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Dec 10 2010

We get email

Now, I’m not going to claim that this is the most unusual or interesting mail we’ve ever received; it’s actually a fairly mundane rehashing of common creationist cluelessness. But the final replay really makes the email exchange one for the ages.

My responses are embedded in his italicized message, but the original message was one huge block paragraph.

I would like to know how and why atheists can knowledgeably ignore the laws of physics when considering such things as creation?

It’s interesting that you would say that, because it turns out that physicists tend to be atheists far more than most people. According to fairly recent surveys, while around 85% of people in the world believe in some kind of God, somewhere around 60% of practicing physical scientists have doubts about the existence of God, and among members of the National Academy of Sciences — one of the most elite groups of scientists in the world — only about 7% are believers.

http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm

It seems that more advanced a person is in scientific disciplines, the less likely they are to believe in God. Maybe you should take up your question with them.

all the laws of physics prove that nothing can come from nothing, so how did this universe come into exsistance, if not from nothing, where did that original “something”, most often referrred to as matter or ssome other form, come from?

Big Bang theory doesn’t attempt to address this question. The universe came to its present state around 14.5 billion years ago. Before that, everything in the universe was compressed into a small enough state that known laws of physics can’t be applied properly.

Therefore, the Big Bang is not an assertion that anything came “from nothing.” Could have always existed. Could have been generated out of matter from a meta-universe. Could have spontaneously come into existence through a matter/antimatter reaction. The responsible perspective is to accept that we don’t know, and won’t until a new way to collect evidence is worked out.

You, on the other hand, seem to believe that you do know. And your belief is that the universe was in fact created from nothing, by a being who either always existed or, in turn, came into existence from nothing itself. I think it’s remarkable that you don’t see the irony in that position.

more importantly, id like you to address cosmological singularity, which has been accepted by most, if not al physicists, concluding that there is, and always has been God,

I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, although my guess would be that it’s from within a certain part of your body. As I’ve already pointed out, you can get actual information from scientists about how much they believe in god, and it’s considerably less than the general public. Besides which, even scientists who believe in God would very rarely claim that this believe is in some way scientifically proven. Most of them hold to some form of Stephen Jay Gould’s idea of “non-overlapping magisteria,” claiming that faith in god and scientific evidence should be held as dealing with separate domains.

Almost no formal papers have been published in mainstream, peer reviewed scientific journals addressing the question of a god’s existence, and those that have slipped through are generally not cited as relevant by any other scientific works. This is so widely acknowledged that creationists routinely claim that the “scientific establishment” is involved in a massive conspiracy against their work. This is, of course, baseless paranoia, since the reason that their work doesn’t get published is that it’s a load of poorly supported, pseudoscientific quackery.

therefore disproving the core of atheist beliefs. in such a society today that is so scientifically based, it is ignorant to ignore such things as cosmological singularity, as well as other laws of physics, including einstiens relativity, and quantum mechanics, which even led einstien to believe in the exsistance of God.

Somebody’s been lying to you, dude.

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_einstein.html
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
– Albert Einstein, in a letter March 24, 1954; from Albert Einstein the Human Side, Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, eds., Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 43.

thank you for your time, tho you’ll be wasting your efforts trying to disprove the laws of the universe to justify your living in denial.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Ta ta!

And here’s the reply. Wait for it….

lol you actually wasted youre time to rely to me ??? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!1

THANK YO SO MUCH FOR MAKING MY DAY! hahahahaah! thank you! wow you really would waste youre time like this wouldnt you!!! hahahaha!

im glad to know that you “care” enough about your “public” to reply to this! hahahahahahaha!

YOU ARE A FOOL!!!!!

(by the way my email contained a virus)

have a “wonderful” life and then die!!!!!

Apart from being scientifically illiterate and knowing fuck-all about computers in the bargain, I’m kind of charmed to see that the victory which made his day was the recognition that he is wasting people’s time. If only all creationists could be so self-aware!

74 comments

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  1. 1
    chaosof99

    This very much reminds me of the very first appearance of Trollface:http://knowyourmeme.com/i/1072/original/Trollface.png

  2. 2
    Dorkman

    Well, his email was certainly chock-full of God Virus. Maybe that's what he meant.

  3. 3
    Raymond

    Dorkman, I think you will find that his email DID contain a virus.Below is a reproduction of the text attatchment sent along with the email***********************************************This is meant to be a deadly virus BUT I don't have the technology to write it..,So please delete all your important data from your hard drive manually AND send a copy of this email to 50 of your friends.Thank you for co-operation.***This virus works on the honor system**

  4. 4
    Ash

    I actually think his sign off is rather positive. I myself would enjoy having a wonderful life before dying. I'm not sure what the scare quotes are meant to imply, but I'm not sure he would have any clue either. If he wanted to be rude, why didn't he say something like "have a short and miserable life and then die in agony!" Or maybe that's what he meant by the quotes…

  5. 5
    Daemon6

    I don't know whether to laugh or be afraid at the amount of stupid this person is spewing :P. Why on earth would someone make an effort, however inane it might be, and then turn around and act like a 13 y.o.?BTW, was there actually a virus attached? I can't imagine why he'd send a virus to a computer engineer :P.

  6. 6
    farmboy

    Goes to show how much interest he had in an actual discussion. Zilch. He probably knew his claims would amount to nothing but he has his faith and that's all he needs to know that he's superior to others, even when his words don't contain any truth to them at all.I'm actually disappointed there wasn't a threat of hell at the end. At least in that sense he would've had some decency to warn us about what he believes will happen to us after we die. Now he's just trolling, not caring about anything at all…not even his own beliefs…I hope there wasn't an actual virus sent along with it. It would fit that he only spreads fear and doesn't back up his terror. Too much of a coward, I suppose, to even invest in anything.

  7. 7
    Paul Medeiros

    These debates often remind me of scenes from Lewis Carrol's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." Usually, the chapters "A Mad Tea Party" and "Humpty Dumpty" The apologists and their arguments are so bizarre that I fear I have fallen down the rabbit hole.In this case:…`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked. `There isn't any,' said the March Hare. …But soon my fear subsides. I remember they are only childrens' stories.

  8. 8
    Kazim

    Since several people asked: There were no attachments at all on either message.

  9. 9
    trj

    It appears he even typed an unintentional "1" after all the exclamation marks.I thought that was reserved for ironic in-jokes about deranged internet idiots, but this guy actually manages to make that ironic stereotype real.

  10. 10
    magx01

    "by the way my email contained a virus"The only thing he was right about, although he didn't, and won't, realize why. Since several people asked: There were no attachments at all on either message.Can't an email contain a virus even without attachments? A script that runs when you open it, or something? I dunno, I'm not a computer expert, I'm a sleep tech :)

  11. 11
    articulett

    *tee-hee*I do so love this time of year when theists barge into skeptic sites to spread their Jesus virus. I think their minds go a little crazy when they understand that the atheists finds their beliefs as ridiculous as they, themselves, find all those other myths and superstitions– and for the same reasons! They are so aggrieved that we don't find them as moral and clever as they imagine themselves to be– they just HAVE to express the outrage… and boy are they buffoonishly hilarious when they do!I suspect these seasonal bleatings are a way for believers with shaky beliefs to shore up the notion that their "woo" is true" (What else can they do when there is no evidence to do the job for them, eh?) In any case, these predictable rants are always a fun thing for atheists to bond over–and the "virus threat" in this screed was even more hilarious than the usual hell threat. I think these notes (and the responses) serve a vital function in inoculating others against the embarrassing mind-virus of faith. This is my favorite time of year. Rationalism welcomes all those leaving their magical beliefs behind, and I suspect the publishing of letters like these plays a major role in young people leaving faith in droves.Keep spreading the joy!

  12. 12
    Me

    I'm still trying to work out who the fuck einstien is… :P

  13. 13
    M

    This just looks like a kid with too much free time on hands. Thus, they feel elevated when someone actually considers what they say.

  14. 14
    Hortan

    Who actually laughs in written form?I think you got to him with your response and the reply you got is a panicked way for him to obfuscate this.

  15. 15
    MAtheist

    Who would write an email like that and then not expect a reply?His response shows how closed minded he is about thinking he may be wrong. How could spreading truth, sharing opinions, and correcting errors ever been seen as a waste of time?(damn, I got a virus from reading his reply)

  16. 16
    boman_93

    As far as I know big bang cosmology has been calculated to have accoured around 13.7 billion years ago. Not 14.5 as i see it in this blogpost. Just thought i'd throw that out there

  17. 17
    optifaster

    @magx01 – technically, yes. Since emails can and usually are sent in HTML form a virus could try embedding an image or activating a hyperlink.Of course any email client made in the last 5 or so years wouldn't allow anything automated to run, you'd simply get a warning saying there are active components in the email (this is just from the email program, no anti-virus software required).

  18. 18
    Blake

    @boman_93 – The correction, or miscorrection, is irrelevant and you both are statistically correct as the standard deviation puts the estimated time period between 11 billion and 15 billion years ago.For the post, I like how it is Kazim's waste of time for replying and not the emailer's waste of time for the email, especially since the claims are irrefutable.

  19. 19
    Justin B.

    Jesus Christ, that's some powerful stupid.

  20. 20
    trj

    @Blake:No, the WMAP probe combined with other recent observations has given us a rather precise estimate of the age of the universe. It is estimated at 13.75 billion years +/- 170 mio years. Quite a small deviation.

  21. 21
    Blake

    @trjThanks for the info. I now realize that my nuclear professor's claim is a little out of date as well as I should have been a little more skeptical of it in the first place.

  22. 22
    Afterthought_btw

    The bright side of the reply is that he/she clearly knows that they don't have a leg to stand upon. Although their defensive reply was to immediately withdraw from the conversation, it may be that the fact that the claims were so effortlessly rebutted might cause them to take pause about their current position.Or else I'm being too optimistic.

  23. 23
    Jackson

    @trj and @BlakeSee, this is how conversations should work.

  24. 24
    Sungyak

    hey kazim, thanks for the post. the guy is definitely a nut. but i wanna invite you guys to check out my responses to some of the things kazim said. http://theisticexperience.blogspot.com

  25. 25
    MAtheist

    Hey Sungyak, thanks for the invite. I read your responses and found them full of misconceptions, assumptions, and flawed assertions. Wow.

  26. 26
    TroopDawg

    Fuckin' Viruses. How do they work?

  27. 27
    Jennifer Juniper

    @Hortan: I do! I frakkin' HATE "lol" especially b/c one is rarely actually doing it. I believe "haha" adequately represented laughter long before "lol" and so I stick with it. ;-) (Or maybe you would prefer "That's funny. I am laughing.") ;-)Though…my goodness…if he really was laughing THAT much, maybe he WAS laughing out loud… :-P

  28. 28
    Kazim

    A few responses to Sungyak's post.I find Kazim's inferences from the Big Bang Theory (BBT) agreeable here. The pre-Big Bang phase is a realm of existence that cannot be examined by our laws of physics. It was a state where neither space nor time nor matter existed.I said none of that, but I'll defer to Jemmer's comment, since he summed it up nicely. It would be foolish to pretend we know the answers to what anything was like "before" the big bang because we don't currently have the tools to investigate it. If that should change, it won't be beyond the reach of science. It's like trying to detect stars before there were any telescopes.It is true that the BBT does not assert that everything came "from nothing". But it's also true that from an atheistic vantage point that must be the logical assumption given (not because of) the BBT.Why? It sounds as if you're assuming that if it's "something" then it must be something like god, and I don't see why you would conclude that other than wishful thinking.Kazim seems to think this is not necessarily the case. His reasoning is that the universe could've always existed, generated out of meta-universe, spontaneously came into existence through matter/antimatter reactions. His conclusion is, "we don't know." Assuming Kazim is an agnostic then (which is interesting given he is blogging on the 'Atheist Experience'), does he have sufficient grounds to claim his list of alternatives? I think not.As it happens, I am an agnostic atheist. You shouldn't act so surprised, since that is an entirely uncontroversial position among atheists. Have a look at http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheist_vs._agnostic.And while Jemmer is right that the alternatives I suggested are all under serious consideration by physicists… I don't see why you are concerned with having "sufficient grounds to claim" ANY list of alternatives. After all, your point of view is that a god created everything — a claim which generally has NO grounds of any kind, other than "I can't think of any other explanation." If your belief is that you can conclude the existence god by process of elimination, then you have to make sure that you have conclusively eliminated ALL forms of wild speculation that have no more support than god. Otherwise, the argument doesn't work.(continued next comment…)

  29. 29
    Kazim

    Firstly, the idea that the universe always existed is flat out unscientific.According to whom? Since you just agreed that there's not currently a way to determine what happened "before" the big bang, you can't just contradict this and say you know there was nothing universe-like at that point. I find this to be a common apologetic tactic of trying to shut down certain lines of inquiry by asserting them to be wrong without backing that up.Secondly, if our physical laws are inapplicable to the pre-Big Bang state of existence (as Kazim has initially asserted), then what gives him the reason to believe that we can somehow use these laws and observe a meta-universe, or matters colliding? Is it not more reasonable to assume that what precedes what we know to be physical, temporal, and spacial is something nonphysical, nontemporal, and nonspacial? 'But these aren't things science can test!' one naturalist might object. But that is the precise implication of that which precedes, or goes beyond the origins of nature, which is something we have additional grounds for inference given the BBT.What it comes down to, Sungyak, is that you want to grant yourself license to simply make stuff up and assert it as fact — as the ONLY possible explanation for anything, and you would like to be exempt from any of the rules of evidence or support that you yourself are demanding.But while you are saying "I know that the universe works this way, it has to, I can't think of anything else," I am doing nothing of the kind. When you say "There are no alternatives," I'm simply proposing alternatives. If you want to play in the realm of evidence and experiment, then feel free to put your god in the same realm and we'll see how that turns out.Although it is true that the BBT is neutral on the theist/atheist debate, the theist alone, however, finds the BBT to be a comfortable philosophical premise to support a philosophical argument for the existence of a supernatural origin of the universe. And, though the chances were 50/50, Genesis had it right: "In the beginning, God…"Precisely what I'm talking about. You think all you have to do is say "Genesis had it right" and you are beyond question. That is dishonest.

  30. 30
    Kazim

    I wrote: "It's like trying to detect stars before there were any telescopes."I of course meant, "…trying to detect celestial bodies that are too distant to see with the naked eye, before there were telescopes."

  31. 31
    Sungyak

    hey kazim. thanks for the reply. my response was too lengthy, i posted on it on my blog. check it out when you have time. cheers.

  32. 32
    Sungyak

    i looked at the link you posted kazim. but… really? i give you the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy and you give me some atheist website? there's gotta be more respect for scholarship than that in the atheist community right? cheers.

  33. 33
    Kazim

    I'm not spanning this conversation across two websites. Please post your reply here if you want to keep this up.

  34. 34
    Matti

    I looked up Sungyak's website and now wish I didn't. He apparently think he's struck gold by claiming that contemporary cosmology claims that the "cause of the universe" (a concept that Stephen Hawking might have some objections to…) must be "nonspacial, nonmaterial, and nontemporal" (sic) and then proceeding to give spurious definitions to fit his vacuous argument while accusing Kazim of being illogical and unscientific. *yawn*But if you want to a quick summary of Sungyak's superior skills in logic and argumentation, this is pretty much all you need to know:And, though the chances were 50/50, Genesis had it right: "In the beginning, God…"…50/50? Really? Did you learn your probability maths from your hallowed Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as well?

  35. 35
    Matti

    Congratulations to AE btw for apparently gaining their first proper "flea" as Dawkins would put it.

  36. 36
    Sungyak

    Hey Kazim, I've pasted the response from my blog below. Hey Kazim, thanks for your reply.I think the overall theme of your response is that I'm arguing for some kind of God of the gaps."It sounds as if you're assuming that if it's 'something' then it must be something like god, and I don't see why you would conclude that other than wishful thinking."But while you are saying 'I know that the universe works this way, it has to, I can't think of anything else,' I am doing nothing of the kind. When you say 'There are no alternatives,' I'm simply proposing alternatives."- KazimI must ask – though the question is silly – did I say any of this? Did you really take my response to mean since I can't think of anything else, therefore, the origin of the universe must be this way? I'm afraid you missed my point badly. But, alas, I’ve been called out for doing the same. So let’s talk this out.From your responses I can't help but think you're pulling out old talking points of the popular atheists who are outside of the mainstream philosophical/scientific circles. But I assure you I read of them and you don't have to restate these nauseating talking points. I'm not positing God in light of gaps, I'm positing God in light of facts. It’s not an argument out of ignorance, but out of reverence for scientific investigation and what it actually found. The finding gives the theist a strong premise to ground a philosophical argument (not a conclusion).The claim I made (again) was that if something is truly beyond time, space and matter (which is what contemporary cosmology leads us to believe), the cause of the universe (whatever it is) must be nonspacial, nonmaterial, and nontemporal. That is a given fact. You can dispute the fact, but to say I’m ignoring facts is nothing but a statement of ignorance. Now, your alternatives (meta-universe, matter/antimatter) assume all of these (time, space, and matter) to have existed prior to the Big Bang, contrary to what mainstream science posits. But that’s not only unscientific, but it’s also illogical. It’s like saying triangles can exist without sides and angles. If X is beyond nature, then X is not nature. Your alternatives, in other words, contain a self-contradiction. This is not a fill-in-the-gap argument Kazim; it's a logical refutation of your alternatives. You have to consider seriously whether your alternatives are logically/scientifically defensible before you run to a bestselling author for talking points to throw at someone who's trying to have a reasonable discussion with you."If you want to play in the realm of evidence and experiment, then feel free to put your god in the same realm and we'll see how that turns out." – KazimThis is textbook case of philosophy 101 question-begging. You want to test a being that is by definition a nonphysical, nonspacial, nontemporal being in a lab that is physical, spacial and temporal? Is this your suggestion? Much like your alternatives to the supernatural origin of the universe, you’re assuming nature is all there is even prior to nature itself. This goes beyond the ‘I gave birth to my mother’ fallacy. It’s more like saying you gave birth to all humanity when you are a part of humanity. This type of self-contradicting question-begging not only silences discussions, it also silences the sciences. If science and logic suggest to us that nature had a finite beginning, you must, compelled by facts (not gaps), posit an origin of nature that transcends all that is natural. To say that the cause of the universe is supernatural, therefore, is a most logical conclusion from the given scientific premise. This is a logically sound argument for theism.Now before you flip open The God Delusion, what do you have to say about my actual responses to your alternatives or this argument for theism?Sungyak

  37. 37
    Sungyak

    I attached a link to Hawking's lecture in the original post. Here's the link: http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php/lectures/publiclectures/62

  38. 38
    Kazim

    Sungyak,Thanks. Hate to be a stickler for this sort of thing, but I don't want to have a conversation that spawns a whole new thread every time somebody responds. It can work in small doses, but in a prolonged discussion it can become a nightmare to hunt through responses.Your comment did not show up, but I see from my moderator list that you tried to repost it, so I'll respond to it this time. Before I go through your points though, I'd like to offer a few blog discussion tips to make it easier for you.First, consider writing your replies in a text editor. That way if they get too long, you can break them up into individual comments.Second, if you absolutely must link something in your comments, try using html tags, like this:This is a link to Google.That makes it MUCH easier for the reader to follow your link. Otherwise, you force everyone to highlight, copy, and paste your URL, and that makes it very inconvenient, and greatly reduces the chance that anyone will bother.

  39. 39
    Kazim

    Sungyak on agnostic atheism:i looked at the link you posted kazim. but… really? i give you the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy and you give me some atheist website? there's gotta be more respect for scholarship than that in the atheist community right? Here, again, is a perfect illustration of why I won't discuss things with you on multiple threads.You did *not* give me a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. You created a new post in which you replied to me, somebody else replied to you, and then you attempted to back your position to him by making an argument from authority. I had to hunt through three threads just to see what you were talking about.So you want me to accept the idea that because the Stanford Encyclopedia asserts that atheism is "the denial of the existence of God," I may not refer to myself as an atheist if I do not completely negate and rule out the existence of God. I say bollocks. If you want alternative definitions, here are some:* The Encyclopedia Britannica says that atheism is "the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings." It goes on to say that "Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God."* Religioustolerance.org notes that an atheist is, first and foremost, "A person who is without a belief in any deity."* Atheist.about.com, while not particularly authoritative either way, nevertheless cites the meaning I used which is most common among self identified atheists: "The broader, and more common, understanding of atheism among atheists is quite simply 'not believing in any gods.' No claims or denials are made — an atheist is just a person who does not happen to be a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called 'weak' or 'implicit' atheism. Most good, complete dictionaries readily support this."* Michael Martin, who wrote a fairly definitive philosophical case for atheism, spoke frequently in terms of "positive" and "negative" atheists, with a negative atheist being the type we are discussing. He wrote: "Clearly, positive atheism is a special case of negative atheism: Someone who is a positive atheist is by necessity a negative atheist, but not conversely."I hope I've made my point, but just in case I haven't, permit me to further point out that it ultimately doesn't matter what words we use for things. I'm asserting now that I define my atheism as a rejection of the arguments for belief in God, not as a definitive assertion that no God can exist. If you insist on sticking to SEP or whatever source you think makes your case, then fine: You don't have to call me an atheist. Find a different word if that makes you more comfortable. I've told you what my position is, and I don't much care what word you like to describe it. You can call me "unbeliever," "infidel," or "heretic," if you prefer.As for me, I'm fine with using the term "atheist" in a sense that is accepted by most self-described atheists today. Hope I've made all that clear.

  40. 40
    Kazim

    Sungyak quotes Stephen Hawking to justify his claim that the universe must have had a beginning, and that it cannot be one of the alternatives that I brought up from mainstream cosmology. Actually, the Stephen Hawking lectures precisely echoes what I said."Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them."So let me ask you, did you think that Stephen Hawking rules out a multiverse? That would probably be news to him when he's here in this video explaining it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFUgMXVj0jsAlso, I hope you're not looking to Stephen Hawking to support the idea that a god exists, as he himself denies the need for such an explanation. Maybe you should take Stephen Hawking to task for being unscientific when he says things like this:"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. …It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

  41. 41
    JT

    I couldn't help but notice that my long-winded replies on his blog disappeared. I think blogspot gobbled them up.I think blogspot will remove posts in post diction that are too long, even if they were initially successfully posted.

  42. 42
    Martin

    Matti: Sungyak is far from our first flea.

  43. 43
    Kazim

    This is my last comment to Sungyak for now.Me: If you want to play in the realm of evidence and experiment, then feel free to put your god in the same realm and we'll see how that turns out.Sungyak: This is textbook case of philosophy 101 question-begging. You want to test a being that is by definition a nonphysical, nonspacial, nontemporal being in a lab that is physical, spacial and temporal? Is this your suggestion?Look, Sungyak, it's not my fault that you've chosen to tie your position to something that cannot be proven, demonstrated, tested, analyzed, or investigated. As I hope I've already gotten across, I would never say that your idea *cannot be true* because of this, but I think you've really painted yourself into an epistemological corner with this belief. As long as you claim that this god of your has some kind of physical manifestation, or can be shown to exist through science, I'm going to want to ask what your test is. And if you continue to insist that there is no test that can confirm or disconfirm the existence of the god, then I would like to know what it is that made you so sure that it is real, and not just something you believe because it makes you feel good.

  44. 44
    Martin

    I've sat in the sidelines enjoying the discussion with Sungyak so far. But now that he's demonstrating what I consider to be the epitome of religious faux-intellectualism, I feel I should chime in with a simple question.It has long been my position that Christianity (and other theistic religions, but will leave it with the Abrahamic for the sake of this conversation) fails to provide its believers with the epistemological tools to distinguish their beliefs from reality. Sungyak is demonstrating the problem that arises when one's thinking has been confused in this way: he wants to assert the existence of a being he himself describes as "nonphysical, nonspacial, [and] nontemporal," and immediately throws a snit when asked for evidence of its existence.This is not a trivial matter though, and for all that believers like Sungyak enjoy girding themselves in philosophical bafflegab as if it were armor against rational inquiry, the central question remains, and I put it to Sungyak now:What is the difference between a being that is "nonphysical, nonspacial, [and] nontemporal," and one that simply does not exist, and how do you propose to demonstrate that such a being is actually real and not merely something you are imagining?

  45. 45
    Sungyak

    Hey Kazim, Thanks for the good tips. My experience with blogs has never really been for the public, hence the inconsiderate formats I’ve employed. I will heed your advice about the links. Since I can’t keep track of all the comments made to me (and my post doesn’t seem to appear here at all), I’d like to continue our discussion here while I also repost my response to you on my blog for others to comment on.Cheers.

  46. 46
    Sungyak

    There are a lot of different questions raised. One I’d like to address first is ‘How does a theist know that something empirically unverifiable exists?’, putting aside the cosmological argument for a later time.You stated:"As long as you claim that this god of your has some kind of physical manifestation, or can be shown to exist through science, I'm going to want to ask what your test is. And if you continue to insist that there is no test that can confirm or disconfirm the existence of the god, then I would like to know what it is that made you so sure that it is real, and not just something you believe because it makes you feel good."Essentially Martin raises the same concern in his question:"What is the difference between a being that is 'nonphysical, nonspacial, [and] nontemporal,' and one that simply does not exist, and how do you propose to demonstrate that such a being is actually real and not merely something you are imagining?"I must say, Martin (and Kazim), this was somewhat anti-climactic. These are profoundly easy questions to answer. Here’s a list of things scientists (and everyone else) can believe in rationally apart from any scientific means of testing, falsifying, or repeating in a lab:The Law of Non-contradiction (and other laws of logic that permits our discussion), abstract numbers, the human mind, the conscience, free will, unconditional love, beauty, meaning, and the list goes on.The Law of Non-contradiction, for example, is neither physical, spacial, nor temporal. Its existence is abstract, untestable and unfalsifiable. Its existence and its validity are, however, self-evident. My a priori belief in God is not too different from my belief in the real, intangible, invisible, unchanging, doesn’t-necessarily-make-me-feel-good existence of the Law of Non-contradiction.However, according to your standards of naturalistic materialism (and a verification method philosophers call Positivism), the Law of Non-contradiction cannot and does not exist, along with the rest of the thousand awesome things on the list (okay, not a thousand), and one would be irrational to believe in any of these things.Kazim, I think you mentioned something about me being in an epistemological corner. You are closer to an epistemological suicide on this one my friend.Positivism and Scientism have been buried as a self-refuting philosophy decades ago (along with the school of Bertrand Russell). Folks have dug up old tenets of dead philosophies and wrote best-selling books with them. But that doesn’t mean we can't smell the rotten scent.You asked me what my 'test' was. The ‘test’ I’m proposing Kazim is a philosophical one (there is also the theological, which I have not presented). This test does not require a lab or a degree in biology. You need only to be human with all that she/he is meant to be. And you certainly don't have to commit epistemological suicide.On that note,Cheers.PS – Oh, I was just curious, what's wrong with calling yourself an agnostic if you're genuinely open to being convinced?

  47. 47
    Martin

    So what you're saying, Sungyak, when one cuts through all the masturbatory self-flattery, is that your God is simply an abstract concept?The Law of Non-Contradiction — something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context — is a concept that describes a condition of nature, and what it describes is easy to verify through purely empirical means.What you have singly failed to do is explain how your God is in any way comparable to this. Instead, what you said was "My a priori belief in God is not too different from my belief in the real, intangible, invisible, unchanging, doesn’t-necessarily-make-me-feel-good existence of the Law of Non-contradiction." But you're not addressing the question here, you're dodging it. We didn't ask you to explain how your "a priori* belief" in God is similar to your "a priori belief" in some other concept. We asked you how you would propose to demonstrate that your God is real and not something you are simply imagining. Some abstract concepts describe things that exist in reality, others do not. Which of those does the abstract concept "God" describe?I believe I can say with some confidence that the God Christians believe in is not, to them, some vague, indefinable, unobservable concept. Christians very much believe that their God is a real being, with real powers, intentions and emotions, who thinks and acts with real consequences for real lives on good old materialist Earth. I know that philosophically inclined believers like yourself love to swathe God in conceptual wrapping to shield him from the demands of atheists who just can't let go of such tiresome requirements as "evidence." But be aware that if you go this route with God, you're divorcing your God and yourself from the vast majority of what actual worshipers believe in.You aren't quite ready for the victory lap yet, dude. You're good at boasting, but don't seem to be aware that boasts carry a lot more weight when they're backed up first. Without that, stuff like this — "This test does not require a lab or a degree in biology. You need only to be human with all that she/he is meant to be. And you certainly don't have to commit epistemological suicide" — sounds like empty noise.————PS Is there some philosophy student's law that says they have to drop the term "a priori" into conversations no less than twice?

  48. 48
    Sungyak

    Martin, I'm afraid you don't understand the meaning of the term 'self-evident'. (I hope Kazim will not likewise miss the actual thesis of what I'm presenting, or get lost in ad hominem rants.) With that said, I'm afraid what you say here is untenable: "The Law of Non-Contradiction — something cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context — is a concept that describes a condition of nature, and what it describes is easy to verify through purely empirical means."What condition of nature must the LNC describe to prove its existence? It is a self-evident principle that stands on its own without the need of any physical descriptor or description. Here's a proof. P: The existence of LNC either depends on its ability to give a physical description of nature or it does not. If you look carefully, within P the LNC is already assumed to be true without having to prove that P is true. The LNC therefore doesn't need a physical referent to be sustained. Such is my belief in God – his existence is self-evident to me. He is, as he revealed himself to us, the great 'I AM'. I hope you revise your understanding of self-evident truths before jumping false conclusions about what makes self-evident truths true. To address your final concern, I don't think abstract entities are less meaningful than physical ones, which is why I am not a materialist. I find more meaning in the search of eternal truths than the ephemeral physical conditions of this world. My God is too big to be confined in this universe and its laws. So when I compare my belief in abstract laws of logic to my belief in God, please understand I am stating a sincere statement of faith. Cheers.

  49. 49
    Matti

    Oh bad God, is Vox Day training acolytes now?

  50. 50
    Matti

    Still, while I wouldn't exactly call it original, I must admit I haven't heard this "my God is self-evident, so I need to present no further evidence nor argument, nyah nyah"-spiel before. It kinda brings to mind a slightly retarded sibling of the Ontological Argument, the one that never gets any mention.

  51. 51
    Jemmer

    I will just chime in to say that Sungyak's last paragraph above is possibly the most honest and profound thing he's said since his initial response to Kazim (on his own blog). That being said, it doesn't do anything for his argument.P.S. He reminds me alot of Dinesh D'Souza. Must have gone to the same school.

  52. 52
    Neato Spiderplant

    PS – Oh, I was just curious, what's wrong with calling yourself an agnostic if you're genuinely open to being convinced? Obviously I can't speak for Kazim, but I will tell you why I refer to myself as an atheist rather than agnostic. Personally, I find the term 'agnostic' on its own to be rather useless since it can be used to describe anyone on the spectrum who is 99% certain that there is no God, 99% certain that there is and everyone in between. That covers a lot of people. Being a theist doesn't automatically mean believing in God with 100% certainty.I myself am fairly convinced there is no God, but I don't claim to know this for a fact. So although it is fair for me to say I'm agnostic, all that would really tell anyone is that I'm not 100% certain of a God, nor am I 100% certain a God doesn't exist. I think identifying as an atheist is less confusing and far more descriptive since it eliminates the theistic side of the spectrum. It would be accurate for me to identify myself as an agnostic atheist, but I usually find in most situations 'atheist' will usually sufice. I guess I find refering to myself as an agnostic atheist to be as excessive as I would have seen it to refer to myself as a 'Roman Catholic Christian theist' when I was one of those. I realize that not everyone uses these labels the very same way I do and that they may require clarification from time to time, but I'm not going to identify by 'agnostic' or any other label just because it makes someone else feel more comfortable.

  53. 53
    John K.

    The Law of Non Contradiction is only a concept. It has some useful applications for understanding physical things, but it exists only as an idea in people's minds. Furthermore, it usefulness can only be determined by applying it to physical observations and seeing if its predictions match observation.If you are at the point where you are comparing your god to a concept that has no physical manifestation, you are very close to the atheist position. All that remains is to admit that the god concept in no way lines up with physical observation, and is at best useless.Now that the goalpost has been moved past the physical, spacial, and temporal, I think it may well be safe to claim victory.

  54. 54
    Kazim

    I must say, Martin (and Kazim), this was somewhat anti-climactic. These are profoundly easy questions to answer.Helpful hint, Sungyak: If you want to convey the impression that you are a ninjitsu master, easily and casually flicking aside all income attacks, it is not enough to simply act snotty and condescending. You have to actual meet the blows.Here’s a list of things scientists (and everyone else) can believe in rationally apart from any scientific means of testing, falsifying, or repeating in a lab:The Law of Non-contradiction (and other laws of logic that permits our discussion), abstract numbers, the human mind, the conscience, free will, unconditional love, beauty, meaning, and the list goes on.As Martin indicated, I am fine with treating God as an abstract idea rather than an object that has existential presence or physical properties. If your God is simply a notion, or another name for a mathematical property, and not something which actually DOES things like, for example, creating universes and answering prayers, then go ahead; believe away. I don't see what it really buys you, but whatever floats your boat.Positivism and Scientism have been buried as a self-refuting philosophy decades ago (along with the school of Bertrand Russell). Folks have dug up old tenets of dead philosophies and wrote best-selling books with them. But that doesn’t mean we can't smell the rotten scent.This seems to be a favorite technique of yours when you butt up against a specific argument that you won't actually respond to: slap a label on it and then dismiss it with ridicule. It's certainly easier than addressing the arguments.PS – Oh, I was just curious, what's wrong with calling yourself an agnostic if you're genuinely open to being convinced?I did call myself an agnostic. I said: "I am an agnostic atheist."

  55. 55
    Kazim

    By the way, while I'm the subject: You know what else is also dismissed and buried by a great majority of philosophers and scientists? Theism.

  56. 56
    Sungyak

    "If your God is simply a notion, or another name for a mathematical property, and not something which actually DOES things like, for example, creating universes and answering prayers, then go ahead; believe away." – Kazim@KazimSo, does this mean you've actually witnessed some physical matter creating universes and answering prayers? What makes you so sure nonphysical entities have no such power? Is this not a question-begging assumption? @John. KWhat you're saying of the LNC is like saying 2+2 wasn't 4 until human minds conceived that it's 4. I don't know John. I think two dinosaurs plus two dinosaurs still would've been four even if no human minds existed. Or, the dinosaurs were either dinosaurs or not dinosaurs, which proves the LNC in operation prior to mankind's existence. Cheers.

  57. 57
    Sungyak

    @kait82Thanks for the explanation. I think I understand where you're coming from, as my number was never 100% either. I still think it's something rather difficult to put a number on, both for the theist and the atheist. Cheers.

  58. 58
    farmboy

    I'd be very impressed to learn dinosaurs knew basic maths or that minds exist without brains, abstract concepts without thoughts to think them. It comes down to labelling things and I think the label 'God' is very much misapplied here.It's funny how these sorts of theists, or should I say Deists, always have to dismiss "Scientism" to get away with their Gods. They know they have no evidence so they'll just claim they don't have to obey the rules. It's like if someone wiped away all the pieces on a chessboard and than claim victory:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdhhWlwqDfEAll the things Sungyak mentions as LNC are internal, not external, concepts made up by human minds, evident to the human mind, but not evidence of an external force.Explaining the LNC does not prove God's existence. Just because an LNC exists doesn't mean God is one and/or exists.And if he was, than like Kazim said, "I don't know what you buy from this." I think Kazim said it best several posts ago:"And if you continue to insist that there is no test that can confirm or disconfirm the existence of the god, *then I would like to know what it is that made you so sure that it is real, and not just something you believe because it makes you feel good*."Sunyak, There is a reason why you think it is *evident*. What is it? And why do you call the being you 'sense' (or imagine) God? And if you don't like scientific positivism, how 'bout some scientific negativism:I don't feel God, therefore he does not exist.You must have some reason why you believe your version of God exists, Sungyak, and by admitting you do you admit that by 'providing' you with a justification to believe he has given you something within our testable realm, because maybe God is not spacial, physical and temporal, you are.

  59. 59
    John K.

    I would never claim that the existence of things requires human minds to conceive of them. There is a lot of "stuff" out there that anyone can observe, and it is not dependent on what the observer wants, thinks, or believes.To use you math example, back when there were dinosaurs nobody was grouping and adding them up. The number 4 was a concept that did not exist yet. Now that the number 4 has been conceived and mathematics has been rigorously and carefully expanded, the concept is good enough that it can be applied to situations before the concept existed. 2 + 2 = 4 is a concept that is useful and can predict phenomena when properly applied, and based on observation we can make a claim as to its truth.The concept of something is not the same as on observation of something. The concept of a Leprechaun most definitely exists (in as much as any concept can exist), whereas the observation of one does not. Someone would have to be amazingly obtuse to claim there is no such thing as a concept of god. Once again, I claim only that this concept has nothing to predict about reality.

  60. 60
    JT

    I'd point out that 'evident' things are, by definition, accompanied by evidence… not the lack thereof.It's an annoying conversation, like Dembski looking at things, insisting that he's "seeing" design, when the rest of us look at the same things and see a lack of design. It's a perception thing, and unless it can be brought out into the objective world, we're blowing a bunch of hot air.

  61. 61
    MAtheist

    @Sungyak In your response to John K., you said "the dinosaurs were either dinosaurs or not dinosaurs, which proves the LNC in operation prior to mankind's existence." Are you serious? A law such as the LNC is a tool that we use with logic. You seem to be implying that the LNC exists in absence of a mind, and was out and about on its own performing actions. The concept that the LNC points to is part of the nature of reality, it has always existed and will continue to do so, but the LNC itself does not exist without a mind.On another note, since you still conflate atheism and agnosticism, I am an atheist because I do not believe in any gods. I am an agnostic because I am not claiming that I know gods do not exist.

  62. 62
    Sungyak

    Michael, If the LNC is “made up by the human mind”, as you say, then aren’t you forced to say that real numbers are as well? You are implying that the physical laws that govern the universe did not exist until human minds conceived of them and scribbled its equations on the board. But that is absurd isnt it? It holds us together even as we try to conceive of it! If an alien species were to land on planet earth before the first homosapien appeared the LNC would have been in operation then would it not? How can it be that for the alien species it becomes possible to defy the LNC (which doesn’t exist) and perceive a triangle that has three sides and no sides at the same time? This can’t be. Doesn’t this mean then that the LNC has been in its governance independent of the human mind? In fact, the LNC, like the laws that govern the rest of the universe, was there from the beginning. It doesn't need us. We need it. Again, consider the statement 'the LNC either exists independently of evidence or it does not'. But if you look carefully at the statement, the LNC is assumed to be true even in that very question. This is not to say that the LNC is not demonstrable by evidence; it is to say that the LNC need not be demonstrated for it is evidence for itself. You affirm it in your attempt to question it. That is what self-evident means JT.

  63. 63
    farmboy

    @SungyakI think Matheist already said it best: "You seem to be implying that the LNC exists in absence of a mind, and was out and about on its own performing actions. The concept that the LNC points to is part of the nature of reality, it has always existed and will continue to do so, but the LNC itself does not exist without a mind."In what way can the concept your human mind labels an LNC, in the absence of a human mind, interact and influence physical, spacial and temporal reality?2+2=4 Now in what way can this information, this abstract concept, influence a being who cannot comprehend it?In what way does this entire LNC argument prove the existence of God? (just because A exists doesn't mean B exists nor that B is A)Why would you call it God if it's indeed an abstract concept interpreted by the mind? And in what way is this 'being' alive and/or in what way could this 'being' interact with the physical, spacial, temporal you?And why do you assume anything you have already experienced to be this thing you label 'God'?"If an alien species were to land on planet earth before the first homosapien appeared the LNC would have been in operation then would it not?"Again, you still need a mind. You even insert alien minds into the equation as if that changes anything. Alien minds, human minds, doesn't change the fact the information needs a mind to be processed by first. And a mind has a physical construction in the brain without which it ceases to function and exist.If no living beings with intelligent minds whatsoever were left alive on the planet A would still be A, however this doesn't mean it's a being on its own that can influence physical reality in any way on its own.Numbers on a chalkboard can't hop from the chalkboard and fly away when our backs are turned. It'll remain there until it fades. 2+2 will always equal 4 but without a human mind it's just chalk. Nothing more.

  64. 64
    John K.

    @SungyakReal numbers, and in fact all of mathematics, are indeed made up by the human mind. Math is a careful construction of many people over a long history to be very internally consistent. The application of math to the observable world is the discipline of physics. The triangle you keep bringing up is only a method of thinking about something, that there are observable things that more or less match the description of a triangle depends mostly on what the idea of a triangle is and how things are observed in comparison.You continue to equate the idea or concept of something with the existence of something. A good law of physics will describe a lot of observable phenomena, but this does not mean the law always existed. The map of a city is not the same thing as the city itself. The way you remember how to get around the city is a concept, and it may or may not line up with the way the city is depending on how recently the map was made. Even if at every turn you make the map leads you around correctly, it does not mean that the map is the same thing as the city.Laws of physics and logic are the same way. They are a good simplification, that when carefully constructed can be very useful for predicting and controlling phenomena. They are not a cause of the phenomena. The city can exist even without any good street map.

  65. 65
    Question Everything

    @SungyakYou seem to be of the mistaken mindset that the laws of physics are prescriptive instead of descriptive. I see this misconception a lot.The LNC is descriptive of an observable physical property of the universe. If all conscious minds ceased to exist tomorrow this observable physical property would still exist, but the concept of the LNC would not. An object is X or not-X not because the LNC tells it that it must be. No, an object is X or not-X, and the LNC describes this phenomenon.The same is true for all the laws of physics. A falling stone does not consult Einsteins law of gravity to figure out how fast it should be accelerating. The law of gravity is descriptive of the forces observed to be acting upon that stone.I hope this helps.

  66. 66
    Matti

    Where's Jeff D when you need him?If I may be excused for my former short-tempered, or even caustic, replies, it is because we've all seen this before. A theist comes in guns-blazing and thinks he's got the catss pajamas and doesn't realize all he's got is a trivially re-hashed version of the same-old, same-old. And even if this seems harsh, consider Sungyak's attempt at appropriating Stephen Hawking at bolstering up theism. If you need more evidence that he is not conversing in good faith consider his (maybe facile?) assertion that Genesis got it right after 50/50 odds.I stand by my earlier Vox Day comparison (although I do merit the Dinesh D'Souza comparison as well). The wisdom of engaging him in a honest discussion is simply beyond me.

  67. 67
    Sungyak

    @Question Everything. Thanks. I appreciate your distinctions between prescriptive and descriptive statements. I don't think I've denied that the LNC is describable, I am just going further into its metaphysics. That is to say, while D can be the description for X, X doesn't depend on D for its existence. Moreover, we need not observe D in a test tube in order to accept X's validity. I would agree that the laws of logic can only operate within the mind, but I think the ontology is not limited to human minds. And here's the area I'm trying to tap into – is it rational to believe that something can exist intangibly and objectively apart from the human mind? If so, then the scientism that is proposed by the naturalistic materialist is not a sound belief system. Cheers.

  68. 68
    farmboy

    Just because something CAN exist doesn't mean it DOES exist.The intangible and the nonexistent look too much alike don't you think, from the perspective of a physical, spacial, temporal being? What kind of way would you suppose we discern the two? (It would still require science!)I'd say no, it's not rational to assume some extraterrestrial non-physical, non-spacial, non-temporal being exists without some kind of evidence for its existence.If this being is able to influence and/or interact with our reality than he can be tested and be proven to exist, however if it can't (or has not interacted/influenced reality) than why call it God? I'm going to refer you for the second time to Kazim's post miles above this one and hope you will answer it this time:"Look, Sungyak, it's not my fault that you've chosen to tie your position to something that cannot be proven, demonstrated, tested, analyzed, or investigated. As I hope I've already gotten across, I would never say that your idea *cannot be true* because of this, but I think you've really painted yourself into an epistemological corner with this belief. As long as you claim that this god of your has some kind of physical manifestation, or can be shown to exist through science, I'm going to want to ask what your test is. And if you continue to insist that there is no test that can confirm or disconfirm the existence of the god, then I would like to know what it is that made you so sure that it is real, and not just something you believe because it makes you feel good."

  69. 69
    John K.

    I suppose we are at the heart of the matter. I would say that it is not rational to believe that something can "exist intangibly".As yet, you have provided no examples of such a thing, except for the god that you presuppose exists. The LNC does not exist in the same way that your computer exists. Existenece requires a physical, observable quality, and cannot as such cannot be intangible. Without such a requrement, any idea that occurs to anybody will not be distigushable from thngs we have not observed yet as 'real'. Cthulhu can be a 'real' being in a different dimension if the requrement for his existance does not have a physical component.Things can most certainly exist "objectively and apart from the human mind", a more powerful telescope could look further out in to space than ever before and observe a planet never before observed. This planet did not suddenly appear once we had the ablity to observe it, but it would be dishonest and incorrect to make a claim about its existance before we had any observation whatsoever.

  70. 70
    Ian

    I wasn't going to jump in on this truly endless debate, but I'm going to now, because of a few points you made.First of all, you claim that "Positivism and Scientism have been buried as a self-refuting philosophy decades ago (along with the school of Bertrand Russell)."Ok, let's assume that for the sake of argument. My own school of philosophy happens to be Pragmatism. This philosophy is far from having been "buried" and "self-refuting." In fact, there are few major contemporary philosophers who are not influenced by Pragmatism in at least some area of their philosophy.So, let's examine God under the lens of Pragmatism (and I'm sure that there are some atheists on this blog who will disagree with my use of this school of philosophy). If you claim that God cannot be measured (and btw, if he interacts with the natural world at all, he can be), then what's the point of him? A God who cannot interact with the natural world is completely useless, and is a proposition that does not work at all, even if true. By the pragmatic criterion of truth and meaning (and I'm using Jurgen Habermas' version which takes public discourse into account), therefore, the proposition that such a God exists is not true, or at least should not be believed.Now, since you appear to be knowledgeable in philosophy, you probably know that Pragmatists tend to hold science in a very high regard; even those who claim that it's merely a vocabulary used by humans to describe the world (e.g. Richard Rorty). Why is this? It's because, in the realm of describing reality (and the proposition that God exists is a claim about reality), science has a hands-down track record of success. If you don't believe that, then I ask you how the computer in front of you was invented? It was invented because the Dirac equation was verified as an accurate (at least for pragmatic purposes) description of how electrons tend to move at high speeds.Of course, Pragmatists tend to hold an instrumental view of science, in which the purpose of science is not necessarily to describe an objective reality, but rather to predict the outcome of experiments. Since predictions have been made by the proposition that a theistic God interacts with the world, and those predictions turned out to be false, by the pragmatic criterion, it is unreasonable to believe that such a God exists.

  71. 71
    Ian

    I wasn't going to jump in on this truly endless debate, but I'm going to now, because of a few points you made.First of all, you claim that "Positivism and Scientism have been buried as a self-refuting philosophy decades ago (along with the school of Bertrand Russell)."Ok, let's assume that for the sake of argument. My own school of philosophy happens to be Pragmatism. This philosophy is far from having been "buried" and "self-refuting." In fact, there are few major contemporary philosophers who are not influenced by Pragmatism in at least some area of their philosophy.So, let's examine God under the lens of Pragmatism (and I'm sure that there are some atheists on this blog who will disagree with my use of this school of philosophy). If you claim that God cannot be measured (and btw, if he interacts with the natural world at all, he can be), then what's the point of him? A God who cannot interact with the natural world is completely useless, and is a proposition that does not work at all, even if true. By the pragmatic criterion of truth and meaning (and I'm using Jurgen Habermas' version which takes public discourse into account), therefore, the proposition that such a God exists is not true, or at least should not be believed.

  72. 72
    Ian

    Now, since you appear to be knowledgeable in philosophy, you probably know that Pragmatists tend to hold science in a very high regard; even those who claim that it's merely a vocabulary used by humans to describe the world (e.g. Richard Rorty). Why is this? It's because, in the realm of describing reality (and the proposition that God exists is a claim about reality), science has a hands-down track record of success. If you don't believe that, then I ask you how the computer in front of you was invented? It was invented because the Dirac equation was verified as an accurate (at least for pragmatic purposes) description of how electrons tend to move at high speeds.Of course, Pragmatists tend to hold an instrumental view of science, in which the purpose of science is not necessarily to describe an objective reality, but rather to predict the outcome of experiments. Since predictions have been made by the proposition that a theistic God interacts with the world, and those predictions turned out to be false, by the pragmatic criterion, it is unreasonable to believe that such a God exists.

  73. 73
    Ian

    Now, with regards to e.g. the Law of Non-Contradiction, you confuse a few things. First of all, the Law of Non-contradiction does not say that something is either A or not-A; that's the Law of the Excluded Middle. The LNC says that the proposition “A and not-A” always returns the value False (that's one way of putting it, at least). Second of all, 2 + 2 = 4, and all other mathematical propositions, is synthetic knowledge, not analytic knowledge. It's still a priori knowledge, but the fact that it's synthetic means that it doesn't follow from the LNC.Finally, you seem to be missing the point (and everybody else seems to be following along, for some reason). The reason you originally brought this up seems to be to demonstrate that we believe things a priori without any evidence (and you also cited, among other things, unconditional love as an example). The reason we believe these things is because we've experienced them, not because we know them a priori (although, we may be hard-wired with this intuition, but the reason that's there is because our ancestors found that these things work for them). We have never experienced something that is both itself and not itself, so we make an inductive inference and say that that applies everywhere, and we label that tendency the LNC. The reason we believe that we love somebody is because we experience a feeling, and that feeling is just something we happen to call “love.” Btw, I don't believe that “unconditional” love actually exists, and nobody has demonstrated that it does. It's likely that for everybody that's in love, there is a situation that could conceivably arise that would make that person not love the other person anymore.You might object that you've experienced God, so you are justified in believing in him just like the LNC and love. If you really have had a personal experience, then it may well be the case that you, personally, are justified in your belief. But, I could not possibly be justified in believing based on what happened to you. As David Hume (I think) said, “Revelation is necessarily first-person.” Until I experience this God, or see some kind of evidence for it, though, I am not justified in believing in it, and I don't see that your belief is justified, either.Best wishes,~Ian

  74. 74
    Lukas

    That is to say, while D can be the description for X, X doesn't depend on D for its existence. Moreover, we need not observe D in a test tube in order to accept X's validity.I wonder if this was a mistake. You've already defined D as a description, i.e. a mental concept. How would you ever expect to find a concept in a test tube?On the other hand, surely we do need to observe a phenomenon before accepting the truth of any description. Otherwise how do we know it's correct?C – a conceptD – an accurate descriptionP – a phenomenonD describes PP exists independently of any C or DC and D are human constructsNo C can be accepted as D of any P without evidenceThe Law of Non-Contradiction is a concept and qualifies as an accurate description of how the universe operates by virtue of evidence, i.e. the fact that it has never been observed to be wrong.Before the existence of human beings, Non-contradiction was still a fact of the universe, but the concept did not exist.God is clearly a concept. The question is whether that concept is a valid description of any actual phenomenon.

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