Page 1 of 6 [ 80 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

Clarifier
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Age: 73
Gender: Male
Posts: 40
Location: California

30 Jan 2009, 1:41 am

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Carl Sagan

If there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of X, and no conclusive evidence against the existence of X, then it cannot be known if X exists. It is stupid to claim to know that X exists or doesn't exist. The question, "Does X exist?" becomes irrelevant. Even if the welfare of all of humanity depends on whether or not X exists, the question, "Does X exist?" remains irrelevant, because it can't be answered. Any pretense of answering it remains pretense.

However, if a person's life-decisions will be significantly different if he thinks X exists than they will be if he thinks X doesn't exist, then that person must place a bet as to the existence of X in order to make those life-decisions. Even if the bet is not placed consciously, it is still placed, and is made evident by those decisions.

If that person's future welfare for the duration of his existence will be significantly affected by whether or not X exists, then it is, or should be, important to him that he bets correctly. The most sensible bet is that which appears likely to offer the most favorable pleasure to displeasure ratio for the duration of his existence. This is complicated by the fact that he doesn't know how long he is going to exist. The existence of life after death is among those things for which there is no conclusive evidence for or against it. This leaves a range of possibilities between two extremes:

  1. The person's existence is likely to end soon.
  2. The person's existence may continue for an indefinite period of time - perhaps eternity.

If 1 appears correct, then the most sensible bet is to spend one's resources on immediate and short term pleasures, and be prepared to suicide out before the bill collectors catch up.
If 2 appears correct, then the most sensible bet is to invest whatever resources one can afford in whatever appears to be the most reliable long term investment, while focusing one's attention on learning the spiritual stock market.

Most of us bet on one of the possibly infinite number of intermediate possibilities between 1 & 2. As with any bet, the most sensible one is that which is most rational, and least affected by emotion, even though the goal is maximum emotional benefit.

Other than the existence of an afterlife, the most relevant value of X is generally considered to be the existence of a particular version of God. I disagree. I say the most relevant values of X are afterlife and justice.


_________________
Truth seekers always clarify.
Ego defenders clarify when they're right, and complicate when they're wrong.
Truth seekers pursue conclusions. Truth avoiders pursue tangents.


Sand
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Age: 93
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,876
Location: Finland

30 Jan 2009, 2:40 am

I cannot say how or why others choose to assume something with no evidence for it but my life has been more logical and easier to manage if I assume a fantasy with no evidence for it has no basis in reality and act accordingly. Also if anyone proposes I assume the existence of something where no evidence exists I feel confident there is some sort of scam involved.



jrknothead
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 3 Aug 2007
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,472

30 Jan 2009, 5:07 am

pretty good quote i saw on the internet (or a reasonably close facsimile from memory):

Quote:
Q: Can you prove that god does not exist?
A: OK, but first you'll have to show me how. Prove that Zeus and Apollo don't exist and I'll use your method."



Last edited by jrknothead on 30 Jan 2009, 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

Clarifier
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Age: 73
Gender: Male
Posts: 40
Location: California

30 Jan 2009, 5:09 am

Here are a few things for which I know of no evidence for or against their existence, but which, in my opinion, could easily exist:

  • other universes
  • dimensions beyond those currently proposed

If I am not mistaken, there was no evidence for the existence of laser light before it was discovered.
But I readily admit that if someone claims to know of the existence of something for which no evidence exists, it would be reasonable to suspect a scam.


_________________
Truth seekers always clarify.
Ego defenders clarify when they're right, and complicate when they're wrong.
Truth seekers pursue conclusions. Truth avoiders pursue tangents.


Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

30 Jan 2009, 11:48 am

Clarifier wrote:
Other than the existence of an afterlife, the most relevant value of X is generally considered to be the existence of a particular version of God. I disagree. I say the most relevant values of X are afterlife and justice.

Well, the major issue is that the existence of an afterlife is a claim about a spiritual world, which would mean that the probability of a certain version of God would seem relevant, as it would be easier to prove the existence of a god than of an afterlife. Perhaps equally impossible, but still gods are supposed to do *something*, and have some necessary importance.



Mage
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Oct 2006
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,290

30 Jan 2009, 1:17 pm

The problem is, when people don't keep their belief in X to themselves.

It would be fine if the existance of X had no influence on someone who didn't believe in X. But in our world, that is not the case.

To use your logic:

Person 1 believes in X.

Person 2 does not believe in X.

Person 1 makes a law that person 2 cannot get married because person 1 believes in X, and X said that the marriage should be outlawed.

See the problem?

Person 2 fights back by saying X doesn't exist.

What should really happen is, person 1 should not have brought X up in the public realm at all.



Sand
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Age: 93
Gender: Male
Posts: 11,876
Location: Finland

30 Jan 2009, 1:27 pm

Mage wrote:
The problem is, when people don't keep their belief in X to themselves.

It would be fine if the existance of X had no influence on someone who didn't believe in X. But in our world, that is not the case.

To use your logic:

Person 1 believes in X.

Person 2 does not believe in X.

Person 1 makes a law that person 2 cannot get married because person 1 believes in X, and X said that the marriage should be outlawed.

See the problem?

Person 2 fights back by saying X doesn't exist.

What should really happen is, person 1 should not have brought X up in the public realm at all.



To put all your X in one basket, believers are emotionally convinced that non-believers are evil and do their best to force their belief on others. That is the nature of belief. To say it shouldn't happen doesn't make it go away.



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

30 Jan 2009, 1:33 pm

The real problem is that a belief in X usually entails a number of other beliefs, including those upon the proper workings of the world, AKA ethics. Those who uphold an X usually hold to different ethical principles than those who do not uphold an X. The details of laws are dependent upon the ethical principles of those who want the laws to be the way they are. Because laws are dependent upon ethical principles, and because those who uphold X have different principles than those who do not uphold X, conflicts over the details of the law are not only likely but perhaps inevitable.

X cannot be contained, it is a framework for viewing the entirety of the world, and it is a belief on a truth so important that it gives justification for killing, for dying, and that often leaves those who cease to believe in it scarred.



iamnotaparakeet
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 Jul 2007
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 25,257
Location: 0.5 Galactic radius

30 Jan 2009, 1:48 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Clarifier wrote:
Other than the existence of an afterlife, the most relevant value of X is generally considered to be the existence of a particular version of God. I disagree. I say the most relevant values of X are afterlife and justice.

Well, the major issue is that the existence of an afterlife is a claim about a spiritual world, which would mean that the probability of a certain version of God would seem relevant, as it would be easier to prove the existence of a god than of an afterlife. Perhaps equally impossible, but still gods are supposed to do *something*, and have some necessary importance.


To say "necessary importance" would bring the accusation of "god of the gaps", where things such as the existence of matter, time, energy, apparent design, etc are accounted for by God though not specified to Him by the creation alone.

Flood geology is a better argument, since there is evidence for it in terms of polystratic fossils, and experiments in rapid sedimentation showing that strata could be laid down in minutes even under proper conditions. Also, the existence of a global flood at one time would correspond to flood legends preserved in diverse locations across the globe.

More specific to the Bible are prophecies such as that of the destruction of Tyre. Also, for Christianity are the Messianic prophecies such as in Isaiah and Zechariah.

The idea of general revelation leading to Christianity is absurd, but in history God specifically reveals Himself to us. It's still a decision though, for people to decide for themselves.



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

30 Jan 2009, 2:05 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
To say "necessary importance" would bring the accusation of "god of the gaps", where things such as the existence of matter, time, energy, apparent design, etc are accounted for by God though not specified to Him by the creation alone.

I think I mixed an epistemic statement with one of necessity for a frame of understanding. I do not think I was trying to get into arguments for or against god with "necessary importance" only that many religious afterlives make no sense without a deity... if I remember my statement correctly.

Quote:
The idea of general revelation leading to Christianity is absurd, but in history God specifically reveals Himself to us. It's still a decision though, for people to decide for themselves.

A major issue is that historical truths are rarely as solid as logical truths. To say that X happened at T is more probabilistic than saying 1+1=2.



iamnotaparakeet
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 Jul 2007
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 25,257
Location: 0.5 Galactic radius

30 Jan 2009, 6:27 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
To say "necessary importance" would bring the accusation of "god of the gaps", where things such as the existence of matter, time, energy, apparent design, etc are accounted for by God though not specified to Him by the creation alone.


I think I mixed an epistemic statement with one of necessity for a frame of understanding. I do not think I was trying to get into arguments for or against god with "necessary importance" only that many religious afterlives make no sense without a deity... if I remember my statement correctly.


Ah, okay.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
iamnotaparakeet wrote:
The idea of general revelation leading to Christianity is absurd, but in history God specifically reveals Himself to us. It's still a decision though, for people to decide for themselves.


A major issue is that historical truths are rarely as solid as logical truths. To say that X happened at T is more probabilistic than saying 1+1=2.


Historical events still took place and they are recorded in two general locations: in records and in remains. Archaeology allows us to get a physical glimpse of the past and textual manuscripts provide a general overview and chronological ordering (also depends on the purpose of the text as well though.) I suppose knowing the past 100% isn't quite possible as it is for knowing arithmetic works, but even within historical truth, you can have some measure of certainty.

Suppose you set up a security camera that takes a snapshot of 1/200 second exposure equivalence once every second. You catch a thief stealing something from you on tape and sue the guy. In his defense he claims that your camera isn't recording for 99.5% of the time and hence couldn't of caught him on tape. Yet, while the quality may be poor and the video a bit jumpy from frame to frame, the thief is still recorded.



Awesomelyglorious
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Gender: Male
Posts: 14,316
Location: Omnipresent

30 Jan 2009, 6:53 pm

iamnotaparakeet wrote:
Historical events still took place and they are recorded in two general locations: in records and in remains. Archaeology allows us to get a physical glimpse of the past and textual manuscripts provide a general overview and chronological ordering (also depends on the purpose of the text as well though.) I suppose knowing the past 100% isn't quite possible as it is for knowing arithmetic works, but even within historical truth, you can have some measure of certainty.

Well ok, but that still does not establish much. Particularly given what you are trying to establish. You are trying to establish that a deity is acting in events, which would require us to reliably ascertain that natural laws have been violated.(please note that the term "natural law" is merely a term to recognize the value of certain behaviors that we feel supremely confident on the constancy of due to induction)

Because we are supremely confident in the constancy of these "natural laws" the probability of a violation of them must be supremely low. Thus, I would argue that Hume's argument against miracles would hold. If miracles require an event completely unexplained by current natural laws to occur at a specific point in space and time, then a priori, the probability of any set of lawful events psychological or physical would be more probable than the miraculous event. Thus I would argue that a historical argument for a divine agent would fail.



JoJerome
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 18 Dec 2008
Age: 51
Gender: Female
Posts: 261
Location: Lake Powell/Page AZ

30 Jan 2009, 10:06 pm

Clarifier wrote:
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Carl Sagan

If there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of X, and no conclusive evidence against the existence of X, then it cannot be known if X exists. It is stupid to claim to know that X exists or doesn't exist. The question, "Does X exist?" becomes irrelevant. Even if the welfare of all of humanity depends on whether or not X exists, the question, "Does X exist?" remains irrelevant, because it can't be answered. Any pretense of answering it remains pretense.


As the answers have predictably moved towards X=Judeo-Christian God, the formula changes:

- There is no conclusive evidence against the existence of X.

- There is no conclusive evidence for the existence of X.

- Given the defined nature of X the absence of evidence for is conspicuous enough to work as an against

- There is considerable evidence that X is fabricated myth.

In this case, even though in the end one can not absolutely prove X exists or doesn't exist, the evidence leans heavily towards "doesn't." That is, if we are talking about empirical evidence/scientific method.

jrknothead wrote:
Q: Can you prove that god does not exist?
A: OK, but first you'll have to show me how. Prove that Zeus and Apollo don't exist and I'll use your method."


Wow - I am so using that in a similar discussion on another board!

Mage wrote:
The problem is, when people don't keep their belief in X to themselves.

It would be fine if the existance of X had no influence on someone who didn't believe in X. But in our world, that is not the case.

To use your logic:

Person 1 believes in X.

Person 2 does not believe in X.

Person 1 makes a law that person 2 cannot get married because person 1 believes in X, and X said that the marriage should be outlawed.

See the problem?

Person 2 fights back by saying X doesn't exist.

What should really happen is, person 1 should not have brought X up in the public realm at all.


Ditto - well put!

Although, while I agree that we're making a very good case for not basing law on belief/non-belief on something that can not be shown to exist, I'm afraid some folks will hate anyway. They'll just have to find someone else to blame for it. "Hey I have no problem with it (when really I do) ... Bob told me to hate you."

- Jo



pakled
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Nov 2007
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,827

31 Jan 2009, 10:40 pm

well, it would leave a big gap between VII and LI, if there was no X...;)



Clarifier
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Age: 73
Gender: Male
Posts: 40
Location: California

01 Feb 2009, 7:54 pm

OK guys, haven't we bitched about religion enough? I certainly have, but then I'm 63. Yes, religion sucks. Yes, it's full of stupidity, and it makes people crazy when it's mixed with politics. But that's totally irrelevant to what's going on in the universe. There still may be an actual purpose to life beyond whatever pleasures we can shlep together during our 80 or so years on this planet of apes.

I'm proposing that there is a logical and realistic possibility of a just afterlife that doesn't imply either the stupidity of religion or the nihilism of atheism.

Doesn't anybody want to talk about this stuff?


_________________
Truth seekers always clarify.
Ego defenders clarify when they're right, and complicate when they're wrong.
Truth seekers pursue conclusions. Truth avoiders pursue tangents.