Seven more questions for atheists (from a different poster)

SPS
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Seven more questions for atheists (from a different poster)

I'm new here, so I wanted to get an idea where some people stand on certain things. So I'd like to ask the atheists in the group the following questions.

1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know?

3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths.

Thank you!

SPS


wavefreak
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3) Wavefreak? 4)

3) Wavefreak? Tongue out

4) dunno 

6) Yes

7) Yes.  Infinite.

 

I'm a theist so the others don't apply


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1. - 2. Read this. 3. Of

1. - 2. Read this.3. Of course it's tolerated. We don't live in a vacuum. But I also subscribe to the idea that religious faith is irrational by definition, and will argue with it where it concerns a secular public interest. Who you pray to is of no interest to me, but keep it out of science and public affairs.5. Not at the moment.6. Of course it's possible. It's probable even.7. No opinion.


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Welcome to the forums,

Welcome to the forums, SPS!

We'd like to get to know you a little better. When you get a minute, we'd love it if you'd hop over to the General Conversation, Introductions and Humor forum and introduce yourself.

As for your questions:

1  (a)

2  N/A

3  I do it all the time with my theist friends.  I will add the caveat that none of them are fundies.

4  No

5  No

6  I think it's possible 

7  I admit that I haven't really given it any thought.  I leave that to the cosmologists.

 

Most of your questions are covered in existing threads.  Take some time and poke around!

 

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Archeopteryx
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SPS wrote:

SPS wrote:
I'm new here, so I wanted to get an idea where some people stand on certain things. So I'd like to ask the atheists in the group the following questions. 1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God". 2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know? 3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agonostic, but leaning towards atheism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person? 4. Do you believe in any form of life after death? 5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind? 6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets? 7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite? Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths. Thank you! SPS

 

1. You can't prove a negative, so anyone who claims they know for a fact that there is no god is committing a fallacy, I'd say. It's a lack of evidence. A severe and utter lack.

 

2. N/A

 

3. I can tolerate theism in anyone. I just think it's a silly belief. Something I can't tolerate, however, is a believer who is intolerant of other beliefs while claiming to be peaceful. I can't tolerate a religion that slows the progress of science. I can't tolerate a religion that has managed to elude separation of church and state. That sort of thing.

 

4. No.

 

5. I believe in feelings of spirituality. Being an atheist doesn't mean that I'm an emotionless drone with a computer brain or some other such nonsense. I can lie on the beach at sunset and be momentarily overwhelmed by the scenery. I can go on a walk and experience a feeling of peace. The difference is that I don't attribute these things to an object called "soul" or "spirit". They are just feelings. Good feelings, but just feelings.

 

6. It is certainly possible.

 

7. I'm not well-versed enough in cosmology to say with certainty what I accept as true, but given how well science fares compared with religious explanations when it comes to other things, I'm going to bet that the current scientific answer is much better than whatever religion has to offer.

 

Your questions have been answered by the Atheist Road Warrior! Awwww yeah! I'm baaaaaaaaack! Bwahahaha!

 

(Just kidding. No one kill me.)

 

*edit*

 

Removed a potential ad hom. 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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SPS wrote: I'm new here, so

SPS wrote:
I'm new here, so I wanted to get an idea where some people stand on certain things. So I'd like to ask the atheists in the group the following questions.

Welcome! I'll be glad to answer these questions.

Quote:
1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

I'm gonna have to go with A on this one. I'll skip question 2, as it doesn't apply to me.

Quote:
3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agonostic, but leaning towards atheism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

I'll tolerate another person's theism only to the extent that it doesn't (adversly?) affect other people. Wearing a cross on your necklace, setting up a 5-foot-tall Nativity Scene on your lawn, even a bumper sticker that says:

"The Big Bang - God Spoke And BANG! It Happened."

...are things I'll tolerate.

However, I will NOT tolerate official endorsement of any religion, expressed or implied, by government; nor will I tolerate acts of violence in the name of religion, like tossing Molotovs into abortion clinics or flyin airplanes into buildings.

Quote:
4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

No.

Quote:
5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

Also no.

My reason for answering "no" to questions 4 and 5 are the same for my lack of god-belief - namely, the overwhelming lack of supporting evidence.

Quote:
6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

Yes.

No evidence supporting this hypothesis has been found yet. This does not mean, however, that intellient life is NOT possible on other planets.

Quote:
7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

Yes. Once again, it's possible but (as of yet) unproven.

The universe in which we live could be the one and only universe, infinite in size in all directions.

It could be the only universe, but finite in size.

It could be one of a finite number of universes in something bigger.

It could be one of an infinite number of universes in something bigger.

In either of the last two possibilities, the "something bigger" may itself be one of a finite or infinite "somethings bigger" in a "something even bigger," ad infinitum.

Or this could be one of only two universes, in which our counterparts in the other universe are identical to us in every way, except they all wear cowboy hats.

 

Quote:

Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths.

Thank you!

SPS

You're welcome! I'd say this is a good way to get to know some of the people on this board.

Good night, funny man, and thanks for the laughter.


SPS
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Something you should know

Something you should know about me: four years at a Catholic college did more to beat the Catholicism out of me than anything Richard Dawkins could have said. No one knows more about subjecting faith to critical scrutiny than I do. Yes, I still maintain a theistic leaning, but it's very loose and non-dogmatic. If you read the last paragraph on page 60 of "The God Delusion", you will find a pretty accurate description of my beliefs. I find it ironic that Dawkins, of all people, should be able to sum them up so eloquently. But I feel comfortable with the few beliefs I have left because I arrived at them AFTER many years of critically analyzing them, during which time, I should add, most of them fell by the wayside.

FWIW, I am a staunch evolutionist. I believe in the Big Bang. I just don't feel that those beliefs are incompatible with a belief in a higher being of some kind. All three can exist in the same universe. The real evil starts when people claim to KNOW what that higher being is all about, and start acting accordingly.

I am well aware of the evils of religious extremism. My son almost died in Iraq. Why? Because of religious extremism. You don't have to convince me that religious extremism is an odious thing.

You have no idea how many migraine inducing debates I have had with fundamentalist Christians. I find them extremely frustrating to deal with, because as soon as they see they're losing the arguement, inevitably they always fall back on the "I believe it and that settles it" routine. I point out to them that chimpanzee DNA and human DNA are almost identical, and it's only a few strands of DNA that stand between them and a life of sitting in a tree, scratching their balls, and wondering where their next banana is coming from. They start quoting Genesis.

I point out to them that every society has a creation myth, this is just the Hebrew version of that myth, and since Christianity sprang from Judaism, this has become the "official" creation myth of western civilization. They reply that the Bible is the Word of God. I reply no, it's a collection of books written by many different people at different times and codified in the fourth century by the Council of Rome, which had an agenda of its own. I ask them if the Bible is the word of God, why is it so bloody contradictory. And they reply some things can't be explained, and we go round and round until I'm reaching for my migraine medication.

Extremism of any kind irritates me. In this case, one can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. Sure, you can blow holes in religious DOGMA all day, but that in no way proves God doesn't exist. Conversely, the inability to disprove God's existence in no way proves that he exists. The inescapable truth is: nobody knows. And if nobody knows, no one has the right to force their beliefs--either way, mind you--down the throat of another. Because I hold firmly to THIS belief, I tend to catch a lot of grief from both creationists and atheists. Such is the price for being a centrist; you end up fighting a two front war. ;&gtEye-wink

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and thank you all for the kind welcome.


Archeopteryx
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One thing

 

Just one thing in response:

 

We cannot absolutely prove that there is no God. = True.

We cannot absolutely prove that there is a God. = True.

 

However, you cannot automatically infer from those statements that the probability of his existing is a 50/50 situation.

We've simply entered the next phase of the question: Which is the more likely?

Skeptical atheists generally contend that evidence is immensely weighted against God.

 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


latincanuck
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1) I go with both A (no

1) I go with both A (no evidence to show any god period) and B) in my opinion, because there is no evidence first off, and second the holes blown into the god(s) created by man show there is no god as per the religious definition of god (however the possibility of an einteinian god remains a slightly small....small small possibility)

    2) already answered it, although i could go into more detail, i rather keep this small.

    3) I tolerate many people, and many beliefs, it's when those beliefs affect my life do i raise against it, private personal beliefs no problems, beliefs that interfere with my life that i live with in the law of the land, big problem.

    4) No

    5)  No

    6) yes, dawkins has the best presentation that i can think of of the probability of life on another planet, even though it seems small, it's is a good possibility.

    7) It's a nice hypothesis that could be true, if we ever figure out what the universe that we live in occupies, if it occupies anything else at all. However i don't believe it to be true.

As for your statement about holes being blown through religious dogma but not through god, well i have to disagree, the christian, jewish, muslim god is not different than the hundreds of thousands of other gods, they all emulate humans in some way or form, they all have human emotions and human faults, jealousy, hate, anger, and the human desire of immortality, very very very few deities die (well in legend anyways) and most of them have the same thing that the heaven(s) is a far better place than earth (again a human want for a better location than there present location) 


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Hello SPS,       1.

Hello SPS,

      1. Short version (a). Longer version: most definitions of 'God' are internally inconsistent, from the ones that are consistent most are testable (i.e. we could find evidence for them) but all proper tests failed so far and the ones that are untestable seem useless philosophical constructs (for example deism). When compared to the strong evidence we have for all that is real (a.k.a. science) the atheist position seems the most reasonable.

    2. Doesn't apply unless you talk about the ones with an internally inconsistent definition.

    3. I accept deism (and some other philosophical constructs) as intelectually honest, even if I consider them useless. I think I can tolerate any theist that doesn't want to impose his beliefs on me.

    4. No, because of lack of evidence.

    5. No, because of lack of evidence.

    6. Yes, it's possible.

    7. Yes, it's possible. I don't know the number, I think we need more evidence before aswering this.

 

Cheers,

Richard 

A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.


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SPS wrote: 1. As far as

SPS wrote:
1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know?

The word 'God' has no coherent meaning. It is nothing but a verbal trick used by charlatans to fleece their victims. Evidence does not enter into it as "God exists" is not an intelligible proposition at all.

 

SPS wrote:
3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

I see religion, not theism, as the problem. Theism is silly but religion is lethal.

 

SPS wrote:
4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

No.

 

SPS wrote:
5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

No. I'll answer in more detail if you explain what you mean by 'spiritual'.

 

SPS wrote:
6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

Yes.

 

SPS wrote:
7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

I'll need to study more physics before I can form an informed opinion on that.


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SPS wrote: 1. As far as

SPS wrote:
1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

It's both. There are weak atheists (Example A) and strong atheists (Example B). I'm a weak atheist. 

 

Quote:
2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know?

It would be the same way that theists who follow religions, like Christianity, know that their answer is correct. 

 

Quote:
3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

Just to clear something up, everyone is technically agnostic since no one knows for sure.

Anyway, Deism is acceptable as well as the belief that there is a watchful creator. Generally speaking, this is not the kind of theism that is meant when a reference is made to theism.

This goes out to you guys Wavefreak and CptPinaple =P. 

 

Quote:
4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

No, I do not. However, I think that the chemicals released in the brain before and during death create a false world with which to cope with the fact that we are about to stop existing.

Sort of like what it was like before conception.

 

Quote:
5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

No, I do not. I believe in certain things, such as playing music, to be spiritual in nature, but it's not super natural or even relating to a spirit/soul/whatever. 

Quote:
6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

Intelligent life? Possibly. Life in some shape or form of the matter? 100% most definitally. In regards, you could say that I'm a "Strong" believer in the existance of life on other planets but a "weak" believer in regards to intelligent life.

 

Quote:
7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite? Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths. Thank you! SPS

Kind of vague question. Me personally? No. Am I open to the notion that there could be if there was evidence to support it? Yes. That is to say that there could be evidence to support it and I simply haven't came across it yet, not that this factoid interests me one way or another nor would it sway my belief in anything one way or another.


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CrimsonEdge wrote: Just to

CrimsonEdge wrote:

Just to clear something up, everyone is technically agnostic since no one knows for sure.

Anyway, Deism is acceptable as well as the belief that there is a watchful creator. Generally speaking, this is not the kind of theism that is meant when a reference is made to theism.

This goes out to you guys Wavefreak and CptPinaple =P.

 

 

 

'CptPinaple' has no comment. 


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

'CptPinaple' thinks Crimson_Edge is awesome.

Why thank you. 


Hambydammit
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Quote: 1. As far as atheism

Quote:
1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

The Christian god is internally contradictory, and includes an incoherent concept, and so I can say with certainty that it doesn't exist. I am not certain that there is absolutely no being that could be called god, but as yet, I've never heard a definition that was coherent enough to even be testable. I have seen zero evidence of any gods, and there is extremely strong evidence that there is not one.

Quote:
2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know?

Well, I already answered why I know the Christian god does not exist. My answer is (a) for potential definitions of god that I'm not aware of at this time.

Quote:
3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

What do you mean by acceptable? I do not lean in any way towards theism, so I guess in my own life, no level of theism is acceptable without evidence. In others, I'd like all theism to go away, but I realize this is not likely to happen. I am content if people lean one way or another, but don't try to enforce their uncertainty on anyone else.

Quote:
4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

Due to the complete lack of any evidence, and the strong evidence that life is contingent on being alive and having a functioning brain, no, I don't believe in any form of life after death.

Quote:
5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

If the word spiritual has any connotation of supernatural, no. I believe that there is a concept which can be called spirit, consisting of a mix of a person's emotional, intellectual, and empathetic existence, but it's just a word for natural stuff, not anything spooky.

Quote:
6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

Two answers, even though you asked about intelligence specifically. It's getting harder and harder to even consider the possibility that we're alone in the universe. The more we're learning about how life began, and more importantly, the extreme conditions in which life can flourish, I almost lean towards the position that there's some kind of life in our solar system.

Now, as to intelligence, I'm pretty damn certain, but the reality is that we don't know how common rocky planets in circular orbits are. We haven't found any because our technology is simply not good enough to find them. If it turns out that they're extremely rare, I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that there's definitely intelligence of our level. Intelligence, after all, is not necessarily an evolutionary advantage, and it's hard to speculate about what other planets' environments would be like.

Long way around to say that I'm pretty sure it must exist, as immense as the universe is, but I'm holding out until we know more about rocky planets.

Quote:
7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

I believe in the possibility, but only because really smart cosmologists say it's possible. I don't know enough to form my own opinion about it.

Quote:
Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths.

No worries. If anybody can actually find an inconsistency in my answers, especially one that allowed a god to sneak in, I'd sure want to know about it.

 

 

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

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1. Closer to A than B, but

1. Closer to A than B, but mainly because I accept that the nature of the universe as something that works on natural laws and contains identifiable, measurable, and limited existants.
2. I know this in the same way I know 2+2=4. It's a simple conclusion to come to when you see reality as real, knowable, and existing independent of my ability or ambition to perceive it. God can't exist - the universe simply doesn't allow it.

3. If the term "theism" means "to have faith, not proof, that a thing exists, such as a ghost or spirit", then no, that is not acceptable to me. Not that you're a bad person or someone I refse to be friends with - a believer has simply made an irrational choice and defends it without any evidence to support the claim.

4. There is no life after death. That's what death means - the ceasing of life.

5. I do not believe in a spiritual world. As I said, the universe works on natural laws - if it exists, it is metaphysically real and scientifically provable, even if we currently lack the means to discover and express that proof. When  it was discovered that the Earth was a sphere, the Earth didn't magically ball up - it's always been a sphere, and the flat-Earthers were wong all along.

6. I do believe in the potential for intelligent life on other planets - but I don't think we quite understand all the variables that make that life possible. Fermi asked (paraprasing) "Statistically, the universe should be full of life; so where is it?" I think that's another example of someone not quite knowing all the conditions that must exist for life to evolve to the point where intelligence is possible. In short, it's possible, but there's no evidence yet that alien cultures exist; it's not a "belief" thing, it's a "wait and see" thing.

7. I do not believe in the possibility of multiple universes. Everything that is exists in the universe; that's what "universe" means = everything. If something appeared to exist in or come from "another" universe, all that reveals is that we don't know enough about the universe in which we exist already.


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Hi SPS, 1.A 2. N/A 3. I

Hi SPS,

1.A

2. N/A

3. I think I am tolerant towards personal believes. But if a person say's I should believe what he or she beliefs, or I should follow the rules of his or her Theism, than not so much. (To my shame I must admit I once turned my parents dog on a group of Jehovah's witnesses when they just wouldn't leave. I think that was the only time that dog ever obeyed me and I am glad he stopped chasing them when they reached the public road. No Jehovah's witnesses were hurt!)

4. No.

5. No.

6. If its possible here, there is no reason to assume it can't be possible on an other planet. Earth is the living proof life can evolve in the universe.

7. I don't know enough about the subject to even speculate about it.

(S)PS, before I became an atheist, I had the same problem. I used to struggle between defending my faith against atheists and defending my lack of belief in literal interpretation by fellow Christians. I have fought harder with Christians when I was one, then after I became an atheist.

Willem.


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1) A and B.  Not only is

1) A and B.  Not only is there no evidence whatsoever (not just not enough evidence, but really none at all ever) it is also wholly errant to consider that a god could exist in the first place.

2)  Refer to 1 and I'll suggest looking up essays within the RRS that discuss the type of errancy I'm talking about, as well look up Dawkins among others who touch on statistical improbability and other ideas.

3) I am ever polite and tolerant of people who have different beliefs (I use the term grudgingly) than I do so long as their beliefs are harmless.

4) No.  If there is an Atheist that does I posit that the person is not an Atheist.

5) The answer is the same as in 4).

6) Sure it's possible.

7) Sure I believe it's possible.  Are they finite or infinite in number? I'm not an educated cosmologist and my unlearned opinion on the matter is essentially worthless.

Good questions and it's good to see you are trying to find stuff out, but read the forums because the answers to all of these are everywhere in them.  You might even try asking questions that haven't cropped up before.  The answers would be much more insightful.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


SPS
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synthlord wrote:

synthlord wrote:
God can't exist - the universe simply doesn't allow it.

 

I'm afraid I've never heard it put quite that way before. It's one thing to say that god "doesn't" exist. Why would you say he "can't" exist? This makes it sound as though you're closer to B than A.

 I'm not trying to be a smartass here, just looking for clarification as to what you mean.


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Thomathy wrote:

Thomathy wrote:

1) A and B. Not only is there no evidence whatsoever (not just not enough evidence, but really none at all ever) it is also wholly errant to consider that a god could exist in the first place.

Why is it "wholly errant" to even CONSIDER that god, in some form, might exist? You say it's possible that there might be life on other planets, yet there is not the slightest proof of that, either. My point here is that it is not unreasonable to SPECULATE on the possibility of the existence of some things, even if there is no evidence that they exist. This is valid whether one is speculating about intelligent life on other planets, or the existence of a higher power of SOME KIND. Surely it is reasonable to keep an open mind on both subjects. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Up until about 70 years ago no one thought the coelacanth existed until they found one of the silly things swimming around off the coast of Africa. If we can't even be completely sure what's going on on THIS planet, how can we, with absolute certainty, make statements about what definitely does and does not exist in the entire universe?

Not trying to pick a fight, mind you, I was just wondering if you had considered it this way.


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I can see that I've already

I can see that I've already been branded a "theist". In this group it feels a little like being branded with a scarlet letter.

In any event, while it is true that I am a theist in the narrowest sense of that word, I hope people will take the time to read my second post on this thread to get an accurate view of what my "beliefs" (for lack of a better word) are. I do NOT wish to be confused with a religious fundamentalist. That would be extrememly annoying. As John Lennon once wrote, "It gets on my tit!"


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SPS wrote:

SPS wrote:
I'm new here, so I wanted to get an idea where some people stand on certain things. So I'd like to ask the atheists in the group the following questions.

1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one". Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God".

My atheism is a de-facto-atheism, which means that I don't give any offers or sacrifices in favor of God. I don't care to epistomologically disprove God - the lack of evident divine interaction with this world, disqualifies a possibly existing God from worship or sacrifice.

SPS wrote:

2. If your answer was (b.), how do you know?

The answer isn't b.)

SPS wrote:

3. The term "theism" is a very broad one, ranging from the bible-thumping, full blooded arch-creationist, all the way to what Dawkins describes as "technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God'" Is there any level of theism that is acceptable to you, not to believe in yourself, I understand, but that you could tolerate in another person?

From my standpoint any personal, non-proselytising theism whose time spent in worship is appropiate to the quite small amount of mental benefit (feeling good) it may cause. Such a theism would also need to be non-divisive.

That disqualifies most theisms around. For example Christianity which is annoyingly proselytisig, time- and lifeconsuming and divisive to it's very core

SPS wrote:

4. Do you believe in any form of life after death?

I like the idea of a Republic of Souls in the afterlife, but I know that there is no scientific prove for that. So lets be surprised we will find out soon enough.

SPS wrote:

5. Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

By the absence of prove of any kind of such a spiritual world I don't believe firmly in it. Everywe might say about a possibly existing one would be pure speculation.

SPS wrote:

6. Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

Certainly. However numerous the constraints for life on earth are - the universe is big enough to make it certain that life evolveld somewhere else. The real question is the distance and the state of development in which those lifeforms are in. What I personally don't believe in is that alien civilisations are spacefaring.

In the discussion about alien civilisations it came out clear that if there would have been space colonising alien civilisations the milky way would have long been colonised by them before. Because it just takes several million years to do so and giving the age of our galaxy those waves of colonisation would have already swept through our solar system.

Enrico Fermi concluded from this consideration that therefor no alien civilisations exist within our galaxy.
(Fermis paradoxon: That the aliens weren't here proves that they don't exist)

The way to get around it is to assume that those people simply aren't simply colonising other planets. And there are good reasons to believe so.

The flights necessary to colonise those plants are long enough to make it necessary to build ships on which the crew lives hundrets or thousand generations before it reaches it destination. First of all: You would have to find people sufficiently insane to board such a ship, but no so insane that you shouldn't let them board that ship. By the time those people reach their destination the crew would have developed a whole new culture which turns around being having left your original home (being expelled from their original home) to go to an unknown destination. It is even likely that the crew will eventually during the flight try to turn the ship around to fly back to 'Eden'.
Those flights aren't economic at all. When the europeans colonised the world it was because they were striving for wealth. Given the flight-times to reach other stars it is quite obvious that there can't be anything of pecuniary worth to justify such an endeavor.

What stays from the reasons for spacefaring would be scientific research. But you don't need to do that with a crew and a spaceship in Star-Trek ways. Robotic probes with artificial intelligence unknown to our level of engineering would be much cheaper, much more efficient and better adapted to the lethal environment of working in space.

SPS wrote:

7. Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

By the Copenhagen interpretation of quantuum physics every possible state of a quant to be realised in time exists in a different universe. Which means that the number of parallel universes according to such an interpretation is enormous but finite.

But just finite given by mathematical definition. If you keep in mind the number of protons, electrons and all those other small particles in the universe, the amount of ways to shuffel them is enormous beyond any understanding

SPS wrote:

Please don't assume you know where I'm going with any of these. I'm just trying to establish what folks around here do and don't believe, because I don't want to make the mistake of putting words in other people's mouths. Thank you! SPS

-----------------------------------------------------

Who asks me inappropiate questions also has to live with the answers I may give.


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SPS wrote: I can see that

SPS wrote:

I can see that I've already been branded a "theist". In this group it feels a little like being branded with a scarlet letter.

In any event, while it is true that I am a theist in the narrowest sense of that word, I hope people will take the time to read my second post on this thread to get an accurate view of what my "beliefs" (for lack of a better word) are. I do NOT wish to be confused with a religious fundamentalist. That would be extrememly annoying. As John Lennon once wrote, "It gets on my tit!"

Actually, you are a theist in the broadest sense of that word.  Theism covers a wide range when looked at by itself , but it covers a very small range when compared to atheism.  You either believe or you don't.  This is one of the reasons new members are encouraged to provide some information about themselves.  It gives everyone a chance to explain their personal views -- for theists it is an opportunity to define their belief and for atheists it is usually an opportunity to explain how/why they are atheist.  

Others here have felt and, in some cases, do feel the same way you do about supernatural being.  You have done an excellent job of rationalizing your idea of god to fit your personal ideal.  I did the same thing at one time.  The flaw with that type of god belief is that it is unnecessary.  Everyone has an idea of 'their' god - for some this is based on whatever they are told to believe and for others it is based on their understanding of the world around them.  The god you have described is basically a destic god.  One that got the ball rolling, so to speak, and then left it alone.  So, here is my question for you - what does this god belief do for you?


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SPS wrote: I can see that

SPS wrote:

I can see that I've already been branded a "theist". In this group it feels a little like being branded with a scarlet letter.

In any event, while it is true that I am a theist in the narrowest sense of that word, I hope people will take the time to read my second post on this thread to get an accurate view of what my "beliefs" (for lack of a better word) are. I do NOT wish to be confused with a religious fundamentalist. That would be extrememly annoying. As John Lennon once wrote, "It gets on my tit!"

SPS wrote:
Yes, I still maintain a theistic leaning, but it's very loose and non-dogmatic.

SPS, the theist badge only indicates that you have a belief in some sort of supernatural being.

We have some pretty cool theists here on the forums.  Look around and find some of the posts from Cpt_Pineapple and Wavefreak.

Wavefreak's signature:

wavefreak wrote:
You think atheists get a bum rap? Try being a heretical theist for awhile. I get smacked down by atheists AND Christians. Maybe I'm a cognitive masochist.

Of course, it goes without saying:  Anyone that quotes John Lennon can't be all bad!  Eye-wink

 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


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SPS wrote: 1. As far as

SPS wrote:
1. As far as atheism itself goes, is it a case of a.) "I don't see enough evidence for the existence of (for lack of a better word) God, therefore I don't believe in one"
Enough evidence? There is no evidence.
Quote:
Or is it more like, b.)"I know for a fact that there is no God"
If you are using the word “know’ as in “to know the sun will rise tomorrow morning”, then yes. I ‘know’ there is no god.
Secondly, attempts to provide an ontology for 'god' leads to incoherence - any attempt to define something in a negative sense leads to incoherence.
Any attempt to define an entity with a set of contradictory or self exclusionary concepts leads to incoherence.
Any attempt to provide secondary attributes to 'god' (i.e. 'the creator of the universe) lead to attributes that are impossible to reconcile with undeniable features of our universe.
So basically the term ‘god’ is meaningless.
Read these articles in the links as the authors explain it better than I can http://www.rationalresponders.com/god_is_an_incoherent_term http://www.rationalresponders.com/all_a_posteriori_arguments_for_the_existence_of_god_are_intellectually_bankrupt
3. No
4. No
5. No
6. No
7. I’m not sure of the multiple universes or parallel universes. But I think this universe is finite.

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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SPS wrote: Thomathy

SPS wrote:
Thomathy wrote:

1) A and B. Not only is there no evidence whatsoever (not just not enough evidence, but really none at all ever) it is also wholly errant to consider that a god could exist in the first place.

Why is it "wholly errant" to even CONSIDER that god, in some form, might exist? You say it's possible that there might be life on other planets, yet there is not the slightest proof of that, either. My point here is that it is not unreasonable to SPECULATE on the possibility of the existence of some things, even if there is no evidence that they exist. This is valid whether one is speculating about intelligent life on other planets, or the existence of a higher power of SOME KIND. Surely it is reasonable to keep an open mind on both subjects. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Up until about 70 years ago no one thought the coelacanth existed until they found one of the silly things swimming around off the coast of Africa. If we can't even be completely sure what's going on on THIS planet, how can we, with absolute certainty, make statements about what definitely does and does not exist in the entire universe?

Not trying to pick a fight, mind you, I was just wondering if you had considered it this way.

You cannot equivocate the possibility of there being life on others planets with the possibility of the existence of god. They are not remotely comparable. For starters, I can prove that life does exist on at least one planet. I shouldn't need to as I assume you agree that there is indeed life (and sometimes intelligent) on Earth. It being the case that at least one planet has life and water being the second most common molecule in the universe and there being billions of other planets, I expect it is not unlikely that at least one other planet could have life (perhaps also sometimes intelligent) on it. Contrary, there is no proof for god. There is no proof for god. I believe that I can leave that there, except it may be prudent to note that there is no proof for god (no proof of the supernatural). To answer your first question, however, I suggested that it may be helpful, as I am poorly equiped to explain the intricacies of the explanations as to why the supernatural (god in particular, but the rest as well) is a wholly errant notion, to look up essays on this site and to reference Dawkins among others. That was explained in my answer to question number two. You're last question has me confused. We are able to make many definite statements about what does exist in the universe. Making definite statements about what doesn't exist in the universe is not wholly sound as negatives can't be proven empirically. What doesn't exist can, however, be pushed to such low probability that it can essentially be said to be proven not to exist. Thus can I say with complete certainty that there is no invisible pink unicorn in my closet, though it is impossible to prove it empirically. And you may say that the invisible pink unicorn is made up (that it's a bad example), but then you may like to prove to me that god or any part of the supernatural isn't made up and you will find that you can't.

I had indeed not considered it 'this way' for the reasons I've submitted above. I understand that you perhaps thought that I may have overlooked what you point out, but I was very intentional and fully aware. You, however, have made some invalid claims. Like you, though, I'm not trying to pick a fight...

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thomathy said: "You cannot

Thomathy said:

"You cannot equivocate the possibility of there being life on others planets with the possibility of the existence of god. They are not remotely comparable."

Of course they are. In both cases we are speculating about the existence of something, even though there is no evidence for its existence, based on something other than evidence. One can have a reason for believing that something may exist, even without hard evidence. As I said before, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are many reasons that one may speculate about the existence of life on other planets; in fact you've given some very good ones yourself.

It's no different with the notion of god. In fact, let's stop using the word "god", okay? It just conjurs up too many emotional connotations in both theist and atheist alike to be useful in discussion. Personally, I prefer to borrow a term from Douglas Adams, "hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional being", or HIPDB, for short. Yes, I know Adams was using the term in a different context, but I think it's useful here as well.

Even Dawkins admits that the creation of life on this planet was a very, very, improbable event that occured in an even more improbable universe. Theologians and scientists alike have labored over the question of "how did it all begin" for centuries. I readily admit that science, not religion, has and will continue to reveal the secrets of the universe.

But the fact remains that a reasonable person can look at the universe, and reasonably speculate (not conclude, mind you) about the existence of an HIPDB that somehow gave it all its initial "push", so to speak. It is surely no less reasonable than to conclude that it was simply the result of a series of happy yet highly improbable coincidences.

Another point that one might consider is that, as has been pointed out elsewhere, atheism is the "default position". One can see how this might be. Prehistoric man sits in his cave, pondering three questions: 1) how do I find food; 2) how do I avoid becoming food; and of course, the eternal question: 3) how do I get cave-woman in the mood to make cave-baby?

One might have thought that these questions would have been enough to keep a self-centered creature like man too busy to be dreaming up anything so exotic as the notion of a higher being.  I mean, why would he?  What immediate purpose would it have served in the life of your typical man-in-the-cave? One might have at least expected primitive societies to fall equally into one of the two camps: some theistic, some atheistic.

But the fact remains that every primitive society known to us --even ones that had no contact with any others--developed some kind of belief in a higher power of some sort.  As Dawkins himself points out, there is a "God shaped hole" in our brains.  And yes, I am familiar with the various phsychological explanations for this, but really none of them is really any more satisfying that the simplest explanation: the existence of an HIPDB that man, however imperfectly, instictively felt the existence of.

So what does that prove? Nothing. But again it may raise in the mind of a reasonable person the speculation that something is up in the universe.

The problems arise when people take the initial supposition and start adorning it with all kinds of doctine and dogma, and the REALLY big problems start when these same people start insisting that you must believe as they do. But as an initial supposition, the notion of a higher power is not so unreasonable.

By the same token, an equally reasonable person might not reach that conclusion. Since in either case, we are theorizing without data, neither conclusion is necessarily more valid than the other.

"We are able to make many definite statements about what does exist in the universe."

Of course we are. And those statements are the results of science, not religion. I have absolutely no problem with that. All I'm saying is that there are many, many things we don't know about the universe. Who knows? The HIPDB may very well be one of them.

A long time ago people looked to religion to explain the mysteries of the universe. Over the last two hundred years or so, that role has properly become the purview of science. Religion may continue to play a role in people's lives, but it cannot be that role. Religion must understand that if it is to survive. The irony is that creationists are doing more to harm the cause of religion than anyone.

"Thus can I say with complete certainty that there is no invisible pink unicorn in my closet, though it is impossible to prove it empirically."

Of course you can prove it: just empty out your closet! The old "you can't prove a negative" is one of the biggest fallacies going. For example, if I were to say to you, "You can't prove that the earth isn't flat", would you retort by saying "you can't prove a negative"? Of course not! You would proceed to bury me with fact upon fact until I was forced to admit that you were right, that the world isn't flat after all. One can prove negatives for which readily observable empirical data are available. You simply can't prove THAT negative.

"but then you may like to prove to me that god or any part of the supernatural isn't made up and you will find that you can't."

Let's start at the beginning. God? Which god? Jehovah? Zeus? Thor? Allah? Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept. Even if there IS a god (a really big "IF", mind you) it strikes me (and you, I'm sure) that it is terribly unlikely that any of man's standard conceptions of what god--excuse me, the HIPDB--is are going to be accurate. In this context, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just as valid a conception as any.

(Actually, a universe run by the FSM really doesn't sound all that bad, now does it? Imagine, infinite pasta for all believers!)

But I digress.

Again, I say I cannot prove the existence of this HIPDB, I can only, as a reasonable person, speculate about its existence as a possible explanation for why things are the way they are.

But by the same token, because we know so very little about the universe, you cannot state with absolute certainty that this HIPDB does not exist. Unforunately we cannot clean out the universe looking for the HIPDB as easily as you can clean out your closet looking for that pink unicorn. That's all I'm saying here.

"Like you, though, I'm not trying to pick a fight..."

I'm glad to hear it. Cool To me, this is an exercise in logic, not religion. While I do believe in the existence of the HIPBD, I'm perfectly cool with the idea that I may be wrong. The problem I have with both fundies and some atheists is that they seem to have a very hard time accepting the fact that THEY may be wrong.

Ultimately, it's really a matter of opinion either way. The atheists are absolutely sure they're right, but strange, so are the fundies. Since there's no way to really know, neither side has the right to adopt the dogmatic, know-it-all tone that many fundies and atheists often do.

Lastly, I actually did think of an idea that would keep everyone happy:

If one believes, as some scientists have speculated, in an infinite number of universes, with infinite possibilities, then it logically follows that god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?

Discuss amongst youselves. Be well.

 


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jce wrote: Everyone has an

jce wrote:

Everyone has an idea of 'their' god - for some this is based on whatever they are told to believe and for others it is based on their understanding of the world around them. The god you have described is basically a destic god. One that got the ball rolling, so to speak, and then left it alone. So, here is my question for you - what does this god belief do for you?

I was wondering when someone was going to ask me this.

The short answer is: not a whole lot. To me, the question of god's existence is more of a logical one than a religious one. I will say to atheists what I say to fundies: you don't know. Neither side has a right to claim that god definitely does/does not exist, simply because that would presuppose a knowledge of the universe that we simply don't, and probably never will, posess.

So why do I believe in god, or perhaps more accurately, a hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional being? Well, I went into that fairly elaborately in the above post, but suffice to say that I believe it because it simply makes sense to me. I believe in evolution, the big bang, and, in fact, in most of what science teaches us, because that too makes sense to me. I just have no problem including all of these concepts into the same universe.

But all that said, I do believe that humans have a spiritual component, a soul, if you will. I believe that there is more to the universe than what is apparent to our five sense. A belief in a, for lack of a better phrase, a spiritual world, is no more unreasonable than the notion of multiple universes postulated by some physicists, nor is it any more or less provable.

(Yes, I am aware that quantum physics suggests the possibility of a multiverse, but quantum physics also gives its own reasons why the the theory itself is unprovable.)

The universe, we believe, is trillions of years old. From what I can gather it will go for another several trillion years. So what does this mean? It means we get to spend, if we're lucky, about 80 years alive, and then several trillions years dead. What a dismal way to look at the universe.

What does this prove? Absolutely nothing, I realize. I'm not insisting that anyone share my views, I'm just answering your question. One of us is right, one of us is wrong. If it turns out that you are right, what have I lost? All it means is that, when I'm on my death bed, about to breath my last, as I am sinking into the oblivion that atheists tell me inevitably awaits me, my dying thought will be that I wish I had spent more time fishing and less time on the internet.

If, on the other hand, I am right, what awaits you? After your soul has shuffled off its mortal coil (which is what must happen, if I am right) will you find yourself face to face with a pissed off deity, who grabs you roughly by the collar as you wriggle helplessly in the celestial fingers? Does he glare menacingly at you from under bushy celestial eybrows, make some smart-ass comment like, "so, who don't you believe in now, atheist-boy?", before flicking you casually into the fiery pit?

I rather doubt it.

If it turns out that there is a spiritual world, and therefore a life after physical death, I imagine you'll just suddenly realize you're still conscious, and say to yourself, "Wow. So there really is life after death. Cool."

The alternative is, as I said, eighty years alive, then several trillion years dead. I like my way better.Cool


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Susan wrote: Of course, it

Susan wrote:

Of course, it goes without saying: Anyone that quotes John Lennon can't be all bad! Eye-wink

Why, thank you! God knows, I try (using the word "God" in a metphorical sense, of course).

And while we're trading compliments, I really must say that you're pretty cute (you know, for an atheist). Cool


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SPS wrote: Do you believe

SPS wrote:
Do you believe in any form of life after death?

 Not really

 

Quote:
 

Do you believe in, again for lack of a better phrase, a "spiritual world" of any kind?

For lack of a better word, somewhat.

 

Quote:

Do you believe in the possibility of intelligent life on other planets?

I don't think there's much intelligent life on this one.

 

But seriously, yes.

 

Quote:

Do you believe in the possibility of multiple universes? If the answer is yes, is the number of universes finite or infinite?

Yes. Infinite. 

 

 

 


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1: I'm a "weak atheist" in

1: I'm a "weak atheist" in that I can't prove that there is no God.  However, I live my life in a manner that assumes there is no God, in much the way I life my life assuming there are no leprechauns (I don't say this to be flippant Smiling).

2: n/a

3: I tolerate anyone's rights to their beliefs, as long as they don't interfere with me.  However, I don't think of them as correct, and, when I feel it appropriate, I try to inform them of that.

4:  I would certainly like there to be life after death.  Maybe it's part of a biological imperative to not want to not exist, but I don't like the idea of me not being around; for a conscious mind to cease to exist seems a great waste to me.  But I don't see any evidence for life after death, and so, just as I live a live assuming there is no God, I live my life assuming I won't exist after death.  This doesn't mean I'll take it lying down, though; I am confident that, through science, technology, and human effort, life extension can happen.  So I don't believe in life after death, but I think that through our own abilities, we can shut the jaws of death.

5: While I haven't really studied issues of consciousness, I don't see evidence of a spiritual world, and so I act as if it doesn't exist. 

6: Very much so!  With so many stars and planets out there, it's almost impossible for life to not be out there.  You know what?  Scratch that -- I'm confident that there IS life out there, if only by the laws of probability.  As for intelligent life, that would obviously be lower in number, but conservative estimates of Drake's Equation still predict a satisfactory number of intelligent civilizations out there.

7: I really have no knowledge of the current scientific understanding, but I at least hope that there are. Smiling

 

These are great questions, by the way! 

"True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it." -Pliny the Elder


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Quote: "You cannot

Quote:

"You cannot equivocate the possibility of there being life on others planets with the possibility of the existence of god. They are not remotely comparable."

Of course they are. In both cases we are speculating about the existence of something, even though there is no evidence for its existence, based on something other than evidence. One can have a reason for believing that something may exist, even without hard evidence. As I said before, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are many reasons that one may speculate about the existence of life on other planets; in fact you've given some very good ones yourself.

For an analogy, the two things being compared must be in the same category with regard to the relationship to the unknown.  In other words, If I am making a comparison between Mercury and Venus (the planets, not the gods), then I must be trying to learn something that can be derived from their similarities.  It must be something related to their status as planets, or that they revolve around the same star, or that they are both rocky planets.

Aliens have a definition.  They are lifeforms in the way we know life to exist, as a replicating, finite being that passes information about itself to its descendents through some sort of heredity.  They will have evolved in a way similar to evolution on earth.  

God does not have a coherent definition.  Supernatural doesn't actually describe anything, so we can't say in what state this being exists.  God, traditionally, is immortal.  In many traditions, it is infinite in some way.  It did not evolve in the traditional way.

In short, there's actually nothing similar between god and aliens, at least not for the question at hand.

The category "Things that might exist" is so big as to be non-sensical.  All we can say about the set is that each of them has at least a one in 10^1000000000000000000000000000000000 chance of existing.

In induction, this is beyond useless, and is no basis for an analogy.

 

Quote:
It's no different with the notion of god. In fact, let's stop using the word "god", okay?

It's fine with me.  Probably a good idea, but if you start conjuring up god-like properties, I'm going to bust you for wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.

 

Quote:
"hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional being"

You realize that these are just words unless you tell us what, exactly, they mean.

 

Quote:
But the fact remains that a reasonable person can look at the universe, and reasonably speculate (not conclude, mind you) about the existence of an HIPDB that somehow gave it all its initial "push", so to speak.

In a "wishing upon a star" sense, yes.  But, if you want it to be a scientific sense, you must define a HIPDB well enough that we can talk about whether or not it's likely.

 

Quote:
But the fact remains that every primitive society known to us --even ones that had no contact with any others--developed some kind of belief in a higher power of some sort.

This is so general as to be almost useless.  Yes, every culture made up myths to explain the boom booms in the sky, but the myths were not all that similar, except that they all involved some kind of magic.  Magic is simply another way of saying "I don't know."

 

Quote:
As Dawkins himself points out, there is a "God shaped hole" in our brains.  And yes, I am familiar with the various phsychological explanations for this, but really none of them is really any more satisfying that the simplest explanation: the existence of an HIPDB that man, however imperfectly, instictively felt the existence of.

I can only tell you that your lack of satisfaction has very little bearing on the cogency of the two positions.

 

Quote:
The problems arise when people take the initial supposition and start adorning it with all kinds of doctine and dogma, and the REALLY big problems start when these same people start insisting that you must believe as they do. But as an initial supposition, the notion of a higher power is not so unreasonable.

As it turns out, the only thing one could reasonably say about a speculative being is "I don't know a damn thing about it, apart from the fact that it might exist."  This makes it slightly more useful than Velvet Elvis as a conversation piece, but that is the same as saying that it has no use to humanity whatsoever.

 

Quote:
By the same token, an equally reasonable person might not reach that conclusion. Since in either case, we are theorizing without data, neither conclusion is necessarily more valid than the other.

I wish I could make this fallacy go away.  The valid conclusion with regard to something for which there is no definition and no evidence is complete agnostic disregard until there's something to talk about.  The inductive conclusion that it does not exist is the only conclusion which allows for anything to be known about anything.  Try to imagine what logic would be like if we had to allow for the possibility of everything that can be imagined, and eliminate each and every one before declaring that we know a thing to be true.  Since it's impossible to disprove negatives inductively, we would literally descend into complete nihilism!

 

Quote:
The old "you can't prove a negative" is one of the biggest fallacies going.

You misunderstand the statement.  It means that you can't disprove the nonexistence of something.  It doesn't mean that you can't disprove any negative statement.  That would be pretty silly.

 

Quote:
Again, I say I cannot prove the existence of this HIPDB, I can only, as a reasonable person, speculate about its existence as a possible explanation for why things are the way they are.

You can do anything you like.  If you want it to be logical, you must define it before you speculate about it.

 

Quote:
If one believes, as some scientists have speculated, in an infinite number of universes, with infinite possibilities, then it logically follows that god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?

Wrong.

God has never been defined coherently, so we are literally talking about nothing.

 

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

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SPS
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Thus spake Hambydammit:

Thus spake Hambydammit:

"In short, there's actually nothing similar between god and aliens, at least not for the question at hand."

You seem to be willfully missing my point here. The fact is that there is zero evidence for the existence of intelligent life on other planets, yet most of the people on this group seem to have no problem believing it anyway. And yet if someone postulates the existence of a deity for which there is no existence, he is accused of having a mental disorder.

There is no reason to believe there is intelligent life elswhere, but the sheer volume of planets in the universe suggests that there might be. Apart from that, you have nothing.

Similarly, there is no hard empirical evidence for the existence of god, but the sheer improbability of this very universe suggests that there might have been a higher intelligence at work here. The parallels are exact.

"

Quote:
"hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional being"

"You realize that these are just words unless you tell us what, exactly, they mean."

I believe my meaning is clear enough. Again, you seem to be deliberately missing my point, which is simply that any discussion of God is immediately clouded by emotion.  The very mention of the word seems to get people all riled up. It would seem as though atheists as well as fundamentalists are subject to this phenomenon. I simply choose the phrase because I thought it sounded neutral.  I could just as easily have called it the "wicked smart thing that exists in more than three dimensions."  Is that better?

Quote:
But the fact remains that a reasonable person can look at the universe, and reasonably speculate (not conclude, mind you) about the existence of an HIPDB that somehow gave it all its initial "push", so to speak.

"In a "wishing upon a star" sense, yes. But, if you want it to be a scientific sense, you must define a HIPDB well enough that we can talk about whether or not it's likely."

Again, you're missing my point. If I could prove god exists in a scientific sense, I'd really be quite famous, now wouldn't I? And we certainly would not be having this debate, now would we? I have said over and over that it can't be proven, merely that it can be speculated upon.

Quote:
But the fact remains that every primitive society known to us --even ones that had no contact with any others--developed some kind of belief in a higher power of some sort.

"This is so general as to be almost useless. Yes, every culture made up myths to explain the boom booms in the sky, but the myths were not all that similar, except that they all involved some kind of magic. Magic is simply another way of saying "I don't know."

Yet again you miss my point. The question one must ask is: why? Why did every single society manage to come up with this admittedly rather bizarre notion of a form of life higher than ourselves? As I've said before, it proves little, but until one can come with an explanation, the "god hypothesis" is still in the running.

Quote:
The problems arise when people take the initial supposition and start adorning it with all kinds of doctine and dogma, and the REALLY big problems start when these same people start insisting that you must believe as they do. But as an initial supposition, the notion of a higher power is not so unreasonable.

"As it turns out, the only thing one could reasonably say about a speculative being is "I don't know a damn thing about it, apart from the fact that it might exist." This makes it slightly more useful than Velvet Elvis as a conversation piece, but that is the same as saying that it has no use to humanity whatsoever."

I don't recall ever saying that it was useful. I simply said it was reasonable.

Let me pare this arguement down to its bare bones: I can't prove god exists, but you can't prove he doesn't. Therefore, neither of our positions can be said to be empirically factual. We just look at the universe and draw different conclusions about it. There is no way to test either hyposthesis, so both must be considered opinions, not facts. All I'm suggesting is that you lose the dogmatic tone and consider the margin of error in your own opinion on this subject.

"I wish I could make this fallacy go away. The valid conclusion with regard to something for which there is no definition and no evidence is complete agnostic disregard until there's something to talk about."

The problem with the "god" is not that there is no definition, but that there are too many. And I agree, most of them are so silly as to be nothing more than straw men. But what you overlook is that IF there is some sort of "creator god", it would almost by definition be undefinable by human standards. In any event this is by no means conclusive proof of non-existence.

Quote:
If one believes, as some scientists have speculated, in an infinite number of universes, with infinite possibilities, then it logically follows that god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?

"Wrong.

God has never been defined coherently, so we are literally talking about nothing."

You're being pedantic here, at the very least. You seem to be suggesting that if something cannot be defined by the limited intelligence of the human race, then it cannot possibly exist. This is patent nonsense. Clearly, if one believes (again, with absolutely no evidence) in the existence of an infinite number of universes with an infinite number of possibilities, than god must exist in some of then, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities that must be accounted for. The fact that god has not been "defined" to your satisfaction proves nothing.

 

 


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SPS wrote: Thus spake

SPS wrote:

Thus spake Hambydammit:

"In short, there's actually nothing similar between god and aliens, at least not for the question at hand."

You seem to be willfully missing my point here. The fact is that there is zero evidence for the existence of intelligent life on other planets, yet most of the people on this group seem to have no problem believing it anyway. And yet if someone postulates the existence of a deity for which there is no existence, he is accused of having a mental disorder.

There is no reason to believe there is intelligent life elswhere, but the sheer volume of planets in the universe suggests that there might be. Apart from that, you have nothing.

Similarly, there is no hard empirical evidence for the existence of god, but the sheer improbability of this very universe suggests that there might have been a higher intelligence at work here. The parallels are exact.

"

Ahum...

Hard empirical evidence.

Planets that are proven to support life: 1 (Earth!!!!)

Gods proven to excist: 0

So yes we are speculating, but the difference is precisely the empirical evidence. We speculate about something that is proven to be possible (life on a planet in this universe). Not about something that has not even been proven once. So the parallels are not exact.

Willem.


Thomathy
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SPS wrote: Thomathy said:

SPS wrote:

Thomathy said:

"You cannot equivocate the possibility of there being life on others planets with the possibility of the existence of god. They are not remotely comparable."

Of course they are. In both cases we are speculating about the existence of something, even though there is no evidence for its existence, based on something other than evidence. One can have a reason for believing that something may exist, even without hard evidence. As I said before, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are many reasons that one may speculate about the existence of life on other planets; in fact you've given some very good ones yourself.

It's no different with the notion of god. In fact, let's stop using the word "god", okay? It just conjurs up too many emotional connotations in both theist and atheist alike to be useful in discussion. Personally, I prefer to borrow a term from Douglas Adams, "hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional being", or HIPDB, for short. Yes, I know Adams was using the term in a different context, but I think it's useful here as well.

Even Dawkins admits that the creation of life on this planet was a very, very, improbable event that occured in an even more improbable universe. Theologians and scientists alike have labored over the question of "how did it all begin" for centuries. I readily admit that science, not religion, has and will continue to reveal the secrets of the universe.

But the fact remains that a reasonable person can look at the universe, and reasonably speculate (not conclude, mind you) about the existence of an HIPDB that somehow gave it all its initial "push", so to speak. It is surely no less reasonable than to conclude that it was simply the result of a series of happy yet highly improbable coincidences.

Another point that one might consider is that, as has been pointed out elsewhere, atheism is the "default position". One can see how this might be. Prehistoric man sits in his cave, pondering three questions: 1) how do I find food; 2) how do I avoid becoming food; and of course, the eternal question: 3) how do I get cave-woman in the mood to make cave-baby?

One might have thought that these questions would have been enough to keep a self-centered creature like man too busy to be dreaming up anything so exotic as the notion of a higher being. I mean, why would he? What immediate purpose would it have served in the life of your typical man-in-the-cave? One might have at least expected primitive societies to fall equally into one of the two camps: some theistic, some atheistic.

But the fact remains that every primitive society known to us --even ones that had no contact with any others--developed some kind of belief in a higher power of some sort. As Dawkins himself points out, there is a "God shaped hole" in our brains. And yes, I am familiar with the various phsychological explanations for this, but really none of them is really any more satisfying that the simplest explanation: the existence of an HIPDB that man, however imperfectly, instictively felt the existence of.

So what does that prove? Nothing. But again it may raise in the mind of a reasonable person the speculation that something is up in the universe.

The problems arise when people take the initial supposition and start adorning it with all kinds of doctine and dogma, and the REALLY big problems start when these same people start insisting that you must believe as they do. But as an initial supposition, the notion of a higher power is not so unreasonable.

By the same token, an equally reasonable person might not reach that conclusion. Since in either case, we are theorizing without data, neither conclusion is necessarily more valid than the other.

"We are able to make many definite statements about what does exist in the universe."

Of course we are. And those statements are the results of science, not religion. I have absolutely no problem with that. All I'm saying is that there are many, many things we don't know about the universe. Who knows? The HIPDB may very well be one of them.

A long time ago people looked to religion to explain the mysteries of the universe. Over the last two hundred years or so, that role has properly become the purview of science. Religion may continue to play a role in people's lives, but it cannot be that role. Religion must understand that if it is to survive. The irony is that creationists are doing more to harm the cause of religion than anyone.

"Thus can I say with complete certainty that there is no invisible pink unicorn in my closet, though it is impossible to prove it empirically."

Of course you can prove it: just empty out your closet! The old "you can't prove a negative" is one of the biggest fallacies going. For example, if I were to say to you, "You can't prove that the earth isn't flat", would you retort by saying "you can't prove a negative"? Of course not! You would proceed to bury me with fact upon fact until I was forced to admit that you were right, that the world isn't flat after all. One can prove negatives for which readily observable empirical data are available. You simply can't prove THAT negative.

"but then you may like to prove to me that god or any part of the supernatural isn't made up and you will find that you can't."

Let's start at the beginning. God? Which god? Jehovah? Zeus? Thor? Allah? Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept. Even if there IS a god (a really big "IF", mind you) it strikes me (and you, I'm sure) that it is terribly unlikely that any of man's standard conceptions of what god--excuse me, the HIPDB--is are going to be accurate. In this context, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just as valid a conception as any.

(Actually, a universe run by the FSM really doesn't sound all that bad, now does it? Imagine, infinite pasta for all believers!)

But I digress.

Again, I say I cannot prove the existence of this HIPDB, I can only, as a reasonable person, speculate about its existence as a possible explanation for why things are the way they are.

But by the same token, because we know so very little about the universe, you cannot state with absolute certainty that this HIPDB does not exist. Unforunately we cannot clean out the universe looking for the HIPDB as easily as you can clean out your closet looking for that pink unicorn. That's all I'm saying here.

"Like you, though, I'm not trying to pick a fight..."

I'm glad to hear it. Cool To me, this is an exercise in logic, not religion. While I do believe in the existence of the HIPBD, I'm perfectly cool with the idea that I may be wrong. The problem I have with both fundies and some atheists is that they seem to have a very hard time accepting the fact that THEY may be wrong.

Ultimately, it's really a matter of opinion either way. The atheists are absolutely sure they're right, but strange, so are the fundies. Since there's no way to really know, neither side has the right to adopt the dogmatic, know-it-all tone that many fundies and atheists often do.

Lastly, I actually did think of an idea that would keep everyone happy:

If one believes, as some scientists have speculated, in an infinite number of universes, with infinite possibilities, then it logically follows that god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?

Discuss amongst youselves. Be well.

 

I want to be succinct in my response, so I'm listing my problems.  I take issues with each part of your response.  I don't think I'll refute you any more after this on these particular subjects, as I can see other people are already giving voice to my particular complaints.

1) The possible existence of this 'HIPDB' (or anything supernatural) is not the same in any sense as the possible existence of life somewhere else.  I will state it again.  It really is very easy.  There is life on Earth.  We know there is life on Earth and there may thus be life elsewhere.  It's not a stretch.  There is no evidence for the existence of the supernatural (which is an oxymoron in the first place).  We know there is no evidence for the existence of the supernatural and there may thus be no supernatural.  It is much more of a stretch to think the supernatural might exist.  We're not even saying conclusively that life does exist anywhere else, but it's much more probable than this 'HIPDB' I hope you see the important difference.  When pondering the possibility of life on just one other planet in billions of planets we work with the evidence that there is at least one planet in billions with life.  When pondering the possibility of the supernatural existing we work with no evidence of the supernatural existing in the first place.

2) Let's get this straight.  Emptying my closet isn't going to prove to anyone that an invisible pink unicorn isn't there!  You can't prove it doesn't exist, there's no way to collect empirical evidence of it.  It's invisible!  It's also magical -it's a unicorn!

3) 'Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept.'  I know you were serious when your wrote this, but do you see how contradictory it would be of you to define this intangible concept, that is putting a tangible handle on it and then to believe in that thing?  And unless I'm mistaken you do; 'HIPDB'. Of course the flying spaghetti monster is as valid as any, in that it's made up too!  To prove that exact point, no less!

4) An HIPDB is not a reasonable explanation for anything!  It's just not.  What reason is there for it?  I can't think of a single thing where an HIPDB would somehow answer some question!  And it's not for lack of trying.  In fact, an HIPDB wouldn't answer any question, it couldn't.  It would only fill the spot where the question was and be 'an intangible concept' which really raises more questions.  Ignorance is not an appropriate excuse for the use of an HIPDB.

5) I could easily be moved to believe in the existence of an HIPDB.  Give me proof that it exists.  Heck, I'll believe in anything supernatural (even if the concept is an oxymoron) if I can be given empirical proof of it.  Untill such time as there is proof and I can no longer use logic and reason to make the notion of  an HIPDB null I see no necessary reason to believe it exists, just as I see no reason to believe in an invisible pink unicorn in my closet.  It just certainly is not there.

6) I really think it's unhelpful to suggest that Atheists have a know-it-all attitude, even those that are certain of the non-existence of the supernatural.  It would take considerably little effort to give an Atheist, even the most certain, evidence to the contrary, which would arguably instantly change their minds. There is nothing dogmatic about there being a total lack of evidence for the supernatural and nothing dogmatic in considering the concept to be an oxymoron and thus figuring that the supernatural does not exist (a part from all the other good reasons to believe the supernatural does not exist).

7) 'god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?' Someone else will take this one.  All I can offer is an emphatic, 'No!'

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


SPS
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Thus spake Thomathy:


Thus spake Thomathy:

1) The possible existence of this 'HIPDB' (or anything supernatural) is not the same in any sense as the possible existence of life somewhere else. (snip) When pondering the possibility of life on just one other planet in billions of planets we work with the evidence that there is at least one planet in billions with life. When pondering the possibility of the supernatural existing we work with no evidence of the supernatural existing in the first place.

Odd, I never said anything about the "supernatural". In fact, I actually agree with you in a way. A big part of the problem is that speculation about a higher being has become weighed down and polluted with all this mystical magical mumbo-jumbo. For some reason most theists feel a need for their god to be magical. The main reason I adopted the term HIPDB was to try to take the "mystical" element out of the discussion.

If we can do this, the notion of god is not remarkably different than the notion of any other form of life. Look at it this way, were I to ask you if you believe it possible that other life exists in the universe that is far more developed, or somehow differently developed, than us, I'm guessing you would probably say yes. The term "life" does not necessarily mean "life like us". Life elsewhere in the universe may be fundamentally different from us.

If one rejects that notion, then that is tantamount to saying that life elsewhere, if it exists at all, must necessarily be like us. As you seem like a fairly open-minded sort, I will again guess that you do not believe this. But once we allow for the fact that homo sapiens is not necessarily the only form that intelligent life may take, we can, without the need for a belief in the supernatural or other silly mumbo-jumbo, postulate the existence of other forms of intelligent, even hyper-intelligent life. Perhaps even life where matter and energy are combined in a different way than what we are familiar with. And if you are willing to allow even the slightest possibility of this, then it really is not much of a stretch to start postulating on the existence of a form of life that is so far beyond our understanding that we call it, for lack of a better word, "god".

2) Let's get this straight. Emptying my closet isn't going to prove to anyone that an invisible pink unicorn isn't there! You can't prove it doesn't exist, there's no way to collect empirical evidence of it. It's invisible! It's also magical -it's a unicorn!

If you believe in an invisible pink unicorn, be my guest. While I personally don't see any reason to believe in the existence of an invisible pink unicorn, being a reasonable, open-minded sort of person, I will respect your right to believe in one. Wink

3) 'Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept.' I know you were serious when your wrote this, but do you see how contradictory it would be of you to define this intangible concept, that is putting a tangible handle on it and then to believe in that thing?

You really seem to be missing my point here. I didn't say you were supposed to believe in them. All I was saying is that these definitions of "god" fail because they attempted to define god in a way that was consistent with what man knew of the world around thim, and that they therefore cannot be proven. I'm actually agreeing with you here.

4) An HIPDB is not a reasonable explanation for anything! It's just not. What reason is there for it? I can't think of a single thing where an HIPDB would somehow answer some question!

I have given some examples of how someone might deduce the existence of a higher power at work in the universe. I suggest you reread my earlier posts for them. In any event, as I stated above, by using the term HIPDB, I was simply trying to remove the "supernatural" aspects which always seem to cloud these debates.

5) I could easily be moved to believe in the existence of an HIPDB. Give me proof that it exists. Heck, I'll believe in anything supernatural (even if the concept is an oxymoron) if I can be given empirical proof of it.

And obviously you're willing to believe in some things for which there is no empirical proof. So belief in things like intelligent life on other planets or infinite multiple universes is ok, but belief in something like a higher being means I have a mental disorder. Hmmmm.

6) I really think it's unhelpful to suggest that Atheists have a know-it-all attitude, even those that are certain of the non-existence of the supernatural.

If I say, "I believe in god", and you say "I don't believe in God", we're ok. Once I say "there is a god", implying that I know this for a fact, then the burden of proof is on me. Once you say "there is no god", implying that you know this for a fact, the burden of proof is on you. When you reply "I can't prove that something does not exist", all you do is make my point for me.

I make no claims about knowing that there is a god. I'm perfectly cool with the idea that there may not be a god. I'm getting the feeling that you are not cool with the idea that there may be.

As far as the FSM and the celestial teapot go, I consign them to the same rubbish bin as Thor, Zeus, Jehovah, Osiris, and the rest. There's simply no point in arguing about it, because we all agree that none of those things exist.

What some atheists (not necessarily the ones participating in this thread) fail to see is that militant atheism is merely the mirror image of religious fundamentalism, in that both camps insists on the self-evident correctness of their position. In both cases, the party line is "It's okay to be dogmatic when you're right!"

If it makes you feel any better, I have gone through many bottles of migraine medication trying to argue these points with religious fundamentalists. They hate me too. Cool

'god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?' Someone else will take this one. All I can offer is an emphatic, 'No!'

This is where you're really puzzling me. Since we're talking about only two possibilities, and an infinite number of universes for each to occur in, it seems only reasonable to conclude that each of these possibilities would actually occur. It's like if you flip a coin a million times, it will come out heads roughly 50% of the time, tails the other 50%.

Now, I already realize that the notion of a god with a 50% probability is totally unacceptable to you, so let's ratchet that one down a bit. Let's assume that the existence of god is SO improbable, (much like, as Dawkins points out, the universe itself) that it can only happen once in a quadrillion times. Therefore, in an infinite universe, there would have to be one universe with god in it for every quadrillion universes that don't.

But your answer to this premise is an emphatic "NO". Therefore, what you must be saying is that given an infinite number of universes with an infinite possibilities, anything is possible except for THAT possibility. Again, I say: Hmmmmm.

So my question to you is: are you really SO uncomfortable with the notion of god, in any form whatsoever, that you will not allow for its existence in any universe, even if it's not your own?

None of this, absolutely none of this, proves that god exists. I never claimed it did. But what I am saying is that it's okay to speculate on the unknown, and perhaps even the unknowable, because that's what one does when one contemplates the universe. Intelligent life on other planets, multiple universes, white holes, god. It's all fodder for the endlessly inquisitive but rather limited intellect of man.

And I hope you're not taking any of this personally. I simply enjoy the debate. Sadly, irrespective of which of us is right, soon enough we will all know. So if perchance it turns out that I am the one who's right, rest assured that I'll be putting in a good word for you.Wink

And as I've said, I've riled many a fundie in my time. If you ever really wamt to get a fundie's panties in a bunch, ask them to explain Genesis 19:30-38. Innocent

And by the way, if you really want to know how I define my own "religious" beliefs, refer to "The God Delusion", pg. 60, bottom paragraph. I find it supremely ironic that Dawkins, of all people, should be the one to sum up my own views on this issue so eloquently. Yes I do realize that he ultimately takes this in a different direction, but that paragraph as it stands alone is a pretty accurate summation of what I believe.

Be well.


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Quote: Planets that are

Quote:

Planets that are proven to support life: 1 (Earth!!!!)

Gods proven to excist: 0

Dude, that has nothing to do with what I was saying.

Do you know what a valid analogy is?  I demonstrated that the categories of "Things that might exist" and "Aliens" are not analogous because of incoherency and incompatibility in the category of "Things that might exist".

 

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

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SPS wrote: Thus spake

SPS wrote:

Thus spake Thomathy:

1) The possible existence of this 'HIPDB' (or anything supernatural) is not the same in any sense as the possible existence of life somewhere else. (snip) When pondering the possibility of life on just one other planet in billions of planets we work with the evidence that there is at least one planet in billions with life. When pondering the possibility of the supernatural existing we work with no evidence of the supernatural existing in the first place.

Odd, I never said anything about the "supernatural". In fact, I actually agree with you in a way. A big part of the problem is that speculation about a higher being has become weighed down and polluted with all this mystical magical mumbo-jumbo. For some reason most theists feel a need for their god to be magical. The main reason I adopted the term HIPDB was to try to take the "mystical" element out of the discussion.

If we can do this, the notion of god is not remarkably different than the notion of any other form of life. Look at it this way, were I to ask you if you believe it possible that other life exists in the universe that is far more developed, or somehow differently developed, than us, I'm guessing you would probably say yes. The term "life" does not necessarily mean "life like us". Life elsewhere in the universe may be fundamentally different from us.

If one rejects that notion, then that is tantamount to saying that life elsewhere, if it exists at all, must necessarily be like us. As you seem like a fairly open-minded sort, I will again guess that you do not believe this. But once we allow for the fact that homo sapiens is not necessarily the only form that intelligent life may take, we can, without the need for a belief in the supernatural or other silly mumbo-jumbo, postulate the existence of other forms of intelligent, even hyper-intelligent life. Perhaps even life where matter and energy are combined in a different way than what we are familiar with. And if you are willing to allow even the slightest possibility of this, then it really is not much of a stretch to start postulating on the existence of a form of life that is so far beyond our understanding that we call it, for lack of a better word, "god".

2) Let's get this straight. Emptying my closet isn't going to prove to anyone that an invisible pink unicorn isn't there! You can't prove it doesn't exist, there's no way to collect empirical evidence of it. It's invisible! It's also magical -it's a unicorn!

If you believe in an invisible pink unicorn, be my guest. While I personally don't see any reason to believe in the existence of an invisible pink unicorn, being a reasonable, open-minded sort of person, I will respect your right to believe in one. Wink

3) 'Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept.' I know you were serious when your wrote this, but do you see how contradictory it would be of you to define this intangible concept, that is putting a tangible handle on it and then to believe in that thing?

You really seem to be missing my point here. I didn't say you were supposed to believe in them. All I was saying is that these definitions of "god" fail because they attempted to define god in a way that was consistent with what man knew of the world around thim, and that they therefore cannot be proven. I'm actually agreeing with you here.

4) An HIPDB is not a reasonable explanation for anything! It's just not. What reason is there for it? I can't think of a single thing where an HIPDB would somehow answer some question!

I have given some examples of how someone might deduce the existence of a higher power at work in the universe. I suggest you reread my earlier posts for them. In any event, as I stated above, by using the term HIPDB, I was simply trying to remove the "supernatural" aspects which always seem to cloud these debates.

5) I could easily be moved to believe in the existence of an HIPDB. Give me proof that it exists. Heck, I'll believe in anything supernatural (even if the concept is an oxymoron) if I can be given empirical proof of it.

And obviously you're willing to believe in some things for which there is no empirical proof. So belief in things like intelligent life on other planets or infinite multiple universes is ok, but belief in something like a higher being means I have a mental disorder. Hmmmm.

6) I really think it's unhelpful to suggest that Atheists have a know-it-all attitude, even those that are certain of the non-existence of the supernatural.

If I say, "I believe in god", and you say "I don't believe in God", we're ok. Once I say "there is a god", implying that I know this for a fact, then the burden of proof is on me. Once you say "there is no god", implying that you know this for a fact, the burden of proof is on you. When you reply "I can't prove that something does not exist", all you do is make my point for me.

I make no claims about knowing that there is a god. I'm perfectly cool with the idea that there may not be a god. I'm getting the feeling that you are not cool with the idea that there may be.

As far as the FSM and the celestial teapot go, I consign them to the same rubbish bin as Thor, Zeus, Jehovah, Osiris, and the rest. There's simply no point in arguing about it, because we all agree that none of those things exist.

What some atheists (not necessarily the ones participating in this thread) fail to see is that militant atheism is merely the mirror image of religious fundamentalism, in that both camps insists on the self-evident correctness of their position. In both cases, the party line is "It's okay to be dogmatic when you're right!"

If it makes you feel any better, I have gone through many bottles of migraine medication trying to argue these points with religious fundamentalists. They hate me too. Cool

'god must exist in some of them, and not in others, since those are the two possibilities, right?' Someone else will take this one. All I can offer is an emphatic, 'No!'

This is where you're really puzzling me. Since we're talking about only two possibilities, and an infinite number of universes for each to occur in, it seems only reasonable to conclude that each of these possibilities would actually occur. It's like if you flip a coin a million times, it will come out heads roughly 50% of the time, tails the other 50%.

Now, I already realize that the notion of a god with a 50% probability is totally unacceptable to you, so let's ratchet that one down a bit. Let's assume that the existence of god is SO improbable, (much like, as Dawkins points out, the universe itself) that it can only happen once in a quadrillion times. Therefore, in an infinite universe, there would have to be one universe with god in it for every quadrillion universes that don't.

But your answer to this premise is an emphatic "NO". Therefore, what you must be saying is that given an infinite number of universes with an infinite possibilities, anything is possible except for THAT possibility. Again, I say: Hmmmmm.

So my question to you is: are you really SO uncomfortable with the notion of god, in any form whatsoever, that you will not allow for its existence in any universe, even if it's not your own?

None of this, absolutely none of this, proves that god exists. I never claimed it did. But what I am saying is that it's okay to speculate on the unknown, and perhaps even the unknowable, because that's what one does when one contemplates the universe. Intelligent life on other planets, multiple universes, white holes, god. It's all fodder for the endlessly inquisitive but rather limited intellect of man.

And I hope you're not taking any of this personally. I simply enjoy the debate. Sadly, irrespective of which of us is right, soon enough we will all know. So if perchance it turns out that I am the one who's right, rest assured that I'll be putting in a good word for you.Wink

And as I've said, I've riled many a fundie in my time. If you ever really wamt to get a fundie's panties in a bunch, ask them to explain Genesis 19:30-38. Innocent

And by the way, if you really want to know how I define my own "religious" beliefs, refer to "The God Delusion", pg. 60, bottom paragraph. I find it supremely ironic that Dawkins, of all people, should be the one to sum up my own views on this issue so eloquently. Yes I do realize that he ultimately takes this in a different direction, but that paragraph as it stands alone is a pretty accurate summation of what I believe.

Be well.

I want to be clear here.

I don't believe in the invisible pink unicorn. I have pointed that out exactly. Perhaps that is why you leave a wink after your response. I trust you don't think I believe in an invisible pink unicorn.

You're definition of a god is very nice. So let's speculate that this being is natural and not supernatural. Fine. There's no reason to think so, there's no reason to believe in it and you feel very well hedging your bets that it does exist. I am unsure why, but fine.

I don't care at all what other life may be like. It doesn't even matter! I've never given any statement other than to say that life (even intelligent) may exist elsewhere and that it's not a stretch to say that it may. It just may and there's good reason that it may. That's it.

There is extremely good reason to believe that the probability of a god existing is so extremely low that it certainly doesn't exist. Much like the invisible pink unicorn certainly doesn't exist, or the tooth fairly or santa clause. Of course, now I know you're not talking about a supernatural god. You're talking of some sort of natural god.

'You really seem to be missing my point here. I didn't say you were supposed to believe in them. All I was saying is that these definitions of "god" fail because they attempted to define god in a way that was consistent with what man knew of the world around thim, and that they therefore cannot be proven. I'm actually agreeing with you here.' When you write this in response to number 3) in my list are you even responding to what I wrote? I ask because this:

3) 'Obviously these "gods" are simply man trying to put a tangible handle on an intagible concept.' I know you were serious when your wrote this, but do you see how contradictory it would be of you to define this intangible concept, that is putting a tangible handle on it and then to believe in that thing?

In other words is this:

It is contradictory of you to define a concept that you say is intangible and then to believe in the thing that you've defined as you've deinfed it.

I really don't see how your response follows from what I wrote. I'm confused by it.

Okay, so it's not supernatural. It's still not an explanation for anything. It still doesn't answer any questions. What you pose as things it could be responsible for are things that could far more probably be the result of natural (unintelligent) phenomena. And if all this being is is a natural phenomenon then it must necessarily have a start in nature. I do not understand why your definition of god in this way should be any more acceptable than any other definition. It's still nonsense. I don't hate you. I disagree with you.

For the very last time the possibility that life (even intelligent) exists on just one other planet is not some matter of faith! It's a matter of probability. I would really like for you to understand the fundamental difference between supposing that because life does exist on one planet that it might exist somewhere else and speculating on the existence of god. -Something that would be exactly like me speculating about an invisible pink unicorn in my closet.  Yes, it may very well really be there (after all, I can't prove it's not), but there is no reason to suppose that it actually is and as much reason to believe that it certainly isn't.

I'm not uncomfortable with the existence of god at all, even in any other universe, if there indeed are other universes. God would have to exist first and be proven to exist, but that's a whole other mater. I have no bearing on the non-existence or existence of god. It is one or the other and I have no way to effect any change on the reality, I simply assert that the reality exludes the latter. I don't give proof and I don't even imply that it is fact that god does not exist, but I have stated that it is essentially so improbable (a part from all the other reasons that it can't in the first place) that I can be as certain that it doesn't as I can be of the non-existence of the invisible pink unicorn. Which is to say that I know for certain that it doesn't.

I really don't understand what you mean when you say that 'soon enough we will all know'. If this god of yours is natural I would have assumed that you don't believe in an afterlife. You apparently do, and that you'll be meeting this 'natural god' and will be able to put in a good word for me. Which is rather nice of you, though considering your views on this 'natural god' I can't imagine why you would think it cares about us or what we think/do and especially of whether I believe in it or not. It sounds distinctly like you believe in not just an afterlife but in a heaven and a hell, which is very Christian imagining for someone who believes in a 'natural god' defined as an HIPDB and conceptually intangible. You assume a lot of characteristics for this thing that you can't know anything about. Unless, of course, your wink here means that you are being sarcastic, which makes this humourous. However, lest you contradict yourself, if this god you talk about is natural, how would you reconcile the afterlife, a soul, and these other necessarily supernatural notions with this 'natural god'?

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:
Quote:

Planets that are proven to support life: 1 (Earth!!!!)

Gods proven to excist: 0

Dude, that has nothing to do with what I was saying.

Do you know what a valid analogy is? I demonstrated that the categories of "Things that might exist" and "Aliens" are not analogous because of incoherency and incompatibility in the category of "Things that might exist".

Dude,

Are you adressing me, or the person whom you are quoting? Just in case you are adressing me, the answer is yes, I most certainly do know what a valid analogy is, clearly more than you seem to. Allow me to demonstrate:

"Aliens have a definition. They are lifeforms in the way we know life to exist, as a replicating, finite being that passes information about itself to its descendents through some sort of heredity. They will have evolved in a way similar to evolution on earth."

Wrong. That is an assumption on your part, nothing more. Like God, we don't even know if "aliens" exist, and yet here you are pontificating on their reproductive habits. The fact that you have come up with a semantic definition for the word "alien" proves nothing.

God does not have a coherent definition. Supernatural doesn't actually describe anything, so we can't say in what state this being exists. God, traditionally, is immortal. In many traditions, it is infinite in some way. It did not evolve in the traditional way.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, the problem with the word "god" is that it has too many definitions. I agree with you about the word supernatural, but I didn't introduce it into this conversation, you did. To me, "supernatural" simply refers to anything our ancestors didn't understand. But in any event, your assertion that God does not have a coherant definition is simply bantering semantics and is pedantic at best. You haven't proven a darn thing with this.

In short, there's actually nothing similar between god and aliens, at least not for the question at hand.

Can it be that you have really misunderstood my point this badly? I never said that there was a similarity between god and aliens, merely that the concepts were analogous for the purposes of this debate, simply because I found it somewhat amusing that athiests feel comfortable glomming on to some ideas for which there is no proof, but not others.

To me, thisis more of an intellecual exercise in logic, not a religious debate.  I'm not insisting you believe as I do, although you seem to be insisting that I believe (or disbelieve) as you do.  I'm just having some fun with this. As I've said before, soon enough we will all know, and if it turn out that you are right, then my dying thought will be that I wish I had spent less time on the internet. Put the machine gun down, will ya? You're making me nervous. Wink

 

 


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Thomathy wrote: I want to

Thomathy wrote:

I want to be clear here.

I don't believe in the invisible pink unicorn. I have pointed that out exactly. Perhaps that is why you leave a wink after your response. I trust you don't think I believe in an invisible pink unicorn.

(snip of exceptionally well written post)

You assume a lot of characteristics for this thing that you can't know anything about. Unless, of course, your wink here means that you are being sarcastic, which makes this humourous.

I'm glad you think so. Yes, I was trying to be humorous in both instances. You atheists are a humorless lot, arent you? Wink

Wink <----- That means I'm kidding.


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Laughing

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Hello SPS. I think you

Hello SPS.

I think you misunderstand Hambydammit.

When you say 'life somewhere else in the universe may exist' (a.k.a. aliens) you need to define the word 'life'. And Ham provided such a definition and with this definition coherent discussion about the possibility of such life can follow.

When you say 'god (HIPDB) may exist' you need to define the word 'god'. And I agree with Ham that most definitions of the word god that are usually presented by theists are incoherent (don't make sense). So we can't talk about them at all.

If you want to continue to argue about this entity called HIPDB (god), I think you must formulate some logically consistent definition for it.

 

I see this problem in simpler terms:

Premise 1: There is an infinity of things that are possible (and logically consistent): i.e. life somewhere in the universe, some very advanced, intelligent being capable of creating universes.

Premise 2: The only way we can choose (with some confidence) which entities from this infinity do actually exist is evidence (the scientific method).

Conclusion: I believe only in those things for which there is evidence.

 

The way I see it, all significant discussions (that means without fundementalists and post-modernists) revolve around "Premise 2" which many want to change or extend to include something else, like:

- personal experience;

- philosophical deductions;

- value to the well being of society or the individual.

A strong empiricist myself I reject these extensions, but that is a personal opinion.

 

Cheers,

Richard

 

A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.


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richard955 wrote:

richard955 wrote:

Premise 1: There is an infinity of things that are possible (and logically consistent): i.e. life somewhere in the universe, some very advanced, intelligent being capable of creating universes.

Premise 2: The only way we can choose (with some confidence) which entities from this infinity do actually exist is evidence (the scientific method).

Conclusion: I believe only in those things for which there is evidence.

Hello, Richard.

Fair enough. But if we follow this line of reasoning, then we must conclude that there is no intelligent life on other planets, since, even though we can define the concept, there is no empirical evidence at this time to suggest that it exists.

And yet, most everyone I've encountered on this thread, theist and atheist alike, seem to believe--with no empirical evidence--that intelligent life does exist on other planets. The reasons for doing so certainly fall under the category of "philosophical deduction".

So rather than allowing this to devolve even further into the realm of semantics, I would like to ask the group another question, if I may:

Since the one thing we all seem to agree on, for whatever reasons, is that the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is in fact a reasonable supposition, it seems like a reasonable starting point for a line of inquiry. So my question is this:

Suppose, if you will, that another race made contact with us, and in such a way that we could actually communicate. We would have to assume that this race was far more advanced than us, since they had solved the twin problems of practical space travel and how to communicate with an alien race.

Now suppose this race turned out to be 100% atheist. Suppose that they had been observing us for many years, and were just laughing their asses off at how humans had managed to create religion out of seemingly nothing. Suppose further that it turned out that this race informed us that it was also in contact with other races who were also 100% atheist. In short, what if we were to find out that we are, in fact, the only "intelligent" life in the galaxy that has developed this idea of "theism"? While this would not conclusively prove that God did not exist, it would certainly be highly suggestive that the human race has made a very grave error here.

Conversely, what if this race was 100% theist? What if it turns out that humans are actually one of many races that are theistic in nature? Most importantly, what if these races had developed their respective versions of theism prior to coming in contact with each other? Would that not suggest (not prove, of course) that there is some form of higher power in the universe, since these alien societies, without any input from each other, had all come to the same conclusion?

Just a thought. Cheers to all! Smile

 


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    Actually the is

    Actually the is evidence that there is intelligent life on a planet, you can figure out which one, with that we can take a probability stance of the possibility of life on other planets, solar systems, galaxies, etc, since you have to take the only evidence we have (earth) and then take it's surrounding 1 in roughly 10 billion solar systems in this 1 galaxy, then mulitpy that by the amount of other galaxies (estimated somewhere around 200 billion) each having for arguements sake 10 billion solar systems (give or take a few billion). As you can see the possibility of life on another planet is possible, just knowing what we know of this galaxy, how it came to form and the requirements for life in both moderate and extreme conditions (artic, desert etc) The fact as well that another planet that does have water in another galaxy that is roughly in the same orbital state of earth was found this year (or sometime late last year) does show that we are not just a once in a lifetime possiblity, tht this can occur more than once.....especially if you figure out the possiblity of 1 in 10 billion chance that goes into that astronomically huge number of 200 billion times 10 billion which is what 2 trillion maybe?

    So yeah the evidence is there that life could be on other planets, and that's what most people believe, some are sure other go in this forum i found, with the possiblity, which FAR FAR FAR FAR out weighs the possiblity of a religious god of any type. 


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The short answer is no.

The short answer is no.

The long answer goes something like what follows:

There is nothing to suggest that humans didn't create the supernatural (since we can no longer be talking within the confines of your definition of god) as a means to explain away things over which they had no control, could not hope to control, and not only did not understand, but could reasonably not have forseen any understanding of. I wouldn't be the first person to suggest that the supernatural is all a human invention. I see no reason why primitive humans shouldn't have tried to look for purpose and correlation in events and to attribute these things to an invisible sky daddy. It is, after all, something which humans are uniquely good at doing; finding patterns and reasons where, in fact, no patterns nor reasons exist.

Suggesting at all that if life did exist elsewhere and is able to do the things that make this ponderance acceptable, we might expect that they might also have evolved past their simple beginnings and, considering all their knowledge and technology, feel comfortable that they don't need the supernatural to define what they don't know, however little or however much that may be.

If, indeed, they purport to be 100% theist, considering their knowledge and technology, I would expect them to be able to give empirical proof of the existence of the supernatural (or not supernatural, if we accept your definition). If they are in contact with some other life in other parts of the universe and they purport the same thing, I would expect to receive the same evidence. Failing evidence, we are back at square one and an untestable and unfallsifiable claim, no matter if it is held by an entire galactic neighbourhood or one person is a very silly claim to take seriously. (Not at all similar, I'll remind you, of supposing that life could exist somewhere else based on the fact that it does here. I certainly don't presume that it does certainly, as you think others in the thread do.)

*edited for better grammar and clarity. 

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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I can only say that if this

I can only say that if this advanced alien race would be 100% theist they should have far better arguments or evidence than what we have.

If they didn't, I guess we could relate to them on the philosophical realm. If belief in the supernatural (higher power) comes from the minds attempt to deal with the unknown (death, purpose of existence, etc) then it may be that all intelligent life goes through a phase of supernatural beliefs.

We here, have outgrown this belief, take reality of what it is and accept the unknown as such.

 

P.S. To be consistent, I can only say alien life is possible, and it may be probable given the size of the universe, but I don't believe in aliens until evidence is presented. 

A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.


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1. Neither. Atheism may

1. Neither. Atheism may have common premises for it, but itself as a concept necessitates nothing in particular.

2.

3. No.

4. No.

5. No.

6. This question asks about intelligent life, specifically.  There is only one known sentient being in the universe and it is the  homo sapien.  Therefore, it is possible for an intelligent being to exist, since that is an actuality.  However, in my experience, there is no evidence of intelligent life elsewhere.  Therefore, I do not hold, at this point, that it is a possibility that there is intelligent life on other planets or celestial bodies.

7. No. 


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SPS wrote: And yet, most

SPS wrote:

And yet, most everyone I've encountered on this thread, theist and atheist alike, seem to believe--with no empirical evidence--that intelligent life does exist on other planets. The reasons for doing so certainly fall under the category of "philosophical deduction".

The question asked about the possibility of life on other planets, not do we believe it does exist.

Big difference. 

 

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Susan wrote:

Susan wrote:
SPS wrote:

And yet, most everyone I've encountered on this thread, theist and atheist alike, seem to believe--with no empirical evidence--that intelligent life does exist on other planets. The reasons for doing so certainly fall under the category of "philosophical deduction".

The question asked about the possibility of life on other planets, not do we believe it does exist.

Big difference.

 

Ummmm, ok, you got me on that one. In my defense, that was a badly worded comment that I wrote at about 3 in the morning. Yes, I understand the difference. You're right: there is a difference between acknowledging the possibility that something exists, and arriving at a belief in the actual existence of said something. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. Nevertheless, judging from the way some answers were worded, I got the impression that at least some people on this thread do seem to feel that it's a strong possibility.

But in a way, you've actually helped me make my point about theism, at least my personal version of it.

My approach to theism is pretty much the same as my approach to the idea of intelligent life elsewhere. Without having any empirical evidence of either, I nevertheless believe in the possibility of the existence of both because they both make sense to me.

Given the immense number of planets in the universe, a universe in which some of these planets contain intelligent life makes more sense to me than a universe which contains trillions of planets (or more), but only one on which life ever managed to develop. Similarly, when I think about how highly improbable the universe we live in is (a point which even Dawkins concedes) the existence of a higher power in the deistic sense makes more sense to me than a universe which came into being through a series of happy, random, yet very, very improbable coincidences.

But in both cases, it's merely a case of my looking out at the universe and saying to myself, "What's up with that?" I don't live my life around either of these beliefs, I don't inisist that anyone else share them, and I'm certainly not prepared to kill or die for them. Heck, I'm not even sure I believe them myself half the time. But they make sense to me, so I adhere to them.

Susan, thank you for taking the time to read this and be well.


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Not trying to lock horns

Not trying to lock horns here. Just a casual reply. =)

 

SPS wrote:

 

You're right: there is a difference between acknowledging the possibility that something exists, and arriving at a belief in the actual existence of said something. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. Nevertheless, judging from the way some answers were worded, I got the impression that at least some people on this thread do seem to feel that it's a strong possibility.

 

It would certainly seem to be a strong probability. If life forms on planets, and if planets form around stars, and there are billions of stars in a galaxy, and if there are billions of galaxies, and if there are billions of clusters of galaxies, and if there are billions of clusters of clusters of galaxies, and if one of those planets was able to develop life, then I'd say it's very reasonable to conclude that, considering the number of possible planets, it's very likely that some form of life exists elsewhere. And yes, that was a run-on. =)

I'm not going to make any claims about the intelligence of that life though.

SPS wrote:

But in a way, you've actually helped me make my point about theism, at least my personal version of it.

My approach to theism is pretty much the same as my approach to the idea of intelligent life elsewhere. Without having any empirical evidence of either, I nevertheless believe in the possibility of the existence of both because they both make sense to me.

The existence of life is unlike the existence of God though because we already have at least one observable case of life occuring on a planet already. We haven't actually observed any clear evidence for a god existing, and we've actually found plenty that suggests he doesn't. To put it simply, even though the two are equally possible does not mean that they are equally probable.

SPS wrote:

Similarly, when I think about how highly improbable the universe we live in is (a point which even Dawkins concedes) the existence of a higher power in the deistic sense makes more sense to me than a universe which came into being through a series of happy, random, yet very, very improbable coincidences.

I'll admit that I haven't read any of Dawkins' books yet, but I've watched a good number of his interviews, Q&A's, talks, and even a few lectures. I have heard Dawkin's refer to life as extremely improbable before as well, but he goes on to say that it is only improbable in its current state. If you understand life as a series of smaller, more probable events that lead up to our current state, then it suddenly becomes much simpler and more likely.

I've heard him make this point on several different occassions about biological life. I don't know how he feels about the things in our universe, but it wouldn't surprise me if he thought something similar.

SPS wrote:

But in both cases, it's merely a case of my looking out at the universe and saying to myself, "What's up with that?"

Not understanding the universe is no reason to suppose something supernatural at work. I have no idea how a computer works. It does all kinds of things and I don't even understand how the programming for basic word processing, let alone the more complicated things like gaming. But not understanding the computer is no reason to think that there is nothing natural there that can be understood.

A bit of a bad scenario since we do have computer experts and we don't have cosmology experts, but I still think the comparison works if you ignore that detail. =P


A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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I think your reasoning is

I think your reasoning is correct and I also think that deism is an acceptable alternative to atheism even with it's extra baggage.

If you agree there is no afterlife, then, does it really matter?

If you don't agree, do you have any evidence for that or it's just whishful thinking? 

We are here, now, in this universe. Is there a way you could tell if the universe had a deistic creator or not?

It's like a puddle of water finding itself in a hole that fits perfectly. It may come to the conclusion that the hole was devinely designed for it even if it's the natural properties of water that make it fit perfectly. 

A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.