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06/26/2013 08:41:37 PM · #126
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Cory:

As best as we can tell, there's a black-box of some sort running the show - and we're trying to figure out what's in the box - the religious argue that there's a sort of superior man-like creature in the box(or outside the box, whatever), making decisions, the secular argue that it's not probable that a man-creature could be in such a box...


Here's the question to ponder, Cory. Why do the secular argue it's not probable? What possible information do you have to suggest this when we are discussing something completely outside our frame of reference? We have zero information in the scientific sense. We only have philosphical arguments. The theists will say they are taking it "on faith". What are the secularists doing other than taking it "on faith" as well?


Excellent question.

For me, it's a simple matter of examining what we do know, and one of my major data points is the growing footprint of science, and the rapidly decreasing footprint of religion, in terms of our understanding of the way the world works. Of course, there are some other rather disconcerting data points, like the fact that your ultimate reference is a book, written by goat herders a couple dozen centuries ago, and the fact that you consider that book infallible. Consider the number of religions, and the fact that none of you agree about the details, and many of you don't even agree about the broader strokes. Consider the fact that science always comes to the same answer, consider how much real progress has been made through science, consider that your entire career is based on science.

It's pretty obvious, at least by my tally, where the evidence points. What I really can't figure out is how you look at all of that and say "but of course there's a god, and my group of people have it right". I know you'll accuse me of the same, but it's simply undeniable that 'my' people largely agree with one another, and if you burned all our books, we'd still rewrite them with the same exact information as they contained the first time, which does indicate at least some higher degree of reliability and hints that there may be more truth to be found through these techniques, than through the stories of our ancestors.

How does the modern Christian deny such an obvious trend? I may not know where the road ends, and I don't have a map, but I can surmise that if I'm constantly headed in a Northwesterly trend, I'll probably arrive in the Northwest.

Speaking of maps, a fun analogy would be that you have a map, and I don't - I'm just trying to pick the right roads based on the evidence, while you're zooming past, quite confident that your map is correct, despite the fact that you've already run into several hundred ditches, and you think everyone else who has a map bought the wrong map. In reality, I suspect that neither one of us really has a map that is right, but you seem to continue to claim yours is working perfectly, while I'm just trying to figure out which road seems the more correct choice at each turn. That baffles me.

Message edited by author 2013-06-26 20:43:45.
06/26/2013 09:06:22 PM · #127
Originally posted by Cory:


Speaking of maps, a fun analogy would be that you have a map, and I don't - I'm just trying to pick the right roads based on the evidence, while you're zooming past, quite confident that your map is correct, despite the fact that you've already run into several hundred ditches, and you think everyone else who has a map bought the wrong map. In reality, I suspect that neither one of us really has a map that is right, but you seem to continue to claim yours is working perfectly, while I'm just trying to figure out which road seems the more correct choice at each turn. That baffles me.

But he's not doing that right now. He's not in this thread arguing that the Christian God with the white beard is the one true picture of God. I'm sure Jason would agree that the big thing is faith that there IS a God, and the sectarian stuff pales next to that.

Anyway, for the purposes of THIS thread can't we agree to deal with the concept of God-in-the-abstract (is there a God at all?) rather than saying the IDEA of God is somehoiw invalidated because different cultures view/anthropomorphize Him differently> That would be very helpful IMO.

Message edited by author 2013-06-26 21:06:39.
06/26/2013 09:09:41 PM · #128
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

... the big thing is faith that there IS a God, and the sectarian stuff pales next to that.

Funny how I don't see gangs of competing string theorists machine-gunning each other or blowing up buildings, vehicles, and themselves.
06/26/2013 09:12:45 PM · #129
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by Bear_Music:

... the big thing is faith that there IS a God, and the sectarian stuff pales next to that.

Funny how I don't see gangs of competing string theorists machine-gunning each other or blowing up buildings, vehicles, and themselves.


Boy, wouldn't that be something?

As to Bear's observation - sure, we can agree to deal with the concept of god-in-the-abstract, but in doing so, we'll have to agree to just ignore about 95% of what bothers me about religion. I don't think I'm quite prepared to dispose of that much of my base for my argument.

Why, Robert, should I take that view? I don't see how selectively ignoring the problems with religion would ever help to answer which system is more valid.
06/26/2013 09:53:20 PM · #130
I think Robert brings it up because in this thread nobody is claiming or arguing such details but you. One does not use the fine tuning of the universe to argue the finer details of Calvinism vs. Armenianism.
06/26/2013 09:56:23 PM · #131
Originally posted by Cory:

Why, Robert, should I take that view? I don't see how selectively ignoring the problems with religion would ever help to answer which system is more valid.

You can do whatever you want, but it's like shooting the messenger or something. You can't debunk the idea that there COULD be a God by pointing out how stupidly His followers interpret him.

What's interesting about this thread, to me, is that it represents a reasonably balanced attempt to show how the *concept* "God" is not as outlandish as it seems when ranked against other currently unprovable scenarios. I was hoping it wouldn't get all hung up in the usual knee-jerk drivel about "religion is responsible for untold suffering", because that does NOTHING to answer the philosophical question of whether God exists.

It's just a sort of ad hominem approach that doesn't really speak to a willingness on your part to debate at the cosmic level, so to speak.

I expect better from you.
06/26/2013 11:10:31 PM · #132
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by Cory:

Why, Robert, should I take that view? I don't see how selectively ignoring the problems with religion would ever help to answer which system is more valid.

You can do whatever you want, but it's like shooting the messenger or something. You can't debunk the idea that there COULD be a God by pointing out how stupidly His followers interpret him.

What's interesting about this thread, to me, is that it represents a reasonably balanced attempt to show how the *concept* "God" is not as outlandish as it seems when ranked against other currently unprovable scenarios. I was hoping it wouldn't get all hung up in the usual knee-jerk drivel about "religion is responsible for untold suffering", because that does NOTHING to answer the philosophical question of whether God exists.

It's just a sort of ad hominem approach that doesn't really speak to a willingness on your part to debate at the cosmic level, so to speak.

I expect better from you.


Oh. Ok, there could be a god. I agree.

It's just folly to think it likely, hell, for all that it matters, there's another option.

This is all a simulation, and we don't exist. It's just as possible as anything else.

Since we can't tell, and I think I'd like to have a unique theory based upon complete and total bullshit, I expect that it's most likely that there are elves who run the show, but they're purple, blind, and drink lighter fluid, which is what powers the sun, except that we can't tell because we can't actually see past the outside of the sun, and we're just guessing. In fact, solar flares are just the result of the aforementioned elves eating Mexican food. How do I know this? A fairy told me while I was lost in the desert. Probably would have died if I hadn't gotten lucky and found those mushrooms to keep me going. Of course, I have to thank the elves, because I know they were responsible for guiding me to my salvation, and then were kind enough to reveal the real truth of the universe to me.

pfft.

06/26/2013 11:26:12 PM · #133
Originally posted by Cory:

Of course, I have to thank the elves, because I know they were responsible for guiding me to my salvation, and then were kind enough to reveal the real truth of the universe to me.

pfft.

C'mon Cory, you're just being obtuse because it pleases you. Your elves are just as sectarian as anything else you have brought up. And you know it. Let the details GO man. Look at the big picture.

Something mysterious and incomprehensible (so far) caused all existence to *BE*. It's awesome. Whatever it is, it's god-like, if not God. In the sense that it was the *beginning*. And humans have had various ways of grappling with this ineffable essence of creation for millennia.

Science, ehh... not so much... That's just a couple centuries, really, johnny-come-lately to the party. Maybe you're right, maybe we DO know all we need to "know" to throw out millennia of human history in favor of the cold, rational eye of the counter-of-things, but it's not like people are *insane* or anything to continue to find solace and comfort, under the vasty sky of stars, in the faith of their fathers' fathers' fathers', you know what I mean?

It's not for you, I do GET that, but there's no need to mock and revile those-who-are-not-you... That's MY position on life, the universe and everything.

42
06/27/2013 01:00:16 AM · #134
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by Cory:

Of course, I have to thank the elves, because I know they were responsible for guiding me to my salvation, and then were kind enough to reveal the real truth of the universe to me.

pfft.

C'mon Cory, you're just being obtuse because it pleases you. Your elves are just as sectarian as anything else you have brought up. And you know it. Let the details GO man. Look at the big picture.

Something mysterious and incomprehensible (so far) caused all existence to *BE*. It's awesome. Whatever it is, it's god-like, if not God. In the sense that it was the *beginning*. And humans have had various ways of grappling with this ineffable essence of creation for millennia.

Science, ehh... not so much... That's just a couple centuries, really, johnny-come-lately to the party. Maybe you're right, maybe we DO know all we need to "know" to throw out millennia of human history in favor of the cold, rational eye of the counter-of-things, but it's not like people are *insane* or anything to continue to find solace and comfort, under the vasty sky of stars, in the faith of their fathers' fathers' fathers', you know what I mean?

It's not for you, I do GET that, but there's no need to mock and revile those-who-are-not-you... That's MY position on life, the universe and everything.

42


Yes, you're right on all accounts, except perhaps the point regarding the insanity of religious faith - I'm quite certain we could debate that for a while with little result.

You are, in fact, right about my elves as well, they are both secular and motivated by nothing more than me being obtuse for enjoyment. I think the other theories are generally built upon rather obtuse foundations as well though, so I don't see why mine deserves any more ridicule than the others.

But you were extraordinarily right about the lack of need to mock and revile them. They do quite a fantastic job of that among themselves - I just don't want to feel left out of the party. ;)

06/27/2013 01:10:21 AM · #135
Honestly though, really, being serious about the 'big picture'

We can't, and don't, know anything about anything outside of what we know, and we do in fact know through a variety of means, but the bible or other religious text of your choice are not, in truth, knowledge. They are wisdom perhaps, cultural treasures to be sure, but they are not what they claim to be, no more than nuclear weapons are the salvation they claim to be. (also cultural treasures I think, but a different sort).

My point is this: I can respect anyone who's able to understand the self evident fact that no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe - and, furthermore, recognize that unless the measurement is consistent we can't rely upon it.

I have no problem with anyone having their theory, faith, belief, whatever, until they actually try to claim knowledge they don't really have, and objectively could not have. Of course, I can still go lure anyone I want anywhere I want them to go*, so the fact that people are easy to lead shouldn't surprise me. These ideas are very, very attractive to those who are lost and looking for something to lean on. I can't blame them, but I darn sure can be rather dismayed at what I see.

(*-A rather fantastic psych trick I learned way back when I was selling cars for a living. You will follow me if I want you to, like a cute little puppy dog - and don't think you wouldn't, trust me, you would. In fact, the car business really crystallized for me just how easy people are to play like marionettes, if you only know how to pull the strings.)

Message edited by author 2013-06-27 01:28:09.
06/27/2013 01:28:02 AM · #136
Originally posted by Cory:

the self evident fact that no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.


Do you know this fact because it was measured and observed? Or do you really mean it is "self-evident" in which case the sentence is self-defeating?
06/27/2013 01:41:17 AM · #137
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Cory:

the self evident fact that no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.


Do you know this fact because it was measured and observed? Or do you really mean it is "self-evident" in which case the sentence is self-defeating?


Ha! Self-evident isn't self defeating, although, your claim that it is, is in fact, quite revealing.

I think Robert Ringer, probably put it the best that I've seen the idea expressed.

Originally posted by Robert Ringer:

There is a whole school of thought that revolves around the idea that everything is relative and therefore nothing can be proven. The philosophy of relativism teaches that the premises people use to make judgements vary according to their genetic makeup, backgrounds, and environments. However, an axiom is a self-evident truth that requires no proof, and rational, honest people do not require proof for self-evident truths. You do not have to prove that the sun comes up each morning, but there was a time when it was necessary to prove that the Earth revolved around the Sun. As with invalid analogies, if you allow someone to base his argument on the contention that a self-evident truth cannot be proven, and invalid conclusion is also a forgone conclusion.


Indeed, I think this is another example of why I don't really feel that you've got this thing worked out very well. To deny self evident truths, and accept the truth of a book, well....... I don't think it takes much of an imagination to see how that can go wrong quickly does it? Surely yours is up to the task? ;)

ETA: Which, is to say that self-evident is observable, I find it surprising that you would ever claim otherwise.

Message edited by author 2013-06-27 01:44:19.
06/27/2013 05:26:02 AM · #138
The reason I exclude #1 from my thinking is because of the history of the God of the gaps argument.

For thousand of years the unexplained has been explained away with 'It must be God(s) doing' - Until science comes along and proves otherwise; Adam and Eve, 7-day creation, weather patterns, erupting volcanoes, stars, evolution, Noah and the flood, flat Earth etc.

The big bang is the last bastion of the God of the gaps argument. If God wasn't part of the explanation for all these other things proven by science, then why should it even be included in the list of possibilities for the big bang?
06/27/2013 11:25:06 AM · #139
Originally posted by Cory:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Cory:

the self evident fact that no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.


Do you know this fact because it was measured and observed? Or do you really mean it is "self-evident" in which case the sentence is self-defeating?


Ha! Self-evident isn't self defeating, although, your claim that it is, is in fact, quite revealing....ETA: Which, is to say that self-evident is observable, I find it surprising that you would ever claim otherwise.


So make yourself a bit clearer. You state a "fact": "All truths are obtained through measurement and observation." (another way of saying, "no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.")

1) Is that fact known through measurement and observation?
1a) If so, isn't it circular? How can you ascertain the validity of a statement by applying the statement to itself?
1b) If not, isn't it contradictory? It would seem to be a truth obtained through some means other than measurement and observation (be it logic, philosophy, or axiomatic declaration), but the statement says no such truths exist.
06/27/2013 01:59:54 PM · #140
My favorite version of the creation myth is Isaac Asimov's story The Last Question (Wikipedia summary). For the best effect read it first without reading the entire linked Wiki article (spoiler alert) ...
Originally posted by Wikipedia article:

Asimov wrote of it in 1973:

Why is it my favorite? For one thing I got the idea all at once and didn't have to fiddle with it; and I wrote it in white-heat and scarcely had to change a word. This sort of thing endears any story to any writer.

Then, too, it has had the strangest effect on my readers. Frequently someone writes to ask me if I can give them the name of a story, which they think I may have written, and tell them where to find it. They don't remember the title but when they describe the story it is invariably "The Last Question". This has reached the point where I recently received a long-distance phone call from a desperate man who began, 'Dr. Asimov, there's a story I think you wrote, whose title I can't remember ' at which point I interrupted to tell him it was "The Last Question" and when I described the plot it proved to be indeed the story he was after. I left him convinced I could read minds at a distance of a thousand miles.


FWIW Dr. Asimov appears to have been an agnostic (depite his two-volume Guide to the Bible), based on an interview with David Frost (accurate paraphrase):
FROST: Have you ever tried to find out if there is a God?


ASIMOV: (while working on a set of "Instant Insanity" blocks, a precursor to Rubik's Cube) No.

F: But surely, someone with your wide-ranging interests and inquisitive mind must have considered trying to find out.

A: I figure, if God's so smart, let Him try and find me.
06/27/2013 02:04:41 PM · #141
Originally posted by JH:

The reason I exclude #1 from my thinking is because of the history of the God of the gaps argument.

For thousand of years the unexplained has been explained away with 'It must be God(s) doing' - Until science comes along and proves otherwise; Adam and Eve, 7-day creation, weather patterns, erupting volcanoes, stars, evolution, Noah and the flood, flat Earth etc.

The big bang is the last bastion of the God of the gaps argument. If God wasn't part of the explanation for all these other things proven by science, then why should it even be included in the list of possibilities for the big bang?


We dealt with the "God of the gaps" argument above. In our list of four possibilities it would be closest to #4 and you are welcome to hold it, but it is no better or worse than #1 or #3 on rational grounds. In fact, as far as cosmology goes, it may be worse because it actually flies in the face of current evidence. #1 and #3 explain the current evidence with unprovable ideas. To hold #4 one must say, "I know the evidence currently points to an unlikely fine tuned universe, BUT I believe the reality is counter to the evidence (it is either not unlikely or isn't fine tuned)."

Message edited by author 2013-06-27 14:08:11.
06/27/2013 02:26:10 PM · #142
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Cory:

Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by Cory:

the self evident fact that no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.


Do you know this fact because it was measured and observed? Or do you really mean it is "self-evident" in which case the sentence is self-defeating?


Ha! Self-evident isn't self defeating, although, your claim that it is, is in fact, quite revealing....ETA: Which, is to say that self-evident is observable, I find it surprising that you would ever claim otherwise.


So make yourself a bit clearer. You state a "fact": "All truths are obtained through measurement and observation." (another way of saying, "no-one knows anything about what lies beyond what we can measure or otherwise observe.")

1) Is that fact known through measurement and observation?
1a) If so, isn't it circular? How can you ascertain the validity of a statement by applying the statement to itself?
1b) If not, isn't it contradictory? It would seem to be a truth obtained through some means other than measurement and observation (be it logic, philosophy, or axiomatic declaration), but the statement says no such truths exist.


Boy, if you'd read my post you would have save a lot of typing.

I made it clear that it IS observable, and that an axiom is a self-evident truth that requires no proof, and rational, honest people do not require proof for self-evident truths.

So, tell me, which one of those qualities do you not posses? I'm a bit puzzled, because you seem rational and honest, but yet...
06/27/2013 02:30:04 PM · #143
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by JH:

The reason I exclude #1 from my thinking is because of the history of the God of the gaps argument.

For thousand of years the unexplained has been explained away with 'It must be God(s) doing' - Until science comes along and proves otherwise; Adam and Eve, 7-day creation, weather patterns, erupting volcanoes, stars, evolution, Noah and the flood, flat Earth etc.

The big bang is the last bastion of the God of the gaps argument. If God wasn't part of the explanation for all these other things proven by science, then why should it even be included in the list of possibilities for the big bang?


We dealt with the "God of the gaps" argument above. In our list of four possibilities it would be closest to #4 and you are welcome to hold it, but it is no better or worse than #1 or #3 on rational grounds. In fact, as far as cosmology goes, it may be worse because it actually flies in the face of current evidence. #1 and #3 explain the current evidence with unprovable ideas. To hold #4 one must say, "I know the evidence currently points to an unlikely fine tuned universe, BUT I believe the reality is counter to the evidence (it is either not unlikely or isn't fine tuned)."


How the heck can you see that and say that it is no worse?

If a person tells you they're going to be there at 8am for their appointment, exactly how many appointments do they have to miss before you stop seeing them as a patient?

I know you smugly assure us god of the gaps is a useless, disproven, and quite fantastically silly idea. But I wonder, if it wasn't religion that had failed so many times, and been proven wrong so many times (despite their absolute certainty of correctness), how long would you still feel this way? I doubt anything else would get so many passes from you, and I can't quite figure out why you refuse to acknowledge this.
06/27/2013 03:24:18 PM · #144
This is very funny. :-)

06/27/2013 03:29:53 PM · #145
Originally posted by Cory:


Boy, if you'd read my post you would have save a lot of typing.

I made it clear that it IS observable, and that an axiom is a self-evident truth that requires no proof, and rational, honest people do not require proof for self-evident truths.

So, tell me, which one of those qualities do you not posses? I'm a bit puzzled, because you seem rational and honest, but yet...


I think you aren't using your terms clearly and it is causing confusion. "Self-evident" could mean axiomatic, but your example of the sun rising every morning isn't axiomatic. We believe the sun will rise tomorrow because our observation and evidence has led us to believe that so far this has always been so and we have no reason to doubt it. This fits with your idea and what you are trying to express. BUT, there are other axiomatic truths that are "self-evident" but cannot or need not be proven by observation.

There are an infinite number of integers.

This is truth. This is, essentially, axiomatic (we could quibble here). But, beyond argument is the idea this is not proven through observation. Once we see the fact that some truth is beyond observation your statement falls apart along with your objection.
06/27/2013 03:45:01 PM · #146
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

BUT, there are other axiomatic truths that are "self-evident" but cannot or need not be proven by observation.

There are an infinite number of integers.

This is truth. This is, essentially, axiomatic (we could quibble here). But, beyond argument is the idea this is not proven through observation. Once we see the fact that some truth is beyond observation your statement falls apart along with your objection.


I should sic my mathematician of a GF on you. This is actually something that did have to be proven, through math, which I suppose I should have listed as a valid source of information.

But, yes, it is truth, it is, essentially, axiomatic. (we need not quibble here). It is, however, not at all beyond argument that this is proven through observation - you might call it not observation, but working out a math problem that comes out the same every time is not, in any way, equivalent to hearing God tell you what to do, or giving you other signs, or whatever he/it/they do.

And when did we start using the word truth? I'd rather stay far away from that, thank you.

You simply can't admit that you don't know. I get it. Or really I don't, but I see exactly where the roadblock lies.

So, why can't you admit that you don't know anything about this? I don't mind that you might believe whatever you want, but the moment you cross the line of claiming to have knowledge, then I have a huge issue with it.

Message edited by author 2013-06-27 15:47:17.
06/27/2013 03:47:00 PM · #147
Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

This is very funny. :-)


Heh. That's a good one!

I just wish it had started at the sub-atomic level.
06/27/2013 03:50:43 PM · #148
Glad we're on the same page although I'll disagree with you that math is anything close to "observation and measurement" or "science" (in the modern usage not the classic usage). It's a branch of philosophy. But if we agree that it's an example of something one doesn't use their eyes or other senses to detect, you can call it what you want.

I like Paul's quote of Asimov. I guess God has found me, but not you. Whatchagonnado?

Message edited by author 2013-06-27 15:51:07.
06/27/2013 03:53:36 PM · #149
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Glad we're on the same page although I'll disagree with you that math is anything close to "observation and measurement" or "science" (in the modern usage not the classic usage). It's a branch of philosophy. But if we agree that it's an example of something one doesn't use their eyes or other senses to detect, you can call it what you want.

I like Paul's quote of Asimov. I guess God has found me, but not you. Whatchagonnado?


Question your sanity. :)
06/27/2013 04:09:02 PM · #150
I'm fine with that.
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