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Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe

Posted by TheThorn 
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 03, 2015 11:03AM
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TheThorn
There was no evidence that swans *could be black before someone saw the first black swan.

So are you saying that to believe in the existence of those things before any evidence of their existence was found was rational?

There is no evidence today that some swans are day-glo orange, so should we believe that some probably are day-glo orange or should we believe it is just as probable as not that some are day-glo orange or should we believe that swans, on this planet, probably are not day-glo orange?

Believing rationally doesn't mean always believing only what eventually turns out to be true. Believing rationally means believing only what the available evidence suggests is true. If there is no evidence to suggest that something is true then there is no reason to believe it's true. If there is no evidence to suggest that it is true where it is theorized that there should be evidence, then there is reason to believe that it is false even though it may break your heart to believe it.

Possibility is never evidence. Possibility is always PROOF; proof that something CAN exist. But it's not the slightest bit of evidence to substantiate a belief that it DOES exist.


* I have a minor quibble with this part of your post. You say that "There was no evidence that swans could be black before . . . . "

No evidence for "could be" or possibly be is necessary to know a priori that it could be or possibly be. It was known that swans could be black before any evidence of the existence of black swans was found simply because it was always possible that swans could be black (or any other color, for that matter, including day-glo orange).
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Dick
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TheThorn
There was no evidence that swans *could be black before someone saw the first black swan.

So are you saying that to believe in the existence of those things before any evidence of their existence was found was rational?... snip

No, I'm just trying to demonstrate the limitations of absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

I am sure you agree with my general point here, you don't seem the type not to recognise that Sam's argument is fallacious in this context?

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Possibility is never evidence. Possibility is always PROOF; proof that something CAN exist. But it's not the slightest bit of evidence to substantiate a belief that it DOES exist.

Yes, agreed.

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* I have a minor quibble with this part of your post. You say that "There was no evidence that swans could be black before . . . . "

No evidence for "could be" or possibly be is necessary to know a priori that it could be or possibly be. It was known that swans could be black before any evidence of the existence of black swans was found simply because it was always possible that swans could be black (or any other color, for that matter, including day-glo orange).

It was once thought that all swans were white, then we found that some were black. That's all I was referring to, you're over complicating.
I wanted to come back to this now that I have a little more time. It's a thoughtful post and deserves a full response.

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Dick
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TheThorn
If you're now saying that's not your position, then there's no need to waste my time trawling threads for quotes.

Are you now saying that you are an agnostic?

"Agnostic" is a word primarily used by people who don't want to talk about their belief in God. Or some people, I suppose should say.

I don't think this is a fair assessment.

I didn't always use the term agnostic to describe myself, but it's become a shorthand term that most easily describes my position. People would ask if I was an atheist and I’d say no, then they’d ask me which religion I belonged to, and I say I didn't have a religion, or even a positive belief in a God. Then I’d try and explain my position. It got boring and repetitive to me so I started using this short hand. Although I intuitively don’t like these simplistic identifying umbrella terms, it’s also quite accurate to my position:

I don't think the answer to this question is knowable.

That's not a dodge or an evasion; it's my genuine take on the matter. I readily own up to a preference I usually rest on when I come to ponder these issues, but I don't think that makes me a theist.

I also don't think the same thing all the time. Sometimes I do think the universe is meaningless, most of the time I don't think it is. At almost all times, I don't come to the conclusion that our own lives are meaningful beyond the meaning we give them, I don't believe in a benevolent or malevolent being watching over us, an afterlife or anything of that sort. My interest in the topic is purely philosophical.

One benefit of an agnostic position is that you aren't inhibited in your thinking. The second you sign up under a belief system and identify yourself with it, you are erecting potential obstructive psychological barriers to other ideas. All I want to do is think about and debate this stuff; I have no interest in joining a club or a team.

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Generally, if an agnostic doesn't have a belief in God, they realize they are atheists and have no problem using either the agnostic or atheist label. See: Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, et al. For the most part, those who self-identify exclusively as agnostics are crypto-theists. So, no, I'd never use that word in talking about a non-God related subject that I simply have no strong belief about.

An issue with clear strong atheists like Dawkins claiming an agnostic approach is it appears to me to be employed as a ‘get out of jail free’ card to avoid justifying their own beliefs. Their level of agnosticism is no different to that which 90% of religionists exhibit.

As I’ve said a couple of times now, I have personally never met a religious person who did not admit to knowing that they could be wrong. That is the point of the concept of faith – that you know that you don’t know something, but you chose to believe it based on some kind of gut instinct.

I don’t see strong atheists who pull out the agnosticism card when confronted to justify their positive belief as any different, just less honest.

People like this will constantly be on the attack, demanding justifications from everyone else for their positive beliefs, yet when asked for the same in return will hide behind a claim of agnosticism.

Dawkins is as much a positive atheist as any Christian, Muslim or Hindu I personally know is religious. Having a rational doubt just means he’s not deranged, it doesn't mean he’s not harbouring and promoting a positive belief.

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I was just curious about the reason for your claim that I had explicitly endorsed the "happenstance" theory.

I can see where you might think that but it's actually more that I don't have a problem with the purposelessness of the universe whatsoever; at least, no more a problem than I have with the purposelessness of the fifth planet nearest the 79 billionth star nearest to Earth.

I would say that your tone generally implies a much greater level of conviction that that. It’s at the same level as Dawkins – plenty of clear positive statements, with some “of course there is a tiny possibility…” caveats thrown in as a suitable smoke screen.

But let’s not quibble about how firm your conviction is, ultimately it’s irrelevant. What I’d like us to do now is for you to do now is to explain why you think it’s such a tiny possibility?

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Also, I admit that I do find the anthropomorphization of the universe slightly disturbing.

We are part of the universe, so there is no need to anthropomorphise.

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Why is it that some want to pretend that the universe is a vast complex being that has intelligence, consciousness, and intention just like we do? How does that help to explain anything? How does that advance our understanding of the universe? I think the purpose thing arises because of our tendency to see agency in things around us that can't possibly have it. We do it for a reason. It's the way we've evolved so it's natural to that extent even if it has outlived its evolutionary usefulness.

It’s not a matter of pretending, it’s just going on what we know. We know our own nature, and that is the best starting point for considering the nature of the universe that we are a part of.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2015 02:57PM by TheThorn.
Horn and Thorn, Re: "But if you have no idea what that evidence might be, or if it's even attainable, you can't conclude that whatever it is you're looking for doesn't exist."

I don't. I conclude it probably doesn't exist. That's why it doesn't say "absence of proof is proof of absence".

All those examples are of things of which we know certain attributes to look for evidence of. Do you think anyone ever said "I believe black swans exist. Let's go look." Nope, someone saw a black swan and changed their belief that there are no black swans. I will wait until I become aware of some evidence (like "blackness" and "swan" for a black swan) that points directly to a purposegodthingwhateverthefuckitis before I believe it exists. I don't invent things and then look for evidence of its existence to find out if it is real, lol. Do you? Oh wait. You are agnostics. Of course you do. The problem is that you see "something" you can't explain and think there must be some "thing" that explains it and you're right to do that. That's called science. But when you then invent a "thing" to explain it and then point to the "something" as evidence you have left science and entered religion. You are pointing to all of "creation" and saying MyGod invented this because I don't understand what else could have. How silly.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 04, 2015 11:10AM
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TheThorn
I am sure you agree with my general point here, you don't seem the type not to recognise that Sam's argument is fallacious in this context?

I think what Sam has said is that nothing that exists or that can exist, does or can exist without attributes, and I agree with that. Everything that exists, exists as something. No "thing" exists as nothing. There is no discernible difference in something that is alleged to exist but is in fact nonexistent AND something that is alleged to exist but that has no attributes. As Kant famously pointed out, existence is not a predicate.

Once the alleged attributes of a proposed entity are known, reality can be examined to try to determine if anything that fits that description exists. For instance, if among the attributes given for "God" we find "Creator of the universe," (as we actually do in virtually all theistic religions) then we can stop our search there because that God, as far as we have reason to believe, doesn't exist. This is so because it appears that the universe never had a beginning. No beginning, no creation, right?


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It was once thought that all swans were white, then we found that some were black. That's all I was referring to, you're over complicating.

No, I'm simply clarifying. To word this phrase the way you did originally "There was no evidence that swans could be black before someone saw the first black swan," implies that evidence is needed before a proposition is even possibly true and that is uncategorically false. There is so much confusion already on this board between what is merely possible and what has some degree of probability, that I think it's always a good idea to try to nip this sort of ambiguity in the bud.

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I didn't always use the term agnostic to describe myself, but it's become a shorthand term that most easily describes my position. People would ask if I was an atheist and I’d say no, then they’d ask me which religion I belonged to, and I say I didn't have a religion, or even a positive belief in a God.

An agnostic, even if defined as someone who has no belief in God's existence or nonexistence, IS an atheist to probably 95% or more of the world's population. But if you think that by using that term makes your position in some way more understandable, more power to you. I'm just saying that the distinction you're trying to draw is lost on virtually everyone you speak with. To theists, you're either with us or you're against us; that is, you either believe in our God or you are an unbeliever. To them, it matters little whether you call yourself an agnostic or an atheist.

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I don't think the answer to this question is knowable.

I assume the question you're referring to here is, "Does God exist?"

First, if someone has no precise definition for the word "God" then the question "Does God exist?" is incoherent and for that reason it can't be answered anymore than any other incoherent question can be answered.

For any question to have meaning the key terms and relations in the question have to have meaning and be comprehensible. If they are not, then there really is no question there to answer. It's just a string of symbols with a question mark at the end.

Second, if by "God" you mean something not of the universe, then again you are being incoherent. The universe, in this context, means "all that is." "All" would include God if God exists. There is no thing that exists but doesn't exist in the universe. That is a logical contradiction.

Third, if by "God" you mean a fairly precisely defined thing with attributes that exists in the universe, then we can examine the places in the universe where those attributes should be found if they exist. If they are not found in those places, then we have some reason to believe that the thing doesn't exist.

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One benefit of an agnostic position is that you aren't inhibited in your thinking. The second you sign up under a belief system and identify yourself with it, you are erecting potential obstructive psychological barriers to other ideas. All I want to do is think about and debate this stuff; I have no interest in joining a club or a team.

That's true to some degree. I disagree, however, that most or even many agnostics don't have a belief one way or the other about the existence of God. The mere fact that KNOWLEDGE is unavailable or perhaps unattainable about a subject is no barrier to belief about the subject. It's only potentially (although not necessarily) a barrier to rational belief.

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An issue with clear strong atheists like Dawkins claiming an agnostic approach is it appears to me to be employed as a ‘get out of jail free’ card to avoid justifying their own beliefs. Their level of agnosticism is no different to that which 90% of religionists exhibit.

As I’ve said a couple of times now, I have personally never met a religious person who did not admit to knowing that they could be wrong. That is the point of the concept of faith – that you know that you don’t know something, but you chose to believe it based on some kind of gut instinct.

I don’t see strong atheists who pull out the agnosticism card when confronted to justify their positive belief as any different, just less honest.

People like this will constantly be on the attack, demanding justifications from everyone else for their positive beliefs, yet when asked for the same in return will hide behind a claim of agnosticism.

Dawkins is as much a positive atheist as any Christian, Muslim or Hindu I personally know is religious. Having a rational doubt just means he’s not deranged, it doesn't mean he’s not harbouring and promoting a positive belief.

This is the reason that "agnostic," to me, is such a worthless way to self-identify. A theist is someone who believes in the existence of at least one God. That definition is almost universal. An atheist is someone who believes God doesn't exist. Again, this is virtually universally understood.

Agnostic, OTOH, is all over the place. I firmly believe that this is its main attraction for some folks. There really is no universally agreed definition for agnostic. To some it means that whether or not the claim "God exists" is true is unknowable.

To others the word refers to someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God (just as if this were a realistic position).

This is because the term "agnostic" means different things to different people. It's unlike theist and atheist which each have fairly standard meanings. Agnostic can and often does refer to someone who believes, ultimately, that the question of God's existence cannot be known. This is the stance of Dawkins and many philosophers who also would say that this is an excellent justification for also being atheist.

The vast majority of philosophers and scientists do not use "agnostic" in the way that you do, that is, as a third way between "theism" and "atheism." They see agnosticisim as having to do with the state of knowledge about the question "Does God exist?" not with the state of belief.

You and some others use the term 'agnostic' to refer to your knowledge about atheism (that is, you don't believe it's likely or perhaps possible that the question can be known to be true or false) AND to refer to your non-belief at the same time, which is confusing.

No one is an agnostic about the luminous ether or some newly proposed atomic subparticle. Once these concepts are thoroughly explained to them, people either believe they exist or not, end of story.

It's only when the question is about God's existence that folks feel it necessary get out their tap dancing shoes. Then, when asked about their belief, they don't answer, "No, I don't believe God exists. He could, of course, but I haven't seen any evidence that comes close to convincing me that he does" but instead respond as if they'd been asked about their KNOWLEDGE rather than their BELIEF by answering, "Who me? No, I don't know whether God exists or not. I'm certainly no ATHEIST, if that's what you're implying!

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I would say that your tone generally implies a much greater level of conviction that that. It’s at the same level as Dawkins – plenty of clear positive statements, with some “of course there is a tiny possibility…” caveats thrown in as a suitable smoke screen.

But let’s not quibble about how firm your conviction is, ultimately it’s irrelevant. What I’d like us to do now is for you to do now is to explain why you think it’s such a tiny possibility?

I don't think it's a tiny possibility. To me, something is or is not possible. There are no degrees of possibility. It is possible because, to my understanding, the concept is coherent.

The proposition "The universe has a purpose" is not more probable than not because there are no good reasons that I know of to believe that the universe has a purpose and there are reasons to believe that it isn't.

Look at evolution. How is it possible to look at evolution and to say that it appears to have a goal in mind?

The universe seems random everywhere one looks. Some masses congeal into planets, some don't. Some develop life, most don't. Good people sometimes die horrible deaths, bad people sometimes live into a healthy, ripe old age and die peacefully in their sleep. I see no pattern there. I see no end goal.

There is no reason to believe that a purpose-giver exists and purpose, as far as we know it, always has a purpose giver.

And now it appears that the universe may be eternal; which if true, means no creator of the universe which means no purpose giver to the universe.

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We are part of the universe, so there is no need to anthropomorphise.

Besides human beings and perhaps their cousins the higher apes, what else is it that you know of that gives things purpose? When you say, "The universe has a purpose" you're implying that something or someone exists that gave it its purpose.

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It’s not a matter of pretending, it’s just going on what we know. We know our own nature, and that is the best starting point for considering the nature of the universe that we are a part of.

I strongly disagree with that. It IS pretending. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that other parts of the universe, especially the parts that are not alive, have or even can develop intention, intelligence or purpose.

We have come a long way in our understanding of the universe by putting animism, spirits, and belief in proactive gods aside. We should continue that course of action.
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I think what Sam has said is that nothing that exists or that can exist, does or can exist without attributes, and I agree with that.

Everyone agrees with that, but she is not simply saying that.

She is saying –

- If we don’t know what its attributes are then it could have self-contradictory attributes
- Since thinks that have self-contradictory assets cannot exist, we cannot say it exists.

- It is clearly utter nonsense, and you shouldn’t drag yourself down defending it because you see this as a team sport…

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Everything that exists, exists as something. No "thing" exists as nothing. There is no discernible difference in something that is alleged to exist but is in fact non-existent AND something that is alleged to exist but that has no attributes. As Kant famously pointed out, existence is not a predicate.

Once the alleged attributes of a proposed entity are known, reality can be examined to try to determine if anything that fits that description exists. For instance, if among the attributes given for "God" we find "Creator of the universe," (as we actually do in virtually all theistic religions) then we can stop our search there because that God, as far as we have reason to believe, doesn't exist. This is so because it appears that the universe never had a beginning. No beginning, no creation, right?

Well this is the reason I like to avoid the word ‘God’. Buddhists, for example, do not believe in a beginning. They believe that the universe has always been here and it has always had a meaning. So are Buddhists, or specifically those sects who also don’t believe in minor deities, atheists? Such a definition is meaningless.

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An agnostic, even if defined as someone who has no belief in God's existence or nonexistence, IS an atheist to probably 95% or more of the world's population.

But if you think that by using that term makes your position in some way more understandable, more power to you. I'm just saying that the distinction you're trying to draw is lost on virtually everyone you speak with. To theists, you're either with us or you're against us; that is, you either believe in our God or you are an unbeliever. To them, it matters little whether you call yourself an agnostic or an atheist.

Bear in mind I’m not American. Atheism and agnosticism are probably a lot more commonly used terms here, and most religious people are less extreme (or at least publicly anyway). It doesn't seem to cause any confusion in my own anecdotal experience anyway.

Regardless, I do agree with you about the usefulness of these umbrella terms. I would avoid them if I could but sometimes a shorthand is needed just to keep a conversation from spiraling into complexity.

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[I don't think the answer to this question is knowable.]

I assume the question you're referring to here is, "Does God exist?"

Does the universe have a purpose/meaning/reason to exist or something like that is probably closer.

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First, if someone has no precise definition for the word "God" then the question "Does God exist?" is incoherent and for that reason it can't be answered any more than any other incoherent question can be answered.

For any question to have meaning the key terms and relations in the question have to have meaning and be comprehensible. If they are not, then there really is no question there to answer. It's just a string of symbols with a question mark at the end.

Second, if by "God" you mean something not of the universe, then again you are being incoherent. The universe, in this context, means "all that is." "All" would include God if God exists. There is no thing that exists but doesn't exist in the universe. That is a logical contradiction.

Third, if by "God" you mean a fairly precisely defined thing with attributes that exists in the universe, then we can examine the places in the universe where those attributes should be found if they exist. If they are not found in those places, then we have some reason to believe that the thing doesn't exist.

Which is exactly why I try and avoid the term ‘God’.

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I disagree, however, that most or even many agnostics don't have a belief one way or the other about the existence of God. The mere fact that KNOWLEDGE is unavailable or perhaps unattainable about a subject is no barrier to belief about the subject. It's only potentially (although not necessarily) a barrier to rational belief.

Yes, I agree with that. There is no reason an open minded theist or strong atheist should not think freely, but human psychology and its tendencies towards tribe mentality and ‘us and them’ dynamics do present risks that we will start set our jaws and close our minds once we mentally join such a ‘tribe’.

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This is the reason that "agnostic," to me, is such a worthless way to self-identify. A theist is someone who believes in the existence of at least one God. That definition is almost universal. An atheist is someone who believes God doesn't exist. Again, this is virtually universally understood.

Again, terms fail us. We’re back in a space where some Buddhists, Taoists, Jainists and Pantheists are actually atheists.

You’re also making no provision for those who believe, with a comparable level of rational doubt that a moderate religionist believes in their own system, that there is no God.

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Agnostic, OTOH, is all over the place. I firmly believe that this is its main attraction for some folks. There really is no universally agreed definition for agnostic. To some it means that whether or not the claim "God exists" is true is unknowable.

That is in fact the definition.

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To others the word refers to someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God (just as if this were a realistic position).

That is a symptom of agnosticism, not a definition. Someone might be conflicted or undecided on whether there is a God or not, but be perfectly open to the idea that it is sensible to “pick a side”. That is not agnosticism in my opinion.

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This is because the term "agnostic" means different things to different people. It's unlike theist and atheist which each have fairly standard meanings.

Again, our conversation has shown that this is not the case.

To many, since the term agnostic already covers a wide range of atheistic positions, atheist means a positive belief that there is no God. Others will use the term as an umbrella category to incorporate the entire agnostic spectrum up to and including the position that there is no God. It’s not clear at all.

Neither is Theism, since by the definition you want to use, many people, priests and monks are not Theists.

The whole phrase book is fundamentally broken when it comes to this discussion.

If you go back to the OP, you might be able to understand what I was getting at now. The point of this thread, and it has admittedly failed, was to try and get an agreement on meaningful terms without multiple meanings.

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Agnostic can and often does refer to someone who believes, ultimately, that the question of God's existence cannot be known. This is the stance of Dawkins and many philosophers who also would say that this is an excellent justification for also being atheist.

But that is not actually the case. Dawkins is an agnostic in exactly the same way that a Catholic priest who admits that they do not know whether God exists, but believes it through faith, is agnostic.

Would you disagree with that? If we use the broadest possible definition of agnosticism, only the extreme minority of fundamentalist fanatics are not agnostic.

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The vast majority of philosophers and scientists do not use "agnostic" in the way that you do, that is, as a third way between "theism" and "atheism." They see agnosticisim as having to do with the state of knowledge about the question "Does God exist?" not with the state of belief.

You and some others use the term 'agnostic' to refer to your knowledge about atheism (that is, you don't believe it's likely or perhaps possible that the question can be known to be true or false) AND to refer to your non-belief at the same time, which is confusing.

That is actually how I use it as well. I’ve made this exact point a number of times here. I understand the dictionary definition of the term, I also understand its cultural context.

Sometimes you have to be sensible with words and the context they are used in.

Yes, by its strictest definition, almost everyone on the planet is agnostic. But we should be grown up enough to recognise that culturally, if someone identifies themselves specifically as an agnostic, then they are saying that they apply the principle strongly, and use it as a reason to remain without conviction on either side.

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It's only when the question is about God's existence that folks feel it necessary get out their tap dancing shoes. Then, when asked about their belief, they don't answer, "No, I don't believe God exists. He could, of course, but I haven't seen any evidence that comes close to convincing me that he does" but instead respond as if they'd been asked about their KNOWLEDGE rather than their BELIEF by answering, "Who me? No, I don't know whether God exists or not. I'm certainly no ATHEIST, if that's what you're implying!

Again, God is the wrong word to use. But the reason that the topic requires a different approach is that we are talking about a fundamental question attached to the only true knowledge we possess. We know we exist. This pure knowledge comes with its own question. Why?

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I don't think it's a tiny possibility. To me, something is or is not possible. There are no degrees of possibility. It is possible because, to my understanding, the concept is coherent.

Do you really want for me to trawl threads for quotes of you expressing sentiments to this effect? Come on…

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The proposition "The universe has a purpose" is not more probable than not because there are no good reasons that I know of to believe that the universe has a purpose and there are reasons to believe that it isn't.

I’ve provided reasons to think that it is, which you haven’t responded to. You have provided no reasons to think that there isn’t.

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Look at evolution. How is it possible to look at evolution and to say that it appears to have a goal in mind?

Because it does. Whether that goal manifested through happenstance or exists for a reason is the question.

Stating that the principle of random mutation suggests that evolution itself exists by random chance does not follow any convincing logic.

When and how a gene will mutate at any given time may be random. However, it is a constrained, iterative process, and also one that is finite in its possibilities.

From a simple creature like a bacterium to a complex one like a human being there may be an enormous number of potential creatures that can manifest from genetic mutations between, but not an infinite number, and the resulting physical manifestations are not random: If gene x mutates in y fashion, we will always see the same physical manifestation. It is repeatable, and the basis of the genetic modification of food stuffs.

It is probably a task beyond humanity and our science, but theoretically every single life form that could evolve from a certain bacterium could be catalogued, beyond that it should be theoretically possible to catalogue all possible life forms everywhere, if one had access to all data and an unlimited amount of time to do it.

While the physical laws that allow inanimate matter to become basic organisms, and those organisms to iteratively evolve, one mutation at a time, into intelligent complex beings could have come about as a result of meaningless physical laws just happening to align in the ‘right’ way, such a claim absolutely requires a detailed argument to accompany it. It seems to me to be a rather extraordinary claim.

To me, random mutation suggests the opposite of a randomly generated phenomenon. It is an elegant system that allows life to continue and adapt itself to its environment.

As a set of physical laws, evolution cannot make “choices” or be “aware” of the environment that a creature is going to have to survive in. It is an automated process and therefore requires the flexibility that random mutation offers. Evolution ‘tries’ one mutation after another, and if they bring a disadvantage then the mutated creature will have less success mating and less effect on the development of the species, if the mutation brings an advantage then they will have more success mating and leads to a greater change in the species. As I say, it’s an elegant and necessary system for life to continue on a given planet.

Again – that could all be a meaningless product of chance, but I would have to continue to press you as to why you would consider that likely, or the opposite so unlikely.

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The universe seems random everywhere one looks. Some masses congeal into planets, some don't. Some develop life, most don't. Good people sometimes die horrible deaths, bad people sometimes live into a healthy, ripe old age and die peacefully in their sleep. I see no pattern there. I see no end goal.

And now we’re back into “I feel it in my heart” territory again.

Come on, this is pure faith-based hokum.

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There is no reason to believe…

Except the long and detailed post I gave which you have repeatedly ignored…

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Besides human beings and perhaps their cousins the higher apes, what else is it that you know of that gives things purpose?

That’s enough for me.

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I strongly disagree with that. It IS pretending. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that other parts of the universe, especially the parts that are not alive, have or even can develop intention, intelligence or purpose.

I don’t really get what you’re trying to say here.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/04/2015 08:07PM by TheThorn.
"To me, random mutation suggests the opposite of a randomly generated phenomenon. It is an elegant system that allows life to continue and adapt itself to its environment."

Sounds like the free will (happenstance) vs. determinism argument (purpose) and you are arguing for both sides. You don't realize you ARE anthropomorphizing this "system" which implies a systemmaker.
Come on Dick, I'm waiting for your response.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 13, 2015 01:14AM
On what?
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Dick
On what?

Seriously?
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 13, 2015 02:34AM
What in particular would you like me to respond to?
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Dick
What in particular would you like me to respond to?

My most recent response to you in the conversation we were having, obviously.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 14, 2015 01:26AM
The entire three volume set???

If there is anything in particular that you'd like me to respond to I will. You can even break down your massive post into smaller, more easily digestible chunks and I'll deal with the whole thing that way over the course of a few days, if you prefer.
There wouldn't even be a "tribe" of atheists if ignorance, deceit and power mongering hadn't taken over the world via the creation of gods/theism. We're all born without beliefs but most parents force some form of theism onto their children. If this is not obvious to you, your parents probably forced you into the theism "tribe", lol.

Seriously, at least if someone is going to make up some perfect explanation for why things are the way they are they could come up with something that would matter if it was true or something we'd notice somehow but no. Instead, apparently for some, "because there is a purpose" is comforting enough of a concept no matter how empty and nonsensical that thought really is. Sounds an awful lot like "god's will", too, doesn't it? Thorn has done what soooo many proud agnogs do. They just give different names to all the religious concepts they love/need and try to sell it as free thought if not genius, lol.

Dick, Apparently no matter how much you indulge, patronize or humor certain people by addressing their irrational ramblings they will always accuse you of ignoring them. What they really mean is that they haven't been successful at convincing you that they are onto something big, lol. Here's hoping you are at least getting some chuckles out of it. smiling smiley
It's exactly the same length as your previous post to me, and it is composed of direct responses to the points that you had just addressed at me.

You're so @#$%& rude it is hard to fathom sometimes.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 16, 2015 12:04AM
So nothing in particular? OK, I'll pick out something . . . . How about this?

You wrote: And now we’re back into “I feel it in my heart” territory again. Come on, this is pure faith-based hokum.

You wrote this in response to my often-made claim that the universe doesn't seem to show that it has a purpose; that the universe doesn't seem to behave in ways that easily suggests it is moving toward some predetermined goal.

Well my response to that is that "something's seeming to be like X" is a very good reason to believe that something is X, all else being equal. For instance, standing immobile on earth watching the sun pass overhead everyday is a very good reason to believe that the sun orbits the earth or at least that it traverses earth's skies everyday -- all else being equal.

Something's seeming to be a particular way isn't proof that it is actually that way, but it is enough to establish a prima facies position that has to be rebutted in order to reasonably disagree with that position. To reject that which appears to be the case for no good reason is contrarian and will more often than not to lead to error.
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Dick
So nothing in particular? OK, I'll pick out something . . . . How about this?

You wrote: And now we’re back into “I feel it in my heart” territory again. Come on, this is pure faith-based hokum.

You wrote this in response to my often-made claim that the universe doesn't seem to show that it has a purpose; that the universe doesn't seem to behave in ways that easily suggests it is moving toward some predetermined goal.

Well my response to that is that "something's seeming to be like X" is a very good reason to believe that something is X, all else being equal. For instance, standing immobile on earth watching the sun pass overhead everyday is a very good reason to believe that the sun orbits the earth or at least that it traverses earth's skies everyday -- all else being equal.

Something's seeming to be a particular way isn't proof that it is actually that way, but it is enough to establish a prima facies position that has to be rebutted in order to reasonably disagree with that position. To reject that which appears to be the case for no good reason is contrarian and will more often than not to lead to error.

A response to all of my responses to your points.

That's basic politeness.

Forget it.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
March 17, 2015 02:49AM
Part II of my response to your massive tome . . .

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TheThorn
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Dick
I think what Sam has said is that nothing that exists or that can exist, does or can exist without attributes, and I agree with that.

Everyone agrees with that, but she is not simply saying that.

She is saying –

- If we don’t know what its attributes are then it could have self-contradictory attributes
- Since thinks that have self-contradictory assets cannot exist, we cannot say it exists.

- It is clearly utter nonsense, and you shouldn’t drag yourself down defending it because you see this as a team sport…

Ha! I see this as a team sport. I think you may be projecting here just a little bit, ol' bean. I support Sam in this instance because she's correct, not because she's a member of Team Sanity. But enough about that . . .

Of course what is logically contradictory does not exist, but what is not defined may or may not contain logical contradictions. You cannot say that it doesn't because you can't know whether it does or it doesn't until the concept is spelled out and analyzed. Until that occurs, you're only babbling and not saying anything meaningful.

For example, when someone says "God exists" no one knows whether the God referred to includes self-contradictory elements or not without knowing precisely what the definition of "God" is that the person is using. Some Gods' definitions do include logical contradictions but that doesn't stop people from worshipping them. As we all know, nonexistence is no barrier to belief.

Everything that exists, exists as something. No "thing" exists as nothing. There is no discernible difference in something that is alleged to exist but is in fact non-existent AND something that is alleged to exist but that has no attributes. As Kant famously pointed out, existence is not a predicate.

Once the alleged attributes of a proposed entity are known, reality can be examined to try to determine if anything that fits that description exists. For instance, if among the attributes given for "God" we find "Creator of the universe," (as we actually do in virtually all theistic religions) then we can stop our search there because that God, as far as we have reason to believe, doesn't exist. This is so because it appears that the universe never had a beginning. No beginning, no creation, right?
So Dick do you admit that the belief we live in a world absent of God is faith based?

I'm going to assume you will ask me for the umpteenth time to define the terms let me go ahead and do that for you...

God is an eternal being ie something that is ground for the known universe... all matter and energy and both physical and logical law... A higher power than temporal beings, eg man. A rational foundation for the universe instead of assuming chaos...

Go ahead and check the consistency... Ask yourself if you can understand the concept since comprehension is necessary... Now tell us how we know that this being does not exist.

If this God isn't christian enough for you tell us why you favor revealed theology over natural theology.

If this God is too trivial for your tastes tell us why metaphysical foundations are not philosophically important?

If this God isn't scientific enough for you tell us why we shouldn't believe in methodical naturalism? IOW why is it scientifically necessary to believe in the grand metaphysical claim only material reality exists?

Oh, did I hear you thinking about your new pet theory and how you can somehow shoehorn it into the discussion? I'll address that as well... What do we mean by the universe is eternal? We don't mean human conscience is eternal, that seems wrong correct? So we don't mean everything is eternal... We mean something fundamental is eternal. Something simple is eternal. Some undetected unknown reality is eternal. What is the simplest metaphysical explanation to account for all reality?

Maybe you think this being probably does not exist? That's fine. Real probability based on known factors is knowledge. What is the probability that God does not exist? Please show us the math involved and the factors that were used.

So is metaphysics meaningless or trivial? Iow metaphysical foundations are not scientifically necessary... I'm good with that.

But consistency matters; stop believing in the metaphysic that we live in a world absent of God. Become an agnostic...

I can already hear you thinking about the term agnostic, I'll help. It's a term many people use to explain to others that we don't believe God exists nor do we believe we live in a world absent of God... Is that consistent for you? Did you understand the term agnostic as I defined it? Comprehension is necessary for a meaningful discussion...
If all belief is faith-based it renders faith meaningless. If it's reserved only for beliefs that are irrational then it's useless. Tuk has a lot of faith in foundational beingthings and he wants to make sure everyone else CONFESSES they have faith, too, so he doesn't feel so ridiculous. He pretends I'm talking gibberish but Dick didn't have any trouble at all understanding my arguments. Tuk has plugged his god into an equation where it is not only unnecessary but improbable and possibly impossible! Poor agnogs got nuthin'...
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