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

Posted by TheThorn 
Says the crazy lady who holds contradictory beliefs... Thank God nobody listens to her...
Sam
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 23, 2015 12:06AM
Tuk thinks "God" listens to him, hehe
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 24, 2015 10:06PM
Dick wrote: There is no "teleology"? What gives you the idea that the universe has a purpose?

Tuk wrote: I don't think that, I just haven't ruled it out... Why have you ruled it out? Most likely another faith based belief no doubt...

Dick writes: No, I don't rule things out like you do unless they are self-contradictory. I consider some things to be unlikely, very unlikely, extremely unlikely, etc. For instance, I consider the universe unlikely to have a grand purpose based on observations of the universe. Look around you. Does it seem to you that there is some grand design behind everything?

Dick wrote: Oh, and science is very much on my side because this isn't a metaphysical question. If you claim that a god has ANY effect on the universe then that claim, at least in theory, can be tested. Better for you if you just stay confused and incoherent in your belief about God.

Tuk wrote: That's silly. Prove God never had a causal connection with the universe in all space and time...

Dick writes: I no more have to prove that God never had a causal connection with the universe to rationally believe that he doesn't than I have to prove that rocks never had souls to rationally believe that they don't.


Tuk wrote: How about quit defending atheism and start thinking for yourself...

Dick writes: What about atheism do you believe needs defending? Its probable truth seems fairly cut-and-dried to me. There are no fairies. There is no luminous ether. There is no God. Why would anyone believe any of those things have actual existence? What is it that God's alleged existence is suppose to account for? There is no need to posit a foundational ground for being if being has always existed (and it seems that it has).
OK been away for a few days. Looks like we are now discussing Teleology (still not convinced that is the right word for this use, but I'll go with it) that's good, it's progress.

So, why did I want to move the conversation on from the term 'God'? A couple of reasons:

1. If we are to consider the issue at any depth, then we need to bring all Teleological (erk, still not liking it) systems into it. Not just 'God' based religions, but more abstract Eastern religions, Pantheist ideas, ad hoc spiritual philosophies and the rest of it. We can't have a meaningful conversation with the term Atheism and Theism unless we broaden them; it's cutting out a huge part of the picture.

2. Once we have brought all religions/philosophies and so on into the discussion then we can more clearly see what the actual dichotomy is, and perhaps get more insight into why some people favour the agnostic approach. If we take all known Teleological beliefs and remove the specifics which don't apply to every other religion/philosophy then we are left with a belief that there is a purpose to the nature of the universe. The opposite view is a belief in meaninglessness. There is no way out of this, if you imply any meaning whatsoever (besides that which we make for ourselves) then we are instantly harbouring a Teleological belief. There's no escaping this.

Why the second point is particularly important is that absolutely key explaining the agnostic position is understanding that both a belief in purpose, and a belief in meaninglessness are both positive beliefs which, due to the lack of evidence on either side, are faith-based positive beliefs. In other words, if someone is to evangelise on behalf of either position, there is a burden of proof on them to explain why they believe what they believe.

If these are both beliefs, then the illusion of one being the opposite of the other evaporates. Purpose and Meaninglessness may be opposite concepts, but both are simply different made up explanations for the nature of existence. The opposite of a belief in Purpose is not a belief in Meaninglessness, both beliefs are the opposite of a lack of belief.

There has been an ongoing debate for a few years online between Strong Atheists and Christians, which has essentially been the same five arguments repeated over and over again in slightly different words by Strong Atheists towards Christians.

Those arguments were at least relevant when used against Christians. This is a forum discussion between Strong Atheists and Agnostics. In that light, its pretty weird that the exact same arguments are being used.

You don't have to keep asking us why we believe in Gods. We don't.

We are asking you why you find the concept of a meaningless universe so convincing you are confident to express a belief in it?

The idea that every law of the universe is exactly as it needs to be to create both the habitat for life, and life itself with its consciousness and eventually intelligence, by mere chance?

OK it's possible, but so is it possible that it actually exists as it does because it is supposed to.

The conceptual end-point of either thought is so bizarre and unworldly that it doesn't seem sensible, in a void of any evidence either way, to express a belief on the matter.

Convince me otherwise.
Sam
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 25, 2015 11:44PM
The opposite of belief in a purpose (with no purposegiver I assume, sigh) is belief in meaninglessness? Well, first don't you mean "purposelessness" because meaning and purpose are two different things. Doesn't matter in this context, tho, because there is no reason whatsoever to believe in bizarre and otherworldly godthings so I don't. I lean the opposite way because I believe absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I'm a strong atheist because I do make a positive claim that no purposegods exist. In the Book of Agnog Chapter 1 Vs. ! it says that makes me irrational. Yet it doesn't seem to be irrational in all other worldly considerations like let's say fairies. Am I irrational because I do make a positive claim that fairies don't exist? Is it even possible to be rational in making any positive claim? yikes The magic aspect of your made up purposething (where is that in Buddhism, Hinduism, Janism, native American spirituality, etc?) makes rational discourse impossible.

How about this? Not only do I not believe in gods or magical purposes, I positively do believe they do not exist, I know they do not exist because I know they are logically impossible to exist.

You believe this Purpose possibly exists, right? The only things that can exist are things that are not logically self-contradictory, right? If you believe Purpose is possible to exist that means you also believe Purpose is not impossible to exist, right? Still with me? In order for you to say that something is not impossible to exist, you would have to know every single thing about it so you can determine if it is self-contradictory, correct? You cannot know anything about it much less everything so you cannot rationally say Purpose is not impossible. Therefore, you cannot say Purpose is possible. How's that?
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 12:17AM
I don't believe the universe has a purpose because, one, the universe doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that could give itself a purpose and, two, nothing created the universe for a purpose because there's no reason to believe that the universe was created in the first place.

To paraphrase Pondy: Why does the universe exist? Because it cannot not exist!

I think words like "nothing" and "purpose" are words we humans made up to describe what our experience seems to be like but that they perhaps are not applicable to the universe as a whole.
Sam
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 12:20AM
There is something these agnogs feel might be there, tho. snicker
Let's try this again:

We are asking you why you find the concept of a meaningless universe so convincing you are confident to express a belief in it?
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 10:00AM
First, who is "we"? Gotta mouse in your pocket?

Next, what do you mean by "so confident" that you're willing to express a belief in blah blah blah? One doesn't have to be supremely confident or even very confident in a belief to hold it or to express it. Mostly, it just takes honesty, both with yourself and with others.

So again, to me, it seems more likely than not that the universe itself has no overarching purpose for the reasons I gave above.
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Dick
First, who is "we"? Gotta mouse in your pocket?

Next, what do you mean by "so confident" that you're willing to express a belief in blah blah blah? One doesn't have to be supremely confident or even very confident in a belief to hold it or to express it. Mostly, it just takes honesty, both with yourself and with others.

So again, to me, it seems more likely than not that the universe itself has no overarching purpose for the reasons I gave above.

I'm not asking you why you think the universe has no purpose, I'm asking you why you find it compelling that every law of the universe is exactly as it needs to be to create both the habitat for life, and life itself with its consciousness and eventually intelligence, by mere chance.

It's possible, sure, but I am trying to get you to explain why you think everyone else should share this unusual belief.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 11:32AM
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TheThorn
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Dick
First, who is "we"? Gotta mouse in your pocket?

Next, what do you mean by "so confident" that you're willing to express a belief in blah blah blah? One doesn't have to be supremely confident or even very confident in a belief to hold it or to express it. Mostly, it just takes honesty, both with yourself and with others.

So again, to me, it seems more likely than not that the universe itself has no overarching purpose for the reasons I gave above.

I'm not asking you why you think the universe has no purpose, I'm asking you why you find it compelling that every law of the universe is exactly as it needs to be to create both the habitat for life, and life itself with its consciousness and eventually intelligence, by mere chance.

It's possible, sure, but I am trying to get you to explain why you think everyone else should share this unusual belief.

It's not an unusual belief among philosophers. In fact, it is the overwhelmingly prevalent belief.
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Dick
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TheThorn
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Dick
First, who is "we"? Gotta mouse in your pocket?

Next, what do you mean by "so confident" that you're willing to express a belief in blah blah blah? One doesn't have to be supremely confident or even very confident in a belief to hold it or to express it. Mostly, it just takes honesty, both with yourself and with others.

So again, to me, it seems more likely than not that the universe itself has no overarching purpose for the reasons I gave above.

I'm not asking you why you think the universe has no purpose, I'm asking you why you find it compelling that every law of the universe is exactly as it needs to be to create both the habitat for life, and life itself with its consciousness and eventually intelligence, by mere chance.

It's possible, sure, but I am trying to get you to explain why you think everyone else should share this unusual belief.

It's not an unusual belief among philosophers. In fact, it is the overwhelmingly prevalent belief.

Hindism is an incredibly prevalent belief among Indians, what's your point?

A belief in meaninglessness is a detailed, faith-based belief system - yet rather than just being content with your own beliefs, you spend a good part of your free time evangelising on its behalf.

So I'm a captive audience here. Explain it to me.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2015 12:13PM by TheThorn.
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Sam
The opposite of belief in a purpose (with no purposegiver I assume, sigh) is belief in meaninglessness?

No, I said that opposite of both beliefs is a lack of belief.

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Well, first don't you mean "purposelessness" because meaning and purpose are two different things.

I really don’t care what particular words we use as long as they are fit for their intended use. Feel free to suggest non-sarcastic alternatives.

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I lean the opposite way because I believe absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Despite both Islander and I explaining to you in extreme detail why the principle does not work in this case? Do you want me to go through it again?

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I'm a strong atheist because I do make a positive claim that no purposegods exist. [Agnostics say] that makes me irrational. Yet it doesn't seem to be irrational in all other worldly considerations like let's say fairies. Am I irrational because I do make a positive claim that fairies don't exist?

We know we exist. That is the only ‘pure’ knowledge that we have.

Whether we exist for a reason, or exist through a confluence of meaningless factors is a fundamental existential question that is rooted in pure knowledge.

But this knowledge is all we have. There is no evidence we exist for a reason, and no evidence for the idea that we exist randomly and meaninglessly.

Any belief on either side of that divide is fuelled by faith; it has to be.

The agnostic position states that since there is no evidence, the answer to that core existential question is unknowable at this point.

It’s really as simple as that.

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Is it even possible to be rational in making any positive claim?

Yes of course, when you believe that the evidence supports it. We do this every day.

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The magic aspect of your made up purposething (where is that in Buddhism, Hinduism, Janism, native American spirituality, etc?) makes rational discourse impossible.

How? Seriously if you explain one thing in your response make it this.

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How about this? Not only do I not believe in gods or magical purposes, I positively do believe they do not exist, I know they do not exist because I know they are logically impossible to exist.

You believe this Purpose possibly exists, right?

Possibly, yeah.

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The only things that can exist are things that are not logically self-contradictory, right?

If you believe Purpose is possible to exist that means you also believe Purpose is not impossible to exist, right? Still with me? In order for you to say that something is not impossible to exist, you would have to know every single thing about it

… Why? Saying it is not impossible something exists implicitly states that you don’t know every single thing, or even anything about it. If you did you would know, or at least believe that it existed. All you are doing when you say that it is not impossible something exists is that there is no evidence showing it doesn’t, and no evidence showing it does.

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so you can determine if it is self-contradictory, correct?

Incorrect.

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You cannot know anything about it much less everything so you cannot rationally say Purpose is not impossible. Therefore, you cannot say Purpose is possible. How's that?

Pretty bad Sam, to be honest.
Thing is, there is no logical contradiction involved in the concept of a universe with a purpose, therefore it's possible for a universe with a purpose to exist.

Does such a universe with a purpose exist? Who knows? Not me.

Does our universe have a purpose? Who knows? Not me.

Their are believers and pseudo-knowers who are quite certain they have the answer to those two questions.

Philosophy has sometimes been called, "the art of wondering". As with any other form of art, some people enjoy it and enjoy engaging in it, while others find it useless and a waste of time or see it as nothing more than "mental masturbation".The question of whether the universe has a purpose is ultimately a philosophical question, except for the firm believers who are sure they have the answers. winking smiley
Well said, Islander. smiling smiley
Sam
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 04:17PM
Re: " there is no logical contradiction involved in the concept of a universe with a purpose, therefore it's possible for a universe with a purpose to exist."

Nope. You have no idea if there is a logical contradiction involved or not. You know nothing about this godthing/purpose. You cannot know something is possible to exist if you don't know whether or not it is self-contradictory. We know the Arbrahamic God is impossible to exist because we know enough about it to know it is self-contradicting. We know square circles are impossible to exist because we know enough about squares and circles to know it's self-contradictory? If you don't know anything about the godthing then you don't know enough to be able to say it is not self-contradicting so it is irrational to so confidently and adamantly and ohso knowledgably claim it is possibly existent. If you can't wrap your brain around this then maybe it's time for a little more quiet naval gazing and a new title for your scriptures. How about The Book of Ignog. Once you start reading, it nevereverever ends and will have you so far into your naval you will need a shovel to dig yourself out. And you pride yourselves on how rational you see yourselves, lol. Your belief that godpurposethings possibly exist is completely faithbased. Now what are going to do? Invent some other godthing that whispers all the attributes of the first godthing so that you will be able to find out if it is logically contradictory or what? lol

Thorn, Your obvious belief in a purposething and why you believe it sounds exactly like

[www.youtube.com]
Sam, I have a perfectly good understanding of the meaning and concept of purpose.

Merriam‑Webster
Full Definition of PURPOSE. 1 a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : intention. b : resolution, determination.

There is no logical contradiction involved in a theoretical universe having a purpose. Whether such a universe exists is not known.
Re: Towards a constructive and meaningful conversation on the fundamental nature of the universe
February 26, 2015 05:53PM
Islander wrote: Thing is, there is no logical contradiction involved in the concept of a universe with a purpose, therefore it's POSSIBLE for a universe with a purpose to exist.[emphasis mine]

Oh, so all TheThorn wants to know if it's merely POSSIBLE for the universe to have an objective purpose? Jeez, I don't know how you managed to get that from what he wrote, but given the way he writes, you very well may be correct.

Then, assuming you are correct, my answer is . . . Well, of course it's merely possible, silly. Using common definitions for the terms involved, there is nothing contradictory in saying "The universe has a purpose." There is a large, uncountable number of things that are possibly the case or that possible exist that don't actually exist. I thought we all already knew that?

One would hope that he could've figure that one out for himself, but I guess not. Surely he understands it now.

Does such a universe with a purpose exist? Who KNOWS? Not me. [emphasis mine]

Ah, so TheThorn has once again conflated belief and knowledge? Typical self-styled agnostic. See, he was asking about BELIEF, not knowledge. And (as I'm sure you know, even if TheThorn may not) those are not the same thing.
No, I don't rule things out like you do unless they are self-contradictory. I consider some things to be unlikely, very unlikely, extremely unlikely, etc. For instance, I consider the universe unlikely to have a grand purpose based on observations of the universe. Look around you. Does it seem to you that there is some grand design behind everything?

Look around me? Lol as if my observations imply something meaningful. Yeah I'm looking, no purpose... @#$%& your right Dick let's all go home... Pack it up... Wait, that's nonsense... Maybe if I said there is a 20% chance of purpose you will understand it...?

Dick writes: I no more have to prove that God never had a causal connection with the universe to rationally believe that he doesn't than I have to prove that rocks never had souls to rationally believe that they don't.

Doesn't follow... You said any claim that God having any effect on the world is a testable ie scientific claim and I refuted that crap with asking you to test the theory that God never had a causal connection with the universe I n all space and time. I thought you understood the vast amount of philosophical beliefs and concepts cannot be proven by science...

Dick writes: What about atheism do you believe needs defending? Its probable truth seems fairly cut-and-dried to me.

Probability = knowledge... Let's see what you know...

There are no fairies.

Oh crap not again... 7th grade atheism coming at us...

There is no God.

Positive claim, burden of proof, logical proof or material evidence...

Why would anyone believe any of those things have actual existence?

Now your asking the agnostic to defend the existence of God...

There is no need to posit a foundational ground for being if being has always existed (and it seems that it has).

Ok no it doesn't seem that way current scientific understanding shows us the universe had a beginning.

But let's assume it did. What is the elementary ie foundation to all know material reality? I'll tell you... An unknown hypothetical particle that is undetectable outside of math...

What still is the simplest metaphysical explanation that accounts for all reality? An eternal being. Ground for all law and material reality. What I have been arguing here for years.
Nothing can be more simple than using ontological terms.
Holding a belief is not the same thing as stating something is 100% sure and known.

Some Strong Atheists treat berating people of different faiths as a part time hobby, and then try to hide behind the idea that all they have to say is:

“I accept the possibility I'm wrong, but it’s a tiny possibility not worth lingering on"

And they no longer have any onus on them to explain their belief.

However I have never met a religionists who does not say “I know I could be wrong but I still have faith”.

Same statement, different faith.

No one gets a 'get out of jail card'.

If you consider something a strong enough likelihood to present it as a belief, and to state it positively as though it were a fact as both Sam and Dick have on multiple occasions, then you have a burden to justify it.
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