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A debate of religion, science, and more





The Philosopher Princess
Hello Dear Readers! In the middle of a topic on Scientology [appearing over here], there erupted an interesting debate spanning some really really really long posts (Wink). The discussion, mostly between nopaniers and Indi (but also some other people including myself), addresses some issues of science, religion, and more.

The 2 featured debaters became concerned that they were off-topic. So, as a hopefully welcome surprise to everyone, I decided to create this new topic, and to use my Moderator ability to move the posts of that side discussion over here. I even moved the posts discussing the relevance, or lack there of, to Scientology.

Some of the posts I’ve moved here (especially the earlier ones) were relevant to Scientology but they also helped to instigate some non-Scientology topics appearing here (particular ones on donations, tithing, and churches being run as a business).

The effort I’ve made to form this new topic is a service that I’m providing, mostly so that the debaters will feel comfortable in continuing their talks. And other Frihosters are, of course, welcome to join in.

I had to make some stay-versus-move judgment calls as best I could. So if, after looking at the content, anyone believes I have moved some posts that I should not have, or have not moved some that I should have, please PM me, so that I can try to get everything as proper as possible. Note that this topic-splitting operation occurred on 20 April 2006, despite the ostensible date of this post.

My “Happy writing!” entry below, posted 20 April 06, separates (1) the posts that were moved to here, from (2) the posts that were written here directly.
AftershockVibe
Any religion which requires you to pay your way is automatically suspect. Very few people can afford 300,000 or however much it is. By implication wouldn't this mean that the rich are somehow more more deserving than everyone else?
HoboPelican
AftershockVibe wrote:
Any religion which requires you to pay your way is automatically suspect. Very few people can afford 300,000 or however much it is. By implication wouldn't this mean that the rich are somehow more more deserving than everyone else?


lol

Anybody remember reading about the whole protestant movement starting because the Catholic Church was selling "indulgences"

'From the Middle Ages one could pay money, get change, and receive a piece of paper with which one got remission of sin. The price is stipulated and there is no indulgence without "alms."'

Smile
Indi
HoboPelican wrote:
Anybody remember reading about the whole protestant movement starting because the Catholic Church was selling "indulgences"

'From the Middle Ages one could pay money, get change, and receive a piece of paper with which one got remission of sin. The price is stipulated and there is no indulgence without "alms."'

Smile

Ah yes, indulgences. Those were the good old days.

The church then and now claims that it didn't "sell" indulgences, it gave them away freely at the discretion of whoever was giving them out. The "donation" was "optional". *cough* ahem, anyway.

It's the same with Scientology today. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to pay a cent in Scientology. However, a helpful "donation" in the amount specified will speed your journey to Scientological enlightenment. *cough* ahem, anyway.

Remember, Scientology is a religion - for tax purposes at least - they can't turn a profit. But donations given as a "thank you" for auditing sessions are a-ok!

Regarding the "science" of Scientology, yes, it is completely possible. (And by the way, the original poster mucked up the Scientology beliefs a little, but he got the gist of it right.) It's actually more logical and more plausible than most other religions. But is it "believable"? *shrug* Anything is believable if you want to believe it.

But how does it stand up to current scientific knowlege? Not very well. There is no evidence of any advanced alien race using the Earth as a base in the past. There is no evidence of hydrogen bombs having been used at the mountain L. Ron Hubbard named at any time in the past, and no sign of any alien remains. The numbers Hubbard gave for a lot of the stuff he said are quite nonsensical (I think one calculation gave the number of space planes required for transporting the frozen aliens as a number well into the billions), and so were some of the dates. The actual science behind "dianetics" has been shown to be wrong and quite psychologically dangerous.
nopaniers
I think it's a con. After all Hubbard is meant to have said
Quote:
The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion.

There's no way I could follow a religion whose founder said that... and the second a religion starts asking for money, I have real problems.
The Philosopher Princess
nopaniers wrote:
There's no way I could follow a religion whose founder said that... and the second a religion starts asking for money, I have real problems.

That's good, but why would you want to follow any religion!?

In fact, why would you want to follow!?

Why not, instead, be your own person, and figure things out using your own mind?
nopaniers
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
That's good, but why would you want to follow any religion!? In fact, why would you want to follow!?


I do not follow "religion" I follow God. In my humble opinion, God deserves to be followed.

Quote:
Why not, instead, be your own person, and figure things out using your own mind?


I do. That is why I am Christian.
The Philosopher Princess
Okay, you don’t follow religion, but you do follow God. So, ultimately, you are a follower?
~~~~~~~~~~
You said.....
nopaniers wrote:
That is why I am Christian.
.....and also.....
nopaniers wrote:
and the second a religion starts asking for money, I have real problems.
.....but Christians and organizations of Christian religions ask for money a lot! I don’t see how everything you’ve stated can be true.
softnow
All christian religions ask for money in the form of 10% of your wage a tithe. Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Church of Christ etc it is biblical (written in the bible) some also ask of your time Mormons
nopaniers
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Okay, you don’t follow religion, but you do follow God. So, ultimately, you are a follower?


Absolutely. Because God deserves to be followed.

If you can show me that I am wrong then I am more than willing to change my opinion, because I think this is one of the most important questions in life. But having said that, the limits of our knowledge are very small, and I am under no illusions (being a physicist) that we have incomplete information.

Quote:
.....but Christians and organizations of Christian religions ask for money


When choosing a church I went to one one which had a sermon on why we should give them more money. Needless to say, I didn't go back.

Christianity teaches that you should tithe 10%, and Jesus did tell one rich man that he should give all his money to the poor. But that money does not necessarily have to go to the church (although I'd say that most Christians would see their church as a worthy cause, myself included). Most Christians I know support several different charities. My flatmates for example, sponsor children overseas.
HoboPelican
nopaniers wrote:

Christianity teaches that you should tithe 10%, and Jesus did tell one rich man that he should give all his money to the poor. But that money does not necessarily have to go to the church (although I'd say that most Christians would see their church as a worthy cause, myself included). Most Christians I know support several different charities. My flatmates for example, sponsor children overseas.


Nopaniers (or anyone), just wondering if you happen to know if there is a scriptual basis for the 10% tithe. It's ingrained in my upbringing, but I can't find a biblical reference (I doubt if the '%' sign is used in the Bible).
I can find tithing mentioned the the OT, but nothing specific to amount.

Any scholars out therewho can help me?
The Philosopher Princess
HoboPelican wrote:
Nopaniers (or anyone), just wondering if you happen to know if there is a scriptual basis for the 10% tithe. It's ingrained in my upbringing, but I can't find a biblical reference (I doubt if the '%' sign is used in the Bible). I can find tithing mentioned the the OT, but nothing specific to amount.

Any scholars out therewho can help me?

You can research the passages yourself with the keywords “tithe” (“tithes”) and “tenth”. You will find more references with just tithe. And, just tenth will get you many hits of other (wrong) contexts. (The paying of one-tenth off the top, once established, is considered by some to be understood with regards to anything concerning paying tithes.) www.biblegateway.com has good online search capabilities; I’m sure there are others.

Check out the text around Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:24; Deuteronomy 12:6,11,17; 14:22,23,28; 26:12; Nehemiah 10:38; Malachi 3:8,10; and there are many more.
DeFwh
Yeah i think this topic is sort of rhetorical because who wants to pay for a religion.

How many ppl acctually give 10% back to God?

I do.

I believe that money is still evil but if thats how we have to live so be it.
The Philosopher Princess
This topic is delving into issues not particularly Scientological. And yet, we seem to have fairly well addressed altikris’s instigating post, so maybe that’s okay. It would have been different if we had anyone defending Scientology. But if altikris wants us to get off these side topics, please let us know, and I’ll do my part. Otherwise..... Smile
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
If you can show me that I am wrong

I am not so much pointing out where you are wrong, as I am pointing out where you are, or where you seem to be, inconsistent (meaning, inconsistent with yourself). People who sincerely want to be right will want to work out any inconsistencies for themselves.
~~~~~~~~~~
On the one hand, you say you “do not follow ‘religion’”. On the other hand, you say you “follow God”. I contend that following God is following religion [%1]. So you seem to be inconsistent there.
~~~~~~~~~~
Also, on the one hand, you say “the second a religion starts asking for money, [you] have real problems” [%2]. On the other hand, Christians ask for money in the first second because they’re based on the Bible, which Christians believe demands tithes. And, Christians ask for money all the time in other ways. So, again, there’s an area where you seem to be inconsistent.
~~~~~~~~~~
[%1] This is true unless you have a fully scientific basis, which is rare. If you have that, I’d be immensely interested in learning of it.

[%2] This was with regards to Scientology. If you’re inconsistent, it might be appropriate to note this passage:
Matthew 7:3 wrote:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
~~~~~~~~~~
Very Happy Thanks for the engaging discussion!
nopaniers
Thanks PP.

I'm by not a scholar (certainly not a biblical one). Tithe literally means a tenth (or ten percent)... and I agree with you HoboP, as far as I know in the New Testament, tithing is not mentioned. There are lots of mentions of giving generously and without a show (eg. Matthew 5:40-42, 6:1-4 and 1 John 3:17).
HoboPelican
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
www.biblegateway.com has good online search capabilities; I’m sure there are others.



PP, Thanks for the great reference site. Very nice.
nopaniers
Sorry to get off topic and the long post Smile

Quote:
People who sincerely want to be right will want to work out any inconsistencies for themselves.


Yes. I am a stickler for trying to find out what is true. I am not so arrogant to think that I can prove everything, and I like to test my beliefs.

Quote:
This is true unless you have a fully scientific basis, which is rare.


No, I cannot prove Christianity to you through science, although a scientific basis is a good one to discuss things in (ie. repeatedly measurable results from a controlled experiment) because it gives concrete results.

Quote:
I contend that following God is following religion.


Well, that is an subtle difference. I don't regard God and religion as the same thing. I don't worship cardinals, priests, tradition or symbols like the cross. On the other hand I try to follow Jesus (often unsucessfully). Religion can teach you about God, but is by no means God. In a more human context: You can follow a person, but that doesn't mean you follow biology.

Quote:
On the other hand, Christians ask for money in the first second because they’re based on the Bible, which Christians believe demands tithes.


Yes, Christianity does teach that you should tithe, and giving money to those in need and that is a good thing to do. Other religions teach similar things. One of the pillars of Islam is giving to the poor and they reflect on that during Ramadan, or with Jewish people tithing. These are good teachings which I respect.

But, I do not see giving to scientology in the same way, at all. An auditing session costs as much as $1,000 an hour in "donation". It can cost almost $400,000 to rise all the way to OT Level 6. They have several hundred million dollars in bank accounts, and continues to take money from poor people.

Perhaps it is my bias, but I really do have problems when a religious figure (of any type) tells me that I should give them money. On the other hand if a religion teaches the opposite: to give to those who need (and does so themselves), then I respect them.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
... It would have been different if we had anyone defending Scientology....

*ahem* Well, I can't exactly go about defending Scientology, but I can certainly say some things about the criticisms offered so far.

First off, everyone seems to be down on the Church of Scientology because they take donations for their "auditing" (counselling) sessions. There are several problems with doing that.

First, Scientology is a word that does double duty as the name of the religion and the name of the leading church in that religion. To give a parallel in Christianity, you can be both Christian and Catholic, or you can be Christian and Pentacostal, etc. etc. In Scientology, you can be a Scientologist and a member of the Church of Scientology, or you can be a Scientologist and a member of some other church in the "Free Zone". The Church of Scientology does ask for donations for auditing sessions. Many Free Zone churches do not. So when you criticize Scientology for asking for donations for auditing sessions, you are criticising the Church of Scientology, not Scientology the religion.

Second, you're using a double standard. Many Christian churches over the centuries have demanded "donations" for one purpose or another (case in point: indugences), but according to the current crop of Christians, that means those churches were corrupt but the religion was still pure and true. Why doesn't the same standard apply to Scientology? Why is the entire religion suspect because of the deeds of the largest church? How come the church can't be corrupt but the religion pure and true?

And finally, you're criticising the Church of Scientology based on Christian ethics. There's a problem with that. It's the same as if you were Rastafarian and you said, "Well, we all know that you're not supposed to eat pork, but Christianity says it's ok to eat pork. Therefore Christianity is wrong." You can see how that just doesn't work. It's a Christian ethic that the church shouldn't be a business (remember, it was Jesus who threw all that "be a lamb" and "turn the other cheek" crap out the window and rampaged through a church that was holding a bake sale or something in one of the Gospels). If you let go of that Christian belief, why is it wrong for a church to take money? Even Christianity says that wealth is a burden (it's easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle, etc. etc.), so if the church is taking that burden away, what's wrong with it? It's not like you're required to pay for auditing in Scientology, but if you choose to pay then you're relieving yourself of your burden, and you're helping the church be able to help others. Everyone wins. What's the problem?

I said it before and I'll say it again. Paying for auditing in Scientology is optional. If it were mandatory, then yeah, sure, there'd be a problem (and we wouldn't be calling it a religion, we'd be calling it a business - and they'd be in a shitload of tax trouble).

Now, someone else asked what exactly it is that Scientologists really believe (you don't seriously think that South Park or internet rumours got it right, do you?). I can explain that in great detail if anyone really cares to know, but I've already typed a lot. Is anyone interested?

nopaniers wrote:
Well, that is an subtle difference. I don't regard God and religion as the same thing. I don't worship cardinals, priests, tradition or symbols like the cross. On the other hand I try to follow Jesus (often unsucessfully). Religion can teach you about God, but is by no means God. In a more human context: You can follow a person, but that doesn't mean you follow biology.

No, but you can follow a belief. God is a belief (unless you can prove otherwise). The source of this belief is a religion (unless you picked it up somewhere else). Ergo, you're following a religion.

If you were following cardinals, priests et al, you would be following a church, not a religion.

On the other hand, if you were worshipping these cardinals and priests, and/or some symbol like the cross, Mary or a "graven image", you would be following a religion. There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping anything else... except that you believe God is real and worth worshipping. Take a step back and look at it objectively, and you'll see what I mean. There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping Baal, Zeus, or the balance of the universe that "☯" represents.

Sorry, dude, but you really are following a religion.
HoboPelican
Interesting, Indie. I wasn't aware that there were other churches of scientology (lack of capitals intentional).

Not sure if completely agree with your 2nd point concerning church's as a business, though. Yeah, there was some christian thought on that, but I'm not sure if that makes any critism of paying for "salvation" a christian argument. I think I could argue against it on a strictly cheapskate basis. I think there are a number of valid reasons against a church making money. And as we both have pointed out, paying for salvation was really a "christian" tradition in the past:)

Did I loose your point in there? Not really all that awake yet....
Indi
HoboPelican wrote:
Interesting, Indie. I wasn't aware that there were other churches of scientology (lack of capitals intentional).

Not sure if completely agree with your 2nd point concerning church's as a business, though. Yeah, there was some christian thought on that, but I'm not sure if that makes any critism of paying for "salvation" a christian argument. I think I could argue against it on a strictly cheapskate basis. I think there are a number of valid reasons against a church making money. And as we both have pointed out, paying for salvation was really a "christian" tradition in the past:)

Did I loose your point in there? Not really all that awake yet....

Heh, nope, you got it. Personally, I'm not particularly hot on the idea of a church operating as a business either, but I can't think of a real, rational reason why they shouldn't. I mean, there are thousands of "Christian" charities. Yes, technically, they're not connected to the church directly, but they do spout its religious dogma to the places they do their religious work (I have seen this first hand - people sent to other countries by Christian charities do their charity work, but they also use the opportunity to proselytize and hand out bibles and Chick tracts and whatnot - that's actually where I learned about Christianity, from a family of missionaries out of Maryland). And there are a number of churches that do raise money for the purpose of funding missions, and send their missionaries all over the world.

I don't really see what Scientology is doing as any different. They take "donations" for optional auditing sessions from their clients then use the cash to spread Scientology. How is that different from your local church soliciting donations via a bake sale or whatever (or even just asking for cash by handing a little bowl around during the service) then sending out missionaries or doing other work to spread goodwill in the name of the church?

At least the Scientological auditing sessions offer something allegedly tangible in return for the donations they ask for. Auditing is supposed to be (by the logic of Scientology) very good for the person. What does your average Christian church offer in exchange for the donations they want? Marginally good baked goods at a bake sale, or nothing at all in most cases, such as the ubiquitous offering plate. Frankly, I think Scientology holds the moral high ground there, odd though it may seem.

I mean:
Christian churches
Solicit donations: Yes
Offer something useful in exchange for the donations: No
Use donations to spread the religion: Yes

Church of Scientology
Solicit donations: Yes
Offer something useful in exchange for the donations: Yes (assuming auditing is useful)
Use donations to spread the religion: Yes

See? Scientology wins. (Barely.)

And yeah, there are a few alternate Scientology churches, referred to as the "Free Zone" in Scientological lingo (Scientologists just loooooove their lingo) by people who support the idea, and "squirrels" by those that don't. The Church of Scientology is engaged in an active smear campaign against these Free Zone churches. See for yourself.

(Be aware though, if you try to read through that site, that the Scientology lingo can be a bit opaque. For example:
Quote:
Max Hauri pretends to be a tech authority but he is just pitiful squirrel. My friend told me that Hauri has a history of taking pcs for session without studying the pc folders. This is a very high out-tech and contrary to any LRH policy and tech. One time Max Hauri took a PTS type III in session because he didn’t look in the pc folder so he didn’t know that the pc was nuts.

In plain English, "tech" refers to the techniques and practice of Dianetics, "squirrel" means someone who is somehow altering or subverting the "standard tech" developed by L. Ron Hubbard (LRH, in the piece above), a "pc" is a "preclear" - someone who has yet to be cleared of their Body Thetans by the proper application of Dianetics, and a PTS type III is a "potential trouble source" that is insane and/or suicidal.)
nopaniers
Quote:
No, but you can follow a belief. God is a belief (unless you can prove otherwise). The source of this belief is a religion (unless you picked it up somewhere else). Ergo, you're following a religion.


Obviously, I don't agree, since I don't accept the assumption that God doesn't exist, and is only the product of religion.

As an atheist that is exactly the sort of unjustified assumption which constantly worried me. If you assume X, and show it implies X, where have you got yourself?

It's an interesting intellectual exercise to only believe things you can absolutely prove, but it's not very helpful. You cannot even prove to me that you exist, or my drink, or my dinner, or the pub across the road exist. Of course, you are allowed to take the opinion that nothing except what you can prove is true, but then you will starve to death.

Quote:
On the other hand, if you were worshipping these cardinals and priests, and/or some symbol like the cross, Mary or a "graven image", you would be following a religion.

I agree.

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There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping anything else...

It matters which girl you sleep with. It matters who or what you worship.

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Take a step back and look at it objectively, and you'll see what I mean.

I can see why you might say what you do, but I don't agree that the assumption that there is no God is "objective". That's a particular point of view based on unproven assumptions.

Quote:
There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping Baal, Zeus, or the balance of the universe that "☯" represents.


Even if you do not know which of mutually exclusive members of a set of options are true, saying that every option is the same is not right. One of the options is true, the others false. The best you can say (if you do not know anything about them at all) is that based on your lack of knowledge all options are equally likely... Your best way of approaching such a problem is to become as well informed as you can, to maximize the likelihood of choosing correctly.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
No, but you can follow a belief. God is a belief (unless you can prove otherwise). The source of this belief is a religion (unless you picked it up somewhere else). Ergo, you're following a religion.


Obviously, I don't agree, since I don't accept the assumption that God doesn't exist, and is only the product of religion.

Then by what means have you come to believe that God exists, if not some religion or another? There is certainly no scientific or logical evidence that suggests God exists. The only place you could have gotten the idea from is from religion.

That doesn't mean God doesn't exist. I never claimed that - that was your assumption, not mine - all I said was that the only source you could have for believing he exists is religion, because there is no non-religious source that describes God. I believe in planes. Planes exist. Just because something is a belief doesn't mean it's not true. But the evidence I have for believing in planes is from non-religious sources. What sources besides a religion could lead to a belief in a god (or the God)?

nopaniers wrote:
As an atheist that is exactly the sort of unjustified assumption which constantly worried me. If you assume X, and show it implies X, where have you got yourself?

My only assumptions were clearly stated (they're in brackets). I assumed that you have no objective evidence that God exists, and that you learned of his existence from a religion.

Regarding the first assumption, that your belief in God is just a subjective belief without objective proof: If you have objective proof of God's existence, the world is waiting to hear of it. It would completely change mankind and the universe as we know it.

Regarding the second assumption, that you learned about God from a religious source: If you learned about God from calculus, the Navier-Stokes equation of fluid mechanics or anthropological evidence - or any non-religious source - I'd love to hear how.

nopaniers wrote:
It's an interesting intellectual exercise to only believe things you can absolutely prove, but it's not very helpful. You cannot even prove to me that you exist, or my drink, or my dinner, or the pub across the road exist. Of course, you are allowed to take the opinion that nothing except what you can prove is true, but then you will starve to death.

It is absurd to believe only what can be absolutely proven. I hope you're not implying that's how I work.

But it is intellectually dishonest to lie to yourself about how you came to believe something. I know why I believe in electrons. I know exactly what parts of that belief are leaps of faith, and what parts are the by-products of logic and objective observations. I know where I came to learn of the concept of electrons, and I know why the concept was taught to me. In short, I don't believe electrons have been absolutely proven, but they've been proven damn well enough from so many different sources (physics, chemistry, electricity) that I believe my belief in them is justified.

Where did you come to learn that there was an almighty being called God that created you? How many different sources described God to you? What objective evidence do you have to support the idea of God's existence? I'm willing to bet the answers are, in order: the religion of Christianity, the bible (and associated supporting texts, like biblical analyses and Christian writings), and none. But feel free to offer other answers.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping anything else...

It matters which girl you sleep with. It matters who or what you worship.

That's assuming that there are some more worthy of worshipping than others. What evidence, besides your own personal, subjective beliefs do you have that this is the case?

To paraphrase you: This is exactly the sort of unjustified assumption that constantly worries me. If you assume X and show it implies X, where have you got yourself? I assume you believe that Scientology is false. You assume Christianity is true, and thus Scientology is false, correct? That's not logic, dude, that's religious intolerance.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Take a step back and look at it objectively, and you'll see what I mean.

I can see why you might say what you do, but I don't agree that the assumption that there is no God is "objective". That's a particular point of view based on unproven assumptions.

Incorrect. That's the way that logic works. I assume there is no god until I have some evidence to suggest otherwise. The burden of proof is on the positive.

If you assume God exists (a positive claim), the onus is on you to provide evidence to support that assumption. By assuming the negative, that God does not exist, until something proves he does, my assumption is valid (and I normally wouldn't think I'd have to specify this, but your mention of absolute proofs is so strangely out in left field I probably should: when I say proven, I don't mean absolutely proven, I mean reasonably, objectively proven).

Why is that the correct way to use logic? See for yourself. Replace "God" with "a pink and yellow polka-dot termite" in the above paragraph. If you claim such a termite exists, the onus is on you to prove it, because I can never prove one does not exist. I could search forever and not find such a termite, but maybe I just missed a spot where they hide. Of course, the moment you find one, you prove your assumption and disprove mine.

If you want to discuss Scientology - or anything - objectively, you have to be prepared to accept the assumption that God does not exist (unless you can reasonably prove otherwise, of course, but given that that's been attempted for millenia without success by the greatest minds of all time, I'd say it's not likely to happen on the Frihost forums in the foreseeable future). Otherwise, you're not being objective. As I said above, if you're here to discuss Scientology, and your position is that Scientology is a lie because your faith is "truth" with no evidence to back that claim up, that's not rational discussion, that's religious intolerance.

Now does God really exist? *shrug* That's a topic for another thread. But certainly it can't be objectively proven, so it can't be used as an objective argument here or anywhere else.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
There is no difference between worshipping God and worshipping Baal, Zeus, or the balance of the universe that "☯" represents.


Even if you do not know which of mutually exclusive members of a set of options are true, saying that every option is the same is not right. One of the options is true, the others false. The best you can say (if you do not know anything about them at all) is that based on your lack of knowledge all options are equally likely... Your best way of approaching such a problem is to become as well informed as you can, to maximize the likelihood of choosing correctly.

Er... hang on here. It's wrong to say that there it makes no difference chosing between such a set of options, but it's ok to say that they are all equally likely? That sounds like semantic horseplay to me. It also sounds like you're assuming that one of the options are right and the others are wrong with no real justification for the assumption. What if they're all wrong?

I mean, can you provide objective evidence that Christian beliefs are more likely correct than Scientology's (do you even know what Scientology's beliefs are, other than what you'd get from something like South Park)? Because it's been around longer? Then why not Hinduism? Or Judaism?
nopaniers
My apologies for the long post.
Quote:
There is certainly no scientific or logical evidence that suggests God exists.

There are historical accounts pointing to the existence of God, in particular eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection. You might say that you are not convinced, which would be a fair enough position to take, but to say that there is no evidence is wrong. I would say there there is both evidence for and evidence against, and more than that, I believe that the evidence for is greater than the evidence against.
Quote:
But the evidence I have for believing in planes is from non-religious sources. What sources besides a religion could lead to a belief in a god (or the God)?

That is an interesting question, because I was convinced that there was a God before I was a Christian... in particular one of the questions which bugged me was "Why does anything exist at all?"

Another was the inability of science (and mathematics) to answer anything but the simplest questions. For example, we do not know how to unify gravity with quantum field theory, we do not know if P=NP, or indeed if the Navier-Stokes equation (thankyou for bringing them up) always has a (smooth) solution. When I was young, I assumed that science answered everything. As I learnt more (I love learning...) I realized that in fact, it didn't, and that the boundaries of scientific knowledge were very limited.
Quote:
But it is intellectually dishonest to lie to yourself about how you came to believe something.

If nothing else, I am being intellectually honest. I would be intellectually dishonest to take your assumptions, since I do not believe them.
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I know where I came to learn of the concept of electrons, and I know why the concept was taught to me.

I would say that JJ Thompson's experiment provided pretty good evidence that electrons exist. Although, I realize the limit of my knowledge, since in a double slit experiment, an electron can behave like a wave, passing through both slits at once, and interfering with itself. Describing the collapse of that wavefunction into a particle when it is observed is something which I do not fully understand... despite the fact that I can do the equations.
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Where did you come to learn that there was an almighty being called God that created you? How many different sources described God to you? What objective evidence do you have to support the idea of God's existence?

Briefly: I believed that God exists before I was a Christian. Bible, historical record, first hand knowledge (although I'm sure that you will discount that because it contradicts your assumptions), and science, physics and mathematics in particular, speaks volumes about its creator, and other people, the cycle of redemption, the human condition... but this is all beside the point. If you want to have an all in discussion of evidence for and against, we can. Perhaps we should start another thread to do that though?
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That's assuming that there are some more worthy of worshipping than others.

Absolutely. Regardless of Christianity or not, they are not of equal value. As I said, truth sets them a part in the first place. Obviously believing what is true is more valuable than believing what is not.
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To paraphrase you: This is exactly the sort of unjustified assumption that constantly worries me. If you assume X and show it implies X, where have you got yourself?

Exactly. I am well aware that some of my beliefs are not absolutely provable, and taken on faith. People who assume that there is no God also take a great deal on faith, although it is hard to get them to admit it.
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I assume you believe that Scientology is false. You assume Christianity is true, and thus Scientology is false, correct? That's not logic, dude, that's religious intolerance.

That's logic. If I believe A, and A implies not B, then not B: otherwise I would be logically inconsistent.

It's not religious intolerance. I don't say that other people can't believe B if they want, or that I do something bad to such people, merely that I don't believe what they do. It would be religious intolerance if I forced them to believe what I did, or assumed that my position was objective Wink.
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Incorrect. That's the way that logic works. I assume there is no god until I have some evidence to suggest otherwise. The burden of proof is on the positive.

If you make a statement based on unjustified assumptions that statement is not proven. Nobody is "burdened" to prove anything... it's not a competition, it is about ariving at the truth.

Actually you'll find what you're assuming is Occam's razor with is a heuristic, not a law... and if you use Occam's razor blindly (as you seem to advocate) you'd be disagreeing with most of the current string theory/quantum loop gravity community (whose task is pointless according to Occam), and Dirac to name just a few. Occam's razor needs to be applied with care, as Einstein said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
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Why is that the correct way to use logic? See for yourself. Replace "God" with "a pink and yellow polka-dot termite" in the above paragraph.

I regard all statements with unproven assumptions with suspicion. I then weigh up the evidence, for and against. I do not assume that one thing is true (there is no God) simply because it is the negative of a statement. That is no basis for believing anything.

Take your yellow polka-dot termite for example. I do not have enough information to know if there are or there aren't. A quick search on the web revealed pictures of pink termites. That none are yellow dotted... hmmmm... the jury is out. That does not mean that I assume they don't exist (as you seem to advocate)... it means that I do not know.
Now is atheism really true? *shrug* That's a topic for another thread. But certainly it can't be objectively proven, so it can't be used as an objective argument here or anywhere else.
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Er... hang on here. It's wrong to say that there it makes no difference chosing between such a set of options, but it's ok to say that they are all equally likely?

Yes. In the absence of any information about any of the options, they are all equally likely, since they are all identical.
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That sounds like semantic horseplay to me.

I was hoping that starting to put it in a more mathematical context would help... and get us agreeing rather than arguing.
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It also sounds like you're assuming that one of the options are right and the others are wrong with no real justification for the assumption. What if they're all wrong?

Yes, I assumed that one is right and the others are wrong. That's what mutally exclusive means. It may be a simplification, but regardless, I view many religions as having incompatible beliefs. I do not think that scientology and Christianity are compatable, for example.

What if they are all wrong? Then, option A=atheism is true, and so it is not possible that all are wrong... or if you want to be more pedantic then you can assume there's a Z = not(A or B or ....) which we haven't thought of yet. In any case, the best strategy is to maximize your information about each of the choices and make the best choice you can.
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I mean, can you provide objective evidence that Christian beliefs are more likely correct than Scientology's (do you even know what Scientology's beliefs are, other than what you'd get from something like South Park)?

I dont even know if it's on here in the UK. If you asked me you'd find I'm not exactly uninformed about the myriad of beliefs out there. Yes, I do know what scientology believes, although I do not agree with their beliefs... and absolutely I can.
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Because it's been around longer? Then why not Hinduism? Or Judaism?

Being around a long time is important, yes. When I was considering different religion's claims about life, that was one thing I did consider.

Certainly I think that what was true yesterday, will still be true tomorrow...
Why not Judaism? Well that is something I seriously considered. There are many reasons, but the most basic one is that I believe Jesus' claims.

For me it really all began with reading Ecclesiates, where I realized that the Bible actually did have something relevant to say... Which was quite a revelation for me.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
There are historical accounts pointing to the existence of God, in particular eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection. You might say that you are not convinced, which would be a fair enough position to take, but to say that there is no evidence is wrong. I would say there there is both evidence for and evidence against, and more than that, I believe that the evidence for is greater than the evidence against.

I don't know what historical accounts pointing to the existence of God you mean, but I can speak to the topic of eyewitness accounts of Jesus. There are none. Just about the only accounts of Jesus' life on Earth are the four Gospels. Not even the letters of Paul describe the Earthly life of Jesus, and certainly nothing outside of the Bible until the end of the 2nd century, start of the 3rd. Even the Gospels are now believed to be non-independently written (Mark was written first, then Matthew, Luke and John borrowed from Mark).

In addition, there are no non-Christian writings that mention anything about the environmental effects that accompanied the crucifixion (including the earthquake and eclipse), or the star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem. There is no mention in any writing - Jewish, Roman or otherwise - of a man with thousands upon thousands of followers who wandered around Isreal in the first half of the first century doing miracles or making a triumphant, king-like entry into Jerusalem.

nopaniers wrote:
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But the evidence I have for believing in planes is from non-religious sources. What sources besides a religion could lead to a belief in a god (or the God)?

That is an interesting question, because I was convinced that there was a God before I was a Christian... in particular one of the questions which bugged me was "Why does anything exist at all?"

Another was the inability of science (and mathematics) to answer anything but the simplest questions. For example, we do not know how to unify gravity with quantum field theory, we do not know if P=NP, or indeed if the Navier-Stokes equation (thankyou for bringing them up) always has a (smooth) solution. When I was young, I assumed that science answered everything. As I learnt more (I love learning...) I realized that in fact, it didn't, and that the boundaries of scientific knowledge were very limited.

That doesn't answer the question of why you came to believe that the answer was a god, that only explains why you started to look for an answer outside of known science. Why didn't you come to believe that the universe was created by super-intelligent aliens as an experiment? Or that we're all in the Matrix? The question is why did you come to believe that the answer was an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving entity beyond our capability to directly perceive? There's no logical reason that the creator has to be all-powerful, all-knowing and/or all-loving, or that there is only one, or that there is no way he could be directly observed - so why did you come to that conclusion, if not by some religion or another?

nopaniers wrote:
Briefly: I believed that God exists before I was a Christian. Bible, historical record, first hand knowledge (although I'm sure that you will discount that because it contradicts your assumptions), and science, physics and mathematics in particular, speaks volumes about its creator, and other people, the cycle of redemption, the human condition... but this is all beside the point. If you want to have an all in discussion of evidence for and against, we can. Perhaps we should start another thread to do that though?

Yes, first-hand subjective experience isn't valid to anyone (not even yourself, because your perceptions can be altered and/or skewed many different ways). The bible is not an objective source of information by any stretch of the imagination. And historical record? Well, the jury's still out on that one because I don't know what historical record suggests a god.

Science, physics and math cannot speak about a god because it violates parsimony - a fundamental building block of the fields without which they are useless.

So the question remains - how did you come by the idea of a god, if not by a religion? If you want to discuss the evidence for and against somewhere else, no problem, but evidence is not required here. All that is required is to explain how you formulated the idea that there is a single, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving entity that exists outside of time and space that created everything and is pulling the strings, if not via religion, directly or indirectly (not the evidence you have for believing it, not the "why do you believe it", but how you came to that conclusion to begin with, the "how did you discover that idea"). God is not an inevitable result of logical deduction, or we'd all believe the same things about the same god, instead of there being such a multitude of beliefs. For example, by what logic did you come to believe this entity loves its creation, if not by the claims of some religion or another (because some believe it doesn't care about us at all, which seems more logical in light of the existence of suffering)?

nopaniers wrote:
Absolutely. Regardless of Christianity or not, they are not of equal value. As I said, truth sets them a part in the first place. Obviously believing what is true is more valuable than believing what is not.

nopaniers wrote:
Exactly. I am well aware that some of my beliefs are not absolutely provable, and taken on faith. People who assume that there is no God also take a great deal on faith, although it is hard to get them to admit it.

Ok, we're going in circles here. You say that one religion is true while others are false, but you say there is no objective way to prove that any religion is better than any other (and, in fact, even believing in your own religion requires a leap of faith). Correct?

And if there is no way to determine which is true, then there is no way to determine which one is worth worshipping. Correct?

And if you can't objectively determine which one is worth worshipping, your choice is random. You have an equal chance of being right no matter what you choose. Correct?

So, why is the leap of faith you have to make when selecting your religion any more or less valid than the leap of faith you have to make when selecting Scientology? If there is no reason besides faith to believe that any one option is valid above all others, why can't Scientology be as valid a choice as your religion?

nopaniers wrote:
If you make a statement based on unjustified assumptions that statement is not proven. Nobody is "burdened" to prove anything... it's not a competition, it is about ariving at the truth.

Actually you'll find what you're assuming is Occam's razor with is a heuristic, not a law... and if you use Occam's razor blindly (as you seem to advocate) you'd be disagreeing with most of the current string theory/quantum loop gravity community (whose task is pointless according to Occam), and Dirac to name just a few. Occam's razor needs to be applied with care, as Einstein said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

Er, yes, Einstein's quote is exactly Ockham's Razor. And there most certainly is a burden of proof on positive claims, simply because of the impossibility of proving negative claims.

Take the termite example. The claims "a pink and yellow polka-dot termite exists" and "a pink and yellow polka-dot termite does not exist" are not equivalent. The first can potentially be proven, the second can never be proven. If I tried to prove that a pink and yellow polka-dot termite does not exist, and I somehow managed to scan every square millimeter of the universe and show it wasn't there, you could then turn around and say it moved around me while I was scanning, or my scanner wasn't adequate, or it disguises itself when I get close, or... See what I mean? I can never prove that a pink and yellow polka-dot termite doesn't exist. No one can. But I can prove that one does exist, the moment I find one. You see? The two statements are not equivalent. One is an assumption, the other is a negative assumption - the lack of an assumption.

The same with God. No one can ever prove he doesn't exist. Ever. It's impossible. But, if he does exist, it is possible to prove that assumption. Therefore "God exists" is an assumption and "God does not exist" is the lack of an assumption. The person who claims God does not exist has nothing to prove, because they are not making an assumption. The person who claims God does exist has something to do - they have to back up their assumption. The burden of proof is on the positive claim.

nopaniers wrote:
Take your yellow polka-dot termite for example. I do not have enough information to know if there are or there aren't. A quick search on the web revealed pictures of pink termites. That none are yellow dotted... hmmmm... the jury is out. That does not mean that I assume they don't exist (as you seem to advocate)... it means that I do not know.
Now is atheism really true? *shrug* That's a topic for another thread. But certainly it can't be objectively proven, so it can't be used as an objective argument here or anywhere else.

If you don't assume something, you can't move forward. You can't do anything. You have to assume the universe exists, and you have to assume the next time you breathe in it probably won't be poison gas, and you have to assume that the universe won't end in the next 30 seconds... and so on... or else you can't function or exist. If the existence of such a termite matters (which it doesn't but obviously the existence of a god does), you have to assume something, either that it exists or not, or you can't function. Even Agnosticism assumes that God doesn't exist, although they're open to the possibility (if they assumed he existed, surely they'd be following his instructions in the bible).

If the existence of those termites matters, and you can find no evidence for their existence, then you have to stay with the negative assumption, that they don't exist. Of course, as soon as you have evidence that they do, then you accept the positive assumption. Same with God. In a logical argument, if there is no objective evidence for his existence, you fall back on the negative assumption, that he doesn't exist.

There are many different flavours of atheism, but generally, they don't need to be proven because they are negative assumptions. Is the atheist position true? Who knows? But it doesn't need to be proven. The opposite does.

nopaniers wrote:
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Er... hang on here. It's wrong to say that there it makes no difference chosing between such a set of options, but it's ok to say that they are all equally likely?

Yes. In the absence of any information about any of the options, they are all equally likely, since they are all identical.

So, given that there is no objective evidence that any one religion is more correct (unless you have some to present), why is Scientology a less acceptible choice than any other religion?

nopaniers wrote:
Yes, I assumed that one is right and the others are wrong. That's what mutally exclusive means. It may be a simplification, but regardless, I view many religions as having incompatible beliefs. I do not think that scientology and Christianity are compatable, for example.

What if they are all wrong? Then, option A=atheism is true, and so it is not possible that all are wrong... or if you want to be more pedantic then you can assume there's a Z = not(A or B or ....) which we haven't thought of yet. In any case, the best strategy is to maximize your information about each of the choices and make the best choice you can.

Atheism is not a religion, it is the lack of a religion. Here is the dictionary.com definition of religion:
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re·li·gion:
1. a.) Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b.) A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Immediately you can rule out 1, 2 and 3. But what about 4? Well, that depends on the flavour of atheism that you follow, but generally most atheists, myself included, aren't particularly zealous or devoted about the case for or against a god. You got evidence that proves a god exists that stands up to objective examination? I'm willing to hear it. But no such evidence exists. When some does, then I'd be happy to entertain the idea of a god existing - it would sure absolve me of a lot of responsibility.

nopaniers wrote:
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I mean, can you provide objective evidence that Christian beliefs are more likely correct than Scientology's (do you even know what Scientology's beliefs are, other than what you'd get from something like South Park)?

I dont even know if it's on here in the UK. If you asked me you'd find I'm not exactly uninformed about the myriad of beliefs out there. Yes, I do know what scientology believes, although I do not agree with their beliefs... and absolutely I can.

Oh, it exists there, but it's having a lot more trouble there than in the US. But if you can objectively prove that Scientology's claims are wrong (or at the very least that some other religion's beliefs are more likely correct), then please do! That would kind of be the point of this thread.

nopaniers wrote:
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Because it's been around longer? Then why not Hinduism? Or Judaism?

Being around a long time is important, yes. When I was considering different religion's claims about life, that was one thing I did consider.

Certainly I think that what was true yesterday, will still be true tomorrow...
Why not Judaism? Well that is something I seriously considered. There are many reasons, but the most basic one is that I believe Jesus' claims.

For me it really all began with reading Ecclesiates, where I realized that the Bible actually did have something relevant to say... Which was quite a revelation for me.

So what's the cutoff for age? Christianity is only 2000 years old. Judaism is like twice that, and Hinduism even more. Not to mention Zoroastrianism or Buddhism. Obviously 50 years old isn't good enough, so what is the cutoff?

And another thing... you believe the claims of Jesus, were converted to Christianity through the writings of Judaism... but you're not following a religion?
nopaniers
Indi wrote:
I don't know what historical accounts pointing to the existence of God you mean, but I can speak to the topic of eyewitness accounts of Jesus. There are none. Just about the only accounts of Jesus' life on Earth are the four Gospels. Not even the letters of Paul describe the Earthly life of Jesus, and certainly nothing outside of the Bible until the end of the 2nd century, start of the 3rd. Even the Gospels are now believed to be non-independently written (Mark was written first, then Matthew, Luke and John borrowed from Mark).


Obviously John was an apostle of Jesus, and other writings are from Jesus' contemporaries. Considering that the accounts of Jesus (including Paul's letters) make it absolutely clear that they all follow the same belief, that of the disciples, I don't think they are independant, in the sense that they all put forward the same, consistent belief. If there was a gospel Q or not is a matter for speculation, but the evidence is there for you to see, if you accept it or not.

Paul writes of his meeting with Jesus in Acts 9. He died in 67/68 AD, and like all the accounts from the New Testament, his writings were written shortly after Jesus death and resurrection.

Why do you discount these sources? You said before that you didn't think there was any. I'd say that's intellectually dishonest... denying the existence of evidence which contradicts your point of view.

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There is no mention in any writing - Jewish, Roman or otherwise - of a man with thousands upon thousands of followers who wandered around Isreal in the first half of the first century doing miracles or making a triumphant, king-like entry into Jerusalem.


Okay, I will give you quotes from Jewish, Roman and otherwise. To quote from the Jewish historian, Josephus:
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Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.


Or again
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"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done."


The Roman Tacitus:
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Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.


Specificially on the eclipse of the sun, the Roman historian Thallus (here quoted by writing the history of the Eastern Mediteranian:

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"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun."

Now this may or may not have been the same eclipse mentioned in the bible. Did you really look?

Pliny the younger writes,
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They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.


In the Talmud Jesus death is recorded as:
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On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!"

Obviously this is a religious document, but considering the opposition of the Jews to Jesus, I'd consider this good evidence.

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That doesn't answer the question of why you came to believe that the answer was a god, that only explains why you started to look for an answer outside of known science.


It explains why I abandoned my blind faith in the non-existence of God. As I say, I weighed up the evidence for and against.

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There's no logical reason that the creator has to be all-powerful, all-knowing,


I disagree. I certainly believe that the creator of time and space is likely to have these characteristics.

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so why did you come to that conclusion, if not by some religion or another?


Well, having examined what each of the major religions had to say, and also things which wouldn't call themselves religion but in reality are, like philosopy and atheism. I weighed up the evidence and I made a choice.

As I say, I believe religion to be able to teach us about God, but religion is not God.

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Science, physics and math cannot speak about a god because it violates parsimony - a fundamental building block of the fields without which they are useless.


Absolutely they can, and they do. The universe is not a meaningless swirl of nothingness. It's a very mathematical place. I think that very fact speaks volumes about reality.

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Ok, we're going in circles here. You say that one religion is true while others are false, but you say there is no objective way to prove that any religion is better than any other (and, in fact, even believing in your own religion requires a leap of faith). Correct?


Yes. I don't know what you mean by "better". If you mean more likely to be true, then I disagree.

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And if there is no way to determine which is true, then there is no way to determine which one is worth worshipping. Correct?


No.

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And if you can't objectively determine which one is worth worshipping, your choice is random. You have an equal chance of being right no matter what you choose. Correct?


Absolutely not.

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So, why is the leap of faith you have to make when selecting your religion any more or less valid than the leap of faith you have to make when selecting Scientology? If there is no reason besides faith to believe that any one option is valid above all others, why can't Scientology be as valid a choice as your religion?


As I have said (repeatedly): the best method is to weigh up the evidence and to make the best choice based on the available evidence.


Quote:
Er, yes, Einstein's quote is exactly Ockham's Razor. And there most certainly is a burden of proof on positive claims, simply because of the impossibility of proving negative claims.


Einstein cautioned against doing exactly what you want ... "but no simpler". To ignore everything except you own beliefs. When he published his work on Brownian motion, he was doing the opposite to what you want. He did not assume that atoms did not exist because there was no proof. I'm sure that like me, he would say that he did not know if they did or not, examine the evidence and form his opinion that way. Interestingly, he too believed in God.

Dirac (the guy who the relativistic wave equation is named after) too was against Occam's razor. He instead went for mathematical simplicity. For example, he wrote:
Quote:
"The research worker, in his effort to express the fundamental laws of Nature in mathematical form should strive mainly for mathematical beauty. It often happens that the requirements of simplicity and beauty are the same, but where they clash the latter must take precedence"


Imagine if we applied Occam's razor in the way you want. We would never look for the Higg's Boson. Since there is no proof it exists... and you would therefore assume that it didn't (using your over-worked Occam's razor and not on evidence), and you could argue using exactly the same arguments that you're using here.

Occam's razor can be useful at times. But to base your beliefs on a heuristic for simplifying models and not evidence... Well let's just say, I perfer to base my beliefs on evidence.

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See what I mean? I can never prove that a pink and yellow polka-dot termite doesn't exist. No one can.


Of course we can prove things don't exist... and we do! We proved, for example that the ether doesn't exist. We know that there's no faster than light information travel. We know that there are no perfect quantum cloning and that a measurement cannot be made without disturbing the system. These are all negative results.

As you say a single positive result would force us to change them, but as we said at the beginning we're not interested in semantics of absolute proof, only proof beyond reasonable doubt. That's the same with any belief. As I say, you are free to challenge my beliefs. I would like to know if I'm wrong.

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The two statements are not equivalent. One is an assumption, the other is a negative assumption - the lack of an assumption.


Let's see: In the past 100 years you would have asserted that atom's don't exist. Neutrons don't exist. Protons's don't exist. Neutrino's don't exist... all things you would have dogmatically asserted based on lack of absolute proof. All of these you would have said was the "objective" opinion based on your use of Occam's razor... and not only that you would have refused to listen when told that the best thing to do is to examine the evidence for and against.

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The person who claims God does not exist has nothing to prove, because they are not making an assumption.


I disagree absolutely. The person assuming that atoms do not exist is making an assumption, just as the person believing that God does not exist is making an assumption. The person saying "Based on the available evidence, I do not know" is not making an assumption. To assume apriori that God does not exist is clearly an assumption.


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In a logical argument, if there is no objective evidence for his existence...


I certainly do not agree that there is no evidence for God's existence.

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So, given that there is no objective evidence that any one religion is more correct (unless you have some to present), why is Scientology a less acceptible choice than any other religion?


There is large amounts of evidence, too much, not too little. You could spend your lifetime studying and still not cover it all.

For a start, regarding scientology we could begin with the fact that both Tangiers and the Himalayas have no history of volcanic activity.

I don't understand why you are posting the definition of religion? Is it possibly because you are more worried about words? Personally I don't mind what you call beliefs, as long as you understand my meaning. Atheism is a belief, and one which is based on unfounded assumption.


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So what's the cutoff for age?


There is no cutoff age, but if a belief teaches one thing one day, and another the next, then I have a great deal of trouble believing it. It's a consistency requirement.

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Hinduism even more.


Most people would say the first records of Hinduism are from around 1500BC. In fact, what we think of as Hinduism is quite different from that religion, with its origins in a revolt in around 600BC... and obviously Buddhism started with Siddhartha Gautama who lived around 500BC.

Quote:
And another thing... you believe the claims of Jesus, were converted to Christianity through the writings of Judaism... but you're not following a religion?


No. I am following God. Religion can teach about God, but it is not God.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi wrote:
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
... It would have been different if we had anyone defending Scientology....

*ahem* Well, I can't exactly go about defending Scientology, but I can certainly say some things about the criticisms offered so far.

Indi, I like your defense of Scientology. Razz (And I’m glad you rose to my inadvertent challenge.)

Indi wrote:
First off, everyone seems to be down on the Church of Scientology because they take donations for their "auditing" (counselling) sessions.

I would like to say that I do not fit into “everyone”. In fact, I was making the point to nopaniers, that putting down Scientology for funds-requesting, while putting up with funds-requesting from one’s own religion was inconsistent.

Indi wrote:
And finally, you're criticising the Church of Scientology based on Christian ethics.

Were you talking to me when you said that, or were you speaking in general? I criticized Scientology for lack of science and lack of reality-based information (e.g., the hocus pocus auditing tool). And I criticized a particular Christian for lack of consistency based on their own ethics. But I’ve never criticized Scientology with regards to Christian ethics.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
Personally, I'm not particularly hot on the idea of a church operating as a business either, but I can't think of a real, rational reason why they shouldn't.

It does not bother me whether churches want to operate as a business or not; that approach will work better for some than others.

But what does bother me is churches getting special privileges at the expense of businesses. When Government exacts property taxes from business organizations, but they don’t do the same for religious organizations, then it is exactly the same as Government promoting religion.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi and nopaniers: your voluminous exchange is quite interesting. If y’all ever get things reduced down to 1 or 2 very particular logical disagreements, would you please write them up as a separate post, so the rest of us can weigh in?

There’s too much for me to be able to pare everything down to the crux of the matter.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Obviously John was an apostle of Jesus, and other writings are from Jesus' contemporaries. Considering that the accounts of Jesus (including Paul's letters) make it absolutely clear that they all follow the same belief, that of the disciples, I don't think they are independant, in the sense that they all put forward the same, consistent belief. If there was a gospel Q or not is a matter for speculation, but the evidence is there for you to see, if you accept it or not.

Current biblical scholarship puts the writing of the Gospel of John at 90-120 CE. The real John, if he existed, would have been long dead and buried. The writer of John is now believed to have used Matthew, Mark and Luke as sources, possibly along with some other unknown document, potentially the Gospel of Thomas.

(sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_john
http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/jnintro.html)

Paul's letters do not mention anything about him meeting Jesus. He never once quotes anything Jesus said or acknowleged that Jesus ever lived on Earth. Quite the opposite actually - he claims everything he knows he got from divine revelations (visions) sent directly from God.

(sources:
http://home.ca.inter.net/oblio/partone.htm)

nopaniers wrote:
Paul writes of his meeting with Jesus in Acts 9. He died in 67/68 AD, and like all the accounts from the New Testament, his writings were written shortly after Jesus death and resurrection.

The general concensus is that Acts is a complete work of fiction: "There are huge discrepancies between Acts and what Paul tells us in his letters. Scholarship has been forced to admit that much of Acts is sheer fabrication, from the speeches to the great sea voyage, the latter modeled on similar features in Hellenistic romances. With its discrediting as history, the true beginnings of Christianity fall into a murky shadow." (http://home.ca.inter.net/oblio/partthre.htm)

(sources:
http://home.ca.inter.net/oblio/partthre.htm
http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/djdacts.html)

nopaniers wrote:
Why do you discount these sources? You said before that you didn't think there was any. I'd say that's intellectually dishonest... denying the existence of evidence which contradicts your point of view.

I stand by my claim. Lots of bad evidence is not equivalent to good evidence.

nopaniers wrote:
Okay, I will give you quotes from Jewish, Roman and otherwise. To quote from the Jewish historian, Josephus:

Both passages, 18 and 20 in Antiquities of the Jews, are widely believed to be later Christian rewritings/insertions.

(sources:
http://home.ca.inter.net/oblio/supp10.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testimonium_Flavianum)

nopaniers wrote:
The Roman Tacitus:

...whose sources were probably the gospels and not historical records, and thus have no historical value (if the gospels were fictional stories, then Tacitus' information is based on nothing). Of course, that's assuming that the whole thing wasn't another later Christian interpolation (remember, they had millenia to fudge documents to their pleasing).

(sources:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html#tacitus)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Jesus)

nopaniers wrote:
Specificially on the eclipse of the sun, the Roman historian Thallus (here quoted by writing the history of the Eastern Mediteranian:

Quote:
"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun."

Now this may or may not have been the same eclipse mentioned in the bible. Did you really look?

Oh, I did. There are no surviving writings of Thallus. The earliest mention of this eclipse reference is made by a 9th century Christian writer, quoting a 3rd century Christian writer, who mentions in passing that Thallus made a reference to it. No other writer who describes Thallus' writings before the 9th century mentions the reference to the eclipse.

Furthermore, you're kind of shooting yourself in the foot here. The originating claim that Thallus mentioned an eclipse was a Christian writer saying that Thallus was wrong, that there was no eclipse. Or to put it another way, Thallus allegedly said that the "darkness" that supposedly occured when Christ was theoretically crucified could have been an eclipse that happened in 29CE - then the Christian writers all argued that that could not be correct, for several reasons.

So:
1.) There is no evidence that Thallus said anything of the sort, before a reference by a 9th century Christian writer. (And that is something you'd think early Christian writers would jump on as validating evidence.)
2.) Even the Christian writers who discuss the alleged reference say an eclipse could not have been the darkness that supposedly happened at the crucifixion. (From your own quote: "This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.")

(source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thallus_%28historian%29
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html)

nopaniers wrote:
Pliny the younger writes,

... more stuff sourced from the gospels, with no original evidence of his own.

(source:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html#pliny)

You see the pattern? It all traces back to the Gospel of Mark. Every single reference to Jesus's time on Earth stems originally from Mark. If Mark is a fabrication, every writing that used it as a source is useless, and there is none that don't.

nopaniers wrote:
In the Talmud Jesus death is recorded as:
Quote:
On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf." But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!"

Obviously this is a religious document, but considering the opposition of the Jews to Jesus, I'd consider this good evidence.

Good evidence? First he's going to be stoned, then he's hanged. How can you even be sure it's the same guy? And if it is, how can you rationally call it good evidence?

Besides, it was written ~200CE. How valid is it as historical evidence of Jesus? More likely than not it was just using 150 year old Christian documents as a source. (Again, back to Mark.)

nopaniers wrote:
It explains why I abandoned my blind faith in the non-existence of God. As I say, I weighed up the evidence for and against.

How come it requires faith to not believe in something you cannot see, and that has never been objectively proven, but it's completely logical to believe in something you can't see or experience directly?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
There's no logical reason that the creator has to be all-powerful, all-knowing,


I disagree. I certainly believe that the creator of time and space is likely to have these characteristics.

Explain your logic. I say God is not all-loving. I think he created us so that he can make us suffer because he was bored. Prove me wrong with this common sense logic of yours that I'm missing out on.

nopaniers wrote:
Well, having examined what each of the major religions had to say, and also things which wouldn't call themselves religion but in reality are, like philosopy and atheism. I weighed up the evidence and I made a choice.

You realize how bizarre you're sounding? Atheism is a religion, philosphy is a religion, but God is not?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Science, physics and math cannot speak about a god because it violates parsimony - a fundamental building block of the fields without which they are useless.


Absolutely they can, and they do. The universe is not a meaningless swirl of nothingness. It's a very mathematical place. I think that very fact speaks volumes about reality.

Complete hogwash. Science and math cannot include the concept of a god, by their very nature. God is not parsimonious. God is the antithesis of parsimony. Science requires parsimonious theories, or it's a pointless exercise.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Ok, we're going in circles here. You say that one religion is true while others are false, but you say there is no objective way to prove that any religion is better than any other (and, in fact, even believing in your own religion requires a leap of faith). Correct?


Yes. I don't know what you mean by "better". If you mean more likely to be true, then I disagree.

That's what I meant. So provide objective proof that some religion is more likely to be true.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
And if there is no way to determine which is true, then there is no way to determine which one is worth worshipping. Correct?


No.

Explain.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
And if you can't objectively determine which one is worth worshipping, your choice is random. You have an equal chance of being right no matter what you choose. Correct?


Absolutely not.

Explain.

nopaniers wrote:
As I have said (repeatedly): the best method is to weigh up the evidence and to make the best choice based on the available evidence.

I've just finished tearing down all of the evidence you presented that implies that Jesus even existed, let alone that he was the son of God. If you have some ace in the hole evidence you were holding back as your trump card, now would be the time to show it.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Er, yes, Einstein's quote is exactly Ockham's Razor. And there most certainly is a burden of proof on positive claims, simply because of the impossibility of proving negative claims.


Einstein cautioned against doing exactly what you want ... "but no simpler". To ignore everything except you own beliefs. When he published his work on Brownian motion, he was doing the opposite to what you want. He did not assume that atoms did not exist because there was no proof. I'm sure that like me, he would say that he did not know if they did or not, examine the evidence and form his opinion that way. Interestingly, he too believed in God.

? What?

Einstein was a good scientist, and that quote of his that you keep repeating is pretty much a summation of Ockham's razor. Ockham's razor has nothing to do with requiring proof, it's about selecting the most parsimonious theory out of a set of otherwise equal theories. If he examined the evidence and it pointed to atoms, then Ockham's razor implies you should assume the existence of atoms. Do you even know what Ockham's razor is? You're using it and disparaging it at the same time.

Interestingly, Einstein was an atheist. At best, he was a pantheist, or maybe a deist. He certainly didn't believe in God. You can't get any clearer than this:
Albert Einstein wrote:
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.

That widely repeated quote about God playing dice was a joke. He was being funny. He didn't actually believe a God is up there carefully manipulating the universe and not playing dice. Get it? God does not play dice with the universe? Ha ha. Ok, you had to be there.

nopaniers wrote:
Dirac (the guy who the relativistic wave equation is named after) too was against Occam's razor. He instead went for mathematical simplicity. For example, he wrote:
Quote:
"The research worker, in his effort to express the fundamental laws of Nature in mathematical form should strive mainly for mathematical beauty. It often happens that the requirements of simplicity and beauty are the same, but where they clash the latter must take precedence"

Dirac was not against Ockam's razor, he was against simplicity. Ockham's razor has nothing to do with simplicity. Are you sure you know what Ockham's razor is?

nopaniers wrote:
Imagine if we applied Occam's razor in the way you want. We would never look for the Higg's Boson. Since there is no proof it exists... and you would therefore assume that it didn't (using your over-worked Occam's razor and not on evidence), and you could argue using exactly the same arguments that you're using here.

Occam's razor can be useful at times. But to base your beliefs on a heuristic for simplifying models and not evidence... Well let's just say, I perfer to base my beliefs on evidence.

You know, if you're going to put ridiculous words in my mouth then refute them, do you really need me? You can handle this debate all on your own.

Ockham's razor says nothing about proof or simplicity. It is about parsimony. Are you basing it on the often quoted summary: "The simplest explanation is usually true"? Because that's just a dumbed down simplification of Ockham's razor. It has nothing to do with simplicity, or truth for that matter.

In fact, you're using it, even while you're dissing it. I'm not convinced you understand the concept at all.

nopaniers wrote:
Of course we can prove things don't exist... and we do! We proved, for example that the ether doesn't exist.

Wrong. All we've shown is that it doesn't affect the speed of light.

nopaniers wrote:
We know that there's no faster than light information travel. We know that there are no perfect quantum cloning and that a measurement cannot be made without disturbing the system.

All of those things we assume until proven otherwise. They have not been proven at all. You can't prove a negative.

nopaniers wrote:
As you say a single positive result would force us to change them

Exactly! Now you're finally making sense. They are assumptions, not proven facts. If they were proven facts, then we wouldn't expect them to be suddenly unproven, now would we? Furthermore, they're null assumptions, non-assumptions, because we can't test them. We can't do anything with them but try to disprove them by proving the corresponding positive assumption.

nopaniers wrote:
Let's see: In the past 100 years you would have asserted that atom's don't exist. Neutrons don't exist. Protons's don't exist. Neutrino's don't exist... all things you would have dogmatically asserted based on lack of absolute proof. All of these you would have said was the "objective" opinion based on your use of Occam's razor... and not only that you would have refused to listen when told that the best thing to do is to examine the evidence for and against.

Would I have thought those things? That's news to me. You seem to know what I would think so well, should I just leave you alone to this?

You keep pulling this absolute proof thing out and waving it around, claiming it was my idea. It wasn't. You introduced the concept.

And no, I would not have arrived at any of those conclusions you claim I would by using Ockham's razor, because I know how to use it. You don't.

nopaniers wrote:
I disagree absolutely. The person assuming that atoms do not exist is making an assumption, just as the person believing that God does not exist is making an assumption. The person saying "Based on the available evidence, I do not know" is not making an assumption. To assume apriori that God does not exist is clearly an assumption.

The person who claims atoms do not exist is making an assumption, but one he cannot ever prove because it is a negative assumption - it is the lack of an assumption. The burden of proof is on the positive. You can't prove atoms don't exist, you can only prove they do. Once evidence for atoms is found, then the assumption that they do not exist has to be abandoned. It's a very simple process. I don't understand why you don't get it.

The person who claims they "don't know" whether atoms exist or not is not involved in the process of finding or refuting them - they're just a disinterested third party. If they cared, they would be looking for them - in other words, they would have to assume the positive and test that assumption. That's science.

Same applies to God. The person who assumes God does not exist is making a negative assumption, one they can never prove or disprove. It's a non-assumption. The burden of proof is on the positive assumption - always. You have to assume God exists, then test that assumption.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
In a logical argument, if there is no objective evidence for his existence...


I certainly do not agree that there is no evidence for God's existence.

Then provide objective evidence.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
So, given that there is no objective evidence that any one religion is more correct (unless you have some to present), why is Scientology a less acceptible choice than any other religion?


There is large amounts of evidence, too much, not too little. You could spend your lifetime studying and still not cover it all.

For a start, regarding scientology we could begin with the fact that both Tangiers and the Himalayas have no history of volcanic activity.

Finally, objective evidence. See, now this is something we can test and verify.

nopaniers wrote:
I don't understand why you are posting the definition of religion? Is it possibly because you are more worried about words? Personally I don't mind what you call beliefs, as long as you understand my meaning. Atheism is a belief, and one which is based on unfounded assumption.

I'll show you why I posted the definition of religion in a bit. But first:

nopaniers wrote:
There is no cutoff age, but if a belief teaches one thing one day, and another the next, then I have a great deal of trouble believing it. It's a consistency requirement.

Sooooo, Christianity was unbelievable in the early first century? But then it ripened?

Nothing was written (that we know of) before the first passion narratives around 30CE. At what point did the early Christian writings become not just "the latest thing" and turn into fact?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Hinduism even more.


Most people would say the first records of Hinduism are from around 1500BC. In fact, what we think of as Hinduism is quite different from that religion, with its origins in a revolt in around 600BC... and obviously Buddhism started with Siddhartha Gautama who lived around 500BC.

If that's what most people would say they are wrong. The first Hindu texts were written around 1500BCE, but the religion existed without a literate tradition since ~2000BCE. We have external evidence, outside of Hinduism itself, that supports that. I don't know how you think that revolt changed the religion, but regardless, the text written in 1500BCE, the Rigveda, is still used.

Heck, even if you want to say that Hinduism started in 600BCE, that still puts it, Zoroastrianism and Bhuddism half a millenia before Christianity. You'd better clarify this age argument more.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
And another thing... you believe the claims of Jesus, were converted to Christianity through the writings of Judaism... but you're not following a religion?


No. I am following God. Religion can teach about God, but it is not God.

Ahem, and now I requote the definition of religion, with highlights.

Quote:
re·li·gion:
1. a.) Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b.) A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Let's see... You believe in God, and revere him, and you regard him as the creator of all space and time (all by your own admission). That covers 1a. You obviously have a whole internalized belief system surrounding that belief, which you have been demonstrating all along. That covers 1b. You've happily admitted that it was the teachings of Jesus that turned you to Christianity.

Yup. You're following a religion.

Or to put it in a form you can't really argue, you're following:
a.) a belief in a supernatural power you regard as creator and governor of the universe.
b.) a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of Jesus, a spiritual leader.

That's two of the possible definitions for religion. Sorry dude, you're following a religion. Believe what you want, but the facts are not subject to anyone's beliefs.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi, I like your defense of Scientology. Razz (And I’m glad you rose to my inadvertent challenge.)

I have a soft spot for the underdog. ^_^ The soft spot may be in my head. >_<

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi wrote:
First off, everyone seems to be down on the Church of Scientology because they take donations for their "auditing" (counselling) sessions.

I would like to say that I do not fit into “everyone”. In fact, I was making the point to nopaniers, that putting down Scientology for funds-requesting, while putting up with funds-requesting from one’s own religion was inconsistent.

Yeah, I was indirectly aiming that comment in that general direction, too. That and the next point. Whether the beliefs of Scientology are true or false, the fact that they charge for auditing makes no difference.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi wrote:
And finally, you're criticising the Church of Scientology based on Christian ethics.

Were you talking to me when you said that, or were you speaking in general? I criticized Scientology for lack of science and lack of reality-based information (e.g., the hocus pocus auditing tool). And I criticized a particular Christian for lack of consistency based on their own ethics. But I’ve never criticized Scientology with regards to Christian ethics.

No, again that was a general swipe at religious elitism, particularly Christian elitism. The idea of "let the one without sin cast the first stone" seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

Anyway, the problem with even criticizing the e-meter and such is that if you accept faith as a valid argument for belief (which all religious people do by default), you can't criticize someone else's faith-based conclusions without being a hypocrite. It's kind of an all-or-none thing. Either you have to accept that all faiths are valid, or you have to say that none are - or you have to have a damn good reason for saying your faith is valid and someone else's is not.

If you have no faith (besides pragmatic faith, such as faith that the universe actually exists and so on that you need in order to function at all - I have to include these kinds of silly qualifications to fend off arguments like nopanier's wacky "absolute proof" sidetracks before they come up), then Scientology (and all religions) are open game. But you can't say Noah's Ark is plausible but the e-meter is not without being a hypocrite.

But the only validation for things like Dianetics and the e-meter are faith. So if you have no faith, you will never accept the existence of Thetans and so on that is necessary to accept the e-meter as a valid tool.

So here's my situation. ^_^ If you have faith, you can't criticize the "science" of Scientology. If you don't have faith, I can't defend it - because the only defence is faith-based.

See? I'm kinda stuck. ^_^;

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
But what does bother me is churches getting special privileges at the expense of businesses. When Government exacts property taxes from business organizations, but they don’t do the same for religious organizations, then it is exactly the same as Government promoting religion.

YES!!! Thank you!!! I'm so glad you said that!!!

Let me put it the way I have it in my head. Hubbard himself allegedly "religicized" Dianetics into Scientology to avoid paying taxes, and very probably to get around any kind of regulation of their psychological practices. In the free marketplace of ideas (and yes, economics, too, such as in the case of taxes), Scientology would have been put to bed decades ago. But the title of religion elevates it almost above the law in many cases. Certainly it gets privileges it would not get otherwise.

So Scientology is a scam? Very likely. But if we shut down Scientology today, the underlying systemic flaw that allowed it to survive for so long as a scam would still exist. Get rid of Scientology and another scam religion could pop up and survive for a couple decades in its place. What we need to do is get rid of the flaw that allows Scientology to be a scam and still exist.

Why does a church get special benefits and protections that other, secular organizations do not?

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi and nopaniers: your voluminous exchange is quite interesting. If y’all ever get things reduced down to 1 or 2 very particular logical disagreements, would you please write them up as a separate post, so the rest of us can weigh in?

There’s too much for me to be able to pare everything down to the crux of the matter.

Eh, it's not really relevant to the discussion of Scientology. I should have cut it off a while ago, but I never turn down the opportunity to talk to someone with a completely alien point of view, and his views are certainly alien to me.

I'm not even sure the matter being discussed has a crux. There's so much circular logic and bad debating practice going on that I'm frankly starting to get a little lost. Apparently now I don't believe in elementary particles because they're not simple, and Ockham's razor says if it's not absolutely provable it's not true - or some such nonsense like that.

Basically, it comes down to this - you can read it if you want, but you're not really missing anything if you don't.
nopaniers
Quote:
Indi and nopaniers: your voluminous exchange is quite interesting. If y’all ever get things reduced down to 1 or 2 very particular logical disagreements, would you please write them up as a separate post, so the rest of us can weigh in?


Yes, sorry... we're getting off track, and possibly about to launch into an even longer debate about the evidence for and against God... which will involve even longer and more off topic posts Wink

The underlying disagreement is about assumptions.

Indy (correct me if I'm wrong) believes that until something is proven to exist, it is logical and objective to believe that it doesn't.

I believe in weighing up the evidence for and against something. If the evidence for is greater than the evidence against then that is the logical and objective position to take.


How this came up

With the statement, "I follow God and not religion" Indi disagrees, believing that God does not exist, and his contention is that, "[God] can't be objectively proven, so it can't be used as an objective argument here or anywhere else".

To which my reply is that atheism is also based on unproven assumptions, and so there is no requirement to those unproven assumptions, and therefore I have every right to make that statement.

Feel free to correct me, Indy.
nopaniers
Quote:
The general concensus is that Acts is a complete work of fiction.


I humbly disagree, and encourage anyone with an open mind to check for themselves what they think the consensus is.

Quote:
I stand by my claim. Lots of bad evidence is not equivalent to good evidence.


Your original claim was that there was no evidence, now you say there's lots of evidence (but you do not accept it).

Quote:
...whose sources were probably the gospels and not historical records, and thus have no historical value (if the gospels were fictional stories, then Tacitus' information is based on nothing).


You are right that there is debate about Tacitus' sources. To assume that they are copied from the Gospel... well that is clear evidence of your own bias (and more importantly it making apriori assumptions biases your view regardless of the facts). You want there to be no sources, but instead of looking at it objectively, you are forced into denying the evidence by your pre-existing belief. That's not a particularly objective point of view. An objective point of view would be to say you did not know, and examine evidence for and against. Your own links say nothing to back up your claims. They suggest Tacitus that they came from the early Christians in Rome, Senate's archives, much like the rest of his work and possibly from an earlier historian.

Quote:
You see the pattern?


Can I humbly suggest that corroborating evidence from differing sources, including from primary sources, makes the claim more valid.

Quote:
Explain your logic.


Okay, my reasoning for why any God must be powerful at the time went: The creator of time and space must have the characteristic that they are powerful enough to create time and space.

Quote:
I say God is not all-loving. I think he created us so that he can make us suffer because he was bored. Prove me wrong with this common sense logic of yours that I'm missing out on.


I'm not here to prove you right or wrong. I don't believe I should have to change your religion just to be allowed to express my views.

Quote:
You realize how bizarre you're sounding? Atheism is a religion, philosphy is a religion, but God is not?


Obviously God is different from religion.

Yes, atheism and philosophy share many of the concepts in common with established religions. Perhaps, instead of pointless arguments about words we should call them all worldviews?

Quote:

Explain. Explain.

The way to do that is to weigh up the evidence for and against, and to make an informed choice.

Quote:
I've just finished tearing down all of the evidence you presented that implies that Jesus even existed, let alone that he was the son of God.


You flatter yourself.

I was providing counter-examples to your claim that there was no records of Jesus or his many followers before the 3rd century, from Roman, Jewish or otherwise, and that there was no evidence. Both claims I believe you have effectively abandoned... and moved on to a wider claim about Jesus' authenticity.

If you want such an all in debate whether atheism or Christianity has more evidence then let's start a thread to do that, but obviously you declare yourself the victor... there's not much point discussing if you view things like a competition, instead of a search for the truth.

Quote:
If he examined the evidence and it pointed to atoms, then Ockham's razor implies you should assume the existence of atoms.


In 1906 the existence of atoms was not established. He did not assume, as you claim he should, that they did not exist.

Einstein was not an atheist. He was a deist who believed in God. I can provide you with hundreds of quotes to that effect. I'm not a fan of "Proof by Einstein" though, but I merely wanted to set the record straight:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein#Religious_views

Quote:
Ockham's razor says nothing about proof or simplicity. It is about parsimony.... It has nothing to do with simplicity, or truth for that matter.


From www.dictionary.com:

Quote:
Parsimony: Adoption of the simplest assumption in the formulation of a theory or in the interpretation of data, especially in accordance with the rule of Ockham's razor.


It is a heuristic which is useful for ariving at a more elegant model. You are the one using it wrongly: To protect your assumptions which you are unwilling to challenge, and not apply them to critisism.

Quote:
All of those things we assume until proven otherwise. They have not been proven at all. You can't prove a negative.


You are allowed to not believe special relativity, general relativity or quantum mechanics if you don't want to. Each of them has such a "negative" which I believe to be proven. Can I humbly suggest that to suggest that they are not is a misuse of Occam's razor?

Quote:

nopaniers wrote:
As you say a single positive result would force us to change them

Exactly! Now you're finally making sense. They are assumptions, not proven facts. If they were proven facts, then we wouldn't expect them to be suddenly unproven, now would we?


All of science can be disproven, but that does not stop me from believing it. I believe in weighing up the evidence for and against, and making a decision based on that evidence. I weigh up evidence for and against perpetual motion machines, and believe they are not possible. I weigh up the evidence for no quantum cloning for example (even though it is a non-assumption as you say), and I believe the evidence (unitary evolution of quantum objects for example) to be better than any alternative... and therefore conclude that in all likelihood it is not possible. I believe in the measurement postulate of quantum mechanics even if it is such a "negative" proof. I believe in the rules of quantum mechanics, general relativity, special relativity and God and am perfectly happy they each can be disproved.

Quote:
Furthermore, they're null assumptions, non-assumptions, because we can't test them.


Are you seriously saying that special relativity is not tested? The point is: we weigh up the evidence for and against these "non-assumptions" as you call them. If the evidence for is greater than the evidence against... then we believe them. If not, we don't. We don't exclude any possibility apriori based on occam's razor. In fact, to do would bias investigation.

Quote:
We can't do anything with them but try to disprove them by proving the corresponding positive assumption.


Of course we can. For a start, we can consider the consequences if such a thing were possible and show it leads to a contradiction.

More examples are perfect engines, perfect fridges and perpetual motion machines. I believe that each is proven not to exist.

nopaniers wrote:
You keep pulling this absolute proof thing out and waving it around, claiming it was my idea. It wasn't. You introduced the concept.


You are claiming that "negative" results can't be proved. That is only true in the absolute proof sense. For all practical purposes, you are worrying about semantics.

Quote:
The person who claims atoms do not exist is making an assumption, but one he cannot ever prove because it is a negative assumption - it is the lack of an assumption.


I have given you several examples of such laws in science. I regard general and special relativity as well as quantum mechanics as proved, even though their respective axioms involve such "negative" assumptions.

Quote:
You can't prove atoms don't exist, you can only prove they do.


Of course you can. Think of the number of theories which atoms displaced... all are disproven.

Imagine an experiment which was based on the assumptions you want: An experiment which assumes that atoms don't exist before it starts: That's a biased experiment, and not valid science.

You can use the Micaelson-Morely experiment to prove the ether doesn't exist. Imagine if you assumed the ether didn't exist before the experiment. That's not valid science.

Of course, you can take Bell's inequalities and use them to prove that hidden variables don't exist. Imagine if you assumed they didn't exist beforehand... well you would have no basis for believing that, since there was no experiment to show it.

Science does not make assumptions on what it is investigating before it starts the investigation. To do so biases the experiment, and produces rubbish results.

Quote:
Same applies to God.


Absolutely. Just like in these experiments, you cannot make the assumption that God doesn't exist, and then ask the question "Does God exist?" That's biased the outcome, and nobody should accept your results.

Quote:
Sooooo, Christianity was unbelievable in the early first century? But then it ripened?


You are arguing against a straw man. If you want to argue against imaginary people then be my guest.

Perhaps if we put it like this it will help: In my view physics should also not change over time. There is no "cut-off" in 1687 when Newton published Principa. If I apply what Principa to the years before or after, it better not be in contradiction.

The same with religion.

Quote:
Nothing was written (that we know of) before the first passion narratives around 30CE. At what point did the early Christian writings become not just "the latest thing" and turn into fact?


Facts do not change. I find it strange that anyone would suggest that they do.

I agree with the definition of religion. I disagree with saying that there is no difference between following religion and following God. They are quite different. I go to church because I follow God. I don't follow God because I go to church.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Indi and nopaniers: your voluminous exchange is quite interesting. If y’all ever get things reduced down to 1 or 2 very particular logical disagreements, would you please write them up as a separate post, so the rest of us can weigh in?


Yes, sorry... we're getting off track, and possibly about to launch into an even longer debate about the evidence for and against God... which will involve even longer and more off topic posts Wink

The underlying disagreement is about assumptions.

Indy (correct me if I'm wrong) believes that until something is proven to exist, it is logical and objective to believe that it doesn't.

I believe in weighing up the evidence for and against something. If the evidence for is greater than the evidence against then that is the logical and objective position to take.


How this came up

With the statement, "I follow God and not religion" Indi disagrees, believing that God does not exist, and his contention is that, "[God] can't be objectively proven, so it can't be used as an objective argument here or anywhere else".

To which my reply is that atheism is also based on unproven assumptions, and so there is no requirement to those unproven assumptions, and therefore I have every right to make that statement.

Feel free to correct me, Indy.

Quite right, only you're hung up on the idea of absolute proof. All I've ever called for is reasonable, objective proof.

"Indy (correct me if I'm wrong) believes that until something is proven to exist, it is logical and objective to believe that it doesn't." Let me give you an example of what this means.

I assume there is no flying monkey in my living room. That is the default, unprovable, null assumption. If I want to test that assumption, I have to make the positive assumption, that there is a flying monkey in my living room and test for that (by looking for one). If I find a flying monkey, I have proven the positive assumption and disproven the negative. I have learned something new. On the other hand, if I do not find a flying monkey, I have accomplished little, because there may still be a flying monkey in my living room that I just missed because he was too small (or something). I can never prove or test the negative assumption.

If I start with the assumption that there is a flying monkey in my living room, then I will spend the rest of my life looking for one and never find one. I will never move forward unless I decide to abandon that assumption, and start with the null assumption.

Same with God. I assume there is no God. That is the default, null assumption. If I want to find God, I assume he exists and look for him. If I find him, I discard the null assumption and settle on the assumption that God exists. If not I have accomplished little, and am still stuck on the assumption that God does not exist (but of course, as the number of tests increase, my confidence in that assumption increases).

But if I assume there is a God, I go nowhere. I can't ever prove God doesn't exist, so I'm stuck with my starting assumption forever. I'll never learn, never grow. Not until I choose to abandon that assumption and use the null assumption as a default starting assumption.

You can't weigh evidence for and against God because they are not symmetric propositions. You can prove God exists, you can never prove he doesn't. There can never be evidence that he doesn't exist, there can only be a lack of evidence that he does. And as anyone will tell you, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Therefore, if you start with the assumption that God exists, you will never be proven wrong... ever... even if it's not true, because we can never know when we know the truth. You'll end up assuming God exists forever, without any justification. (And the situation will never change until you change your assumption.)

On the other hand, if you start with the assumption that God does not exist, you can be proven wrong when he is found. If he is never found after a sufficient number of tests, you will not have moved forward, but if he can never be detected or observed in any objective way, it's as if he doesn't functionally exist anyway. You end up believing God doesn't exist, but you sure as hell have sufficient justification for that belief because you've tested and searched and not found him anywhere. Of course, if he's found, then you now know that he exists.

Thus the only logical starting assumption is that God does not exist.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
The general concensus is that Acts is a complete work of fiction.


I humbly disagree, and encourage anyone with an open mind to check for themselves what they think the consensus is.

By all means, but you might want to provide some links to back up your position. I provided two for mine, so it's only fair.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I stand by my claim. Lots of bad evidence is not equivalent to good evidence.


Your original claim was that there was no evidence, now you say there's lots of evidence (but you do not accept it).

Bad evidence is no evidence. (In fact, it can be worse than no evidence, because beyond offering no corroborating support for the truth, it may provide support for a falsehood.)

nopaniers wrote:
You are right that there is debate about Tacitus' sources. To assume that they are copied from the Gospel... well that is clear evidence of your own bias (and more importantly it making apriori assumptions biases your view regardless of the facts). You want there to be no sources, but instead of looking at it objectively, you are forced into denying the evidence by your pre-existing belief. That's not a particularly objective point of view. An objective point of view would be to say you did not know, and examine evidence for and against. Your own links say nothing to back up your claims. They suggest Tacitus that they came from the early Christians in Rome, Senate's archives, much like the rest of his work and possibly from an earlier historian.

Tacitus may not have directly sourced the gospels, but there is no indication that there was any other evidence outside of them or writings that referenced them. Therefore, he probably sourced the gospels, directly or indirectly (as I said).

Back to the debate about the validity of starting with a negative assumption, if you assume the existence of sources outside of the gospels with no evidence for that assumption (and there is none) - and a "don't know" assumption is illogical nonsense, it's the same as assuming there were no sources - then you can never be proven wrong. On the other hand, starting with the assumption that there were no sources besides the gospels is a null assumption. No evidence contradicts it (although it could be easily contradicted), so we stay with it. Thus, Tacitus, directly or indirectly, sourced the gospels.

We know he certainly didn't source Roman records because if he did he would have gotten what little information he shared right. He didn't.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
You see the pattern?


Can I humbly suggest that corroborating evidence from differing sources, including from primary sources, makes the claim more valid.

You can, but there is no undisputed source that comes anywhere close to providing anything resembling objective evidence for the existence of God (or even Jesus). Unless you still have an ace in the hole.

nopaniers wrote:
Okay, my reasoning for why any God must be powerful at the time went: The creator of time and space must have the characteristic that they are powerful enough to create time and space.

But that does not imply all-powerful. Just really powerful. God may still be limited.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I say God is not all-loving. I think he created us so that he can make us suffer because he was bored. Prove me wrong with this common sense logic of yours that I'm missing out on.


I'm not here to prove you right or wrong. I don't believe I should have to change your religion just to be allowed to express my views.

This is not a question of your right to express your views, it's a question of your right to use your views to disparage someone else's. I maintain you're free to do so if your views are objective, but if your views are subjective and faith-based, then you have no right to claim Scientology is false based on them. I have been hammering away at your claim that your views are objective, trying to pin you down to objectively proving that God exists. (And please don't start with that absolute proof crap, all we need is reasonable, objective proof that cannot be easily, reasonably and rationally dismissed.)

If you can't objectively prove God exists, then you can't use God to disparage Scientology.

So I say again, you claim that your perception of God as all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving is an objective conclusion, arrived at by non-religious means. I say show how, or abandon your use of God as a tool to disparage Scientology. Now, you were about to explain to me how you came to an objective, non-religious, non-faith-based conclusion that God is all-loving?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
You realize how bizarre you're sounding? Atheism is a religion, philosphy is a religion, but God is not?


Obviously God is different from religion.

Yes, atheism and philosophy share many of the concepts in common with established religions. Perhaps, instead of pointless arguments about words we should call them all worldviews?

Philosophy is not a worldview (or a religion), it is a field of study. Atheism could be a worldview. God (the entity) is not a worldview or a religion, he is the icon or central figure of a whole ton of religions monotheistic and otherwise. God (the concept) is a religious concept. Following God is to follow a religious concept or a religious icon, which, in the end, is to follow religion.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:

Explain. Explain.

The way to do that is to weigh up the evidence for and against, and to make an informed choice.

I explained, and you agreed, that you could not make an informed choice. So explain.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let you use your religion as a club to beat on another religion without you providing an objective reason as to why you think you have this right.

nopaniers wrote:
I was providing counter-examples to your claim that there was no records of Jesus or his many followers before the 3rd century, from Roman, Jewish or otherwise, and that there was no evidence. Both claims I believe you have effectively abandoned... and moved on to a wider claim about Jesus' authenticity.

If you want such an all in debate whether atheism or Christianity has more evidence then let's start a thread to do that, but obviously you declare yourself the victor... there's not much point discussing if you view things like a competition, instead of a search for the truth.

I have not abandoned any claims. Bad evidence is the same as (or worse than) no evidence. Nothing about my position has changed.

I also wasn't looking for evidence of Jesus specificially, I asked for objective proof of God. You brought up Jesus (whom I assume you equate with God), then I took those references apart.

I am also uninterested - at the moment, at least - in which of atheism or any religion is "true".

What I want is for you to show why your religion can be used to judge another religion. I want to see objective evidence for why your religion can be used to disparage any other one. To me, it's just another hokey belief. You don't need to convert me, you just need to show that your beliefs are good enough to use to put down other people's beliefs.

nopaniers wrote:
In 1906 the existence of atoms was not established. He did not assume, as you claim he should, that they did not exist.

That has never been my claim. That is the claim you have been putting in my mouth.

You don't need to actually have a photograph of an atom (assuming such a thing were possible) in order to use Ockham's Razor to select a theory that includes the existence of atoms. You just need to show that all alternate theories are not as parsimonious - or if you prefer, that all alternate theories had more unproven assumptions than the one that predicted atoms. You see? You're so hung up on this proof thing that you're completely missing the point of Ockham's Razor. All Ockham's Razor says is that when selecting amongst otherwise equivalent theories, you should select the theory with the fewest unproven assumptions. That's it. If atoms are the most logical theory - the theory that has the fewest unproven assumptions (NOT NO UNPROVEN ASSUMPTIONS!!! Get that idea out of your head) - then Ockham's Razor will suggest selecting the theory with atoms. It's that simple.

nopaniers wrote:
Einstein was not an atheist. He was a deist who believed in God. I can provide you with hundreds of quotes to that effect. I'm not a fan of "Proof by Einstein" though, but I merely wanted to set the record straight:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein#Religious_views

*blinks*

Do you know what a deist is? It's not the same as a monotheist. You just proved yourself wrong.

By all means, share your quotes. Here are some of mine:
Arrow "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."
Arrow "Thus I came--despite the fact I was the son of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents--to a deep religiosity, which, however, found an abrupt ending at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true."
Arrow "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." (And if you don't know what Spinoza's God is, from here: "Spinoza's God is not the God of Abraham and Isaac, not a personal God at all, and his system provides no reason for the revelatory status of the Bible or the practice of Judaism, or of any religion, for that matter.")
Arrow "From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.... I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our being."
Arrow "I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance-but for us, not for God."
Arrow And on the soul: "I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it."

Einstein used the concept of "God" often, but as a metaphor. He used it to anthropomorphize or personalize the non-sentient mechanics of the universe. He talked about "God's" personality (eg. he's subtle but not mean) as a way of putting a face on the mindless mechanics of the universe (a well-designed machine is similarly subtle but not mean). He talked about "God" in jest, such as the "throwing dice" comments. And occasionally, he waxed poetical, saying things like: "I want to know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts, the rest are details." That doesn't mean he believed in God, he was just being colourful. I occasionally talk about drinking from Lethe, but I don't actually believe Lethe exists (and I don't mean I literally drank from it). Or I joke about selling my soul to the devil for a donut, but I certainly don't believe in the devil.

When asked flat-out, Einstein answered flat-out: "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly".

But please, show me how I've misinterpreted "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly".

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Ockham's razor says nothing about proof or simplicity. It is about parsimony.... It has nothing to do with simplicity, or truth for that matter.


From www.dictionary.com:

Quote:
Parsimony: Adoption of the simplest assumption in the formulation of a theory or in the interpretation of data, especially in accordance with the rule of Ockham's razor.


It is a heuristic which is useful for ariving at a more elegant model. You are the one using it wrongly: To protect your assumptions which you are unwilling to challenge, and not apply them to critisism.

Unfortunately, that dictionary.com reference is wrong. Hardly surprising. It describes the layperson's view of Ockham's Razor. That view is wrong.

This is a better explanation of Ockham's Razor. So is this.

To quote the first link: "The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed." To quote the second link: "Occam's Razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.... Furthermore, when multiple competing theories have equal predictive powers, the principle recommends selecting those that introduce the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities. It is in this sense that Occam's Razor is usually understood." You see? Not the simplest theory, the one with the fewest assumptions (or "hypothetical entities").

As the second link says: "The earliest versions of the razor clearly imply that if a more complex theory is "necessary" then it need not be invalid. Perhaps a better way to state it is: "a correct theory of phenomena is only as complex as is necessary — and no more so — to explain said phenomena."" (Which is, as I said and you disputed, Einstein's quote, in essence.)

nopaniers wrote:
You are allowed to not believe special relativity, general relativity or quantum mechanics if you don't want to. Each of them has such a "negative" which I believe to be proven. Can I humbly suggest that to suggest that they are not is a misuse of Occam's razor?

Suggest away, but given that I've just explained how your understanding of Ockham's Razor is flawed, you might want to reconsider.

If relativity is the theory with the least assumptions, then it is the best by virtue of Ockham's Razor. The genius of Einstein was that he solved the dilemma presented by the Michelson-Morley results by introducing pretty much only two assumptions, one of which already had experimental evidence. Everyone else was struggling with bulky theories like gravitational ether-dragging with lots and lots of assumptions (all starting with one - the assumption of ether - then piling on more assumptions on top). Einstein essentially said, "well, we can agree with the Michelson-Morley result if we assume the speed of light is always constant, regardless of how it is measured. And we can make that work if we assume time is not constant." Two assumptions, voila. Genius.

And, completely inline with Ockham's Razor.

The same applies to Schrödinger and quantum mechanics. He made unproven assumptions, yes, but his theory had the fewest unproven assumptions (by making just a few, such as the dual nature of matter). Thus, by Ockham's Razor, it should be selected. IT IS NOT THE SIMPLEST THEORY!!! IT IS NOT ABSOLUTELY PROVEN!!! IT DOES HAVE UNPROVEN ASSUMPTIONS!!! It is merely the most parsimonious - it has the fewest assumptions.

Read up on Ockham's Razor. You are misusing it.

nopaniers wrote:
All of science can be disproven, but that does not stop me from believing it.

*cries*

This is just not getting through.... The reason you should believe science is because it can be disproven!!!

If science could not be disproven, then it should not be believed, because if you did that, you would stagnate and never grow. This is a fundamental principle of science! It is called falsifiability. "Another way to distinguish science from pseudoscience (e.g. astronomy from astrology), first formally discussed by Karl Popper in 1919-20 and reformulated by him in the 1960s, is falsifiability. This principle states that in order to be useful (or even scientific at all), a scientific statement ('fact', theory, 'law', principle, etc) must be falsifiable, i.e. able to be tested and proven wrong."

You see? It's what I've been saying. The default position is one that can be disproven - the negative hypothesis can never be proven but it can be disproven, the positive hypothesis can be proven, but it can never be disproven. Thus the default position - the only logical position - is the null assumption.

This "weighing the evidence for and against" nonsense is fluff, because you can never have evidence for a null hypothesis. "Weighing evidence for and against" is for management and politicians. Scientists start with a hypothesis and try and disprove it. That's the scientific method. That's science!

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Sooooo, Christianity was unbelievable in the early first century? But then it ripened?


You are arguing against a straw man. If you want to argue against imaginary people then be my guest.

Perhaps if we put it like this it will help: In my view physics should also not change over time. There is no "cut-off" in 1687 when Newton published Principa. If I apply what Principa to the years before or after, it better not be in contradiction.

The same with religion.

I am not arguing against a straw man, you're missing the point of my line of questioning.

*ahem* If Christianity could have been true even before anything about it was written or even existed... why not Scientology?

If Christianity's claims were "facts" before the first century CE, why aren't Scientology's claims "facts" before Hubbard wrote them?

Do you have any basis for this claim other than your subjective belief that your religion is right and a Scientologist's is wrong? That is, do you have any objective basis for that claim? Share it with us.

nopaniers wrote:
I agree with the definition of religion. I disagree with saying that there is no difference between following religion and following God. They are quite different. I go to church because I follow God. I don't follow God because I go to church.

Did God tell you to go to church?

Given that claiming that would probably be blasphemous, I'll assume not.

So who or what suggested that you should go to church because you follow God, if not a religion?

My answer: You follow a religion that tells you to believe in God and go to church (which could be most major religions).
nopaniers
Quote:
By all means, but you might want to provide some links to back up your position. I provided two for mine, so it's only fair.


Certainly.

Your own links contradict yourself. For example the very first sentence in your second link is:
Quote:
MOST investigations of Luke's story of Paul in Corinth in Acts 18 take for granted that what is presented there derives, at least in part, from historically reliable source material

That contrasts with your claim that the consensus is that Acts is a complete work of fiction, they are at least honest enough to admit that this is not the case. You did not provide evidence that that was the case, you provided evidence it wasn't.

There are many rebuttals of the Jesus Myth since it emerged in the late 1800's. I would point out that Doherty represents an extreme position, not generally accepted among historians. Wells is not even a qualified historian (he studied German).

Quote:
The theory, based in part on the lack of extant contemporaneous documents or other historically reliable evidence about his life, has not found widespread acceptance among Bible scholars and historians.


A good place to start is to associate yourself with the issues:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth

There are a lot of popular refutations of the ideas online (which you can easily find using google) but people might be interested in the more serious refutations:
http://christianorigins.com/case/
http://www.christianorigins.com/goguel/index.html

And some published refutations:
Conybeare (Oxford), The Historical Christ
Wood, Herbert Did Christ Really Live?
Marshall, Howard, I Believe in the Historical Jesus
France, R.T. The Evidence for Jesus
Smith, Morton "The Historical Jesus" in Jesus in Myth and History.
Van Voorst, Robert Jesus Outside the New Testament.
Shirley Case, The Historicity of Jesus

I would encourage anyone to read up.

Quote:
I stand by my claim. Lots of bad evidence is not equivalent to good evidence.


And yours is unquestionably bad evidence, provided from an extreme position. I think most people reading this can see that.

Quote:
Tacitus may not have directly sourced the gospels, but there is no indication that there was any other evidence outside of them or writings that referenced them..


From your own reference:

Quote:
Tacitean scholars agree that the historian did often access governmental and public records, and did indeed consult original documents: Speeches of the emperor are discussed also in (Annals) 1.81, obviously as accessible. Of letters sent to Tiberius and of others attacking Nero and Agrippina he speaks (5.16 and 5.3) as though they might still be consulted. This is certainly true of the one to Tiberius." [Mende.Tac, 204] In Annals 15.74, Tacitus cites the records of the Roman Senate from Nero's time [ibid., 21] and cites Senate records elsewhere (5.4) [ibid., 212] The acta Senatus included letters from emperors, governors of provinces (like Pilate!), allies, and client kings. Tacitus also probably made use of Rome's public libraries. [Dud.Tac, 28]

Tacitus also consulted the Acta Diurna, a daily public gazette (3.3, 12,24, 13.31, 16.22), and private journals and memoirs, which presumably :"were preserved in large numbers, especially in the older aristocratic families." [Mende.Tac, 212] Syme [Sym.Tac, 278] writes: :"The straight path of inquiry leads to the archives of the Senate...the first hexad of Annales (which is not where the Jesus passage is) contains an abundance of information patently deriving from the official protocol, and only there to be discovered." Regarding an incident in Africa: "That Tacitus consulted the Senate archives is proved by the character of the material, by its distribution..." (ibid., 281) Relative to Book 4 of Tacitus' Historiae: :"required constant access to the register of the Senate."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Jesus

Quote:
On the other hand, starting with the assumption that there were no sources besides the gospels is a null assumption No evidence contradicts it (although it could be easily contradicted), so we stay with it. Thus, Tacitus, directly or indirectly, sourced the gospels..


Thankyou for pointing out your bias. We may as well assume he copied the Roman archives, or anything else and call that the null assumption. I believe in examining the evidence and weighing it up, like the majority of scholars. You should not assume apriori that Tacitus copied the gospels... just as you shouldn't assume anything else without evidence.

Quote:
But that does not imply all-powerful. Just really powerful. God may still be limited.


We are at least getting somewhere. Now you're drawing a dividing line between really powerful and all powerful. As I say, I believe in God before I was a Christian.

-- edit --- I have added a second post which describes, better than I can, some of the reasons that mathematics and physics leads me to believe in God.

Quote:
This is not a question of your right to express your views, it's a question of your right to use your views to disparage someone else's. I maintain you're free to do so if your views are objective, but if your views are subjective and faith-based, then you have no right to claim Scientology is false based on them.



Quote:
If you can't objectively prove God exists, then you can't use God to disparage Scientology.


When did I use God to disparage Scientology? You on the other hand have been telling me that I should not be able to express my views here or anywhere else, based on my belief.

Quote:
I explained, and you agreed, that you could not make an informed choice.


I couldn't disagree more. That is the opposite to what I have been saying. Not only is it possible to make an informed choice, I encourage everyone to make an informed choice. If you think I agreed with that there must have been some misunderstanding.

Quote:
What I want is for you to show why your religion can be used to judge another religion.


You are arguing that because atheism is "objective" that my view is not, and therefore I shouldn't be heard. It is you trying to force their opinions on me. My opinion is that claims (from any source) should be weighed up on the basis of evidence.


Quote:
Do you know what a deist is?


Yes.

Quote:
It's not the same as a monotheist.


I never said it was. Thankyou for supplying quotes which back me up.

Einstein didn't "occasionally" talk about God. He often talked about God. So much so that his colleagues joked that he could be a theologan. To say that he was an atheist... well... again, examine the evidence and see for yourself.

Quote:
But please, show me how I've misinterpreted "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly".


How is that inconsistent with being a deist? Obviously it is wrong to interpret that as atheism, which you did.


I'm not sure how to interpret this. First you say:
Quote:
Exactly! Now you're finally making sense. They are assumptions, not proven facts. If they were proven facts, then we wouldn't expect them to be suddenly unproven, now would we?

I wrote that I believed science and religion and both could be disproved. And then you say:
Quote:
The reason you should believe science is because it can be disproven!!!

It sounds to me like you're arguing against yourself.


Quote:
the negative hypothesis can never be proven but it can be disproven.


Which is something you cling to despite the numerous examples I've given you.

There are many ways to prove something doesn't exist. One example is proof by contradiction. If you take an assumptions (that there is a perpetual motion machine) and show that the assumption leads to a contradiction (that thermodynamics is violated) then you can validly assume that your assumption is wrong. Therefore, there do not exist any perpetual motion machines. In many ways it is easier to show things don't exist than to provide a constructive proof that they do.


Quote:
This "weighing the evidence for and against" nonsense is fluff, because you can never have evidence for a null hypothesis.


You can prove that hidden variables don't exist.
You can prove that the ether doesn't exist.
You can prove that perpetual motion machines don't exist.

In each case, you do not assume the outcome before you do the experiment...


Quote:
Scientists start with a hypothesis and try and disprove it.


Exactly. You start with a hypothesis, and examine evidence for and against, and come to your conclusion. That's the way it works.

You don't assume an outcome before the start of the experiment. You certainly don't believe that the result of the experiment will be one way and design your experiment according to those rules. That would not be objective.


Quote:
If Christianity's claims were "facts" before the first century CE, why aren't Scientology's claims "facts" before Hubbard wrote them?


It was you who levelled that claim against scientology not me. You have obviously trying to lead me here... I did not say anything about cutoffs, writings, or anything else you have been suggesting except to disagree with you that they were good notions.

I claim that what was true one day should be true the next.

Quote:
So who or what suggested that you should go to church because you follow God, if not a religion?


I decided to go to church, because I would like to find out what people with similar beliefs thought. I think community is important.
nopaniers
You might also be interested in Paul Davies. I wasn't aware of his work at the time, but his line of thought in examining the physics is similar to the thoughts which I had:

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9508/davies.html

He puts it so much more eloquently that I ever could:

Quote:
Now you may think I have written God entirely out of the picture. Who needs a God when the laws of physics can do such a splendid job? But we are bound to return to that burning question: Where do the laws of physics come from? And why those laws rather than some other set? Most especially: Why a set of laws that drives the searing, featureless gases coughed out of the big bang toward life and consciousness and intelligence and cultural activities such as religion, art, mathematics, and science?

If there is a meaning or purpose to existence, as I believe there is, we are wrong to dwell too much on the originating event. The big bang is sometimes referred to as "the creation," but in truth nature has never ceased to be creative. This ongoing creativity, which manifests itself in the spontaneous emergence of novelty and complexity, and organization of physical systems, is permitted through, or guided by, the underlying mathematical laws that scientists are so busy discovering.

Now the laws of which I speak have the status of timeless eternal truths, in contrast to the physical states of the universe that change with time and bring forth the genuinely new. So we here confront in physics a reemergence of the oldest of all philosophical and theological debates: the paradoxical conjunction of the eternal and the temporal. Early Christian thinkers wrestled with the problem of time. Is God within the stream of time, or outside of it? How can a truly timeless God relate in any way to temporal beings such as ourselves? But how can a God who relates to a changing universe be considered eternal and unchangingly perfect?

Physics has its own variations on this theme. In our century, Einstein showed us that time is not simply "there" as a universal and absolute backdrop to existence-it is intimately interwoven with space and matter. As I have mentioned, time is revealed to be an integral part of the physical universe; indeed, it can be warped by motion and gravitation. Clearly something that can be changed in this manner is not absolute, but a contingent part of the physical world.

In my own field of research-called quantum gravity-a lot of attention has been devoted to understanding how time itself could have come into existence in the big bang. We know that matter can be created by quantum processes. There is now a general acceptance among physicists and cosmologists that space-time can also originate in a quantum process. According to the latest thinking, time might not be a primitive concept at all, but something that has "congealed" from the fuzzy quantum ferment of the big bang, a relic, so to speak, of a particular state that froze out of the fiery cosmic birth.

If it is the case that time is a contingent property of the physical world rather than a necessary consequence of existence, then any attempt to trace the ultimate purpose or design of nature to a temporal Being or Principle seems doomed to failure. While I do not wish to claim that physics has solved the riddle of time-far from it-I do believe that our advancing scientific understanding of time has illuminated the ancient theological debate in important ways. I cite this topic as just one example of the lively dialogue that is continuing between science and theology.

A lot of people are hostile to science because it demystifies nature. They prefer the mystery. They would rather live in ignorance of the way the world works and our place within it. For me, the beauty of science is precisely the demystification, because it reveals just how truly wonderful the physical universe really is. It is impossible to be a scientist working at the frontier without being awed by the elegance, ingenuity, and harmony of the lawlike order in nature. In my attempts to popularize science, I am driven by the desire to share my own sense of excitement and awe with the wider community; I want to tell people the good news. The fact that we are able to do science, that we can comprehend the hidden laws of nature, I regard as a gift of immense significance. Science, properly conducted, is a wonderfully enriching and humanizing enterprise. I cannot believe that using this gift called science-using it wisely, of course-is wrong. It is good that we should know.

So where is God in this story? Not especially in the big bang that starts the universe off, nor meddling fitfully in the physical processes that generate life and consciousness. I would rather that nature can take care of itself. The idea of a God who is just another force or agency at work in nature, moving atoms here and there in competition with physical forces, is profoundly uninspiring. To me, the true miracle of nature is to be found in the ingenious and unswerving lawfulness of the cosmos, a lawfulness that permits complex order to emerge from chaos, life to emerge from inanimate matter, and consciousness to emerge from life, without the need for the occasional supernatural prod; a lawfulness that produces beings who not only ask great questions of existence, but who, through science and other methods of enquiry, are even beginning to find answers.

You might be tempted to suppose that any old rag-bag of laws would produce a complex universe of some sort, with attendant inhabitants convinced of their own specialness. Not so. It turns out that randomly selected laws lead almost inevitably either to unrelieved chaos or boring and uneventful simplicity. Our own universe is poised exquisitely between these unpalatable alternatives, offering a potent mix of freedom and discipline, a sort of restrained creativity. The laws do not tie down physical systems so rigidly that they can accomplish little, but neither are they a recipe for cosmic anarchy. Instead, they encourage matter and energy to develop along pathways of evolution that lead to novel variety-what Freeman Dyson has called the principle of maximum diversity: that in some sense we live in the most interesting possible universe.

Scientists have recently identified a regime dubbed "the edge of chaos," a description that certainly characterizes living organisms, where innovation and novelty combine with coherence and cooperation. The edge of chaos seems to imply the sort of lawful freedom I have just described. Mathematical studies suggest that to engineer such a state of affairs requires laws of a very special form. If we could twiddle a knob and change the existing laws, even very slightly, the chances are that the universe as we know it would fall apart, descending into chaos. Certainly the existence of life as we know it, and even of less elaborate systems such as stable stars, would be threatened by just the tiniest change in the strengths of the fundamental forces. The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever.

Now some of my colleagues embrace the same scientific facts as I, but deny any deeper significance. They shrug aside the breathtaking ingenuity of the laws of physics, the extraordinary felicity of nature, and the surprising intelligibility of the physical world, accepting these things as a package of marvels that just happens to be. But I cannot do this. To me, the contrived nature of physical existence is just too fantastic for me to take on board as simply "given." It points forcefully to a deeper underlying meaning to existence. Some call it purpose, some design. These loaded words, which derive from human categories, capture only imperfectly what it is that the universe is about. But that it is about something, I have absolutely no doubt.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Your own links contradict yourself. For example the very first sentence in your second link is:
Quote:
MOST investigations of Luke's story of Paul in Corinth in Acts 18 take for granted that what is presented there derives, at least in part, from historically reliable source material

That contrasts with your claim that the consensus is that Acts is a complete work of fiction, they are at least honest enough to admit that this is not the case.

*blink*

This... is just getting ridiculous....

Does anyone else here read that quote as not saying Acts is fiction? Anyone? It can't just be me that reads that as the first part of a sentence that is probaby going to take the general form "Most people take for granted that Acts is reliable history... but it's not".

(Incidently, that's pretty much what the actual sentence says, essentially. The actual sentence is from an article entitled "Luke's Story of Paul in Corinth: Fictional History in Acts 18". It reads: "MOST investigations of Luke's story of Paul in Corinth in Acts 18 take for granted that what is presented there derives, at least in part, from historically reliable source material - and then strive to demonstrate that this is the case." (Or in my simplified form: "Most people take for granted that Acts is reliable history... and then work from that assumption." It goes on to say that this is incorrect procedure.) And yet... you read this as somehow providing evidence that Acts is not fiction? I'm sorry. You're either not bothering or not able to comprehend that article. It's position is hardly vague - it's quite clear - and quite vocally contrary to your position and in support of mine. Hell, the conclusion is: "And as far as we can determine, this story was entirely Luke's own creation.")

nopaniers wrote:
A good place to start is to associate yourself with the issues:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth

I am familiar with the issues, thank you. And I prefer this site for a thorough discussion of the Jesus Myth. Doherty's conclusions may be extreme, but that doesn't make them true or false. However, regardless of his conclusions and whether you agree with them or not, he does make a thorough investigation and presents a lot of evidence that I have not seen properly refuted. Just because his conclusions may be extreme, that doesn't ruin the validity of his research.

At any rate, I'm not interested in the truth of whether or not Jesus existed here. That's for another thread. I am just pointing out that even Christianity has murky origins and historicity. Doherty may or may not be right, but he's certainly shown that the issue is far from clear cut. If Christianity can't even prove that its founder existed on Earth without a reasonable doubt, then it is hardly that much more likely to be "true" than Scientology.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Tacitus may not have directly sourced the gospels, but there is no indication that there was any other evidence outside of them or writings that referenced them..


From your own reference:

Quote:
Tacitean scholars agree that the historian did often access governmental and public records, and did indeed consult original documents...

Ok, there is a serious comprehension problem here. I shouldn't have to qualify each and everything I write. It should be obvious that since we were discussing Tacitus' reference to Jesus, not the entire body of Tacitus' writing, my comment was directed at the topic of Tacitus' reference to Jesus, not his entire body of writing. I don't want to have to repeat the topic of conversation every two sentences. The context should be good enough.

Yes, I know that that Tacitus generally used Roman records and original sources. But he did not do so for the section that referenced Jesus. That is obvious because he mucked up details that should have been clear from any official record. So he obviously used some other source. The only other "primary" source that we know existed at the time was the gospels (and Christian oral tradition). Therefore, unless you assume (without justification) the existence of some other source, Tacitus' source must have been - directly or indirectly - the gospels.

nopaniers wrote:
Thankyou for pointing out your bias. We may as well assume he copied the Roman archives, or anything else and call that the null assumption. I believe in examining the evidence and weighing it up, like the majority of scholars. You should not assume apriori that Tacitus copied the gospels... just as you shouldn't assume anything else without evidence.

I agree completely. You shouldn't assume anything without evidence. We have evidence that Tacitus did not use official records, because the errors in his text could not have come from official records. We have no evidence of any other records except the gospels (and Christian oral tradition). Therefore, since you shouldn't assume the existence of any other documents without evidence, the conclusion is that Tacitus used the gospels. So, what bias do I have now?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
But that does not imply all-powerful. Just really powerful. God may still be limited.


We are at least getting somewhere. Now you're drawing a dividing line between really powerful and all powerful. As I say, I believe in God before I was a Christian.

And... we're getting somewhere how? Because you didn't answer the overriding question at all. I asked how you came to believe in God without religion. I asked how you came to conclude that he was all-powerful without religion. And... still no answer.

nopaniers wrote:
When did I use God to disparage Scientology? You on the other hand have been telling me that I should not be able to express my views here or anywhere else, based on my belief.

Why did you bring up God in a Scientology thread, if not as part of an argument to disparage Scientology? You certainly couldn't be using God to support Scientology, because Scientology does not believe in God (or Jesus). Therefore, your mention of God is one of two things:
1.) Part of an attack on Scientology. (My assumption.)
2.) Off-topic nonsense.

I have never once said you shouldn't be able to express your views "here or anywhere else". Please stop putting words in my mouth.

I have been saying that using God, Jesus and/or Christianity to attack Scientology is wrong. If you weren't attacking Scientology, then you were just being off-topic and random. If you were attacking Scientology, you were wrong. If you were off-topic, you were also wrong.

Which is it?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I explained, and you agreed, that you could not make an informed choice.


I couldn't disagree more. That is the opposite to what I have been saying. Not only is it possible to make an informed choice, I encourage everyone to make an informed choice. If you think I agreed with that there must have been some misunderstanding.

Your words: "Yes. In the absence of any information about any of the options, they are all equally likely, since they are all identical."

My words: "And if there is no way to determine which is true, then there is no way to determine which one is worth worshipping. Correct?" and "And if you can't objectively determine which one is worth worshipping, your choice is random. You have an equal chance of being right no matter what you choose. Correct?"

Your words: "No." and "Absolutely not."

So. How did you go from "In the absence of any information... they are all equally likely... they are all identical" to "No, you do have some way to determine which one is true and which is not (despite the absence of information), and they're not equally likely."?

Or is this another example of poor comprehension, and you were talking about something else out of the context of the discussion we were actually having?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
What I want is for you to show why your religion can be used to judge another religion.


You are arguing that because atheism is "objective" that my view is not, and therefore I shouldn't be heard. It is you trying to force their opinions on me. My opinion is that claims (from any source) should be weighed up on the basis of evidence.

I am arguing nothing of the sort. Please stop putting words in my mouth.

Christianity cannot be used to judge Scientology. Atheism cannot be used to judge Scientology. I have never said anything otherwise.

Scientology must either:
a.) Be analyzed by its own standards (using Scientology to judge Scientology).
b.) Be analyzed by logic, without using the assumptions of Atheism or any other religion.

I have never said that "Scientology is wrong because I do not believe in Thetans or because Thetans don't exist". That would be using Atheism to criticize Scientology. I have done nothing of the sort.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Do you know what a deist is?


Yes.

Uh huh. And yet, Einstein can be deist and share your belief in God, despite:
1.) The fact that deists believe that God either doesn't exist, or he went away after creating the universe (or at the very least he doesn't interfere with it in any way).
2.) Deism is defined as rejecting religious or relevatory bods, and your god is exactly both categories of god.
3.) Einstein explicitly said he didn't believe in "the God of Abraham" (who is the same God as the God of Christianity).

Sorry. Doesn't fly.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
It's not the same as a monotheist.


I never said it was. Oh and thankyou for supplying quotes which back me up. Which all back up my position that he was a deist.

Einstein didn't "occasionally" talk about God. He often talked about God. So much so that his friends joked that he could be a theologan. To say that he was an atheist... well... again, examine the evidence and see for yourself.

...

So, a whole bunch of quotes where Einstein says "I don't believe in any God of religion" somehow proves to you that Einstein believes in the God of your religion.

Yeah. Ok.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
But please, show me how I've misinterpreted "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly".


How is that inconsistent with being a deist? Obviously it is wrong to interpret that as atheism, which you did.

I don't know whether you're being deliberately dishonest or just dense. Somehow, according to you, now I am claiming Einstein is not a deist (after originally saying he was)? What I am claiming is that Einstein does not share your belief in God. And given that Einstein wrote that word-for-word in his memoirs, I think my case is solid.

Further, I said something like: "Einstein was an atheist, or at best a deist or pantheist". That's true. Both deism and atheism span a wide range of beliefs, and they do overlap in places (particularly weak atheism and scientific deism). Einstein was in one of the overlaps. It is equally correct to call him a deist or an atheist. They are not mutually exclusive. Neither are some forms of agnosticism.

nopaniers wrote:
I'm not sure how to interpret this. First you say:
Quote:
Exactly! Now you're finally making sense. They are assumptions, not proven facts. If they were proven facts, then we wouldn't expect them to be suddenly unproven, now would we?

I wrote that I believed science and religion and both could be disproved. And then you say:
Quote:
The reason you should believe science is because it can be disproven!!!

It sounds to me like you're arguing against yourself.

Read up on the philosophy of science. That might help your interpretation problems.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
the negative hypothesis can never be proven but it can be disproven.


Which is something you cling to despite the numerous examples I've given you.

There are many ways to prove something doesn't exist.

*sigh*

Ok, here we go....

There are only two theoretical ways to prove something doesn't exist:
1.) You can exhaustively scan every facet of the universe, inside and out, until there is nothing, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, that you have not rigorously examined - and there was no way possible that the object of your search could have slipped between the cracks.
2.) You can prove that it is illogical. For example, you can say a triangle with four sides cannot exist.

Now, those are only theoretical. You can't actually use those methods in practice. The reason for why the first is impossible to do is obvious. The second is a little trickier.

There are two reasons why the second method is impossible.
a.) A lack of infinite imagination. A triangle with four sides is possible. A triangle with an area of zero is the same thing as a square of area zero. So a triangle can have four sides when the area is zero (it can have any number of sides when the area is zero - such is the nature of infinity). So if you say X is logically impossible, then I can say that you just haven't thought of all the possibilities, and that there may be a case when X is logically possible. So you can never completely rule out X.
b.) Definitions can be slippery. If I say ether exists and it can be detected by the way it affects the speed of light, then Michelson and Morley come along and show that it doesn't, I can just say ether exists but it doesn't affect the speed of light. I can just keep saying that ether exists, but you don't have a way of detecting it, and you can never prove me wrong. (This is how it goes with proving something like God doesn't exist. No rigorous definition is provided, or the only definition given is that he can't be detected.)

I know apologist literature loves to say it's possible to prove a negative, but it ain't (and just because you seem to require me to be pedantic, yes, technically it is possible if you had all the time and knowlege in the universe and beyond, but it is not possible by any functional method, so it is as if it were impossible).

nopaniers wrote:
You can prove that hidden variables don't exist.
You can prove that the ether doesn't exist.
You can prove that perpetual motion machines don't exist.

In each case, you do not assume the outcome before you do the experiment...

Arrow You can't prove hidden variables don't exist. The theory was discarded because it was not as parsimonious as quantum theory. Read up on it.
Arrow If I say it does, but it is massless, colourless and odorless and doesn't affect the motion of anything through it, including light, you can't prove me wrong. Or even if I were to say that "ether drag" were true, you can't (yet) prove me wrong. Contrary to what you seem to think, no one has ever proven ether does not exist. All that happened was that Einstein showed that it was not necessary to assume that it does (when before it seemed to be a necessary assumption), thus it was dropped by Ockham's Razor. You could continue to assume it existed, as many scientists (Morley included) continued to do even after relativity gained widespread acceptance. It could actually exist. Who knows?
Arrow They are not theoretically impossible. You are demonstrating a misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But that's for another thread.

As for the second comment, incorrect again. Take ether for example. You have to assume that if ether exists it will effect the speed of light, or there's no point to the experiment, and any result you get is meaningless. All science begins with assumptions. That's how science works.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Scientists start with a hypothesis and try and disprove it.


Exactly. You start with a hypothesis, and examine evidence for and against, and come to your conclusion. That's the way it works.

...

Not exactly. You don't examine evidence for or against. Science and logic are not statistical analyses. You don't say "55% of the experments support that photons are waves and 45% support that photons are particles, so, I'm gonna go with the one with more support." That's not science.

You start with a hypothesis, like a photon is a wave, then you test that hypothesis. If you find that is, you've learned nothing, but if you find that it's not, you change your hypothesis. Now you assume a photon is a particle, and you test that hypothesis. If you find that it is, you've learned nothing, but if you find that it's not, you have a dilemma. A photon appears to be both a wave and a particle. So now you need a totally new assumption that a photon is both a wave and particle, and you go from there. That's science.

We started with ignorance (assuming that a photon was a wave) and came towards knowlege. Tomorrow we may find evidence that a photon is something else. Then we have to change our assumptions again. That's scientific progress.

nopaniers wrote:
You don't assume an outcome before the start of the experiment. You certainly don't believe that the result of the experiment will be one way and design your experiment according to those rules. That would not be objective.

Of course it's objective! As long as you don't influence the results or apply non-objective rationalization to interpreting the results, who cares what you believe?

And anyway, you have it all backwards!!! You don't test to prove your assumption, you test to disprove it! The goal is to eliminate objections. Imagine you lived before we knew the Earth was round. If you believe that the Earth is flat, you try to circumnavigate it, because if you succeed, you've learned you were wrong. That's science.

If you want to prove you're right, you can just sit on your butt and do nothing. You know the Earth is flat, no evidence contradicts you. You're done. But that's not science!

Read up on the scientific method and the philosophy of science, because honestly, you don't have a clue. Let's apply science right now! Your assumption is that science works the way you think it works.
Let's try it your way: Take all the evidence you have for and against your belief. Obviously you have already done that, and come to your conclusion. So, you're done. You have your evidence, and you have your proof. You're done.
Now, try it the way you think I think it works: If you're only interested in supporting your assumption, you're done. You have no evidence (besides my word) that science works by formulating assumptions then testing them. So all evidence agrees with your position. You're done.
Now, try it my way: Try to disprove your theory. To do that, you have to go out and seek evidence until you find something that contradicts. Read papers on what the philosophy of science is. If your assumption is true, you will never find evidence that it is false, so eventually you'd have to stop at a point where you were satisfied (although, in actual science, soemone else would take up the baton and keep testing). But if your assumption is false, you will eventually come to discover contradictory evidence. And that way lies learning.

You see? Only trying to prove your theory wrong is motivation to research. If you assume your theory is right, then (assuming it already agrees with everything you know or you wouldn't believe that theory to begin with) you don't need to do anything.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
If Christianity's claims were "facts" before the first century CE, why aren't Scientology's claims "facts" before Hubbard wrote them?


It was you who levelled that claim against scientology not me. You have obviously trying to lead me here... I did not say anything about cutoffs, writings, or anything else you have been suggesting except to disagree with you that they were good notions.

I claim that what was true one day should be true the next.

Oh yes, I did lead you here. As I said above, you brought God into the discussion as an argument against Scientology (or as a spurious outburst with no point - I gave you the benefit of assuming the former, correct me if I was wrong). If you are going to use God as an argument against Scientology, I have to determine the parameters of that argument and then take it apart. If you won't state the parameters - which you don't, not without much coaxing - then I will drag them out of you.

If you claim that the age of a religion is a good way to judge the validity of a religion, then a logical refutation on my part would be to find a religion that you consider valid and ask how age is a factor. That's where I'm at. All the back and forth is just because I'm having a hard time getting a straight answer.

So, you claim that Christianity is valid. You further claim that it was valid even before it was "created" (ie, before it was spoken of by humans). My logical response now is why is that same argument not true for Scientology?
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
You might also be interested in Paul Davies. I wasn't aware of his work at the time, but his line of thought in examining the physics is similar to the thoughts which I had:

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9508/davies.html

He puts it so much more eloquently that I ever could:

How is this of relevance to a discussion of Scientology?

Again, I'm forced to assume you posted this here because of one of these reasons:
1.) You believe it is in support of Scientology.
2.) You believe it is evidence against Scientology.
3.) You believe it is neither evidence for nor against Scientology, but you think it somehow illuminates a discussion of Scientology by providing pertinent information or perspective.
4.) It is random spam, posted for no relevant reason.

However:
1.) It can't be for Scientology, because Scientology does not speak of God.
2.) If it is an attack on Scientology, I don't get it.
3.) I can't see how it's relevant to the discussion of Scientology.
4.) Ergo, unless you can offer some evidence otherwise, it's spam.
nopaniers
Happy Easter Indy and all. I will be back next week when I get back.

Quote:
How is this of relevance to a discussion of Scientology?


The reason I am posting this in a thread about scientology because you asked me to.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Happy Easter Indy and all. I will be back next week when I get back.

Quote:
How is this of relevance to a discussion of Scientology?


The reason I am posting this in a thread about scientology because you asked me to.

Where?

I have often said if you want to discuss things irrelevant to Scientology we could take it to another thread, but where did I say I wanted to hear about Paul Davies in this thread?
The Philosopher Princess
The posts above were moved from the Scientology topic. The posts after this one have been written directly here.

Happy writing! Smile
nopaniers
Hello, new thread! This rivetting post contains yet more example of negatives which are regarded as proven. Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible, perfect engines, perfect fridges, there is no quantum cloning, Fermions cannot occupy the same state, there is no information which travels faster than the speed of light, it is impossible to make a measurement without disturbing a system, but there is no violation of conservation of momentum or energy and it is not possible to tell the difference between acceleration and gravity. Negative assumptions can be proven and should be subject to scrutiny like everything else. I have begun to present evidence which contradicts atheism, and am still waiting for some type of response other than, "Why did you post that?"... but first to combat some rather extreme bias.

Quote:
Does anyone else here read that quote as not saying Acts is fiction?

Doherty is not the consensus, and even he admits that most historians disagree with him. His whole thesis is that Jesus didn't exist (and therefore he has to maintain that many primary sources are wrong). To portray his view as consensus just shows that you are either badly read, or extremely biased. His view has been effectively refuted by mainstream historians, whose books on the topic I gave links to.

Quote:
And I prefer this site

Doherty talking about himself is in no way objective.

First you say:
Quote:
I asked how you came to believe in God without religion.

I answered, giving similar arguments by Davies to my thoughts. Then, ironically, you say:
Quote:
How is this of relevance to a discussion of Scientology?

Instead of examining the evidence you try to change the subject. Why is that? The universe is ordered, with only small changes in the fundamental physical constants meaning that universe cannot support life. How do you explain this contradiction to atheism?

Quote:
Why did you bring up God in a Scientology thread, if not as part of an argument to disparage Scientology?

It was the answer to PP's question, why follow any religion, or even follow.

Quote:
So. How did you go from "In the absence of any information... they are all equally likely... they are all identical" to "No, you do have some way to determine which one is true and which is not (despite the absence of information), and they're not equally likely."?

Because we do not have an absence of information. For example, we see that the universe is ordered, that life exists, that mathematics works... As I have repeatedly said, the way to make a rational choice is to examine the evidence.

Quote:
Uh huh. And yet, Einstein can be deist and share your belief in God, despite:
1.) The fact that deists believe that God either doesn't exist, or he went away after creating the universe (or at the very least he doesn't interfere with it in any way).

Deists believe that God exists. The name deism was even chosen to make this clear. However, they maintain that reason is the only way to know about God. Many (but not all) deists believe that God is impersonal and does not intervene in the universe. Therefore, yes, deists share my belief in God. A belief in God and a belief that God doesn't exist are mutually exclusive.

There is a difference in our beliefs about the specific nature of God. Deists and I share the common belief that the existence of God is a rational and logical conclusion, and that religion and God are separate things. In this I agree with deists absolutely, and can only assume you disagree.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

Quote:
... somehow proves to you that Einstein believes in the God of your religion.

I said that Einstein was a deist and that he believed in God, not an atheist.

Quote:
There are only two theoretical ways to prove something doesn't exist:

At least that's one more than you said before.

Quote:
1.) You can exhaustively scan every facet of the universe, inside and out, until there is nothing, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, that you have not rigorously examined - and there was no way possible that the object of your search could have slipped between the cracks.


Induction is an obvious counter-example. You do not need to search the entire universe to check every case.

You can simply show that it works for the base case, each case implies the truth for the next case and so on. So when I can make a statement like (to take a nice mathematical example) "There is no multiple of nine which has digits (base 10) that do not add up to 9 (repeatedly adding the digits if necessary)". You do not need to check every case. You can prove so by induction.

More physically, you can make similar arguments applied to physical systems (like the universe). For example, from my own field, the argument that the Hadamard, pi/8 and CNOT gate are universal (in other words there is no quantum operation which cannot be expressed as a combination of them) follows a similar proof.

Your own lack of imagination is not a proof that something is not possible... and I will continue to post counter-examples which are common.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_induction

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2.) You can prove that it is illogical.

Ahhh... now we are getting somewhere. There are many such obvious examples from mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

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Now, those are only theoretical.

Machines which violate conservation of energy do not exist. If you want, you can maintain that its just some flawed theory, but your view you would differ with every physicist, and hopefully everybody reading this.

With respect to the ether, the definition of the ether is not in question. Redefining ether (or triangle for that matter), means science degenerates into pointless word games. The ether has been disproven.

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I know apologist literature loves to say it's possible to prove a negative, but it ain't.

Physics is the reason I say that such proofs are possible, because as a working physicist I see and use them every day.

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You can't prove hidden variables don't exist. The theory was discarded because it was not as parsimonious as quantum theory. Read up on it.

The theory was discarded because it was incompatible with Aspect's experimental demonstration of the violation of Bell's inequalities. That's exactly the sort of logical proof that you wrongly assert is not possible. It was not discarded on some philosophical word game, but on the basis of experimental evidence.

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All that happened was that Einstein showed that it was not necessary to assume that it does (when before it seemed to be a necessary assumption), thus it was dropped by Ockham's Razor.

The reason why relativity (as with any physical theory) is accepted or rejected is because of the experimental evidence. The Michaelson-Morley experiment is important because the two theories give different results. We don't discard one in favour of the other because of Ockham's razor but on the basis of the outcome of repeated experiment. See for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Status_of_special_relativity#Experimental_evidence

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You are demonstrating a misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But that's for another thread.

With all due respect, it is you who are demonstrating your ignorance. Perpetual motion machines, perfect refrigerators and engines do not exist.

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You have to assume that if ether exists it will effect the speed of light.

By definition the ether affects the motion of light. Words are not important. We could call the ether "Ethel" if we wanted. What is important is that Ethel does not exist.

Quantum cryptography is based entirely on such a negative proof. You had better tell them quickly that they're working in vain, and their proofs are flawed, because you know better.

The Pauli excusion principle is yet another example.

Proving a negative is clearly possible. I have shown you many examples drawn from only a narrow field. We could be here all day if I started making lists. You only defence seems to be in word games and a lack of imagination. Such proofs are not only possible, but common.

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As long as you don't influence the results or apply non-objective rationalization to interpreting the results, who cares what you believe?

We have seen how your belief biases your view of history and also science, where you take quite extreme views. You even went so far as to suggest that your own bias, atheism, was objective. I would welcome it if you want to take a more objective approach.

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And anyway, you have it all backwards!!! You don't test to prove your assumption, you test to disprove it!

As I said, I don't think that either science or religion can be "proved" in this absolute sense. There is always another test, and another variation to refine a theory. I believe physical theories and in God despite incomplete knowledge, based on existing evidence.

Any physical theory should make experimentally verifiable predictions. We look for gravity waves because they are predicted by General Relativity. Experimental test of each prediction lies at the heart of science, and provides evidence for the validity of a theory. Of course, if a theory fails to predict the right result that shows that it is not right (although that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone accepts the evidence). Having made a candidate theory we test as many aspects of the theory as possible, indeed in an ideal world the theory and experiment work together.

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Read up on the scientific method and the philosophy of science, because honestly, you don't have a clue.

A personal attack spoken like a true armchair critic. Sorry I did not respond earlier but I was presenting at an international physics conference.

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Let's apply science right now! Your assumption is that science works the way you think it works.

Okay.

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You're done.

I am never done, but please, continue.

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But if your assumption is false, you will eventually come to discover contradictory evidence. And that way lies learning.

I agree. Therefore I posted a Paul Davies quote, as an example of evidence which contradicts atheism. If you want to learn is up to you.

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You see? Only trying to prove your theory wrong is motivation to research.

There are many reasons to research. One (mine) is the pure facination at discovering new and exciting things... pushing the boundaries. A positive result is good. A negative result is better. Both have value and cannot be ignored. I love seeing the pieces falling into place, even when I am not the one doing it.

I would love to come up with a valid explanation of high T superconductivity, or to unify general relativity and QFT. I'd like to explain entanglement quantitatively find a new quantum algorithm and find experimental tests to determine some of the deeper mysteries, like is the universe deterministic, which interpretation (if any) interpretations of quantum mechanics is correct. I find these problems fascinating.

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If you assume your theory is right, then (assuming it already agrees with everything you know or you wouldn't believe that theory to begin with) you don't need to do anything.

Exactly. You should not assume atheism should not be tested on the basis of a heuristic like Ockham's razor. I am constantly challenging my beliefs, and am always willing to. Why aren't you?

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If you are going to use God as an argument against Scientology.

I did not. I might in a group of people (with my muslim friends for example) who like me, believe in God, but in an audience who do not accept such evidence, it's not very tactful or useful to do.

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If you claim that the age of a religion is a good way to judge the validity of a religion, then a logical refutation on my part would be to find a religion that you consider valid and ask how age is a factor.

I'm sorry? Do you perhaps mean invalid? I think that beliefs have to be self-consistent over time. If you do not agree then feel free to say so.

Phew! That's was a lot to write! There is evidence, and some is put so eloquently by Paul Davies. But instead of examining the valid evidence, your resort is to word games to try to justify the strange position upon which your whole deck of cards appears to rest: That negative assumptions cannot be proved. These assumptions can be both proved and disproved on the basis of evidence. I gave many such examples. Atheism is based on unjustified assumptions, and these should be subject to criticism, not accepted without evidence.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible, perfect engines, perfect fridges, there is no quantum cloning, Fermions cannot occupy the same state, there is no information which travels faster than the speed of light

Prove it. You'll find that you can't for each of those claims for various reasons (assuming you're even bothering to try).

For the claim "X does not exist" where X is a concrete object (such as a perpetual motion machine, a perfect engine, etc.), you cannot know this without examining the entire universe to be sure there isn't one somewhere. (And no, before you say that you can show that it's impossible for it to exist, I have to point out that in that case you're not trying to show that the concrete object does not exist, you're trying to show that it cannot exist, ie, that a theory is correct, which is the next point.)

For the claim "X cannot exist" or "X cannot happen" (quantum cloning, FTL information), you can only "know" this to be true if you assume the theory that predicts that X cannot exist is correct. But since you can never be sure that the theory is correct (unless you are God himself, of course), then you can never be sure that X does not exist.

Yes, you can be reasonably sure that something does not exist. There are many different ways that you can do that. You can be reasonably sure there were no Playstations in Sumeria in ancient times, because all of what we know suggests the Sumerians did not and could not have them. You can be reasonably sure there are no perfectly efficient heat engines, because theory that has stood up to decades (soon to be centuries) of observation shows them to be impossible.

But you cannot prove either claim. And no, I'm not talking about perfect and absolute proof. I'm just talking about proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not unreasonable to admit that a scientific theory may not be true, even while accepting it to be so. It is not unreasonable to assume that a thing might exist outside of the limited time and space humans have explored so far (particularly given the minute amount of time and space that we have explored, relative to the actual amount of time and space known to exist so far). Being reasonably sure does not mean that there are no reasonable doubts.

You seem to think that I am some kind of crank making silly claims that things like perpetual motion machines are possible. I did not say that. All I have said - repeatedly - is that it you cannot prove that they are impossible. This is not a fringe belief or some wacky justification for nonsense pseudoscience. From Wikipedia: "Scientists and engineers accept the possibility that the current understanding of the laws of physics may be incomplete or incorrect; a perpetual motion device may not be impossible, but overwhelming evidence would be required to justify rewriting the laws of physics." That is, in essence, what I've been saying. A thing may be highly unlikely, but it is a huge leap from unlikely to impossible.

How can you, as a scientist, assert that your knowledge is perfect? How can you say that you know that current scientific theory is both correct and true? Because to prove a negative, you have to assert one or both of those wild claims.

nopaniers wrote:
it is impossible to make a measurement without disturbing a system, but there is no violation of conservation of momentum or energy

These are not really negative statements. You're just rewording them in an attempt to prove your point. They are "measurements always affect the measured systems" and "momentum and/or energy is always conserved". (And anyway, neither of these can be proven, they can only be disproven. You claim they are proven because you assume the theory that predicts those claims is correct... but how can you know that the theory is correct? You can't know any scientific theory is correct. You can only assume it is until presented with conflicting evidence. Any responsible scientist will tell you that.)

A negative statement is one that is always negative. "X does not exist" for example, cannot be written positively. "X is non-existent" is still negative. So is "X is impossible".

nopaniers wrote:
and it is not possible to tell the difference between acceleration and gravity.

*blink* What?

It is impossible to tell the difference between acceleration due to gravity and any other kind of acceleration. That's why we assume there is no difference between inertial and gravitational mass. But acceleration is acceleration and gravity is gravity. Although gravity causes acceleration, the two are most certainly different. Are you sure you worded that correctly?

nopaniers wrote:
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Does anyone else here read that quote as not saying Acts is fiction?

Doherty is not the consensus, and even he admits that most historians disagree with him. His whole thesis is that Jesus didn't exist (and therefore he has to maintain that many primary sources are wrong). To portray his view as consensus just shows that you are either badly read, or extremely biased. His view has been effectively refuted by mainstream historians, whose books on the topic I gave links to.

This has nothing to do with Doherty, it has to do with Acts being fiction (and your very odd assertion that a website that claims Acts is fiction somehow proves that Acts is true). (Also odd is the idea that you refuse to consider any of Doherty's points because you believe he was not objective, yet you readily accept word of the bible although written by entirely non-objective people for completely and openly non-scholarly purposes. Whether or not Doherty is objective and his writings academically valid is certainly up for debate. But the bible is most assuredly not about objectivity or academic validity.)

Acts contradicts the gospels and Paul's own letters. It also contradicts itself, but let's not worry about that for now. If the gospels really are first-hand eyewitness accounts, and Acts contradicts some or all of them, then logically Acts must be the one that is wrong, correct? (Of course, Acts doesn't contradict Luke.) Of course, the gospels all contradict each other, but that's another story. For now, if the assertion is that the gospels are all true, and thus they really don't contradict each other, then anything that contradicts them must be false. Thus Acts is false. Likewise the writings of Paul. If Acts contradicts what Paul himself wrote, isn't Paul most likely correct (assuming he wasn't out of touch with reality)? Thus, again, Acts is false.

nopaniers wrote:
First you say:
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I asked how you came to believe in God without religion.

I answered, giving similar arguments by Davies to my thoughts. Then, ironically, you say:
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How is this of relevance to a discussion of Scientology?

Instead of examining the evidence you try to change the subject. Why is that?

Because I didn't know that it was evidence, or what it was evidence for. I still don't. We were (at least I was) discussing Scientology, and that other religions cannot be used to judge Scientology because they all make leaps of faith that cannot be proven. You claimed that your belief in God was not a leap of faith, and was not dictated by any religion. And then you provided that link, with no real context provided - saying nothing more than that I should find it "interesting".

I tried and could find no real thread that linked that article to our discussion. Now that I know the context you provided it with, and what you think it brings to your argument, I can answer to it.

It is utterly irrelevant to our discussion.

First, it is most certainly not proof. Davies himself admits that this is just what he chooses to believe because he finds it to be the most comfortable and parsimonious explanation. He certainly isn't claiming that it is proof of anything.

Second, it doesn't answer the question I asked. I didn't ask how you came to believe in "God", I asked how you came to believe in God - your God - if not by religion. Perhaps the problem here is that we shouldn't be using God as a proper name, because you are confusing the concept of god with the being God. It is one thing to believe in or accept the concept of God, because there are many different concepts of God, it is quite another to believe in your particular God. That's why Muslims prefer to use Allah instead of God - to prevent confusion between the God of Islamic beliefs and the general, varying concept(s) of God. Perhaps we should use the proper name יהוה, YHWH or Yahweh for the God the being, and God for God the concept. If you don't like that name, you can feel free to pick another.

So I am not asking why you believe in God. God is a nebulous concept that takes many forms. Even Scientologists beleive in a god-concept, albeit one in opposition to yours - they just believe that they are gods themselves.

I am asking why you believe in Yahweh, your god. How did you come to believe that God is the things you think he is, the things that make him Yahweh and not Allah or some other god concept, if not by religion?

nopaniers wrote:
The universe is ordered, with only small changes in the fundamental physical constants meaning that universe cannot support life. How do you explain this contradiction to atheism?

It is not a contradiction.

nopaniers wrote:
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Why did you bring up God in a Scientology thread, if not as part of an argument to disparage Scientology?

It was the answer to PP's question, why follow any religion, or even follow.

Yes, you said that you don't follow a religion, you follow God. If you do follow a religion, you cannot argue that another religion is nonsense without being a hypocrite. Everything since has been largely trying to determine how you came to follow God without religion. It's just been amazingly difficult and frustrating getting a straight, logical answer out of you.

If you want to abandon the rest of the discussion and just answer the main points, I would be very happy with that. They are:
1.) Define what you beleive about God. What is God?
2.) Show how those beliefs are logical and does not come from religion.

If you can do that, then your original criticisms of Scientology are valid. If not, then you cannot criticize one religion while subscribing to another. It's as simple as that.

nopaniers wrote:
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So. How did you go from "In the absence of any information... they are all equally likely... they are all identical" to "No, you do have some way to determine which one is true and which is not (despite the absence of information), and they're not equally likely."?

Because we do not have an absence of information. For example, we see that the universe is ordered, that life exists, that mathematics works... As I have repeatedly said, the way to make a rational choice is to examine the evidence.

And as I have repeatedly requested: show that evidence.

nopaniers wrote:
Deists believe that God exists. The name deism was even chosen to make this clear. However, they maintain that reason is the only way to know about God. Many (but not all) deists believe that God is impersonal and does not intervene in the universe. Therefore, yes, deists share my belief in God. A belief in God and a belief that God doesn't exist are mutually exclusive.

There is a difference in our beliefs about the specific nature of God. Deists and I share the common belief that the existence of God is a rational and logical conclusion, and that religion and God are separate things. In this I agree with deists absolutely, and can only assume you disagree.

I do not disagree. But here again, you are hiding behind the vagueness of the terms. Deists believe that God exists, not Yahweh.

If you are implying that deists believe in the same God as Christians (or other Judaistic religions), then yes, I strongly disagree. The Christian God is conscious and aware, separate from the universe, impossible to detect logically and/or rationally and directly involved in human affairs. The range of deist beliefs include Gods that aren't even conscious and/or aware, Gods that are a part of the universe or the universe itself, detectable and logically deductable Gods and Gods that do not involve themselves in the affairs of the universe at all.

Theism and atheism are mutually exclusive beliefs, but deism can overlap with both. Contrary to your assertion, atheism in general does not state that God does not exist. Some versions of atheism assert that, some don't. Some merely say we don't know for sure. It is quite possible to say, for example, that you believe the universe is a conscious entity that dictates karma even while you say there is no evidence for that and it may not be true. That would make you an atheist and a deist.

nopaniers wrote:
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... somehow proves to you that Einstein believes in the God of your religion.

I said that Einstein was a deist and that he believed in God, not an atheist.

Assuming Einstein "believed" in God, it would not be Yahweh. He was quite clear and explicit about that.

What he was vague on was exactly what God is. As best I can tell, he believed there was no conscious, controlling entity. Rather, he seemed to believe that the universe itself was so complex and beautiful that it was as if it was an entity itself. The evidence he had of that belief was his own senses and knowledge of science, both of which he often admitted were fallible.

So, in essence, he was probably a deist, because he thought that God should be observable and knowable. He was probably a pantheist, because he thought of the universe itself as God. But he was also probably an atheist because he wasn't sure that any of that is true, and was actively seeking to know.

nopaniers wrote:
Induction is an obvious counter-example. You do not need to search the entire universe to check every case.

Indiction is nothing near proof of anything. It is merely a means to arrive at a conclusion, not a method of determining whether or not that conclusion is correct.

In order to prove that your inductive leap is correct, yes, you do have to observe every case in the entire universe.

nopaniers wrote:
Machines which violate conservation of energy do not exist. If you want, you can maintain that its just some flawed theory, but your view you would differ with every physicist, and hopefully everybody reading this.

I am not maintaining that such devices exist, or that any scientific theory is flawed. You are putting words in my mouth. I am stating that you cannot know that they don't exist without some measure of faith in the theory.

No responsible physicist would say any theory is certainly true. There is always a chance that the theory will be disproven. That is true for every theory, regardless of whether you would like to admit it or not. It is entirely possible that conservation of energy will be shown to be only correct in certain cases - just like Newton's laws of motion were shown to be only a special case of Einstein's.

Because the theory that rules out systems that do not conserve energy is not guaranteed to be true, it is not proof that such systems do not exist.

nopaniers wrote:
Physics is the reason I say that such proofs are possible, because as a working physicist I see and use them every day.

How can you claim to be a physicist and deny that theories are not proof? Surely you know that theories get disproven over and over throughout history. The nature of a scientific theory requires that it be disprovable. Given that, how can you use a theory as proof of anything?

If a theory states that X is not possible, that does not mean that X is really not possible, you know. At least, not unless that theory is true. And you can't know that the theory is true. That is a fundamental tenet of science. (Please tell me you don't deny that. -_-) You can never know a theory is true. You can only know it is false (after contradictory evidence has been found).

nopaniers wrote:
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If you assume your theory is right, then (assuming it already agrees with everything you know or you wouldn't believe that theory to begin with) you don't need to do anything.

Exactly. You should not assume atheism should not be tested on the basis of a heuristic like Ockham's razor. I am constantly challenging my beliefs, and am always willing to. Why aren't you?

I never said "atheism" should not be tested. That makes no sense anyway. What do you think atheism means? Replace atheism with theism in that sentence and you'll see how little sense it makes.

What I said was that you cannot prove God doesn't exist. Test all you want. You'll just be wasting your time, though, because even if you test for a thousand years without finding God, it can still be claimed that God exists (such as has been the case for the last couple of thousand years). Of course, if you do find God, then you have proven he does exist. And despite your claim, I would like to know.

nopaniers wrote:
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If you claim that the age of a religion is a good way to judge the validity of a religion, then a logical refutation on my part would be to find a religion that you consider valid and ask how age is a factor.

I'm sorry? Do you perhaps mean invalid?

No, I meant valid. For example, if you consider Christianity valid I have to ask why the fact that it is 2000 years old is a factor in determining its validity. And if age is not a factor, then the fact that Scientology is young shouldn't be used as an argument against its validity.

nopaniers wrote:
Phew! That's was a lot to write! There is evidence, and some is put so eloquently by Paul Davies. But instead of examining the valid evidence, your resort is to word games to try to justify the strange position upon which your whole deck of cards appears to rest: That negative assumptions cannot be proved. These assumptions can be both proved and disproved on the basis of evidence. I gave many such examples. Atheism is based on unjustified assumptions, and these should be subject to criticism, not accepted without evidence.

Ok, first, that Paul Davies article had no point other than a laundry list of what Paul Davies believes and why. None of that is relevant here. If he had offered objective proof, then certainly that would be valid since that is what I was asking for, but he did not, and he was quite clear about that.

Second, I'm still waiting on valid evidence.

Third, you still can't prove a negative on evidence because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

And finally, I have no idea where you got the notion that I think atheism is true and/or beyond testing or criticism. Atheism comes in many forms - just like theism - and yes, some of them do make unjustified assumptions. When did I say otherwise? The hell does atheism have to do with anything in a discussion about using Christianity to judge Scientology anyway?

Honestly, all I'm after - all I've been after since the start - is straight answers to two questions.
1.) What exactly do you believe is the nature of God?
2.) How did you arrive at that conclusion without religion?
nopaniers
What a broadside against believing science that was. You're free to not believe science if you don't want to. Nobody, least of all me, will force you to believe things which can be disproven and are only true on the basis repeated experiment. You can retreat into your world of triangles which become squares (just showing you misunderstand the concept of continuity and limits) and word games. For myself, like all scientists, I will base my beliefs on evidence and believe in God.

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Prove it.


The thermodyanics proofs can be found in any first year textbook (and indeed many high-school textbooks). I suggest Halliday, Resnick and Walker.

A simple proof of the impossiblity of quantum cloning is given here: http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=VIRT04000005000011000014000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=Yes
from which I quote:
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The impossibility of perfectly copying (or cloning) an unknown quantum state is one of the basic rules governing the physics of quantum systems.

For a textbook, I suggest Nielsen and Chuang (Chapter 1).

That fermions cannot occupy the same state, see any introduction to quantum mechanics, for example, Sakurai (in my humble opinion the best), Sankar or Griffiths. If you are more adventurous read Dirac, or the Feynman lectures.

That there is no information that can travel faster than the speed of light, I suggest, again any decent first year textbook will point out the experimental evidence supporting special relativity.

While you're about can I humbly suggest you pick up a book on real analysis or better on differential geometry? I'd suggest Isham. That will properly explain the concept of limits (ie. your zero area triangles) and continuity (that a limit is not necessarily the value of a function at a given point). That will stop you looking silly by saying that triangles are the same as squares.

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For the claim "X cannot exist" or "X cannot happen" (quantum cloning, FTL information), you can only "know" this to be true if you assume the theory that predicts that X cannot exist is correct.


I don't assume. I base my beliefs on repeatable experimental evidence. I did not (for example) believe special relativity before I saw the predictions it made about muon lifetimes. I am not interested in such pedantic proofs beyond any doubt at all. As I said at the start of this discussion that such proofs were impossible and you were insulted that I even suggested that you wanted that type of absolute proof. As you said:
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I hope you're not implying that's how I work.
. Now you are berating me for not providing such an impossible proof, and only one beyond reasonable doubt on the scientific basis of repeatable experiment.

As I have repeatedly said, both science and God can be disproved. But, despite incomplete knowledge, I believe in them both. I do that on the basis of evidence.

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I'm just talking about proof beyond a reasonable doubt.


Is it reasonable to doubt conservation of energy or momentum? No. Do you think that it's reasonable to doubt that Sumerians had Playstations? No. Repeatable scientific experiment and historical evidence (and I do like Sumarian things) gives me the basis to believe these things.

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You seem to think that I am some kind of crank making silly claims that things like perpetual motion machines are possible.


I am arguing that it is not reasonable to believe that perpetual motion machines on the basis of experimental evidence. You are disagreeing. That sounds pretty crank-like to me. What am I meant to think? It certainly appears to me that you are hanging yourself out to dry...

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"Scientists and engineers accept the possibility that the current understanding of the laws of physics may be incomplete or incorrect; a perpetual motion device may not be impossible, but overwhelming evidence would be required to justify rewriting the laws of physics."

Yes. We have overwhelming experimental evidence to support the conservation of energy. To maintain that it is not proven beyond reasonable doubt, well that's a position which comes from "wacky pseudoscience" as you put it.

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How can you, as a scientist, assert that your knowledge is perfect?

I have repeatedly and explicitly said that my knowledge is incomplete.

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How can you say that you know that current scientific theory is both correct and true?

On the basis of repeatable controlled experiment.

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First, it is most certainly not proof.


It is not proof there is a God, but evidence that there is. You have been waxing lyrical about how good scientific method is to find contradictions to your belief. Here is a simple contradiction to atheism.

The universe is ordered. It has very carefully chosen fundamental parameters which, if varied even slightly, would make it impossible for life An atheist has no reason to believe that this should be the case. In fact, no reason to believe that the universe should exist at all. But in contrast to this we see that the universe does exist. It is carefully ordered. It is neither completely chaotic or static. Why should the fundamental parameters of universe be carefully chosen for an atheist?

Science abounds with such wonderful "coincidences". All carefully measured and documented (in some cases by my friends). It's a really facinating place, much more so than any fiction book.

You can obviously shrug your shoulders and say: Don't know. Don't care. Not relevant... But then it's always just possible to be ignorant in this way. Morley can. Denial is just great.

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If you do follow a religion, you cannot argue that another religion is nonsense without being a hypocrite.

What an unbelievable statement. Trying to shut people up unless they agree with your unjustified assumptions.

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Everything since has been largely trying to determine how you came to follow God without religion.

I have simply been responding to your questions. You may not believe that I did come to believe in God without reference to religion. That is your own choice. All I can do is simpy state the truth, and I will.

To answer your questions as clearly as I can (feel free to ask if I am not being absolutely plain):

God is the creator of the universe.

How did I arrive at that conclusion? By weighing up the evidence. I have started to introduce such evidence and am still waiting for your response...

How did I come to believe that Yahweh, the God of the Jews and Christians, is God? I came to that belief through reading of the bible and text surrounding it. I believe on the basis of evidence and faith that it is true. To give you an personal account:

I was stuck (as many people are) on nihilism, or at least a form of it. It is extremely depressing to be. What is the point of life, when no matter what I do, I will die. It's all just physical laws anyway... even randomness doesn't imply anything. People forget me. I will become dust and fade away. The world will continue on and on and on. The sun will fade away and all will be gone. More than that, what is there new that I can possibly do? Sure. I make a million dollars, or come up with a new theory. Or... more like me... I could write a computer program. But then what? And why?

To my surprise, I happened (sorry if I can't remember why) to read Ecclesiates. Not only was it not full of angels and demons, heaven and hell and other things I assumed... it was fundamentally honest about the condition we were in. To my surprise, it didn't sugar coat the issue like I assumed it would, and even more of a surprise, it was written by a real person who had similar thoughts to mine and thousands of years ago. Amazingly it was still relevant to my life. I was facinated and had to read more.

I think that was the first time I read the Bible without assuming that it was a fairy tale. To my surprise, it contained real people... with real characters real personality. I was particularly taken by the politics when Jesus was arrested and executed. I wondered why nobody had ever told me the bible was about real people before.

I was so well aware that I was not God, that I was not perfect, not immortal, not a superhuman. I could not even keep to my own standards... this too was not only echoed, it was a central theme.

To cut a long story short I became a Christian. I believe in God. I believe that Yahweh is God. Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day.

I would not normally tell people this so bluntly, and am only doing so because you asked. If you want to know more then ask more. As I say, I am more than willing to challenge my beliefs because I believe them to be true. You the opportunity to talk about your real concerns (instead of resorting to triangles with four sides). So go for it!

So there we have it. A defence of science, rather than that perpetual motion machines, a clear counter example to atheism, which is still waiting for some explanation other than ignorance... and a confession of faith just sitting there waiting for you. What a fun post it is Smile
HoboPelican
nopaniers wrote
Quote:

The universe is ordered. It has very carefully chosen fundamental parameters which, if varied even slightly, would make it impossible for life An atheist has no reason to believe that this should be the case. In fact, no reason to believe that the universe should exist at all. But in contrast to this we see that the universe does exist. It is carefully ordered. It is neither completely chaotic or static. Why should the fundamental parameters of universe be carefully chosen for an atheist?


Just thinking out loud here, but any universe where the fundamental parameters didn't allow for life wouldn't have anyone around to debate the issues. That doesn't seem to be evidence of god-like design, just the only situation that allows the discussion.

Anywy, is it really that important to justify a belief in God? To me it seems that faith by nature does not require proof.
Soulfire
I agree with the "faith by nature" statement previously said. My priest once told me, a man has only two things: the Bible, and his faith. He also went on about how he wished he could take a video camera back to the day of Jesus and show people the wonders, but that's not quite feasible.

Anyway, I don't see the reason for all this debate and clashing of religions, or lack of religion. Why do we need to justify our belief in God? He can neither be proven nor dismissed, so does it really matter what I believe compared to what you believe?

In my life, God and Jesus give me happiness and spiritual balance, that's what I seek and have found. If you don't want it, you don't have to have it.

Besides, I could show you the overwhelming amount of proof of existence of God, but will it really change your thoughts? And besides, faith in God isn't something you should be forced into, but something you choose in your heart. Merely saying a prayer, or professing by mouth doesn't mean much, you have to believe inside.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
As I have repeatedly said, both science and God can be disproved. But, despite incomplete knowledge, I believe in them both. I do that on the basis of evidence.

Finally a clear answer. -_-

So you still claim that it is not possible to disprove the existence of God? Care to share how that could be done? Can I finally get a clear answer to that?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
How can you, as a scientist, assert that your knowledge is perfect?

I have repeatedly and explicitly said that my knowledge is incomplete.

No, you haven't. You have repeatedly asserted that everything you know is completely logical, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt by "evidence" (yet to be seen, unless your comment about the values of physical parameters is evidence) - even your belief in God.

nopaniers wrote:
It is not proof there is a God, but evidence that there is. You have been waxing lyrical about how good scientific method is to find contradictions to your belief. Here is a simple contradiction to atheism.

The universe is ordered. It has very carefully chosen fundamental parameters which, if varied even slightly, would make it impossible for life An atheist has no reason to believe that this should be the case. In fact, no reason to believe that the universe should exist at all. But in contrast to this we see that the universe does exist. It is carefully ordered. It is neither completely chaotic or static. Why should the fundamental parameters of universe be carefully chosen for an atheist?

Science abounds with such wonderful "coincidences". All carefully measured and documented (in some cases by my friends). It's a really facinating place, much more so than any fiction book.

You can obviously shrug your shoulders and say: Don't know. Don't care. Not relevant... But then it's always just possible to be ignorant in this way. Morley can. Denial is just great.

HoboPelican beat me to the first answer, although I can expand on it.

Imagine you have a bomb in front of you that is about to go off. There are a thousand wires, and all but one of them, if cut, will set off the bomb. So you take your cutters and snip - and the bomb doesn't go off.

Now, you can sit and think, "What power guided my hand to defeat such incredible odds? The chance was ridiculously low, so some higher force must have been watching over me to keep me safe."

Or you can sit and think, "Well, damn, that was freaking lucky," and note that if you had not cut the right wire, you wouldn't be around to think up the idea that God had guided you to cut the right one.

Saying that the fact that physical constants have precisely the right values to support life because God made them that way is speculation. If the values had been anything else, you wouldn't be able to speculate. In fact, it is impossible for the values to be anything else, and still be able to make your speculation. That is not proof of God. It is not proof of anything. (Speculation about) God is more likely a result of the parameters being what they are than vice versa.

nopaniers wrote:
How did I come to believe that Yahweh, the God of the Jews and Christians, is God? I came to that belief through reading of the bible and text surrounding it. I believe on the basis of evidence and faith that it is true.

So... you didn't come to believe in God by religion... you did it... by religion? You took your evidence from a religious text... you have faith that that religious text is true... but... that's not religion?

You might want to clarify. Because I've still seen no objective evidence that led you to believe in Yahweh. The best you've offered is an illogical post hoc rationalization of the universal constants, which is hardly novel, and hardly evidence of anything.
nopaniers
Quote:
Just thinking out loud here, but any universe where the fundamental parameters didn't allow for life wouldn't have anyone around to debate the issues.


Yes. That is called the anthropic principle. That's the sort of argument that used to keep me awake at night when I was thinking about it. My thoughts about it go: It involves blind faith in an infinite or extremely large number of universes each with their own set of different physical constants. We have no reason to believe that such universes exist... and eventually you have to ask yourself: Why am I building up such massive set of unproven assumptions just to justify a belief in atheism?

Quote:
Anywy, is it really that important to justify a belief in God? To me it seems that faith by nature does not require proof.


True enough. I'm a geek and like to think that my thoughts are ordered and logical even when they may not be.
HoboPelican
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Just thinking out loud here, but any universe where the fundamental parameters didn't allow for life wouldn't have anyone around to debate the issues.

... it involves blind faith in an infinite or extremely large number of universes each with their own set of different physical constants. We have no reason to believe that such universes exist... and eventually you have to ask yourself: Why am I building up such massive set of unproven assumptions just to justify a belief in atheism?


I don't follow your reasoning there. I'm not building a "massive set of unproven assumptions", I'm simply saying if the conditions didn't happen to be conducive to life, we woudn't be here to discuss it. I think you were the one holding up the delicate balance of physical constants as evidence for a creator. Personally, I don't think the ordering of the universe is an argument either way.

And thanks, Indi, for the amplification of my simple statement. Good example.

And, BTW nopaniers, you shouldn't assume I'm an athiest or arguing for it.
I'm not one to share my personal beliefs easily. And I don't think arguments make converts, examples do.
nopaniers
HoboPelican wrote:
I don't follow your reasoning there. I'm not building a "massive set of unproven assumptions", I'm simply saying if the conditions didn't happen to be conducive to life, we woudn't be here to discuss it.


The logical conclusion if you assume there is no God (not that I'm saying you do) is that we shouldn't exist at all. If the physical constants were just random (in other words, not ordered in any way or for any reason) then there is practically no chance for the conditions of life to form. You can perhaps hold that it is just a such a massive coincidence... but I don't believe in massive coincidences. If the universe is rational there should be an explanation why such an unlikely event happens.

In biology you can appeal to evolution, for example, to make the unlikely event of man existing understandable. But you can't make an arguement like that for the mass and charge of an electron, or Planck's constant... These are fundamental properties of our universe.

So therefore some people, as Steven Hawking says, explain this by calling for multiple universes resort to the strong antropic principle. To quote from A Brief History of Time:
Steven Hawking wrote:
There are either many different universes, or many regions of the same universe, each with it's own initial configuration and perhaps its own version of science.

And he goes on to conclude, like I do, that the beaty of the universe is either evidence of such multiple universes, or there is divine creation.

Quote:
And, BTW nopaniers, you shouldn't assume I'm an athiest or arguing for it. I'm not one to share my personal beliefs easily.


My apologies. I was the atheist in that sentence... and I'm not trying to make converts, actually all I was doing was defending my view that religion and God are not the same thing, but it has kind of got out of hand.
mike1reynolds
There is a scientific basis for belief in God based on a combination of entropy, quantum physics, dynamical systems theory, mathematics and computer science theory.

(1) Maxfield proved 150 years ago that entropy is the result of bit transfers at the atomic level.

(2) Quantum computers are based on using mechanisms already operating in the universe. The universe is already a quantum computer.

(3) Associative Memory Theory in mathematics has proven that all matrix operations form a "bidirectional associative memory mechanism".

(4) In quantum physics the interaction between all particles in the universe forms a matrix operation via each of the four fundamental forces of the universe.

(5) Dynamical systems theory proves that chaotic systems self-organize.

At the atomic level the universe is a vast neural network. The assertion that this neural network could not have self-organized has no evidence to support it, whereas there is ample theoretical evidence to support the assertion that it must have self-organized.
HoboPelican
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I don't follow your reasoning there. I'm not building a "massive set of unproven assumptions", I'm simply saying if the conditions didn't happen to be conducive to life, we woudn't be here to discuss it.


The logical conclusion if you assume there is no God .... is that we shouldn't exist at all. If the physical constants were just random (in other words, not ordered in any way or for any reason) then there is practically no chance for the conditions of life to form. You can perhaps hold that it is just a such a massive coincidence... but I don't believe in massive coincidences. If the universe is rational there should be an explanation why such an unlikely event happens.


Hmm. I guess I don't see the need for massive coincidence. If the current cosmological parameters are required for a stable universe to exist, well, it's the only way we can exist to observe it and marvel at it's complexity. I'm not even considering alternate universes with other physical laws. If they exist, I'm sure beings in those universes are having the same dispute Smile

So, I see no logical roadblock to our existing without a creator. Almost every step from the big bang up to the evolution of humans can be explained through various laws and physical processes.

Not very uplifting, maybe, but quite logical.

On the other hand, an almighty creator could have set the whole thing in motion at the big bang, arranging the primordial matter with exactly this reality in mind. Smile
The Philosopher Princess
I’m disappointed that I couldn’t keep our herd Wink within the realm of mostly religion (and/or science). But that’s life, so now I’ll deal with it!

I realize that I started this war and religion contrast but I had the philosophy of the matters in mind rather than the facts of the current world matters in mind. We were dooomed as soon as the four-letter-words (starting with B and I) started coming out. Smile

Since it’s not going to be fair for Soulfire to follow my discussion request, given HoboPelican’s recent post, I’m going to split out the war stuff to a new thread over here. Any war stuff will be moved over there. And, after all, it’s going to work out totally hunkily dorily. Over there, we’ll all be freer to say what we want on this subject. See ya! Very Happy
NemoySpruce
Greetings fellow frihosters... it took me the better part of the day, but i read the entire thread. and i must say, it is very informative. I just realized that I am sort of a Catholic based Deist Very Happy I believe in God, but I think he made rules for our reality to exist, and he doesnt mess with it. I think he interacts with us, but he follows the laws which he set.

A basic definition of religion is ''belief in supernatural being/s' ... it is unproductive to defend/argue (prove/disprove) religious beliefs using a scientific framework. By definition, religion only exists outside science. If you were in a dark room carrying a candle, science is the light from your candle, religion is everything that is in the dark..... (read more) i posted the rest on my frihost site (its not finished but comments/criticisms are welcome) I didnt want to clutter up this excellent thread....
Nisk
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
nopaniers wrote:
There's no way I could follow a religion whose founder said that... and the second a religion starts asking for money, I have real problems.

That's good, but why would you want to follow any religion!?

In fact, why would you want to follow!?

Why not, instead, be your own person, and figure things out using your own mind?


I totaly agree. Every person should have their religion to themselves if any.
I also dont like the way people parade their religion ( it is suposed to be a private personal thing) Instead people go on the streets, sometimes killing for "God". People like muslims are, well this should give you an idea:
http://www.killsometime.com/animations/animation.asp?ID=152

Nisk.
nopaniers
My apologies for the late reply, I've been a little busy.

Indi wrote:
So you still claim that it is not possible to disprove the existence of God? Care to share how that could be done? Can I finally get a clear answer to that?


I have repeatedly said that both science and the existence of God could be (in theory) be disproved. I believe that God exists, so I don't think that you will be able to do that, although as always I'm willing to listen. I would humbly suggest that your best way is to become as you can and to examine the evidence for and against. I don't think you should go into these things trying to prove or disprove, but by being willing to admit when you are wrong, and examining the evidence on its merits as best you can.

Indi wrote:
You have repeatedly asserted that everything you know is completely logical, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt by "evidence"


It is possible to draw logical conclusions from incomplete information. All of science, and almost everybody's life, is based on that concept.

Indi wrote:
HoboPelican beat me to the first answer, although I can expand on it.


Wheeler proposed an oscillating universe (with singularities) which is obviously a massive bite of faith for anyone to take. Or you could go with a more complex version of Everett's many world's interpretation (allowing not only for the traditional many worlds splitting at interactions, but an infinite number of possible physical constants). I have real problems with these explanations on many levels.

It seems strange to me that that you've now abandoned parsimony and Ockham's razor in favour of the strong anthropic principle. Why?

There is no reason, from an atheists point of view (or indeed from the anthropic principle) to explain why our one and only universe should be set up so well. You have to, like you did, throw up your hands and say "Oh well. We just managed to fluke it." Out of the many trillions of possible configurations (or wires to cut if you like) we just happened to cut all the many wires in exactly the right order. Like most scientists, I don't believe in coincidences, particularly not ones that unlikely.

The anthropic principle does not explain the coincidence. Causation happens forwards not backwards. Take your example, after cutting all the many wires in the correct order, and not setting off the bomb, I am still surprised. Not surprised that I am dead (which I can obviously never measure, as the anthropic principle says) but surprised I have managed to cut them all in the right order. There is no reason to believe that I should still be alive at all. And if someone smart like Hawking sits down and works out the that the probability of me being cutting the wires is one in 10^60, and Penrose calculates on top of that I have to cut another set of wires where the probability of passing is one part in 10^8... then I think it is much more likely that it is not just chance, and there is a more rational explanation... like for example that the bomb is a dud.

You could misuse the anthropic principle to ignore evolution as well if you want. And say... well... there's no reason to believe evolution. I can explain the amazing fluke that man exists (and can think) simply by invoking the antropic principle.

Indi wrote:
So... you didn't come to believe in God by religion...


No. As I have said I believed in God before I became a Christian.

Indi wrote:
You took your evidence from a religious text... you have faith that that religious text is true... but... that's not religion?


I think that religion can teach you about God, but is not God.

As an atheist I had more problems with not believing in God than that. I had no reason to believe that the universe should be ordered, but also no reason to believe that anything should exist at all. Why time and space exist? Why anything? As an atheist I had no good reason to believe that anything should exist, and was constantly surprised that anything did. Do you have a valid explanation for why anything exists at all?

Indi wrote:
You might want to clarify. Because I've still seen no objective evidence that led you to believe in Yahweh.


True. I'm not a very preachy person. Would you like me to explain why I think that Yahweh is God?

HoboPelican wrote:
Not very uplifting, maybe, but quite logical.


Logical: it's true, but very uplifting.
nopaniers
Nisk wrote:
People like muslims are...


It's not funny, it's hateful and offensive... and would be more effective if its criticism of how muslims treat women wasn't surrounded by degrading advertisements for pornography sites.
The Philosopher Princess
nopaniers wrote:
Would you like me to explain why I think that Yahweh is God?

Yes, please! Smile

nopaniers wrote:
I have repeatedly said that both science and the existence of God could be (in theory) be disproved.

nopaniers, did you mistakenly include “science” in there? Otherwise, please explain what that part means. I wanted to get to another question but I wanted to understand that first.
nopaniers
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Yes, please! Smile


Okay, I will when I get some time to sit down for a while (most probably at the weekend sometime). I just wanted to answer the second question first:

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
nopaniers, did you mistakenly include “science” in there?


Scientific hypothesis can certainly be disproven. To disprove science (or the existence of God) is done on the basis of experimental evidence. At the end of last century, we were quite happy that all the big questions of physics were solved. It led to a fair bit of complacency. But then along comes Planck (doing something as simple as quantifying the power of light bulbs). He introduces quantum mechanics for the first time, which flys in the face of classical theory. Einstein introduced general relativity, showing that our established concepts of gravity and even space and time are only approximations to a more exact theory. Over the course of the last century we've collected large amounts of experimental data in support of these theories. Of course, these two theories don't appear to be the final thing because general relativity is incompatable (as far as we know) with quantum mechanics and combining them leads to all sorts of infinities which are difficult to get rid of... and so you can expect more refinement in the future.

The existence of God too is a hypothesis which can be (conceivably) disproved, as can any hypothesis. Christians, like scientists, willingly admit that they cannot absolutely prove everything (in the sense of a mathematical proof). As I'm sure you know well, faith is a big topic and discussed a lot in Christian writings, not least by Paul.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
So you still claim that it is not possible to disprove the existence of God? Care to share how that could be done? Can I finally get a clear answer to that?


I have repeatedly said that both science and the existence of God could be (in theory) be disproved. I believe that God exists, so I don't think that you will be able to do that, although as always I'm willing to listen. I would humbly suggest that your best way is to become as you can and to examine the evidence for and against. I don't think you should go into these things trying to prove or disprove, but by being willing to admit when you are wrong, and examining the evidence on its merits as best you can.

Hm, I made a typo - I meant to clarify that you claim it is possible to disprove the existence of God. If it is possible to prove that God doesn't exist, explain how you would do that. Describe an experimental method that can be used to show there is no God.

Note: not being able to prove something exists is not proof that it does not exist. I have stated and you have disagreed that you cannot prove God does not exist. If you can prove God doesn't exist, how could that be done?

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
You have repeatedly asserted that everything you know is completely logical, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt by "evidence"


It is possible to draw logical conclusions from incomplete information. All of science, and almost everybody's life, is based on that concept.

Science requires that you not assume anything that does not have to be assumed. That's what parsimony is. If the theory doesn't require fairies, then don't assume fairies, or you're just adding irrelevant and unnecessary complexity to the theory that doesn't have to be there.

By that line of reasoning, for you to have come to the conclusion that God exists via science, then you must have made observations that cannot be explained without God. Share them with us. You have claimed evidence. Show it to us.

nopaniers wrote:
It seems strange to me that that you've now abandoned parsimony and Ockham's razor in favour of the strong anthropic principle. Why?

The anthropic principle is parsimonious. In fact, it is the ultimate in parsimony - about as parsimonious as you can get. It requires no further assumptions, and leaves no questions unanswered. It is logically complete.

Think about it. Look around you right now and ask the question: Do my immediate surroundings support life? The answer is obvious - in fact, the answer is obvious before the question can even be asked. Because for you to even consider the question, the answer must be yes first. The question is superfluous. The very act of asking it means you already know the answer.

It's the same concept with the universe. To ask "if" the universe is arranged to support life is superfluous. The very act of asking means you already have the answer. And from there, the "why" - because asking "why" the universe is arranged to support life is the same as asking why it's not any other way. And the answer to that is obvious before the question is asked. The universe must be arranged to support life, because if it wasn't, you wouldn't be asking why, why not, if or anything. It is as it is because if it were any other way, you wouldn't be able to ask why it is.

None of this has anything to do with Wheeler or Everett. Neither of them have anything to do with the anthropic principle. They are interested in how the world was created, not why it is the way it is. You claim that the fact that the universe supports life is proof of intelligence. The answer is no, you have it backwards - you can speculate on whether or not there is a guiding intelligence because the universe supports life. You can't argue that the fact that life exists against the odds is proof of anything, because the odds of life existing may be microscopically small, but if you're asking questions, then the odds of the universe supporting life must necessarily be 1. The odds of the universe being unable to support life while you're considering the existence of God are 0.

To say there is no reason for the universe to be set up so well is to see the problem backwards. There is a reason for the universe to be set up so well. Because if the universe were set up any other way, you wouldn't be saying anything. There is no "fluke", and there is no "coincidence". The probability of the universe supporting life while you're asking that question is 1. It cannot be any other way.

Without realizing it, you're actually violating parsimony. You're looking at the universe and assuming that it could exist another way. The anthropic principle does not make that assumption, so it is more frugal by default. You're making yet another assumption when you assume that not only could it be another way, the fact that it is this way was not simply random chance. In other words, you're assuming a design. Is it any wonder that when starting from that assumption, you find a designer?

nopaniers wrote:
The anthropic principle does not explain the coincidence. Causation happens forwards not backwards. Take your example, after cutting all the many wires in the correct order, and not setting off the bomb, I am still surprised. Not surprised that I am dead (which I can obviously never measure, as the anthropic principle says) but surprised I have managed to cut them all in the right order. There is no reason to believe that I should still be alive at all. And if someone smart like Hawking sits down and works out the that the probability of me being cutting the wires is one in 10^60, and Penrose calculates on top of that I have to cut another set of wires where the probability of passing is one part in 10^8... then I think it is much more likely that it is not just chance, and there is a more rational explanation... like for example that the bomb is a dud.

You're free to make that conclusion - it's the same as concluding that the universe supports life because some factor during its creation makes any other possibility impossible. Then you would examine the bomb/universe to see if this is the case. Of course, that isn't what you're doing. You're saying that the fact that you exist despite "great odds" is evidence of divine intervention during creation. My example proves how that line of thinking can come about, without any need for God.

You see, you're wrong, the anthropic principle does explain the coincidence perfectly - with no room for any other possibilities. You are questioning why you survived because you survived. It cannot have turned out any other way, or you would not be questioning. The anthropic principle doesn't - and isn't meant to - explain "what happened" or "why did it happen", just to answer the "why didn't something else happen". The answer is: "because it couldn't".

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
You took your evidence from a religious text... you have faith that that religious text is true... but... that's not religion?


I think that religion can teach you about God, but is not God.

But that exactly is the problem I (and others, I think) have with your position. No one has claimed "religion is God". But you have claimed that you believe in God without a religion, using only logic and/or science. The question I've been asking over and over is how. Now you're saying that religion can teach you about God, but you have previously asserted that you found God without it. So show how. Show me the science that leads to God. Show me the evidence that suggests God exists - evidence that has nothing to do with religion, of course.

nopaniers wrote:
As an atheist I had more problems with not believing in God than that. I had no reason to believe that the universe should be ordered, but also no reason to believe that anything should exist at all. Why time and space exist? Why anything? As an atheist I had no good reason to believe that anything should exist, and was constantly surprised that anything did. Do you have a valid explanation for why anything exists at all?

Isn't its existence enough? Why does there need to be a Reason? It is. It exists. That's all you need, isn't it? Why is the absence of some higher purpose a problem? Can't something be wonderful and beautiful without some underlying purpose for existing?

Why do you feel the need for some superbeing to give anything purpose? Why can't you give purpose yourself? This rock exists so that I can sit on it. This air exists so that I can breathe it. I exist so that I can appreciate these things. My purpose for existing is to give things meaning. Why doesn't that line of thinking work?

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
You might want to clarify. Because I've still seen no objective evidence that led you to believe in Yahweh.


True. I'm not a very preachy person. Would you like me to explain why I think that Yahweh is God?

Are you joking? >_< That's only what I've been asking you to do from the start.
The Philosopher Princess
No pressure to rush on answering more! Smile I’ll gladly read it whenever it shows up.
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
I have repeatedly said that both science and the existence of God could be (in theory) be disproved.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
nopaniers, did you mistakenly include “science” in there?

Scientific hypothesis can certainly be disproven. To disprove science (or the existence of God) is done on the basis of experimental evidence. At the end of last century, we were quite happy that all the big questions of physics were solved.

Okie dokie! Thanks for coming back on that. The way you sometimes use the word science, it sounds like you’re talking about the whole of science, which is strange, and yet I have seen some religious people who do just that. Now I know that you mean scientific hypothesis, when you say just science.
~~~~~~~~~~
Good, then, I will ask the follow-up question I mentioned. And I do realize that I am overlapping some of what Indi is asking, for example with this:

Indi wrote:
If it is possible to prove that God doesn't exist, explain how you would do that. Describe an experimental method that can be used to show there is no God.

But I want to ask my question in my own way.

nopaniers wrote:
the existence of God could be (in theory) be disproved.

What would it take for “the existence of God” to “be disproved” to you?

You can name one thing or many things. I am not asking how you or anyone might disprove it to other people -- only you. And I expect this will take some hypothetical thinking on your part, since, because you believe in God, you don’t expect to actually find, in reality, such disproof.

Here’s an example to help. Take someone who does not believe in God. And they are asked, “What would it take for the non-existence of God to be disproved to you?” They might answer, “If God actually appeared to me and talked to me, in a way that I was quite sure it wasn’t a hoax by some human, then that would be enough for me to start believing in God.” See how that’s just one example, and the non-believer wouldn’t expect that to actually happen, but it is a valid disproof possibility?
nopaniers
Okay. Fair point. I will try to say scientific hypothesis from now on.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
What would it take for “the existence of God” to “be disproved” to you?


I will give the same answer that I gave to Indi. Do so on the basis of evidence.

As an example, you could present evidence that the universe has no beginning. I believe that God created the universe. If you prove, the universe has no creator then you've seriously weakened my position.

For me in particular, you could try to show that Jesus was not raised from the dead (I believe that he was). You could argue that Yahweh was not the God who created the universe. You could argue that any of a number of different religions or world-views were true which would exclude my belief in God. To be honest, I think you are best off gunning for Jesus if you want to convince me.

There are many things that, if proven, would change my beliefs. I am happy to say so. I am not perfect, and I certainly don't know everything.
The Philosopher Princess
Alright! Excellent comeback!

Those are good start-thinking points for me, nopaniers.
nopaniers
The universe, according to you, Indi, exists and does not need to be explained. After lecturing me about how I didn't understand scientific principles, your solution to his dilema is: "Why does there need to be a reason?" In contrast I hold that the universe is rational and explainable.

Let's start with your misuse of the anthropic principle, and a simple example:

Imagine that there are a cute guy and a cute girl stuck on a desert island. Nine months later, they have a child. The child looks around and thinks to itself "Hmmmm... why am I like I am? Why do I not have a small brain like a fish?" Knowing nothing about genetics they find it a complete surprise that they are just like their parents.. "Why did it happen that I grew all the right parts to be able to think as well as I can?" they ask.

Then you, Indi, happens to turn up. You say: "Well you can't be small-brained like a fish, because fish can't ask the question. The question is superfluous. The very act of asking it means you already know the answer. You're not a fish. It's not a coincidence."

But the child, being a smart child, says "I've been calculating and the chances that my brain turns out like I did, are 1 chance in 10^80. There is no reason to believe that it is random. Surely there must be a reason why I turned out with a big brain like my parents, I was wondering if perhaps there might be something called say, hmmmm... genes."

To which you, Indi, replies, "To say there is no reason for your brain to be set up so well is to see the problem backwards. There is a reason for the your brain to be set up so well. Because if your brain were set up any other way, you wouldn't be saying anything. There is no "fluke", and there is no "coincidence". The probability of the your brain supporting life while you're asking that question is 1."

You have causality the wrong way around. It is the child's genes which account for it having a big brain, and has nothing to do with the fact that it will be able to think in the future. You are right it is not an fluke or a coincidence. It has a very good reason: The child's genes. In just the same way, the extremely unlikely event of having an exquisitely ordered universe is not explained by the anthropic principle, but should have a good reason (with causality the right way around: past events affecting future ones) and is not a coincidence or a fluke.

Quote:
It cannot be any other way.


What makes you say that? It doesn't follow from the anthropic principle (in fact you have not negated it properly, which I can show formally you if you like). It's a worrying thought, but you and I do not need to exist at all. The most likely situation (overwhelmingly so) if you believe that we have one universe, is that life does not exist at all. Naturally if it didn't we would not be here to measure it (which is the proper use of the principle). Saying that what you can't experience cannot happen is like saying that you will never die. Sure you may not be conscious to experience it, but I can assure you that it will certainly happen. The anthropic principle does not imply that we will exist, and indeed even with it in place, the most likely situation is that we never exist at all.

Indi wrote:
I meant to clarify that you claim it is possible to disprove the existence of God.


Please read the answer to PP's question.

Quote:
Science requires that you not assume anything that does not have to be assumed. That's what parsimony is.


Science is conducted on the basis of experiment. If you look at the ordered universe and say "Ignorance is more parsimonious than any hypothesis" then yes, you are being parsimonious. I worry that your appeal to parsimony has included everything from believing that Tacitus didn't copy the archives, to perpetual motion machines, that triangles become squares. Ockham's razor is a heuristic never meant to be more important than evidence.

Quote:
You're looking at the universe and assuming that it could exist another way.


In that I'm in the company of many of the great physicists of the past century. Thankyou, and I certainly think that it can happen in other ways! To get me to agree you would have to propose all sorts of mechanisms to restrict the constants for which we have no experimental evidence, and on the other side we have experimental evidence that the constants are not fixed in the way you suggest.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6092.html

Quote:
None of this has anything to do with Wheeler or Everett. Neither of them have anything to do with the anthropic principle. They are interested in how the world was created, not why it is the way it is.


Of course they do. Wheeler much more so than Everett, whose ideas have been expanded on by others. Modern physics has a lot to say about the origins of the universe, and why it is the way it is (in fact, it's a major theme). There are a lot of interesting points being made, and a lot of the arguments which were previously the realm of philosphy and religion are finding their way into physics. In fact, the dividing line has become a little blurred in some areas.

Quote:
You claim that the fact that the universe supports life is proof of intelligence.


I think you have had this argument too many times. I didn't say anything about intelligence or design. I'm new to all this.

Another interesting mistake you make by the way is that conditional probabilities are not the same as unconditional probabilities.

Quote:
You're free to make that conclusion - it's the same as concluding that the universe supports life because some factor during its creation makes any other possibility impossible.


Is that what you think, and if so, why? I certainly think that other configuations of constants are very possible.


Quote:
Isn't its existence enough? Why does there need to be a Reason? It is. It exists. That's all you need, isn't it?


No. I'm a scientist. I think there should be a rational expanation for things. There is a reason. There is a rational explanation. It's not that I need one, it is that there is one which I would like to find out.

Quote:
Why is the absence of some higher purpose a problem? Can't something be wonderful and beautiful without some underlying purpose for existing?


I think you have misunderstood me. I am simply looking for the truth. I like to know what is true. I will leave purpose to the psychiatrists. Although you make a good point: The universe is beautiful and wonderful.

But that said, things are more beautiful and more meaningful as a Christian. That's not to say you can't make meaning without believing in God, and I know many people who do. But with God, things are so much more fantastic. How wonderful is it that the creator of the universe cares about you, me, everyone. How cool is this creation? It's fantastic. The universe isn't a small thing, and its creator is pretty amazing. It is fantastic. I don't know enough positive words.

Quote:
Why doesn't that line of thinking work?


Well for me, my main concern is not being happy, but in finding out what is true. If I wanted to make myself happy I would probably be Buddhist. I certainly wouldn't be a physicist!

Quote:
Are you joking? >_< That's only what I've been asking you to do from the start.


Okay. I will, but not right now if you don't mind... Night all


PS. Thankyou PP.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
The universe, according to you, Indi, exists and does not need to be explained. After lecturing me about how I didn't understand scientific principles, your solution to his dilema is: "Why does there need to be a reason?" In contrast I hold that the universe is rational and explainable.

"Cause" and "reason" are two entirely different things. What "caused" the universe to be ordered as it is (or what "caused" the child to have intelligence) is not the same as the "reason" for why the universe is ordered as it is (or the reason the child is smart).

We don't know (yet) what caused the universe to be the way it is. No one does. Science is still working on that one. Religion's answer is "God did it", but it presents no evidence to support that theory except a slight shortage of competing theories and evidence to support them.

What you're discussing is not cause, but reason. Not how did the universe come to be ordered to support life, but why. You ask why the universe's physical constants are within such a narrow range so as to support life, and conclude it must have been decided by an intelligence that it should be that way. (Which still doesn't answer the "how" the intelligence actually came to that conclusion or made it happen - the answer to that is still just "God did it".)

My answer is that asking why is pointless, because the question itself predicts the answer. You can't ask why without answering yourself before you ask.

What I was answering was not how... but why. You are confusing the difference between how and why. If you believe God created the universe, then "God did it" is the how, and if you want to know why he created it the way he did then "because it's the only way it could support life" is the why. If you don't believe God created the universe, then the how is still under investigation... but the why is a moot question, because the act of asking gives the answer.

Now... if you're claiming that the fact that science hasn't yet figured out how the universe came to be as it is is somehow evidence that God must be involved, I'd have to say that your logic is flawed. Because by that same logic, birds would have been evidence for God before flight was understood, stars would have been evidence for God before astronomy was developed, eclipses would have been evidence for God before... lightning would have been... the aurora borealis would... fire... and on and on and on. The fact that science hasn't figured something out yet doesn't make it evidence for God.

nopaniers wrote:
Let's start with your misuse of the anthropic principle, and a simple example:

To give a specific answer to your example... you have misinterpreted my "misuse" of the anthropic principle, because you are confusing "cause" and "reason". Here's how I see our two positions, using your analogy.

Your child is on the island wondering why he is intelligent. Assuming he knows nothing of genetics, by your view, the child's thinking would go:
- How: I don't know how I came to be smart, but there's such a minute chance of that happening, it must have been some intelligence that made me that way... because something wich such low odds could not have happened randomly. Thus, God did it.
- Why: Well, given the extremely low odds of my brain being the way it is, the only why it could be is if it was designed that way, ie. if an intelligence made my brain that way for some higher purpose.

My view goes:
- How: I don't know how I came to be smart, but there's must be a cause. I just don't know it yet. Sure the odds against it seem long, but then, I obviously don't have all the facts yet, so it is pointless to speculate without gathering more data first.
- Why: Asking why I have come to be smart is pointless, because there doesn't need to be an underlying reason, and odds for or against mean nothing given that 100% of beings who beat the odds will wonder about that reason, and 100% of the beings who wonder about that reason will be the ones who have beaten the odds.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
It cannot be any other way.


What makes you say that? It doesn't follow from the anthropic principle (in fact you have not negated it properly, which I can show formally you if you like). It's a worrying thought, but you and I do not need to exist at all.

You misunderstood. I don't mean that the universe cannot be any other way, I mean that the universe cannot be any other way while you are wondering why it is not any other way.

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
I meant to clarify that you claim it is possible to disprove the existence of God.


Please read the answer to PP's question.

Your answer to her question did not answer mine. In fact, it's going in circles. Let's refresh here.

You have claimed that you came to believe in God without any help from any religion - that science and evidence led you to it. You claimed that you have weighed the evidence for and against and come to that conclusion.

I have asked two questions arising from those claims.

The first is to explain how you came to God by science and evidence alone - without a religion. You have promised that that's forthcoming, so I'll wait for it.

For the second, I have argued that it is impossible to disprove God, so you can never have evidence against. You have said that's not true, so I asked you to show me what evidence could possible exist against God. Your answer to the Princess was not the answer to that question, it was an answer to what evidence would disprove God to you - not what is evidence against God. You had already told me that you weighed the evidence for and against God, and my reply was that there can be no evidence against God, so what weighing were you doing?

As it is, your reply is not evidence against God. If the universe is shown to have no beginning, then a believer could argue that God has created universe in such a way as to hide its origins from us. Thus, the lack of evidence of a specific creation point would not be evidence against God.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Science requires that you not assume anything that does not have to be assumed. That's what parsimony is.


Science is conducted on the basis of experiment. If you look at the ordered universe and say "Ignorance is more parsimonious than any hypothesis" then yes, you are being parsimonious. I worry that your appeal to parsimony has included everything from believing that Tacitus didn't copy the archives, to perpetual motion machines, that triangles become squares. Ockham's razor is a heuristic never meant to be more important than evidence.

I never claimed the anthropic principle was science, I said it was parsimonious. In fact, it is not science, because parsimony - Ochkam's razor - is only one of several fundamental requirements for science (and no, Ockham's razor is not somehow less important than evidence, because without Ockham's razor, evidence is meaningless - Ockham's razor is a fundamental cornerstone of science, science cannot be without Ockham's razor). Just because something is parsimonious does not make it science, but to be science, it must be parsimonious.

But then, we weren't talking about science, were we? Because we were talking about the reason that the universal constants have taken the values they have. We don't know the cause behind them taking those values, but we can speculate one of four things: that they have those values because they can have no other values (or that those are the most stable values), that they can take on any values and have in the past and this universe is only one iteration of trillions, that they can take on any values but some force led to them taking the values they have, or that they can take on any values but pure chance led to them taking the values they have. You have assumed option 3, that they can be anything, but some force has made them what they are. Alright, so far still science. But then you imply that since we don't yet know what that force is, it must be God. Whoops. Now we're out of science altogether. Using that logic, you then come to the conclusion that God made the constants what they are for his purpose - and that is the reason they are what they are: God's will.

So we left science long ago. If you want to go back into science, sure, no problem... but it's going to require some re-evaluation of the argument.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
None of this has anything to do with Wheeler or Everett. Neither of them have anything to do with the anthropic principle. They are interested in how the world was created, not why it is the way it is.


Of course they do. Wheeler much more so than Everett, whose ideas have been expanded on by others. Modern physics has a lot to say about the origins of the universe, and why it is the way it is (in fact, it's a major theme).

Again, you're confusing cause with reason. Granted, English makes such confusion easy. You can ask two people "why does that plain fly" and get two wildly different answers - "because of Bernoulli's principle" and "because that is the purpose of the plane" - and both are correct answers, although both are answers to different underlying questions. To differentiate between the two, you have to reformulate the question. You have to ask either "what causes the plane to fly" or "what is the reason the plane flies".

Seeking the origins of the universe is an example of the former. "What causes the universe to exist (the way it does)" is the question being asked there. That's what scientists are after. Science has no interest in the "reason" underlying the universe's existence - that's a question for philosophy.

But asking why - or... for what reason - that the universal constants are the way they are is not a question for science. What caused them to be that way is... and the answer is we don't know yet, but assuming God seems premature at best.

nopaniers wrote:
There are a lot of interesting points being made, and a lot of the arguments which were previously the realm of philosphy and religion are finding their way into physics. In fact, the dividing line has become a little blurred in some areas.

I disagree - the blurring is due to miscommunication. The dividing line is as clear as ever.

I have not - so far in the discussion - been talking about science at all. I have been talking about philosophy. If you want to talk science, I'm game, but I will most certainly be demanding scientific rigidity if we go down that road.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
You claim that the fact that the universe supports life is proof of intelligence.


I think you have had this argument too many times. I didn't say anything about intelligence or design. I'm new to all this.

No, you have made an implicit assumption, perhaps without even realizing it. You have analyzed the state of the universe - the values of the physical constants - and decided that some force must have been responsible for making them as they are. Fair enough. So far, you're just making a justified scientific assumption (although most certainly not the only justified one).

But then you say that since that force has not been identified, it must be God. Thus, the fact that the universal constants are what they are is evidence of God. Thus, the fact that the universe supports life is proof of God.

Isn't that what you've been saying? It's possible I've misunderstood.

As for the rest, it's all based on misunderstanding the dichotomy between seeking the cause, and seeking the reason. Science is the search for causes, but, despite popular misconception, philosophy, not science, is the search for reasons.

At any rate, my only real questions to you are:
- What is the evidence that led you to God without the help of religion?
- How is it possible for there to be evidence against God?
nopaniers
The question for me was: Are Yahweh and God the same? We can know a lot, although certainly not everything about God's characteristics. We can know about characteristics of God in several ways, and can compare these characteristics of the Yahweh, God of the bible. I believe that Yahweh is God.

God is the creator. This seems obvious because it follows from the definition of God, but it does not necessarily have to follow that Yahweh is God. So is Yahweh claimed to be the creator? Yes.

Revelations 11 wrote:
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.


And that's a sentiment I completely agree with. The creator of the universe deserves praise, because the universe is fantastic.

Indi wrote:
You claim that the fact that the universe supports life is proof of intelligence.


nopaniers wrote:
I didn't say anything about intelligence or design.


Isn't it strange that Indi thought it was an argument that God is intelligent and capable of design? We were just talking about the fine balance of the universal constants of this universe, and that they are not random. But Indi decided that it would imply that God had certain characteristics, which is fair enough. Yahweh too is capable of intelligence:

Psalm 139 wrote:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.


God is eternal. Time and space (again physics) are emergent properties which were created with the universe, not outside of it. The creator of the universe therefore also created time, and is not bound by it. Yahweh too claims to be eternal.

Psalms 93 wrote:
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.


Similarly God (assuming that he exists) cannot be bound by space. This too is a characteristic that Yahweh shares.

Psalms 139 wrote:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.


God is powerful. The creator of the universe is powerful enough to create the universe. To quote from hitchhiker's guide:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wrote:
"Space,'' it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen ..." and so on. (...) To be fair though, when confronted by the sheer enormity of distances between the stars, better minds than the one responsible for the Guide's introduction have faltered. Some invite you to consider for a moment a peanut in Reading and a small walnut in Johannesburg, and other such dizzying concepts."


and from the bible:

Jeremiah 32 wrote:
Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.


God is consistent. I think the fact that the universe is beautifully mathematical, logical and consistent is good evidence that these characteristics are also present in its creator. Now I know that order can emerge from chaos in non-linear dynamic equations. But the question is not really about chaos, it is about why the equations should hold in the first place.

Job 38 wrote:
Can you bind the beautiful [c] Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?


God is loving. God the creator of the universe is certainly loving because he created us in the first place, for which I am extremely greatful. I can never repay that gift. This too is a view echoed by the bible about Yahweh:

Psalms 8 wrote:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?


God is Holy. This follows by definition, but is not trivial.

People are not God, are not perfect and die. Like most of these points it may seem as if I'm just going through stating the obvious, but it is an important point. People are not God. We did not create the universe. We are bound by the universe. I'm not perfect (I'm speaking for myself here as I'm sure a certain young lady can tell you at length, and might well do if she reads this) and I don't pretend to be.

Yahweh is the same God who is the creator of the universe. This view took me years to form, so it's kind of hard to even to start to put down all the arguments, and thoughts and reasoning which go along with each for and against. This is a tiny overview. The reason that I believe Yahweh is creator of the universe is that share the same characteristics. These ideas are not new, but that does not mean they are not correct.

Romans 1 wrote:
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
The question for me was: Are Yahweh and God the same?

No, it wasn't. It was (to paraphrase from the first time I asked it, and then later when I got more specific): "By what means have you come to believe in Yahweh, if not some religion or another?"

No one asked if you believe Yahweh and God are the same, because that question is meaningless. If you believe in Yahweh, then obviously Yahweh and God are the same to you. What point would there be in anyone asking you that question? It's just an invitation to sermonize, rather like the salesman saying "I bet you're wondering what makes this product so great... well, since you asked...".

Do you intend to answer the original question? You claimed you had objective, non-religious reasons for believing what you believe - specifically, in Yahweh. You stated that Yahweh was not just a belief you came around to by religion. You stated that you found evidence of God and his characteristics first, then found afterwards that Christianity's description of Yahweh matched your beliefs. Do you ever intend to back up those statements? Do you ever intend to show the evidence you found?

nopaniers wrote:
God is the creator. This seems obvious because it follows from the definition of God, but it does not necessarily have to follow that Yahweh is God. So is Yahweh claimed to be the creator? Yes.

Revelations 11 wrote:
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.


And that's a sentiment I completely agree with. The creator of the universe deserves praise, because the universe is fantastic.

This point and all that follow have the same basic form. You state an assumption that you have made about God's characteristics without providing any objective evidence that led to that assumption (without even starting with any objective evidence that God even exists, despite your claim that you have some and repeated promises to provide it), then you quote a verse from the bible that suggests that Yahweh has the same characteristic.

Now obviously, you were answering your own question - showing that your allegedly objectively formed description of God is equivalent to Yahweh - but even accepting that that was your goal, the form of your argument is still worrying. Actually, "worrying" is pretty much the word you used yourself when you described the same logical flaw using these words: "If you assume X, and show it implies X, where have you got yourself?"

So the entire argument you have made is pointless. You are showing how your assumptions (on the nature of God) are proven correct by... your assumptions (that the bible is true). Nice.

Regardless, you completely skipped the step that mattered. You have told us the characteristics that you believe God has (then moved on to show that Yahweh has the same characteristics) without telling us how you came to believe God has those characteristics, or that he even exists - which you claim was by some logical, objective, non-religious means. That's the part I've been asking for since the beginning.

Anyway, while I'm here... you claim that God is the creator without any evidence provided to back up your assertion, as if that's the only logical conclusion. I say false. Maybe something else created the universe - Satan, for example - and God took it away from him and is attempting to repair it. That would certainly explain any flaws in the universe. What non-religious evidence do you have that your assumption is more likely correct than mine?

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
You claim that the fact that the universe supports life is proof of intelligence.


nopaniers wrote:
I didn't say anything about intelligence or design.


Isn't it strange that Indi thought it was an argument that God is intelligent and capable of design? We were just talking about the fine balance of the universal constants of this universe, and that they are not random. But Indi decided that it would imply that God had certain characteristics, which is fair enough. Yahweh too is capable of intelligence:

Psalm 139 wrote:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

I claimed nothing, and decided nothing. I simply elaborated the assumptions that were implicit and unstated in your claims. If you believe the universal constants were chosen to support life - that they did not come by their values randomly or by some non-sentient physical process - then you are assuming some intelligence did the choosing. And that was your assumption, wasn't it? You said: "The universe is ordered, with only small changes in the fundamental physical constants meaning that universe cannot support life. How do you explain this contradiction to atheism?" Thus, you see the fact that the constants allow the universe to support life as a contradiction to atheism, that is, evidence of God. Of course I thought it was an argument that God is intelligent and capable of design. What else could your claims have been interpreted to mean?

Are you trying to warp my words into sounding like I am claiming that God has some characteristic or another when it was your own claim that I was repeating? Are you trying to imply that I think that God must be intelligent and capable of design, or that that's the only logical thing to believe? Nonsense.

If you want to claim God is intelligent, you'll have to show your evidence. Because it isn't the only conclusion you can reach given the evidence generally available. Maybe God is completely mindless, like an animal. Maybe there's a whole species of animals on some higher cosmic plane that reproduce via universes. Maybe our entire universe is the pupa state of some higher being. Maybe some other being "laid" our universe, and it is growing up, and our existence is just a random artifact of the being's growth.

nopaniers wrote:
God is eternal.

By what objective evidence? If God actually did create the universe, the only evidence we have for his lifespan is a brief period of time before and during creation. God may have only existed for a few moments before creating the universe, and died immediately after. Certainly he exists outside of the timespan (and space) within this universe, but that doesn't necessarily imply that he isn't bound by any space or time, or that he is eternal.

nopaniers wrote:
God is powerful.

Oh? Then how come he can't defeat Satan today?

Assuming God created the universe, that would make him really powerful, wouldn't it? Or would it? How much power, exactly, does it take to create a universe? Are you sure it takes a lot? Maybe it takes very little effort at all. Maybe God just plucks an unripe proto-universe from some cosmic tree, then makes some small alterations and adjustments to get it to be the way he wants it, then sits back and watches it grow.

Of course, all this depends on how you define powerful - powerful is a relative concept. Am I powerful? with just a motion of my thumb, I can summon images from all over the globe. By moving my foot a certain way, I can summon the energies of hundreds of horses and travel at well over a hundred kilometers an hour. Ah, but I didn't create my TV or car? Technically no, but I know exactly how both work, and I very well could create either from scratch (particularly the car). In fact, I have the power to create devices of magnificent power - just finished designing a 180 tonne hydraulic press, actually. Aren't I powerful?

You're probably not impressed, but then a person from a couple hundred years ago would be. Maybe in a couple hundred years the power to create a universe won't be so spectacular either.

nopaniers wrote:
God is consistent.

Really? Then how come the very book that describes him - hell, often the very words that come from his own mouth as described in that book - is so inconsistent?

You're assuming the consistency of a designer by observing the consistency of the design. Doesn't fly. Consistency or inconsistency in the design does not imply anything about the consistency or lack thereof of the creator. God could have created consistency in the design simply by making a small number of non-contradictory rules then let the universe's processes be run by those rules, while still being completely inconsistent and irrational by nature himself.

Nope, sorry, that God is consistent is not the only rational conclusion, unless the evidence you're witholding provides further information.

nopaniers wrote:
God is loving.

Then why is he damning so many of his creations to eternal suffering just because they won't believe he exists?

Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Either God is incapable of removing it, or he wants it there. If he wants it there... how is he loving?

Uh uh, if God is really loving, it doesn't follow from the evidence commonly available. Whatever you've been holding from us must have that gem.

nopaniers wrote:
God is Holy. This follows by definition, but is not trivial.

It does... but it's not? You'll have to define what you think holy means, then, because the common definition is "worth of worship or reverence". My parents made me... should I be worshipping them? What exactly makes God holy?

nopaniers wrote:
People are not God, are not perfect and die.

Oh, but I assume you have evidence that God is perfect and does not die? Non-religious evidence, of course.

So, I guess I'm still waiting. Still no word on what objective evidence you have of God and God's characteristics, or even what evidence you have for believing God has the characteristics that you claim he has....
The Philosopher Princess
(I’m sorry, readers, for the intellectual approach below, but I do not know how to write these thoughts in a “practical” manner. Please don’t let that stop you from reading, contemplating, and responding.)

I know, Indi, that you’re not asking me this question, and I expect napaniers to work with you to answer it:

Indi wrote:
How is it possible for there to be evidence against God?

But this has caused me to write on it, myself, for my own reasons (Wink). This is for everyone.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A little while ago, I considered the notion of being able to prove something does not exist (in the context of proving that there does not exist a non-corrupt politician). I knew it would be difficult because of the typical problem of proving a negative versus proving a positive.

For example, it’s often easier to “prove” a particular action can cause a particular reaction than to “prove” it never can. In the former, one simply performs it once for whomever wants “proof”. (I put prove/proof in quotes because proving depends on meeting the standard of proof expected, which will be different for different contexts. While I may not continue the convention on that, readers should notice other words put in quotes, which are done so for a reason.)

Having proof always depends on first having the standard that must be met. Having proof does not mean that the thing proved is 100% true, but instead that the standard was sufficiently met. Having proof also does not mean everyone is going to believe it, but instead that whoever accepted the predetermined standard, when it has been met, will have rational reason to believe it.

I have no doubt that sometimes it is possible to prove a negative. An example would be proving a particular person did not go to a particular convenience store on a particular day. If one had videotapes of all the entrances for that day, and the tapes were validated, etc., a “reasonable” standard of proof could be met.

Speaking very generally, if one performs a “thorough” search of a particular “area” (area could be physical, like a particular sports stadium grounds, or abstract, like the results of a search engine), then one’s standards of proving that a particular thing is not in that area can be met.

So, this kind of thinking leads me towards considering what reasonable area(s) could be identified, in which “thorough” search(es) could be made, that could prove God does not exist. (Not only would area(s) need to be identified, but what exactly constitutes thorough.)

For the record, I do not explore this to seek, for myself, whether God exists or not -- for I am satisfied with what I believe. I explore this instead in the context of epistemology to consider how to help others come to an answer that satisfies them. People who are already leaning one way or the other would be able to have valid suggestions to the question I pose.

So, here’s just one possibility I’ll offer. It is hypothetical, and yet, we probably must be hypothetical to work on this issue. In other words, we must be able to discuss experiments and standards of proof, without actually doing them.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Consider a person objectively seeking the answer to the existence or non-existence of God. They are looking for proof for themselves (not necessarily for other people).

One of the unique characteristics of God is being able to perform miracles. There are many accounts around the world of “miracles” having happened. Consider our seeker going around the world interviewing and investigating as many accounts of miracles as possible. If in each case, the so-called miracle turned out to be well-explained by non-miraculous causes, then that would actually be good evidence for “the question” (for that seeker).

It is true that it is unrealistic that every case of claimed “miracle” could be investigated. And yet, if one’s potential belief in God rests on miracles, and if one tries very sincerely to find even one case where a miracle has happened, and if they cannot find one, then that is really saying something.

Such a person could take it to the next step, raise enormous funds, and attempt to make a world-wide plea for accounts of true miracles to come forth -- and continue investigating. And of course there are more things they could do.

If, after an extremely thorough search, one cannot find one case of miracle that withstands investigation, then a reasonable, rational person could conclude that they have proof of non-existence of God.

They’re always free to change their mind if a real miracle that passes investigation shows up, or if God himself shows up. But in the mean time, they would be being reasonable and rational to not believe in God.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you have any ideas for a scientific approach to proving the non-existence of something, in particular, God?
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
(I put prove/proof in quotes because proving depends on meeting the standard of proof expected, which will be different for different contexts. While I may not continue the convention on that, readers should notice other words put in quotes, which are done so for a reason.)

(It's a good idea to state that explicitly. Perhaps we should all be clear on what standards of proof we're talking about. I, for one, am not talking about absolute proof, or even a scientific proof. Absolute proof is functionally impossible, and scientific proof is far too rigid for everyday use. The kind of proof I'm talking about is simply proof beyond a rational refutation - not beyond reasonable doubt, because what is reasonable is relative whereas rational is mostly not (it really only requires coherency). I'm not going to bother to quote or highlight the words "proof" or "prove" in my writings, but I'm stating now for the record that hereinafter (lawyer talk I picked up somewhere ^_^) whenever I use the words, I am referring only to proof beyond rational objections.)

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
I have no doubt that sometimes it is possible to prove a negative. An example would be proving a particular person did not go to a particular convenience store on a particular day. If one had videotapes of all the entrances for that day, and the tapes were validated, etc., a “reasonable” standard of proof could be met.

(One more sidebar here to mention that that's not really proving a negative. A true negative is one that cannot be stated positively. Saying "Joe was not at the store" is equivalent to saying "Joe was somewhere else", which is a positive statement. You could thus prove the so-called "negative" by showing Joe was somewhere else, so it's not a real negative. (Even the security camera footage isn't proving a negative - it's showing that Joe didn't use any of the entrances, which doesn't necessarily imply that he wasn't there. Maybe he was there starting from the day before, hiding in a box, and he stayed in the box all day and the next night, then left the next day - so he entered before your tape starts and left after it ends. Granted, showing he didn't use any entrances for the whole day implies that he was never there beyond most reasonable objections, but you're not proving the original statement, you're proving a corollary.) For a true negative statement, like "God does not exist", there is no way you can word it positively. "God is non-existent" is still negative, as is "this universe is God-less".)

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Speaking very generally, if one performs a “thorough” search of a particular “area” (area could be physical, like a particular sports stadium grounds, or abstract, like the results of a search engine), then one’s standards of proving that a particular thing is not in that area can be met.

Ah, yes, but there's the rub. Technically it is not theoretically impossible to prove a negative, it's only impossible in practice. Yes, you could prove God doesn't exist if you could perform a thorough search of everywhere God could possibly be, and prevent any likelihood of God slipping through your search net from an area you haven't checked yet to one you already have.

The problem is that true thoroughness is functionally impossible; theoretically possible, yes, but not possible in reality. What about reasonable thoroughness, or being so thorough that you can be reasonably sure that if it was there you didn't miss it? Well now, how thorough is reasonably thorough? That depends on who you ask. If someone believes Joe was in the store, he or she is going to require much more thoroughness than someone who doesn't, or is ambivalent. And if someone really believes - I mean they've invested their entire world-view in the idea that Joe was in that store - then they're going to require huge thoroughness. So what might be thorough for you may not necessarily be thorough for a believer. In fact, a believer will often, consciously or subconsciously, set the bar for thoroughness so high that it cannot be reached. That makes their belief safer.

(And of course, there's an added wrinkle when dealing with God. The area to be searched is not only the whole universe, but beyond.)

So you can't really prove a negative, but you can reasonably prove a negative... provided you're not dealing with standards that have been set so high you cannot acheive them. Which, in essence means that you're not trying to prove it to someone who truly believes the opposite.

Let's make it practical, though. We have a real example to explore here - whether or not God exists. My standards for thoroughness, being an unbeliever, are low. I'd say they've already been met a dozen times over. Now, let's consider a believer - nopaniers. His standards are high - in fact, the standard for proof he requires is in complete contradiction with modern science, illogical in nature, and functionally impossible to prove. (Not to mention irrelevant, because whether or not the universe has a beginning or not is independent from the existence of God).

But he's not wrong to demand that much proof, he's just using a more rigid yardstick than I am. Neither my standards nor his are actually sufficient to truly disprove the existence of God. And someone else may have even higher standards for thoroughness than either of us. For me to claim that my standards are reasonable while his or anyone else's are not is arrogant.

One half of what I've been after so far is to get him to prove me wrong and provide a truly objective way to prove God does not exist that cannot be superseded by setting the bar higher - or in other words, a way to prove that God does not exist that cannot be rationally countered. I don't believe he can, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. As I said, I'm not interested in what evidence he would accept to prove that God doesn't exist, because his requirements are as arbitrary as mine or yours. But he claims it is possible to prove objectively that God does not exist, and I want to hear how.

Anyway. ^_^ As for your example with the miracles, Miss Princess, I'd have to object to that kind of test on several grounds. First, what is a miracle? If I take a handful of rice and throw it into the air and it lands to spell out "NIETZSCHE SAYS I'M DEAD? SCREW HIM! WHO'S DEAD NOW? BWAHAHAHA!!!!" perfectly, is that a miracle? I'd say so, wouldn't you? Is there any likely way that that can happen without divine influence? No, not likely. But... not impossible. Yes, it's highly improbable, but it could happen randomly. If you choose to believe that it was God, then you would be rational to believe that God had a hand in it. But if you choose not to believe in God, then you would be rational to believe that it was just blind luck. Stalemate.

Ok, but what if the phrase or some other phrase gets spelled out every time I throw the rice? Then the "miracle" is systematic. But... if it's systematic, it's not really a miracle is it?

For argument's sake, let's keep saying it is. So now everytime I throw the rice it spells out a "message from God". Is that evidence of God? No. It's just evidence of some force that we have not yet identified. If you choose to call that force "God", that's probably a rational decision. If you choose to call it "unknown", that's definitely a rational decision. Just because you can't (yet) explain something, that doesn't mean God's doing it.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Do you have any ideas for a scientific approach to proving the non-existence of something, in particular, God?

Well, as always, it depends on the "something", but if you're talking about "reasonable" proof it also depends who you're trying to prove the non-existence to. Is it to a believer or a non-believer? Makes a big difference when determining what's reasonable.

I still maintain that is impossible to objectively prove the non-existence of God - that is, to prove the non-existence of God in a way that no rational - but not necessarily reasonable - person can be expected to refute.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi wrote:
Anyway. ^_^ As for your example with the miracles, Miss Princess, I'd have to object to that kind of test on several grounds.

But you changed my context and then you objected to your own context. My hypothetical seeker going around the world investigating is not using your (or my) definition/standard of miracle (as you discussed), but their own. The problems that you have with your definition, while interesting, do not apply to what I was saying.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
Well, as always, it depends on the "something", but if you're talking about "reasonable" proof it also depends who you're trying to prove the non-existence to. Is it to a believer or a non-believer? Makes a big difference when determining what's reasonable.

I agree but I don’t see you fully considering “my someone” as being “objective”, instead of being a “person” whom you are fathoming. Smile It’s important to stick with my setup to not misunderstand my discussion.

Let me give a different focus to make my point on this issue of “objective”. In real life, I have known real people who were true believers in the myth of the goodness of land monopoly (an area of economics and philosophy I’ve studied in-depth). There was no doubt in the sincerity of their belief, and they even had “light” supporting arguments for their stances. But, unlike many people who truly believe in the goodness of land monopoly, these actual people I’ve known did not have any personal/political agenda in whether land monopoly really was good or bad. They also were bright enough to comprehend some difficult, counter-intuitive natural principles. Therefore, when presented with these economic and philosophic principles from a sincere and patient mentor, over time, they came to sincerely switch beliefs.

These people had very much been believers, but given their open and objective situations (maybe even natures), the information given was enough to meet their standards of proof for changing their beliefs. For a fact, the exact same information would not work for (some/many) other people. One can always claim that the information is not “good enough” to be proof, but there are also cases where it’s not the information, but the nonobjectivity of the recipients that is the holdup.

In summary, while I agree with you that there are times when taking into account the belief or non-belief of people is important, there are also times that it is irrelevant. If one of the givens of a hypothetical is that someone is objective, then making a case that the person is not objective given their belief or disbelief, is invalid. Proving or disproving that a particular real-life person is objective is another subject.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi wrote:
Anyway. ^_^ As for your example with the miracles, Miss Princess, I'd have to object to that kind of test on several grounds.

But you changed my context and then you objected to your own context. My hypothetical seeker going around the world investigating is not using your (or my) definition/standard of miracle (as you discussed), but their own. The problems that you have with your definition, while interesting, do not apply to what I was saying.

Oooooh, I see. My bad. You're right, I did change the context. I thought you were considering a specific case as an example of the general, but you're really just interested in a specific case, correct? You're not concerned with a general perspective, you're just considering a case study, such as it is. Is that right?

I think I see - so you're asking: what would it take to change a rational person's mind from one belief to the other - in this case, specifically from believing in God to not believing? Or, in other words, supposing that this person is not committed to the belief that God exists religiously - that they consider it open for debate and consideration, and are willing to consider evidence objectively when weighing the answer - what evidence would convince them towards a belief that God does not exist.

I'm afraid that I can't answer your question, then. You see, your question implicitly assumes some things about the theoretical person. It assumes that they have either come by their belief in God rationally, or had it before they started thinking rationally (by default, in other words). Because if they have not come by that belief rationally (or by default), they're probably not interested in considering any alternatives rationally.

(I'd better take a minute to clarify what I mean by "evidence". I mean evidence that is rational, objective, and not trivially refuted. "God exists because he's awesome" is not rational. "God exists because I have felt him" is not objective. And "God exists because his religion(s) have survived for thousands of years and are still going strong" is trivially refuted.)

In the latter case - someone who has come by their belief by default - you would have someone who had been indoctrinated to believe in God from childhood, before they could rationally weigh the pros and cons themselves, and had never considered other possibilities rationally until now. Or, alternatively, someone who had no evidence either way, and just randomly picked belief over disbelief. In either case, they have no evidence for believing in God - it was just what they were told, or what they just randomly decided on with a mental coin toss - so any evidence against God would be enough to change their mind. Or to put it in simpler terms, before they had zero evidence for God, so any amount of evidence to the contrary, no matter how small, means you have "evidence for" = 0 and "evidence against" > 0 (greater than 0). So that case is kind of a trivial solution - any evidence, regardless of what it is specifically, will do. Simply not getting an answer when asking "God, are you there?" would be sufficient evidence in that case.

The other case is more interesting. Here you have a person who has some amount of evidence that God exists. That is, "evidence for" > 0. They must have some evidence in order to have come by their belief rationally - because if they had no evidence, they either came by their belief irrationally, or by default. So, what evidence would convince them otherwise?

That's the part I can't answer. I can't conceive of a way to come by a belief in God rationally by means of evidence. I've been asking nopaniers to show me how he did it since the start of the conversation. My perspective is that if there were any evidence (by the definition of evidence I gave above) of God, then we wouldn't be debating it. It would be an acknowledged fact by everyone except crackpots. There would be a field of science devoted to the scientific study of God; numerous existing scientific fields, ranging from cosmology to studies of abiogenesis would pretty much come to a close because the ultimate answers they seek are found; statistics like these woud be a thing of the past. If there were real evidence of God's existence, then those things would be true, but they're not, so there isn't.

Which means that we're talking about a mythical character. Asking would would change the mind of a person who had come to believe in God rationally by means of evidence is equivalent to asking what Santa Claus would do with a child who had been naughty because of a chemical imbalance rather than just bad behaviour. Impossible to do objectively, and ultimately pointless.

There can be no purely rational person who believes in God on the basis of evidence, so the question then becomes "how entrenched is their irrational belief"? So, in reality, it really does come back to the strength of their beliefs.

Of course, all this hinges on my assumption that there is no objective, rational and non-refutable evidence of God. The jury is still out on that one while I wait for a response, though I'm starting to lose hope of learning anything new on that front.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi, I’m very pleased with your response. I’m leaving town now but look forward to thinking through what you say more deeply, as well as reading whatever else y’all post here -- after I return around the end of the month.
Indi
Enjoy, Miss Princess! See you when you get back. ^_^
nopaniers
My apologies again for being away. I have been best man at a wedding, moved, and am getting ready for a conference since last I posted... so I hope you will excuse me. Right at the moment I've been up all night so you have to excuse me if I don't make so much sense, or am a little bit short.

All I can say Indi, that you obviously have a problem with me: A working physicist who came to the belief that there was a God, not by default but by looking at the evidence. Obviously I don't fit in with your scheme, as don't many other people, including some of the greatest minds of the last 500 years.

Instead of believing the outrageous things you believe: That conservation of energy could be violated, cloning is possible, squares are the same as triangles, Jesus didn't exist, I choose to believe the universe is rational and explainable. You choose to believe in a philosophy which has led you to the most unbelievable conclusions. Why should anyone believe you?

Descartes, Planck, Einstein, Kelvin, Mendel, Boyle, Bacon, Kepler, Coperincus, and Gallileo shared my belief in God. I'm sure that they were all irrational like your innuendo suggests. They must have been indoctinated, since they do not believe what you do. But don't worry. You can slur them all you want.

I'm not interested in playing your word games, redefining meanings or trying to guess the thoughts of God which I don't pretend to know.

It feels all a little pointless. I can demonstrate to you that your beliefs do not hold with observations, and you still choose to believe your strange philosophy. What more can I do but point out where the conflicts are? You call people like me indoctrinated... but when it comes down to it, you are the one putting forward the beliefs which have been demonstrated to be incorrect. I mean perpetual motion machines? Come on! And then, having argued that you do not need to present any evidence to support your views, you have the gall to wonder how much evidence it will take to get someone like me to change my mind??!

nopaniers wrote:
Would you like me to explain why I think that Yahweh is God?

Indi wrote:
Are you joking? >_< That's only what I've been asking you to do from the start.

nopaniers wrote:
The question for me was: Are Yahweh and God the same?

Indi wrote:
No, it wasn't.


I'm sorry. I have been trying to answer your questions. I listed some characteristics of which I think any creator of the universe must have, and showed they were the same as those claimed by Yahweh. You ask me why I believe Yahweh is God, I say, because he has the same characteristics that I believe the creator of the universe must have.

Strangely you seem to think that I assumed Yahweh was God before I started. What do you think I think when I read that, given the number of times I've told you otherwise? It says more about you than it does about me. You've formed an incorrect preconception of how I came to my belief, and you stick to it, seemingly determined to repeat your mantra as often as possible, to me or to anyone who will listen. Why should I listen when you seem determined to stick to things which are blatantly wrong?

You did not seem to agree that the creator of the universe (assuming there is one) is powerful, which conflicts with what you said earlier. But I would beg to differ with your new view. Designing a hydraulic press is good, but I'm sorry if I say that on that scale the creation of the universe is just a tad bit more powerful. When I consider the universe on a quantum scale to an interstellar one, it's clear to me that the creator of the universe is powerful.

Or eternal. There is a lot to say here. Time is a property of the universe. It is not the same for everyone. I'm sure you've heard of the twin's paradox (if not, look it up on wikipedia)... and also I hope that you're aware that gravitational fields and accelleration affect time. So this leads me to the conclusion that time is a property of the universe, certainly not something independant of it. Do you agree?

Time is also the conjugate variable to energy. That's like position is to momentum. So, no measurements of time without energy... and in particular the precision of time measurements are limited by the energy available. So you cannot understand (or even have) time without space, or without energy/matter. These things are properties of the universe and are fundamentally linked. Do you disagree?

And therefore to say that God is not eternal... well that would imply a contradiction with time being a property of the universe. And so, if there is a God (which I believe there is), I believe that they are eternal.

Quote:
As it is, your reply is not evidence against God.


No kidding.

And another thing you seem to repeat over and over (apart from that perpetual motion machines can exist and that it is not possible for a rational person to come to a belief in God) is that I think that God exists simply because atheist explanations have failed. You are right that they have failed and do not adequately explain what we see. But your failure to offer rational explanations is not what makes me think that God exists. It is that the natural explanation of the order of the constants of the universe is to assume there is a reason for that order. God is not some default explanation to fall back on when you can't explain something (you have to remember that I was an atheist when considering these things) but something actively pointed to by the universe. When you offer weak explanations it implies that you haven't considered the problem very deeply, or perhaps at all. When you simply assume that a theory hasn't been discovered "yet" which backs up your beliefs... well that is what I call blind faith. And when you repeat over and over mantras which are shown to be wrong, and even conflict with basic mathematical (such as limits) and physical principles (such as conservation of energy) then I think you share all the worst characteristics with the people you critisize.

You started to say that the constants of the universe could not be otherwise. Your explanation is inconsistent with the standard model, string theory and observed evidence. The constants of the universe can be measured, and that they are not fixed like you suggest they are. In the standard model, one of the most successful models over the past century, there are 19 free parameters (plus an extra 10 to describe neutrinos) which are only determined by experiment leaving room for variation. In string theory there is not one self consistent universe, but (literally) millions of millions of self consistent universes.

I was hoping for some sort of rational discussion which would make me think. Instead you seem to keep giving me the most extreme theories which conflict with science, mathematics, history, and what I know to be true about my own life. Your explanation for things is often along the lines of personal attack (you think that perpetual motion machines can exist, so you say that I don't understand thermodynamics), evasion (Ockham's razor means that you don't need to offer an explanation), and inuendo ("how entrenched is their irrational belief"). It has done one good thing though: It reminded me what I believe and why.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
All I can say Indi, that you obviously have a problem with me: A working physicist who came to the belief that there was a God, not by default but by looking at the evidence. Obviously I don't fit in with your scheme, as don't many other people, including some of the greatest minds of the last 500 years.

I have no problem with you. I don't even know whether or not you really are a physicist, and I really couldn't care less. Why would you think that would be an issue at all anyway? Physicists are not superior or inferior to the average person, and they are no more or less susceptible to being dumb. You keep bringing it up like it should mean something, but I'm at a loss to see what.

I don't even know what "scheme" you mean, or why you do or don't fit in some category with the greatest (or least for that matter) minds of the last five centuries.

What I have a problem with is your persistent avoidance of the question(s) I asked you so many posts and pages ago, all the while attempting to build an argument using the evidence you refuse to share as the foundation. I highlighted your quote above to make my point. Despite the apparent futility of the effort, I am going to ask it again.

WHAT

IS

THE

EVIDENCE?

You have claimed you have rational, objective evidence of God. What is it?

nopaniers wrote:
Instead of believing the outrageous things you believe: That conservation of energy could be violated, cloning is possible, squares are the same as triangles, Jesus didn't exist, I choose to believe the universe is rational and explainable. You choose to believe in a philosophy which has led you to the most unbelievable conclusions. Why should anyone believe you?

*blink*

What?

Where did I claim or imply that I believed that conservation of matter/energy could be violated? Or that cloning is possible or not possible? Or that squares are the same as triangles?

What I did say is that you cannot prove that no triangle has four sides, which is not even close to saying that all triangles are squares - and even less close to saying they're the same. Not even remotely close. To characterize my statement this way is almost deliberately deceptive.

That statement was in response to your assertion that it is impossible to prove a negative - namely that no triangle has four sides (which isn't even a true negative in that it can be reworded as "all triangles have three sides" which is a positive assertion, but whatever). My response was to point out that a triangle reduced in size to a point is indistinguishable from a square reduced to a point - so the concept of the number of sides becomes meaningless (except in theory only, but then I have repeatedly said that it is only impossible to prove a negative in practice - in theory, you can prove anything, negative or not).

And where on Earth did you get the idea that I thought conservation of energy could be violated? I don't really like people speaking lies about me. So how about you show me where I said that conservation of energy could be violated and take that statement back? Here, I'll even make it easy for you:
- I said in this post that the theory of conservation of energy could potentially be disproven - which is a property of all scientific theories by definition. I did not claim that violation was possible or that I believed it to be so.
- Further in that same post I explicitly stated that I was not claiming that violation was possible or that the theory was incorrect. Then I reiterated that theories can always be disproven, and the fact that the theory of conservation of energy could possibly be disproven meant that it was not proof of the non-existence of perpetual motion machine (which is only logical - if the theory could potentially be incorrect or incomplete then it might not be universally correct). Again I did not claim that violation was possible or that I believed it to be so.

So I say again - prove that I made those claims, or admit that they are your invention and take them back.

The same goes for your claim that I said anything about cloning. Prove it or take it back.

As for whether or not Jesus existed (where "Jesus" was an actual living person about whom the gospels were written, I assume you mean), I don't know or care. The idea is completely irrelevant to me. I don't believe there is enough evidence to say with any degree of confidence he existed, but of course, by my own statements about being unable to prove a negative, I don't believe it is possible to prove he didn't. I certainly don't recall saying "Jesus did not exist" or even "I believe Jesus did not exist", so why don't you show me where you got that from, too.

So, the gauntlet is thrown. Yes, in case I wasn't being clear, I called most of the claims you made about me in the paragraph quoted above lies. But I'm giving you a chance to show that you're not being dishonest by showing where I made statements that could possibly be interpreted or misinterpreted that way.

nopaniers wrote:
Descartes, Planck, Einstein, Kelvin, Mendel, Boyle, Bacon, Kepler, Coperincus, and Gallileo shared my belief in God. I'm sure that they were all irrational like your innuendo suggests. They must have been indoctinated, since they do not believe what you do. But don't worry. You can slur them all you want.

Oh, good grief. -_-

I hesitate to make clear cut statements like that when talking with most people because generally people aren't intelligent enough to parse what I said correctly and understand what I'm actually saying - they react to the implication without even fully processing it and take offence, when a further reading of my wording shows that there was no cause for offence. I had assumed that there was little danger of that here. Apparently I was wrong.

Ok... here is what I said. In fact, here is what I reapeated in full several times because I wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding, which was apparently not enough.
Indi wrote:
I can't conceive of a way to come by a belief in God rationally by means of evidence
Here it is again, with highlighting:
Indi wrote:
I can't conceive of a way to come by a belief in God rationally by means of evidence
And when I repeated it later:
Indi wrote:
a person who had come to believe in God rationally by means of evidence
And again, just to mix it up, I changed the wording slightly:
Indi wrote:
There can be no purely rational person who believes in God on the basis of evidence
And then, I went out of my way - before and after my reply to Miss Princess - to point out that the reason I had that perspective is because I do not believe there is any evidence, and I am waiting to be corrected. If there is no evidence for X, then there is no way you can come to a conclusion that X exists based on evidence, right? Right? Am I right? The "rationally" part is added to rule out people who have evidence for X, but come to the conclusion irrationally (for example, "There is evidence evidence for anti-protons, but I believe in them because I believe that for everything there must be an opposite - a yin to its yang - so since there's a proton there must be an antiproton").

And finally, I wrapped it up by pointing out that since there can be no rational person who has come to the conclusion that God exists by evidence - and because I'd already considered the case of someone who was rational but has no evidence - the only non-trivial case you would be dealing with when considering Miss Princess' question must be an irrational person, and thus the question is how irrational are they. (Of course, I again stated that all of this was hinging on my assumption that there is no evidence. In case you missed it, that was a wide-open and thinly-veiled invitation for you to present yours. Again. And again... no evidence presented.)

In case you missed it, the conversation I was having with Miss Princess was specifically about a person who was considering the existence of God by means of evidence. I pointed out that her question made implicit assumptions about the nature of the hypothetical person - namely that the person was either rational with no evidence, or irrational (because they cannot be rational with evidence). I did not say that you or any believer was irrational. It is perfectly possible to be rational and believe in something without evidence, but since that case had no relevance to the discussion we were having, I did not dwell on it.

nopaniers wrote:
You call people like me indoctrinated... but when it comes down to it, you are the one putting forward the beliefs which have been demonstrated to be incorrect. I mean perpetual motion machines? Come on!

I have already demanded that you provide proof that I claimed that perpetual motion machines exist or that I believed they could. Now I want you to show me where I called anyone "indoctrinated" - and specifically you or people like you - or take it back.

Again, because I'm such a nice guy, I'll take you back to where I mentioned indoctrination:
Indi wrote:
n the latter case - someone who has come by their belief by default - you would have someone who had been indoctrinated to believe in God from childhood, before they could rationally weigh the pros and cons themselves, and had never considered other possibilities rationally until now. Or, alternatively, someone who had no evidence either way, and just randomly picked belief over disbelief.
I was talking about people who came by their beliefs rationally without evidence, and I offered people who had been indoctrinated as an example. To paraphrase, what I said was: "Imagine the case of a person who has come to their belief in God without any evidence. For example, you could have a person who had been indoctrinated since childhood. Or one who had no evidence either way and chose belief in God out of the two possibilities randomly."

So, the only mention that I can remember making of indoctrination is in passing as an example of a kind of person who believed in God without evidence. I did not call you or anyone "like you" indoctrinated. To say that I did is a lie. So take it back or back it up.

nopaniers wrote:
And then, having argued that you do not need to present any evidence to support your views, you have the gall to wonder how much evidence it will take to get someone like me to change my mind??!

*blink*

What the hell are you talking about? When have I wondered how much evidence it would take to convince you or "someone like you" of anything? That was Miss Princess' question, not mine. Are you getting confused? Yes, I answered her question, but my answer was "it's irrelevant". How did you go from that to me having the gall to wonder what evidence would convince you to change your mind?

For the record, I don't really care about how much evidence it will take to convince you or "people like you" (physicists? what people like you are you talking about anyway?) I have no interest in converting anyone. I have only one interest here, and I have been asking the same question(s) about that interest here over and over and over and over....

To recap, you claimed that you have weighed the evidence for and against God and concluded that God exists (and even discovered some of his properties). I have asked you for only two things:
1.) (And this is the principle thing I want to know) What evidence do you have "for"?
2.) Since I believe it is impossible to prove a negative, show me how you could possibly do it.

That's it. Nothing more. You made a claim I consider to be far-fetched. I am asking for you to back it up. That's all.

From me asking this question, you have somehow concluded that:
- I have a problem with you.
- I believe you are irrational.
- I believe that conservation of energy can be violated (?)
- I believe that cloning is possible (??)
- I believe that squares are the same as triangles (?)
- I believe in a "philosphy that leads me to unbelievable conclusions" (What philosophy? What conclusions?)
- I have slurred you and Descartes, Planck, Einstein, Kelvin, Mendel, Boyle, Bacon, Kepler, Coperincus, and Galilei.
- I am playing word games and changing meanings of things. (Where? When?)
- I have beliefs that do not hold with observations. (What beliefs? Perpetual motion machines? I explicitly said I did not believe they existed!)

And, for the record, the only "belief" I have said that I do not have to present evidence for is that God does not exist, and I was pretty explicit and clear when explaining why. I said that I do not believe it is possible to prove a negative, so no amount of evidence would be sufficient. But then I went on to say that if you could prove me wrong, I wanted to hear it!!! That's what question (2) above is!!! If there is anyway evidence can be used to prove that God does not exist, I want to hear how! I can't do it otherwise.

nopaniers wrote:
nopaniers wrote:
Would you like me to explain why I think that Yahweh is God?

Indi wrote:
Are you joking? >_< That's only what I've been asking you to do from the start.

nopaniers wrote:
The question for me was: Are Yahweh and God the same?

Indi wrote:
No, it wasn't.


I'm sorry. I have been trying to answer your questions. I listed some characteristics of which I think any creator of the universe must have, and showed they were the same as those claimed by Yahweh. You ask me why I believe Yahweh is God, I say, because he has the same characteristics that I believe the creator of the universe must have.

Good grief. -_-

What

is

the

evidence

that you have

for believing God has those characteristics???


That is, was, and always has been the question I have been asking you. I didn't ask you why you think Yahweh is God. I asked you what evidence you have for believing there is a creator and he has Yawheh's characteristics. Not "why is Yaweh God", but "why is God Yaweh" or "what evidence do you have that shows God has the characteristics attributed to Yahweh" (and "why God" or "what evidence do you have that God exists" as well).

You claimed everything you believe regarding God is on the basis of evidence. What is the evidence?

nopaniers wrote:
Strangely you seem to think that I assumed Yahweh was God before I started. What do you think I think when I read that, given the number of times I've told you otherwise? It says more about you than it does about me. You've formed an incorrect preconception of how I came to my belief, and you stick to it, seemingly determined to repeat your mantra as often as possible, to me or to anyone who will listen. Why should I listen when you seem determined to stick to things which are blatantly wrong?

Yes, I did assume that you were Christian before you said you were. I based that assumption on statistical likelihood. Anyone who professes to believe in God on the Internet is more than 7 times more likely to be Christian than any other religion. Further, the concepts you were using were decidedly Christian in nature. But you go ahead and characterize my educated guess as a bigoted assumption, if that makes you feel better.

I did form an incorrect assumption of how you came to your beliefs, again based on overwhelming statistical likelihood. Then you corrected me and told you me came to them by means of external (to the bible) evidence. Since then I have been asking you to show me what that evidence is and you have studiously refused to do so.

The only mantra I have had is "show me the evidence you claimed you have". Why should you listen? Because it is ignorant and dishonest to claim that you can talk down someone (in this case, Scientologists) based on evidence of some fact, then refuse to provide that evidence on request.

I haven't been "sticking" to anything, wrong or otherwise, except my demand that you share your evidence. Anything else you see, you put there yourself.

nopaniers wrote:
You did not seem to agree that the creator of the universe (assuming there is one) is powerful, which conflicts with what you said earlier. But I would beg to differ with your new view. Designing a hydraulic press is good, but I'm sorry if I say that on that scale the creation of the universe is just a tad bit more powerful. When I consider the universe on a quantum scale to an interstellar one, it's clear to me that the creator of the universe is powerful.

You did not seem to understand what I said. I am demanding of you evidence for the characteristics that you believe God has. Evidence that you claim you have. If that's your evidence - that God is powerful because the universe is big, so only someone very powerful must have created it - then that is my refutation.

Of course a press isn't on the scale of the universe, but it's pretty damned powerful compared to what someone from a couple hundred years ago could have made. And yet, I am really no more powerful than them. In fact, most people today couldn't build a nuclear reactor. But some can. Are they more powerful than those who cannot?

I say no. I say that the creation cannot be used to judge the power of the creator. To someone for whom the creation is sufficiently technologically advanced that in comparison the person may be called "primitive", the creation may indeed appear to be the handiwork of an extremely powerful entity. A caveman might think a rifle is the handiwork of an extremely powerful being. A person from the Renaissance period might think that an LCD screen is the handiwork of an extremely powerful being. We might think that the universe is the handiwork of an extremely powerful being. In the first two cases, we know that the impression would be wrong. Why not the last?

nopaniers wrote:
Or eternal. There is a lot to say here. Time is a property of the universe. It is not the same for everyone. I'm sure you've heard of the twin's paradox (if not, look it up on wikipedia)... and also I hope that you're aware that gravitational fields and accelleration affect time. So this leads me to the conclusion that time is a property of the universe, certainly not something independant of it. Do you agree?

Time is also the conjugate variable to energy. That's like position is to momentum. So, no measurements of time without energy... and in particular the precision of time measurements are limited by the energy available. So you cannot understand (or even have) time without space, or without energy/matter. These things are properties of the universe and are fundamentally linked. Do you disagree?

And therefore to say that God is not eternal... well that would imply a contradiction with time being a property of the universe. And so, if there is a God (which I believe there is), I believe that they are eternal.

Did you read what I wrote? I specifically answered all of that. Meaning, you've just argued a point I have already refuted. I stated that he likely exists out of the time within this universe. But that does not imply he is eternal. In fact, he may have been dead before the time in this universe even started to tick.

nopaniers wrote:
And another thing you seem to repeat over and over (apart from that perpetual motion machines can exist and that it is not possible for a rational person to come to a belief in God) is that I think that God exists simply because atheist explanations have failed. You are right that they have failed and do not adequately explain what we see. But your failure to offer rational explanations is not what makes me think that God exists.

If you are to be believed I seem to be saying - and repeating - a number of things that I do not believe and do not recall saying. I have been repeating but one thing. I will repeat it again right now:

You have claimed you have objective evidence of the existence God and God's characteristics. Show the evidence. You have also claimed that you weighed evidence for vs. evidence against, to which I argued that such an effort is specious because you can never prove non-existence. Your response was that you can, so I asked you to show me how you can prove God doesn't exist.

That is what I have been repeating.

Anything else I have said was most likely a response to something you said that I thought might-could-possibly-maybe be of some relevance to a reply to that question, so if there was any repeating of my responses, it was in response to a repeating of your statements.

I have already covered that I have never claimed that perpetual machines can exist or that believers in God are all irrational. I have already called those lies and I am waiting on you to either take them back, or prove that I made those claims. I will not challenge them again.

But I have also not claimed that your evidence of God is simply the shortcomings of secular science. If I thought that, I wouldn't be (repeatedly) asking you what evidence you have. Rather, so far all of the evidence you have presented - and I am assuming that's what it was, because you never explicitly identified it as such - has been of that nature: namely that there is something science is as yet unable to completely account for, that you believe to be evidence of God.

But I already know that that can't be all of your evidence for God, because while the values of physical parameters may or may not be evidence for God's existence, they are certainly not evidence of most of the properties you have claimed God has.

So yes, I know the failure to explain phenomena is not the only evidence you have for God. So what is that evidence???

nopaniers wrote:
It is that the natural explanation of the order of the constants of the universe is to assume there is a reason for that order.

Ok, are you saying that your evidence for God's existence is the values of the universal constants? Is that what you're saying? Can I get an explicit yes or no?

I am not even going to bother discussing that further until I know there's a point to it. So tell me straight up:
- Is that the evidence you have for God's existence?
- Is that the only evidence you have?
- If you have other evidence, what is it?

nopaniers wrote:
God is not some default explanation to fall back on when you can't explain something (you have to remember that I was an atheist when considering these things) but something actively pointed to by the universe. When you offer weak explanations it implies that you haven't considered the problem very deeply, or perhaps at all. When you simply assume that a theory hasn't been discovered "yet" which backs up your beliefs... well that is what I call blind faith. And when you repeat over and over mantras which are shown to be wrong, and even conflict with basic mathematical (such as limits) and physical principles (such as conservation of energy) then I think you share all the worst characteristics with the people you critisize.

What mantras have I repeated that are shown to be wrong? Or are you referring to your claims that I believe perpetual motion machines exist or nonsense like that? Because if so, I await evidence from you that I have made those claims. I will refrain from commenting further until you provide such evidence or retract those statements.

Your characterization of my "blind faith" is flawed. Your statement that I offer "weak explanations" is also flawed. I offer no explanations of things science hasn't explained yet. I say that we don't know. We don't have explanations yet.

You offer explanations of things science hasn't explained yet, not me. If I'm correct, you're taking the fact that we are not currently aware of any purely natural law that could cause the physical constants to be what they are and concluding that that implies there must be intelligence at work. Thus, you are creating hypotheses; not me, you. I am simply saying that your hypothesis is not the only explanation of the facts. I am not making conclusions, or even speculating on alternative theories. I am simply saying that you are presupposing that there cannot be alternative theories.

nopaniers wrote:
You started to say that the constants of the universe could not be otherwise. Your explanation is inconsistent with the standard model, string theory and observed evidence. The constants of the universe can be measured, and that they are not fixed like you suggest they are. In the standard model, one of the most successful models over the past century, there are 19 free parameters (plus an extra 10 to describe neutrinos) which are only determined by experiment leaving room for variation. In string theory there is not one self consistent universe, but (literally) millions of millions of self consistent universes.

I am not going to answer this or any other arguments until I get some clarity out of you. Is this your evidence for the existence of God? Is this your only evidence?

nopaniers wrote:
I was hoping for some sort of rational discussion which would make me think. Instead you seem to keep giving me the most extreme theories which conflict with science, mathematics, history, and what I know to be true about my own life. Your explanation for things is often along the lines of personal attack (you think that perpetual motion machines can exist, so you say that I don't understand thermodynamics), evasion (Ockham's razor means that you don't need to offer an explanation), and inuendo ("how entrenched is their irrational belief"). It has done one good thing though: It reminded me what I believe and why.

If what you have quoted of my alleged arguments is the reason you believe what you, then your beliefs are based on misunderstandings, misrepresentations and outright lies. Because that is what I have seen you do to what I have written, and that is what all of the claims that you have made so far that I believe in "extreme" theories are. Of course, if you have real reasons to believe that I believe the things you claim I do, then I'll take that back. But I await evidence. (There seems to be a recurring theme.)

My statement that you did not understand the 2nd law of thermodynamics was made because you stated that it declares perpetual motion machines impossible. That is not true. By making that claim, you were demonstrating a common misunderstanding of the second law. If you took me pointing that out as a personal attack, you were incorrect. You made a mistake, I corrected you. Deal with it.

This statement: "Ockham's razor means that you don't need to offer an explanation" is also a dishonest misrepresentation of how our conversation went. I spent pages trying to show you that you misunderstand Ockham's razor, because you were alleging that it leads to nonsense beliefs when in fact it is a fundamental building block of science. But this is the specific concept - presented in steps - that I believe you are referring to with that claim I quoted:
- I stated that in any scientific investigation you must start with some default (null) hypothesis.
- The null hypothesis in this case is the nullest of null hypotheses. "There is nothing". Or to put it more specifically for this discussion, "there is no God".
- Then you must test that hypothesis and its falsifiable predictions by performing experiments and seeking evidence, to see if that hypothesis conforms with observations.
- In fact, this hypothesis has a functionally infinite amount of falsifiable predictions, meaning there is a functionally infinite number of ways that you can prove it wrong (and thus prove there is a god). It predicts that if I look under that rock, I will not find God. I look, no God, the theory stands. I can do that for an infinite number of places, and as long as I don't find God, the theory stands. I have been alive for decades, and as yet, I have not seen or heard from God.
- So as long as there is no evidence for God, the hypothesis that there is no God stands.

Now, along comes someone - you - making an extraordinary claim. "There is a God", you say. So what happens now?
- You must show that your theory agrees with all known observations. Not me. You. You made the claim, you must justify it. "The burden of proof is on the positive claim."
- You must then show one or more of:
a.) That it describes or predicts all known phenomena better than the previous theory.
b.) That it is more parsimonious that the previous theory (Ockham's razor).
or c.) That it makes new predictions that the old theory did not. Then you must show that those predictions hold, and/or that the old theory's predictions for those observations are wrong.

If you can do that, then your hypothesis will be superior to mine, and my hypothesis will be rejected. Welcome to science.

To humour you, let's do this starting from your assumption - which is not a null assumption, so technically an invalid start, but let's do it for kicks.

- The starting hypothesis is that "God exists".
- Does it agree with current observations? Sure, I guess so - depending on your definition of God, of course. But your definition agrees with current observations, so we'll go with that.
- Does it make testable, falsifiable predictions? I don't know, you'll have to answer that. I suppose you could say it does. For now, I'll assume it does, and that none of those predictions has failed so far.
- So long as no new observations defy the theory, it stands. (For now, let's assume that none do, so the theory stands.)

Now I come along with an outrageous claim. "There is no God," I say, "Everything you see is due to natural processes governed by mathematical laws."
- Now I must show that my theory agrees with all known observations. I made the claim, the burden of proof is on me.
- I must then show one or more of:
a.) That it describes or predicts all known phenomena better than the previous theory.
b.) That it is more parsimonious that the previous theory (Ockham's razor).
or c.) That it makes new predictions that the old theory did not. Then you must show that those predictions hold, and/or that the old theory's predictions for those observations are wrong.
- I do all three.
a.) Natural laws predict far better than God - because God doesn't really tell us where that rock we just threw is going to go, now is he?
b.) It is more parsimonious, because it has one less unproven element - namely God.
c.) It makes many new predictions that the old theory does not. The God theory certainly didn't predict the existence of Neptune.
- Thus my theory is superior to yours, and yours is rejected in favour of mine.

So, we come back to the theory that there is no God being the currenty accepted theory either way. If you want your theory to be considered, you must provide evidence. Not me. I have evidence for my theory. No one has provided any reliable evidence of God.

So no, Ockham's razor doesn't somehow absolve me of providing evidence. I already have the evidence. Which brings us - yet again - back to the burning question.

Where's yours?

...

How about showing me how rational you really are. How about giving me a clear list of the objective evidence you have for God's existence and his characteristics? (It would be nice, too, if you could show me how it is possible to prove his non-existence, but at this point that's far too much to hope for - let's concentrate on this for now.) You have claimed to have come to your beliefs by evidence. Itemize this evidence. Give me a list - that would be nice. Point form; with bullets. Be clear. But however you do it, for the love of all that's holy, share your evidence.
nopaniers
Quote:
I don't even know whether or not you really are a physicist, and I really couldn't care less. Why would you think that would be an issue at all anyway?


I am a physicist. I do not think it is an issue. I'm sorry if you feel threatened, please don't because I'm not a threatening guy. Timid is a better description.

I made some simple points that religion was not God. You weighed in with a misuse of scientific principles and attempted to silence anyone who suggested that God existed. Because I have spent years studying, teaching, and researching physics I am qualified to tell you when you are misusing thermodynamics, for example. What qualifications do you have?

Quote:
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?


First the fact that we exist at all. I have no reason to believe that anything should exist.

Second, that the fundamental constants of the universe are exquisitely ordered.

At this point would like to present a third argument. I believe that, considering entropy does what it does, the universe does have a beginning, and cannot extend off to infinity in time. I also, based on my observations of the universe, believe in causality. So therefore considering these two things together, it's a logical conclusion to make that there was something which cause the universe, caused the big bang or at least the very first part of it. What is your explanation (and I'd suggest you go looking around on atheist websites which will help you here).

Quote:
Where did I claim or imply that I believed that conservation of matter/energy could be violated?

nopaniers wrote:
You can prove that perpetual motion machines don't exist.

Indi wrote:
They are not theoretically impossible. You are demonstrating a misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But that's for another thread.


Or on cloning:

Indi wrote:
Or that cloning is possible or not possible?

nopaniers wrote:
Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible, perfect engines, perfect fridges, there is no quantum cloning, Fermions cannot occupy the same state, there is no information which travels faster than the speed of light.

Indi wrote:
Prove it. You'll find that you can't for each of those claims for various reasons (assuming you're even bothering to try).


And for the record I then gave you links to standard texts on all those things.

Quote:
What I did say is that you cannot prove that no triangle has four sides, which is not even close to saying that all triangles are squares - and even less close to saying they're the same. Not even remotely close.


I have humbly suggest a little reading up on real analysis or differential geometry would set you straight, and the concept of limits, but I see that you haven't bothered. Triangles do not have four sides. The existence of limits (that is area goes to zero) does not imply that triangles can have anything other than three sides. To say so is incorrect.

Indi wrote:
So, the gauntlet is thrown. Yes, in case I wasn't being clear, I called most of the claims you made about me in the paragraph quoted above lies.


I expect an apology for being called a liar. Anyone is free to read the thread and see that you did indeed make those claims.

Quote:
... And finally, I wrapped it up by pointing out that since there can be no rational person who has come to the conclusion that God exists by evidence.


As a counterexample to your claim, I pointed out that many great thinkers, who most people would regard as rational, came to exactly that conclusion. It is for you to decide which part of your argument was wrong to lead you to a conclusion which is so easily refuted.

Indi wrote:
I have already demanded that you provide proof that I claimed that perpetual motion machines exist or that I believed they could.


Once again. I said that perpetual motion machines did not exist. You replied:
Indi wrote:
They are not theoretically impossible.

I said:
nopaniers wrote:
Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible...

You replied:
Indi wrote:
Prove it. You'll find that you can't...


Indi wrote:
Now I want you to show me where I called anyone "indoctrinated"

Okay.
Indi wrote:
In the latter case - someone who has come by their belief by default - you would have someone who had been indoctrinated to believe in God



Indi wrote:
What the hell are you talking about? When have I wondered how much evidence it would take to convince you or "someone like you" of anything?

Indi wrote:
Asking would would change the mind of a person who had come to believe in God rationally by means of evidence is equivalent to asking what Santa Claus would do with a child who had been naughty because of a chemical imbalance rather than just bad behaviour.



Quote:
1.) What evidence do you have "for"?


Please see above.


Quote:
2.) Since I believe it is impossible to prove a negative, show me how you could possibly do it.


I have shown you numerous counter example to your belief. For example, that it is not possible to violate the conservation of energy. Quantum cloning is not possible. Perpetual motion machines are not possible. I have given many ways in which you could go about disproving the existence of God.

Quote:
Yes, I did assume that you were Christian before you said you were.


At the time I was an atheist. I was not a Christian assuming X and implying X, which you claimed. I was an atheist, trying to find atheistic explanations for the universe. Why are you repeating otherwise?

Quote:
Because it is ignorant and dishonest to claim that you can talk down someone (in this case, Scientologists) based on evidence of some fact, then refuse to provide that evidence on request.


I gave concrete evidence why I don't believe scientology. The Himalayas are not volcanic.

Quote:
You did not seem to understand what I said. I am demanding of you evidence for the characteristics that you believe God has.


My evidence is that creation is an amazing place. Huge, complex and beautiful. You think you are powerful because you can create a press. I think God is powerful because he can create a cosmos. As you yourself said:
Indi wrote:
[God is] really powerful.

If you do not think that the universe's creator (assuming it has one) is powerful then we will simply have to differ. I, for one, am in absolute awe of the universe.

Quote:
I stated that he likely exists out of the time within this universe... In fact, he may have been dead before the time in this universe even started to tick.


How can you say that there was a "before" when time is a property of the universe? More importantly, how can something be inside the universe but outside time? Time and space cannot be separated in that way.

Quote:
Your response was that you can, so I asked you to show me how you can prove God doesn't exist.


Just because it is logically prove something doesn't mean that it is true. I could potentially prove that 15 is a prime number, if it was prime... It's not so I can't. You critisize me for not providing you with a proof that God doesn't exist. I gave you a number of avenues you could try, any one of which were valid, just as I would suggest you try trial division for factoring 15. But don't critisize me for not proving that 15 is prime, because it's not... and likewise don't critisize me for proving your own assumptions.

Indi wrote:
But I have also not claimed that your evidence of God is simply the shortcomings of secular science.

Indi wrote:
Science is still working on that one. Religion's answer is "God did it", but it presents no evidence to support that theory except a slight shortage of competing theories and evidence to support them.


Quote:
Ok, are you saying that your evidence for God's existence is the values of the universal constants?


Yes. That is evidence which fits very well with the existence of God.

Quote:
Is that the evidence you have for God's existence?


Yes.

Quote:
Is that the only evidence you have?


No.

Quote:
What mantras have I repeated that are shown to be wrong?


That perpetual motion machines haven't been disproven. That the only evidence I have for God is the failure of atheist explanations. That triangles cannot be proven not to have four sides. That negatives cannot be disproven. That quantum cloning isn't disproven. That there is no evidence supporting the existence of God. That rational people do not believe in God. That there is no evidence that Jesus existed. These are all things which you repeat, despite being shown counter examples.

Quote:
I offer no explanations of things science hasn't explained yet.


Hmmmm... you claimed differently in the very same post.

Quote:
Thus, you are creating hypotheses; not me, you. I am simply saying that your hypothesis is not the only explanation of the facts.


Well if that is what you are saying, let me reply. You have not provided evidence that my hypothesis is wrong. I am well aware that there are other possible explanations, but like your alternative hypothesis demonstrated so well, I have good reason to believe that they are incorrect. Why should I believe your disproven theories over one which stands any number of tests? I shouldn't. Should I examine the evidence and weigh up the different theories? Yes, I should. Do I? Yes, I do. Did I? Yes, I did. I came to the conclusion that the most logical explanation is that God exists.

Quote:
I am not going to answer this or any other arguments until I get some clarity out of you. Is this your evidence for the existence of God?


Yes. It is some evidence backing the existence of God.

Quote:
Is this your only evidence?


No. It is not the only evidence.

Quote:
My statement that you did not understand the 2nd law of thermodynamics was made because you stated that it declares perpetual motion machines impossible.... I spent pages trying to show you that you misunderstand Ockham's razor, because you were alleging that it leads to nonsense beliefs


Which it did, and you are demonstrating so well, yet again. Perpetual motion machines do not exist, and if your philosophy leads you to believe that they do then I suggest that it is your philosphy which is wrong, not thermodynamics.

Quote:
- You must then show one or more of:
a.) That it describes or predicts all known phenomena better than the previous theory.


I pick (a) and will also consider (b) and (c). I offer an explanation which explains the careful choice of the constants, and the fact that anything exists at all. You have not offered a valid explanation of why this should be so. Your only theory so far, that the constants cannot be otherwise is contradicted by both experimental and theoretical evidence. You have not challenged my hypothesis has not been challenged on the basis of evidence and it makes verifyable predictions about the nature of the universe.

You might assume that atheism or deism makes no difference, but it does as I have been saying, it does. Atheism in fact, predicts that there is no reason for the universal constants are conducive for life and in fact would predict that they were overwhelmingly likely not to be. Starting from atheist principles, you would expect a dead universe, in many senses of the word. In contrast, a belief in God would be consistent with what we observe. The delicate balance between chaos and predicability. The life. Don't get confused here, I'm not talking about evolution or anything like that, I'm talking about the fundamental construction of the universe. The fundamental construction of the universe is set up in exactly that way. With a belief in God, this amazing construction is rational and expainable.

And so, having offered a hypothesis, which explains the universe better than previous theory, it is over to you. If you don't believe my hypothesis then you should present me with a hypothesis which fulfils (a), (b) -- remembering that your theory should still explain the observation, and (c).

Quote:
- Now I must show that my theory agrees with all known observations. I made the claim, the burden of proof is on me.


Indeed it is. So I ask for a rational explanation why anything exists at all, and why the constants are so exquisitely ordered, as I did. You admit, as you did, that you have no valid explanation, and which means your claim falls in a heap at part (a). It does not explain the observations which my hypothesis explains, let alone any notion of explaining them "better" whatever that means. Some type of belief that a future theory will prove me wrong isn't evidence, that is blind faith.

Quote:
a.) Natural laws predict far better than God - because God doesn't really tell us where that rock we just threw is going to go, now is he?


Shannon's entropy isn't going to tell you where the rock fell. Your statement is not logical. It does not show that my arguement is wrong, nor does it show that Shanon entropy is wrong, or indeed any other theory. If you want to show that your theory is correct, you need to compare it in a situation where the respective theories make different predictions. So far all theories predict the rock would fall in the same place.

I offer you a concrete example of where your theory and mine make verifyably different predictions. Now we make the observation, and ask "Are the constants so beautifully ordered?" and make the observation and see that, yes they are. We ask "Do we exist?" and as you pointed out we know the answer already. Yes, we do exist. So we conclude that the theory which makes these predictions is the more likely theory.

Since your theory fails as it is, to make the correct predictions, it is rejected.

But you say: Aha! I don't want to admit that God could exist, since it seems such a leap of faith. I could potentially postulate something which would explain existence without resorting to God (my first reaction too), and then my theory would too would pass (a). If you say so, then do so (like tried to and so did you). Your first attempt wasn't exactly convincing... and so you try again, as I hope you will... and most likely fail again. Eventually, if you are anything like me, you will go through the literature (rejecting the ones which make no verifyable predictions), and finally you find one which you don't think is disproven (for me that was Wheeler or variations on Everett) who try to explain this problem... at which point we can proceed.

Quote:
(b) So they should be parsimonious.


Well considering that the only remaining theories involve either many billions of co-existing universes... you ask yourself the simple question. Why am I pushing myself to such believe in such monstrosities to deny that God, in some form or another, might exist? And if you are like me you will have to concede eventually that your preconceptions might be wrong and you'll have to consider some type of creator.

Quote:
c.) It makes many new predictions that the old theory does not. The God theory certainly didn't predict the existence of Neptune.


I'm sorry, I obviously missed the part where Neptune was predicted by atheism. I don't think that it is. I'm surprised you put this as your "evidence" that atheism makes predictions which a belief in God does not, because I do not think either theory predicts the existence of Neptune.

Quote:
I have evidence for my theory.


Am I to take seriously your explanation that atheism predicts the existence of Neptune? I agree that believing in God doesn't imply the existence of Neptune, but not that it is predicted by atheism. I'm speechless. That is the most amazing theory. Somehow you see the existence of Neptune as a verifyable prediction made by atheism, but I'm sorry I don't understand how.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
I am a physicist. I do not think it is an issue. I'm sorry if you feel threatened, please don't because I'm not a threatening guy. Timid is a better description.

*blink* I feel threatened? Do you think you're threatenting me?

nopaniers wrote:
I made some simple points that religion was not God. You weighed in with a misuse of scientific principles and attempted to silence anyone who suggested that God existed. Because I have spent years studying, teaching, and researching physics I am qualified to tell you when you are misusing thermodynamics, for example. What qualifications do you have?

What? I am not silencing or attempting to silence anyone. In fact, I have been demanding - even pleading with you - for you to speak up and back up your claims. Will you just drop the persecution complex crap, please? You made a far-fetched claim. I demanded your evidence. Nothing more, nothing less.

Whatever qualifications you have, it doesn't change the fact that you've misinterpreted the second law of thermodynamics. You said the 2nd law made perpetual motion machines impossible. If you can't see what's wrong with that statement, then you don't understand the second law. This has nothing to do with whether or not the 2nd law is absolute truth, or the possibility of it being incorrect or incomplete. The 2nd law as is does not say perpetual motion machines are impossible. Look it up. You are wrong. Deal.

Do you really need me to explain to you why you are wrong? All those years of studying, teaching and researching physics and you can't figure out how to look up one of the fundamental laws of nature and comprehend it? Just look it up and read it. The answer is right there. Most good books will explain your mistake explicitly, because it is a common enough one.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?


First the fact that we exist at all. I have no reason to believe that anything should exist.

Second, that the fundamental constants of the universe are exquisitely ordered.

At this point would like to present a third argument. I believe that, considering entropy does what it does, the universe does have a beginning, and cannot extend off to infinity in time. I also, based on my observations of the universe, believe in causality. So therefore considering these two things together, it's a logical conclusion to make that there was something which cause the universe, caused the big bang or at least the very first part of it. What is your explanation (and I'd suggest you go looking around on atheist websites which will help you here).

We're talking about your evidence, not mine. You made a claim, I asked for your evidence. We can talk about mine later. Stop changing the subject. It is your evidence that is being discussed here.

So, this is your evidence that God exists? This is all of your evidence for the existence of God? Is this all of what you have kept me waiting for for all this time and all these posts?

That can't be all of it. >_< Where is your evidence that God is benevolent or omniscient? Don't you have evidence for those characteristics?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Where did I claim or imply that I believed that conservation of matter/energy could be violated?

nopaniers wrote:
You can prove that perpetual motion machines don't exist.

Indi wrote:
They are not theoretically impossible. You are demonstrating a misunderstanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But that's for another thread.

Yes, look it up. Read carefully. The answer's there - right there in any properly written description of the 2nd law.

But, that has nothing to do with conservation of energy. You have provided no evidence that I claimed it was possible to violate conservation of energy (or matter). Thus, I maintain that you are a liar.

nopaniers wrote:
Or on cloning:

Indi wrote:
Or that cloning is possible or not possible?

nopaniers wrote:
Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible, perfect engines, perfect fridges, there is no quantum cloning, Fermions cannot occupy the same state, there is no information which travels faster than the speed of light.

Indi wrote:
Prove it. You'll find that you can't for each of those claims for various reasons (assuming you're even bothering to try).

You have not provided evidence that I claimed that cloning was possible. Thus, I maintain that you are a liar.

In both of those cases, I said that you cannot prove that it was impossible. I did not say that it was possible. If you are incapable of recognizing the difference, then I question your comprehension skills. But given that you claim to be so well educated, I am forced to assume that you do comprehend that I am not claiming that it is possible when I say that it cannot be proven impossible, and are simply warping my words to make me look like a lunatic, and thus avoid sharing the evidence that I have been asking you for. Why is it so important for you to not share your evidence that you would stoop to lies to slander me just to avoid sharing it?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
What I did say is that you cannot prove that no triangle has four sides, which is not even close to saying that all triangles are squares - and even less close to saying they're the same. Not even remotely close.


I have humbly suggest a little reading up on real analysis or differential geometry would set you straight, and the concept of limits, but I see that you haven't bothered. Triangles do not have four sides. The existence of limits (that is area goes to zero) does not imply that triangles can have anything other than three sides. To say so is incorrect.

And you carefully removed the section when I pointed out that I was talking about practice, not theory, which I had stated at the beginning of the whole thing.

Limits are theoretical constructs. In reality, a triangle shrunk to the size of one atom is indistinguishable from a square shrunk of size one atom. While they may be different in theory, we're not talking about theory.

Was your elimination of the part where I point out that I am not and was not ever talking about theoretical proofs deliberate? I don't know. So I can't say for sure that you were being dishonest on this point up to now. Still, now it should be clear what point I was making. (And of course, the idea that I claimed all triangles are squares is still complete nonsense.)

nopaniers wrote:
I expect an apology for being called a liar. Anyone is free to read the thread and see that you did indeed make those claims.

You are a liar. You have presented no evidence to the contrary. You have apparently deliberately misrepresented what I have said to make my arguments look positively bizarre and non-sensical. To chalk it up to simple misunderstanding at this point would be a stretch at best. Thus, you have lied.

Of course, you're still welcome to show that you did not lie. Just show me where I claimed that it was possible to violate the law of conservation of energy, or where I said quantum cloning was possible, or where I said triangles are squares. I can't imagine that your comprehension skills are so underdeveloped that you could confuse "you cannot prove it impossible" with "I believe it is possible". Therefore, it would appear that your misinterpretation is deliberate. So you have still shown no proof that you are not lying about what I have said. Until you do, you are a liar.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
... And finally, I wrapped it up by pointing out that since there can be no rational person who has come to the conclusion that God exists by evidence.


As a counterexample to your claim, I pointed out that many great thinkers, who most people would regard as rational, came to exactly that conclusion. It is for you to decide which part of your argument was wrong to lead you to a conclusion which is so easily refuted.

Refuted? By what? An empty appeal to authority?

You are taking the conclusion out of its context - which is dishonest. The full context is: "Assuming there is no evidence of God, there can be no rational person who comes to the conclusion that God exists by evidence." Just taking the part after the comma as my whole argument is misleading, and dishonest.

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
I have already demanded that you provide proof that I claimed that perpetual motion machines exist or that I believed they could.


Once again. I said that perpetual motion machines did not exist. You replied:
Indi wrote:
They are not theoretically impossible.

I said:
nopaniers wrote:
Not only are perpetual motion machines not possible...

You replied:
Indi wrote:
Prove it. You'll find that you can't...

And again, read the 2nd law. Read it carefully. You're missing something.

But for the record, I never claimed that they exist or that they could. I just pointed out that that particular law does not state that they can't.

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
Now I want you to show me where I called anyone "indoctrinated"

Okay.
Indi wrote:
In the latter case - someone who has come by their belief by default - you would have someone who had been indoctrinated to believe in God

Did you read what I wrote in the last post? Obviously not.

In this case, you have not only not proved that you are not a liar, you've suggested that you are a careless liar.

Once again, you have taken a sentence completely out of the surrounding context and interpreted it by itself, which is misleading and dishonest. I said (paraphrased): "Consider the case of a person, rational or irrational, who has come to believe in God without evidence, by default. You would have someone who had been indoctrinated to believe in God, or someone who had made the decision by a random choice." Somehow, you picked out one clause in that entire context and interpreted it to imply that I said: "I believe everyone who believes in God has been indoctrinated". There are only three possible ways you could have done this. The first is if your comprehension skills are severely lacking. The second is if you didn't read the section properly - you were careless. The third, and the most troubling, is if you are deliberately warping my words, and lying about what I believe.

nopaniers wrote:
Indi wrote:
What the hell are you talking about? When have I wondered how much evidence it would take to convince you or "someone like you" of anything?

Indi wrote:
Asking would would change the mind of a person who had come to believe in God rationally by means of evidence is equivalent to asking what Santa Claus would do with a child who had been naughty because of a chemical imbalance rather than just bad behaviour.

Good god man. -_- The chip on your shoulder must be a redwood.

That discussion was about a theoretical person - a thought experiment. That particular part of the discussion was about a case that I had already shown to be impossible. To even imagine that it could possibly be referring to you - or any existing human being - is, frankly, idiotic. It was an impossible theoretical construct! I said that that person could not exist! How could it possibly be related to you in any way? (Or "someone like you"?)

Honestly, are you reading anything? Or just skimming?

nopaniers wrote:
I have given many ways in which you could go about disproving the existence of God.

Then please share them again, because I must have missed them in the confusion.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Yes, I did assume that you were Christian before you said you were.


At the time I was an atheist. I was not a Christian assuming X and implying X, which you claimed. I was an atheist, trying to find atheistic explanations for the universe. Why are you repeating otherwise?

*blink*

I... can't even fathom what line of thought could have generated a response like that given the statement that I made. What did you think I said?

You pointed out that early in the conversation I misjudged you and where you got your beleifs from. That quote above was me saying, yes, I admit I did make that mistake.

What hell is your reply about? >_<

nopaniers wrote:
I gave concrete evidence why I don't believe scientology. The Himalayas are not volcanic.

And I probably gave a reply to that, but I can't remember now, and don't really care. The point is, you did claim that you had evidence for your beliefs, which justified you attacking other beliefs. What is that evidence?

nopaniers wrote:
If you do not think that the universe's creator (assuming it has one) is powerful then we will simply have to differ. I, for one, am in absolute awe of the universe.

Good for you. Your awe, however, does not come close to constituting objective evidence. Which, as I keep pointing out, is what I'm asking for.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I stated that he likely exists out of the time within this universe... In fact, he may have been dead before the time in this universe even started to tick.


How can you say that there was a "before" when time is a property of the universe? More importantly, how can something be inside the universe but outside time? Time and space cannot be separated in that way.

Assume there is some measure of time outside of this universe, and independent of it. Why? Because the bible talks of the timespan it took God to create the universe, and how he rested. If time only exists inside the universe, then the idea of God resting for a day is completely nonsensical. So God must have some kind of time flow of his own. So, God is in his space-time, and we, in our universe, are in our own space-time, which is independent of the time in God's over-universe. (God can influence our space-time, of course.)

So, in God's time flow, he spends some span of time constructing the embryonic universe, preparing for the moment it gets "started". Up to this point, our space-time does not exist. Then God hits the switch, and our universe begins - complete with our own time and space dimensions.

So I can say there was a "before" because I am talking about God's over-universe, and God's space-time - not ours. To answer your question - nothing can be inside the universe but outside of it's space-time - honestly, I don't even know where that question came from, because I wasn't claiming anything of the sort.

When I said that God may have been dead before our universe began, I was speaking in God's time (which should be obvious, since ours hadn't begun). In this scenario, God creates the embryonic universe and starts the timer to it's big bang (the timer being in God's space-time, of course - our universe doesn't exist yet). Then God dies. The timer continues to run, and eventually - bang! - our universe is created (complete with its own, internal space-time). Thus, God is dead before our universe begins.

Now, I'm not claiming that's what happened. I'm just showing you that just because God exists outside of our space-time, that doesn't automatically mean that he is eternal. Thus, if you want to claim that God is eternal (or even currently alive), you'll need more evidence than just that he exists outside of our space-time.

nopaniers wrote:
Just because it is logically prove something doesn't mean that it is true. I could potentially prove that 15 is a prime number, if it was prime... It's not so I can't. You critisize me for not providing you with a proof that God doesn't exist. I gave you a number of avenues you could try, any one of which were valid, just as I would suggest you try trial division for factoring 15. But don't critisize me for not proving that 15 is prime, because it's not... and likewise don't critisize me for proving your own assumptions.

I am not asking you for a proof that God doesn't exist. -_- That would be absurd. If you believe he exists then obviously you don't have proof that he doesn't exist.

I am asking you for an "avenue" I guess, to use your word - I just want to know how it can be possibly done, because I don't think it can. You claim you have shown me ways it could be done, but I have yet to see them.

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Ok, are you saying that your evidence for God's existence is the values of the universal constants?


Yes. That is evidence which fits very well with the existence of God.

Quote:
Is that the evidence you have for God's existence?


Yes.

Quote:
Is that the only evidence you have?


No.

Is the rest the other two pieces of evidence you gave? Is there more? Why are you refusing to just share the evidence you have?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
What mantras have I repeated that are shown to be wrong?


That perpetual motion machines haven't been disproven. That the only evidence I have for God is the failure of atheist explanations. That triangles cannot be proven not to have four sides. That negatives cannot be disproven. That quantum cloning isn't disproven. That there is no evidence supporting the existence of God. That rational people do not believe in God. That there is no evidence that Jesus existed. These are all things which you repeat, despite being shown counter examples.

Not only have I not repeated most of those things, I never said some of them. They are lies you are making up about me.

- That perpetual motion machines haven't been disproven.
I said that they can't be disproven. Because you can't prove a negative.

- That the only evidence I have for God is the failure of atheist explanations.
I never said anything like that. That is your conclusion, not mine. I said that that one particular bit of evidence you offered fit that description. I never stated nor implied that all of the evidence you had did. If you are claiming I did, you are lying.

In fact, I am still asking you for your evidence, so how can I have made judgements about it when I don't even have it yet?

- That triangles cannot be proven not to have four sides.
Eh?

- That negatives cannot be disproven.
Yes. But of course, as I said in the beginning, negatives cannot be disprove in practice. Not in theory, in practice. In theory you can prove God doesn't exist just by examining everywhere he could be and showing that he's not there. In practice, that's impossible.

- That quantum cloning isn't disproven.
I said that it can't be disproven. Because you can't prove a negative.

- That there is no evidence supporting the existence of God.
I explicitly stated that this was only what I believed, and invited you to correct me by showing me yours. If you are claiming that I have stated this as a matter of fact, then you are lying.

- That rational people do not believe in God.
I never claimed nor implied anything of the sort. If you are claiming I did, you are lying.

- That there is no evidence that Jesus existed.
Oh good grief. -_- I said that I did not believe the evidence that he existed was particularly strong, and certainly not conclusive. This is getting ridiculous. Jesus isn't even relevant in this thread! Why the hell would I be repeatedly asserting a "mantra" that he didn't exist in here?

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
I offer no explanations of things science hasn't explained yet.


Hmmmm... you claimed differently in the very same post.

*blink* Where?

I have said that alternate explanations exist many times, and I have made random specious guesses to show that many theories can fit the observed facts for many things that science cannot explain. But I certainly didn't offer explanations, just possibilities.

nopaniers wrote:
Well if that is what you are saying, let me reply. You have not provided evidence that my hypothesis is wrong. I am well aware that there are other possible explanations, but like your alternative hypothesis demonstrated so well, I have good reason to believe that they are incorrect. Why should I believe your disproven theories over one which stands any number of tests? I shouldn't. Should I examine the evidence and weigh up the different theories? Yes, I should. Do I? Yes, I do. Did I? Yes, I did. I came to the conclusion that the most logical explanation is that God exists.

I am not interested in proving your hypothesis wrong. -_-

To repeat myself again, you said you had objective evidence that God exists. I want to see it. That's all. I don't care if you're right or wrong, ok? I really don't give a damn. I want to see your evidence. That. Is. All. I just want you to tell me what evidence you have.

You have turned what should have been a simple request and response into a debacle, implying that I'm some kind of deluded wacko out to persecute you and all theists. For christ's sake, all I want is to know what evidence you have. (And, to know how it's possible to prove the negative that God doesn't exist, but that's the secondary goal.) You made a far-fetched claim, I want to see your evidence. That-is-all! I don't care about converting you to anything, or changing your mind. I don't care about whether or not you're a physicist or a meter maid. I don't even care about whether Jesus really existed or not. They are all irrelevant. All I want to know is what is the objective evidence you claim to have. That is frickin all. Nothing more. That's it.

Why are you warping everything I say? Why are you claiming I'm deluded? I am not the topic of conversation here. The evidence you claim you have is. Nothing more. Nothing less. And yet....

nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Is this your only evidence?


No. It is not the only evidence.

... you see? You keep doing that. You keep saying you have evidence, but you don't give it. Why won't you share it? What is the point of keeping it to yourself? Why am I so hostile to your beliefs just because I want to know? I don't know how things work in the physics academia where you come from, but where I come from, people share that kind of information. Why are you witholding it?

It's just ridiculous to make claims like that then not provide evidence. And then to call me deluded and twist everything I say into outright lies instead of just answering the damn question - it demonstrates nothing more that simple dishonesty.

I'm tired now, so I'm just going to try again - although it seems almost hopelessly futile - but I'm going to try yet again to ask you to just share the evidence you have. And ask, why are you refusing to share it? What's the point?
nopaniers
You are right. This has degenerated the point of farce. At this point I think it is better that we agree to disagree.

These aren't intended to be argumentative, but really I'm trying to help you, so please this the wrong way:

Limits are an important concept. Velocities, energies, pretty much any continuous variable (in fact, continuity is defined as the limit at a point being the same as the value of the function at the point) is described as some type of limit. For example, velocity is defined as:
Lim dt->0 (s(t)-s(t+dt))/dt
So something as simple as reading the speedometer is taking a limit. I'm saying this for your own benefit, not to argue.

And to PP: If you want to prove someone did not enter a shop you do not need to examine every possibility (such as examining a video tape all day and seeing he was not on there), but much more simply you can show that he was somewhere else...

More formally it's called proof by contradiction. If
A->B,
and you show
~B
Then A is false.

In this case, I assume A=he was in the store.
which implies B=he was not in Australia at the time.
And I show, ~B=he WAS in Australia at the time.
So it cannot be true that he was in the store. It's a simple, practical way of proving things.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
You are right. This has degenerated the point of farce. At this point I think it is better that we agree to disagree.

Disagree on what? I'm asking you for the evidence you claimed you had. What point are we disagreeing on? And why do you still refuse to share your evidence?

nopaniers wrote:
And to PP: If you want to prove someone did not enter a shop you do not need to examine every possibility (such as examining a video tape all day and seeing he was not on there), but much more simply you can show that he was somewhere else...

More formally it's called proof by contradiction. If
A->B,
and you show
~B
Then A is false.

In this case, I assume A=he was in the store.
which implies B=he was not in Australia at the time.
And I show, ~B=he WAS in Australia at the time.
So it cannot be true that he was in the store. It's a simple, practical way of proving things.

I already explained to her that neither of those methods constitutes proving a negative.

For example, your proof by contradiction is not proving a negative, it is finding an equivalent positive and proving that. "The person was not in the store" is a negative (albeit not a true negative), but you don't tackle that - instead you reformulate as a positive "the person was somewhere else" and prove that. Why? Because you can't prove the negative directly.

Of course, that only works when a positive reformulation is possible, which it is not in the case of true negatives - or "pure" negatives, and the technical term might be "absolute" negatives, but I'm not sure. There is no way you can reformulate true negatives like "aliens have never visited Earth", "time travel is impossible" or "God does not exist" into positive presmises. (And because I know you're going to warp what I just said to suit your own purposes, I'm going to be anally explicit. I do not necessarily believe any of those statements, they are just examples of true negative statements.)

As for the video tape evidence, whether or not it is acceptable proof depends on the context. If the guy in question is an ordinary guy and there is no plausible reason to assume he had either motive or capability to fool the store security system, then sure, the fact that he doesn't appear on the video is fairly strong evidence.

But if the guy is some kind of spy or assassin, and there was a murder in the store matching his M.O., then the video tape alone would not be sufficient evidence to prove that he had not been there. It would be enough to cast reasonable doubt, in most cases, but it would not constitute proof that he had not been in the store given that there is strong evidence that he was there, and he was motivated and capable of fooling the security.

Or if the guy was some kind of magician acting on a bet to get into and out of the store without being detected and return with something from the store, and he did, the video tape evidence is obviously not sufficient to prove he wasn't there. Or if the guy was a thief, he could have probably avoided the cameras somehow. Or....

You see? Even though the negative in this case isn't a true negative, and even though the area and timespan in question are so minute, it's still impossible to prove the negative. You can certainly limit reasonable doubts if you narrow the parameters enough, but you can never remove all reasonable doubts (let alone all doubts, period).

You can't prove a negative.
NemoySpruce
--You cant prove a negative--

I agree, you cannot provide evidence to support a negative claim. What I dont get is why would you cling to the negative version of the question if you are looking for answers? Its a nice place to be, so simple and it feels peaceful somehow. God does not exist. end of story, next question. But where would that get us? How would we really find out?
Indi
NemoySpruce wrote:
--You cant prove a negative--

I agree, you cannot provide evidence to support a negative claim. What I dont get is why would you cling to the negative version of the question if you are looking for answers? Its a nice place to be, so simple and it feels peaceful somehow. God does not exist. end of story, next question. But where would that get us? How would we really find out?

Eh? I don't get what point you're trying to make?

Who's clinging to anything?

You can't prove a negative. You can't prove God doesn't exist. Thus the only way you can possibly consider the existence of God logically is to start with the assumption that he doesn't exist.

If you start with the assumption that God does exist then you can never be proven wrong, even if you are - because no such proof can exist (as you said: "you cannot provide evidence to support a negative claim"). If you start with the assumption that God doesn't exist, then you may be proven wrong when proof is supplied that he does. Therefore, unless you're comfortable with the possibility of being wrong and forever ignorant of that fact, the only logical starting assumption is that God does not exist, because that is the only assumption that is falsifiable.

If you're really looking for answers, then the only assumption you can start from is that God does not exist. If you start from the assumption that God does exist, you can never be proven wrong, even if you are - so are you really interested in looking for answers in such a case? Or truth? Not really. You've just picked the assumption that can never be proven wrong so you'll always appear to be right, even if you're not.

So to answer your question, the way you would really find out whether God exists or not is to assume he doesn't, then seek evidence to contradict that assumption. If you never find evidence that God exists, then your default assumption was probably right. If you do, then your default assumption was wrong, and now you can discard it on the weight of whatever evidence you have.

And to answer your other question: the assumption that God does not exist will either get you nowhere if there really is no God (because you were right to begin), or it will get you to proof of God's existence and new knowledge. The assumption that God does exist will never get you anywhere, whether it's right or wrong.
The Philosopher Princess
(Oops, I sure never came back here like I had intended. I hope no offense is taken by anyone because none is intended. I haven’t followed up with many threads I’ve enjoyed.)

I have a different understanding of the process of so-called proving a negative. But, then, my approach towards proving, period, seems to be different from most people’s approaches.

If a certain standard of proof is set (whether it’s a very strict standard, or a pretty lax standard, or something in-between) then one can work to gather (and possibly can gather) enough evidence to meet that standard -- whether one is working to prove the positive or prove the negative. If no standard has been set, no proof will be had, irrespective of the positiveness or negativeness of the assertion.
~~~~~~~~~~
Take a very simple example, assuming no unusual circumstances. Is Joe standing in front of me? Prove to Lois, who is sitting next to me, whether or not Joe is standing in front of me.

If Joe is, indeed, standing in front of me, then it’s easy to show/prove to Lois that Joe is standing in front of me. If Joe is not standing in front of me, then it’s easy to show/prove to Lois that Joe is not standing in front of me.

(If Joe were standing there but I wanted to prove he was not -- or if Joe were not standing there but I wanted to prove he was -- I’d have to resort to trickery, which Lois {given “no unusual circumstances”} is going to be smart enough to see through.)

In this case, if I’m working to prove the truth, then it is neither easier nor harder to prove the positive nor the negative. (If I’m working to prove a falsity, then my trickery needed to prove the positive or negative has no inherent difficulty differences; they’re both difficult.)

If Joe is not in front of me, then to prove that Joe is not standing in front of me, I in no way need to make the (extra) effort to prove that Joe is somewhere else. In fact, I do not even need to prove that Joe exists. I simply need to show Lois the (small) area we agreed fit what it means to be in front of me, and show that no Joe is there.
~~~~~~~~~~
And, therefore, I’m going to disagree with the following, of which the above was a simpler case.

Indi wrote:
(One more sidebar here to mention that that's not really proving a negative. A true negative is one that cannot be stated positively. Saying "Joe was not at the store" is equivalent to saying "Joe was somewhere else", which is a positive statement. You could thus prove the so-called "negative" by showing Joe was somewhere else, so it's not a real negative.

While it might help one’s proof of "Joe was not at the store" by proving he was elsewhere, it is not a necessity. It would be possible that some reasonable standards of proof would allow one to meet those standards by what could be called comprehensively searching the area.

(Changing our hypothetical, take a store salesperson, Clem, who is being accused of stealing from the till. Clem claims that “Joe was in the store and stole the money, not I!”. Well, this “Joe” may or may not exist, but sufficient proof to meet the given standard could be met whether or not he exists. If Joe doesn’t exist, “sufficient” proof against Clem’s claim can still be had. What is “sufficient”? That must be decided, but it is no less necessary nor necessarily difficult than deciding what is sufficient for proving a positive. )
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
For a true negative statement, like "God does not exist", there is no way you can word it positively. "God is non-existent" is still negative, as is "this universe is God-less".)

Sorry, but I don’t agree. You can state, “In every place in the universe, there exists something other than God.”

Have fun proving that positive statement Wink Smile. But if I were being paid to consult someone who wanted to disprove someone else’s claim that God existed, I would advise them -- not only to not take that (positive) approach -- but mainly to not allow the other person to dominate (nor be subservient on) how proof of anything will be met, and even more importantly, to not allow them to not work to come to agreement of a standard.

An agreement of terms and what constitutes proof must be accepted by both parties first; otherwise, the search for any and all positives and negatives is going to be easily unattainable. Obviously, such agreements can be difficult to reach, especially where there are big disagreements to start with, but not more difficult than trying to prove or disprove what hasn’t been precisely stated.

If it’s asserted that God is everywhere, for example, why should the skeptic have to search the whole universe to disprove for the believer? That’s extra effort not needed. If God is everywhere, then it can be broken up into God is in any particular place chosen, and thus choosable and searchable by both parties.
~~~~~~~~~~
“In every one of my cars permeates the sweet smell of potpourri.” implies “Stinky smells do not exist in my cars.”

Proving the former is proving a positive. Proving the latter is proving a negative. Gathering evidence to prove either means doing exactly the same thing: going into each of my cars, sitting in the front seat, sitting in the back seat, sitting in my trunk if you like, and doing a whole lot of smelling. (My last word should have been “sniffing” but I couldn’t resist the double-context. Laughing)

Some people are going to be thrown off by concentrating on the fact that as soon as even one stinky smell is smelt, the proof is done. But then they might miss the fact that to prove either the positive version or the negative version must include a “thorough” search of the entire area. (What constitutes “thorough”? Whatever the standard is agreed to by the wondering parties, made up possibly of a believer and a skeptic.)
~~~~~~~~~~
“God does not exist.” implies “God is nowhere.”

A person asserting the negative “God is nowhere.” has no more of a difficult time proving their belief than does a person asserting the positive “God is everywhere.” in proving their belief -- for both include a search of the entire universe. Sincere believers of either should be able to break those up into smaller chunks: “God is not ‘here’.” and “God is ‘here’.”
~~~~~~~~~~
People prove negatives all the time.

You can’t lift that.”
“Yes I can.”
“Nope.”
“Yep.”
“Okay, do it.”
“Okay, I will.”
“@-(#Jd!df@ Shocked 9sa~)&*q!”
“Can’t do it. You’re right. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. You didn’t know I’d stuffed it with metal instead of plastic.”
“Why, you little %k#Razz!s^df$7.....”


Not strict enough proof, for you? What does “strict enough proof” mean, except that the agreed-to standard has been met?

Could the skeptic challenger prove the negative without inputs from the believer? No, but who can prove anything to anybody without inputs from a person “needing” proof? Even the most logical-in-the-world mathematical proofs in a book require that the reader use their mind.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi, I realize that you have stated unequivocally that.....

Indi wrote:
You can't prove a negative.

.....and that could be hard to take back. I would, nevertheless, encourage you to reconsider. (Not necessarily based on what I’ve demonstrated, but on your own. And not for me, but for yourself, because I may not be able to respond to any rebuttal or agreement anyway.)

I guess my last personal challenge is to consider this of my assertions: If you ever find yourself wishing you could prove a negative, but thinking you can’t, it’s an indication that you need to (1) re-assess what you really want to prove, (2) break things up into smaller components, (3) define more precisely what constitutes “proof”, and (4) not let believers on the “other” side of your proof dictate these things.

Overall, your thinking and discussing related to proving and disproving is really excellent. (I’ve been enjoying your posts over on the music downloading and copyrights thread, for example, where, with my one reading over its life, I’m not aware of anything I’d disagree with you on, and that’s saying a lot! Though, to really assert that I agree, I’d have to read more thoroughly.)
NemoySpruce
Indi wrote:

If you start with the assumption that God does exist then you can never be proven wrong, even if you are - because no such proof can exist (as you said: "you cannot provide evidence to support a negative claim"). If you start with the assumption that God doesn't exist, then you may be proven wrong when proof is supplied that he does. Therefore, unless you're comfortable with the possibility of being wrong and forever ignorant of that fact, the only logical starting assumption is that God does not exist, because that is the only assumption that is falsifiable.


Thats messed up. My previous post was messed up. Hope this clears it;

Instead of looking at it like 2 sides, a better way is to see it like a spectrum. one side, negative, the other positive. You can only have evidence to move you up to the positive end. Each time you refute evidence, you move to the negative end. Right now, the discussion is at the negative end because no one has provided any evidence. It does not prove that God does not exist, just that the discussion is at that point. No evidence.

You cant prove a negative. You can only refute evidence given to prove positives. So having a negative opinion is a nice safe place to be, because the only way to prove you wrong is to find God and introduce him to you. If you are on the posititve, you need to provide irrefutable/empirical evidence to be proven correct.
The Philosopher Princess
Sorry if I misled anyone by the below.

To Indi, The Philosopher Princess wrote:
[I suggest doing “it”] not for me, but for yourself, because I may not be able to respond to any rebuttal or agreement anyway.

I would definitely read with great interest anything Indi (or anyone) would write here. And I might respond. (It’s just that I’m now being more diligent in my personal studies and writings outside of online discussion. And so, I’m trying to be more realistic about what I offer.)
nopaniers
For what it's worth, PP, I think both you and Nemoy made some good points.

Nemoy is right, the evidence is key. If someone says that atoms don't exist, then they should provide a theory which explains Brownian motion, but doesn't include atoms. Pointing out that there is no absolute proof of atoms is not a reason to believe they don't exist. The reason we should believe that atoms exist is because they correctly explain the outcome of experiment better than theories which don't include atoms.

You should not start with the assumption that God does not exist, if you want to find out. You should start by saying that you don't know and examine the evidence. If you believe that God doesn't exist (based on the evidence), then you should present a theory which you can back with the evidence to justify your beliefs.

PP, yep! I agree with a lot of what you said. You're particularly right about agreeing a standard of proof. I thought this thread had an agreed standard:
nopaniers wrote:
It's an interesting intellectual exercise to only believe things you can absolutely prove, but it's not very helpful. You cannot even prove to me that you exist, or my drink, or my dinner, or the pub across the road exist. Of course, you are allowed to take the opinion that nothing except what you can prove is true, but then you will starve to death.

With which Indi agreed (at least I thought so).
Indi wrote:
It is absurd to believe only what can be absolutely proven.

I thought we agreed that reasonable doubt was the standard of proof that something was true.

Physics including "negative statements" (such as no faster than light communication, quantum cloning, perpetual motion machines and a number of "negative" statements) is proven to this degree. If it wasn't I certainly wouldn't be getting in any planes!

PS. Just be a little bit careful, because the opposite of "For every..." is "There is one example..."
The Philosopher Princess
Hey! Very Happy Long time, no read, nopaniers!
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
PS. Just be a little bit careful, because the opposite of "For every..." is "There is one example..."

Could you please clarify what that means? Do you mean that one should be careful when wanting to make an assertion about every something-or-other because it only takes one exception to break the rule of every? Or do you mean something else?
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
PP, yep! I agree with a lot of what you said. You're particularly right about agreeing a standard of proof. I thought this thread had an agreed standard:
nopaniers wrote:
It's an interesting intellectual exercise to only believe things you can absolutely prove, but it's not very helpful. You cannot even prove to me that you exist, or my drink, or my dinner, or the pub across the road exist. Of course, you are allowed to take the opinion that nothing except what you can prove is true, but then you will starve to death.

With which Indi agreed (at least I thought so).
Indi wrote:
It is absurd to believe only what can be absolutely proven.

I thought we agreed that reasonable doubt was the standard of proof that something was true.

I do not deny that that is something. It is a start. But for people who are beginning with an air of disagreement, this standard is most likely not strict enough to be helpful. What constitutes “reasonable” is extremely vague and thus, for any offered evidence, one side can say “that’s reasonable”, while the other side says “that’s not reasonable”, and an outside judge not leaning towards either side says, “I can’t help you 2 untangle your disagreement because you haven’t told me what constitutes reasonable” -- and so no progress towards anything occurs, and more wheels-spinning does occur.

How do you eat an elephant? You can’t tackle it all at once. It needs to be broken up into very small pieces, like bite-size. How do you prove or disprove communism “works”? You can’t tackle it by “pointing to” countries that “work” or “don’t work”. That’s too big for any actual understanding. How about starting with a hypothetical -- or even actual -- small group of people to learn about the dynamics of communistic principles? How do you prove or disprove God? You can’t tackle it by “pointing to” the universe. It’s too big to come to needed agreements. It also must be “broken up”.

On such huge issues, either side can make suggestions for smaller chunks to see how the other side can take it. What you’re looking for is a small enough chunk such that the other side finally agrees with you. If you’re still in disagreement, then it needs to be broken up more. If you’re finally in agreement, then it’s a starting point to work your way up to larger chunks. And, by the way, there are almost always many different ways to break up something very large.

When a person has proven for themselves some kind of reality-consistent principle that they see holds true in the universe, then they see it “everywhere”. They can see the forest and the trees. A person who does not believe that principle, then, needs to be shown a tree, first. So, try to think of the smallest thing/place/area where God is (or, for the other side, is not) that you can show to the other side. You know, for yourself, BIG. It's time now to think SMALL. Smile
nopaniers
Perhaps we should agree that our standard of truth or proof is "is consistent with experiment" and leave it at that? Then I would say it is reasonable (although not necessarily correct) to believe any theory which was consistent with experiment. That way we could get around the whole worry of what consitutes a proof ect. It all seems like a bit of a red herring to me.

Perhaps we could all be good Bayesians and label all our statements with the percentage confidence that they are correct. That would solve the problem (30%). I am sure everyone will accept that as not too much work (1%). My jokes are no good (99.9%). Or maybe a better measure would be the confidence we believe something - confidence we believe it is false. Seriously though, like it or not, I think people do work this way. We assign some sort of confidence to our beliefs, and constantly battle to keep them consistent.

I agree with starting small on things you can handle and building your conclusions up piece by piece. For me (and my interests) the universe is a particularly compelling reason to believe in God, but we pretty much jumped to the punch line without any of the build up. There are a lot of questions (I believe anyway) which you can ask yourself which lead to interesting conclusions. Some of them for me were: Can I ever live forever? Am I perfect? Can I even keep my own standards?

To learn about communism and if it can work or not, I would say the best way would be to go to China and Vietnam and have a look around.

Yes. That's exactly what I mean. The negation of "All apples are green" is "There is an apple which is not green". And the other way around: The negation of "There is a pink elephant" is "All elephants are not pink". That's all I mean to say... nothing deep Wink
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
I have a different understanding of the process of so-called proving a negative. But, then, my approach towards proving, period, seems to be different from most people’s approaches.

All too true - there are many different levels of "proof". For millenia people used the fact that they didn't fly off the Earth as "proof" that it could not be moving, and thus the sun must revolve around it. My brain doesn't work that way - I was raised as an engineer and trained as a scientist. For me, the fact that I am not flying off the Earth into space is proof that either the Earth isn't moving or it is and something is keeping us attached to it. See what I mean? It is my nature to step back and say "what else could it mean?" rather than just accept some evidence as proof of anything right off the bat.

If you want a good example of how my brain handles the concept of proof, observe how I respond to the purportedly evidenced characteristics of God in this post. I don't bother to spend any time refuting the evidence or the logic - I merely point out (over and over) that there are other possible interpretations of the evidence. Evidence can't be conclusive proof of something if it is also evidence for a competing theory. I do the same thing with the fine tuning theory. I don't bother to argue the physics or the pattern of thought - I just point out that there are other ways to interpret the evidence.

I don't subscribe to the legal idea of proof, which is "beyond a reasonable doubt" without strict clarification of what is considered reasonable, because who's to say what's reasonable? Is it really more reasonable to believe that some invisible force is keeping us glued to the surface of a globe moving around in the heavens than it is to believe that heaven is up and hell is down and the only reason we're not in hell is because God put the Earth between them?

I also don't subscribe to the political idea of proof, which is weighing evidence for and against, because it leads to nonsense conclusions. Once upon a time human flight was thought impossible because no known method could keep a solid body off the ground heavier than a kilo for more than a few moments at a time. The evidence against controlled human flight was staggering - and there was not a single shred of evidence for. So by the political idea of proof, human flight was proven impossible... until it wasn't. See? Nonsense logic.

For me, proof is a simple binary thing. Something is either proven or it's not. It's not "partly proven by the balance of the evidence, temporarily". When something is proven, it is proven today, tomorrow and always. There is no need to weigh anything - either you have proof or you don't.

And saying "reasonable" proof is not good enough. Not without clear agreement on what is reasonable. Sure, usually "possible within the boundaries of current physical knowledge" constitutes reasonable in most cases... but not when you're talking about things like a god. If you want to say "reasonable" doubt, then you have to make sure everyone agrees on what is reasonable.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
If a certain standard of proof is set (whether it’s a very strict standard, or a pretty lax standard, or something in-between) then one can work to gather (and possibly can gather) enough evidence to meet that standard -- whether one is working to prove the positive or prove the negative. If no standard has been set, no proof will be had, irrespective of the positiveness or negativeness of the assertion.

The problem with that is that there can never be enough evidence to rule out a completely negative assertion, unless you restrict the problem beyond what is practically possible. As I've said before, you can prove a negative (true negative, but I don't want to have to keep specifying true negative all the time) in theory. But in practice, it's impossible.

If you want to discuss theory alone, then sure it's possible to prove that that guy wasn't in the store from the previous example, or that there is no pink elephant in the room. But in both cases you require absolute knowledge about the topic (the store or the room), which is impossible in anything but theory.

Now you don't need proof to believe something. I don't need for you to prove to me that that guy wasn't in the store unless I have strong reason to believe he was. You can show me the video, and let me see that he wasn't there, and I'll believe it. But you haven't proven it until you can show me he was somewhere else at the same time he was supposed to be there.

Proof is a big word for me.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Take a very simple example, assuming no unusual circumstances. Is Joe standing in front of me? Prove to Lois, who is sitting next to me, whether or not Joe is standing in front of me.

If Joe is, indeed, standing in front of me, then it’s easy to show/prove to Lois that Joe is standing in front of me. If Joe is not standing in front of me, then it’s easy to show/prove to Lois that Joe is not standing in front of me.

Wait! Stop right there.

"Showing" and "proving" are two entirely different things. I can show you a flying monkey (by concealing a rocket engine in its fur), but that doesn't mean I've proven that monkeys can fly.

In fact, even if I do show you a real flying monkey... that doesn't mean that I've proven that monkeys can fly. All I've done is proven that that monkey can fly, not all monkeys, or even just some monkeys. What I have proven is that it's not true that all monkeys can't fly.

This all relates back to what I was saying to NemoySpruce. If you assume the positive, that monkeys can fly, then you can never be proven wrong. Even if you never see one fly, that doesn't mean they can't. You have an intellectual dead end. However, if you assume they can't fly, then the moment you see one fly, you know that it's not true that monkeys can't fly. You've made a step forward. Now you can start with a new hypothesis: "only that monkey can fly - all others can't", and you wait to observe another. When you see one (or preferably more), then you discard that theory and query what they have in common that other monkeys that you haven't seen fly don't. Maybe they both have a white spot on the right side of their face. In that case, you're new theory is "only monkeys with a white spot on the side of their face can fly", and you look for contrary evidence and so on.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
(If Joe were standing there but I wanted to prove he was not -- or if Joe were not standing there but I wanted to prove he was -- I’d have to resort to trickery, which Lois {given “no unusual circumstances”} is going to be smart enough to see through.)

Wait! I have to stop you again.

This is where my engineering background comes into play. You see - you started with a practical example... and then subtly made it theoretical.

The problem is the "given “no unusual circumstances”" caveat. It's not that it's wrong to assume that there were no unusual circumstances. That's fine, that's just everyday life. It's that you have to claim that you know there were no unusual circumstances in order to make your observation a proof.

You can't do that in reality, only in theory. You can't say in reality that you know there are no unusual circumstances. You can say that you assume no unusual circumstances, in which case you have shown that Joe isn't there, and if I were Lois I'd believe you. But you've proven nothing unless you also prove there were no unusual circumstances - which is impossible (because it is a negative).

An analogy is the old witch trial. "A witch won't drown, so if you don't drown, you're a witch (if you do, oops)". Then you throw the poor girl in and watch her drown and say you have proof that she wasn't a witch. But you don't do you? Because you never proved your assumption that witches don't drown.

If you don't prove your assumption that there are no unusual circumstances, then you can't prove the conclusion based on that assumption. And not only have you not proven your assumption, you haven't even clearly defined it. "Unusual circumstances"? What constitutes an unusual circumstance? A couple of mirrors and Joe could be in another room and still fool Lois into thinking she could see him right in front of her. Would that be an unusual circumstance? Not if Joe was a magician. A lookalike, perhaps? Unusual? Not if Joe was an actor with a convincing stunt double, or he had a twin, or even if he was a makeup artist and could make someone up to look very much like him. What constitutes "unusual" and "reasonable" depends on the situation and the person requiring the proof - and thus is nebulous to the point of being meaningless.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi wrote:
For a true negative statement, like "God does not exist", there is no way you can word it positively. "God is non-existent" is still negative, as is "this universe is God-less".)

Sorry, but I don’t agree. You can state, “In every place in the universe, there exists something other than God.”

To which a believer would simply reply "God exists outside of the universe... but he exists". Or "God does not exist in a place - he's like thought, massless, volumeless and hopefully odorless". Or...

And so on and so forth.

See? There's no way you can rework an absolute negative statement like "x does not exist" positively. Your attempt to create a positive statement with the same meaning as the negative one produced an incomplete statement - one that didn't have the full meaning of the negative one.

(Besides - *ahem* - I should point out that your positive statement isn't even really contradictory. You said everywhere in the universe there exists something that is not God. That doesn't rule out God existing in the same place as something else. Your statement would still be true, and God would still exist.)

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
An agreement of terms and what constitutes proof must be accepted by both parties first; otherwise, the search for any and all positives and negatives is going to be easily unattainable. Obviously, such agreements can be difficult to reach, especially where there are big disagreements to start with, but not more difficult than trying to prove or disprove what hasn’t been precisely stated.

What you're describing is another way of saying that you want to agree on testable positives. Absolutely - that's what science is about.

The problem is that unless you can describe something completely with (testable) positives, then you can never prove it. As above, you couldn't find a positive statement(s) equivalent to "God does not exist". It's not possible, because it's a completely negative statement. So you can never prove it, because you can never define it in terms of positives that you can test.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
If it’s asserted that God is everywhere, for example, why should the skeptic have to search the whole universe to disprove for the believer? That’s extra effort not needed. If God is everywhere, then it can be broken up into God is in any particular place chosen, and thus choosable and searchable by both parties.

Well, if the assumption is "God is everywhere", that is a postive statement, and thus testable. You can show the assumption is false simply by finding one spot where God isn't. You don't need to search the whole universe to disprove it.

But you do need to search the whole universe to prove it - and, of course, that's not possible. So contrary to what you're saying you can't prove that God is everwhere. In theory, yes, but not in reality.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
“God does not exist.” implies “God is nowhere.”

A person asserting the negative “God is nowhere.” has no more of a difficult time proving their belief than does a person asserting the positive “God is everywhere.” in proving their belief -- for both include a search of the entire universe.

Er. *blink*

No more difficult a time... just search the whole universe???

Ok, wires seem to have gotten crossed here. I have stated again and again that proving a negative is possible in theory but not in practice. I never said that proving a negative was completely impossible, just impossible in practice.

Nothing you have said contradicts any of that.

Proving God does not exist is possible in theory, but I don't live in a theory, I live in a real universe. It is impossible to prove God does not exist where I am. Proving God is everywhere is also possible in theory, but not possible in reality.

Not every statement that can't be proven in reality is a negative. But every negative statement can't be proven in reality. (Or in concrete terms, not every coin is a nickel, but every nickel is a coin.)

I am not, and never was, talking about theoretical universes. I have, to my knowledge, never said anything to imply that, and I know that I have said that I wasn't several times (here, here and answering you explicitly on that point at the top of this post). I am talking about proving absolute negatives in the real universe. It cannot be done. In theory perhaps, but I am an engineer, not a scientist. Theory doesn't hold airplanes up, practical application of real world mechanics does.

Why would you be interested in saying "it is theoretically possible to prove God exists or does not exist... in theory"? Isn't that rather a pointless exercise? I'm saying "it is theoretically possible to prove that God exists, but not that he doesn't exist... in practice". Meaning, proving God exists can possibly be done. In reality. But proving God does not exist cannot. Therefore, the default starting assumption should be that he does not.

Or, let's try it this way. Let's work in theory for a moment and imagine that you can prove God doesn't exist. How would you go about doing that? Simple you would simply have to know everything about every point in space-time - everywhere inside and outside of the universe we know and all of the greater cosmos, including all time in the past, present and future. Once you have checked all of that and found no trace of God - and of course, using your infinite knowledge to know there is nowhere and nothing you could have missed - you will now know that God does not exist. So... essentially... to prove that God does not exist... you have to... be... God....

Ironic.

In fact, to prove any true negative beyond reasonable doubt requires absolute knowledge. So to prove any true negative in reality, you'd have to be a god. Are you a princess? Surely. But a god? No, I'm sorry, ma'am, not quite. No one is. So no one can prove a negative.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
People prove negatives all the time.

You can’t lift that.”
“Yes I can.”
“Nope.”
“Yep.”
“Okay, do it.”
“Okay, I will.”
“@-(#Jd!df@ Shocked 9sa~)&*q!”
“Can’t do it. You’re right. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. You didn’t know I’d stuffed it with metal instead of plastic.”
“Why, you little %k#Razz!s^df$7.....”

You have not proven a negative. The positive you have proven is that the item was beyond that person's lifting capacity.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi, I realize that you have stated unequivocally that.....

Indi wrote:
You can't prove a negative.

.....and that could be hard to take back. I would, nevertheless, encourage you to reconsider. (Not necessarily based on what I’ve demonstrated, but on your own. And not for me, but for yourself, because I may not be able to respond to any rebuttal or agreement anyway.)

Nothing you have said has done anything towards suggesting that statement is wrong. ^_^ What you have done is either:
  1. Use non-absolute negatives, then convert them into equivalent positives. (Whereas you cannot convert an absolute negative into an equivalent positive.)
  2. Convert non-absolute negatives into partial positives - non-equivalent positive statements - and then disprove them... which does not prove the negative.
  3. Create theoretical scenarios that require perfect and absolute knowledge, then prove absolute negatives in those theoretical scenarios. (Which works fine in theory, but does not carry over into practice.)


NemoySpruce wrote:
Instead of looking at it like 2 sides, a better way is to see it like a spectrum. one side, negative, the other positive. You can only have evidence to move you up to the positive end. Each time you refute evidence, you move to the negative end. Right now, the discussion is at the negative end because no one has provided any evidence. It does not prove that God does not exist, just that the discussion is at that point. No evidence.

The reason I'm not particularly interested thinking of the idea as a spectrum is because it's not. It's a binary black or white. God exists or he doesn't. He doesn't half exist. He doesn't "not exist today but might tomorrow when more evidence comes in". It's yes, or it's no. No spectrum, no maybe.

If you don't know the answer, you have to start with an assumption to get somewhere. You can start with yes, or you can start with no.

You can't start with "I don't know" or "maybe", because those lead nowhere. Consider:
  • "God exists, and I can prove it with evidence!"
  • "God doesn't exist, but I can disprove that with evidence."
  • "God maybe exists... but I can't really prove that he maybe exists." >_<
  • "I don't know if God exists... and I can prove... I mean evidence... aw, I got nothing." T_T

See? Only starting from an assumption can begin any kind of learning.

I think people are getting hung up on the idea that you have to believe what you're assuming. That's nonsense. You don't have to believe that God doesn't exist to start a search for evidence from that assumption.

It's perfectly alright to be unsure of whether God exists or not while at the same time assuming he does. Or assuming he doesn't.

Assumption does not equal belief.

You can believe whatever you want. But if you want to perform an investigation of a theory - whether it is a theory that God exists or a theory that he does not - well... you kind of have to pick a theory to investigate. "Maybe" and "don't know" aren't theories, they're evasions.

NemoySpruce wrote:
You cant prove a negative. You can only refute evidence given to prove positives. So having a negative opinion is a nice safe place to be, because the only way to prove you wrong is to find God and introduce him to you. If you are on the posititve, you need to provide irrefutable/empirical evidence to be proven correct.

?

Er, I think your head is turned around here. >_<

Let's take this piece by piece:

"You cant prove a negative." Correct. "You can only refute evidence given to prove positives." Also correct. But then:

"So having a negative opinion is a nice safe place to be, because the only way to prove you wrong is to find God and introduce him to you." Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on there. You just said that you can't prove a negative. So having a positive opinion is safe, because the negative can never be proven. Your positive opinion can never be proven wrong.

On the other hand, it is possible to prove the negative opinion wrong... so it's not as "safe" as the positive opinion, which can never be proven wrong.

"If you are on the posititve, you need to provide irrefutable/empirical evidence to be proven correct." Correct... and if you're on the negative side you can never be proven correct because (your words) "(y)ou cant prove a negative".

So... essentially:

Positive assumption
- can be proven right (by finding proof of God)
- can never be proven wrong (because you can't prove the negative)

Negative assumption
- can never be proven right (because you can't prove the negative)
- can be proven wrong (by finding proof of God)

So, ah... which opinion is "safer" again?
nopaniers
In contrast to Indi, I am a Bayesian. I believe in updating my knowledge based on my observations.

Economist wrote:
The essence of the Bayesian approach is to provide a mathematical rule explaining how you should change your existing beliefs in the light of new evidence. In other words, it allows scientists to combine new data with their existing knowledge or expertise.

The canonical example is to imagine that a precocious newborn observes his first sunset, and wonders whether the sun will rise again or not. He assigns equal prior probabilities to both possible outcomes, and represents this by placing one white and one black marble into a bag. The following day, when the sun rises, the child places another white marble in the bag. The probability that a marble plucked randomly from the bag will be white (ie, the child's degree of belief in future sunrises) has thus gone from a half to two-thirds. After sunrise the next day, the child adds another white marble, and the probability (and thus the degree of belief) goes from two-thirds to three-quarters. And so on. Gradually, the initial belief that the sun is just as likely as not to rise each morning is modified to become a near-certainty that the sun will always rise.

http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~murphyk/Bayes/economist.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability

So, although I cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorrow, I believe it will. I do not simply assume the negative - that the sun will not rise. Based on my existing observations, I can update my knowlege (using Bayes' rule) from going from a state of "I don't know" to "I believe the sun will rise tomorrow morning". Similarly I believe that monkeys cannot fly, and many birds can.

To somebody who assumes "The sun will not rise tomorrow". You ask the question "Why not?"... they say that it is for philosophical reasons and suggest other possibilities can occur "Maybe there will be a nuclear war. Maybe you live on the North Pole... ect" but just because a possiblity exists doesn't give me a reason to believe it. I don't think that I live on the North Pole. I don't think that nuclear war will break out tomorrow. That other possiblities exist is not the issue. The point is that we have less reason to believe them... and no reason to assume them without evidence!
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
In contrast to Indi, I am a Bayesian. I believe in updating my knowledge based on my observations.

-_-

For someone who claims to be a scientist, you don't seem to get the difference between assuming something based on evidence, and proof.

Of course you should assume the sun will rise tomorrow, but you can't prove it.
nopaniers
Nice work, Indi.

We agreed, I thought, that we are not looking for absolute proofs. We are looking for what is most likely to be true (assuming that we are rational and believe what is more likely to be true over what is less likely to be true).
The Philosopher Princess
You all are thinkers Very Happy! I haven’t finished reading all the above, but I will.

Indi wrote:
nopaniers wrote:
In contrast to Indi, I am a Bayesian. I believe in updating my knowledge based on my observations.

-_-

For someone who claims to be a scientist, you don't seem to get the difference between assuming something based on evidence, and proof.

Of course you should assume the sun will rise tomorrow, but you can't prove it.

In the mean time, I was curious how you would answer this question: Can a person have proof of something but end up being wrong about that something?
nopaniers
Philosopher Princess wrote:
Can a person have proof of something but end up being wrong about that something?


Yes. Proofs can be flawed (in which case I guess you could argue that they're not proofs). One way is if you start from the wrong assumptions. Another is if you make a logical error.
The Philosopher Princess
Thanks, nopaniers, for answering my question above. I hope Indi will have a chance to answer too, and then I’d like to address it, afterwards.
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
Perhaps we could all be good Bayesians and label all our statements with the percentage confidence that they are correct. That would solve the problem (30%). I am sure everyone will accept that as not too much work (1%). My jokes are no good (99.9%). Or maybe a better measure would be the confidence we believe something - confidence we believe it is false. Seriously though, like it or not, I think people do work this way. We assign some sort of confidence to our beliefs, and constantly battle to keep them consistent.

This kind of approach is, and would be, extremely helpful at the discussion level. When a large amount of assertions are being made -- of which the current discussion is a good example -- it becomes (almost) impossible for every possible disagreement to be practically challenged; therefore, each “side” needs to choose the ones “worthy” of addressing. Such belief-confidence factors (which I sometimes call belief weighting) can help one choose what is currently worthy.

(Of course there would be many other factors to also use in choosing, such as which “falsely” believed assertions -- if overturned -- could make the biggest difference for the rest of the “false” beliefs.)

In contrast to the discussion level is the “absolute” proof level, which only needs one person proving for oneself.
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
To learn about communism and if it can work or not, I would say the best way would be to go to China and Vietnam and have a look around.

Okay, but my point was that this would very rarely work. One reason is because -- like the God question -- there are so many things going on simultaneously that it is very difficult for an observing person to really understand the cause-and-effect of one particular principle in the midst of so much. It takes intellectualized/abstract thinking to understand the many applicable natural-law principles in effect for any given observation.

Only some kind of natural genius can observe something “big” in real-life, and know how to instinctively “break it up” into the various principles without having done the educational scholarly work first. (Scholarly does not imply formal school but it does imply study.) So, since most of us are not natural geniuses, we can perform self-study and we can participate in deep, sincere thinking discussions with others.

(Anti-Communists look at those “failed/failing” countries and say, “See! That’s proof Communism doesn’t work.” But Collectivist/Anti-Individualist/Socialist/Communist types look at those same countries and often come back with an answer along the lines of “Sure it’s failing, but that’s only because they didn’t apply the ideal Communist principles strongly enough; we just need to do more of the same.” For these 2 sides to make any headway in discussion, much must be broken up {and not just the Monopolies Wink}.)
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
nopaniers wrote:
PS. Just be a little bit careful, because the opposite of "For every..." is "There is one example..."
Could you please clarify what that means? Do you mean that one should be careful when wanting to make an assertion about every something-or-other because it only takes one exception to break the rule of every? Or do you mean something else?
Yes. That's exactly what I mean. The negation of "All apples are green" is "There is an apple which is not green". And the other way around: The negation of "There is a pink elephant" is "All elephants are not pink". That's all I mean to say... nothing deep Wink

Thanks for the clarification Smile. I’m going to be deep anyway Wink.

I agree with the be careful part, in general, but it seems to me that anyone asserting anything should be careful -- and I don’t see why assertions associated with negative statements deserve any more, or less, careful attention.

I am still curious as to why you mentioned that. In light of our recent discussions on negative assertions within the bigger context of To Believe God Or Not To Believe God, did you have any particular examples in mind that one of us either has erred on or might be inclined to err on?
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Nice work, Indi.

We agreed, I thought, that we are not looking for absolute proofs. We are looking for what is most likely to be true (assuming that we are rational and believe what is more likely to be true over what is less likely to be true).

This has nothing to do with absolute proof. The problem is that you're calling everything under the sun a proof. Not only are you calling random conclusions and observations proofs... you're also calling evidence proof.

For example:
nopaniers wrote:
Perhaps we should agree that our standard of truth or proof is "is consistent with experiment" and leave it at that?

WHAT?!?!?!?!

(As a scientist... that doesn't strike you as completely nonsensical?)

And then there's this gem, quoted in a context about what is acceptible as proof and what is not:
nopaniers wrote:
To learn about communism and if it can work or not, I would say the best way would be to go to China and Vietnam and have a look around.

Amazing. -_-

The first thing you learn while learning what is good experimental practice and what is not is that you should never rely on your subjective conclusions. That was your first error in the example above.

The second thing you learn while learning what is good experimental practice and what is not is that you should get at least three data points to detect a trend, preferably much, much more. Even if you studied every communist or close-to-communist country in the world, you're only going to have a couple dozen data points, which is hardly stellar evidence. But... coming to a conclusion based on two data points? That was your second error in the example above.

The third thing you learn while learning what is good experimental practice and what is not is that anecdotal evidence is bunk. Yet, that seems to be the only real result of your experiment above. That was your third error in the example above.

The fourth thing you learn while learning what is good experimental practice and what is not is that case studies are not valid experiments. At best a case study can be used before an experiment - an exploratory case study, or a special-case case study - to help in the experimental design. Or one can be used after an experiment to follow up on the experiment and see if any later effects might have shown up, which would be explored in further experiments or may call the previous experimental results into question. But using case studies as experimental evidence? That was your fourth error in the example above.

You can't arrive at a proof by doing a single experiment. -_- Come on.

Most conclusions aren't proofs. Assumptions certainly aren't proof. And evidence isn't proof either. Yet you have called every one of them proof over the course of the conversation.

See anything in any of that requiring absolute proof? Of course not. The only requirement there is good science. You have rubbed my face in the fact that you are a physicist (and suggested that I felt threatened by that -_-)... and then I see nonsense like the above. You don't need absolute proof. You just need good science. And you should know what good science is. I shouldn't have to be telling you.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
In the mean time, I was curious how you would answer this question: Can a person have proof of something but end up being wrong about that something?

Theoretically no. A proof can never be wrong, it can only be incomplete. That means that it's right... except in those special cases that it didn't take into account.

In practice, no one's perfect. Mistakes can be made. Assumptions can be incorrect. But once an error is discovered, you know that it wasn't really a proof to begin with, it only looked like one.

So to answer your question, no. If you have proof of something and it turns out completely incorrect, then you didn't really have proof, you only thought you did. More often though, you find that your proof was incomplete, and there was another factor that it did not take into account. If that factor can be controlled or ignored, you will find your proof is always correct. And once that factor can be, well, factored, and integrated with your existing proof, the new enhanced proof will predict correctly all the time. But a proof can never be simply wrong, or it wasn't a proof at all, which is why it takes so much before evidence and conclusions can be promoted to proofs.

The word "proof" is a huge word that carries a lot of heavy semantic power. It shouldn't be tossed around lightly. It has nothing to do with proof being absolute, because that's an absurd and impossible concept, but proof should be a lot more than just a neatly worded conclusion.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi wrote:
Showing" and "proving" are two entirely different things.

In general, yes. For the example I gave, no. Once a given standard of proof has been met, no more proof is needed. Showing, for my example, was good enough.

Indi wrote:
I can show you a flying monkey (by concealing a rocket engine in its fur), but that doesn't mean I've proven that monkeys can fly.

That’s fine. Nowhere am I claiming that there is a universal principle that showing is equivalent to proving. I clearly specified for my example, “no unusual circumstances”, and your example of a flying monkey is clearly unusual circumstances. For your example, showing is not going to be good enough.

One of the things that anyone approaching/working on proving, in general, needs to be able to do is start with examples that are very easy to understand, in order to see the entire set of dynamics going on. You purposefully changed my easy example into a more complex one, yet you are (indirectly) claiming that I’m claiming the same things apply.

Principle: If one changes context, one cannot assume the same conditions are applicable.

Principle: In order to understand complex examples, one must first be able to understand “many” simple examples.

Principle: Two people with the potential of disagreeing on complex examples need to first be able to get on the same page for simple examples.
~~~~~~~~~~
I do not disagree with this next part but you are wording it as if you believe I do:

Indi wrote:
If you don't prove your assumption that there are no unusual circumstances, then you can't prove the conclusion based on that assumption. And not only have you not proven your assumption, you haven't even clearly defined it. "Unusual circumstances"? What constitutes an unusual circumstance?

In fact, my approach holds that (1) the precision of definition needed of what constitutes “unusual circumstances” and (2) the level of proof needed that indeed no “unusual circumstances” were in existence -- those 2 things have similar characteristics as my previously mentioned (3) standard of proof (of the whole shebang).

Principle: All proofs are not equal.

Principle: All issues “needing” proof are not equal.

Principle: For any given issue “needing” proof, #1, #2, & #3 can be pre-specified differently depending on the particular current goals (but must be set eventually in order to make progress).
~~~~~~~~~~
For example, if a group is trying to prove whether or not a particular machine adjustment will make a controlled “arm” more accurate, they can pre-specify what it means to be accurate. They may agree that it is accurate if it moves to within 2 inches of the pre-specified target -- and then they proceed to test. Or they may decide that they want more accuracy and will pre-specify that accurate should be designated as within .5 of an inch of the target.

Without having first specified what it means to be accurate, i.e., what the standard of proof is, then anyone asserting that they can prove that “this adjustment will be more accurate” is speaking nonsense.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
The problem is the "given “no unusual circumstances”" caveat. It's not that it's wrong to assume that there were no unusual circumstances. That's fine, that's just everyday life. It's that you have to claim that you know there were no unusual circumstances in order to make your observation a proof.

You can't do that in reality, only in theory. You can't say in reality that you know there are no unusual circumstances.

Nope, it is definitely possible to do that in reality, not just in theory. To believe otherwise is to be missing an important approach to understanding reality. Using a scientific approach is not just for those beneficiaries of government grants funded by confiscated tax money who are bestowed with the title of “Scientist”. The scientific approach is for everybody who desires to understand reality, and consequently who desires to use reason.

Whatever it is that constitutes “no unusual circumstances” for a given situation, it’s not some mystical, amorphous blob that only gods and princesses understand. No. My #1 above simply needs to be agreed to by the people involved in the proof. They pre-specify what it means to meet the circumstance of “no unusual circumstances”, and then that criteria either is or is not met in reality.

For my simple example of whether Joe was standing in front of me or not, I (T.P.P.) didn’t tell you (Indi) what constitutes “no unusual circumstances”, but in a real-life case, that could easily be agreed to by the participants.

Designating/agreeing on what constitutes “no unusual circumstances” for a particular case is also similar to designating/agreeing what various terms will mean for a conversation. Most words have many potential definitions as shown in a dictionary. But for people carrying out a serious discussion, they will eventually need to pre-designate the definitions they will be using for the time being (whether or not they are in a dictionary). This is so that the results of their talking has meaning, i.e., makes sense. Well, before a proof can be had, the participating people need to pre-designate what “no unusual circumstances” will be acceptable (and those other things I’ve mentioned).
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
To which a believer would simply reply "God exists outside of the universe... but he exists".

Okay, but if you two had pre-agreed on the definition of universe, and if that was something like everything that exists (or everything that is true), then that reply is a context-switch, because the definition of universe was changed. Replies that are out of context are nonsense. So, the problem with that reply is not that it’s wrong; the problem is that it means nothing. The validity of that claim cannot be proven nor disproven, because there is no actual claim at all. (As you would expect I’d say, when context-switches and context-mix-ups have occurred, the participants need to go back to the pre-specification mode to agree on term definitions, standard of proof, etc.)

Indi wrote:
See? There's no way you can rework an absolute negative statement like "x does not exist" positively.

What I see is that you let that person get away with a context-switch Wink. The problem is not the negative statement; the problem is the pre-agreed terms were not followed.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
I never said that proving a negative was completely impossible, just impossible in practice.

It is not impossible in practice. If you would care to start with simple examples and work your way up, you can do it. I agree that simple examples can be much more boring than flying monkeys, and if I had a chance to study a flying monkey, I also would not care about any ol’ boring proving of proofs. But maybe after the flying monkey is sleeping peacefully, you can go back to your simple, boring negative assertion proof -- but only if you will stick to the context Wink.
~~~~~~~~~~
What do your cute little faces mean? I’ll guess.

-_- Eyes closed?

>_< Eyes crossed?

^_^ Eyes sparkly?

T_T Hair in your eyes?

Is your mouth always straight and never smiling Sad?

(Smile)
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Principle: If one changes context, one cannot assume the same conditions are applicable.

Yes, and this is where you and I are diverging.

My claim is that you cannot prove a negative statement in reality, although it is possible in theory.

Your counter example is to show Joe is not standing in front of you (without proving the associated positive by showing Joe is somewhere else - pretending it's a true negative), assuming no unusual circumstances.

Now, what I am saying is that you cannot - in reality - say that there are no unusual circumstances. You can assume there are no unusual circumstances, but you can never know there are no unusual circumstances.

You can do that in a theoretical case. And you can set arbitrary limits on reality to restrict the analysis to a theoretical subset of reality. For example, you can say "assume no deliberate subterfuge is taking place" then use a real world example to demonstrate something - such as what you're doing.

But that is not reality. That is a sandbox. That is an artificially restricted subset of reality. You cannot say in reality that you know no subterfuge is taking place. It may be unlikely - it may be very unlikely - but you cannot rule it out. Not in reality. Only in your theoretical restricted subset of reality.

So back up to your statement: "If one changes context, one cannot assume the same conditions are applicable." Yes, absolutely. But your example is not the same context as reality, because you are making assumptions that do not apply in reality. You can never be sure that someone's not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Yes, you started with reality, but then you applied constraints to reality that changed the context.

Even in a court of law, where the standards of proof are relatively low, simply not seeing Joe in front of you may not be enough to satisfactorally rule out Joe's presence there, if the stakes are high enough. Even science has to take subterfuge into account - assuming potential dishonesty is not a ridiculously wild assumption - and does so by demanding repeatability (even if one scientist or group is lying or being deceived, another can run the same test to verify the results). Assuming subterfuge cannot happen is not a reasonable assumption for reality. And assuming that you can be sure there is no subterfuge is illogical by definition.

So yes, you have proved a negative... but you did it in a context that is not reality, but an arbitrarily restricted subset of reality. In other words, you proved a negative in theory - you changed the context.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Indi wrote:
The problem is the "given “no unusual circumstances”" caveat. It's not that it's wrong to assume that there were no unusual circumstances. That's fine, that's just everyday life. It's that you have to claim that you know there were no unusual circumstances in order to make your observation a proof.

You can't do that in reality, only in theory. You can't say in reality that you know there are no unusual circumstances.

Nope, it is definitely possible to do that in reality, not just in theory. To believe otherwise is to be missing an important approach to understanding reality. Using a scientific approach is not just for those beneficiaries of government grants funded by confiscated tax money who are bestowed with the title of “Scientist”. The scientific approach is for everybody who desires to understand reality, and consequently who desires to use reason.

Whatever it is that constitutes “no unusual circumstances” for a given situation, it’s not some mystical, amorphous blob that only gods and princesses understand. No. My #1 above simply needs to be agreed to by the people involved in the proof. They pre-specify what it means to meet the circumstance of “no unusual circumstances”, and then that criteria either is or is not met in reality.

For my simple example of whether Joe was standing in front of me or not, I (T.P.P.) didn’t tell you (Indi) what constitutes “no unusual circumstances”, but in a real-life case, that could easily be agreed to by the participants.

The standards to convince someone of something are far, far less restrictive than the standards to prove something. It is not uncommon - in fact, it is necessary - for people to accept certain unproven assumptions in the process of coming to a conclusion. I mean, I have to accept that the entity I'm talking to now is not the long-dead Descartes, or an artificial computer intelligence, or a super-intelligent shade of the colour blue. Can't prove it, but it's likely enough for me to accept without question.

Certainly we can agree beforehand that there will be no outright deception or subterfuge involved in the experiment to show Joe is not there. But while that may be enough to agree on what will convince us, it's simply not enough to prove anything.

Get a bunch of people together and have them agree on any arbitrary set of requirements. Doesn't matter what. Say, for example, that if a person flinches when garlic is thrown in their eyes they are a vampire. All participants agree. Experiment run. Person flinches. Boom, vampire. Proof.

Only, obviously not.

Truth doesn't work by committee. Just because everyone agrees on a set of requirements, doesn't mean that those requirements constitute functional proof.

Yes, it's a start, and it is a necessary component towards a proof, it's just not the only prerequisite for a proof by far. Don't believe for a second that simply having an agreed upon set of requirements has anything to do with proving anything. All that is about is convincing people, not proving anything. Your requirements are not about proof, they are a laundry list of what it will take to convince all parties of something.

Take Joe again. Even if we did agree on "no unusual circumstances", that would not make it proof. The plain fact is that things like subterfuge and mistakes can and do happen, whether or not we are willing to accept it. So even if we agree on requirements, that means nothing in the context of proof if we have agreed on requirements that are not realistic.

And since you can never say that you know there are no circumstances that you are not aware of in reality, you can never prove Joe is not there. You can convince, but you can't prove.

Agreeing on a set of prerequisites is a requirement for defining the characteristics of what you're looking for - but not the nature of reality. In the case of God, we would have to agree on what characteristics God has, and what observable effects he would have on the universe that cannot be explained by any other means. Those points require consensus. But we can't just define away what we know to be reality by coming to a set of agreements that contradict its nature.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
What do your cute little faces mean? I’ll guess.

-_- Eyes closed?

>_< Eyes crossed?

^_^ Eyes sparkly?

T_T Hair in your eyes?

Is your mouth always straight and never smiling Sad?

(Smile)

Well...

-_- hm, sort of a sigh or a groan. i use it as a kind of exasperated or tired expression. i suppose it's rather like "hrm".

>_< a wince. or a grimace (sometimes >.<). maybe "ouch", "ugh" or "ack!".

^_^ a smile, (sometimes ^.^ when i'm teasing)

T_T crying, pouring tears (sometimes T.T). when i only mean a little sniffle i do ;_; or ;.;

X_X dead or dwunk (or both) (sometimes X.X or X,X)

O_O shocked (or O.O)

O_o eh? (or O.o)

°_° entranced

°x° silenced or censored - also ^x^ when i'm happy about being silenced or censored, or "my lips are sealed"

^_- smiling and winking (someone else i know does ^_~)

*_* this one is sparkly eyes, but i don't use it as often as the one that actually smiles, although sometimes i do *.*

When unicode is available (not everyone will be able to see these):

-‸- i guess kind of "harumph"

-‿- content, or maybe smug

>₀< this can be like "oooooh". or the face you make when you suck a lemon.

>‿< "wheee!"

>‸< pissed off (rarely i do ‵_′ or ‵‸′)

^‿^ very happy (or sometimes just ^_______^, where the line length is mathematically proportional to my happiness factor)

^₀^ happy "oooooo"

O₀O really shocked

°/₀ or just % picasso style

*‿* the sparkly eye version, or maybe *₀*

‸_‸ flat style

v¯v upside down

And many many more ^_^

I came up with most of them because I didn't like turning my head sideways to understand things like ;-P ^_^

Always happy to answer questions ^_-
The Philosopher Princess
Dear Readers, this is completely off-topic -- if off-topic might bother you, please skip to the next post.

Indi, I’ve been seeing your interesting signature for awhile now, and some wacky thoughts have come to me. These are not directed at you, but just sort of my thinking “out loud”.

Indi’s signature slogan wrote:
It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys.

I think, more properly, one might say: “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re round like a turkey.” Surprised Laughing

Ha ha, okay, seriously, the ability to soar doesn’t depend on those around you. An eagle, raised in a pen on a turkey farm, will still soar up high into the sky when given the freedom to do so. A turkey, raised with eagles, will still never soar. It’s not whom you’re with as much as who you are.

On the other hand, “Birds of a feather flock together” is based on a truism. If you don’t want to become a turkey, or considered to be a turkey, don’t hang around with turkeys, because otherwise you may learn to be one, and may certainly be looked at by others as being one.

On the other other hand, one who is really of the quality of an eagle will stand out amongst a group of turkeys, but will naturally choose to soar, rather than widdle and waddle and gibble and gobble.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi wrote:
Truth doesn't work by committee.

Yes and No.
~~~~~~~~~~
In one sense, you are correct. There is an objective reality that is true no matter what people think about it. Not only have I never disagreed with that, but everything I present is always in the context of my belief that there is an objective reality.

What reality is (i.e., what truth is) (i.e., what is true) has no association with committee, or work by committee.
~~~~~~~~~~
But here’s what you’ve been missing. Here’s the part that is work by committee.

The act of proving (and the state of having a proof) are human concoctions (necessary concoctions in support of reason, but nevertheless, concoctions). A human cannot offer a proof unless there is something to offer a proof of.

What is the something of which a proof is being offered? One something out of a gazillion possible somethings that could be identified.

How does any interested party know what that something is -- how do they know what has been identified? Sure, the something is allegedly a subset of reality, which just is. But identifying that something -- distinguishing that something from other somethings -- is not something that just is. Identifying is a major human feat (whether for oneself or for others). Precisely identifying (to the precision level needed at the time) is absolutely work. While there is some work needed to identify for oneself -- especially if they want to preserve their own knowledge for use later -- there is an order of magnitude greater amount of work needed to identify for someone else.

But the process of a prover identifying a subset of reality of which to offer proof to someone else -- that identification process is only done by the prover is it not? So there’s no committee of identification -- there’s only one person, right? No. There is a committee. Because communication happens between 2 (or more) people. One prover can state something (e.g., a subset of reality being proved, a proof itself) but a listener doesn’t necessarily grasp what the prover is stating; in fact, 2 people listening could have different understandings. So, to get everybody (the prover and all the listeners) synchronized, there must be work -- sometimes just a little work, sometimes a lot of work to clear up term definitions, etc. -- that needs to happen.

This work at communication is absolutely by committee. And this is what goes on to lesser or greater extents for any proof -- which ostensibly is the way to identify a truth, the particular truth currently at issue.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Even when 2 discussers of things such as the truth, subsets of the truth, proofs of truths, etc. have agreed that there is one objective reality, the truth of which does not depend on work by committee -- that is just the start! That agreement means that the real work can begin. This new work is by committee. Even when one person is leading the presentation of identifying and proving various truths (which is not the case for you and nopaniers) it still takes work by committee to come to agreement/understanding of the identification, etc.

Principle: In the context of identifying a truth and/or proving a truth: Truth works by committee.

This thread is an example of that. Admittedly, defining terms, identification of what exactly is being proven, etc. has not been very precisely carried out by the participants. But that is an example of my point. This committee is not functioning very efficiently. One person may think they’re proving God exists, one may think they’re proving God doesn’t exist, and yet an agreement of what “God” is hasn’t been set and stuck to, thus, so-called proofs are not proofs at all. The committee is talking past each other. The committee may be trying to talk about the truth but it isn’t really doing so. (It’s doing something more like talking about talking about the truth.)

This whole thread, a fairly long one at that, is very definitely related to the truth, getting to the truth, passing knowledge of the truth, proving subsets of the truth, and hopefully updating one’s own knowledge of the truth -- and this thread is work by committee.

Please Committee Smile, don’t interpret my statements as meaning that I consider anything around here non worthwhile. In fact, my approach to proving recognizes that for any people discussing serious things (i.e., the committee), a certain amount of preparatory (warm-up) talk is needed so that the more precise, serious discussion can begin to take place.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Dear Readers, this is completely off-topic -- if off-topic might bother you, please skip to the next post.

Indi, I’ve been seeing your interesting signature for awhile now, and some wacky thoughts have come to me. These are not directed at you, but just sort of my thinking “out loud”.

Indi’s signature slogan wrote:
It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys.

I think, more properly, one might say: “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re round like a turkey.” Surprised Laughing

Ha ha, okay, seriously, the ability to soar doesn’t depend on those around you. An eagle, raised in a pen on a turkey farm, will still soar up high into the sky when given the freedom to do so. A turkey, raised with eagles, will still never soar. It’s not whom you’re with as much as who you are.

On the other hand, “Birds of a feather flock together” is based on a truism. If you don’t want to become a turkey, or considered to be a turkey, don’t hang around with turkeys, because otherwise you may learn to be one, and may certainly be looked at by others as being one.

On the other other hand, one who is really of the quality of an eagle will stand out amongst a group of turkeys, but will naturally choose to soar, rather than widdle and waddle and gibble and gobble.

The quote is designed as a spoof with a allusions to a couple different things, like "motivational" quotes (the "soar like an eagle" part) and a flat out put down (the "turkeys") part. The underlying idea of the statement is probably more correctly stated as "it's hard to run in a crowd of people standing still or walking slowly".

The philosophy of the quote is that in order to do something exceptional, one must be prepared to get away from people who are content with being only mediocre. As has been said by really great people, in better ways than this snarky quote, that greatness is synonymous with solitude. The first step to forging a new path is to leave the old one.

But I have to challenge your theories. Would an eagle raised by turkeys ever soar? It might live out its whole life without ever trying to spread its wings, completely unaware of the fact that it can. True, a turkey raised by eagles will never soar... but you know what? It will probably try. And the effort often matters more than success or failure.

I also have to challenge: "one who is really of the quality of an eagle will stand out amongst a group of turkeys" Would they? Or would they spend their entire lives being mocked by the turkeys for their stubby neck, fat beak and the fact that they're smaller and can't run worth a damn? Call a child stupid long enough, and most children will fall into a pattern of believing it. And once they believe it, they will live it.

You know, you have an interesting mind. Your casual aside has more merit as a thread unto itself than most of the threads I see being made by others.
Indi
Well, there are committee aspects of seeking truth, particularly when it come to starting an entirely new quest for truth (as opposed to continuing an existing search). Take us, for example. We're talking about starting an entirely new branch of knowledge - the search for God, starting from scratch. Anytime you're starting an entirely new field - let's take Chemistry for example - you do have to begin by setting up the parameters for the field. What is in the domain of "Chemistry", what are chemicals, what aspects of chemical interactions should "Chemistry" cover, and so on. Those things have to be agreed upon before study in "Chemistry" can begin.

In our case, we have to agree on a definition for God, and what ways God interacts with the universe, and so on. We need agreement on those topics before we can start research in the field.

But agreement alone is not good enough for any practical search for truth. Yes, it's a start, but only a start, and even then it must be tempered by pragmatism.

Yes, identification is nominally a committee action, but once again, the committee only does so much. The elements that they're identifying are not arbitrary. You can't just say "let there be tiny particles of matter called atoms" when there is no evidence for such things existing. The identification process is ultimately dictated by the "objective" reality, not committee.

You said that choosing things like which subset of reality to study is up to committee. No, it's not. The set of valid subsets of reality is dictated by reality, or to put it another way, not just any subset of reality is valid. All the committee can do is pick which one of the valid ones to explore first. Once again, the decision of which subset of reality to explore is dictated by "objective" reality, not committee.

The committee can't just define God as "an old man sitting on a throne in the clouds", because we know this to be nonsense. Well, I suppose they could do that, but it would be a waste of time, and have no relevance on a search for truth. The committee's decisions, even in our case, are dictated by "objective" (actually, intersubjective) reality.

As for this thread being an example of committee finding a truth, I disagree. The vast majority of this thread was tied up in trying to get an explicit statement made of a claim. Or to put it another way, the thread pretty much started because someone claimed X, then it carried on and on with the process of trying to determine exactly what X was, and never really succeeded in that - so we never even got to the point of determining whether claim X could be true or not.
The Philosopher Princess
Indi wrote:
You know, you have an interesting mind. Your casual aside has more merit as a thread unto itself than most of the threads I see being made by others.

Thank you for your kind remark. I’d say your new turkey comments along with my turkey comments make for a good eagle (2 strokes under par for this course). (I don’t have anything else to add at this time to our turkey club.)
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
But agreement alone is not good enough for any practical search for truth.

The agreement concept I have introduced here is not presented as being equivalent to a “search for truth”. It is, instead, necessary for accurate communication, which is a subset of one’s search for truth.

I think an example of a crime investigator would be appropriate. In order to solve a crime, imagine her needing to interact with all kinds of people -- from aristocrats to white-collar workers to day laborers to street people. Each different kind of person (more accurately, each different individual) would have with that investigator a different communication agreement -- addressing what terms mean, what the context of statements mean, etc. If the investigator is not used to certain lingoes, she may have to work with people to get to the truth of them.

The investigator must keep straight with whom she’s talking, and what her unique agreement with each is, so as to know how to best interpret how they answer her questions, etc. These agreements may need to last over a long period of time.

The investigator is actively searching for a truth, which involves what she learns from many conversations (based on various communication agreements), along with her own observations, theories, and planned experiments. Like I said, the agreements are just a subset of seeking the truth.
~~~~~~~~~~
Indi wrote:
The identification process is ultimately dictated by the "objective" reality, not committee.

No, it’s ultimately dictated by humans who, if sincere and smart, are paying attention to (objective) reality. This is a semantic issue, and an important one.

There are always plenty of identification processes going askew by having reality ignored, but that does not mean they aren’t bona fide identification processes.

0. You can think of the bottom foundation as being (objective) reality. (Everything is in that context.)
1. Resting on that is a human (or committee) ostensibly seeking truth. (Any pertinent actions are in that sub-context.)
2. Resting on that is their actions (which of course includes a lot and could be divided further).

If we are talking about What does reality dictate?, we would have to answer literally everything -- everything rests on the #0 level. So, saying reality dictates anything in particular (including identification processes) is not saying anything notable.

But if we are talking about the activity of identification processing, we are talking about the #2 level. The identification process is dictated by human actions (including their thinking).

When we ask What’s going on with such-n-such identification process?, we are asking What’s the human conducting the process doing?

Everything -- from humans talking to pigs snorting to rocks falling -- is ultimately dictated by reality (or possibly, more precisely, is reality). But what separates an actual identification process from all other processes of the world is the fact that a human is carrying it out.
The Philosopher Princess
@ nopaniers:

This is a new sub-context. My questions were inspired by a conversation I had with a friend this past weekend and aren’t particularly based on previous things said around here. I’m not sure I’m headed anywhere with these but I was looking forward to asking you anyway. You can either assume your own definitions, or, if you like, state them.

Is God omniscient?

Is God omnipotent?

Is God omnipresent?

Is God a “He” (as opposed to a “She”, “It”, or other)?

Is God loving?

Do you believe in one (objective) reality?
NemoySpruce
Good day Princess,

hope you dont mind if I post a bit about what i think of your questions.

Is God omniscient?
Is God omnipotent?
Is God omnipresent?


I hope he is. To think that we are living in a reality that is nothing more than a wrinkle in the fabric of spacetime is just too depressing it might just make me want to jump out the window. Since there is no scientific means to prove he exists, and no philosophical means to prove he doesnt, Im putting my money on the idea that he does, and he sees everything we are doing, and he is recording it somehow. Why do i believe this? Its just less depressing that way.
nopaniers
Thanks PP. I particularly like your analogy of voting. It's a while now since you said it, but that is exactly what it is like. We can make choices even when we do not know everything. An important concept here is faith. You might vote for one particular party, even though you cannot absolutely prove (in the philosophical sense) that they will be the best even after you have done a lot of research. That doesn't mean you make a blind choice, but the choice you make is not absolutely proven.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Is God omniscient?

Absolutely. I think even more than omniscient, he holds everything together and so has an intimate knowledge of everything.

Quote:
Is God omnipotent?

Yes. God is all powerful. That does not mean that he will do everything, just that he could.

Quote:
Is God omnipresent?

Yes. Omnipresent in both space and time.

Quote:
Is God a “He” (as opposed to a “She”, “It”, or other)?

I don't think that's really a question you can ask about God. God isn't a person. Humans were made in God's image, but I think this is more to do with creativity than looking like God or God having a particular sex. Personally, I don't think this an important question.

Quote:
Is God loving?

Yes. Very much so.

Quote:
Do you believe in one (objective) reality?

Yes. I do. How about you?
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Is God omniscient?

Absolutely. I think even more than omniscient, he holds everything together and so has an intimate knowledge of everything.

Quote:
Is God omnipotent?

Yes. God is all powerful. That does not mean that he will do everything, just that he could.

Quote:
Is God omnipresent?

Yes. Omnipresent in both space and time.
...
nopaniers wrote:
Quote:
Is God loving?

Yes. Very much so.

Then there should be no evil.

We know that evil and suffering exist, insofar as we can know anything exists. In fact, we can be more sure that suffering exists than that the universe exists. We all have suffered, and we're all capable of suffering. As much as it is possible to know anything with certainty, it is a pure and plain fact that suffering exists.

So the fact that suffering exists cannot be disputed. Now explain how it is possible to make that fact agree with your theories about the nature of God. If God is:
- omniscient
- omnipotent
- omnipresent
- loving

then he is:
- aware of all suffering, and has the knowledge required to put a stop to it
- capable of doing whatever it takes to prevent suffering
- present at the site of and witness to all suffering
- not happy to see suffering

So how can suffering exist?
NemoySpruce
Indi wrote:

Then there should be no evil.
So how can suffering exist?


Why not? If you were writing a story, and you can put any element in it, why can you not put in an evil element? Suffering must exist for there to be pleasure. Seems logical. It's His story.


Evil and Pain are attributes of conciousness. You are aware, and are able to decide if a certain impulse is not desirable to you.

I think a better question is, does 'Hell' exist? If God is omnipotent and omnicient and loving, eternal damnation cannot exist.
nopaniers
Like it or not, things are going to get hard, and at one point or another we have suffered and we will suffer in the future. The world isn't some type of Disney world ride where fairfloss falls from the sky. It's a real place where we have choices and can make decisions (like Nemoy says), not all of them good.

I see things differently to you. I don't think the aim of life is to have as little suffering as possible. I think it is to please God - that is what will give me life to the full. God, being a loving God, gives us that opportunity. That can, and does, involve suffering.
KickTabBabies
Gods, are mans worst creation.
The Philosopher Princess
NemoySpruce wrote:
Good day Princess,

hope you dont mind if I post a bit about what i think of your questions.

I don’t mind at all Smile! At that high level of discussion, anyone can validly answer.

(It’s only when a “certain” level of depth of discussion is achieved that the same person needs to respond; that is because meanings of subsequent responses depend on what was meant previously, and sometimes only the person who said the previous things knows what they actually meant, so they are the only ones who can actually defend them. Know what I mean Wink?)

NemoySpruce wrote:
Is God omniscient?
Is God omnipotent?
Is God omnipresent?

I hope he is. To think that we are living in a reality that is nothing more than a wrinkle in the fabric of spacetime is just too depressing it might just make me want to jump out the window. Since there is no scientific means to prove he exists, and no philosophical means to prove he doesnt, Im putting my money on the idea that he does, and he sees everything we are doing, and he is recording it somehow. Why do i believe this? Its just less depressing that way.

I believe I understand. To believe something because we don’t like what the alternative belief implies, is a human approach that many of us use at various times. It can be a major coping mechanism that -- at least on the surface -- seems to help us deal with difficult and complex situations. For example, we don’t want to believe that a loved one has actually died, so we stay in denial of that truth, and are able to continue living rather than falling to pieces. But of course the denial of truth can only be a help for so long.

The approach of believing because we don’t like the alternative also has the potential to do us harm -- meaning, the belief does us harm as opposed to an actual physical thing doing us harm. An extreme case to make my point is a person who’s addicted to something (e.g., gambling, alcohol, drugs, violence). An addict, by definition, is in denial that their addiction is harming them. So, while a person who is not in denial will tend to seek help for medical problems, a person in denial will not seek help. While the real results of an addiction can be really horrible, delaying the getting of help and eliminating the addiction is even worse; it is the belief and lack of seeking the truth that is the most horrible part.
~~~~~~~~~~
All of this pertains to how you (we all might) approach the whole world, which includes the God questions, but includes much more too. You really want God to be all those omni words -- and that’s why, as you say, you believe he is. Here a deeper set of questions for you to consider.

Question Do you realize that if you approach the world by believing things because you want them to be true, that means that you will miss out of a lot of the actual truth? You will believe many things that are not true, because seeking the truth (whatever it may be) is not your primary goal. Isn’t it more depressing to realize that you will tend to believe things that are not true?

Question Consider, hypothetically, that you came to the belief that God was not all those omni concepts, and even what if you began to believe he didn’t actually exist? What would be the worst parts of that realization? Would you die or would you keep living? Would you be able to lead your life and take care of yourself, or would you lose that? Would your friends and family disown you, or would they respect your belief? Would you lose all happiness or would you have one less master? Is being the master of yourself, and responsible for yourself, a depressing thought? If so, why?

Question Did you know that some people who believe in God do not use your approach of believing just because they want to believe? For example, a scientifically-minded, extremely-truth-seeking person might quite logically come to a belief in God because of studying the cause-and-effect principles of the universe. Their belief may be truthful or false, but they will have come to it very differently than you came to yours.

This other approach has some pros and cons. This kind of person is vulnerable to changing their beliefs based on new data (observations and understanding of natural principles). Is that openness to changing one’s beliefs (your beliefs in this case) also depressing to you? What would it take for you to not be depressed at such things?
NemoySpruce
The Philosopher Princess wrote:

Question Do you realize that if you approach the world by believing things because you want them to be true, that means that you will miss out of a lot of the actual truth? You will believe many things that are not true, because seeking the truth (whatever it may be) is not your primary goal. Isn’t it more depressing to realize that you will tend to believe things that are not true?


you are correct. if a person goes around believing things because they want them to be true they will miss out on a lot of truths, they would lead insanely happy lives, but their lives would be false. This is not how I live my life. I try to confirm truths as much as I can, however there are limits to what I can understand. for example, I have read that things are made up of tiny particles called atoms. I have never seen an atom, but I have read as much as I can about them and I cannot find any argument to negate these claims. They even claim to harness its power by splitting them, so i guess it must be true. I have been to Hiroshima, and I have seen the exhibits there that described the devastation caused by splitting an atom, so what they are saying must be true. I accept that as truth, even though one may still argue that we are not made up by atoms, we are made up of peanuts with explosive oil in them, and I would not be able to argue against that. Regarding God, all arguments are vague, and as i see it there is nothing to prove or disprove his existence, and so at the moment, its up to us to either believe or not. In the absence of any evidence or in this case an overflow of evidence for and against, but nothing conclusive, I like the notion of there being a God up there looking out for us, so until someone comes up with conclusive evidence, i will accept that as truth

The Philosopher Princess wrote:

Question Consider, hypothetically, that you came to the belief that God was not all those omni concepts, and even what if you began to believe he didn’t actually exist? What would be the worst parts of that realization? Would you die or would you keep living? Would you be able to lead your life and take care of yourself, or would you lose that? Would your friends and family disown you, or would they respect your belief? Would you lose all happiness or would you have one less master? Is being the master of yourself, and responsible for yourself, a depressing thought? If so, why?


I am master of myself now, and i like it. What is depressing to me is the idea that, no matter what we do, no matter how grand we make our lives to be, when you die, or when the sun burns out, or when the universe collapses in on itself, its all nothing.

The Philosopher Princess wrote:

Question Did you know that some people who believe in God do not use your approach of believing just because they want to believe? For example, a scientifically-minded, extremely-truth-seeking person might quite logically come to a belief in God because of studying the cause-and-effect principles of the universe. Their belief may be truthful or false, but they will have come to it very differently than you came to yours.


if they have any cause and effect principles of the universe that points to an Omni-God Id love to see it. People use my approach everyday. Like do you believe the sun is comming out tomorrow? Why? When you go to school, do you think one of your classmates is gonna go berzerk and shoot everybody down? Why not?

The Philosopher Princess wrote:

This other approach has some pros and cons. This kind of person is vulnerable to changing their beliefs based on new data (observations and understanding of natural principles). Is that openness to changing one’s beliefs (your beliefs in this case) also depressing to you? What would it take for you to not be depressed at such things?


Im all for changing beliefs, thats why I have a problem with religion. Religion is mostly fixed, It can only be changed by leaders or experts of said religion, practitioners are doomed to be followers. It worked well before information traveled at near light speeds, but now, i m not so sure that paradigm really works anymore.
Indi
NemoySpruce wrote:
Indi wrote:

Then there should be no evil.
So how can suffering exist?


Why not? If you were writing a story, and you can put any element in it, why can you not put in an evil element? Suffering must exist for there to be pleasure. Seems logical. It's His story.

It may be his story, but it's my life. Are you telling me that all the suffering in my life has been for his amusement, or the amusement of whatever audience he's writing the "story" for?

Authors don't just stick random crap into their stories willy nilly. Authors put suffering in stories because suffering is a language that we can all understand. We understand the desire for revenge because we've all felt the urge to retaliate after being injured. We understand loss. We understand the pain of isolation. So authors attempt to reach us by tapping into those universal symbols.

Of course, the reason suffering is a language that we all understand is because God has allowed us all to suffer - hell, he created suffering directly or indirectly, and our capacity to suffer. People don't really understand infinity because we have no experience of it - if we had no experience of suffering, we wouldn't understand that. But, thanks to God, we have experienced suffering, and we do understand it.

Actually, understanding infinity is at the heart of the problem here. You say: "Suffering must exist for there to be pleasure." Are you saying that God can't create a universe where pleasure exists without suffering? Let me rephrase that with emphasis: Are you saying that omnipotent God can't do something?

If there's something he can't do, then he's not omnipotent. End of story.

NemoySpruce wrote:
I think a better question is, does 'Hell' exist? If God is omnipotent and omnicient and loving, eternal damnation cannot exist.

If the bible is the word of God, hell exists. Regardless, you don't need eternal damnation to break the logic. Even momentary "damnation" will do, such as the pain you feel when you stub your toe, or hurt you feel when someone else is chosen for something before you. Why do those little sufferings need to exist? If God is infinitely powerful (omnipotent) and infinitely aware (omniscient/omnipresent), then he is capable of preventing all suffering. If any suffering exists - any suffering at all - God wants it to be there. What definition of loving allows for needless suffering?

Suffering exists, therefore God cannot be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and loving at the same time.

nopaniers wrote:
Like it or not, things are going to get hard, and at one point or another we have suffered and we will suffer in the future. The world isn't some type of Disney world ride where fairfloss falls from the sky.

Why not?

I'm serious. Why not?

God could do it, right? He's omnipotent so he can do anything. So why didn't he?

I'll even make it easy for you to answer. Here are your options:

- The world is the way it is because it's the way God wants it? Then God wants suffering. So God is not loving.
- The world is the way it is because God didn't know any other way to make it? Then God is not omniscient.
- The world is the way it is because God couldn't prevent suffering? Then God is not omnipotent.
- The world is the way it is because God is not aware of all the suffering? Then God is not omnipresent.

Pick any two.

nopaniers wrote:
I see things differently to you. I don't think the aim of life is to have as little suffering as possible. I think it is to please God - that is what will give me life to the full. God, being a loving God, gives us that opportunity. That can, and does, involve suffering.

This is absolutely illogical. One minute you say God is a loving god, the next you say that he occasionally requires us to suffer to please him.

And yes, he does require us to suffer. It's not our choice, it's his. Suffering wouldn't even exist if he hadn't created it directly or indirectly. And suffering wouldn't please him unless he wanted it to.
nopaniers
My parents are loving, but that did not mean I always got to do exactly what I wanted. When I was small, I didn't realise why it was bad if I sat around all day and played computer games. I am greatful to my parents that they didn't let me do that. And I am also greatful that they didn't lock me up in chains, not letting me be myself or think for myself. That wouldn't have been loving either. To quote from CS Lewis, love is much more than kindness: "Kindness cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering", while Love "would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes".

Yesterday, when I was walking home after work I saw a fight between two groups of "young men". They layed into each other. Then a bunch of taxis turned up, the drivers got up (together with some people waiting for a bus) and broke up the fight. They didn't have to, but they put themselves on the line for people they didn't even know. I tell you what: that's love.

Jesus death for us demonstrates God's love in a similar way. It is an amazing thought to think that the creator of the universe even created us, let alone care about the tiny specks in space that we are, and even more amazing that he would send his son to die for us. That's love.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
My parents are loving, but that did not mean I always got to do exactly what I wanted. When I was small, I didn't realise why it was bad if I sat around all day and played computer games. I am greatful to my parents that they didn't let me do that.

Now I admit that I'm making an assumption without any basis here, since I do not know you or your parents, but I assume your parents are not omnipotent.

Why did your parents prevent you from doing whatever you wanted to do? Because some of those things that you wanted to do - notably playing computer games all day - would hurt you in the long run. If you had been allowed to sit around all day playing games, then you would not have learned the valuable survival skills you would need to be a healthy and functional adult.

Now, if your parents were omnipotent, they could simply zap whatever knowledge and skills you needed to get by in life right into your head. Bam. Done. Now go play your computer games.

nopaniers wrote:
To quote from CS Lewis, love is much more than kindness: "Kindness cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering", while Love "would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes".

Lewis never fully grasped the concept of infinity - but then, he's hardly alone in that regard amongst Christian thinkers. You seem to be suffering from the same failing.

This has nothing to do with how much God cares/loves/whatever. Unless he is a sick, cruel monster, he will not want to cause suffering. Agree? He doesn't need to be a perfectly loving or nice being (which would imply that he would only want total and perfect happiness, if possible, which, obviously, it is, if he's omnipotent), as long as he's not the kind of being that goes out of his way to cause suffering. All we require is that God be simply nice - that he has the kind of personality that would not choose to cause suffering when it's not necessary.

Now, if God is omnipotent, then it is never necessary to cause suffering. Therefore if he is a being that does not desire to cause suffering, and nothing happens that he is not aware of and ultimately responsible for, then there should be no suffering. It's as simple as that.

Or if you prefer, consider Lewis' observation that love "would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes". Fair enough. But what if you had the power to make those "contemptible and estranging modes" good? Or to make it so that removing the loved one from the "contemptible and estranging modes" does not cause any suffering, and in fact makes them even happier? If you were omnipotent, you would have the power to do either of those things. So there should be no need for you to have to make your loved one suffer - ever.

Omnipotence means infinitely capable. God can do anything. Try to grasp the meaning of that. ANYTHING. God can make the universe without incorporating suffering, and teach us all of the lessons he feels we have to learn without requiring us to suffer to learn them - yes, he can, because he's omnipotent. So if suffering exists, God wants us to suffer for no other reason than because it is what he wants. If God wants us to suffer for his amusement, how can he be loving?

nopaniers wrote:
Yesterday, when I was walking home after work I saw a fight between two groups of "young men". They layed into each other. Then a bunch of taxis turned up, the drivers got up (together with some people waiting for a bus) and broke up the fight. They didn't have to, but they put themselves on the line for people they didn't even know. I tell you what: that's love.

A charming anecdote I'm sure, but I fail to see your point. We're talking about God. Omnipotent God. If he saw that fight break out, he could stop it without putting himself or anything at risk. If the fight happens at all, it happens because God wants it to.

nopaniers wrote:
Jesus death for us demonstrates God's love in a similar way. It is an amazing thought to think that the creator of the universe even created us, let alone care about the tiny specks in space that we are, and even more amazing that he would send his son to die for us. That's love.

Amazing? In what way? I think it's amazingly sick. Jesus didn't have to suffer, because God could have taught us anything he wanted us to know simply by wanting to - yes, he could, because he's omnipotent. Jesus' death, and his suffering, was unnecessary. God could have forgiven us our sins and demonstrated how much he loved us without any any suffering. He's omnipotent, remember?

If it really is true that it was in some way required for Jesus to die in order for our sins to be forgiven in God's eyes, then it had to have been God that came up with that requirement. Essentially: God made us sinners, created a horrible punishment for us being sinners (although he made us that way), brutally butchered his own son as some kind of blood token for our sins (which are all due to the way he made us and the universe), and is now demanding that we acknowledge our flaws as our own fault and worship him to avoid the punishment that he created.

Nice guy.
The Philosopher Princess
Thanks, nopaniers, for coming back on these things. I sure wish I had more availability because these are very interesting subjects for me, and you give good feedback. Let’s at least have a little more fun before I depart.

Like I’d said, I had no particular paths planned with my questions, so now I am inventing some new ones. Smile
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Do you believe in one (objective) reality?

Yes. I do. How about you?

Yes. I attempt to seek the truth whatever it may be (or, more accurately, subsets of the truth).
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Is God omniscient?

Absolutely. I think even more than omniscient, he holds everything together and so has an intimate knowledge of everything.

(For others, omniscient means having complete knowledge of everything -- past, present, and future -- that there is to know.)

Okay, nopaniers. You believe that God knows everything.

You would have to admit that that particular belief of yours is pretty much a guess on your part, wouldn’t you? If you agree that you’re just making a wild guess, then I don’t have any particular quibbles. But if not, then I would say more.

First, you don’t claim that you, yourself, are omniscient, right? (I certainly am not.) There are many things in the universe that you don’t know, right? Then.....

Arrow You claim that you are not omniscient, but yet you are still knowledgeable about omniscience. You don’t know everything, but you know about everything, even as far as to know when another being knows everything.

This is not an issue of semantics. This is an issue of logic.

Arrow How can someone who doesn’t know some particular things, know when someone else knows those same particular things?

Example. When I take my car in for repair, I know some things about my car, and I know that there are many things that I do not know about my car. I attempt to take my car to people who know much more about cars than I (i.e., car experts). I can research, I can ask for referrals, I can judge so-called experts based on my experiences with them, etc. -- but when it comes down to it, I only have very limited knowledge of the actual knowledge -- and lack of knowledge -- of the experts. I really don’t know what they know. I make some educated guesses and I make some wild guesses about what they know. Anything that I am fully qualified to judge car experts on (and there will be a few of those things), those are the things that I know myself. I cannot (validly) judge their knowledge on things that I do not know.

So, how is it that you know that a being (God) knows things that you don’t know yourself? How is it that you know enough to say what a supposedly omniscient being knows?

Asked a different way: If a being claimed to be omniscient (or others claimed that that being were omniscient) but if that being in reality were not omniscient, then how would you know? How would you know the difference?

It’s one thing to be qualified to judge others’ knowledge to a certain extent. If I have lots of experience with particular car mechanics, then I am validly qualified to judge that area to a certain extent. But I could never know enough to be qualified to know if someone -- in the area of cars -- were omniscient when it comes to cars.

Why do you think that you are qualified to know that God is omniscient?
~~~~~~~~~~
I hope you like that thinking. I hope you enjoy thinking about it, yourself. I have an idea for another omni, which I hope to write up later.
NemoySpruce
Indi wrote:

If the bible is the word of God, hell exists. Regardless, you don't need eternal damnation to break the logic. Even momentary "damnation" will do, such as the pain you feel when you stub your toe, or hurt you feel when someone else is chosen for something before you.


If you did not know how painful it feels to be rejected, would you truly understand what love is? Would you understand the pleasure of eating, if you do not experience hunger? would a rollercoaster ride be fun if you didnt think for a split second you were gonna die on it? Pain is just a sensation, if its temporary, then it just enhances the experience. So is inflicting pain okay? depends on your reasons, but pain itself is neither good nor evil, its just a series of impulses that your brain chooses to interpret as something that should be stopped. An omnicient being may seem sadistic to us, but we can't understand his motives for now.

Eternal damnation is another matter. Its not punishment, punishment is implemented with the hopes of somehow correcting behavior. Hell is a purely sadistic concept. Motives need not be in the equation. 'Eternal' means, no mercy, no forgiveness nothing. Being omnicient God would know if a person would go to hell, even before the person is conceived. Yet he does nothing to stop/change the destiny of said evil person. That is pure sadistic behavior, and whats scary is, it could be true. God could be a kid with a magnifying glass.
nopaniers
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Like I’d said, I had no particular paths planned with my questions, so now I am inventing some new ones.


That's a good thing to do!

Quote:
How can someone who doesn’t know some particular things, know when someone else knows those same particular things?


This might sound a little bit strange (to many "knows"), but I can know that other people know something, without knowing it myself. For example, I know that you know what colour your hair is, but buggered if I have any idea.

So, in the same way, I can think God is omniscient. If I ask him things about what he created, and holds together by his willl. It's very similar to asking you what colour your hair is.

I don't view God as impersonal - something that created the universe and then went away for all intents and purposes. You might think that without God there just wouldn't be churches, I would say that without God there wouldn't be anything. Without him every atom and molecule, every quark or gluon, every person, every star- I think I've made my point- they wouldn't exist. In my view, their every fluctuation is held together by God. That's a kind of amazing thought to me (no doubt Indi sees it differently).
nopaniers
NemoySpruce wrote:
Yet he does nothing to stop/change the destiny of said evil person.


I disagree. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so that we don't have to be separated from God, but can spend eternity with him. Said evil person is not screwed!
The Philosopher Princess
Here’s another omni for you, nopaniers Smile!

(For others, omnipresent means existing and being everywhere in the entire universe at the same time and for all time.)

nopaniers wrote:
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Is God omnipresent?

Yes. Omnipresent in both space and time.

We know, do we not?, that 2 different things cannot occupy the same location at the same time. If someone claims that 2 things are occupying the same location, then it is simply a case of 1 unique thing being located there, yet being called by 2 different names simultaneously.

Then, assuming that’s true, and if what you say is true about God’s being omnipresent, then that raises all kinds of seemingly strange curiosities.

That means that we are God -- yes, we are only part of God -- but 100% of each of us are also God. So far, so good.

So, when we are happy, God is happy.
When we go to sleep, God is going to sleep.
When we lie, cheat, defraud, and murder, God is lying, cheating, defrauding, and murdering.
When we are unaware of some truth, God is unaware of some truth.

Surprised Wait! How can that be!?

Arrow How can God be omniscient (as you’ve also claimed) and be unaware at the same time?

Sincere question, there, and if you’d like to answer to that point, fine. But let me add some more.
~~~~~~~~~~
One “rebuttal” to that question could be something along the lines of an example like this. Any given human man is not aware of certain functions going on deep in the innards of his body, yet those bodily functions are nevertheless him -- yes, the functions are only a part of him, but 100% of that bodily sub-system is him (and not someone or something else). All the functions of that man are that man, some of which he is aware and some of which he is not. Just because there is something in/of the man of which he is unaware, does not mean it is not in/of him; it is all still him.

Seems quite analogous to God’s being aware and unaware at the same time, huh?

But there’s a big difference. The parts must be broken down further, conceptually, to understand. I’m going to do just a very primitive version of this, for, to do a “real” one, we’d have to really work to nail down very strict definitions/terms/concepts.

Considering the man, there is a difference between (1) the man, himself, (2) his awarenesses, (3) his functions of which is he aware, and (4) his functions of which he is unaware. These things (and many more useful concepts) may have some overlappings, but none of the 4 are the same thing. Fine. Smile

But these breakings down of conceptual components (which identify physical things) do not work the same way -- i.e., they don’t work, period -- for an omnipresent, omniscient being. And yet, to stay logical and rational, they must. [%%]

While the man’s unawarenesses of the #4 functions do not cause any logical problems, we also are not trying to claim that those two things are the same thing as each other. It’s easy to recognize that the man’s awarenesses with the help of his awareness facilities (e.g., brain, mind, nervous system) are external (at least partially) to the #4’s (his functions of which he is unaware).

That’s fine for a man. But that could not be true -- by definition -- of an omniscient omnipresent being. If there were such a being as one who is omniscient and omnipresent, its awarenesses would have to exist in the unawarenesses, which doesn’t make logical sense. You cannot separate things out for an omniscient omnipresent being as you can do with a non-omniscient non-omnipresent being.

So, there are some seemingly insurmountable logical difficulties with an omnipresent being.

Given that, you can’t just jump to a claim that God is aware of people’s unawarenesses and that that doesn’t mean that God, himself, is unaware. For that claim is admitting that there’s a difference between awareness and a thing of which to be aware (and that the awareness is external to that thing). That claim is the same as admitting God is not omnipresent.

If God is omnipresent, then his awareness is present in the unawarenesses of people -- awareness and unawareness are the same thing -- which doesn’t make sense.
~~~~~~~~~~
P.S. The situation of God’s not being omnipresent [@@], does not necessarily mean (at least with what has been discussed so far) that he isn’t omnipotent, which is another whole omni discussion. Smile
__________________________________________
[%%] If one is not even attempting to be rational, then logical reasoning is irrelevant. All science of cause-and-effect has been thrown out the door so no rational discussion can be had. But that shouldn’t have anything to do with our discussion here.

[@@] I wonder what the philosophers who are dedicated to this subject would say. I have not studied this stuff, myself, as my fortes are elsewhere. But I do like this notion I came up with, so maybe I will pursue it one day.
nopaniers
Hi PP,

I'm sorry, I do not fully follow all you had to say. Let me start from the beginning:

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
We know, do we not?, that 2 different things cannot occupy the same location at the same time.


There are two types of particles: Bosons and Fermions. Bosons can exist in the same state, but the Fermi exclusion principle says that two Fermions cannot exist in the same state. Bose-Einstein condensates are an example where many, many particles exist in exactly the same place at the same time. Amazing, but true! See why physicists like me get so excited?

And that's only the start of the wierdness... two particles can pass right through one another. That's known as tunnelling. We don't see it, because as things get bigger, it becomes less and less likely to happen.

But regardless, I don't think God is a particle. I can see no reason why he can't be omnipresent. Time and space is omnipresent, and it is not the same as matter. Why can't God be too?

Quote:
That means that we are God


Even if two bits of matter could not exist in the same spot (which they can), it would not apply to God, unless God was made of matter and bound by the universe. If he was made of Fermions, and so were we, then you might be right. But I don't think any of this means that we are God. In my view God is the creator of the universe. He created matter. He created time and space.

I think worshipping things inside the universe - ourselves, or something else - is pointless. We, unfortunately, will die and decay. Sad, but true. We are not the creators of the universe, and are not God.
Bikerman
nopaniers wrote:

But regardless, I don't think God is a particle. I can see no reason why he can't be omnipresent. Time and space is omnipresent, and it is not the same as matter. Why can't God be too?

Woah there......are we sure about that last bit ? Time and space are omnipresent ? Now I'm not a physicist so pardon my presumption here, but I thought that time and space were interlinked into spacetime and that time is a relative concept depending on relative velocity, acceleration/gravity in line with SR and GR. In relativity there is, I thought, no need for time to extrapolate back more than 13.8 billion yrs (using CMB data). I thought the equations all started either mounting to infinities or dividing many types of zero at the point t=0 after the BB event. That surely at least allows the possibility that time is relative and finite ?
Also I thought the current 'state of play' as regards space 'beyond the Cosmic Light Horizon' is still in doubt and there is a solution to the equations that allows a BB from a thermodynamically even mix that, for example, heat death would produce in a few gazillion millenia...another play on the cyclic universe theory :-)
Seriously, though, I thought that the jury was still well and truly out on the extent of spacetime and it's geometry...maybe you can bring me more up to date :-)
Quote:

Even if two bits of matter could not exist in the same spot (which they can), it would not apply to God, unless God was made of matter and bound by the universe. If he was made of Fermions, and so were we, then you might be right. But I don't think any of this means that we are God. In my view God is the creator of the universe. He created matter. He created time and space.

So this God essentially set the BB in train and then went for a 13 billion year lie-in ? Also another woah....matter ? I thought matter didn't condense out of bB (not including the early nucleo-synthesis 3 minute period) for a good 3-400,000 years after BB when the ion/plasma mix was cool enough for recombination. So did god create matter, or the conditions for matter to exist ?

Also, if t=0 at BB then there would be no spacetime for God to have existed before creation so either God is extra-dimensional, or God created God at the instant of BB.

Regards
Chris
nopaniers
Bikerman wrote:
That surely at least allows the possibility that time is relative and finite ?


Yes. I agree with both those things. I think time and space and relative and finite. I think that omnipresent means present at every time and place. So, at every point at time and space, there is time and space... I think it's true by definition. I guess my point is that just because two things would be described as being at the same point, does not mean that they are the same thing. I don't think I'm space and time, and I don't think I'm God.

Quote:
Also I thought the current 'state of play' as regards space 'beyond the Cosmic Light Horizon' is still in doubt and there is a solution to the equations that allows a BB from a thermodynamically even mix that, for example, heat death would produce in a few gazillion millenia...another play on the cyclic universe theory Smile


If these things prove to be true, then I'll have to re-evaluate what I believe. It sounds surprising if that's true. Surely that violates thermodynamics?

Quote:
So this God essentially set the BB in train and then went for a 13 billion year lie-in ?


No. Not at all.

Quote:
So did god create matter, or the conditions for matter to exist?


Both.

Quote:
Also, if t=0 at BB then there would be no spacetime for God to have existed before creation so either God is extra-dimensional, or God created God at the instant of BB.


True. In my view God is eternal, not bound by space and time... Like you say, I think it has to be so, or else not make a whole stack of sense.
Bikerman
nopaniers wrote:

True. In my view God is eternal, not bound by space and time... Like you say, I think it has to be so, or else not make a whole stack of sense.


Interestingly enough I'm in a debate about Occam's razor in another thread but it surely must come in here (or it's relative the law of parsimony).

God, is by definition, at least an order of magnitude more complex than we can understand and current cosmology seems to explain things pretty well from the instant after BB to now. Why, then, would you want to increase the complexity of the solution to produce the same discernable outcome. In other words, God is surely redundant ?
:-)

Regards
Chris.
The Philosopher Princess
@ nopaniers

Remember that I said we still had a short amount of time for a little bit of fun!? Very Happy (No, I’m not mixed up and thinking I’m at my going-away party.)

(People who don’t like this subject: HOP, SKIP, and JUMP to the examples. nopaniers, you have to read everything Razz!)

Terms are goldeny. Hypothetical spoken text is purply.
~~~~~~~~~~
Location and state are not the same thing. Likewise, the position of a particle and the quantum state of that particle are not the same thing. Yet you seem to be using location (position, place) and state (quantum state) interchangeably. If you look at the texts of your quantum mechanics reference materials, I believe you will notice that, in most cases, you cannot replace their uses of position with quantum state, nor vice versa, without changing (or eliminating) the meanings of the texts.
~~~~~~~~~~
Some simple examples (and the imagining of their analogies) might help our overall discussion.

Example. When a person is in a car, one could say that the person and the car are in the same location, but that is only because the unit of measurement is “fairly” large. If the unit of measurement were decreased sufficiently, then the locations of the person and the car are clearly different.

Example. When a person gets in the driver’s seat of a car, then gets out the passenger’s seat, we could say that the person passed through (or “tunneled through”) the car. But this does not mean, given a sufficiently small measurement of location, that the person and the car were in the same location at the same time.

Example. One could have a car which could simultaneously fit (hold) “many” adult humans, while the same car (at a different time) could only fit one adult elephant (let’s say the seats were taken out). Except for the admitted hilarity of discussing elephants fitting into cars, there’s nothing particularly phenomenal about a car’s allowing only one of one type of particle (elephant) while the car will allow many of another type of particle (humans) simultaneously.

Example. If a car has a couple of baby elephants squeezed into it, and the doors and windows are closed, and the car windows are darkened, then from the outside of that car, we cannot tell the position of each baby elephant. Even if we stuffed the ’phant babes in, ourselves, the elephant energies will cause them to move inside there. Just because we are not capable of knowing the exact elephant babes’ individual and different positions, does not mean that they are not different and distinct.

Example. A waving elephant trunk could be sliced up (Sad). Not only would the trunk not be waving anymore (Crying or Very sad), but then we could say that the various trunk parts were distinct. In this case, it’d be easy to know the trunk parts don’t exist in the same place. But if the elephant trunk were left in tact (Very Happy), then saying that 2 different parts of an elephant trunk exist in the same time and same place either doesn’t make sense or is a tautology, because different parts of the trunk are the trunk. If the trunk is waving, it’s waving because all parts of the trunk are waving.

Example. Take conjoined twins (Ming & Mang) who share a heart (and share a bit more that I don’t discuss to keep it simple). Each twin could be uniquely distinguished definitionally from the other one such that you can point to Ming’s head, legs, liver, heart, etc. and you can point to the body parts of Mang. Ming is a distinct individual and distinguishable from Mang. Would we say then that Ming’s heart and Mang’s heart exist in the same location? If the answer is yes, then what we are doing is calling the same thing (a heart) by 2 names (Ming’s heart, Mang’s heart). But if asked if 2 different, distinct, mutually exclusive hearts exist in the same location, then the answer is no. (While Ming & Mang are distinct as wholes, they do intersect.)
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
There are two types of particles: Bosons and Fermions. Bosons can exist in the same state, but the Fermi exclusion principle says that two Fermions cannot exist in the same state. Bose-Einstein condensates are an example where many, many particles exist in exactly the same place at the same time.

Arrow By the fact that one says that 2 (and even more) things (e.g., particles) can exist in the same place at the same time implies that the speaker is distinguishing the particles from each other (like the elephant trunk slices). Otherwise, one would say things like the 2 particles became 1 particle or that they are 1. Or, if the particles are considered as part of the same wave, which, qua wave, they are not distinct and so are not 2 different things, then saying that the 2 things exist in the same place at the same time has no meaning (or is a tautology) (and is like the elephant trunk waving).

If and when you want to correctly and meaningfully talk about 2 things, then you must mutually-exclusively choose between these:
(1) the 2 things are actually the same 1 thing with 2 names (like the twins’ heart), or
(2) they are actually different things (e.g., the particles as particles; the elephant trunk slices), or
(3) they are part of a bigger thing (e.g., the particles as a wave; the waving elephant trunk).
Once you have chosen one and only one of the 3 choices, then you can make various assertions using the terms, principles, etc. that correspond to that choice. But you can’t choose one and then use the terms, principles, etc. for a different choice (for if you do, then you are speaking nonsense).

In any case, you never end up with 2 different and distinct things being in the same place at the same time.

Arrow Saying that bosons can exist in the same (quantum) state is not the same thing as saying they exist in the same location if the unit of measurement of location is sufficiently small. But the unit of measurement of a fully specified quantum state is not sufficiently small.
~~~~~~~~~~
nopaniers wrote:
Time and space is omnipresent, and it is not the same as matter.

Saying that time is omnipresent is to perform a context-switch in our discussion; the meaning of omnipresent for an entity’s existence cannot be applied to a property of something.

Example. If a particular girl is running in every scene of a tv show, one might say that the girl is “omnipresent” in the show (because she’s always in the show) (please notice the quote marks). But, you would not say her running was omnipresent in the show, even though she was always running. The “existence” of a physical thing and the “existence” of a property/characteristic/description/attribute “thing” are using 2 different meanings of “existence”. And thus, terms such as omnipresence that rely on the term existence, will be different depending on which you’ve chosen.

Looking at this another way, as pertains to entities such as God, the meaning of omnipresent already includes “all of time”. (If God is omnipresent, then he is always in the big show.) So, asserting that time is omnipresent (using the same meaning of omnipresent) makes no sense, or it is a tautology like saying these girls are females.

(When I’d originally asked you the omni questions, I said you could determine the definitions of the concepts/terms if you wanted. But I didn’t say that you could use more than one definition simultaneously, or without being clear on when a switch of definitions is happening Razz. You know I’m kidding you, because I know you didn’t try to do that Smile.)
~~~~~~~~~~
I hope you’re not going to read these things only once (Anxious) that I’ve been writing you -- especially the parts you don’t understand or think that you don’t agree with. I packed quite a bit in these essays -- yes, sillily, but also sincerely. How many people get such wonderfully customized fun examples written just for them Question Wink Exclamation Very Happy
nopaniers
Bikerman wrote:
Interestingly enough I'm in a debate about Occam's razor in another thread but it surely must come in here (or it's relative the law of parsimony).


We just had quite a long discussion of it here, too. I think that Occam's razor should be used with care.

Quote:
God, is by definition, at least an order of magnitude more complex than we can understand and current cosmology seems to explain things pretty well from the instant after BB to now.


Yes. I would agree with that. That's not to say there is no evidence that God does or doesn't exist, just that we are a long way from having a scientific theory of theology or atheism. Unfortunately there's definitely no experiment, yet, which we could do which would prove or disprove God.

Quote:
Why, then, would you want to increase the complexity of the solution to produce the same discernable outcome. In other words, God is surely redundant?


God is anything but redundant. Perhaps you choose not to believe in God, which is all well and good and a perfectly valid thing to believe. However, I do believe in God. I think there are discernable outcomes between an atheist world view (when I see no reason for a universe to exist at all) and a theistic world view. I don't regard these of proofs, but merely as evidence. If you read back over the thread, you'll see see some of the reasons which led me to first consider that God could actually exist. I don't think questions about God are redundant. The answer makes a great deal of difference to us all.
nopaniers
Hi PP. It's always a pleasure to read your posts, and so far I've read it twice (I'm a little slow sometimes). I'll reply more later, but for now:

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
fact that one says that 2 (and even more) things (e.g., particles) can exist in the same place at the same time implies that the speaker is distinguishing the particles from each other (like the elephant trunk slices). Otherwise, one would say things like the 2 particles became 1 particle or that they are 1. Or, if the particles are considered as part of the same wave, which, qua wave, they are not distinct and so are not 2 different things, then saying that the 2 things exist in the same place at the same time has no meaning (or is a tautology) (and is like the elephant trunk waving)


Well, in the cases I'm was thinking about, the particles are indistinguishable. You can't tell them apart - at all. Not even their mother can tell them apart, because they are absolutely identical. But they're not one object either. You could still count them, and there's still just as many as you started with.

Quote:
Location and state are not the same thing.


True. But the state does describe the location of a particle. I'm not using them interchangably.

I'll say more later.
Indi
nopaniers wrote:
That's not to say there is no evidence that God does or doesn't exist, just that we are a long way from having a scientific theory of theology or atheism.

There can never be any "theory of atheism" because atheism is not a thing or a concept, it is the lack of a thing or concept. It's like having a theory of no gravity rather than a theory of gravity, or a theory of the absence of electromagnetism rather than a theory of electromagnetism. Meaningless nonsense.

As for a scientific analysis of "theology", that's already being done. It's called "theology". Or, if you prefer, there's also cultural anthropology, where they study where religion came from, how it evolved, and how it interacts with society.

Do you mean a scientific theory of "god"? Done. The scientific theory of god is that there is no god. Or, to be more precise, god is a mythical construct developed by society in order to impose a sensation of order and control on the universe.

Ah, but you don't agree with it so it must be false, right?

nopaniers wrote:
Unfortunately there's definitely no experiment, yet, which we could do which would prove or disprove God.

And once again: there can never be an experiment that disproves the existence of a god. The only thing you can test for is existence, not non-existence.

nopaniers wrote:
If you read back over the thread, you'll see see some of the reasons which led me to first consider that God could actually exist.

You have got to be joking. -_- I spent months asking, pleading, begging and demanding from you this evidence you claim you have. You spent months evading the question and lying about what I wrote. I still don't know what evidence you have, and I can't imagine anyone else does. The nearest thing I've seen to this evidence you keep claiming you have is your statements that you believe god exists simply because you don't like the alternatives.

So... again... this is probably futile, but as long as you keep claiming you have evidence I might as well keep asking for it... WHAT IS YOUR EVIDENCE?

Seriously. Don't say it's obvious. Don't say "go back and look for it". Just freaking write it out. Right here. In the space below this paragraph. In plain english. Hell, in point form if possible. WHAT IS YOUR EVIDENCE?
The Philosopher Princess
nopaniers wrote:
Hi PP. It's always a pleasure to read your posts, and so far I've read it twice (I'm a little slow sometimes).

Very Happy Thanks for caring, and for your candidly courteous comment.
~~~~~~~~~~
@ Indi

It’s great to see you rainboxing a bit Very Happy! Did I tell you about the embedded rainboxing guideline that it should be used on at least as much, hopefully more, nice or neutral notes than on nasty notes Wink?

Seriously, I can see you are frustrated. I just wish I had figured out a way to better facilitate a discussion between you and nopaniers on this stuff -- some way to break it down to some crux points. Because, in some ways, you each are typical of the “two” sides of “this issue”. But, in other ways, you are each taking a seemingly unique approach. Alas, I did not do well there.

I’d like to say that I have, nevertheless, very much enjoyed what you both have contributed here. I have come away from all this with something you may never realize (but maybe you will).
~~~~~~~~~~
@ Indi and nopaniers

With you two in particular in mind, I have had an idea of something I think is a superbly sizzling session starter. The starter is a speech of a sort (not by my self). But it’s a surprise! Twisted Evil

I expect you’re both thinking you won’t have time for it. But I remind you that the time on it can be spread out unlimitedly.

Anyway, I just wanted to pique your interest. I’ll tell it to y’all later. What would be ideal is if there were someone (besides myself since I’ll be gone Sad) who can truly facilitate (not moderate; that’s a different task). Who around here can stay objective, is capable of getting involved only to the “right” level so as to facilitate, and neither of you disrespects that person? If we could find the right helper, I could give that person some tips to get them started (and then of course it would take on a life of its own).

I really think it will be fun for others too, like Bikerman and NemoySpruce, and more of the Frihost audience. In one way, the session starter is less vague than some of our starting points have been. (I just seriously wish I would have thought of it a long time ago.)

So, any suggestions? You can tell me via PM if you like. I’m going to be thinking about it too.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
It’s great to see you rainboxing a bit Very Happy! Did I tell you about the embedded rainboxing guideline that it should be used on at least as much, hopefully more, nice or neutral notes than on nasty notes Wink?

Oops. >.<

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Seriously, I can see you are frustrated. I just wish I had figured out a way to better facilitate a discussion between you and nopaniers on this stuff -- some way to break it down to some crux points. Because, in some ways, you each are typical of the “two” sides of “this issue”. But, in other ways, you are each taking a seemingly unique approach. Alas, I did not do well there.

I'm not entirely convinced that you haven't already done everything humanly possible to facilitate this discussion. Regardless of the quality of the moderation, unless both parties are actually willing to converse, there can't be much of a conversation.

As far as I'm concerned we have already broken this discussion down to it's core points a long time ago. I stated that there was no difference between the credibility of any two religions because they are all based unproven beliefs here (it was part of my defense of Scientology, pointing out that no one who subscribes to any faith has the right to judge Scientology because it would just be a case of the pot calling the kettle black). nopaniers claimed that his belief in God was not based on a religion here (actually, because of vagueness and evasive statements, you have to collect bits and pieces of his argument from here, here and here). In fact, he claimed:
  • "I certainly do not agree that there is no evidence for God's existence." *
  • "There are historical accounts pointing to the existence of God, in particular eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection. You might say that you are not convinced, which would be a fair enough position to take, but to say that there is no evidence is wrong. I would say there there is both evidence for and evidence against, and more than that, I believe that the evidence for is greater than the evidence against." *
  • "I abandoned my blind faith in the non-existence of God. As I say, I weighed up the evidence for and against." *
And in response to the first of those claims, on the first page, I asked: "Then by what means have you come to believe that God exists, if not some religion or another?" *.

Five pages and a hundred posts later... still no coherent response to that simple question. As evidenced by the fact that I'm still asking it right up to the post I made just before this one.

Honestly, I don't even know what his point is anymore. His arguments are rambling, meandering, nonsensical and frankly bizarre. He posts evidence that is explicitly against his argument and claims it as support. He asserts arguments completely contrary to logic and claims that he's using rigid logic. He introduces random examples, misinterprets them, then warps them to his thesis. He accuses me of being some kind of delusional crackpot who uses the foundational principles of science but somehow comes to conclusions that are not only in opposition to science but to plain common sense.

If you insist on blaming yourself for the failures of this discussion, I suppose I can't stop you. But I would recommend reading through it again critically before you do, and attempting to determine exactly what you could have done to keep it on any kind of track.

In other words, it takes two to tango. If there is no tango, is it the fault of the bandleader, even when one of the partners insists doing the funky chicken?

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
With you two in particular in mind, I have had an idea of something I think is a superbly sizzling session starter. The starter is a speech of a sort (not by my self). But it’s a surprise! Twisted Evil

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure it would be a productive endeavour. I don't mind having a conversation with people who disagree with me completely, but I do require that they be coherent.
The Philosopher Princess
Well, Indi, you couldn’t have known about the following, but I have created some new techniques to help discussions such as these make progress, but -- though I’m theoretically convinced they would work -- I do not have any practical evidence (or proof). While these techniques’ higher-level principles I have down quite well, their step-by-step useful guidelines are in a really raw form and untried.

So, my claims that I might could have done more were not just niceties. I just never got to some experimenting I could have tried.

Though I’m being very vague on the details, here, I’m nevertheless being honest throughout. What I’m talking about is methods that the facilitator can use. The methods are irrespective of the subject matter. In actuality, one of the things I hope to develop in the next couple of years is their full-fledged practical form. So, maybe I’ll be back one day to try them out.

(This subject is separate from my surprise idea.)
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Well, Indi, you couldn’t have known about the following, but I have created some new techniques to help discussions such as these make progress, but -- though I’m theoretically convinced they would work -- I do not have any practical evidence (or proof). While these techniques’ higher-level principles I have down quite well, their step-by-step useful guidelines are in a really raw form and untried.

So, my claims that I might could have done more were not just niceties. I just never got to some experimenting I could have tried.

Though I’m being very vague on the details, here, I’m nevertheless being honest throughout. What I’m talking about is methods that the facilitator can use. The methods are irrespective of the subject matter. In actuality, one of the things I hope to develop in the next couple of years is their full-fledged practical form. So, maybe I’ll be back one day to try them out.

(This subject is separate from my surprise idea.)

Ah, well in that case I'd be willing to give it a try.
The Philosopher Princess
@ nopaniers

I hope you’re not going to let Indi’s posts prevent you from talking to me Very Happy!

(Besides, I’m a much nicer person! {Razz to Indi} {Wink to nopaniers})

You said you were going to come back so I hope you will. Maybe just pick a point or two.
The Philosopher Princess
Since this thread isn’t currently being used anyway, I hope no one complains at my furthering a previous sillyness of mine.

Indi wrote:
It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys.

Indi, did you know.....?

Arrow You can bet you’re not soaring like an eagle if you’re still surrounded by turkeys. Laughing

Arrow If you’re a turkey surrounded by eagles, don’t mention lunch. Laughing

Arrow Even if you can’t soar like any eagle, if you’re surrounded by turkeys, you’ll at least have a good Thanksgiving. Laughing

~~~~~~~~~~
Okay, enough! for our turkey club, here; seriousness is next.
The Philosopher Princess
I should address the following, before taking off:

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
@ Indi and nopaniers

With you two in particular in mind, I have had an idea of something I think is a superbly sizzling session starter. The starter is a speech of a sort (not by my self). But it’s a surprise! Twisted Evil

My idea was the substance of something by Thomas Paine. To remind, or introduce to, readers, who Paine was.....

Wikipedia wrote:
Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809) was an English intellectual, scholar, revolutionary, deist and political and religious thinker, who spent much of his time in America and France. A radical pamphleteer, Paine anticipated and helped foment the American Revolution through his powerful writings, most notably Common Sense, an incendiary pamphlet advocating independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. An advocate of liberalism, he outlined his political philosophy in Rights of Man, written both as a reply to Edmund Burke's view of the French Revolution and as a general political philosophy treatise as well as Common Sense, a treatise on the benefits of personal liberty and limited government, in which he considers society a representation of human ideals, and government a necessary evil. Paine was also noteworthy for his support of deism, taking its form in his treatise on religion The Age of Reason, as well as for his eye-witness accounts of both the French and American Revolutions.

Specifically, I had in mind the medium small book, The Age of Reason. Maybe I’m strange, but I feel like anyone interested in both science and religion -- which you both clearly are -- would enjoy working through this creation.

Anti/Non-Religious people might at first think this material is not for them because Paine was a Deist. Religious people might at first think this material is not for them because Paine wrote against organized religion. I disagree on both accounts. There really is something for everybody! It was reasoned ages ago, yes, but the very provocative assertions are as applicable today as ever -- meaning a mind can only improve by delving into, studying, and determining which parts are Reality-consistent and which parts are not. The fun would be to break it down into components with other thinkers of seeming agreement and disagreement to see what’s what.
~~~~~~~~~~
I think there are many places you can read the book for free. Here are two:
http://www.ushistory.org/Paine/reason/index.htm
http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thomas_paine/age_of_reason

There are many approaches. One would be to (re)read and concentrate on small chunks at a time, ignoring what comes later, so as not to overwhelm the senses -- though I highly recommend starting at the beginning and doing them in order, and not ignoring what previously was discussed, so as to build on what was determined before and advance. And there’s certainly no rush; it really could be done very slowly through time.

One of you two could set this discussion up if you were interested, but I do recommend recruiting a discussion facilitor whose role would be to stay very objective. And if you could find someone, it might be best to start off as balanced as possible, thus having the facilitator set up the thread rather than you.

I think it’s possible that Bikerman would be a good facilitator if he chose to. make_life_better could too if an increase in post amounts weren’t a problem. I’m sure there are many other good choices that don’t come to mind right now, or I just don’t know.

Ideally, a Staff member would be involved somehow, which would open up the option of using sibling threads as I have invented but they could transform to fit their style. That way, more freedom of discussion is allowed, while importantly keeping the most serious thread at the serious level. Less-on-topic and less-serious posts could be power-moved from the main to the other Frihost topic; I’ve found this works very well. And of course any intrusive posts totally off-topic could be spam-canned. Frihost Staff tends to be very busy elsewhere with their many duties, but possibly a tidruG or a HoboPelican or a Traveller type would be interested. Other Staff might be; I just don’t know.

There’s another possible approach where a non-Staff member is the main facilitor but has partnered with a Staff member who will perform the Frihost power-moves as requested (and agreed to of course). (I wish I had come up with the sibling-topic approach earlier so I could have experimented more and then gotten others involved in starting their own higher-seriousness of discussion attempts.)
~~~~~~~~~~
This would be more than a book review. It would be a serious life review, a human review, a God review, a religion review, a science review, a universe review, a Reality review!

This idea is in the public domain now. You can do with it as you will. Very Happy

And nothing needs to be said to me either. I understand that since this -- at least my vision of it -- requires at least one leader to initiate and well-define the parameters, another time might work better.
~~~~~~~~~~
I’ll be around slightly longer if there are any last minute things to discuss. Now that my final philosophy contest is over, I’ll be wrapping things up over there pretty soon, and taking off.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Since this thread isn’t currently being used anyway, I hope no one complains at my furthering a previous sillyness of mine.

Indi wrote:
It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys.

Indi, did you know.....?

Arrow You can bet you’re not soaring like an eagle if you’re still surrounded by turkeys. Laughing

Arrow If you’re a turkey surrounded by eagles, don’t mention lunch. Laughing

Arrow Even if you can’t soar like any eagle, if you’re surrounded by turkeys, you’ll at least have a good Thanksgiving. Laughing

^__________^

How about these:

- Eagles may soar, but turkeys have far more friends... mostly because they're less likely to eat them.

- Turkeys are most often found at parties and at every holiday occasion, whereas eagles are mostly seen anywhere the President is (on his seal). Where would you rather be?

- Whether you're a turkey or an eagle, it doesn't really matter, because inside, we all taste like chicken.
The Philosopher Princess
Good ones, Indi! Now I can see why you’ve risen to eagle scout in our turkey club. I’m still working on my girl scout badge for Creative Chicken Camper Craft Community Cognizance.

You have got to (Very Happy) check out a very cute allegory I just found, where an enlightened eagle has landed in a pile of turkey tail feathers; it’s a turkey pen where bird brains act more like chicken than turkey, the eagle befriends a turkey trotter, and then meets a stuck-in-the-mud, over-the-hill, sold-out Uncle Tom Turkey. It teaches its message of anti-bird-brainwashing exceptionally well I’d say.

It’d be a great tool for adults educating young tenders on many lessons, and yet fits in very nicely with the religion and seeking-the-truth talks we’ve had, as well as with Thomas Paine’s anti-truth lambasting.

http://home.earthlink.net/~denmartin/eagle.html wrote:
"Bureaucratic rules and regulations that are not open to rational analysis and amenable to change are unethical and evil," thought the skeptical eagle.

~~~~~~~~~~
I’m still not trying to elicit comments for me, but I wanted a little fun posting a few excerpts.

In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote:
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Paine wrote:
One thing, however, is much less equivocal, which is, that out of the matters contained in those books, together with the assistance of some old stories, the church has set up a system of religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and of revenue in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty.

Paine wrote:
Had it been the object or the intention of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life time. But there is no publication extant authenticated with his name. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death. He was a Jew by birth and by profession; and he was the son of God in like manner that every other person is; for the Creator is the Father of All.

Paine wrote:
If we permit ourselves to conceive right ideas of things, we must necessarily affix the idea, not only of unchangeableness, but of the utter impossibility of any change taking place, by any means or accident whatever, in that which we would honour with the name of the Word of God; and therefore the Word of God cannot exist in any written or human language.

Paine wrote:
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon

Paine wrote:
Deborah and Barak are called prophets, not because they predicted anything, but because they composed the poem or song that bears their name, in celebration of an act already done. David is ranked among the prophets, for he was a musician, and was also reputed to be (though perhaps very erroneously) the author of the Psalms. But Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not called prophets; it does not appear from any accounts we have, that they could either sing, play music, or make poetry.

We are told of the greater and the lesser prophets. They might as well tell us of the greater and the lesser God; for there cannot be degrees in prophesying consistently with its modern sense. But there are degrees in poetry, and there-fore the phrase is reconcilable to the case, when we understand by it the greater and the lesser poets.
Indi
The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Good ones, Indi! Now I can see why you’ve risen to eagle scout in our turkey club. I’m still working on my girl scout badge for Creative Chicken Camper Craft Community Cognizance.

But if there were a merit badge for alliteration, you've clearly earned it. >.<

The Philosopher Princess wrote:
Paine wrote:
Deborah and Barak are called prophets, not because they predicted anything, but because they composed the poem or song that bears their name, in celebration of an act already done. David is ranked among the prophets, for he was a musician, and was also reputed to be (though perhaps very erroneously) the author of the Psalms. But Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not called prophets; it does not appear from any accounts we have, that they could either sing, play music, or make poetry.

We are told of the greater and the lesser prophets. They might as well tell us of the greater and the lesser God; for there cannot be degrees in prophesying consistently with its modern sense. But there are degrees in poetry, and there-fore the phrase is reconcilable to the case, when we understand by it the greater and the lesser poets.

(Actually, Paine has misunderstood the definition of "prophet" here. In Judaistic tradition, all messages from God is revealed to humanity via communications through certain special individuals called "prophets". They are called prophets because they deliver God's message, not because they predict the future. If they happen to predict the future, all fine and good. If they don't, it's not a requirement. In fact, it is possible to predict the future correctly, and still not be considered a prophet. This definition is pretty much carried over into the other Judaistic faiths, including Christianity and Islam.)

(So Deborah and Barak can be prophets without predicting the future, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are considered prophets in most every sect of Judaism that i've ever heard of. They were all mouthpieces of God, thus they were all prophets.)

(The greater and lesser doesn't make sense when you think of "prophet" as "soothsayer", as Paine points out, but it is relevant to the Judaistic definition of "prophet". According to Jewish tradition, there were (are/will be - different sects interpret that part differently) 1.2 million prophets, but only the ones whose messages were relevant for all time were recorded. Those who just gave God's instructions for the day weren't. And the greater prophets were the prophets through which God defined who he was and what he wanted - the law and so on - for all time. The lesser prophets added details and clarifications, but no sweeping changes.)

(Poetic talent is not a prophetic requirement (although, depending on your point of view, creativity may be).)
corridor_writers
Ouch…my head hurts… Smile))

This has GOT to be by far the most involved, detailed thread on Frihost. If not it is certainly the longest I have found to date. I am still reading the threads, and trying to ‘catch up’, being as I am new to the topic.

I am not up-to-date enough on these threads to throw in my own two-cents on this topic; as there is the very real possibility something I say has already been covered at some point.

I have to run for now, and have not had time to finish reading the posts, though I could not help but leave this comment as I departed.

WOW!!!!!!!

You three definitely have my vote for the philosophic riles of Frihost. (Though in truth ‘The Philosopher Princess’ has had it for some time – I really enjoyed discussing cusltural differences with you in the Name a (wacky?) English language cultural difference." http://www.frihost.com/forums/vp-446304.html&highlight=#446304" Thread.
The Philosopher Princess
@ corridor_writers

Hey! Thanks for showing up, and for your comments! Smile

I think the other two wouldn’t mind my speaking for “us three” (as well as the other occasional posters) in declaring that it’s always nice to have our deeper thinkings appreciated. This has been a great thread, I agree.

corridor_writers wrote:
I am not up-to-date enough on these threads to throw in my own two-cents on this topic; as there is the very real possibility something I say has already been covered at some point.

Today is my last day here, but why don’t you think about whether you would like to set up a new topic to facilitate the discussion about Paine’s The Age of Reason.

Notice how -- without even hardly trying -- and without a new, dedicated topic -- Indi has already made some very good points seemingly against Paine’s opinion. And yet, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a nopaniers type to defend Paine. But there’s so much more that could said, even on the one part that Indi addressed.

The quotes I gave from the book were teasers so couldn’t be in context in that form. Could it be that Paine meant something different in his use of prophet, poetic, etc. than how Indi implies? A full-context study could help determine that.
~~~~~~~~~~
Bye-bye everyone! It’s been wonderful! Very Happy
corridor_writers
Well, I hope your leaving is not a permanent thing.

As I stated already, and will restate (probably more elaborately) on the party page - Frihost will never be the same.

I will watch for the post spin-off regarding Paine’s The Age of Reason.

Thanks for the good reading!
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