eternal god - since we can see the universe and thus prove its existence and cant' for god, this becomes the default answer - god is the less likely. "


Quote:
Also, how exactly are you using the word "prove" in your statement above? When, in your view, does something count as "proof" of something else? Please answer this as well.

I hope you aren't trying to play the philosophical game that nothing is really provable. I concede that - but it is pointless and only serves to cloud the discussion. In discussions such as this, it is as I said a game, it's a fall back position taken when common logic and observation aren't showing what one wishes they were. It yields no advancements in science or knowledge. Where the practical belief that the universe is real does. So - The universe is proven to me because I can sense it with my senses. No pointless philosphical exercises please, they simply serve to distract from the practical contention that the universe exists.

 

Quote:
You then go on to ask me if I can 'show ANY Occams razor that shows god is the more likely scenario without "begging the question?"' I don't know what this means. I know what Ockham's razor is. But I don't know what you're talking about when you say "show any Ockham's razor". Please explain.

I am asking you to supply an occams razor that shows your position that god exists is likely and therefore rational.

Quote:
Finally, you suggest that it doesn't make sense that the more likely explanation is that something powerful, intelligent, and complex, has always existed. Now why exactly should I believe that?

You almost have it. I don't suggest your god couldn't be eternal and the explanation for the universe, I suggest it doesn't make MORE sense then the idea that the universe is eternal. I do so because it requies less assumptions.

This is the center of the irrationality of your belief. You're analysis is stopping at - "I just think it's possible. It just can be." You are right but that is not the question, the question is - Is it more likley then the alterrnative? You are at a cognetive borderline here, the line between faith and rational thought. Think it through more - don't be afraid to keep going. It is a difficult barrier for any theist to break through, so you aren't alone.

The (a) complex god idea (eternal, powerful, intelligent, immeasurable) as opposed to the (b) simple universe (eternal). Both (A) and (B) contend that something is eternal. So eternal cancels out. (A) requires we make more assumptions; incredible power to defy or define physics for the universe and intellect with knowldge to do these things where (b) does not.


To summarise it for you - Your god is the more complex answer to the orgin of the universe because it requires more assumptions and therefore it is the less likely explanation.

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Vorax and Vessel,

Vorax and Vessel,

I am happy to let both of your last posts constitute the "last word" in our respective discussions. I will merely make an autobiographical note here by saying that there's scarcely anything I can find that I'd agree with. I'd prefer now to focus more on my discussion with scottmax, and maybe others as well. Thanks a lot for your interest and your time.

Cheers,

Gavagai

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote:

Gavagai wrote:

Vorax and Vessel,

I am happy to let both of your last posts constitute the "last word" in our respective discussions. I will merely make an autobiographical note here by saying that there's scarcely anything I can find that I'd agree with. I'd prefer now to focus more on my discussion with scottmax, and maybe others as well. Thanks a lot for your interest and your time.

Cheers,

Gavagai

Is that a polite way of saying..."I will ignore you becuase I can't disprove you?" Eye-wink

I fail to see how you can disagree with the simple logic of Occams razor. Replace anywhere I mentioned "God" with "Thor" and you might depersonalize the topic to better read it with clarity.

Humans tend to be emotionally bound to concepts, especially religious ones - that is the blinder they are burdned with. I know it's difficult to accept, but religion because it based on faith and not evidence, is in it's nature irrational. When you conclude anything without evidence, religion, science, going ons of your friends, murder trials, etc...without evidence, you are being irrational.

Atheism may not be correct, but it IS the only rational position.

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote: Vorax and

Gavagai wrote:

Vorax and Vessel,

I am happy to let both of your last posts constitute the "last word" in our respective discussions. I will merely make an autobiographical note here by saying that there's scarcely anything I can find that I'd agree with. I'd prefer now to focus more on my discussion with scottmax, and maybe others as well. Thanks a lot for your interest and your time.

Cheers,

Gavagai

Certainly. Thanks for at least trying to explain to me how you can hold what I consider to be such a puzzlingly odd and wholly unsubstantiated belief. Perhaps someday someone will be able to come up with an argument or evidence I find compelling. Anyway, thanks for the time. Carry on.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Tilberian wrote: I typed a

Tilberian wrote:

I typed a big long response to all your points, Strafio, then I lost it in an ill-advised navigation. So I'll go right to the main point, as I see it.


Meh! I hate it when that happens.
Either way, it looks like we've reached an agreement so perhaps it wasn't needed after all. Smiling

Quote:

I think this is what I am trying to say when I say that theism is not rational. My philosophical language is perhaps not as exact as it should be for these in-depth discussions. However, this is my point: a rational, informed approach to metaphysics in the modern era will deliver us inexorably to a naturalistic worldview.


This is what I suspected from the beginning. The purpose of my objection was that such a definition of rational is too closely tied to the 'result' rather than the 'way'.

Quote:

I'll grant that theists may be rational, but ignorant.


Yeah. I agree here.
Ignorant is the right word, although it's another that can have 'iffy' layman implications. (e.g. calling someone 'ignorant' is usually done when they are exceptionally so)

Quote:

I do think that the RRS's message is still valid, in that they are calling on theists to make the rational investigations of their world that will deliver them to the only rational conclusions when the basic facts are known: God does not exist.

 


Certainly. Although it might not be technical correct (which I think that both Sapient and Dawkins have admitted might be so) I think that the RRS use of it is justified politically, for the reasons that you gave.

But I think that it's important that we acknowledge this so we don't extend this of use the word outside of this political context.


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Vorax, It's definitely not

Vorax,

It's definitely not a polite way of saying that. I would strongly disagree with nearly everything you said. Alas, I'm perfectly comfortable with letting your post above be the 'last word' in our discussion.  I have to devote about 6 hours a day to a summer course, and that forces me to be somewhat selective with my interlocutors.

Cheers,

Gavagai 

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote: Vorax, It's

Gavagai wrote:

Vorax,

It's definitely not a polite way of saying that. I would strongly disagree with nearly everything you said. Alas, I'm perfectly comfortable with letting your post above be the 'last word' in our discussion. I have to devote about 6 hours a day to a summer course, and that forces me to be somewhat selective with my interlocutors.

Cheers,

Gavagai

 

It's unfortunate that you are in disagreement, but I respect that I didn't really expect to convice you.  I had hoped to hear what issues you had with my points, but oh well. 

Cheers and good luck in your courses.  

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


scottmax
scottmax's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: 2007-03-12
User is offlineOffline
Hi Gavagai. Sorry for the

Hi Gavagai. Sorry for the delay. I had to get some work done.

Gavagai wrote:

Moreover, I am open to the idea that fine-tuning points to a multiverse.

Just to make sure I understand, you are recognizing that an infinite multiverse that can create an infinite number of universes is a reasonable naturalistic explanation for fine-tuning arguments. Am I understanding you correctly here?

Gavagai wrote:
This isn’t a problem for human freedom, given that God knows the subjunctive conditionals of free actions (I took care to specify this in my last post).

Can you please define "subjunctive conditionals of free actions"? I think I know what you are saying but I am a long time out of school so I don't want you to lose me in terminology.

Gavagai wrote:
God’s creative act and the beginning of the universe would be an instance of simultaneous causation with God thereafter "entering into" time

I would be interested to hear a coherent explanation of how God can create temporal reality and then (a) be constrained by temporal reality and (b) be omniscient about all future events while being so constrained.

Gavagai wrote:
As I say, I’m somewhat of an agnostic with respect to God’s relation to time.

Do you consider God to have atemporal knowledge? If God has perfect knowledge about all events past and future, that would seem to make the temporality of God a moot point.

Gavagai wrote:
This hardly means that I’m not rational. A person can be rational in believing something even if she does not have complete and exhaustive knowledge of that something.

Undisputed. It only becomes a problem if certain of your propositions are dependent on a temporal God while others are dependent on an atemporal God.

Gavagai wrote:
I agree with you that animal suffering is an instance of evil, and further I agree with you that animals really experience pain (i.e. they aren’t automata). But why should I believe that this contradicts the existence of God? You don’t say.

I will restate:

1. An omnibenevolent God would have far more compassion for all living creatures that Man does. Many men do not sanction unjustified suffering so God should accept it even less.

2. An omnipotent God has the power to create any desired system of reality.

3. An omniscient God has full knowledge of every ramification of the system of reality he chooses to instantiate.

4. Given #3, God must have known that the system of reality we currently have would result in the majority of animals dying in pain.

5. Given #2, God could have created an alternative system in which animals did not have to die in pain.

6. Given #1, a God described by #2 and #3 could not have created the current reality since it is incompatible with omnibenevolence.

The reason I use this particular version of the problem of evil is because it cannot be related to free will. Animals die in pain even if they exist in an ecosystem that is all but unreachable by Man. So unless animals have free will and souls, there is no conceivable benefit to the animals of dying in pain.

Is that more clear?


Gavagai
Theist
Gavagai's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2006-04-17
User is offlineOffline
Hi Scottmax,  Yes, I

Hi Scottmax,

You asked me to explain what I mean by a subjunctive conditional of free action. It's important to distinguish subjunctive conditionals from the ordinary truth-functional material conditionals of formal sentential logic. Subjunctive conditionals take the form of were it the case that p, it would be the case that q. They're not the same as material conditionals because they can be informative even though their antecedents are false. When the antecedent of a material conditional is false (or even when both the antecedent and the consequent are false), the whole conditional is vacuously true, whereas a subjunctive conditional with a false antecedent can come out false. A subjunctive conditional of some free action A performed by a subject S takes the form of were S to do A, it would be the case that p.

You also asked that I clarify my view about fine-tuning.  I do think the existence of a multiverse responsible for producing many (perhaps infinitely many) cosmoi is a reasonable explanation of the fine-tuning we observe in our universe. So you have understood my view correctly, although (as you can see) I wouldn't word it quite the way you did. Of course, there are interesting questions about whether this explanation is the best explanation, whether it counts as a full explanation, and whether it's existence is a brute fact or something that can be explained in terms of some fundamental, infinitely creative principle. Maybe we can discuss it in more detail sometime.

Next, you say you'd be interested in hearing a "coherent explanation of how God can create temporal reality and then (a) be constrained by temporal reality and (b) be omniscient about all future events while being so constrained." As I've said before (and it's worth repeating), I'm somewhat of an agnostic about God's relation to time (primarily because I'm an agnostic about the nature of time itself). Still, there's a perfectly coherent explanation of the sort you're looking for, provided you're willing to adopt a b-theoretic (or static) conception of time along with eternalism.

On the static view, allegedly primitive temporal properties are reducible to nonmonadic relations between events. (However, the b-theorist does not need to dispense entirely with tensed language.) This is roughly analagous to spacetime relationalism, according to which space is nothing over and above and the distance relations that objects bear to each other. Eternalism is just the view that past and future events exist in addition to present events.

If a theist adopts these views about the metaphysics of time (and many have), she can say (a) that God is temporal, and (b) God knows future events while being temporal. She can coherently assert (b) because all future events exist, they are equally as real as past and present events, given eternalism. She can coherently assert (a) because God exists in time construed b-theoretically.

You claim later on that if God knows about past and future events, the temporality of God would be "a moot point". Of course, that depends on which view of time you endorse. The philosophy of time is one of the areas of metaphysics that still enjoys a lot of debate, so such claims are rather hasty.

 Moving to your version of the argument from evil. I don't agree with your view that "God has the power to create any desired system of reality". What reasons do you have for believing that omnipotence entails this? (I made sure to note long ago that omnipotence involves the ability to do anything within broadly logical possibility.) I also think the way you've characterized an omnibenevolent God is a bit too thin. I prefer to use something close to Rowe's characterization, according to which an omnibenevolent agent S would prevent the occurence of any intense suffering S could, unless S could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or bringing about some evil equally bad or worse. Given this more detailed construal of God's omnibenevolence, in order to claim that God should have prevented animal suffering, you have to know that the following proposition is true:

(P) There is no greater good such that had God prevented animal suffering, that good would have been lost, and there is no evil equally bad or worse than animal suffering, such that had God prevented animal suffering, that evil would have been brought about.

But I don't know why I should believe something like (P). Why do you believe it, beyond merely that it doesn't seem to you that there are such goods or evils?

Just a reminder, we have been at this exchange for quite some time now and you've yet to point out any contradictory assertion on my part. Given your beliefs about rationality, this commits you to the view that I must have some sort of hidden contradictory belief that I just haven't discovered yet; perhaps you believe I haven't done enough studying, or I haven't reflected deeply enough. A simpler and more sensible explanation would be: theism can be either rational or irrational, and atheism can be either rational or irrational, because rationality involves the way in which one comes to hold a belief, not necessarily the content of a belief.  Even many of the leading naturalistic philosophers of religion, such as William Rowe and Quentin Smith, think that theism is rationally acceptable. These philosophers have studied the issues more than you and I put together. It's mostly just the popular atheological apologists like RRS and the Dawkins gang who think that theism is a full-blown "mind disorder".  Why buy into such epistemologically unsophisticated dogma? Do you think my belief that a God exists is merely a distressing mental disorder, scottmax? Or does it seem to you that I've given my belief a lot of careful and rational consideration?

Best,

Gavagai

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: The most

Eloise wrote:

The most rational basis for positing a God in my opinion is congruence and syntactic pattern recognition, if you're looking at discrete data and a subpattern x exists between multiple discrete data sets and the actual pattern of x reduces clearly to 'God' in few words, you can't avoid positing God without taking an irrational objection to whats right in front of you. 

I'm still interested in where you find god in a subpattern of multiple discrete data sets. I can see where you may find some unifying subpattern but how you make the jump from such a pattern to a god I do not understand. Your example is very vague. Perhaps if you had a specific instance I would better understand how you find positing a 'god' to be the most reasonable course in some particular circumstance.  

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Vessel wrote:

Vessel wrote:
Eloise wrote:

The most rational basis for positing a God in my opinion is congruence and syntactic pattern recognition, if you're looking at discrete data and a subpattern x exists between multiple discrete data sets and the actual pattern of x reduces clearly to 'God' in few words, you can't avoid positing God without taking an irrational objection to whats right in front of you.

I'm still interested in where you find god in a subpattern of multiple discrete data sets. I can see where you may find some unifying subpattern but how you make the jump from such a pattern to a god I do not understand. Your example is very vague. Perhaps if you had a specific instance I would better understand how you find positing a 'god' to be the most reasonable course in some particular circumstance.

Hi vessel,
I'm sorry for taking so long, I somehow missed your first reply.

First there is the obvious set of ectypal or derivative ontology in creation mythology.

The leading theory is diffusion, but it can be precluded by the onerous detail of the early religious culture (just too much symmetry to diffuse so neatly) and that is often the argument from the side of parallelism or independent origin theory which seems to find more favour across history than diffusion, but the idea of it is nebulous, the problem with saying concepts come into their own time is that you're never really sure exactly what it is you're saying. Some people just prefer diffusion even with its scarcer evidence simply because it is the theory with its feet on the ground.

The assumption that the homologies reduce to a common psychological origin can be precluded too (though Dawkins would differ, I realise), there is simply too much non phenomenological commonality in the culturally advanced mythos, angelic beings as the prime example of this, unless someone can show me where the fairy spirits actually are that induced so much global psychological symmetry it's just too slightly weird to want to write off just yet.

The resulting pattern otherwise, in my view, points to a naturalistic source (or sources) of quite specific information or communication (a beacon or transponding object), possibly with a discrete time coordinate.

You can put this source in a human form for each culture, but that begs the question are human lives contiguously planned events, and if so who's the planner.. ad nauseum nebula of thought to dead end...

But then if we put it outside humans it begs an assumption that we could find the order outside ourselves is markedly intelligent anyway and it is reasonable to argue that a small artifact of anthropology isn't worth such an intellectual risk and just go with gathering evidence for diffusion. Many do but I'm not personally satisfied with the cognitive bias therein, as there is an alternative which is evidenced and its main drawback is that it is badly defined it's not so reasonable to me to just dismiss it. At this point, it looks like it could be "God", but there's too little data in just that to not say it's an "I don't know" so you don't finish it there. If this conspicuous order of intelligence was "God" then it wouldn't simply show up in theology, it would be evidenced much more widely and so we look for more contiguous elements.

The prime numbers are an elegant example of the same kind of order. From any small range of analysis you clearly have a random distribution of common singularities but the wider you look the more this randomness refutes the idea that it is random and displays some underlying law, strangely this law comes closest to being understood as a dimensional mapping, just like the patterns of creation mythology. The congruence doesn't end there, there are other natural sets which act the same way: musical harmonies, wave propogation, and quantum energy levels all appear to argue for this strangely intelligent chaos underlying their distribution. Just beyond this particular doorway is the first step in the most coveted scientific knowledge of our time. If creation mythology is merely the incoherent fantasy that years of dogmatic confusion has reduced it to surely it would be the odd man out of the game, but for some reason it's quite the opposite. Nothing worth scientific discovery runs in spite of it, so we may as well go ahead and postulate God, it may still not be the most reasonable course under the circumstances, but it is a set defining the same thing, it should return the right answer.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Vorax
Vorax's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: 2007-05-29
User is offlineOffline
  Believing something

 

Believing something exists without any proof or requirement for said thing, is irrational.

Given there has been no requirement shown for a god and no evidence found for a god, belief in a god is irrational.

Replace "God" with "Easter Bunny" and the point may be easier to comprehend.  

Belief in the Flying Spgahetti Monster, God, Santa Clause, Zeus or the Easter bunny is therefore irrational - there is no indication any exists and no indication there of a need for any of them to exist.  We may want these things to exist, but without out purpose or proof, they probably don't and therefore believing them to be real is irrational and a result of faith not rational thinking.

"All it would take to kill God is one meteorite a half mile across - think about why." - Vorax

Visit my blog on Atheism: Cerebral Thinking for some more food for intelligent thought.


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote:Vessel

 

Quote:
Hi vessel,
I'm sorry for taking so long, I somehow missed your first reply.

First there is the obvious set of ectypal or derivative ontology in creation mythology.

I am unfamiliar with many creation myths, though it seems very easy to understand why we would find in them many similarities, especially if one is looking for such similarities. There are only so many ways one who experiences reality as we humans do can imagine a creation.

Because all humans make use of the same type of data processor, and because we all view reality from the same basic perspective, the fact that there exist many similarities in primitive peoples answers to the questions of origin, whether diffused from a single unique source or arising from multipe separate constructions, does not strike me as being unexpected. Our propensity to project ourselves upon the universe as a means of understanding what otherwise is difficult or impossible to comprehend, and the fact that we are basically the same as other humans, even when geograpahically and culturally separated, would lead me to expect many similarities in creation accounts regardless of a lack of any factual foundations.

Quote:
The leading theory is diffusion, but it can be precluded by the onerous detail of the early religious culture (just too much symmetry to diffuse so neatly) and that is often the argument from the side of parallelism or independent origin theory which seems to find more favour across history than diffusion, but the idea of it is nebulous, the problem with saying concepts come into their own time is that you're never really sure exactly what it is you're saying. Some people just prefer diffusion even with its scarcer evidence simply because it is the theory with its feet on the ground.

I would also think that these creation myths may seem to contain more similarities when viewed through our present understanding of reality then they would have if they had all been viewed by one who understood, for example, the biblical creation account the way it was likely understood nearer the time of its origin. It is highly unlikely that peoples who created these mythologies viewed them the same way we do from our present perspective.

Quote:
The assumption that the homologies reduce to a common psychological origin can be precluded too (though Dawkins would differ, I realise), there is simply too much non phenomenological commonality in the culturally advanced mythos, angelic beings as the prime example of this, unless someone can show me where the fairy spirits actually are that induced so much global psychological symmetry it's just too slightly weird to want to write off just yet.

I would contend that angelic beings are clearly projections of ourselves. I don't see why one should find it at all puzzling that peoples who viewed the world through a very self oriented lens, without the ability to adjust one's perspective through means such as scientific methodologies, would place forms of themselves as reason, or causes (though I always hesitate to bring that word out) for any number of unexplained phenomenon. 

Quote:
The resulting pattern otherwise, in my view, points to a naturalistic source (or sources) of quite specific information or communication (a beacon or transponding object), possibly with a discrete time coordinate.

I can see how that would be one answer, but not necessarily one tha best fits all the relevant data. We must also take into account things such as evolutionary theory and cosmology and other scientific data that would seem to preclude the ability of any peoples to know anything of the nature of universal origins. If we say that knowledge of creation was divulged through later revelation then the differences should be of much more concern than the similarities. 

Quote:
You can put this source in a human form for each culture, but that begs the question are human lives contiguously planned events, and if so who's the planner.. ad nauseum nebula of thought to dead end...

I see no need to lead myself to this place. Where are you going from sources being mythologies of separate origins to the requirement for human lives being "contiguously planned events"? 

Quote:
But then if we put it outside humans it begs an assumption that we could find the order outside ourselves is markedly intelligent anyway and it is reasonable to argue that a small artifact of anthropology isn't worth such an intellectual risk and just go with gathering evidence for diffusion. Many do but I'm not personally satisfied with the cognitive bias therein, as there is an alternative which is evidenced and its main drawback is that it is badly defined it's not so reasonable to me to just dismiss it. At this point, it looks like it could be "God", but there's too little data in just that to not say it's an "I don't know" so you don't finish it there. If this conspicuous order of intelligence was "God" then it wouldn't simply show up in theology, it would be evidenced much more widely and so we look for more contiguous elements.

As you can see, I don't find myself led here. I see no need to necessarilly appeal to diffusion or to appeal to an order of an intelligent nature outside ourselves. We can not ignore the fact that these similarites are arising from similarity and therefor there is no reason that this should not be the expected result.

Quote:
The prime numbers are an elegant example of the same kind of order. From any small range of analysis you clearly have a random distribution of common singularities but the wider you look the more this randomness refutes the idea that it is random and displays some underlying law, strangely this law comes closest to being understood as a dimensional mapping, just like the patterns of creation mythology. The congruence doesn't end there, there are other natural sets which act the same way: musical harmonies, wave propogation, and quantum energy levels all appear to argue for this strangely intelligent chaos underlying their distribution. Just beyond this particular doorway is the first step in the most coveted scientific knowledge of our time. If creation mythology is merely the incoherent fantasy that years of dogmatic confusion has reduced it to surely it would be the odd man out of the game, but for some reason it's quite the opposite. Nothing worth scientific discovery runs in spite of it, so we may as well go ahead and postulate God, it may still not be the most reasonable course under the circumstances, but it is a set defining the same thing, it should return the right answer.

We are pattern finding critters (sorry, my southern came out). Patterns are, basically, the only way we make sense of anything. This leads us to the necessary question of whether there is actually anything to a pattern or whether what we consider a pattern is simply the way we intepret the data so that it can be processed into some type of useful information. Does the pattern exist in nature, or do we project the patternby means of our perception of nature?

Though science may not have run god from the refuge of the uncertainty beyond our understanding of existence, it has vanquished he from many of the places he used to reside quite comfortably. In order for me to place a god somewhere there must be a god shaped hole in which to place it. This requires two things. It requires the we define the shape of the god and it requires that the hole is of a well formed shape.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


scottmax
scottmax's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: 2007-03-12
User is offlineOffline
Gavagai wrote: If a theist

Gavagai wrote:

If a theist adopts these views about the metaphysics of time (and many have), she can say (a) that God is temporal, and (b) God knows future events while being temporal. She can coherently assert (b) because all future events exist, they are equally as real as past and present events, given eternalism. She can coherently assert (a) because God exists in time construed b-theoretically.

I generally refer to God as omnitemporal, thus existing in all points of time simultaneously. Is this essentially what you are proposing here?

Gavagai wrote:

Moving to your version of the argument from evil. I don't agree with your view that "God has the power to create any desired system of reality". What reasons do you have for believing that omnipotence entails this? (I made sure to note long ago that omnipotence involves the ability to do anything within broadly logical possibility.)

I accept your limitation that even omnipotence must produce a system of reality that is internally consistent. But I don't believe that does much to help your argument here. I will restate:

God has the power to create any desired system of reality that maintains an internal consistency.

If you deny even this limited statement, then you are simply redefining omnipotence.

Gavagai wrote:
in order to claim that God should have prevented animal suffering, you have to know that the following proposition is true:

(P) There is no greater good such that had God prevented animal suffering, that good would have been lost, and there is no evil equally bad or worse than animal suffering, such that had God prevented animal suffering, that evil would have been brought about.

No, you do not need to know that. On the contrary, you need to propose even a single viable explanation for why God would need to allow animal suffering. I have not heard one. The fact of animal suffering contradicts the idea of a God such as you propose. By simply falling back on the "God only knows" argument you can justify any "decision" of God. Let's look at human sacrifice, something that has been demanded by many "gods" throughout history. By your logic, you have no logical basis to judge against the goodness of human sacrifice.

In order to claim that it is immoral for men to sacrifice men to their god, you have to know that the following proposition is true: There is no greater good such that had God not required men to sacrifice men to him, that good would have been lost, and there is no evil equally bad or worse than human sacrifice, such that had God prevented human sacrifice, that evil would have been brought about.

So what is your epistemology for determining moral from immoral decisions of God? If it is simply, "we cannot understand the infinite mind of God", then you have no basis for determining truth.

You are essentially manufacturing a false dichotomy here, Gavagai. This is not an either/or. You need to propose a situation wherein God's ultimate goals can only be achieved through animal suffering, and not be any other means. Again, God can create any self-consistent reality. How can it be that his hand was forced on this point?

So let's hear the best arguments for why God would create a world with animal suffering.

Gavagai wrote:
Just a reminder, we have been at this exchange for quite some time now and you've yet to point out any contradictory assertion on my part.

Perhaps I have set myself an impossible task. You can fall back to the "our finite minds cannot understand" position on almost any question to avoid being caught in a contradiction. But simply refusing to answer the question to avoid contradiction does not make your position rational.

Gavagai wrote:
I haven't reflected deeply enough.

This would be my favored proposition. I did not gaze too deeply into the eyes of the various forms of the problem of evil until over a decade after reverting to atheism. It takes long reflection to see how deep that well is.

Gavagai wrote:
A simpler and more sensible explanation would be: theism can be either rational or irrational, and atheism can be either rational or irrational, because rationality involves the way in which one comes to hold a belief, not necessarily the content of a belief.

Theism + Ignorance can be rational. It was rational for ancient man to believe the sun revolved around the earth. It would not be rational to hold that view now. Likewise, I have met many "rational" theists who are forced to shift to irrationality in response to strong atheistic challenges.

Gavagai wrote:
Do you think my belief that a God exists is merely a distressing mental disorder, scottmax? Or does it seem to you that I've given my belief a lot of careful and rational consideration?

I believe it is the result of mass conditioning to even accept the outrageous idea of God to begin with. It is only short of a mental disorder because it is propped up by such a vast population of cobelievers.

I also believe, based on our debate to this point, that if you delve deeply into the atheistic objections, that you could be a strong voice in the atheist community. You have obviously spent a great deal of time digesting the "pro" arguments. How much time have you devoted to reading the opposition?

Best,

Scott


Wyzaard
Posts: 58
Joined: 2007-06-08
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: The

Eloise wrote:

The assumption that the homologies reduce to a common psychological origin can be precluded too (though Dawkins would differ, I realise), there is simply too much non phenomenological commonality in the culturally advanced mythos, angelic beings as the prime example of this, unless someone can show me where the fairy spirits actually are that induced so much global psychological symmetry it's just too slightly weird to want to write off just yet.

 

Sifting through your lovely prose is rather confusing at points... for instance, I'm not sure what a 'non-phenomenological commonality' might be apart from cross-conventional patterning of phenomina.

 

Quote:
The resulting pattern otherwise, in my view, points to a naturalistic source (or sources) of quite specific information or communication (a beacon or transponding object), possibly with a discrete time coordinate.

You can put this source in a human form for each culture, but that begs the question are human lives contiguously planned events, and if so who's the planner.. ad nauseum nebula of thought to dead end...

 

Not really... the 'planner' in this case could be consciousness itself; without some form of epistmic framing, our perspectives would dissolve into unpatterned chaos, undifferentiated subject-object mush.  Commonality is the maintainence of a cohesive selfhood, however tenuous that is at times.

 

Quote:
Many do but I'm not personally satisfied with the cognitive bias therein, as there is an alternative which is evidenced and its main drawback is that it is badly defined it's not so reasonable to me to just dismiss it. At this point, it looks like it could be "God", but there's too little data in just that to not say it's an "I don't know" so you don't finish it there. If this conspicuous order of intelligence was "God" then it wouldn't simply show up in theology, it would be evidenced much more widely and so we look for more contiguous elements.

 

Sure... but such totalizing systems are dangerous without ontological grounding, particularly when it's so vague as to be temptingly, trivially 'complete'.


Quote:
The prime numbers are an elegant example of the same kind of order. From any small range of analysis you clearly have a random distribution of common singularities but the wider you look the more this randomness refutes the idea that it is random and displays some underlying law, strangely this law comes closest to being understood as a dimensional mapping, just like the patterns of creation mythology. The congruence doesn't end there, there are other natural sets which act the same way: musical harmonies, wave propogation, and quantum energy levels all appear to argue for this strangely intelligent chaos underlying their distribution.

... Which could very well be us, as we are the ones framing these matters with our cognitive languages, bringing a more elegant as well as pragmatic cohesion to our phenominal world.   

Quote:
Nothing worth scientific discovery runs in spite of it, so we may as well go ahead and postulate God, it may still not be the most reasonable course under the circumstances, but it is a set defining the same thing, it should return the right answer.

Not if such an entity purports to do more than chart this epistemic course... otherwise, Occham contemplates raising his razor to trim the metaphyscial fat. 


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Wyzaard wrote: Eloise

Wyzaard wrote:
Eloise wrote:

The assumption that the homologies reduce to a common psychological origin can be precluded too (though Dawkins would differ, I realise), there is simply too much non phenomenological commonality in the culturally advanced mythos, angelic beings as the prime example of this, unless someone can show me where the fairy spirits actually are that induced so much global psychological symmetry it's just too slightly weird to want to write off just yet.

 

Sifting through your lovely prose is rather confusing at points... for instance, I'm not sure what a 'non-phenomenological commonality' might be apart from cross-conventional patterning of phenomina.

 LOL, sweet, I'm never going for prose but somehow that's usually what comes across, regardless.

My contention is that angels are not cross conventional, the whole just pops up fully formed across the board, even alien visitation would fit better than convention, unless you believe the CT fairy tales these ideas weren't psychically implanted in humans one day, there was a natural observation. 

 

 

Quote:
Quote:
The resulting pattern otherwise, in my view, points to a naturalistic source (or sources) of quite specific information or communication (a beacon or transponding object), possibly with a discrete time coordinate.

You can put this source in a human form for each culture, but that begs the question are human lives contiguously planned events, and if so who's the planner.. ad nauseum nebula of thought to dead end...

Not really... the 'planner' in this case could be consciousness itself; without some form of epistmic framing, our perspectives would dissolve into unpatterned chaos, undifferentiated subject-object mush. Commonality is the maintainence of a cohesive selfhood, however tenuous that is at times.

 

You're right, and you'll find a lot of agreement to that, the main issue I have with it is as I said, we can say it, but what are we really saying? Is this a psychic global cohesion or something, what, well defined, keeps reigns on chaos? we are still looking at a vague definition of the same thing.

 

Quote:
Quote:
Many do but I'm not personally satisfied with the cognitive bias therein, as there is an alternative which is evidenced and its main drawback is that it is badly defined it's not so reasonable to me to just dismiss it. At this point, it looks like it could be "God", but there's too little data in just that to not say it's an "I don't know" so you don't finish it there. If this conspicuous order of intelligence was "God" then it wouldn't simply show up in theology, it would be evidenced much more widely and so we look for more contiguous elements.

 

Sure... but such totalizing systems are dangerous without ontological grounding, particularly when it's so vague as to be temptingly, trivially 'complete'.

I can't argue with that, I agree. fortunately this is as ontologically grounded as anything could be. Mystical creation revelation = the fundamentally observed nature of matter. It is temptingly complete looking, but that is not the case if there is anything to the detail. According to the detail this completeness is merely one part of a much larger picture. 

Quote:

Quote:
The prime numbers are an elegant example of the same kind of order. From any small range of analysis you clearly have a random distribution of common singularities but the wider you look the more this randomness refutes the idea that it is random and displays some underlying law, strangely this law comes closest to being understood as a dimensional mapping, just like the patterns of creation mythology. The congruence doesn't end there, there are other natural sets which act the same way: musical harmonies, wave propogation, and quantum energy levels all appear to argue for this strangely intelligent chaos underlying their distribution.

... Which could very well be us, as we are the ones framing these matters with our cognitive languages, bringing a more elegant as well as pragmatic cohesion to our phenominal world.

I'm glad you said that it could be us. It probably is, but again, this is in no way inconsistent with either pattern, both quite unambiguously say it is us. But what good is that without some methodological means of observing it? How is pragmatism not just us making the universe more real than it actually is? The more we try to drive home the "it's just us, just our psychology" line to end the debate the further we promote nihilism and refuse to go beyond it. If the choice is between a nihilistic folding of my hand and postulating an objective greater reality, I will take the latter.

Quote:
Quote:
Nothing worth scientific discovery runs in spite of it, so we may as well go ahead and postulate God, it may still not be the most reasonable course under the circumstances, but it is a set defining the same thing, it should return the right answer.

Not if such an entity purports to do more than chart this epistemic course... otherwise, Occham contemplates raising his razor to trim the metaphyscial fat.

I don't like the Occam jackhammer, personally, but in any case I wouldn't propose positing a god with a barrage of assumptions, and I'm hardly interested in proving god with all his epistemic baggage as opposed to simply proving a consistent phenomenological basis for the creation mythology, symbology and faith.  

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
Vessel

Vessel wrote:

 

Quote:
Hi vessel,
I'm sorry for taking so long, I somehow missed your first reply.

First there is the obvious set of ectypal or derivative ontology in creation mythology.

I am unfamiliar with many creation myths, though it seems very easy to understand why we would find in them many similarities, especially if one is looking for such similarities. There are only so many ways one who experiences reality as we humans do can imagine a creation.

Because all humans make use of the same type of data processor, and because we all view reality from the same basic perspective, the fact that there exist many similarities in primitive peoples answers to the questions of origin, whether diffused from a single unique source or arising from multipe separate constructions, does not strike me as being unexpected. Our propensity to project ourselves upon the universe as a means of understanding what otherwise is difficult or impossible to comprehend, and the fact that we are basically the same as other humans, even when geograpahically and culturally separated, would lead me to expect many similarities in creation accounts regardless of a lack of any factual foundations.

Quote:
The leading theory is diffusion, but it can be precluded by the onerous detail of the early religious culture (just too much symmetry to diffuse so neatly) and that is often the argument from the side of parallelism or independent origin theory which seems to find more favour across history than diffusion, but the idea of it is nebulous, the problem with saying concepts come into their own time is that you're never really sure exactly what it is you're saying. Some people just prefer diffusion even with its scarcer evidence simply because it is the theory with its feet on the ground.

I would also think that these creation myths may seem to contain more similarities when viewed through our present understanding of reality then they would have if they had all been viewed by one who understood, for example, the biblical creation account the way it was likely understood nearer the time of its origin. It is highly unlikely that peoples who created these mythologies viewed them the same way we do from our present perspective.

Quote:
The assumption that the homologies reduce to a common psychological origin can be precluded too (though Dawkins would differ, I realise), there is simply too much non phenomenological commonality in the culturally advanced mythos, angelic beings as the prime example of this, unless someone can show me where the fairy spirits actually are that induced so much global psychological symmetry it's just too slightly weird to want to write off just yet.

I would contend that angelic beings are clearly projections of ourselves. I don't see why one should find it at all puzzling that peoples who viewed the world through a very self oriented lens, without the ability to adjust one's perspective through means such as scientific methodologies, would place forms of themselves as reason, or causes (though I always hesitate to bring that word out) for any number of unexplained phenomenon.

Quote:
The resulting pattern otherwise, in my view, points to a naturalistic source (or sources) of quite specific information or communication (a beacon or transponding object), possibly with a discrete time coordinate.

I can see how that would be one answer, but not necessarily one tha best fits all the relevant data. We must also take into account things such as evolutionary theory and cosmology and other scientific data that would seem to preclude the ability of any peoples to know anything of the nature of universal origins. If we say that knowledge of creation was divulged through later revelation then the differences should be of much more concern than the similarities.

Quote:
You can put this source in a human form for each culture, but that begs the question are human lives contiguously planned events, and if so who's the planner.. ad nauseum nebula of thought to dead end...

I see no need to lead myself to this place. Where are you going from sources being mythologies of separate origins to the requirement for human lives being "contiguously planned events"?

Quote:
But then if we put it outside humans it begs an assumption that we could find the order outside ourselves is markedly intelligent anyway and it is reasonable to argue that a small artifact of anthropology isn't worth such an intellectual risk and just go with gathering evidence for diffusion. Many do but I'm not personally satisfied with the cognitive bias therein, as there is an alternative which is evidenced and its main drawback is that it is badly defined it's not so reasonable to me to just dismiss it. At this point, it looks like it could be "God", but there's too little data in just that to not say it's an "I don't know" so you don't finish it there. If this conspicuous order of intelligence was "God" then it wouldn't simply show up in theology, it would be evidenced much more widely and so we look for more contiguous elements.

As you can see, I don't find myself led here. I see no need to necessarilly appeal to diffusion or to appeal to an order of an intelligent nature outside ourselves. We can not ignore the fact that these similarites are arising from similarity and therefor there is no reason that this should not be the expected result.

Quote:
The prime numbers are an elegant example of the same kind of order. From any small range of analysis you clearly have a random distribution of common singularities but the wider you look the more this randomness refutes the idea that it is random and displays some underlying law, strangely this law comes closest to being understood as a dimensional mapping, just like the patterns of creation mythology. The congruence doesn't end there, there are other natural sets which act the same way: musical harmonies, wave propogation, and quantum energy levels all appear to argue for this strangely intelligent chaos underlying their distribution. Just beyond this particular doorway is the first step in the most coveted scientific knowledge of our time. If creation mythology is merely the incoherent fantasy that years of dogmatic confusion has reduced it to surely it would be the odd man out of the game, but for some reason it's quite the opposite. Nothing worth scientific discovery runs in spite of it, so we may as well go ahead and postulate God, it may still not be the most reasonable course under the circumstances, but it is a set defining the same thing, it should return the right answer.

We are pattern finding critters (sorry, my southern came out). Patterns are, basically, the only way we make sense of anything. This leads us to the necessary question of whether there is actually anything to a pattern or whether what we consider a pattern is simply the way we intepret the data so that it can be processed into some type of useful information. Does the pattern exist in nature, or do we project the patternby means of our perception of nature?

Though science may not have run god from the refuge of the uncertainty beyond our understanding of existence, it has vanquished he from many of the places he used to reside quite comfortably. In order for me to place a god somewhere there must be a god shaped hole in which to place it. This requires two things. It requires the we define the shape of the god and it requires that the hole is of a well formed shape.

Hi Vessel,

I'm figuring a condensed proportion of your reply is that the congruence simply doesn't lead outside psychology for you at all. Would I be right in saying that? The main point working in opposition to the psychological evolution position is cultural contrast. Diffusion is the answer to contrast which doesn't fully explain congruence and psychological evolution is the congruence that can't explain contrast. Anthropological analysis can virtually ignore the argument from psychology because it can't be backed up, if it was backed up whereever you find similar creation myth you will equally find similar culture in most respects, but that just isn't the case. Base human psychology is just not that congruent, and environment is not a fully consistent explanation for the differences although it does, admittedly, find favour.    

 I agree with you on the point about our perspective being different, we all do have a self-oriented lens. On the other hand it's not true that it is only our retrospective position that allows us to see congruence. There is quite a lot of evidence to the contrary, people have historically recognised their own creator in other cultural myths, not all people in all cultures of course, but certainly a significant some in various cultures over history.

Wizaard also pointed out the human patterning behaviour, in this case the prime numbers and quantum energy levels are at the height of objectivity, they have an argument for themselves that goes beyond our understanding of our own projections. If it does go back to us projecting our own understanding then we have loads more understanding than we ever give ourselves credit for. Moreover that may actually be the case for all we know. But first I think it's best to avoid the nihilistic trap of arguing that what we project is ultimately meaningless, if that means we have to tacitly debunk our own pragmatism and commit to a more inclusive strategy I still like it more than the alternative. 

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Vessel
Vessel's picture
Posts: 646
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Eloise wrote: Hi

Eloise wrote:

Hi Vessel,

I'm figuring a condensed proportion of your reply is that the congruence simply doesn't lead outside psychology for you at all. Would I be right in saying that?

That would probably be the Reader's Digest interpretation.  

 

Quote:
The main point working in opposition to the psychological evolution position is cultural contrast. Diffusion is the answer to contrast which doesn't fully explain congruence and psychological evolution is the congruence that can't explain contrast. Anthropological analysis can virtually ignore the argument from psychology because it can't be backed up, if it was backed up whereever you find similar creation myth you will equally find similar culture in most respects, but that just isn't the case. Base human psychology is just not that congruent, and environment is not a fully consistent explanation for the differences although it does, admittedly, find favour.

   I agree with you on the point about our perspective being different, we all do have a self-oriented lens. On the other hand it's not true that it is only our retrospective position that allows us to see congruence. There is quite a lot of evidence to the contrary, people have historically recognised their own creator in other cultural myths, not all people in all cultures of course, but certainly a significant some in various cultures over history.

As I said, I am unfamiliar with most creation myths, it is worth noting, as well, that I only have a cursory knowledge of the few I am familiar with. Perhaps some examples of similarities in creation mythologies from groups whose cultural differences are sufficient to bring serious doubt that the mythologies cold have come from completely unrelated constructions would be beneficial. By simply trying to imagine the different creation accounts I could construct based in a primitive understanding of what one might encounter in their natural lives, I find it difficult to put forth completely unrelated scenarios from the same basic observed data as processed by very similar means. 

On a related topic, should similarities between 'space visitor' or dragon mythologies from culturally diverse groups be considered reliable evidences of the actual existence of these things?

I also wonder if you find it at all bothersom that, if creation mythologies do have a basis in truth, given they would necessarilly have to have been divulged to the peoples who perpetuated them well after the event and by a source which would have necessrilly known the precise creation account, that though there may be similarities, there are differences as well? If they are indeed actual creation accounts shouldn't they not only be similar, but in fact be nearly identical and quite specific?   

Quote:
Wizaard also pointed out the human patterning behaviour, in this case the prime numbers and quantum energy levels are at the height of objectivity, they have an argument for themselves that goes beyond our understanding of our own projections. If it does go back to us projecting our own understanding then we have loads more understanding than we ever give ourselves credit for. Moreover that may actually be the case for all we know. But first I think it's best to avoid the nihilistic trap of arguing that what we project is ultimately meaningless, if that means we have to tacitly debunk our own pragmatism and commit to a more inclusive strategy I still like it more than the alternative. 

I would never contend that what we project is ultimately meaningless. I steer far clear of nihilism. As far as the affected entity (singular or group, self or society) is concerned, what we project and its significance could not be more profound.

I also am not saying that no pattern actually exists in nature as we refer to a pattern. What I am saying is that what constitues a pattern is reliant on our definition of a pattern, on our means of understanding what it is that exists in reality, so to say that one should find it puzzling that there are patterns in nature is to say one should find it odd that one has a means by which to understand one's environment or reality or existence or what have you. The pattern is likely the human brains means of sorting, understanding, comprehending, reality and there for should not be unexpected if we are to be able to survive in any given environment. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


flatlanderdox
Theist
Posts: 91
Joined: 2007-05-15
User is offlineOffline
Quote: SCottmax Says:  So

Quote:
SCottmax Says:

 So let's hear the best arguments for why God would create a world with animal suffering.

What's up, SCott?  I moved our discussion to the philosophy thread (as I mentioned on the original thread we were discussing on).

I would say that Greg Boyd has offered the best theistic perspective on animal suffering in his Open Theist Theodicy Satan and the Problem of Evil.  He is extremely thorough.  I was particularly impressed with the way he did not simply set up straw men to take down with respect to this question, but asks many hard questions I have not even heard raised.  He does not shy away from it.  He dedicates three long chapters to the issue.  Let me know if you would like a copy of it.  I actually have an extra one, I'll be happy to send it.  Just e-mail me on the website with your e-mail and I'll get your info.

One very serious question I would have for you with respect to this issue, ScottMax: if the world is so bad, and you can't imagine a good God bringing creatures into this terrible world, how do you justify, from an atheist perspective, procreation?  Why do you have kids?  Anyone who has children would be guilty of the same sin with which you charge God.  To draw that logic out further, if no post-mortem consciousness, why go on existing?  If the world is so bad, wouldn't it be "best" for all humanity to kill themselves in some painless way?  Or heck, even some exciting way?  I've been discussing this point in the Philosophy forum.  Look for the thread I started there.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/philosophy_and_psychology_with_chaoslord_and_todangst/7831

 

Quote:

Perhaps I have set myself an impossible task. You can fall back to the "our finite minds cannot understand" position on almost any question to avoid being caught in a contradiction. But simply refusing to answer the question to avoid contradiction does not make your position rational.

I still don't understand why finitude is so difficult to stomach.  Given the sheer scientific evidence of our humble epistemological position, I am wondering how it is "rational" or even "scientific" to pretend that human knowledge is sufficient to find ultimate truth autonomously and exhaustively.  This befuddles me.  You cannot tell me where the laws of physics or the laws of logic come from.  You can only hope that either (a) those questions are meaningless or (b) that someone has already answered this but you simply haven't found that answer yet or (c) that science will be able to explain them sometime in the future.  It is the same thing with your questions of God.  If a theist cannot answer a question you pose, they simply appeal to the same channels of possibility (a) that the question might be meaningless (b) that there is an answer that has been thought of out there that they haven't found yet or (c) that theology and philosophy will be able to work it out in the future.  Except the theist also has the inherent element of mystery to appeal to--a logical entailment that is entirely consistent with its presuppositions.   And if you knwo anything about "mystery," you know that it is not an excuse for ignorance.  Mystery invites the seeking knowledge, and theism offers an eternal seeking.

 The atheist empiricist position, in my opinion, is just simply inadequate for the scientifically and logically proven reality of human finitude.  Atheist epistemology does not account for the intrinsic necessity of tacit knowledge, the presuppositional knowledge necessary to explain reality, knowledge that cannot be explained itself or "proven," no matter what.  Theism (especially Christianity) does take this into account, and thus, it seems, is more adequate from the very beginning.

Your epistemology is the foundation of everything.  If your epistemology is inadequate, then any ontic assertions you make about reality will also likely suffer from inadequacy.  It doesn't matter how long you spend on, say, the problem of evil; if you have the wrong epistemic presuppositions to begin with, you're heading in the wrong direction from the very start.  Walking further in the same direction doesn't mean anything if your facing the wrong way.

Man, I need a burger.  Later!

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


flatlanderdox
Theist
Posts: 91
Joined: 2007-05-15
User is offlineOffline
P.S. - I do apologize for

P.S. - I do apologize for any pre-burger incoherence in my previous post, Mr. Max.  I even provided you with the wrong link to my response to your last response to me.  The correct link is:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/sapient/atheist_vs_theist/7700

P.P.S. - The burger was very good.  It was the sirloin cheeseburger from Jack-In-the-Box.  It was big and fat and juicy.  But best of all...I got to put some HP sauce on it!!!

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


scottmax
scottmax's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: 2007-03-12
User is offlineOffline
flatlanderdox

flatlanderdox wrote:

What's up, SCott? I moved our discussion to the philosophy thread (as I mentioned on the original thread we were discussing on).

Hey Flatlander. Thanks for the link. I didn't notice the new thread. I'll try to get over there soon.

flatlanderdox wrote:

I would say that Greg Boyd has offered the best theistic perspective on animal suffering in his Open Theist Theodicy Satan and the Problem of Evil.

I'd love to see it. All of the arguments I have seen to date boil down to A) the fall, B) satan, C) God is not omnipotent. I could buy C, but A and B appear to make either Man or Satan more powerful than God. But maybe I should read Boyd before we delve into it.

flatlanderdox wrote:
One very serious question I would have for you with respect to this issue, ScottMax: if the world is so bad, and you can't imagine a good God bringing creatures into this terrible world, how do you justify, from an atheist perspective, procreation?

I don't think the world is bad at all. The world is exactly what I would expect on naturalism. It is simply not compatible with an all-loving God.

flatlanderdox wrote:
Why do you have kids? Anyone who has children would be guilty of the same sin with which you charge God.

Not at all. I did not make the world that we have. I teach my kids to expect the world that we do have. My kids and I are relatively unaffected by the pain a gazelle suffers as it is devoured by a lion.

flatlanderdox wrote:
To draw that logic out further, if no post-mortem consciousness, why go on existing?

Just because the taste of chocolate will not persist in my mouth eternally is no reason not to eat a chocolate bar periodically. Why should we need post-mortem consciousness to enjoy the consciousness we do have?

flatlanderdox wrote:
If the world is so bad, wouldn't it be "best" for all humanity to kill themselves in some painless way? Or heck, even some exciting way?

If life was terrible, sure. But then again, life is terrible compared to heaven. Why should we not abort all babies so that they can enjoy heaven immediately without having to endure the pain of this world? Wouldn't that entail the ultimate love sacrifice on the theistic view?

On naturalism, this world is all there is so we must make the most of this brief period of consciousness we have.

flatlanderdox wrote:
Quote:

Perhaps I have set myself an impossible task. You can fall back to the "our finite minds cannot understand" position on almost any question to avoid being caught in a contradiction. But simply refusing to answer the question to avoid contradiction does not make your position rational.

I still don't understand why finitude is so difficult to stomach. Given the sheer scientific evidence of our humble epistemological position, I am wondering how it is "rational" or even "scientific" to pretend that human knowledge is sufficient to find ultimate truth autonomously and exhaustively.

That is not what I am arguing. My problem is that the "our finite minds cannot understand" argument can be used to support any position. It is the ultimate unassailable wall against human reason. How do you know there are not 5000 meter long plasma unicorns living in the depths of the sun and controlling earthly weather patterns with their minds? Based on our finite knowledge, there is no way to know that this is not true?

When absolutely anything "can" be true, the search for reality is over. We must focus our attention on things that are at least likely to be true based on the empirical evidence available to us. If we live in "the Matrix", we are screwed anyway so we may as well just figure out the rules of the Matrix the best we can.

flatlanderdox wrote:
Except the theist also has the inherent element of mystery to appeal to--a logical entailment that is entirely consistent with its presuppositions. And if you knwo anything about "mystery," you know that it is not an excuse for ignorance. Mystery invites the seeking knowledge, and theism offers an eternal seeking.

Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about. Can you explain?

flatlanderdox wrote:
Atheist epistemology does not account for the intrinsic necessity of tacit knowledge, the presuppositional knowledge necessary to explain reality, knowledge that cannot be explained itself or "proven," no matter what.

I disagree. We have evolved to consciousness. That allows us to perceive the world around us and to contemplate the evidence we perceive. There is nothing surprising here. Are you proposing that there must be a God in order for a rat to find its way through a maze or for a chimp to look in a mirror and check out its own rear end? Exactly what aspect of knowledge is not explained by naturalism?

flatlanderdox wrote:
Theism (especially Christianity) does take this into account, and thus, it seems, is more adequate from the very beginning.

Yes, "God did it". This used to be the answer for an entire universe of questions. What keeps the arrow in the sky once it leaves the bow? God carries it. What carries the sun across the sky? God carried it. Who lit the sun? God did it. What created the world? God did it.

"God did it" is a non-answer since we can discover nothing further if we stop there. Fortunately, man has been discontent to stop his questioning.

flatlanderdox wrote:
Your epistemology is the foundation of everything. If your epistemology is inadequate, then any ontic assertions you make about reality will also likely suffer from inadequacy. It doesn't matter how long you spend on, say, the problem of evil; if you have the wrong epistemic presuppositions to begin with, you're heading in the wrong direction from the very start. Walking further in the same direction doesn't mean anything if your facing the wrong way.

I need spend no time on the problem of evil. The problem of evil is only a problem on theism, not on naturalism. On naturalism, all such dilemnas simply evaporate.

Atheism offers simple answers. Theism offers complex frameworks to maintain its relevance. I can give you simple, straightforward answers to virtually any question. To many major atheistic arguments such as the problem of evil, theists have to give rationalizations that tend to dead end into "our finite minds cannot comprehend why something so seemingly irrational actually makes perfect sense. That's why He is God and we are not." Even on many specific questions of theology such as the Trinity, it is very difficult to get a coherent answer.

flatlanderdox wrote:
Man, I need a burger. Later!

Always a pleasure Flatlander.