Does Weak Atheism Reduce to Strong Atheism?

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Does Weak Atheism Reduce to Strong Atheism?

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

Saying you're only 99.999999999% sure that gravity will continue to work is admirable humility, but when do we say we're "agnostic" towards gravity or have a "negative" belief in some alternative to gravity?

It's my contention that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism, but I invite any criticism on that point.

Edit:

The position should be clarified. I'm saying that when discussing gods, either:

(1) As Smith says, all talk of gods is meaningless (employs empty names)

OR

(2) Descriptions of gods are meaningful, but internally inconsistent.

Either way, you have an untestable entity.

Therefore, everyone is agnostic, and the weak atheist is waiting for evidence that can never be applied to anything at all.

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nigelTheBold wrote:More

nigelTheBold wrote:
More on-topic, your proposed lack of distinction between "strong" and "weak" atheists is based entirely on logic and, more generally, epistemology. What about people who didn't arrive at their atheism logically? Could they not be "weak atheists," in the sense that their evidence in the nonexistence of god is the same as a theist's evidence for the existence of god -- they "feel" it?



Sure. But that says nothing of how justified they are in believing one way or the other. If they're accidental atheists, then they accidentally believe there are no gods. You're right to say it's not a matter of knowledge. It's actually a matter of confusion. The confusion is understandable, though. Most people treat the word "god" as though it has some meaning, when it demonstrably does not.



We either have a problem with the word "god" or the word "exist", I suppose. Given that the word "exist" can do okay in a number of circumstances, I suspect our problem is with the word "god".

 

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nigelTheBold wrote:I

nigelTheBold wrote:
I absolutely didn't mean "weak foundation." Mostly, I meant, "has room for doubts based on their epistemology." It seems to me that Will's argument holds for those who come to the atheist conclusion using logic, but might not apply to those who do not use logic.

Yeah. That's why I say it's not "agnosticism", it's "confusion".

nigel wrote:
This assumes a weak atheist is one who personally believes there is no god, but believes others might have good reasons to be theist.

That's not a weak atheist, that's a tolerant atheist! It's still meaningless to say "there exists a god" in the hand-waving version of "god". I might as well say "there exists a flurgleflagle". That's great, but it imparts no information. Except that when we say "god" we really do mean something. In that case, we mean something internally incoherent.

nigel wrote:
An "intuitive atheist" may also be a strong atheist, if they believe god absolutely does not exist based on a feeling, and that theists are deluding themselves. Their foundation would be weak, but their belief strong.

Regardless, note that they are no longer referring to something nonsensical when they say "the theist is deluded".

nigel wrote:
I like the "intuitive" vs "rational" atheist distinction, too.

One thing, though: I'm arguing that there's no need to qualify the belief that no gods exist. You don't have to "know" that something that someone can't define (or defines incoherently) doesn't exist. You can even just have the feeling that they're full of shit. Either way, you're a strong atheist.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:You just

OrdinaryClay wrote:

You just claimed claimed the evidence to be inconsistent. This is an admission that you accepted some definition of God otherwise you would not of been able to determine it was inconsistent.

Uuuuuhhhh, no.

Edit: A contradicton is a contadiction. I don't need my own definition to determine that your definition is inconsistent.

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


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HisWillness wrote:I might as

HisWillness wrote:

I might as well say "there exists a flurgleflagle". That's great, but it imparts no information. Except that when we say "god" we really do mean something.

Do not blaspheme agaisnt the flurgleflagle! He flurged you into existence and he can just as well flurgle you into eternal damnation!

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HisWillness wrote:nigel

HisWillness wrote:

nigel wrote:
I like the "intuitive" vs "rational" atheist distinction, too.

One thing, though: I'm arguing that there's no need to qualify the belief that no gods exist. You don't have to "know" that something that someone can't define (or defines incoherently) doesn't exist. You can even just have the feeling that they're full of shit. Either way, you're a strong atheist.

I believe I understand your premise: there is no way to provide evidence for god until a rational, coherent definition of god exists. As there has been no rational, coherent definition of god so far, any consideration of the existence of god is inherently ridiculous.

I have a feeling (though no rationale yet) that the distinctions drawn between strong and weak atheism are more about the person under consideration, and not their atheism. It isn't about the lack of belief per se. It's like vegetarianism: some folks believe it is the moral and correct way, and others just don't like meat. The fact a person is a vegetarian is separate from the reasons why they are vegetarian. Their reason does indicate something about the person, though.

I guess what I'm saying is that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism; but weak atheists don't reduce to strong atheists. At least, near as I can tell.

Anyway, this is a very thought-provoking topic. I'm enjoying reading the conversation so far.

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
How did that hurt, Hamby?

Will seems to have (kind of) gotten it, but honestly, I looked at the sentence about five or six times, trying to figure out what refered to what, and what was a function of what, and I finally gave up.  Admittedly, I was trying to interpret it with the word "function" being used in its mathematical sense, so maybe that's where I went wrong.  Anyway, it hurt because I tried really hard to figure it out grammatically and sensically, and failed at both.

Taking 'function' in a mathematical sense shouldn't have given you any trouble with it at all, that's how I intended it.

As for what is a function of what, Here's how I worked it. When you've got a lot of variables making up some function with a result in a known domain, and if you have evidence of consistency in the operations applying to the variable combination, you can reduce the complexity by assuming a point on the function (x1, x2.... xn) implies a majority of the variables as a function of just one or two of them.

So then model the dynamic interactions of a world as a function of several variables, set the function to this world, and define "disapproval" (x1) as a function of another variable, the existence of identity (x2) , then test the assumptions analytically:

a. is the variable (x2) such that a change in x1 with respect to x2 is defined at the point? Yes, identity solidifies around divisions, and there is a clear correlation between the formation of strong identity and direct opposition.

b. are the operations consistent in the domain, yes, so much so that it goes directly to an axiom from which everything else follows. A and Not A are both ways to define A.

So then, by implication, 'disapproval' is a function of some stuff which is entailed in a world. And from my original claim, God is in the world, I can positively state a capacity for disapproval on behalf of my god.

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 Quote:So then, by

 

Quote:
So then, by implication, 'disapproval' is a function of some stuff which is entailed in a world. And from my original claim, God is in the world, I can positively state a capacity for disapproval on behalf of my god.

Erg.  I'm not going to pretend to get it.  Then again, I don't get your entire conception of God, so... I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I don't get your demonstration of how it has a capacity for disapproval.

Sorry to butt in.  Please continue.

 

 

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nigelTheBold wrote:I believe

nigelTheBold wrote:
I believe I understand your premise: there is no way to provide evidence for god until a rational, coherent definition of god exists. As there has been no rational, coherent definition of god so far, any consideration of the existence of god is inherently ridiculous.

 

That's the premise. From the angles I can see, it bears out, but I'll see if I can't find some PhDs to run it by.

nigel wrote:
I have a feeling (though no rationale yet) that the distinctions drawn between strong and weak atheism are more about the person under consideration, and not their atheism. It isn't about the lack of belief per se.

No, certainly not. It's about how they deal with their belief. It's my contention that nobody has to qualify "atheism". You don't have to say "I lack a belief in gods" as a softened version of "I believe no gods exist", because neither statement really reflects the situation. What an atheist is really saying is, "theists are full of shit". There's no reason to qualify that even philosophically, because theists are literally talking nonsense when they introduce the god concept.

It's not even about true or false. As todangst pointed out, we're extending the principle of generosity beyond its reasonable limits by accepting nonsense terms.

nigel wrote:
I guess what I'm saying is that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism; but weak atheists don't reduce to strong atheists. At least, near as I can tell.

It's possible, but I would have to still say that the "weak" atheist is merely confused as to what his or her responsibility is concerning epistemology. It seems that many sensitive, intelligent atheists decide they are weak atheists because they're expressing the limits of their own knowledge. But they don't really have to hold themselves to such standards when language gets thrown around like this.

If we were talking about a natural phenomenon, then certainly an atheist would be right in pointing out the limits of knowledge, but that's not the case here. Gods fall into a category of things specifically designed to outrun the explorer. The supernatural, by its definition, will never be discovered. It is beyond nature, and not merely an unknown part of nature. It's beyond nature by design of the concept itself.

The "vague supernatural" is a trick, is what I'm saying. So when the atheist says to the trickster, "you're just making shit up", the atheist is justified in doing so, because the supernatural (and gods) are specifically designed to escape "gnosis". The vague supernatural was invented so that we'd all have to be agnostic with regards to it!

The "specific supernatural" (e.g. specifically defined gods) is universally internally incoherent. I can say that with confidence because any time you define a god, in any way, you end up with nonsense because of the basic premises involved. These gods are completely indistinguishable from fantasy. If the atheist attacks these god-concepts as fantasy, the apologist can pare the gods down to a basic vagueness, but notice that we're back at the vague supernatural above, which stands as obviously pure trickery.

You may still think to yourself, "yes, but in all of this, there may still accidentally exist something that happens to coincide with a god description." But notice that you're asking for something that both exists and does not exist. Naturally, the only thing that matches that description is fantasy.

It's not about "how likely is it that such and such a thing exists", because we'd actually have to re-define "exist" to accommodate this nonsense. If you're getting caught by the sophomoric, "but how do we know that there's nothing beyond nature?" The problem is that we have no way of saying that something is "beyond" nature, so it's a nonsense question. Conceptually, we can come up with a "place" that is beyond nature, but that means we've just invented another nature.

At any rate, if gods end up inhabiting a "location" separate from our reality, then they certainly aren't real in the sense that our reality is real. In that case, we can't ever know them either. Once again, agnosticism is a redundancy, and atheism doesn't need to be "weak".

Even given the multiple worlds hypothesis, you have two or more physical worlds. Those aren't supernatural worlds, they're physical worlds that operate with the same physical laws as ours does.

In summary, we have neither need nor reason to accommodate the nonsensical supernatural, except as fantasy. Supernatural = fictional.

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HisWillness wrote:This topic

HisWillness wrote:

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

Saying you're only 99.999999999% sure that gravity will continue to work is admirable humility, but when do we say we're "agnostic" towards gravity or have a "negative" belief in some alternative to gravity?

It's my contention that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism, but I invite any criticism on that point.


I agree that if you hold the George Smith/Todangst view that religious language is meaningless then that leads strong atheism.
That said, while I think that religious language is often meaningless in practice, I don't think it has to be, so maybe I'm a "weak" atheist.

To be honest, I don't think that there's a significant practical difference to "strong" and "weak" atheism.
The only difference I can see is that the theist merely has to provide the "weak" atheist with valid evidence.
To the "strong" atheist they need to argue for coherence and only then can they try and provide evidence.


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Strafio wrote:I agree that

Strafio wrote:

I agree that if you hold the George Smith/Todangst view that religious language is meaningless then that leads strong atheism.
That said, while I think that religious language is often meaningless in practice, I don't think it has to be, so maybe I'm a "weak" atheist.

I've been trying to figure some way that it would work out, though. It just seems as though either we have a specific definition, and it's incoherent (thus we cannot apply evidence to it), or we have a definition that's so vague ... as to be impossible to apply evidence to it. So if you know of a situation where that dichotomy doesn't apply, I'd welcome it.

I mean, it's fun to argue for this dichotomy, don't get me wrong. It's practically a sport at this point! But it would be good to see if some more objections could be thrown around.

Strafio wrote:
To be honest, I don't think that there's a significant practical difference to "strong" and "weak" atheism.

Right.

Strafio wrote:
The only difference I can see is that the theist merely has to provide the "weak" atheist with valid evidence.

But what would that evidence be for? If there's no way to get a handle on a hypothesis, there isn't any evidence that could ever apply. Ever.

Strafio wrote:
To the "strong" atheist they need to argue for coherence and only then can they try and provide evidence.

But that's the trap that the weak atheist (or agnostic) falls into: they're forced to apply evidence to a hypothesis that doesn't match, and then get berated by theists for being "closed-minded". It's silly.

I just don't think there's any reason for the atheist to qualify atheism, when the only thing that might make you a "weak" atheist is an argument that is pure nonsense.

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Strafio wrote:I agree that

Strafio wrote:
I agree that if you hold the George Smith/Todangst view that religious language is meaningless then that leads strong atheism.


That said, while I think that religious language is often meaningless in practice, I don't think it has to be, so maybe I'm a "weak" atheist.

HisWillness wrote:
I've been trying to figure some way that it would work out, though. It just seems as though either we have a specific definition, and it's incoherent (thus we cannot apply evidence to it), or we have a definition that's so vague ... as to be impossible to apply evidence to it. So if you know of a situation where that dichotomy doesn't apply, I'd welcome it.

Okay. Here's my definition of God:
One view of the universe is that it behaves by strict rules, e.g. the laws of physics.
An alternative view might be that the behaviour is governed by a "will".
That is, the ultimate rule is that of a mind that makes decisions like we do.
This alternative view would agree that the universe usually holds to the laws of physics, but this is because the "higher rule" (this mind) wills it to be so.
This "higher law" (i.e. God's will) decides everything and can over-rule the usual laws of physics.
(After all, they are only in place because 'he' wills it)

(So I'm basically saying that a conception of theism can be that the universe first and foremost behaves like a mind rather than a machine that follows the laws of physics.
Rather than just being a machine, it behaves like a machine when this mind wishes it to follow these strict laws, and can behave in other ways when this mind wills otherwise.)

This "mind" that decides how the universe behaves (and everything else for that matter) is what we call God.
Not a definition that all theologians would agree with, but I see it as a potential definition of God.
It might suffer problems of being ad hoc, unfalsifiable, and not seem to fit the evidence of how the world actually behaves, but it's atleast a meaningful description of God.
So it becomes more like the celestial teapot.


Strafio wrote:
The only difference I can see is that the theist merely has to provide the "weak" atheist with valid evidence.

HisWillness wrote:
But what would that evidence be for? If there's no way to get a handle on a hypothesis, there isn't any evidence that could ever apply. Ever.

Right. So the "weak" atheist clearly disagrees that "there's no way to get a handle on God."



Strafio wrote:
To the "strong" atheist they need to argue for coherence and only then can they try and provide evidence.

HisWillness wrote:
But that's the trap that the weak atheist (or agnostic) falls into: they're forced to apply evidence to a hypothesis that doesn't match, and then get berated by theists for being "closed-minded". It's silly.

Agreed. Discovering arguments for strong atheism were a liberation.
However, I don't think they apply to all conceptions of God.


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Strafio wrote:This "mind"

Strafio wrote:
This "mind" that decides how the universe behaves (and everything else for that matter) is what we call God.


Not a definition that all theologians would agree with, but I see it as a potential definition of God.
It might suffer problems of being ad hoc, unfalsifiable, and not seem to fit the evidence of how the world actually behaves, but it's atleast a meaningful description of God.

Yes, this was part of the dichotomy that I described. Either we have meaningful god descriptions that are unfalsifiable (like your example), or we have a definition that is so vague as to be unfalsifiable as well.

Strafio wrote:
So it becomes more like the celestial teapot.

With a celestial teapot, we'd stand a chance: we would know what we're looking for. (We're looking for a teapot.)

Strafio wrote:
The only difference I can see is that the theist merely has to provide the "weak" atheist with valid evidence.

HisWillness wrote:
But what would that evidence be for? If there's no way to get a handle on a hypothesis, there isn't any evidence that could ever apply. Ever.

Right. So the "weak" atheist clearly disagrees that "there's no way to get a handle on God."

I'm not sure I follow. Could you give an example where we have some hope of finding out something about a being that thus far can't be defined in a useful way?

Strafio wrote:
However, I don't think they apply to all conceptions of God.

I've yet to find one that doesn't fall into these two categories of unfalsifiability, though.

 

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The computer at work is

The computer at work is struggling with the quotes so I'll just put these two points down:

I'd say that your position isn't that "weak atheism" reduces to "strong atheism"
You just disagree with "weak atheism" based on the premise that God concepts are meaningless.
A "weak atheist" would have to defend their position by providing a coherent definition of God.
(George Smith makes the same criticism towards Anthony Flew in his Case Against God)


I've provided a definition of God, i.e. the mind/will that governs the behaviour of the universe.
In a sense, this definition is unfalsifiable because whatever the universe does, the theist can say "well that's because God wills it to be that way"
This in the same sense that the Celestial Teapot is unfalsifiable because the believer can see "It's out there, just not in the places that you've looked at at the times that you've looked at them."

You said that with the Teapot, atleast we would know what we were looking for - a Teapot.
I think my definition of God also provides something to look for - events where the universe behaves as if governed by a mind with intentions, rather than just following the laws of physics like clockwork.
E.g. If I was to give God the finger, and 2 thunderbolts suddenly shot down by my feet, it would seem that the universe was acting as if governed by a mind rather than blindly following the laws of physics.


Perhaps the best evidence in favour of weak atheism is "Bruce Almighty"
It provides a description of God - A mind that knows everything, can do anything, and likes to take the form of Morgan Freeman and mop floors.


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Strafio wrote:I'd say that

Strafio wrote:
I'd say that your position isn't that "weak atheism" reduces to "strong atheism"


You just disagree with "weak atheism" based on the premise that God concepts are meaningless.

True. My argument is that weak atheism doesn't really know what it implies, and that Smith's non-cognitivism hits one aspect of the problem. But yes, I'd say that upon closer inspection, weak atheism is "weak" as an argument.

Strafio wrote:
You said that with the Teapot, atleast we would know what we were looking for - a Teapot.
I think my definition of God also provides something to look for - events where the universe behaves as if governed by a mind with intentions, rather than just following the laws of physics like clockwork.

The deeper problem, though, is that when we say "mind" we're actually referring to ourselves, because that's the only kind of mind we could possibly recognize. So as long as a god ends up being like us, we will have found what we're looking for.

And I agree! I think that we are, in fact, the source of gods, so it shouldn't be a surprise.

Strafio wrote:
E.g. If I was to give God the finger, and 2 thunderbolts suddenly shot down by my feet, it would seem that the universe was acting as if governed by a mind rather than blindly following the laws of physics.

Not only that, a human mind, because it would be responding to an insult, having understood an insult in exactly the same way a person would.

Strafio wrote:
Perhaps the best evidence in favour of weak atheism is "Bruce Almighty"
It provides a description of God - A mind that knows everything, can do anything, and likes to take the form of Morgan Freeman and mop floors.

Haha! Well exactly! First we would have to conceive of a mind that can know everything (none of the minds we know of can know everything, as the only minds we know of are associated with brains) and then we'd have to find a way for it to be invisible ...

I'm thinking we're back to the "quantum computer" bit. If we assume that the universe is a kind of brain, then the emergent property of universe-intelligence could be thought of as "god", if you want. That's the only case where I find a real hole in the argument. Essentially, the weak atheist is one who only believes in the possibility of an undefined emergent-intelligence property of the universe.

Unfortunately, that's also too vague to be falsifiable, as we only understand intelligence through our own intelligence.

Eloise's "God is everything" is pretty good, because then, contradictions like "God is jealous" and "God is perfectly loving" are no longer contradictions. If God is everything, you can give God any attribute you like, and it will be true. I guess we only disagree on what "everything" is.

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 With the disclaimer that I

 With the disclaimer that I don't understand jack shit about quantum anything, the conceptual problem I've always had with the quantum computer is organization.  Assuming that we're basically correct about the Big Bang and the laws of physics, what principle would account for the formation of a universe that thinks?  I mean, isn't that generally the way it works?  We postulate something being possible because we can think of a reasonable scenario involving science as we observe it.

I realize I'm asking the same kind of question theists ask when they demand to know how life could "just happen," but we're talking about something a bit different here.  Life happens on the molecular level, not the quantum level.  Furthermore, life is really damn complex.  This, I think, is the real stumper for me.  A brain involves what... a few billion layers of complexity from its origins as rudimentary life?  So, has quantum intelligence been layering complexity since the Big Bang?  Where's the evidence?  Is it somehow fundamentally simple?  If that's the case, doesn't it destroy the argument that a creator god would have to have been created, or that an infinitely complex being would have to have himself evolved?

In any case, can you see why I demand more than fuzzy speculation before I'll accept the idea of a universe thinking on a quantum level?

 

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Hambydammit wrote:In any

Hambydammit wrote:

In any case, can you see why I demand more than fuzzy speculation before I'll accept the idea of a universe thinking on a quantum level?

That's exactly why Seth Lloyd (a huge proponent of the "universe as quantum computer" idea) discounts any possibility of consciousness. There's no current concept of how it might gain intelligence in the first place. His concept is essentially, "The universe is a quantum computer that is constantly calculating the next state of the universe." Which is still pretty fuzzy, but it gives a framework by which to calculate the entire processing power of the universe, which is a cool concept.

I'm not sure how you can get god from any of that, really.

As for Eloise's conception of god: I'm still completely unclear what that conception is. Considering the precision of her writing style, I'm having a terribly hard time comprehending what she's trying to say a lot of the time. It indicates either I don't have enough of a grounding in either metaphysics or theoretical physics, or she has these grand concepts in her head that are resistent to language.

In any case, all this seems to indicate that all theism does reduce to incoherence.

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I dabbled in the idea that

I dabbled in the idea that the universe is concious a while back. But I disgarded it since it didn't seem to make any sense to me.

 

That said I don't get Eloise's idea either. Maybe that's why I couldn't wrap my head around the idea.

 

 

 


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Hambydammit wrote:Assuming

Hambydammit wrote:
Assuming that we're basically correct about the Big Bang and the laws of physics, what principle would account for the formation of a universe that thinks?  I mean, isn't that generally the way it works?  We postulate something being possible because we can think of a reasonable scenario involving science as we observe it.

[... a bunch of possible scenarios ...]

In any case, can you see why I demand more than fuzzy speculation before I'll accept the idea of a universe thinking on a quantum level?

Well yeah. First, we'd have to re-define "thinking", considering the only reference we have for a thinking thing is the brain (or the whole nervous system, if you want to be picky). So what the universe isn't doing is thinking. It's doing something else that we have yet to describe adequately. Likewise for "consciousness", if that's an emergent property of the universe as a quantum brain. I'd have to see how we could apply "quantum brain" to "consciousness" before I'd take that as a given, too.

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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

In any case, can you see why I demand more than fuzzy speculation before I'll accept the idea of a universe thinking on a quantum level?

That's exactly why Seth Lloyd (a huge proponent of the "universe as quantum computer" idea) discounts any possibility of consciousness. There's no current concept of how it might gain intelligence in the first place. His concept is essentially, "The universe is a quantum computer that is constantly calculating the next state of the universe." Which is still pretty fuzzy, but it gives a framework by which to calculate the entire processing power of the universe, which is a cool concept.

I think that concept adds nothing to understanding.

Every identifiable active object, from an atom to a human being to the Universe, every machine, could be described that way - it reduces the concept of a computer to meaninglessness, if everything displaying any sort of activity can be described as one. All it is ultimately saying is that computers and universes are both systems interacting according to the laws of physics. D'uh.

Except that the Universe is not even an integrated mechanism where everything can interact with everything else, since once you are far enough away from anything else, little or no meaningful interaction, specifically including information exchange, can occur - none for those parts receding from each other faster than the speed of light. Even QM entanglement's 'spooky action at a distance' does not seem to allow actual information to be exchanged faster than light.

So the idea of the Universe as a giant computer is meaningless at best, pretty silly in fact, IMHO.

And that goes double for the Universe being an interacting complex system fancy enough to be considered a 'mind' or 'consciousness'. Everything we know about actual minds points to a minimum level of a very specific category of complexity of interacting elements being necessary, independent of what 'substance' those elements are built from.

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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

That's exactly why Seth Lloyd (a huge proponent of the "universe as quantum computer" idea) discounts any possibility of consciousness. There's no current concept of how it might gain intelligence in the first place. His concept is essentially, "The universe is a quantum computer that is constantly calculating the next state of the universe." Which is still pretty fuzzy, but it gives a framework by which to calculate the entire processing power of the universe, which is a cool concept.

I think that concept adds nothing to understanding.

To be fair to Seth Lloyd, I've presented only the rudiments of his intent. His proposition is that our search for quantum computing is really a search for the fundamental physics of the universe. (This could be because his speciality is quantum computing.) Information processing is as fundamental as mass and energy, and there can be no understanding of quantum mechanics without also understanding how information processing works in the realm of the quantum.

I have to admit, I am biased, due to my career programming computers. Also, I've noticed that almost every system has an informational component. Even in physics, entropy is all about information. In biology, evolution has a strong information processing component. And so on.

Even with my bias, I still recognize it as an outlandish proposal, though.

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nigelTheBold wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

That's exactly why Seth Lloyd (a huge proponent of the "universe as quantum computer" idea) discounts any possibility of consciousness. There's no current concept of how it might gain intelligence in the first place. His concept is essentially, "The universe is a quantum computer that is constantly calculating the next state of the universe." Which is still pretty fuzzy, but it gives a framework by which to calculate the entire processing power of the universe, which is a cool concept.

I think that concept adds nothing to understanding.

To be fair to Seth Lloyd, I've presented only the rudiments of his intent. His proposition is that our search for quantum computing is really a search for the fundamental physics of the universe. (This could be because his speciality is quantum computing.) Information processing is as fundamental as mass and energy, and there can be no understanding of quantum mechanics without also understanding how information processing works in the realm of the quantum.

I have to admit, I am biased, due to my career programming computers. Also, I've noticed that almost every system has an informational component. Even in physics, entropy is all about information. In biology, evolution has a strong information processing component. And so on.

Even with my bias, I still recognize it as an outlandish proposal, though.

Well I also have spent most of my career programming computers, from time-shared mainframes Apple II's, PC's, etc, and still do it, so I think I see where he's coming from. 

I still haven't quite worked out how I regard the possibilities and implications of quantum computing, but it does seem to have fascinating possibilities.

I do agree that the concept of information is extremely important and powerful.

I still think the idea of the Universe as one giant computer or even one integrated mechanism of any sort is seriously flawed based on the impossibility of information exchange across the whole thing. I think even the massive parallelism it would have would be seriously offset by the requirement of a rather low effective clock-speed with a period of millions or billions of years for galaxies or clusters...

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BobSpence1 wrote:Every

BobSpence1 wrote:

Every identifiable active object, from an atom to a human being to the Universe, every machine, could be described that way - it reduces the concept of a computer to meaninglessness, if everything displaying any sort of activity can be described as one.

I have to agree. I can't see any compelling reason to turn the universe into a "computer", unless to illustrate some other point. So once again, we're back to a "god" being an empty name, completely non-referential.

AND in that case, it would still be an unfortunate waste of time to wait for evidence for something to which evidence cannot be applied.

So once again:

  • Theism makes a claim that is unverifiable,
  • Weak atheism is waiting for evidence that applies to something unverifiable, and
  • Strong atheism (the argument against "gods exist" ) is justified, given that
    1. "gods" is an empty name referencing nothing, or
    2. any definition that matches even an intuitive understanding of "gods" is incoherent.

 

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I haven't read Lloyd's book

I haven't read Lloyd's book [yet], but from what I gather, from Quantum Field Theory such as W-bosons, photons etc.. that atoms do compute and do indeed exchange information.

 

 

 


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NigelTheBold wrote:As for

NigelTheBold wrote:

As for Eloise's conception of god: I'm still completely unclear what that conception is.

Cpt_Pineapple wrote:

That said I don't get Eloise's idea either.


Yeaaah... nobody gets me... lol.
Actually I can explain why that is. It's because my God isn't a concept per se, as I've said, it is a corollary to a totally different proposition about the actual nature of the universe.

So basically it goes:
A. argument to evidence that the universe is such that there are no closed systems and individual systems can be modelled as injection mappings of the total system  --> problem of personal identity is soluble, mind-body problem is soluble --> solution.
B. God, as per theology, is a self evident characteristic of the solution set.

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Strafio wrote:You said that

Strafio wrote:
You said that with the Teapot, atleast we would know what we were looking for - a Teapot.
I think my definition of God also provides something to look for - events where the universe behaves as if governed by a mind with intentions, rather than just following the laws of physics like clockwork.

HisWillness wrote:
The deeper problem, though, is that when we say "mind" we're actually referring to ourselves, because that's the only kind of mind we could possibly recognize. So as long as a god ends up being like us, we will have found what we're looking for.

Well let's break it down again.
I agree that the "building block concepts" originate from human minds.
E.g. beliefs, desires, experiences, all these concepts come from human minds.
However, once we have defined these building block concepts, we can mix and combine them in ways that aren't very human.

E.g. Humans in the real world tend to have limited patience.
However, we can still describe a person with infinite patience, but we might consider them to have an inhuman amount of patience.

HisWillness wrote:
First we would have to conceive of a mind that can know everything (none of the minds we know of can know everything, as the only minds we know of are associated with brains) and then we'd have to find a way for it to be invisible ...

This is where I disagree with you.
While the original concepts like "belief" and "desire" might come from human minds, we can then mix and match these concepts into combinations that don't meet real world descriptions.
So a mind that "knows everything" would simply be a mind that can draw knowledge about ANY truth, rather than just the limited truths that a human mind knows.
And as far as I'm aware, that minds come from brains is an empirical rather than a priori result.
i.e. In the real world, our human minds are observed to be connected to the brain, but it's not an incoherent description to talk about a mind without a brain.
(Let me point you to "Monsters Vs Aliens" where you meet the talking blob without a brain.
"It turns out that you don't need one!!"

HisWillness wrote:
If we assume that the universe is a kind of brain, then the emergent property of universe-intelligence could be thought of as "god", if you want.

I think that's moving away from Theism towards Pantheism.
My definition of theism has God's mind as the underlying law of the universe.
That's different to a mind emerging as an effect of the complexity of natural laws.


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Eloise wrote:So basically it

Eloise wrote:

So basically it goes:
A. argument to evidence that the universe is such that there are no closed systems and individual systems can be modelled as injection mappings of the total system  --> problem of personal identity is soluble, mind-body problem is soluble --> solution.
B. God, as per theology, is a self evident characteristic of the solution set.



No, that's just saying "God's there because God's obviously there". I don't see a connection between the theological God and your solution set. I understand that you could argue for no closed systems (we've already had that discussion), but simply because a solution presents itself, it doesn't follow that the premises of theology can be considered a self-evident characteristic thereof.



By that line of reasoning (if I'm following), God exists as much as Pegasus does.

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Strafio wrote:Well let's

Strafio wrote:
Well let's break it down again.


I agree that the "building block concepts" originate from human minds.

That might be a bit of a simplification.

Strafio wrote:
E.g. beliefs, desires, experiences, all these concepts come from human minds.
However, once we have defined these building block concepts, we can mix and combine them in ways that aren't very human.

I feel the winds of Platonism rising.

Strafio wrote:
E.g. Humans in the real world tend to have limited patience.
However, we can still describe a person with infinite patience, but we might consider them to have an inhuman amount of patience.

Are we really going to go for Platonic ideals, here? Because then we're into how real those are, and ...

Strafio wrote:
This is where I disagree with you.
While the original concepts like "belief" and "desire" might come from human minds, we can then mix and match these concepts into combinations that don't meet real world descriptions.
So a mind that "knows everything" would simply be a mind that can draw knowledge about ANY truth, rather than just the limited truths that a human mind knows.
And as far as I'm aware, that minds come from brains is an empirical rather than a priori result.
i.e. In the real world, our human minds are observed to be connected to the brain, but it's not an incoherent description to talk about a mind without a brain.
(Let me point you to "Monsters Vs Aliens" where you meet the talking blob without a brain.
"It turns out that you don't need one!!"

Again, I have absolutely no problem saying that God exists in the same way as a fictional character or a Platonic ideal. But we're back to the problem of empty names in that case. Yes, we can create a fictional situation where a mind is separate from a brain, but dualism is so weak an argument as applied to reality (which is what we're considering) that  embracing it at this point would make my eyes glaze over.

Strafio wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
If we assume that the universe is a kind of brain, then the emergent property of universe-intelligence could be thought of as "god", if you want.

I think that's moving away from Theism towards Pantheism.
My definition of theism has God's mind as the underlying law of the universe.
That's different to a mind emerging as an effect of the complexity of natural laws

Sure. As soon as we figure out what God is, how it can have a mind, etc. then we can form a definition that doesn't just lead us back to the empty name problem. Of course, it seems that the very definition of any god is that it's impossible in the first place, so ...

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 Quote:To be fair to Seth

 

Quote:
To be fair to Seth Lloyd, I've presented only the rudiments of his intent. His proposition is that our search for quantum computing is really a search for the fundamental physics of the universe. (This could be because his speciality is quantum computing.) Information processing is as fundamental as mass and energy, and there can be no understanding of quantum mechanics without also understanding how information processing works in the realm of the quantum.

Is it too much to ask what qualifies as "information processing" in this discussion?  If not, is it unreasonable to ask what would count as a "thing that processes information"?

 

 

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Strafio wrote:Strafio

Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
You said that with the Teapot, atleast we would know what we were looking for - a Teapot.
I think my definition of God also provides something to look for - events where the universe behaves as if governed by a mind with intentions, rather than just following the laws of physics like clockwork.

HisWillness wrote:
The deeper problem, though, is that when we say "mind" we're actually referring to ourselves, because that's the only kind of mind we could possibly recognize. So as long as a god ends up being like us, we will have found what we're looking for.

Well let's break it down again.
I agree that the "building block concepts" originate from human minds.
E.g. beliefs, desires, experiences, all these concepts come from human minds.
However, once we have defined these building block concepts, we can mix and combine them in ways that aren't very human.

E.g. Humans in the real world tend to have limited patience.
However, we can still describe a person with infinite patience, but we might consider them to have an inhuman amount of patience.

HisWillness wrote:
First we would have to conceive of a mind that can know everything (none of the minds we know of can know everything, as the only minds we know of are associated with brains) and then we'd have to find a way for it to be invisible ...

This is where I disagree with you.
While the original concepts like "belief" and "desire" might come from human minds, we can then mix and match these concepts into combinations that don't meet real world descriptions.
So a mind that "knows everything" would simply be a mind that can draw knowledge about ANY truth, rather than just the limited truths that a human mind knows.
And as far as I'm aware, that minds come from brains is an empirical rather than a priori result.
i.e. In the real world, our human minds are observed to be connected to the brain, but it's not an incoherent description to talk about a mind without a brain.
(Let me point you to "Monsters Vs Aliens" where you meet the talking blob without a brain.
"It turns out that you don't need one!!"

HisWillness wrote:
If we assume that the universe is a kind of brain, then the emergent property of universe-intelligence could be thought of as "god", if you want.

I think that's moving away from Theism towards Pantheism.
My definition of theism has God's mind as the underlying law of the universe.
That's different to a mind emerging as an effect of the complexity of natural laws.

"Infinite" patience is not a coherent concept, except in a metaphorical sense. A better description for something equivalent to what I  think you have in mind is simply a person who never, as long as he lives, loses his cool. No infinities required.

"Knowing ANY truth" is quite unworkable as a serious concept. Knowing the future, including one's own future decisions, and other aspects of one's own thoughts themselves, is going to lead to an infinite recursive loop. You have to more specific than "any". Its related to the ultimate incoherence of all the 'omni' god attributes.

One can 'think of' a brain without a body, but that is totally at odds with mountains of real evidence about the very intimate association between our mind and our brain processes, such that all kinds of interference with our physical brain have direct and major effects on our consciousness, and we are finding ever more detailed mapping of conscious thoughts and feelings to physically observable brain activity.

The idea of a 'mind' being manifested by something not containing a structure of some sort of similar complexity and type of organization and structure to our brain is highly dubious - a mind worth regarding seriously is capable of going through a vast number of states, and storing a vast amount of information, which requires something much more than a relatively uniform blob, whether of 'physical' matter or etherial 'soul stuff'.

The Universe displays none of the features of either a real computer or a mind, apart from those parts that are our computers and minds themselves. Being able to associate various concepts together in your mind says absolutely nothing about whether the combinations are in any real sense possible or coherent in reality. Such 'thinking' is the domain of the worst kind of philosophical and metaphysical sophistry. There are vastly more nonsensical ways to jam concepts together than ultimately meaningful ones, so such speculation not checked against reality at some level, however tenuously, is worse than useless. 

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HisWillness wrote:Eloise

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:

So basically it goes:
A. argument to evidence that the universe is such that there are no closed systems and individual systems can be modelled as injection mappings of the total system  --> problem of personal identity is soluble, mind-body problem is soluble --> solution.
B. God, as per theology, is a self evident characteristic of the solution set.

 

No, that's just saying "God's there because God's obviously there".

Yes, that's what I meant to say... ie:

1. here's the universe....

1a. yep that, over there, is God.

2. this is what else it does...

 

HisWillness wrote:

I don't see a connection between the theological God and your solution set.

To be fair, I've barely drawn the connection at all in any post here so I'm not surprised if you don't see it. In the hundreds of threads I've posted to here there is only a fraction where the subject has even been broached and in most cases has sunk into obscurity fairly quickly thereafter. The reason I hardly post about it is because it's not a priority to me, God can take care of her own business of being believed. I am concerned with more practical issues. For the record, if asked, I will endeavour to make the connection plain but I usually fail to keep that person's interest when I do, anyhow.

HisWillness wrote:

I understand that you could argue for no closed systems (we've already had that discussion), but simply because a solution presents itself, it doesn't follow that the premises of theology can be considered a self-evident characteristic thereof.

I don't see why not.

HisWillness wrote:

By that line of reasoning (if I'm following), God exists as much as Pegasus does.

No that seems strange to me. Maybe you are not following. Can you explain how you get to that conclusion?

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HisWillness wrote:Again, I

HisWillness wrote:
Again, I have absolutely no problem saying that God exists in the same way as a fictional character or a Platonic ideal.

Then you don't agree with George Smith's position that the God concept is incoherent and that religious language is meaningless.
That particular path to strong atheism is no longer open to you.
That should answer the question in your original topic.

HisWillness wrote:
But we're back to the problem of empty names in that case.

Out of interest, what do you mean by this?

 


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Strafio wrote:E.g. Humans in

Strafio wrote:
E.g. Humans in the real world tend to have limited patience.
However, we can still describe a person with infinite patience, but we might consider them to have an inhuman amount of patience.

BobSpence1 wrote:
"Infinite" patience is not a coherent concept, except in a metaphorical sense. A better description for something equivalent to what I  think you have in mind is simply a person who never, as long as he lives, loses his cool. No infinities required.

Well, seeing as it doesn't make sense to give patience any kind of numerical value, I was clearly being metaphorical. Sticking out tongue
For the record, the definition I had in mind was more "A mind that would not lose it's patience under any possible circumstance."

BobSpence1 wrote:
"Knowing ANY truth" is quite unworkable as a serious concept. Knowing the future, including one's own future decisions, and other aspects of one's own thoughts themselves, is going to lead to an infinite recursive loop. You have to more specific than "any". Its related to the ultimate incoherence of all the 'omni' god attributes.

You got me on that one.
Knowledge of the future does indeed create a free will paradox.
A coherent God concept would indeed have to qualify what kind of knowledge this God had.

BobSpence1 wrote:
One can 'think of' a brain without a body, but that is totally at odds with mountains of real evidence about the very intimate association between our mind and our brain processes

Agreed. Bear in mind that I'm merely arguing for the coherence of a non-material mind.
And even then, to stay coherent one would need to allow for breakages of the well established laws of physics.

BobSpence1 wrote:
The Universe displays none of the features of either a real computer or a mind, apart from those parts that are our computers and minds themselves.

Agreed. This is why I'm more than just a "Weak Atheist"
I see the world around me, and based on how the universe does actually behave, the idea that nature purely follows the laws of physics seems to fit, and the idea that the universe is governed by a "mind" or "will" doesn't.
I think that the time in my life when I found theism the most appealing, when I most considered it possible, was when I was used to reading stories.
Stories that depicted a world and storyline that had actually been designed.
Even when the stories were non-fictional, the human story tellers would tell the story that focused on the human interest elements.
E.g. only revealing the 0.0001% of the details - the interesting bits that made the story worth telling, and focusing on the human significance of the events that happened.
I think that the more you are in touch with the real world as it is, the less sense the God concept makes.


I see a bit of a continuum between "Weak Atheism" (No evidence for or against) and "Strong Atheism" (an absolute argument against e.g. incoherence)
The continuum of how strong the argument is against there being a God and I see mine and lying somewhere in between.
I think that George Smith's a priori argument based on incoherence works against certain conceptions of God, but some (like the one I described) are unaffected.
For these conceptions, my own argument is that they just "don't fit" what I know about the world.
It's not an absolute argument, because it might just turn out that the "worldview" of mine that it didn't fit with was flawed.
But it's still a stronger position against theism than just not seeing evidence in favour.


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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:To

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
To be fair to Seth Lloyd, I've presented only the rudiments of his intent. His proposition is that our search for quantum computing is really a search for the fundamental physics of the universe. (This could be because his speciality is quantum computing.) Information processing is as fundamental as mass and energy, and there can be no understanding of quantum mechanics without also understanding how information processing works in the realm of the quantum.

Is it too much to ask what qualifies as "information processing" in this discussion?  If not, is it unreasonable to ask what would count as a "thing that processes information"? 

Not at all. It's perfectly reasonable.

First it's important to define what "information" is, since that often gets lost in the noise. Information is the state of a property. In the quantum realm, spin is a property. The amount of spin of a specific particle would constitute an informational element. Imagine you have two particles, one with a spin of -2/3, and the other with a spin of 2/3. In relation to each other, they have opposite spin. Now you have three pieces of information: one state of spin for each particle, and the spin of each particle in relationship to each other. Their state of spin in relationship to each other is a property of the system of the two particles.

All this seems elementary, I know. But it's important to review, as it's at the heart of information processing.

Information processing is the interaction of systemic states according to orderly rules. This is easily seen in systems designed with orderly rules, such as computers. The programmer sets up the state of the logic gates. It's this initial state of the logic gates in relation to each other that makes the program. Each logic gate has only one property, and that property can have two states. Taken together, all n logic gates represent 2^n possible states. The state of the system changes with each clock-tick (in a clocked computer such as your PC), or in response to changes of state of connected elements (in your brain, in clockless computers, in quantum events, and so on).

A "thing that processes information" is any element that changes the state of a property in an orderly fashion in response to changes of state of another property.

As Bob pointed out earlier, everything processes information. Everything is changing states of properties in response to other changes of state. When Lloyd proposes that the universe is a quantum computer busy computing its next state, he's being a little coy. Lloyd is saying that information is as fundamental to quantum systems as mass and energy. But really, information (and information processing) is the only constant from the planck-scale, up to the cosmic scale.

I believe this is why dualism is so popular among the aging philosopher crowd, and why folks like Paisley are so mixed up about "scientific materialism." I suspect most of us here take information processing for granted, just as much as we take mass and energy for granted. They, however, imagine we can only see lumps of matter with kinetic and potential energy.

Anyway, sorry about the length and tedious detail of this post. But those were important questions.

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Strafio wrote:HisWillness

Strafio wrote:

HisWillness wrote:
Again, I have absolutely no problem saying that God exists in the same way as a fictional character or a Platonic ideal.

Then you don't agree with George Smith's position that the God concept is incoherent and that religious language is meaningless.
That particular path to strong atheism is no longer open to you.
That should answer the question in your original topic.

I should really change the original post, because I didn't state my position as clearly as I have since. I'm saying that one of two things happens when discussing gods:

1) Smith is correct, and all talk of them is meaningless (empty name problem), OR

2) they have a definition that is meaningful, but internally inconsistent.

Either way, neither agnosticism nor weak atheism are solid positions, if one is to take testability seriously, which I do.

Strafio wrote:
HisWillness wrote:
But we're back to the problem of empty names in that case.

Out of interest, what do you mean by this?


By "empty name", I mean a word which has no actual referent. So, for example, the sentence

"Centaurs wear hats"

is meaningful, but contains an empty name (centaurs) for something that only exists as a fiction. It still has meaning, but we can only imagine centaurs, since no one has ever actually seen one.

This dynamic holds true of gods, as well, who are present in fiction and literature, but not elsewhere.

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Eloise wrote:HisWillness

Eloise wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

No, that's just saying "God's there because God's obviously there".

Yes, that's what I meant to say... ie:

1. here's the universe....

1a. yep that, over there, is God.

2. this is what else it does...

Could you give me 1a? Which over where is God?

Eloise wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

I understand that you could argue for no closed systems (we've already had that discussion), but simply because a solution presents itself, it doesn't follow that the premises of theology can be considered a self-evident characteristic thereof.

I don't see why not.

Because it doesn't strike me as obvious. For instance, God, properly named, is different from Allah. Are you saying they both reference the same thing? Or when you say "theology", do you mean everything ever written about any god?

Eloise wrote:
HisWillness wrote:

By that line of reasoning (if I'm following), God exists as much as Pegasus does.

No that seems strange to me. Maybe you are not following. Can you explain how you get to that conclusion?

Because we're getting into empty names again, where the word "God" has no real referent.

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HisWillness wrote:I should

HisWillness wrote:
I should really change the original post, because I didn't state my position as clearly as I have since. I'm saying that one of two things happens when discussing gods:

1) Smith is correct, and all talk of them is meaningless (empty name problem), OR

2) they have a definition that is meaningful, but internally inconsistent.

Either way, neither agnosticism nor weak atheism are solid positions, if one is to take testability seriously, which I do.


On a nit-picky note, I'd say that internally inconsistent definitions are meaningless.
On a less nit-picky note, I can't see how this "empty name problem" can be used to support Strong Atheism.
Let's see what you said about empty names:

HisWillness wrote:
By "empty name", I mean a word which has no actual referent. So, for example, the sentence

"Centaurs wear hats"

is meaningful, but contains an empty name (centaurs) for something that only exists as a fiction. It still has meaning, but we can only imagine centaurs, since no one has ever actually seen one.

This dynamic holds true of gods, as well, who are present in fiction and literature, but not elsewhere.


So an "empty name" is a word that holds no actual referent.
Like Centaurs, Unicorns, Pokémon etc...
If you are an atheist then you believe that God is among this number.
The thing is, I don't see how you infer Strong Atheism from this.
I don't even see a problem in this "empty name problem".
Certain concepts describe an object that can potentially exist.
Those that actually exist have referents, those that don't actually exist don't have references so the words can be called "empty names".

What am I missing here?


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HisWillness wrote:Could you

HisWillness wrote:

Could you give me 1a? Which over where is God?

By 1a I mean it is evident from 1, of course. So implying that I should give you 1 in order to give you 1a. That is, looking at 1, I would expect that you can easily recognise and infer 1a is in it. The problem with just giving you 1a, elsewise, is that you will try to infer it from the alternate p1 you're habitually using to examine every claim which is just pointless, you've already seen that it doesn't follow from there, this is why you are an atheist.

That said, I won't try to use this to avoid giving you 1a, I can give you the cliff notes version. What is God (and for that matter polytheistic pantheons of gods as well) is a discernable point at which an identifiably autonomous form evolves out of the continuum of conscious identity.  And where, for the monotheistic conception of God, which I presume the question refers to, is at everything.

 

HisWillness wrote:


Because it doesn't strike me as obvious. For instance, God, properly named, is different from Allah. Are you saying they both reference the same thing? Or when you say "theology", do you mean everything ever written about any god?

Ah now I get you. Fair point, Will.

I am kind of saying that they both reference the same thing, or at least that they both intend to in that basically all monotheistic God conceptions are an attempt to refer to the original mysticism of human kind. So then I also mean the vast majority of everything written about God, or gods as I noted above; excepting stuff which is actually about enforcing religious ego rather than being about God, per se, like apologetics. 

 

HisWillness wrote:


Because we're getting into empty names again, where the word "God" has no real referent.

Yep, I get you now. Does the above help at all?

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NOW we're talking! I think I

NOW we're talking! I think I understood that last post.



Eloise wrote:

What

is God (and for that matter polytheistic pantheons of gods as well) is a discernable point at which an identifiably autonomous form evolves out of the continuum of conscious identity.



I'm glad you clarified that pantheon part -- I was meaning to ask. But the second part sounds a lot like us in reverse. We're an identifiably autonomous form that evolved into a continuum of conscious identity. (That is, the population could be considered that way.) But


you have conscious identity spawning an autonomous form. So where does the continuum of conscious identity come from?



N.B.: I'm not asking you if this is a form of infinite regress or anything, I'm just wondering where the necessity for the continuum comes from conceptually. I can see us as identifiably autonomous forms (and other creatures, too) but I'm not sure about the continuum.



Eloise wrote:
And

where

, for the monotheistic conception of God, which I presume the question refers to, is at everything.

Everything, you say. So does it accompany everything, or is it a physical presence, or what?

Eloise wrote:
I

am

kind of saying that they both reference the same thing, or at least that they both intend to in that basically all monotheistic God conceptions are an attempt to refer to the original mysticism of human kind. So then I also mean the vast majority of everything written about God, or gods as I noted above; excepting stuff which is actually about enforcing religious ego rather than being about God, per se, like apologetics.

 

That's a tough one. I take it you're applying a kind of "kernel of truth" argument to religious expressions, past and present. That's fair, but that implies we should be able to find a common definition in there somewhere.

I'm guessing that trophy in your avatar says "Most Creative Ontological Arguments" on it, because I went looking for some clever arguments elsewhere on the internet, and it looks like you're holding the fort for pretty much the entire world. There's a lot of what you just called "enforcing religious ego", and not a lot of fun arguments happening.

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Thanks, Nigel.  Your answer

Thanks, Nigel.  Your answer confirmed exactly what I was thinking.  Within the context of this discussion as I'm reading it, saying "Quantum Computer" is pretty much just a poetic way of saying "the universe."  So this whole damn thing reduces to pantheism.

 

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HisWillness wrote:I'm glad

HisWillness wrote:


I'm glad you clarified that pantheon part -- I was meaning to ask.



You were? Cause I was waiting for someone to ask. I've deliberately skimmed over it because I figured once I'd explained my first proposition well enough to someone they'd indicate as much by asking if I also saw it justifying polydeities; plus introducing multiple gods too early would just muddy the point anyway.

HisWillness wrote:


But the second part sounds a lot like us in reverse. We're an identifiably autonomous form that evolved into a continuum of conscious identity. (That is, the population could be considered that way.)



And so this is where we see that it just does not follow from alternate propositions about the nature of the universe (and by extension the human condition). That we are evolved into a continuum of consciousness is precisely the manner of direct inference that I'm talking about, it's presupposing that inherently dualistic concept of mind I mentioned in the other thread.

With the proposition that you're using (which I will henceforth call P.classic for brevity) we are seeing the universe as existing without mind x thus distinguishing mind and matter by implication. In P.classic we qualify this implication with the idea of an open void extending in one direction of potential such that at time t the universe (whole) is configured to some pattern where the form underpinning mind x exists as potential but mind x does not. However, 1. to propose the universe whole and consequently add something is inconsistent and continues to beg the duality of the original proposition and 2. most of the theory which supports such a conception of time has been falsified.

On the other hand, there is an alternative to P.classic, which I will call P.Eloise. Using this proposition we can say that there is no universe existing without mind x and neither is there a begged condition of dualism to justify. The capacity for phenomenal sentience is characteristic by definition of mind x. It is not, as in P.classic, emergent from some certain configuration of material attributes independent of their location in time-space. In P.Eloise there are no such independent sets of properties which can be said to be a complete entity.

HisWillness wrote:

But
you have conscious identity spawning an autonomous form. So where does the continuum of conscious identity come from?


Well to begin is much easier than you think. Inferring from P.classic with its voided end in one direction of potential, the conceivability of a continuum of consciousness is limited. There is no such limitation in P.Eloise, an entity is defined by a more complete set of properties, including those which are temporally void in P.classic. This is where the continuum of conciousness comes from. For example, your complete description as a human identity is a temporal continuum of states of consciousness, (even under P.classic) hence in P.Eloise the autonomous form evolving from this continuum is the momentary form of the human.


HisWillness wrote:


Everything, you say. So does it accompany everything, or is it a physical presence, or what?


Everything as a total entity defined under the same conditions as any other entity in P.Eloise is an autonomous form evolving out of a continuum of consciousness. That is, it is essentially the same as the momentary form of a human, actually, the property set of the momentary form of the human and that of everything have the same cardinality. They map to each other.


HisWillness wrote:

 I take it you're applying a kind of "kernel of truth" argument to religious expressions, past and present.

Yeah thats about the size of it.
HisWillness wrote:

That's fair, but that implies we should be able to find a common definition in there somewhere.

And we do, but generally in a mythical or esoteric sense.
This might seem like a copout, but all things considered, especially the fact that one's conception of the universe is only as clear as one's perception of the universe, it's reasonable.


HisWillness wrote:

I'm guessing that trophy in your avatar says "Most Creative Ontological Arguments" on it, because I went looking for some clever arguments elsewhere on the internet, and it looks like you're holding the fort for pretty much the entire world.

I am very very keenly interested in the ontology itself, principally so, as I've said. I suppose being more interested in the debate over god is the distraction that is undermining other efforts, because that would be the main difference between them and me.

HisWillness wrote:

 There's a lot of what you just called "enforcing religious ego", and not a lot of fun arguments happening.

Yeah, that's one of the reasons why I have such affinity for what RRS is doing. I concur with the plan to rid our world of that phenomenal waste of air.

**Just a note, I'll most likely disappear for a few days after of tomorrow as I am going interstate to attend the funeral of an old friend.

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His Willness, can I

His Willness, can I interpret your lack of reply to imply that you have been unable to break my solid reasoning and have been forced to conceed to "Weak" Atheism? Sticking out tongue


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Lol wow...talk about

Lol wow...talk about overthinking a simple topic.

Weak Atheist: Without belief in a God

Strong Atheist: Without belief in a God + Denies existence of God.

 

Both are weak, one is vocal. Burden of proof is on Strong Atheists for denying/disproving God(s). So no, weak atheism doesn't lead to strong atheism.


 


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Strafio wrote:His Willness,

Strafio wrote:

His Willness, can I interpret your lack of reply to imply that you have been unable to break my solid reasoning and have been forced to conceed to "Weak" Atheism? Sticking out tongue



Haha! I just had work to do. But your post points out how confused this topic got with the other one on the empty name/incoherent dichotomy.



I ended up with (instead of a conclusion) a challenge: find a situation that falls outside of the dichotomy.



Regarding "weak" and "strong" atheism, I suppose my point was that neither can really apply, because there's no reason to doubt the existence of something that can't be defined.

 

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The Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote:
Lol wow...talk about overthinking a simple topic.



It's a simple topic? Reeeeeeaaaly?

Quote:
Weak Atheist: Without belief in a God

Strong Atheist: Without belief in a God + Denies existence of God.

Both are weak, one is vocal. Burden of proof is on Strong Atheists for denying/disproving God(s). So no, weak atheism doesn't lead to strong atheism.



That's exactly what I'm challenging. Why say you're a "weak" atheist? From the dichotomy:



1. Either the god in question is impossible to define


or


2. The god defined is impossible



So what are you not believing in?



In the strong atheist's case, they're even more confused, because it would be extremely difficult to provide any way to deny something that escapes definition.



Really, the title of this thread should be renamed "Does all atheism reduce to coherence?" but I don't think it would help at this point.



Anyway, welcome to the forums!

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HisWillness wrote:Regarding

HisWillness wrote:

Regarding "weak" and "strong" atheism, I suppose my point was that neither can really apply, because there's no reason to doubt the existence of something that can't be defined.

This suggests an interesting question. Are we smart enough to understand everything in the universe? The theist can only say that we are not, or they are stuck in the position you describe: unable to define a coherent entity that is "god." But simply saying, "We can't possibly comprehend god. It's too vasty and complicatedy," makes for a copout that at least attempts to explain why the definition is incoherent.

Perhaps the point of sentience is simply the point at which you begin to understand how reality really works. Perhaps at that point, understanding of all of reality is inevitable, assuming sufficient curiosity.

Or maybe I'm just too arrogant about human intelligence.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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 Nigel, I think what you're

 Nigel, I think what you're saying is exactly the difference between a theist and an atheist.  Dawkins, I believe, spent a couple of chapters talking about the paradigm shift that occurred when man discovered that he had the power of reason.  It's kind of funny, really.  We had the power to reason before we reasoned that we had the power to reason.  It has to be this way, for how could we have discovered that we had the power to reason if we did not have the power to reason?

Ack... my brain hurts...

Anyway, a theist would say that there are some things which are unknowable but still true.  A naturalist would have to make a lot more disclaimers, but in essence, he would say that though some things may remain unknown, everything that exists is within the set of {Things which may be known}.

The problem with a theist's position is that it suffers from the same paradox as faith.  If it is true that anything at all is unknowable, it becomes necessary that everything must be ultimately unknowable.  Either everything is knowable, or nothing is.

 

 

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Okay... in regard to the

Okay... in regard to the challenge I'd like to re-submit the definition I gave in Post #111
It basically gave a definition of God as the "will" that determines how the universe runs.
i.e. if the universe follows the laws of nature, it's because God wills it to be this way.
As of yet, I can't see any problem with this definition of God (other than lack of evidence) which would put me as a weak atheist as far as this conception of God was concerned.
I think you atleast agreed that it wasn't incoherent.

If you go up to post #136 I've got questions on the "empty name" side of the dichotomy.
It basically asks how God being an "empty name" can be used as an argument for atheism.
After all, doesn't you need to establish God's existence before you can call it an empty name?


If you're interested on my own position on the strong/weak atheism issue, you can find it in post #132

 

(I would usually copy and paste to present these points again properly but this computer at work runs badly at the best of times.)
Anyhow, should you find the time to re-visit any of these points, I'd be interested in your response.

Ta


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 Quote:It basically gave a

 

Quote:
It basically gave a definition of God as the "will" that determines how the universe runs.
i.e. if the universe follows the laws of nature, it's because God wills it to be this way.
As of yet, I can't see any problem with this definition of God (other than lack of evidence) which would put me as a weak atheist as far as this conception of God was concerned.
I think you atleast agreed that it wasn't incoherent.

At best, I think this can justify pantheism.  If you're counting that as theism, then yes, it justifies weak atheism.  Why you would want to do that is beyond me, since it's making a distinction between two words to describe exactly the same thing.  Gee, Bob, I'm a "Choco-milk" guy.  Sorry, Dick, I'm a "Hershey-milk guy."  Don't give me a soda.  Give me a coke.

The reason this only leads to pantheism is that when you move beyond god literally being the universe, you're going to have to define "will," and that's going to lead you back into the problem of will being tied to organic organisms, and you'll be stuck with an empty definition again.

Quote:
If you go up to post #136 I've got questions on the "empty name" side of the dichotomy.

It basically asks how God being an "empty name" can be used as an argument for atheism.
After all, doesn't you need to establish God's existence before you can call it an empty name?

It's simple.  We have two ways of having knowledge of a thing.  We can experience it, or we can be told what it is.  For someone to tell us what it is, either they have to have experienced it, or been told what it is.  We can continue with this chain as long as we want, but eventually, someone has to have experienced the thing.

Of course, I'm not necessarily talking about direct experience.  Nobody's been to Saturn, but we can quite accurately say that many people have experienced it.  I've seen it with my own telescope-aided eye, as have many others.  With the help of spaceships, we have received a great deal of first hand experiential data from a surrogate "experiencer."

In this conversation, experience must refer to empirical, scientific experience.  Otherwise, when someone tells us what they have experienced, we are being informed about the person's experience -- not the external thing they think they experienced.  In other words, if I say that Saturn visited me in a dream last night, you're not learning anything about Saturn.  You're learning about my perceptual experience that included a thing called Saturn.  You can gain no actual knowledge of Saturn from my dream -- only from empirical scientific data, which may or may not have been included in my dream.

So, barring any empirical data about god, what you have is a long chain of people relating their experience, but there's no actual "god content."  There is only "people content."  We can learn a lot about what people believe god to be based on their non-empirical experience, but we cannot come to any valid, scientific definition of god.  There's no genuine experience at the end of the chain.

Again, the "god hypothesis" works backwards from the scientific method.  It's backwards from Occam.  It's adding something to an equation which shows no need for an addition.

I'm not saying there's nothing we don't know.  I'm saying that whenever there's something we don't know, there's a scientific path towards investigation, and in no case whatsoever does the scientific path ever depend on or demand something outside of the physical universe.  So again, we're left with a dilemma.  Define god as part of the physical universe -- which would demand experiential knowledge of god, or admit that there is no definition of god which has coherence.

 

 

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote:The reason

Hambydammit wrote:
The reason this only leads to pantheism is that when you move beyond god literally being the universe, you're going to have to define "will," and that's going to lead you back into the problem of will being tied to organic organisms, and you'll be stuck with an empty definition again.

I don't see how will is "tied" to organisms.
In real life, the only minds we've discovered so far have been organic but that does imply that minds have to be in order for a coherent description.
After all, fictional stories about non-orgnisms like rocks and ghosts have minds aren't incoherent, just empirically false.

I still don't see any problems with the coherence or meaningfulness of the God I described.
My atheism comes from it simply not matching the evidence.

Strafio wrote:
If you go up to post #136 I've got questions on the "empty name" side of the dichotomy.

It basically asks how God being an "empty name" can be used as an argument for atheism.
After all, doesn't you need to establish God's existence before you can call it an empty name?

Hambydammit wrote:

It's simple.  We have two ways of having knowledge of a thing.  We can experience it, or we can be told what it is.  For someone to tell us what it is, either they have to have experienced it, or been told what it is.  We can continue with this chain as long as we want, but eventually, someone has to have experienced the thing.


I don't see why.
In fact, I have a scientific counter example.
Black holes were a purely theoretical construct before on was finally discovered.
They constructed a theoretical possibilty and eventually discovered a real example of it.

Until they finally discovered an actual black hole, "black hole" was an empty name by your definition because it had not been based on experience.
It was a purely theoretical construct of what could be out there.

So any argument that steps from "X is an empty name" to "X cannot exist" is clearly invalid.


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HisWillness wrote:It's a

HisWillness wrote:

It's a simple topic? Reeeeeeaaaly?

Yes. It's like asking if someone will eventually protest outside of wedding chapels because they disagree with same-sex marriage. Of course not. Those who actively participate in protests, who pass legislation that prohibits same-sex marriage, or speaks from a pulpit against how much God hates homosexuals, can be classified into the same conservative, fundamentalist category as any other member of society (most likely from utah). ;o

Also, I wasn't implying YOU were over thinking the topic. I was just surprised there was so much debate over such a simple subject which I consider just to be semantic in nature. I made a thread challenging agnostics to pick a side which could be considered similar, so I understand the frustration behind terminologies.

 


HisWillness wrote:

That's exactly what I'm challenging. Why say you're a "weak" atheist? From the dichotomy:

 

1. Either the god in question is impossible to define

 

or

 

2. The god defined is impossible

 

So what are you not believing in?

 

In the strong atheist's case, they're even more confused, because it would be extremely difficult to provide any way to deny something that escapes definition.

 

Really, the title of this thread should be renamed "Does all atheism reduce to coherence?" but I don't think it would help at this point.

 

Anyway, welcome to the forums!

I consider myself a Strong Atheist and I'll explain why...

I am an Anti-Theist. That probably sums it up for not only me, but most Strong Atheists out there. A weak atheist simply doesn't believe in God. I on the other hand, want to break down the foundation that creates mythology. I don't go around trying to disprove GOD'S EXISTENCE, but instead to disprove belief without evidence. I take an active role in spreading understanding and explain to people how horribly wicked religion truly is and how it's been a bane for mankind.

So no, I don't think I'm confused because I'm not trying to prove the impossible. In fact, I rarely debate theists on such topics like the origin of life because there's too much unknown. I think such subjects should remain philosophical in nature and not brought up in debates because debates aren't designed to end in stalemate. However, I know what it's like to be human - I know what a human is capable of. I know how gullible and fearful people are; how history was written in blood. I know why we create Gods, why we exploit the weak into believing in them, and while I could just be content keeping my mouth shut and showing no interest in religion because of a lack of belief, I choose to be heard.

And hi, it's a pleasure to be here :3