Is a god actually possible?

V1per41
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Is a god actually possible?

    Now most of us here understand that we can't prove a negative and therefore can never really say "There is no god" with absolute certainty... or can we?

 

Or course the biggest issue here is defining what exactly "god" means.  I feel like the only thing that everyone could agree on is that it would be supernatural or posses supernatural powers.  If I'm wrong on this one be sure to stop me right there.  If it isn't supernatural then why would you call it a god?  Keep in mind that I'm ommitting things like "OMG you are a god at Halo!".

We also know that there is no supernatural... there is just the natural, and what we can't yet explain.  So anyway, here is my proof:

 

P1) All gods are supernatural or posses supernatural abilities

P2) Supernatural = {null set}

C1) Therefore it is not possible for a god to exist in this universe

 

Please, by all means poke holes in my hypothesis, and tell me where I'm wrong, as I'm sure this has been covered before. 

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


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P2 is the weak point in the

P2 is the weak point in the argument.  Even if there is no evidence for supernatural phenomena, that doesn't mean you can be 100% absolutely certain that they don't exist.  So it's just an assumption.  A pretty reasonable assumption, true, but any assumption in an argument means that it's logically unsound and thus can't "prove" anything.

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Textom wrote:

theists are not permitted to post in the Freethinking Anonymous only section of the forum


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I'm not a moderator... so

I'm not a moderator... so I'll ask questions instead of acting like one.

Nedbrek, are you an Atheist?  Have you read the rules? 

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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Textom wrote:

Textom wrote:
P2 is the weak point in the argument. Even if there is no evidence for supernatural phenomena, that doesn't mean you can be 100% absolutely certain that they don't exist. So it's just an assumption. A pretty reasonable assumption, true, but any assumption in an argument means that it's logically unsound and thus can't "prove" anything.

I disagree. P2 is not a problem. Supernatural is an incoherent concept. It necessarily, even by it's very vague definition, cannot exist within this universe. I believe that the essay presented in this thread should make clear the problems inherent in supernatural/immaterial.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/supernatural_and_immaterial_are_broken_concepts

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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Everything's possible. It's

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

Is God probable? No. God is so improbable, in fact, that he might as well be impossible. Actually, Harry Potter is more probable than any god because he's a real person in the stories, while gods tend to be supernatural in nature.


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suttsteve

suttsteve wrote:

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

Is God probable? No. God is so improbable, in fact, that he might as well be impossible. Actually, Harry Potter is more probable than any god because he's a real person in the stories, while gods tend to be supernatural in nature.

*laughter*

It's an alright position until you scrutinize it.  God actually isn't probable and there's a number of explanations as to why that is.  But god, in the Christian sense and in the sense of many religions, actually is impossible.  You can't define something using a set that can't actually be defined.  Calling god supernatural is actually saying god doesn't exist. 

[sarcasm] I'm not entirely sure Harry Potter is more believable than god, except that he's not negatively defined, he resembles something that is real and he appears in a work of fiction that at least (unlike holy books) is coherent. [/sarcasm]

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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Quote: Everything's

Quote:

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

A square circle is possible? 

"What right have you to condemn a murderer if you assume him necessary to "God's plan"? What logic can command the return of stolen property, or the branding of a thief, if the Almighty decreed it?"
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I don't think its possible

I don't think its possible for supernatural gods to exist.

 But, though I disagree with it, pantheism is possible if somehow, all the particles of the universe were communicating with one another and were concious. But I find this to be a silly assumption with no basis in science.

 I also think its possible for the universe to be a simulation on a supercomputer and God to be its simulator, but that too seems far too unlikely and unnecessary a hypothesis to warrant any belief on my part.


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I feel that when we attach

I feel that when we attach ourselves to a standard like "100% certainty" we hobble ourselves for no good reason. There is no such thing as 100% certainty. It isn't just that we can't get there — the beast actually doesn't exist. At least, I've never seen any evidence of it. So let's not start out weakening our position by calling it an assumption.

The fact is that we know (insofar as it's possible to know anything) that the term supernatural is a broken, incoherent concept with no logical definition. References to god as being supernatural are all arguments from ignorance where the theist is really saying that he doesn't know what god is. Since we DO know that there are no such things as supernatural things, we must insist that theists give us a description of how their god could be a natural phenomenon. They can't do this, or even start to do this, so their claim fails. God is impossible. You can say it and know you are right. 

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We need to be clear on the

We need to be clear on the difference between a concept and a reality. A square circle is not possible in reality, but we could invent such a concept. The concept would be incoherent, but we could talk about it all day, arguing over its various properties.

Even if we change what we mean by the word "circle," there still exists in the physical universe, a shape such that each point on the perimeter is equidistant from the exact center of the shape.

We can talk about the possibility of the supernatural all day, but in reality, the only things that exist are those things which exist. All that exists is in the set of natural things. There is 100% certainty that nothing supernatural exists.

Now, we could argue about the nature of reality if we wanted to. There may be aspects of it that we are not aware of, or possible existences that we have not yet described. Even so, any such existence, once discovered and described, would be a natural existence.

Here, we come to a fundamental misunderstanding of "disproving god." As the OP has correctly pointed out, we can dismiss anything described supernaturally as nonexistent. However, we must also ask from whence the authority of the definition derives. If I describe milk as a supernatural fluid, it doesn't mean that milk is nonexistent. It means my description is wrong.

In other words, so long as theists postulate a supernatural god, we may dismiss it as nonexistent. The journey doesn't get any easier for theists, though. They are free to postulate any god they wish within natural terms, but when they do, the definition will necessarily be open to scientific scrutiny, for science is the study of the natural universe!

So, until and unless there is a coherent, scientifically falsifiable definition of god to work with, the correct philosophical stance is technically agnosticism. Of that which we know nothing, we can say nothing.

That goes for theists, too.

 

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

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qbg

qbg wrote:

Quote:

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

A square circle is possible?

There is no such thing as absolute zero when it comes to possibilities, there is only infinatly aproaching zero either position you are on.

"Is it possible" yes. But some idiots equate that to being a 50/50 proposition when a "square circle's probiblitity would look something like:

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

CHANCES BEING NO

TO:

0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000098457=CHANCE OF BEING YES 

Which reminds me of the the line from Dumb and Dumber, "So you're saying there's a chance"

Yea and their is also a chance that I could fart a lamborginni out of my ass or that Heidi Clum will want to have sex with me.

Some things are safe to through in the garbage heep of ideas even if we dont know 100% of the universe's makeup or what happened to lead up to it.

The bottem line is that not all claims are equal. 

 

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I'm very familiar with

I'm very familiar with Todangst's arguments about how the problem of induction is not a problem and supernatural being an incoherent concept.

For the record, I agree that "supernatural" is an incoherent concept in terms of logic as applied by ignostics and positivists.

But I can't agree with the logical leap from "incoherent etc." to "does not exist."  That argument is also unsound because it assumes the problem of induction away.

The problem of induction is part of the fundamental structure of logic.  It can't be wished away with bald assertions.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Quote: But I can't agree

Quote:
But I can't agree with the logical leap from "incoherent etc." to "does not exist."

You're missing the point.  (My point, at least.)  Here's the way it works.  Anything that exists is natural, in the same way that any man who is unmarried is a bachelor.  There are simply two categories, and there's no way around it.  A thing either exists or it doesn't.  "Natural" is a synonym for "Existant."

So, when someone describes something, and "supernatural" is in the definition, then we can say that the thing being described doesn't exist.  That is not to say that there is not an existing thing to which the person is referring.  It only says that the concept being communicated is incoherent, and the thing cannot, and does not exist as described.

When we say that the Christian god does not exist because it is defined as supernatural, we are really saying that one of two things is true:

1) God is accurately described, and does not exist

or

2) God is not accurately described, and exists -- and is therefore natural.

 As I mentioned earlier, this does not make things much better for theists.  Describing a god-like being in coherent, natural terms is much harder than one might think.  Things that are inherently contradictory cannot both be qualities of an existing being, so omni-anything is ruled out.  Because of the limits of matter/energy and space/time, any incredibly powerful being would have to be accompanied by a revolutionary scientific theory to account for the apparent impossibility of such a being.

In short, all we do when we rule out "supernatural" is force theists into the position of having to produce a logically coherent and non-contradictory definition of god without the benefit of using magic.

 

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Tilberian wrote: There is

Tilberian wrote:
There is no such thing as 100% certainty.

Aha!  Actually a deductively sound argument can be known to be 100% true.  That's why we bother with deductive and inductive arguments: a deductive argument can be known to be true; an inductive argument can never be known to be true.

Brian's references to probability in this thread all deal with evidence (i.e. are part of an inductive argument).  Hamby is skipping over the problem of induction by defining "exists" as meaning the same thing as "natural/material," which I'm not sure is a well-constructed definition.

By its nature, any argument about the existence of a something based on observation and measurement going to be an inductive argument.  So to address the OP, you can't "prove" anything (in the sense of having 100% certainty) with an inductive argument, so there will never be a proof of a god's existence or nonexistence based on observation and evidence.

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Hamby wrote: You're missing

Hamby wrote:
You're missing the point.  (My point, at least.)  Here's the way it works.  Anything that exists is natural, in the same way that any man who is unmarried is a bachelor.

I understand your point quite well, Hamby.  You're constructing this deductively valid argument:

P1: Anything that exists is natural

P2: God is supernatural

C: God does not exist

This is, as I say, a perfectly valid, deductive argument.  But the conclusion is only true if you adhere to the definition of "exists" in P1.   Not everyone agrees with P1 (most theists don't) and there's no evidence for P1--it's just an arbitrary definition.  So the argument is unsound.  Or rather, it's sound within the terms of it's own definition of "exists," but the definition is not necessarily the only possible definition for "exists."

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Quote: Not everyone agrees

Quote:
Not everyone agrees with P1 (most theists don't) and there's no evidence for P1--it's just an arbitrary definition.

Um... I'm not really sure that people disagreeing with P1 makes it unsound.  "Existing" is kind of like being pregnant.  Either you exist or you don't, so to say that there is a state of existence that is neither existing nor not existing is incoherent.   If someone can prove that the law of noncontradiction is false, I'll be happy to entertain the idea of existing in between existing and not existing.

As far as calling it natural, it's kind of the same deal.  When someone asserts the quality "supernatural," it inevitably is being used as a way to get around an internal contradiction.  In other words, it's used to propose something that is logically impossible.  Since literally all knowledge is utterly dependent on the axiom of existence and the axiom of non-contradiction, it is nonsensical (and incoherent) to suggest that there exists a system in which the contradictory (illogical) can be complimentary (logical).

If a god exists, it exists with boundaries.  It must, as any positive quality is a boundary, and a thing must have a positive quality to exist.  If it has positive qualities, lacks internal contradiction, and exists in space/time, then it fits all the criteria for it to fall under the heading, "natural."

Quote:
Or rather, it's sound within the terms of it's own definition of "exists," but the definition is not necessarily the only possible definition for "exists."

The moment anyone proposes an internally consistent definition of the word "exist" that is different from the one we use, I'll be happy to revise my argument.

 

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Hamby wrote: Um... I'm not

Hamby wrote:
Um... I'm not really sure that people disagreeing with P1 makes it unsound.

I'm pretty sure that you understand this already, Hamby, and this is just an oversight in phrasing, but just to make sure we're on the same page here:

A valid argument is an argument in which the conclusion follows logically from the premises--if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true.

A sound argument is a valid argument in which the premises are known to be true--and thus the conclusion must also be true.

A valid, unsound argument is not necessarily false. It may well be true. It just can't be *known* to be true.

A premise can't be sound or unsound--it's the argument that is unsound. This argument is unsound not because people disagree with a premise, but rather because the premise is not known to be true.

(snipped sections on "existing" and "natural," because I agree with all that)

Hamby wrote:
If a god exists, it exists with boundaries. It must, as any positive quality is a boundary, and a thing must have a positive quality to exist. If it has positive qualities, lacks internal contradiction, and exists in space/time, then it fits all the criteria for it to fall under the heading, "natural."

And here's the point of disagreement.

exists = has positive ontology = has coherence = is natural

This assumption may be true, and it may be better than other assumptions. But one of these things is not like the others.

The premise depends on a restrictive definition of "exists" that is just a bald assertion. Calling it an "axiom" does not mean that it is known to be true.

This is not unlike the structure of the argument used by ID proponents when they define "information" as a code arranged by a consciousness and then pretend that this assumption proves that DNA requires consciousness to exist. Or the assumption "everything must have a cause" that leads to the "proof" of the existence of a creator. Of course if you stack the deck with restrictive definitions, you will arrive at the conclusion you want.

The bottom line is that, because there is no evidence for the existence of God, any argument that claims to "prove" that he exists (or does not exist) is necessarily unsound. You must have an assumption buried in the middle somewhere to bridge across the argument from ignorance.

Hamby wrote:
The moment anyone proposes an internally consistent definition of the word "exist" that is different from the one we use, I'll be happy to revise my argument.

Come on, Hamby:p You would never let a theist get away with the "my argument is true by default" claim. An argument must stand on its own merits, and can't be claimed to be true just because the opposing argument is equally unsound.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Textom wrote: Aha!

Textom wrote:

Aha! Actually a deductively sound argument can be known to be 100% true. That's why we bother with deductive and inductive arguments: a deductive argument can be known to be true; an inductive argument can never be known to be true.

Actually, this is not true because I could just be a brain in a vat with all my senses deceived. The assumptions that underpin logic could all be based on false data about the laws of physics, identity etc.

Therefore, IMO, we have two choices:

1. Embrace pragmatism and build a system of figuring out the world based on what seems to work (rationality) without regard for what may or may not be True.

2. Focus on the fact that we don't possess Truth and defensively begin to create tortured justifications for why this or that belief constitutes Truth. I think this is known as philosophy and, yes, I am right now engaging in this very thing. Sadly, all such attempts are doomed because of the brain-in-a-vat thing.

Since all non-naturalistic theories of existence depend on #2, I rely on #1. And I think Hamby is right on when he says that we must draw a distinction between concepts and real things. I don't think it is correct to talk about immaterial concepts "existing" in the same sense as a chair exists.

What does it mean to exist anyway? Doesn't the object have to be perceptible in some way? Consist of matter or energy? Supernatural things just don't fit into any of the characteristics we associated with real things. 

 

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Wow, thanks for all of the

Wow, thanks for all of the responces guys.

I'm noticing that the whole argument comes down to how do you define natural.

Hamby is taking it as natural = exists

and textom is saying that we can never know.

 

It seems though that the answer to my origonal question is "yes" because you both seem to think that a natural god is still possible, which I suppose could never be ruled out. 

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


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V1per41 wrote: It seems

V1per41 wrote:

It seems though that the answer to my origonal question is "yes" because you both seem to think that a natural god is still possible, which I suppose could never be ruled out.

Depends on your definition of god. All the mainstream definitions incorporate characteristics that violate various rules of science and logic, so those gods aren't possible in the natural universe. On the other hand, if you want to postulate a god that's kind of a super alien, sure you can build a possible god.

 

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There's a third alternative

There's a third alternative to your two options, Tilberian:

3. Acknowledge that we might all be brains in a vat and accept that possibility, then proceed to do things as #1 or #2, whichever is more interesting at the moment, with the understanding that it's all wrong if it turns out we are brains in a vat. 

This is my own particular viewpoint. I don't see any reason to choose definitively between 1 and 2.

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I'm not discounting the

I'm not discounting the possibility of the supernatural either.

Caveats: Yes, the concept "supernatural" is incoherent in positivist terms and yes there is clearly no reliable evidence for it.

The fact that there is no evidence is why it can't be known not to exist--to postulate its definite nonexistence would be an argument from ignorance, just as postulating its existence would be. 

If you backtrack the argument "supernatural is incoherent" you'll find that it begins with the premise "only coherent things can exist." Because "coherence" is an artifact of human consciousness, this  premise leashes the meaning of "existence" to human consciousness in a way that I'm not comfortable with.

I'm cheating a little bit here because I'm not postulating my own definition for "existence."  It's easier to poke holes in other people's arguments than to make your own.  All I'm saying is that I'm not comfortable deriving any kind of certainty from an arbitrarily restrictive definition of "exists." 

And I guess Tilberian's post suggests to me that I see the advantage of this viewpoint and not restricting my thinking this way as being that I get to do everything that logical positivists and materialists do, plus more. 

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And to continue this

And to continue this thought experiment, it has already been acknowledged in this thread and elsewhere that popular conceptions of God assume that God is contradictory.

Ask most theists the question, "Can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?"

You'll get the answer, "Of course he can; and he can lift it too."

As far as I've been able to backtrack, the argument for why God isn't allowed to be contradictory in this way is because that would be special pleading.  But if you check the definition of the fallacy of special pleading, you'll find that it only applies to cases where the pleader is not entitled to special consideration from circumstances.

  Who, therefore, would be more entitled to special consideration than an all-powerful, unique being?  The popular concept of God can not only special plead as much as he wants with impunity (he can do anything, after all) but can also steal as many concepts from naturalism as he wants. And, since he can do anything he wants, could presumably also exist without a positive ontology.

I also don't buy arguments from probability--either for or against.  There's no standard for comparison for the existence of a universe either with or without a God, since we only have one.  You can't assess an accurate probability without more information against which to define your terms.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Back to front: Quote: Come

Back to front:

Quote:
Come on, Hamby:p You would never let a theist get away with the "my argument is true by default" claim. An argument must stand on its own merits, and can't be claimed to be true just because the opposing argument is equally unsound.

The default position is negative in any debate.  I'll demonstrate how my position is not fallacious in a moment, but for now, here are the claims:

Positive: Existence can be in a form other than that which is philosophically axiomatic.

Negative: No, it can't.

So, by the laws of logic and the rules of debate, my argument IS true by default until proven otherwise.

 

Quote:
The premise depends on a restrictive definition of "exists" that is just a bald assertion. Calling it an "axiom" does not mean that it is known to be true.

Textom, existence is the first axiom.  Without it, we have literally nothing.   The definition is not restrictive in any way.  If a thing has identity, it exists.  That's it.

 

Quote:
This is not unlike the structure of the argument used by ID proponents when they define "information" as a code arranged by a consciousness and then pretend that this assumption proves that DNA requires consciousness to exist.

No, it's not.  Information is not axiomatic, so the analogy is false.

 

Quote:
The bottom line is that, because there is no evidence for the existence of God, any argument that claims to "prove" that he exists (or does not exist) is necessarily unsound.

You're not understanding.  I can prove that married bachelors do not exist.  It's 100% deductively certain.  In exactly the same way, I can prove that the supernatural does not exist.  Anything described as being in that set does not exist as described.  My proof is not a disproof of all possible god definitions.  It is a proof against a particular set of definitions.

 

Quote:
I'm pretty sure that you understand this already, Hamby, and this is just an oversight in phrasing,

Yep.  Typed too fast.  Thanks for the catch.

 

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V1per41 wrote: It seems

V1per41 wrote:
It seems though that the answer to my origonal question is "yes" because you both seem to think that a natural god is still possible, which I suppose could never be ruled out.

Correct.  The devil's in the details, though.  Although some deists and all pantheists would describe god as natural, I've never heard a modern definition of a god that was entirely natural.  Considering what we've learned about the vastness of the universe, it seems staggeringly improbable that any being sufficiently powerful to be called a god could exist naturally.

No, I can't rule it out, and I can't say that no gods exist.  However, as described, any supernatural god cannot, and does not exist, with 100% certainty.

Christians, et al, are philosophically required to either:

1) Abandon their claims that god exists

or

2) Redefine their god coherently before continuing to make the claim.

 

 

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Textom wrote: There's a

Textom wrote:

There's a third alternative to your two options, Tilberian:

3. Acknowledge that we might all be brains in a vat and accept that possibility, then proceed to do things as #1 or #2, whichever is more interesting at the moment, with the understanding that it's all wrong if it turns out we are brains in a vat.

This is my own particular viewpoint. I don't see any reason to choose definitively between 1 and 2.

Well, 3 is really the same thing as 1. What I'm trying to say (poorly) is that we have to choose, before embarking on any other inquiry, whether we are going to consider the evidence of our senses to be the measure of what is real or not. The choice between 1 and 2 is the choice between accepting parsimony in our inquiries or not. If we accept 2, we launch ourselves into an infinite sea of possibilities defined only by what we can imagine. Some people find this invigorating and wonderful. I find it rather irritatingly prone to error.  

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Quote: I find it rather

Quote:
I find it rather irritatingly prone to error.

And I find it intellectually bankrupt, as the very act of making the statement relies on the belief that the person being spoken to exists.  Any external act relies on the belief that we are not brains in a vat.  That theory is like a "get out of jail free" card we use when we don't like the way life is going for us and we'd like to make believe for a while.

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote: And I

Hambydammit wrote:

And I find it intellectually bankrupt, as the very act of making the statement relies on the belief that the person being spoken to exists. Any external act relies on the belief that we are not brains in a vat. That theory is like a "get out of jail free" card we use when we don't like the way life is going for us and we'd like to make believe for a while.

 

Minor quibble: an external act doesn't require that we have an opinion vis a vis brain-in-a-vat, only that we have decided to act as if we are not only brains in a vat. Personally, I think that we are brains in a vat, where the vat is our bodies and neural structure that are feeding our consciousness hopelessly flawed information about the world.

The BIAV problem does not amount to a get-out-of-jail-free card IMO simply because there is no way out of that particular jail. Everyone has to admit that for all we know, we know nothing, and maybe not even that. So we descend into nihilistic hell for a while and contemplate the prospect of starving to death because we can't depend on our senses to tell us where the fridge is. Then, after a while, we decide that perhaps our philosophical integrity is not as pressing a problem as that nasty thirsty feeling, and we cave to three billion years of evolution and go ahead and follow our senses to a drink.

Yes, we've made an arbitrary decision to avoid pain and death. Yes, one could make an equally arbitrary decision to place God in the a priori position and accept no reality that doesn't start with Him. But then you must prepare for a life of intellectual dishonesty, as you employ empirical rules to survive, all the while violating those rules to profess belief in Something that is not revealed empirically.   

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Hamby wrote: The default

Hamby wrote:

The default position is negative in any debate.  I'll demonstrate how my position is not fallacious in a moment, but for now, here are the claims:

Positive: Existence can be in a form other than that which is philosophically axiomatic.

Negative: No, it can't.

Oh, I was framing the argument this way:

Positive: Existence requires identity.

Negative: No, it doesn't.

I think we need to get on the same argument before we can decide who has the burden of proof.

I think there's a tendency to think that I don't buy these arguments because I don't understand em, but give me some credit.  I've spent a lot of time on Tod's essays.  I understand the arguments; I just can't ignore the problem of induction in the fundamental assumptions.

So on the argument "existence requires identity" (or positive ontology or coherence) I don't find any support.  I don't buy the claim that labeling the claim "the first axiom" makes it true.  I don't buy the appeal to consequences argument that we must accept this claim in order to discuss anything.  That still reads to me as the logical positivist position, an incomplete description of human experience or the possibilities of the nature of the universe beyond human observation.

Hamby wrote:
Information is not axiomatic, so the analogy is false.

ID proponents claim that their definition of information is axiomatic.  But now I sound like I'm making the old "one axiom is as good as another" argument, which I don't want to make because I don't agree with it.  So I'll drop the analogy.

Hamby wrote:
You're not understanding.  I can prove that married bachelors do not exist.  It's 100% deductively certain.  In exactly the same way, I can prove that the supernatural does not exist.  Anything described as being in that set does not exist as described.  My proof is not a disproof of all possible god definitions.  It is a proof against a particular set of definitions.

Maybe I'm not understanding something because this is sounding to me like a strawman.  The God believed in by most Judeo-Christians has contradictions as a characteristic, so proving that a non-contradictory god cannot exist does not actually address the claim of the existence of a contradictory god.

Maybe I need more clarification on "as described?" 

 

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Quote: I just can't ignore

Quote:
I just can't ignore the problem of induction in the fundamental assumptions.

I'm truly baffled by this. Could you explain how you feel there's a problem of induction in the statement that existence requires identity?

Or, do you mean something entirely different? I'm completely puzzled.

Quote:
So on the argument "existence requires identity" (or positive ontology or coherence) I don't find any support. I don't buy the claim that labeling the claim "the first axiom" makes it true. I don't buy the appeal to consequences argument that we must accept this claim in order to discuss anything. That still reads to me as the logical positivist position, an incomplete description of human experience or the possibilities of the nature of the universe beyond human observation.

I'm still baffled. What don't you find supportive about retortion?

How would you propose that we discuss anything without assuming our own existence?

Quote:
ID proponents claim that their definition of information is axiomatic.

I'm glad you're dropping the analogy, because their claim is simply not true. Axioms are true through retortion. Information relies on assumptions that are not true through retortion.

Quote:
The God believed in by most Judeo-Christians has contradictions as a characteristic, so proving that a non-contradictory god cannot exist does not actually address the claim of the existence of a contradictory god.

Maybe I need more clarification on "as described?"

Huh?

I don't understand what you don't get. If I say, "That glass of milk is made of pink unicorn feces," one of three things is possible:

1) The glass of milk doesn't exist, because pink unicorn feces doesn't exist.

2) The glass of milk exists, and is not made of pink unicorn feces.

3) The glass of milk exists, and is made of pink unicorn feces, but our commonly understood definitions of "pink unicorn feces" are incorrect or incoherent.

In any case, I can talk all day long about the various properties of pink unicorn feces, including its propensity for curing cancer and male impotency, and the glass of milk, if it exists, is still a natural substance produced by cows, contained in a silicate vessel.

While I may be referring to the same thing you are, the glass of milk -- described as pink unicorn feces -- does not exist.

Suppose that I tell you there's a glass of milk in Patagonia. You ask me exactly what a glass of milk is, and I say it's an invisible container made of used spark plugs, containing red yellow. Clearly, such a thing does not exist, as it is internally contradictory. While there may be a thing in Patagonia to which I'm referring, it is most certainly not what I have described. You can say with 100% certainty that what I have described does not exist.

Anything which is internally contradictory cannot exist as described. If there is something extant to which the speaker is referring, we cannot know anything about what it is until it is described coherently.

In the same way that you would be 100% justified in saying that my glass of milk does not exist, we are 100% justified in saying that a supernatural anything does not exist. Is there a god? I don't know. But, I know it's not supernatural.

 

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Consider another

Consider another example.

Let's spend some time discussing "Compact Expansive Redness."  C.E.R is the convergence of 3.5 integers in the closed system of everything outside of everything.

Does C.E.R. exist?  I say it does because our language is imprecise, and I'm referring to something that is beyond our language's capacity to describe.  Now that you know it's outside of our understanding, you understand it, and know it exists, right?

Of course not.  We can talk all day about it, but it will be meaningless because C.E.R. has not been properly defined.  If I am referring to something extant, it is most certainly NOT what I have described.  

Now, since we know that my description is inaccurate, you know exactly what C.E.R. is, right?

Of course not.  You know absolutely nothing about it.   The same is true of any contradictory or incoherent statement.  Speaking of whether or not there is an extant thing to which an incoherent label applies is meaningless unless we have a coherent way of describing what the thing is.

 

 

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qbg

qbg wrote:

Quote:

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

A square circle is possible?

Square circles are possible if you use the right geometry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicab_geometry


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Hamby wrote: What don't you

Hamby wrote:
What don't you find supportive about retortion?

Retortion doesn't really apply to my argument here because I'm not asserting the opposite.  I'm just doubting the premise. 

And anyway saying that an assumption is proven by retortion just moves the assumption back one step on the inductive regress.  Okay, it's true by retortion.  But the correlation between "true by retortion" and "true in mind-independent reality" is still assumed.

...and I'm not questioning the laws of logic here.  The problem of connecting retortion with objective reality is not my idea. I think I remember it from Hegel at least.

Hamby wrote:
How would you propose that we discuss anything without assuming our own existence?

I have no problem with assuming our existence.  I would balk at concluding that we know for certain that we exist in a subject-independent way.

The glass of milk analogies are false analogies because all kinds of glasses of milk, even ones with nonexistent or incoherent properties, are entities with some known, materially limited properties.  If your assumptions about the existence of pink unicorn feces are true (and they are still assumptions), then it follows that "Anything which is internally contradictory cannot exist as described."

But the God of popular conception is a unique entity with unlimited, contradictory properties, so isn't bound by material relationships between coherence and existence. God is described as existing with internal contradictions *as* one of his properties.

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Textom wrote: So on the

Textom wrote:

So on the argument "existence requires identity" (or positive ontology or coherence) I don't find any support. I don't buy the claim that labeling the claim "the first axiom" makes it true.

All this I agree with. Certainly there was a lot of existing going on before people were around to establish rules of identity or axioms.

Textom wrote:

I don't buy the appeal to consequences argument that we must accept this claim in order to discuss anything. That still reads to me as the logical positivist position, an incomplete description of human experience or the possibilities of the nature of the universe beyond human observation.

Point to something that we can discuss without establishing its identity. Insisting on identity as a criterion for existence isn't necessarily logical positivism — it's just a pragmatic concession to the fact that people can't understand something being one thing and simultaneously its opposite. 

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Hamby wrote: Consider

Hamby wrote:
Consider another example.

Well after this example I'm even more confused.  This is sounding even more like an equivocation between

meaningful = describable in language = understandable = extant

I still contend that "extant" doesn't belong in this group, and I have yet to see an argument that supports the conclusion without some kind of "axiomatic" positivist assumption at its root.

Unless it's just that we're confused on definitions of "exists," which wouldn't be surprising.  I'm talking about existence apart from a subject-observer here. 

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To Tilberian: If insisting

To Tilberian:

If insisting on identity is a pragmatic concession, then it is useful for some discussions, but can be suspended temporarily for certain other kinds of discussions.  Like, for example, discussions about possible incoherent entities.

The usefulness of such discussons is debatable, I agree.  But I constitutionally object to any unecessary limits on open speculation. 

Maybe I've just read too much Jung, but I perceive that there are some human experiences that can *only* be understood as "being one thing and simultaneously its opposite."  In the alchemical writings Jung called the phenomenon "Enantodromia."  He claimed it was a fundamental feature of human consciousness (especially the dreaming consciousness).

And anyway now I'm drifting off my main line of argument... 

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MrRage wrote: qbg

MrRage wrote:
qbg wrote:

Quote:

Everything's possible. It's not a question of possibility, it's a question of probability.

A square circle is possible?

Square circles are possible if you use the right geometry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicab_geometry

Hmm... I learned something today. Smiling 

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To the question on the

To the question on the thread then, I think we can all agree that a supernatual god is not "possible." Talking about what is possible necessarily assumes certain limits — otherwise, everything is possible and also an armchair (logic doesn't work without limitations on meaning). Further, when people talk about what is possible, they are usually referring to naturalistic limitations. Clearly, a supernatual god doesn't fit within those. So, no, none of the mainstream concepts of god can possibly exist, in the common understanding of those terms.

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