Why I am an atheist – Anonymous


Why am I an atheist? 2 reasons…I was too logical as a child, and because the church told me I was going to die horribly, my soul was doomed, and there’s nothing I could do about it and my suffering was going to be a gift from god.

Let me explain. I was raised catholic and always hated the church. I had no problem with God at that age, but the church and it’s silly rules seemed to counter every fiber of common sense even unto itself. I saw very early on that every year literally the same gospels were always being said…the story always stopping, and the vast majority of the holy book never being referenced. It didn’t take long for me to see that “Hey, I heard this last year, and the year before…why don’t they change things up and read a different reading?” Then I read the book cover to cover, and understood exactly WHY they were leaving a lot out! So being an innocent child, I asked the priest if he’d be willing to explain at easter during his speech why God made the pharaoh’s heart harden so he’d refuse to release the slaves so he could torture the innocent people more and kill the babies when the pharaoh wanted to let them go several times. It just didn’t seem like a godlike thing to so. I was told “absolutely NOT” and the “wise priest” simply walked away! Seemed a simple question so why the hostility.

That’s when I started listening at church…REALLY listening. I listened how every week we were asked to mindlessly say the creeds (“I believe in God, the father almighty…I believe in Jesus Christ…etc…”), saw how we were all called the lowest of the low and only through belief would be we saved, and noticed it to be exactly like brainwashing techniques we were being taught in school that captured soldiers would be put through in the Korean/Vietnam wars. I questioned why we had to confess sins to a priest when God knows and sees all…seemed pointless to me to tell a HUMAN something when it’s GOD who’s doing the forgiving and odds are he set up the situation in the first place! That was another thing…I saw early on that EVERYTHING good was God, and EVERYTHING bad was Satan, no exceptions. People died, satan did it, one person saved, God did it.

Since I had so many questions and the priests were refusing to answer them, my parents encouraged me to attend an after church program, kind of alike a special school for advanced theology. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the teachers and bishops certainly didn’t enjoy me! I have hundreds of tales, but they all basically followed this template:

(bishop) So it is through Jesus that you will be saved and the Holy spirit is in you.

(me) But what about the Egyptian gods…or the greek gods? Aren’t they just as real?”

(bishop) No, those are myths, but our tales are true. There is only one god.

(me) bit the Bible itself says that God is to be judged AMONG THE GODS, and the first commandment says “have no other gods before me” That’s pretty plain that there are other gods. Didn’t you KNOW that was in there, I read it just the other night!

(bishop) Well…er…ummm…if you read it again and again the spirit will help you INTERPRET the true meaning of the verses, so don’t look at it so literally.

(me) but you said the book was the holy word of god, and now you’re saying not to take it literally? Which is it?

(bishop) clearly Satan is trying to deceive you, you should pray for guidance. Now moving on…it’s through Jesus that you will be saved, so let’s open our books to…

Yup…it was Satan who was making the words say what they did. same every time, I’d have a good point, the bishop would accuse Satan of twisting things and insist he was right, then drop it entirely and just repeat his original point ignoring any further questions from me. I was seeing that the church was clearly full of it, but still had the core beliefs in God. Christians who converted know how hard that last bit is to let go of.

But it became VERY easy when I was told I was hopelessly doomed. You see, due to a childhood accident I have a severe phobia of ashes (long story, not relevant). As you know, a phobia is an irrational fear, beyond all control, and the accident certainly wasn’t my doing. I cannot be near them without panicking, and certainly cannot allow them to touch me at all. . Now for the non-ex-Catholics reading, one of the Easter duties is to receive a spot of ashes on our forehead to symbolize your creation (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”) and it basically renews your pact to not value your body but instead your soul, binding it to God. Obviously THAT wasn’t going to happen, and my parents understood completely why I refused that one, but it bothered me that my soul may be forfeit. So one day I asked the bishop with the priest standing right there beside him what I could do instead. Basically here’s the conversation paraphrased from memory:

(bishop) The easter duties are sacred, you MUST perform them to be saved.

(me) But I can’t…it’s simply impossible. Isn’t faith and actions enough…Father Landrey said last week that…

(bishop) No, by choosing not to receive the ashes your actions show you have no faith. Let God guide your emotions and simply receive the blessing and trust him…

(me) NO! I CAN’T DO THAT!!! Don’t you understand??? I pray, I do good, why would God care about some stupid ritual that HE made impossible for me?

(priest) God wouldn’t afflict you with this, but Satan would. Through God you can beat this though, let your faith guide you to him.

(me) but God did bad things to Job, so why did you assume Satan did it? Besides, again why would God care if I got some stupid ashes smeared on me regardless of how else I act? Are you saying that believing in everything you’re saying and Jesus and God and doing good to others and loving everyone and helping everyone isn’t enough? That God would damn me to Hell just over some stupid ritual that I can’t do because he made it impossible???

(both talking over each other) Yes…God didn’t give you your fear, Satan did…you must follow his runes…have more faith…beat your test…doesn’t matter how good you are the Easter duties must be performed or your soul is doomed…

(me) NOTHING I CAN DO WILL GET ME TO HEAVEN??? GOD wants nothing to do with me if I don’t get the ashes?

(bishop) I’m sorry, but yes, that is true.

(me) Than when you told me he was a just and loving god you were lying, and I don’t like liars!!! He’s just a cruel bully toying with people apparently, Job, Pharaoh, Moses, his own son…ALL of them got their lives destroyed by your God, NOT SATAN!!! GOD!!!

With that I stormed out, told my parents the story, and never looked back to catholic faith. Exploring other faiths I found that these rules didn’t apply, but that was even more revealing. They all believed in God but had different rules for salvation. How did THEY know they were right and the others wrong? What made them different han those who believed in the “false myths” of the Greeks? THEY thought they were right too! So I studied ALL theologies looking for one that actually could back up their words, as clearly I was lied to several times already.

To my surprise (but nobody here’s surprise), NONE of them had evidence! Not one had anything concrete, it was ALL faith!!! But science could explain a lot and more importantly was willing to admit when it couldn’t. THAT was the key to me…the willingness to encourage questions and demand answers…admit when they don’t know something, and then test until they do to discover an answer. The entirety of astronomy was based on not knowing but guessing and testing, and more and more on earth had explanations as soon as you researched it.

I still believe that something may help guide the world and nature, and that something MAY even be a god. It may just as well be an extradimentional entity we ASSUME to be a god, or maybe it’s all some other force or interactions with real physics we simply haven’t discovered or understood yet. The day that a faith can prove their claims I’ll be the first to believe again…until then, they have to prove their claims a lot better than “have faith”. Faith is for defeatists…reason and logic is what the world operates in, and now, so do I.

Anonymous
Canada

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    I still believe that something may help guide the world and nature, and that something MAY even be a god.

    A pretty silly belief.

  2. says

    What a bunch of crap (the church). Thanks for renewing my loathing for religion. Good essay.
    PZ, how about throwing these in a separate section after awhile for easy access?

  3. Rizdek says

    My journey to the bright side is much the same…not from catholicism…but similar. In fact in the church I grew up in, oddly enough, Catholic weren’t considered Christian. One had to be converted FROM Catholicism TO Christianity to be saved. That’s how deluded my indoctrination was in my conservative Protestant denomination. Now I guess that church reluctantly begrudges that some Catholics could actually be Christians. Faith and indoctrination can lead folks to believe odd things.

  4. Hazuki says

    OP, you remind me of myself in CDD a bit. I’d ask a lot of the same questions and get many of the same answers. Boy do they hate that =P

  5. John Morales says

    [meta]

    A3Kr0n, note PZ has tagged these under the category Testimonial, effectively having already done what you suggest.

  6. Infinite123Lifer says

    I am relatively new here but am shocked in reading your last paragraph. I surely will get attacked if I do not word this correctly…oh hell…

    Just curious if you believe in something or that there might be something as in your last paragraph…is that not the definition of an agnostic?

    My terminology is surely not as fierce as it needs to be for a blog such as Pharyngula. I am not aware if it is a big deal to distinguish between atheist or agnostic but personally while the Big Bang & the Big Crunch or the Big Chill are actually ideas that I can imagine/postulate/grasp happening in nature, I find it impossibly difficult to imagine what comes Before the creation/big bang of the Universe. This is a large reason for why I consider myself an agnostic.

    I use the word creation because as far as I know we exist & although iam not a Creationist (whatever that means today, it changes) they don’t have a monopoly on the word creation. And if they do & I could be confused by using that word…so what, I am taking it back. I do believe the Universe was created. By what? Well, how the f would I know? Perhaps it created itself to experience itself. The most likely scenario my little mind entertains the most.

    @John Morales

    A silly belief is any number of religions & or myths based upon human record which contradict themselves. Why is acknowledging the unknown a silly belief? Why is not knowing a silly belief? Doesn’t critical thinking urge one to consider everything & systematically remove pieces which don’t fit interpretation of data. Well in this case what’s the data? What’s the puzzle piece you are removing to make that belief silly? What is the interpretation that you find silly?

    To not consider the possibility I think is silly. To mindlessly say Yes there is a God or No there is nothing are equally silly IMO. Its like the Christian God has been force fed down peoples throats for so long that they immediately have a gag reflex which seemingly leads to the puking up of “any belief being silly”. I do not know if this is the case with you, & probably don’t have the skills to argue about Life, Nature & Everything with you either, but if PZ says, shit, who knows? I don’t think it is silly.

  7. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Nice essay highlighting the dishonest and faulty way many in the clergy think and act.

    I still believe that something may help guide the world and nature, and that something MAY even be a god. It may just as well be an extradimentional entity we ASSUME to be a god, or maybe it’s all some other force or interactions with real physics we simply haven’t discovered or understood yet.

    There seems absolutely no necessity or evidence for any kind of “guidance of nature”, neither in terms of an intelligence nor some “smart force”. This notion is rather far-fetched, and is no more than a remaining item of prejudice you have in you due to the theist environment in which you grew up, combined with the very human tendency to assign agency to inanimate processes.

  8. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Infinite123Lifer

    Why is acknowledging the unknown a silly belief? Why is not knowing a silly belief? Doesn’t critical thinking urge one to consider everything & systematically remove pieces which don’t fit interpretation of data.

    Very good and important observation about the criminal negligence of most atheists when it comes to the thorough consideration of all possibilities. Now start applying this to the existence of invisible pink gnomes named Joe with four toes, then five toes and so on, and then green ones. Once you are done arguing for those, go on with Jack and Marilyn, and so on in this fashion. Once you are done with gnomes, please make sure to not forget to do the same with goblins, unicorns and so on, in order of decreasing gnomeness.

  9. Infinite123Lifer says

    @#8 you said:

    “There seems absolutely no necessity or evidence for any kind of “guidance of nature”, neither in terms of an intelligence nor some “smart force.””

    What is your proof?

    Everything in the Universe or the world as you understand it? Just because you say so? Just because YOU have found nothing?

    What do you consider evidence to the contrary? It seems you too are stuck refuting a Christian like God, for your evidence is based upon what They would expect to find possibly?

    There is no evidence either way that absolutely nothing or something ultimate does or does not exist,is there? Really? With certainty? There is no answer. How can you be so sure? I would argue that the bible is wrong, but I shall not rule out things well outside of my grasp, your grasp, our grasp.

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This is a large reason for why I consider myself an agnostic.

    You sound like an accomodationist. Those folks are considered lower than doggie doo on your shoe here.

    Agnosticism and atheism are closely related, and form a continuum. Most gnu atheists conclude from the lack of evidence for a deity, it doesn’t exist at the moment. Then they throw that conclusion into the null hypothesis, with the conclusion that deities/creators don’t exist. Nothing has been said to this point that deities or a creator can’t exist. But, what the null hypothesis does, is put the burden of proof where it belongs, on those making the claims for their deity/creator. It gets around their presupposition that one exists, and requires evidence. Evidence which they don’t have.

  11. Infinite123Lifer says

    @9

    Everything you mentioned is of human understanding?

    Are you suggesting there is nothing outside the realm of human thought?

    Are you suggesting that you have possibly thought of everything?

  12. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    What is your proof?

    Why am I supposed to prove now that your ill-defined “something ultimate” does not exist. It’s impossible to say anything if you don’t clarify what you even mean by that (do you know?). If by “something ultimate” you mean some law of nature or something, this is such a general and weak statement that it would be almost pointless to argue. However, if you start claiming “guidance of nature”, this is a specific claim of something complex, presupposing intent. Science does not have problems that would require this assumption as a solution, intent seems to be a property of evolved human brains, and there is no evidence for it. In other words, the claim of “guidance of nature” by some agent beyond laws of nature is so strong and specific that it must not be held as true by default unless one wants to open the floodgates of nonsense, ending up knowing nothing at all.

  13. anonymous says

    Apparently my last paragraph really bothers a lot of people.

    Please focus on the “…or it may be an interaction of physics we don’t understand”

    I am not agnostic, I am merely open to the POSSIBILITIY of a god or other guiding force. So far everything leads to pure physics, but let’s be honest…there are some things we can’t explain…YET! (or do you claim to understand how gravity works with 100% certainity, or how some people seem to have mental flashes of the future or “know” when a loved one dies.) This may NOT be psychic but merely some weird tapping into a mental wormhole in time through string theory physics or some other UNKNOWN phenonomin…or a God.

    Please understand the difference. Weird stuff still happens and may be perfectly natural to science someday. But when someone says with 100% certainity it’s a god, THEY have to prove it, or the default position must be “Nope, it’s natural science, we just don’t know how it’s done yet”.

    If a religion can PROVE 100% that a god exists then I will believe it. If a crazy person can prove 100% that a goblin or unicorn exists, then I’d be silly not to believe that as well.

    …but the burden of proof is on THEM…until then I believe that reality is scneice and physics based, and we just don’t understand it all.

    How is that irrational or “silly” a belief?

  14. Marius Rowell says

    @ #10

    What evidence does exist makes it perfectly clear that IF there is any kind of ‘god’ it cannot possibly be the god of the mytholgy of the old testicle (yes, it is a load of balls).

    The babble contains so much proven editting and redacting to suit political goals (particularly of King Josiah) that none of it is worth the paper wasted printing it. Genesis is proven fiction, as is the flood myth, as is the exodus myth, as is the conquest fiction, so where exactly does the one true god get off deliberately lying to his chosen people and still qualify as good or just? About the only accurate historical information in the entire book is the king list, but even that contains additions to make them better or worse according to Josiah’s standards – did they allow worship in high places or only in the Jerusalem temple being the one thing that makes them good or bad.

    Remember next the new tesicles (still balls) where jeebus clerlry states he believes in fictional yhwh and magically performs invisible miracles to crowds so big that they would most definitely would have attracted the immediate attention of the Roman Army, who somehow forgot to mention any such activity despite being antiquity’s finest and most diligent recorders of local events. jeebus was so effective that 99% of the locals – both Jews and Galileans – completely ignored him or just completely missed the magic shows. Impressive, eh?

    You want me to believe in your yhwh and your jeebus – prove they even ever existed first!

  15. skepticallydenpa says

    Just curious if you believe in something or that there might be something as in your last paragraph…is that not the definition of an agnostic

    Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms. It’s rather uncharacteristic of skeptics to jump to any conclusion without proper evidence. To make the gnostic claim towards the untouchable, unobservable, apathetic god would be foolhardy Because he can always be hiding just outside what we are capable of observing. We can’t close our minds to the possibility or else we are no better that those with religion.

    That said I find the idea so implausible that it falls into the same category as the brain in the vat theory or that somewhere in the universe there is a tree that produces Ford Model T’s instead of fruit. Both scenarios are also possible. And both seem about as likely as the existence of a god.

    And as for the Earthly gods(the ones whom we were created in the image of so on and so forth) If they were actually muddling in our day to day lives there should be some evidence of such. The idea always seemed much to provincial, much too human-centric, much too earth-centric to have any real validity. Amongst all of its contradictions(not only with scientific discoveries but in and of itself) and lack of evidence, this is where I and many atheists do state assertively that there is no god. And just like everything else in science this is subject to change if we are provided with proper evidence that suggests otherwise.

  16. Infinite123Lifer says

    Nerd…I will have to study what you have put forth there a bit.

    But once again…what do we consider evidence?
    Evidence of a god of human imagination?
    I don’t know what a fucking accomadationist is and I get the hint. My point is…..

    “What would a gnu atheist consider EVIDENCE OF a deity?”

    I think all too often since there is no evidence of what humans traditionally believe to be a god/deity that that gives way to “there is no evidence”.

    Is Life, Nature & the Universe not to be submitted as evidence. My main point is that when searching for evidence of a creator it is non existent & everywhere at the same time. It perhaps the one question where we really need a definition of evidence & a definition of what is being proved or disproved. Since there is no definition to The Nature of the Universe ie a deity/god, I argue there can be no evidence either way.

    It is simply a mystery.

  17. anonymous says

    infinitelifer123, I almost forgot…

    Agnostics means you believe that there definately IS a god or something out there, but that humans aren’t capible of understanding the grandeur of the gods and it’s pointles to try, so they choose to go with a general “guidance of unknown spirits”

    I on the other hand merely allow for the POSSIBILITY, with the burden of proof being on those who claim to know for sure that gods exists, BUT until that proof comes my way, defaulting to the core belief of science and reason for how things work in the world.

    Therefore, athiest and not agnostic. See the difference?(remember, i researched all beliefs in my early quest for truth)

  18. John Morales says

    Anonymous:

    Apparently my last paragraph really bothers a lot of people.

    It doesn’t bother me; it’s not the intimation of agnosticism that’s problematic, it’s the yearning for a deity it evinces and its incongruity with the preceding claims.

    I am not agnostic, I am merely open to the POSSIBILITIY of a god or other guiding force.

    You’ve clearly stated you are an agnostic atheist, though you deny the label.

    (You’re unaware of the distinction between belief and knowledge?)

    How is that irrational or “silly” a belief?

    You honestly don’t find the conceit that “something may help guide the world and nature”* silly, given what is known via science?

    As well claim that gravity is not a force, but the effects of invisible elves who like to concentrate matter (the ‘clumpy’ elves) — after all, we don’t know everything, so that must be possible, right? :)

    Infinite123Lifer:

    Are you suggesting there is nothing outside the realm of human thought?

    Are you suggesting there is reason to believe in the supernatural? If not, everything outside the realm of human thought is natural, and this perforce excludes deities.

    * Postulating a supernatural entity to guide known natural processes.

  19. says

    You really have a lot of chutzpah. I only asked this kind of question in religion class once as a freshman in high school (in response to Time’s God is Dead cover and article.) and they really got upset. I had to talk to the Principal. Keeping this up on a regular basis must have been quite a scene.

  20. KG says

    or how some people seem to have mental flashes of the future or “know” when a loved one dies. – anonymous

    I know of absolutely no good evidence for either (anecdotes told after the supposedly foreseen or remotely sensed event are not good evidence). Do you have any?

  21. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But once again…what do we consider evidence?

    Solid, conclusive, and physical.

    Evidence of a god of human imagination?

    How can you separate that from delusional thinking? You can’t. Oh, and I do read some fantasy.

    “What would a gnu atheist consider EVIDENCE OF a deity?”

    Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Something equivalent to the eternally burning bush.

    Is Life, Nature & the Universe not to be submitted as evidence.

    Scientifically explained. Think this through. It isn’t hard. The burden of proof requires real, not imagufactured, evidence.

  22. Infinite123Lifer says

    @13

    That is a very good point. I do not argue for guidance of nature persay. This ultimate thing I speak about I give no form nor define nor did I say it exists.

    I say we are unable to determine evidence either way. Which is why holding a belief in something, especially acknowledged as unknown, is not silly. More importantly though, I argue evidence as defined here is not suitable for determining the Ultimate Nature of Everything.

    The Universe is to big to even see across let alone move across…what else don’t you know. You make a very good point, but it is still reciprocal of mine, there is no evidence either way for some ultimate force behind the nature/development of the universe.

    But I think we can both agree religion needs to be knocked the fuck out as evidence of reality. We are not talking about religion though. We are talking about the fact that we exist at all.

    I thought PZ wrote this. It says anonymous but it also says by PZ. Oh well. I wish I could have these conversations face to face. There is a lot to be learned from deep thinkers.

    Iam finished though. I should not start something I cannot finish on a cell phone. Its just cold out & wondering why I am alive here at all. Perhaps physics IS the nature of the Universe. Perhaps physics is only the method for which we have a Universe & there is more.
    I will continue to read but cannot respond, my apologies or should I say your welcome for saving you the trouble ;)

  23. says

    how some people seem to have mental flashes of the future

    as someone who has had those, I can assure you that they’re actually very easily explainable: our memories suck, so the now overlaps with a similar enough memory (of a thought or a dream, for example), and your brain suddenly remembers having seen a particular place or event or scene. and these memories are as real as any other kind, so you are left with the very realistic impression that you foresaw the future.

  24. anonymous says

    John,

    “You honestly don’t find the conceit that “something may help guide the world and nature”* silly, given what is known via science? ”

    Frankly no…I’ve watched with my own eyes people getting a weird feeling, just “knowing” they their grandmother died in the next province, immediately calling their home to ask how “gram” is doing, and being told she passed on a few minutes ago, and they were about to start making phone calls to inform people. I consider standing there watching it happen to be good evidence that weird things happen. Science cannot explain how the event occured yet, so the event appears supernatural. BUT thus said, odds are it WILL explain it someday. Or maybe someone will prove 100% that a god sent the message. Burden of proof is on the god claimer, until then, it’s just a weird event with no explaination.

    “As well claim that gravity is not a force, but the effects of invisible elves who like to concentrate matter (the ‘clumpy’ elves) — after all, we don’t know everything, so that must be possible, right? :)”

    Frankly…absolutely yes! If someone can PROVE 100% that gravity is caused by invisible elves jumping on things to hold them together, no question to their existence, no chance of being wrong on it, and YOU refuse to believe it, then you’re the silly one, rejecting evidence to fit a belief system you’re comfortable with. In other words…being exactly what fundamentalist theists are, right?

    Of course the odds of the elves being responsible are infinitely small and so it’s reasonable to assume natural phenonomin, but so what? That’s what athiesm is…believing in reality as we know it until something comes around to change the belief with PURE EVIDENCE, right?

    Right now, all evidence says there are no gods, elves, or other suprnatural things. So reason says it’s best to not believe in them. But if EVIDENCE is presented and is airtight, testible, and repeatable, then not changing your mind is “just silly.” :)

    but

  25. Infinite123Lifer says

    Oh crap.
    @15.

    I 100% agree with you. One of my questions at 10 was
    “How much effort is being spent to debunk a religous myth/god?” & why if they are clearly known to be proved false?

    My point was that perhaps too much thought is spent refuting a religous god and not refuting the fact that some people out there claim with 100% certainty that there is no proof of ANYTHING. Once again since anything cannot be defined it is basically a pointless discussion, but perhaps a discussion worth having from time to time.. I agree very much with the original author and perhaps iam not agnostic. Everyone has different definitions, I am open to the belief that we don’t know everything, whatever that makes me gnu/agnostic/realistic I don’t know.

    My thumbs are frozen, don’t suppose I could pray & get em warmed up, but I do have thumbs to begin with & I do feel cold so I must be alive. All the evidence I need to understand that I don’t understand everything.

    @15 jus to be clear….its not my jeebus & I don’t care what you believe (to some extent). Iam not a christian or a catholic. My parents are aethiests so chill with the “iam a religous chap in disguise” crap.

    Just because the bible is nicely refuted doesn’t mean an infinite amount of other things are false as well. My main point is that there u go defending the fact that the bible is bullshit…I never said it was not. I said stop looking for a God of human design as evidence and redefine what evidence is & what Ultimateness is. Its a no win battle BUT THE QUESTION REMAINS NOT THE ANSWER as has been proposed.

  26. Beatrice says

    When my grandfather died all the clocks in the house stoped. Well, not all, just the one in the living room (which has a long history of costly, useless repairs), my hand watch (I did have the same battery for 4-5 years) and … Yeah, actually I think that was it. Also, they stopped at the same time. Give or take an hour or two. Also, they stopped just a couple of minutes before we got the call from the hospital…. give half an hour or an hour. But according to my mum, all the clocks stopped the night my grandfather died – in fact, they stopped the exact moment it happened. See where I’m going with this? It only shows the games your memory play, your emotions and personal bias, not anything supernatural.

  27. says

    while the Big Bang & the Big Crunch or the Big Chill are actually ideas that I can imagine/postulate/grasp happening in nature, I find it impossibly difficult to imagine what comes Before the creation/big bang of the Universe. This is a large reason for why I consider myself an agnostic.

    1)”agnostic” and “atheist” are orthogonal to each other, not positions on the same sliding-scale. I, for example, am an agnostic atheist
    2)The Argument from Incredulity is not a valid argument. Reality being coutnerintuitive is a strange basis for a position on the issue of gods.

    Perhaps it created itself to experience itself.

    O.o
    the universe is not an intelligent being. wtf?

    To mindlessly say Yes there is a God or No there is nothing are equally silly IMO.

    false equivalence, and failure to understand the concepts of Occam’s Razor and the Null Hypothesis

    “There seems absolutely no necessity or evidence for any kind of “guidance of nature”, neither in terms of an intelligence nor some “smart force.””

    What is your proof?

    failure to understand the concepts of Occam’s Razor and the Null Hypothesis, as well as misuse of the word “proof”

    Evidence of a god of human imagination?

    “god” is a human concept not a physical entity upon which a human label was put. there is a difference between looking for something that fits an entirely human-made concept, and looking for something that defies human concepts but is a physically real phenomenon; the latter would not be “god” unless it actually fit within the parameters of the concept of “god”.

    you should brush up on your understanding of how language works and how it relates to physical, objective reality.

    Is Life, Nature & the Universe not to be submitted as evidence.

    none of the above require a god as a hypothesis. thus they cannot be evidence for one.

    I say we are unable to determine evidence either way. Which is why holding a belief in something, especially acknowledged as unknown, is not silly.

    failure to understand and apply the concepts of Occam’s Razor and the Null Hypothesis is indeed silly; frivolous, if you will.

  28. says

    Agnostics means you believe that there definately IS a god or something out there, but that humans aren’t capible of understanding the grandeur of the gods and it’s pointles to try, so they choose to go with a general “guidance of unknown spirits”

    wrong

  29. says

    At comment 7 Infinite123Lifer wrote:

    My terminology is surely not as fierce as it needs to be for a blog such as Pharyngula. I am not aware if it is a big deal to distinguish between atheist or agnostic but personally while the Big Bang & the Big Crunch or the Big Chill are actually ideas that I can imagine/postulate/grasp happening in nature, I find it impossibly difficult to imagine what comes Before the creation/big bang of the Universe. This is a large reason for why I consider myself an agnostic.

    Translation: “I can’t solve a scientific problem therefore magic is possible.”

    There’s no magic in the universe (or before the universe) because magic is an extremely childish fantasy.

    You should know Bible thumpers and terrorists love agnostics because agnostics make them feel normal. That makes you part of the religious insanity problem. Perhaps you should be ashamed of yourself.

  30. Infinite123Lifer says

    As the author has pointed out science cannot provide for what happened before the big bang or how physical forces were brought into existence. John, Nerd.

    I completely agree that there is no proof or evidence of a consciousness other than that of Life forms on Earth. But I disagree in that that is evidence that a consiousness does not exist as well. As for being agnostic,well I don’t believe in a God as God is usually defined. I believe the Universe is aware of itself in which it created itself to exist as itself in and of itself & I am part of that existence. So iam an atheist? I don’t believe in fairytales or some god or supernatural deity. My proof for what I believe is that iam aware that iam alive in the universe…that is all the evidence I have & is what lead me to my silly belief.

  31. skepticallydenpa says

    “In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from. And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and decide that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or, if we say that God has always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?” ~Carl Sagan

    Applying Occam’s Razor will get you closer to the answer than trying to entertain every possibility.

  32. Zugswang says

    (bishop) clearly Satan is trying to deceive you, you should pray for guidance.

    Interesting how these types always talk about just how clever and sneaky Satan is, how good he is at totally fooling us weak-minded humans, but it never enters into their thoughts that maybe, just maybe, some of the shit they believe came from Satan, pretending to be god.

    Nah, that’s probably just Satan being really meta with his trickery. That clever bastard.

  33. ManOutOfTime says

    Don’t you know, there ain’t no Devil – that’s just God when he’s drunk … Tom Waits, Heart Attack and Vine

  34. KG says

    Frankly no…I’ve watched with my own eyes people getting a weird feeling, just “knowing” they their grandmother died in the next province, immediately calling their home to ask how “gram” is doing, and being told she passed on a few minutes ago, and they were about to start making phone calls to inform people. I consider standing there watching it happen to be good evidence that weird things happen. – anonymous

    Sorry, but you’re just wrong. Your personal recollections, uncheckable by third parties, are not good evidence. Human memory is unreliable, and people do not always tell the truth. Before saying this even seems supernatural, we would have to have a public record of the event and a great deal more context. Was the grandmother ill, or extremely old? Had the person had such feelings before and been wrong? Had an expected phone call from the grandmother been missed?

  35. reason says

    “I still believe that something may help guide the world and nature, and that something MAY even be a god.”

    Why? Is that bastard responsible for mosquitoes? It is not so much that they bite that bugs me (although that is bad enough), it is that they keep you awake at night that pisses me!

    And what does “… even be a god.” mean exactly. The concept of a “god” seems too vague to me to be of any use at all. As far as I can tell it means something like magician – some being not subject to the normal laws of nature. All the magicians we know about are con artist.

  36. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I believe the Universe is aware of itself in which it created itself to exist as itself in and of itself & I am part of that existence. So iam an atheist?

    You aren neither atheist nor agnostic. What you driveled out was a deist position. Full of sound and fury, and ultimately meaningless. Adds nothing whatsoever to any explanation.

  37. Infinite123Lifer says

    Jadehawk you rock!

    That might be where I fail to explain myself. Iam not trying to argue for the existence of what would be defined as a god. But who said the Universe was an intelligent being? I simply stated I believe it created itself to acknowledge itself. Wtf? It seems about the only thing I can label as a burden of proof & iam not searching for something. I do happen to be alive in the universe is why I say that. Yourwtf comment…well, if all the atoms in my body were created in the big bang than it would seem my belief is not all that crazy would it? Its kind of like when humans don’t think they are part of nature, its laughable. You are part of the universe are you not jadehawk? Than you could say a part of the Universe is an intelligent being. How is the Earth or humans or you seperate from nature or the universe. It is all part of the same thing.

    Iam arguing against the belief that ALL beliefs are silly.

    Also as you are so eloquent with words perhaps you can explain to Nerd why @23 concieving of a force as not yet defined is not delusional.

    Cheers, time to find breakfast.

  38. KG says

    I believe the Universe is aware of itself in which it created itself to exist as itself in and of itself & I am part of that existence. So iam an atheist? – Infinite123Lifer

    No, just a confused babbler.

  39. says

    What’s with the @number posts? Infinite123Lifer and Marius Rowell, if you want to address a particular point, you can blockquote what someone has said. It makes it easier to see what point you are addressing without constantly scrolling up.

    As a bonus, using someones name is also polite.

  40. Infinite123Lifer says

    Neeeeeerd @39

    How is that deist. I have consiousness. Iam part of the Universe. How is that deist drivel. Its pretty damn point in fact is it not. In fact I argue this is a more evidence based hypothesis than either agnostic & even atheist.

  41. Infinite123Lifer says

    Cosmic Teapot…great name.

    Iam on a Transform android phone outside stuck in the rain. Trying to do my best. I apologized early on, its what I have though.

  42. Kagehi says

    it basically renews your pact to not value your body but instead your soul, binding it to God.

    Hmm. Can imagine the response someone would get if they asked, “What is the point of chastity, if it is purely about corrupting the body, if what one is supposed to care about it the soul, not the body?” Same for, say, I don’t know, abortion? lol Yeah, don’t think I would have gone over too well in church either, if I had ever attended more than just some church run day care, or a few services to satisfy my grandmother, when we visited her.

  43. greame says

    “I believe the Universe is aware of itself in which it created itself to exist as itself in and of itself & I am part of that existence.”

    But this is not evidence of anything. What if the dinosaurs were never wiped out and humans never came to be and our idea of “consciousness” never came about? Would the universe then still be considered “aware of itself”?

  44. KG says

    I simply stated I believe it created itself to acknowledge itself. Wtf? – Infinite123Lifer

    Wtf indeed. If the above means anything, it means that the universe as a whole has intentions (“to acknowledge itself”), and therefore a mind, and moreover, had this mind before it existed. That’s not theist, atheist, agnostic, deist, or pantheist – just stupid.

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Its pretty damn point in fact is it not.

    Until you provide physical evidence for this universal consciousness (yours is from your meatware brain according to science), you have nothing but deist drivel.

  46. Infinite123Lifer says

    For KG @41

    When it comes to what anybody believes or doesn’t believe based on what they know is it not all babble? Or is atheism the one significant truth or exception? More true than what I have stated? I believe there is more evidence for what I stated than all the god myths in existence & u call me a babler? Confused babbler maybe but come on… u have perfect understanding and have easily thought this idea entirely through with wonderous powers of deduction no less. Give me a break, atheists don’t know all. The idea that a symbiotic relationship between KG & the Universe is in existence right now is not dismissable.

    I hope symbiotic was the right word. There is a relationship. For you exist within it & use its forces to use that fully functioning brain of yours. Or is electricity not a part of the Universe?

    B careful to jump so hastily to such a conclusion, growing up I have thought about this much, I do not believe any religions, nor in many if not all CT’s(the point is I believe in evidence as Nerd defined solid, conclusive, physical).

    I simply believe that iam part of this world, this nature, this universe & it is aware that it made me. The last bit I throw in for good measure but if you want to talk about natural things:

    There is no such thing as chance in reality. Whatever happens it happens in reality, however you percieve the chances of something happening does not matter. What happens is what happens and nothing else, science proves this very statement. Yes there are probabilities but they do not exist in nature. Whatever happens happens & reality deems that final. This understanding comes in part from Pierre Simon De Laplace & his “A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

  47. says

    But who said the Universe was an intelligent being? I simply stated I believe it created itself to acknowledge itself.

    the only thing I can conclude from this statement is that you don’t understand what any of the words you’re using mean

  48. Infinite123Lifer says

    For 46:

    That’s kinda irrelevant isn’t it? But I would answer it does not matter. Because the universe exists & we do not know as to what extent. THANKS TO SCIENCE for help in that dpaartment, & philosophy.

    Too cold too type, sorry

  49. says

    When it comes to what anybody believes or doesn’t believe based on what they know is it not all babble?

    no. for one, some people can express their beliefs coherently, and some can’t; you belong in the latter category. Two, you don’t believe things based on what you know, you believe things based on what you don’t know. “something” of the gaps, as it were.

    More true than what I have stated?

    still no concept of occam’s razor and the null hypothesis. shoo, until you learn what they are and how to apply them.

    The idea that a symbiotic relationship between KG & the Universe is in existence right now is not dismissable.

    yes it is. still no concept of occam’s razor and the null hypothesis. shoo, until you learn what they are and how to apply them.

    I simply believe that iam part of this world, this nature, this universe & it is aware that it made me.

    you’re not just incoherent, you’re also inconsistent. a moment ago you said that’s not what your claim was.

    There is no such thing as chance in reality.

    you suck at language; are you even aware that you’re conflating two meanings of “chance”?

  50. curiouser says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    I actually think that our being aware of the universe can be a beautiful idea; since we ourselves are part of the universe, it indeed can be thought of as “the universe becoming aware of itself” in poetic terms, a wonderful concept to think about metaphorically. Unfortunately, you seem to be taking that idea much too far, and much too literally, describing this awareness as intentional, and the universe as creating itself for that reason, which makes no real sense. I like poetry, but I don’t expect it to explain reality in a rational way.

    The idea that the universe “is” god (which is basically what you’re doing by giving it that kind of agency and describing it as something we have a “relationship” with) is a kind of pantheistic belief, I think. If you aren’t actually a pantheist, you should really rethink your arguments; they surely are not defending agnosticism. There is no reason or evidence to think that the universe as a whole has intent, agency, or purpose, regardless of the existence of sentient beings within it. Intent and agency, as we understand them, require a mind (which itself requires a brain or similar) and it makes no sense to say that the universe as a whole has one, or further (since you say it created itself!) had a mind before it existed!

    Slower typing and more proofreading before you submit your comments would probably help you out as well. Clarity is your friend here. Right now you are not being clear. Or making much sense. It actually sounds like you have not really thought through everything you believe in, and are describing and defending it on the fly. It makes them extra unconvincing, really.

  51. Infinite123Lifer says

    @47

    Funny.

    @48

    Again. The proof of consciousness is in me & iam a part of nature not seperate from it. As is this meatware brain, created from exploding stars as I understand.

    For 50 Jadehawk

    There is no conclusion I wish to impress upon you OTHER THAN not all beliefs are silly just because some modes of reasoning are rendered fruitless.

    I never said I could prove such, I said I believe such. But there is no proof that what I state is non factual.

    For whoever mentioned that this consiousness…@47 KG, why do you assume and tag all of those necessities into my statement. My statement is not provable nor is any account to the contrary. Your talking about “before it existed”. My statement did not assume what u have stated, quite the contrary in fact. I think you are still stuck on denying God as it is explained in religion, how can you deny that we r seperate from the universe?

  52. says

    I’ve watched with my own eyes people getting a weird feeling, just “knowing” they their grandmother died in the next province, immediately calling their home to ask how “gram” is doing, and being told she passed on a few minutes ago, and they were about to start making phone calls to inform people. I consider standing there watching it happen to be good evidence that weird things happen. Science cannot explain how the event occured yet, so the event appears supernatural.

    I recommend looking up “confirmation bias”.

  53. Arbeezio says

    Uhh… Lifer guy…
    Your belief does start to sound silly when you admit that it can’t be proven yet you believe it anyway.

  54. curiouser says

    The proof of consciousness is in me & iam a part of nature not seperate from it

    how can you deny that we r seperate from the universe?

    o.O

  55. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Delusion is belief without evidence. All godbots suffer from this, as there is no evidence for their deity. Infinite123lifer suffers from the same problem. It has no evidence, but believes in imaginary things anyway. It can’t convince us it is anything other than a delusional fool who is preaching idiocy here. Possibilities are mental masturbation. Evidence shows reality.

  56. says

    There is no conclusion I wish to impress upon you OTHER THAN not all beliefs are silly

    believing in things not in evidence is silly though. it’s a frivolity, a decorative luxury, an ornament.

    The proof of consciousness is in me & iam a part of nature not seperate from it. As is this meatware brain, created from exploding stars as I understand.

    irrelevant to your claim of the universe being self-aware and purposefully self-creating

    I never said I could prove such, I said I believe such. But there is no proof that what I state is non factual.

    Null Hypothesis; Occam’s Razor; silliness.

    My statement did not assume what u have stated, quite the contrary in fact.

    a statement generally doesn’t assume; it does however imply, and you have clearly no idea what the words you’re using mean. stop using them until you learn what they mean.

  57. anonymous says

    #36, I believe in evidence. Allow me to present mine.

    “Sorry, but you’re just wrong. Your personal recollections, uncheckable by third parties, are not good evidence. Human memory is unreliable, and people do not always tell the truth. Before saying this even seems supernatural, we would have to have a public record of the event and a great deal more context. Was the grandmother ill, or extremely old? Had the person had such feelings before and been wrong? Had an expected phone call from the grandmother been missed?”

    My recollections are checked by 3rd parties…about a dozen of them to be precise (the doctors who pronounced her dead, parents who recieved the call, witnesses in the room when she called home, etc…all of whom have names and addresses and phone numbers) and the doctors crtificate stating the time of her death and the phone records would show no calls were made previous to her knowing and placing the outgoing call herself. Yes she was old so her death wasn’t a surprise to anyone, but that changes little except converging on probability of coincidence. Is this sufficient evidence?

    while true the next sentene could be “Well you’re posting anonymously so that means nothing, now I demand you provide the names and addresses and phone numbers” and next could be “Now prove that you didn’t call them in advance and get them to go along with your tale” and then “Now prove that they all don’t have the same mass delusion”, etc…etc…etc… but at some point where would it stop?

    Therefore, I know I am not wrong in this instance and that is sufficient. But also irrelevant, as I”m clearly stating that I believe it may be a natural phenonomin and NOT A GOD. I just left the possibility for those who claim it is to provide proof to that effect. I don’t see how this is unreasonable.

    (p.s. my reason for anonymous is that my co-workers read this site and my phobia is embarassing, so no, you’re not getting any identifiable info publically. Truely sorry, but really, doesn’t matter much to the point being made)

  58. anonymous says

    “I would like to know more about his fear of ashes.”

    It’s not really relevant to the story, but if you really want to know, the short summary is that I was caught in a fire as a young child and while trapped and in pain from the heat, major sections of the woodwork were burning and charred obviously. I got covered in smouldering ashes as I crawled to the window to get out, and since I damn near burned to death, i was terrified as the firefighters helped me and cleaned me off outside. I wasn’t seriously hurt luckly, but my mind made some kind of connection between ashes and the traumatic experience that stuck for life.

    I’ve just grown to accept it.

  59. says

    @anonymous
    You would be surprised by how much memory can deceive. Memories are not like films, they are more like blurry snapshots in which your mind fills in the gaps. Not only that, considering that at any single time, there are 300 million people in the US alone, if someone has a dream or feeling that something is going to happen in the future, some of the people are bound to get it approximately right.

  60. anonymous says

    Many have pointed out my definition of “agnostic” may br wrong. If it is, I accept that and sorry for the mislabeling, but since it changes absolutely nothing about my story, as I never claimed to be agnostic nor do I claim to believe in a god (just open to the remote chance with sufficient proof required), I fail to see why it matters in the slightest.

    Sheesh, a boy leaves one single crack of possibility and suddenly I’m a theist in denial! LOL stop dealing in absolutes, that’s for the uber-religious!!!

  61. Infinite123Lifer says

    What I believe is tangential to my point.

    The point that believing in the existence of something unknown is not silly. As there is a complicated and vast Universe yet to be explored and understood.

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says:

    Delusion is belief without evidence. All godbots suffer from this, as there is no evidence for their deity. Infinite123lifer suffers from the same problem. It has no evidence, but believes in imaginary things anyway. It can’t convince us it is anything other than a delusional fool who is preaching idiocy here. Possibilities are mental masturbation. Evidence shows reality.

    I am wrong to state what I believe. What I believe does not matter. I am not a godbot nor am I an “it”. I am not trying to convince you of anything Nerd other than”not all beliefs are silly”. I certainly am not trying to convince you of some grand theory of consciousness. It is evident that I did not do that so well, as has been pointed out by you and Jadehawk and curiouser and KG and well..etc

    The evidence that:
    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe

    is the only evidence that provides insight into this big question.

    For Jadehawk:

    I am curious does using the Null Hypothesis and Occams Razor lead directly to atheistic interpretations?

    Is atheism the only plausible explanation given the lack of evidence?

    To what degree of error does the Null Hypothesis and Occam’s Razor account for evidence of nothing? I don’t know if that is answerable but it is a philosophical question.

    To what degree are you certain that there is nothing? I would presume the answer is that you are more certain that there is nothing (which i am saying is atheist) than you are certain some god/deity or what I have described, or anything else.

    I know science uses methods to define error and certainty. I wonder if they are applicable to some degree for the argument that there is nothing other than what we see.

  62. anonymous says

    #56, Aaron Pound asks me to look up confirmation bias.

    (smile) I am familiar with it and to saev you the trouble of asking, no this person never had anything like that happen before, it was “out of the blue”, and while millions of people can have false events occur and lock onto the one time it DOES occur as proof, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Now for the contrary point…millions of people play the lottery and never win. One day someone you know really does win. Nobody believes them as it’s unlikely, but that doesn’t change the fact that they did win. As hard as it is to believe, sometimes low probility events do occur. His mother believes it’s his lucky socks that made the win occur. He points out that he wears them every week, invalidating the confirmation bias she had.

    The lottery winner would have to provide evidence to show why they beat the odds of the event occuring. They can with the ticket. My friend has to provide evidence that they beat the odds of knowing the moment of her gram’s death. They can (see above where I do just that). Could it have been a coincidence? Absolutely, but why dismiss the extremely low probability event (her feeling it and thinking it at that moment for no reason exactly when she died within the few minutes on a random day) as impossible. by that logic, the lottery ticket winner should tear up their ticket and just believe he misread the numbers and shrug it off as an impossible event. Lol

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The point that believing in the existence of something unknown is not silly.

    If there is sufficient justification for considering the idea, it isn’t silly. But if there is no justification, silly.

    is the only evidence that provides insight into this big question.

    What justifiable question? That the universe has consciousness? What you provide is statements of fact, that don’t support your conclusion. Sillyness.

    To what degree of error does the Null Hypothesis and Occam’s Razor account for evidence of nothing?

    The null hypothesis throws the nothing into non-existence. Then evidence is required to get it out, even with mathematics showing the Higg’s particle is needed. Since it hasn’t been conclusively found, it is still theoretical. You present no evidence. Occam’s razor (or parsimony) simply says that the simplest explanation, all else being equal, is probably right. This is why science avoids the stupornatural, as it adds nothing to any explanation, nor does it explain anything better. Still silly.

    I know science uses methods to define error and certainty. I wonder if they are applicable to some degree for the argument that there is nothing other than what we see.

    Ever hear of dark matter and dark energy? Posited, like the Higg’s particle, as a means to make the evidence and theories match up with reality. Science in action. Still no need to evoke the stupornatural. And no, you don’t know science. Too many mistakes. I smell a sophist philosopher.

  64. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Sheesh, a boy leaves one single crack of possibility and suddenly I’m a theist in denial! LOL stop dealing in absolutes, that’s for the uber-religious!!!

    Tough crowd, eh?
    The problem is that you claim to have evidence for what would be the most extraordinary discovery of maybe all time. Whenever such an extraordinary claim is on the table, it is absolutely imperative to confront it with the utmost scrutiny by taking all the known statistical and psychological effects into account. You don’t do that, and many false claims have been falsely accepted as true in the past because of people who did not apply the adequate amount of critical thinking to it, combined with a wee bit of Bayesian statistics. And that pisses people off.

  65. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Infinite123Lifer

    Is atheism the only plausible explanation given the lack of evidence?

    Atheism isn’t an explanation! It is the null hypothesis, the simplest default assumption. It is compatible with observation because of the actual (perfectly good and verified) explanations, such as the theory of evolution by natural selection.

  66. Ing says

    I know science uses methods to define error and certainty. I wonder if they are applicable to some degree for the argument that there is nothing other than what we see.

    See Sagan’s Invisible Dragon.

  67. consciousness razor says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    This ultimate thing I speak about I give no form nor define nor did I say it exists.

    You’re not speaking about anything, except your own ignorance and confusion. How about this for a solution: stop bullshitting.

    I say we are unable to determine evidence either way.

    Evidence for what? You haven’t even started thinking about this, much less come to the point where there could be evidence either way, so what is there to say except that you have no clue what you’re talking about?

    Which is why holding a belief in something, especially acknowledged as unknown, is not silly.

    Really? Having no idea what we’re talking about and having no evidence means it’s not silly? What, if anything, would be silly in your opinion?

    But I think we can both agree religion needs to be knocked the fuck out as evidence of reality. We are not talking about religion though. We are talking about the fact that we exist at all.

    What? You’re talking about nothing at all. We exist. So? Why is that such a deep mystery?

  68. Infinite123Lifer says

    Arbeezio says:
    16 November 2011 at 10:44 am
    Uhh… Lifer guy…
    Your belief does start to sound silly when you admit that it can’t be proven yet you believe it anyway.

    Yes, indeed. I am not the smoothest obviously. I was not trying to make anybody believe something I think to be a nice thought. I was trying to give an example that there are other ways of looking at the argument about what a person believes, rather than ALWAYS assuming godbots are on the loose. There are other areas of thought which exist besides those that have been defined. Although most of the arguments seem to attack the typical Christian god or belief.

    And when they say there is “no proof” it is always that the argument is searching for proof OF these types of gods or religous beliefs. There is certainly proof of physical phenomena that can be explained, I am alive and in the Universe is such proof. But it seems the smart people have too narrow a beam on what they think would be proof of a physical phenomenon.

    as KG said:

    That’s not theist, atheist, agnostic, deist, or pantheist – just stupid.

    Perhaps we need some new explanations. Stupid is used far too much here. This is an educational experience for me, one which I intend to use as a tool to improve.

    But, my main point is still not all beliefs are stupid. And by that I mean that a person cannot rule out every possible scenario. There is only one reality, and chances are I have not come close to it.

    Another point is that I think it is hardwired into people who are constantly fighting with religous nutjobs to defend atheism by constantly asking for proof of the supernatural. There are those of us who do not believe in the supernatural sense of the term god or consciousness…what did Jadehawk say:@29

    “god” is a human concept not a physical entity upon which a human label was put. there is a difference between looking for something that fits an entirely human-made concept, and looking for something that defies human concepts but is a physically real phenomenon; the latter would not be “god” unless it actually fit within the parameters of the concept of “god”.

    A physically real phenomenon is what I am trying to say exists based upon the fact that:
    1. I am alive and
    2.within the Universe.
    Simply based upon those to pieces of evidence I think if you apply Occam’s Razor using just those to pieces of evidence you get a different result. One that says “there is a physically real phenomenon that exists and I am proof of it”. I am not offering arguments to support a god or a diety or a consciousness or that I am a theist, atheist, agnostic, deist, or pantheist.

    Extending the most simple understanding’s to explain the reasons for those understandings.

    I think Jadehawk that if you apply Occams Razor and the Null Hypothesis to the fact that you are alive and within the Universe that you will come to an alternate conclusion, leaving room for uncertainty in your bulletproof argument.

  69. Ing says

    I think Jadehawk that if you apply Occams Razor and the Null Hypothesis to the fact that you are alive and within the Universe that you will come to an alternate conclusion, leaving room for uncertainty in your bulletproof argument.

    That is the stupidest fucking thing I ever read.

  70. anonymous says

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says:

    “Tough crowd, eh?
    The problem is that you claim to have evidence for what would be the most extraordinary discovery of maybe all time. Whenever such an extraordinary claim is on the table, it is absolutely imperative to confront it with the utmost scrutiny by taking all the known statistical and psychological effects into account. You don’t do that, and many false claims have been falsely accepted as true in the past because of people who did not apply the adequate amount of critical thinking to it, combined with a wee bit of Bayesian statistics. And that pisses people off.”

    A fair assessment, and I accept that. I’m not even trying to prove the tale to be true (just ended up being a tangent when someone questioned why I’d even accept the possibility of dieties when I was the one who stated that I don’t unless proof is offered but that some things happen that can’t be explained yet but eventually will be by science) That one example was originally just an example of “weird shit happening that has no immediate explaination”.

    But again, I freely admit that science probably can explain everything and we just don’t know yet how! It’s like I’m just not chanting loudly enough the absolute denial of gods and the supernatural even though I DO DENY THEM!

    Would it make you feel better if I apologized for having an unexplained weird thing happen right in front of my eyes in front of a dozen witnesses? LOL…Hell I’ll even admit that it may have been pure coincidence. That changes nothing at all in the original point of the essay (does anyone even remember it anymore? You know, the “having to leave religion in favour of reason and evidence”). Apparently “true” athiests never, ever, ever have anything happen to them ever that they can’t immediately explain with evidence right off hand. LOL

  71. Infinite123Lifer says

    Ing, I have only been on 1 thread I believe for anything other than one sentence. You don’t gotta be like that. And I do have problems with cell phones and computers…like I don’t get a computer all the time. I would say I do okay for using a cell phone. Sorry about that to, but just because I am starving and cold and have a cell phone does not mean that I should not be able to participate. Others can be patient. I made it to a cpu a half hour ago.

    Plus I am really curious:

    Nerd, KG

    Is atheism the only logical conclusion based on current awareness? And if so, is it certain enough to make an infinite amount of possibilities irrelevant?

    If the answer to the 2nd question is yes, than I do not think you have an idea of how big infinity really is.

    We exist. So? Why is that such a deep mystery?

    Really? Really? Science would not exist if it were not for that mystery. I think your just being mean.

  72. Ing says

    Ing, I have only been on 1 thread I believe for anything other than one sentence.

    Oh please do continue to disprove my assertion that you babble incoherently like this. It’s quite amusing.

  73. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There are other areas of thought which exist besides those that have been defined.

    The problem with “thought” is separating bullshit from reality. You offer nothing, and appear to be willing to swallow bullshit whole, simply because someone is “sincere” in their fuckwitery.

    But, my main point is still not all beliefs are stupid. And by that I mean that a person cannot rule out every possible scenario.

    Ah, sophistry in action. Actually, there is no need to examine every scenario. Throw them all into the null hypothesis of non-existence and let them evidence their way out. That is skepticism and rationalism in action.

    One that says “there is a physically real phenomenon that exists and I am proof of it”.

    Nope, all it says is that there isn’t enough evidence for any conclusion about any interconnection between you and the universe. You might be an accident, and not the purpose of the universe.

    Extending the most simple understanding’s to explain the reasons for those understandings.

    What understandings? Those of delusional and irrantional and evidenceless thinkers? You have only blathered, and not presented anything coherent. Typical of sophist philosophers. They can’t think or write clearly.

    leaving room for uncertainty in your bulletproof argument.

    You’re the one making the sophist argument. We and the universe exist without purpose. End of story.

  74. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Infinite123Lifer

    And when they say there is “no proof” it is always that the argument is searching for proof OF these types of gods or religous beliefs.
    There is certainly proof of physical phenomena that can be explained, I am alive and in the Universe is such proof. But it seems the smart people have too narrow a beam on what they think would be proof of a physical phenomenon.

    Once you loosen these “smart people’s criteria”, you are confronted with a big mess of more or less ill-defined mutually exclusive hypotheses and no tool to discard any of them or judge them for their relative merit. They are necessarily all wrong except maybe one, but it is most likely that all those that you entertain are, in fact, wrong.

    You say “I think that we should not exclude the possibility that there is something out there”, and that is completely meaningless noise unless you specify what you mean by that something. If you don’t, the statement is meaningless, but as soon as you specify what you mean, the concerns I have outlined here apply.

  75. consciousness razor says

    Apparently “true” athiests never, ever, ever have anything happen to them ever that they can’t immediately explain with evidence right off hand. LOL

    No, but we tend to be pretty skeptical. You can’t conclude that some weird, inexplicable phenomenon leaves open the possibility of anything at all, which is basically what you were saying. Yes, weird shit happens. Yes, we don’t know everything and probably never will. That’s no reason to think just any wacky idea might be possible.

  76. Infinite123Lifer says

    The author wrote:

    That changes nothing at all in the original point of the essay (does anyone even remember it anymore? You know, the “having to leave religion in favour of reason and evidence”). Apparently “true” athiests never, ever, ever have anything happen to them ever that they can’t immediately explain with evidence right off hand. LOL

    I am not the guy to back you up here, sorry. But your essay basically explains how I feel as well (besides the ashes and all the bs growing up). I trust in science but leave room for something if proof comes along. As for right now I consider 2 pieces of evidence in contemplating a physical phenomenon, and I argue that others overlook the meaning behind those two pieces of evidence. I don’t know what that makes me besides all the names I get called but its whatever. Life is always whatever when your dealing with people.

    I picked my favorite fairytale as a way to challenge the regular “your god does not exist because” statements.

    I also believe that science has the ability to bridge the philosophical questions with the physical questions; some time, some when, some day perhaps. I believe that the evidence for this possibility of self realization is in math.

    Math is a wondrous tool.

  77. Ing says

    I believe that the evidence for this possibility of self realization is in math.

    Math is a wondrous tool.

    You are an idiot.

  78. anonymous says

    Infinite123lifer…I think you’re wasting your time here (and me too, as the ONE sentence that I mentioned that allows for possibility was jumped on like a hyena after a wounded gazelle LOL).

    Evidence given shows that many athiests who are reading are rigidly dogmatitic in their beliefs until presented by evidence that we simply cannot provide. That is fair…nobody should believe anything unless it can be proven.

    Howevr it had the side effect of closing off imagination as well to them, so much that they don’t see even the slimist possibility that evidence may SOMEDAY be presented. They want it NOW and they want it VERIFIED and until that exact moment they want to be secure in their belief that nothing at all can ever be outside their preceptions.

    They want what we can’t give them…we ofered a POSSIBILITY and they took it as a challenge to us to prove it to be true, when we never actually said it was. We’re literally trying to prove a negative, heck we’re not even having the same arguement anymore with them! Basically we said “what if…” and they said “PROVE IT” and we said “Prove what? We just said ‘what if'” and at that moment the entire discussion got sidetracked into infinity. :)

  79. Infinite123Lifer says

    consciousness razor said:

    <blockquote You can’t conclude that some weird, inexplicable phenomenon leaves open the possibility of anything at all,

    I still do not understand why that does not work both ways. You can’t conclude that some inexplicable phenomenon does not exist just because so many religions say they do.

    Its almost like religion became the status quo, then atheism debunked it and everything else that is remotely possible is thrown in with the “non existence of your God” argument.

    There are things which have yet to be defined.

  80. Infinite123Lifer says

    Ing says:
    16 November 2011 at 12:40 pm
    I believe that the evidence for this possibility of self realization is in math.

    Math is a wondrous tool.

    You are an idiot.

    Oh, sorry, I just read Contact and agreed with Sagan is all.
    BTW, I know you are but what am I.
    Name calling is for idiots.

  81. consciousness razor says

    We exist. So? Why is that such a deep mystery?

    Really? Really?

    Yes, really. That was a sincere, non-rhetorical question: what do you think our existence implies?

    Science would not exist if it were not for that mystery.

    That’s true. If we didn’t exist, science as a human invention would not exist. So?

    If there were other sentient beings in the universe, they may have their own kind of “science,” but that’s all just speculation. They could have somewhat different methods, different standards of evidence, and be interested in explaining different things, so we couldn’t just assume it would be the same thing.

    But again, science isn’t some “ultimate thing” guiding the universe or whatever. It’s a human invention. I though you were implying there may be some sort of consciousness or intention at the level of the universe. We are conscious and have intentions, and we’re a part of the universe. But we aren’t the whole universe. The universe doesn’t do science. We do.

    I think your just being mean.

    You thought wrong.

  82. Infinite123Lifer says

    We and the universe exist without purpose. End of story.

    Than why do you bother Nerd? Just because religion is false does not mean your statement is true.

    Atheism isn’t an explanation! It is the null hypothesis, the simplest default assumption. It is compatible with observation because of the actual (perfectly good and verified) explanations, such as the theory of evolution by natural selection.

    I believe in the theory of evolution. If I did not I would not even be reading Pharyngula. However, stating that “not all beliefs are silly” does not take anything away from evolution. Just because I am open to the fact that we do not know everything does not mean I do not believe in what are best proven theories show us.

  83. consciousness razor says

    I still do not understand why that does not work both ways. You can’t conclude that some inexplicable phenomenon does not exist just because so many religions say they do.

    A phenomenon, even if inexplicable, is observable and does exist. That’s not the issue here. There could be some phenomenon that we haven’t yet observed, but that doesn’t mean any and every crazy idea we come up with could someday be observed (and explained if possible).

    It’s like saying there could be colorless green ideas sleeping furiously. We don’t know and have never seen it happen, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen and someday we’ll see it… because, well… Who cares if the idea is incoherent or logically impossible?

  84. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Howevr it had the side effect of closing off imagination as well to them, so much that they don’t see even the slimist possibility that evidence may SOMEDAY be presented.

    Nobody is blocking imagination. I have read fantasy novels with gods, prophecy, magic, etc., but I realize it is fiction. But, you need to understand that possiblities are not reality. They are nothing but fiction until proven otherwise with solid physical evidence.

    The one that was most disturbed by your last sentence was Infinite123lifer, not us. We understood your being open to new evidence, if it occurred. Just like any scientist like myself is. But ideas aren’t evidence. They are just ideas, and like a plot in a fantasy novel, without basis in reality.

  85. Infinite123Lifer says

    yeah I ramble. Sorry. I need to use that format someone provided me with….Ing? The 3 by 3 or at least a damn thesis statement with some evidence to back it up…still learning

    Sure would be nice to say something and back it up with evidence :) I ‘ll work on that. Also, I can learn, so thanks to those who offered help and information.

    I don’t come here because I am bored, I come here because I want to know wtf people are thinking.

  86. KG says

    Evidence given shows that many athiests who are reading are rigidly dogmatitic in their beliefs until presented by evidence that we simply cannot provide. – anonymous

    No, it doesn’t, because there’s absolutely nothing dogmatic about refusing to accept claims without supporting evidence.

  87. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Anonymous

    Would it make you feel better if I apologized for having an unexplained weird thing

    Nah, it’s ok.

    Apparently “true” athiests never, ever, ever have anything happen to them ever that they can’t immediately explain with evidence right off hand. LOL

    No, of course not, It’s the interpretation that is crucial, uncanny things happen all the time of course.

    The only unforgivable high crime you have committed in my book is misspelling “atheist”.

  88. KG says

    We’re literally trying to prove a negative – anonymous

    Tosh. You haven’t tried to prove anything, and your speculations and anecdotes are not “a negative”.

  89. Infinite123Lifer says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says:

    But, you need to understand that possiblities are not reality.

    I am sorry for leading you or others to believe that is what I am saying. I know I ramble and do not present coherently as I would like. At least I can acknowledge that, and that makes me less of an idiot.

    I think what I am trying to get you and others to relinquish is that “there are other possibilities” than just our current view of reality. Though I am starting to bridge my gap that when operating under the scientific method: perhaps no physical phenomenon is known to exist is the only logical answer for now.

  90. anonymous says

    “Nobody is blocking imagination. I have read fantasy novels with gods, prophecy, magic, etc., but I realize it is fiction. But, you need to understand that possiblities are not reality. They are nothing but fiction until proven otherwise with solid physical evidence.”

    I agree 100%, so why am I being corraled into defending it? The original essay stated clearly that the possibility is not reality until evidence was provided. Then I (and infinite123lifer) was asked to present evidence that the possibility is even a possibility. Very weird…we’re being asked to defend something that we clearly stated we don’t accept…ie, the existence of gods.

    “The one that was most disturbed by your last sentence was Infinite123lifer, not us.”

    I wish, but so far, I could at least 5 people disturbed by it (
    John Morales, infinite123lifer, consciousness razor, alex tyrant of skeptics, & KG, just for starters. Note you’re not on this list, I think you may understand my points :)

    “We understood your being open to new evidence, if it occurred. Just like any scientist like myself is. But ideas aren’t evidence. They are just ideas, and like a plot in a fantasy novel, without basis in reality.”

    Again, agreed 100% but an idea is testable, right? It IS wise to reject all ideas until evidence is presented, but to torow out the possibility is to me equally wrong. Thus said, it’s wrong to BELIEVE in the possibility, but be open to it. You seem to understand this, but others here don’t, and hence the point of the essay is being missed. Like I said, very weird…:)

  91. Infinite123Lifer says

    Or what I meant was:
    because the scientific method is our best choice for understanding reality, I understand the importance of its application.

  92. curiouser says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    You seem to still be misunderstanding some terms here. You don’t “apply” the null hypothesis or Occam’s Razor to facts; you hold the null hypothesis as the default position until it is rejected, and you apply Occam’s Razor to explanations, not to observations.

    See Wikipedia for an overview of the null hypothesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

    Atheism is an example of the null hypothesis in that it is simply the lack of a belief in god(s). The proposal of god(s) existence is a claim, but it has not been proven, thus we hold the default position (atheism) until the new claim is proven. Atheism itself, as a null hypothesis, makes no claims. The idea that it does is just so much spin.

    Occam’s Razor is a tool to help us determine which explanations are more likely; by itself it doesn’t prove anything conclusive, although invoking it is often useful for finding good explanations rather than bad ones.

    The Occam’s-Razor-style problem in supernatural explanations is that they are simply superfluous and ultimately unnecessary. Take the theist idea of god-guided evolution as an example.

    1. Evolution occurs through the mechanism of natural selection.
    2. Evolution occurs through the mechanism of natural selection, which is guided by the hand of god.

    The problem with the second explanation is that it adds a huge number of additional issues, without adding anything constructive or truly explanatory. Occam’s Razor essentially eliminates the unnecessary so we can proceed with clarity and fewer complications.

    Were you to make a claim of the existence of the supernatural, we would hold the null hypothesis (i.e. that your claim is not true) until you can prove it. The idea that we should believe you — accept your claim — before you have proven it really makes no sense. We would then be subjected to possibly believing everything with no real reason to disbelieve — that is not practical. It makes no sense to accept all explanations as true before they are demonstrated to be true; that is a recipe for intellectual chaos and does not allow for a mechanism to determine whether what you believe is true is actually a reflection of reality.

    We can absolutely be open to the idea that some current explanation is wrong without resorting to a default position that every possible explanation is correct. We just require a bit more in the way of evidence rather than saying “Because it might be true, possibly, I believe it!” I’d rather believe in things I can say with reasonable certainty are at least probably true, than things I think are really unlikely and are probably not true. (Why would I believe in the latter anyway? It seems like some sort of Pascal’s Wager or security blanket, rather than a considered, thoughtful position.)

    For a really thorough explanation of these things (far better than I can give you), I recommend watching as many episodes of The Atheist Experience as you can. You can find a huge catalog of back episodes through their site: http://atheist-experience.com/. Maybe that would clear up your misconceptions about some of these issues.

    (If I got anything wrong here, horde, please correct this non-scientist…)

  93. KG says

    Is atheism the only logical conclusion based on current awareness? – Infinite123Lifer

    Substitute “rational” for “logical”, and yes, in exactly the same sense as aleprechaunism and awerewolfism are – that is, there is no evidence at all for gods, any more than there is for leprechauns or werewolves. None of the three is a valid logical inference from that lack of evidence, but until there is such evidence, it is rational not to believe in gods, leprechauns or werewolves.

  94. KG says

    an idea is testable, right? – anonymous

    Some are and some aren’t. It might be a good idea to try to distinguish between them.

  95. Infinite123Lifer says

    Just to be clear I was not disturbed by your essay or your last sentence. I was shocked to hear such an open opinion here at Pharyngula is all.

    I then challenged the first commenter as to why the authors words or beliefs were silly.

    I do not believe that the essay held any silly beliefs. It was well written and defined as to the specifics of his beliefs.

  96. KG says

    to saev you the trouble of asking, no this person never had anything like that happen before, it was “out of the blue” – anonymous

    How do you know? Presumably you have not been in their company throughout their life, so you are simply taking their word, and asking us to take yours, when it is simple fact that memory is unreliable and people are not always truthful.

  97. anonymous says

    KG:
    “We’re literally trying to prove a negative – anonymous”

    “Tosh. You haven’t tried to prove anything, and your speculations and anecdotes are not “a negative”.”

    You’re right, I’m NOT trying to prove anything, but I am being asked to prove why I even entertain the possibility of gods. “the negative” refers to the simple fact that I do NOT believe in gods and i DO believe in reason and logic and evidence, yet somehow I’m being asked to prove why I’d even entertain the thought as a remote possibility. Sheesh!

    it’s obvious that the one sentence you’d want to hear is “It’s silly to think that the world operates in any way outside of physics and logic” but that’s what I HAVE been saying. I just also stated that weird things happen, and while science and reason may be able to explain it, there’s a chance that it MAY have a supernatural explaination as well, and the BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON THOSE WHO CLAIM THAT TO BE THE CASE. Otherwise it’s more reasonable to assume natural phenonomin even though we may not know what it is yet.

    My anecdote really bothers some people here apparently, and even after I freely admit it may have been coincidence or natural phenonomin it STILL bothers people. That’s what I mean by limiting imagination…it’s like there is 0% chance at all that it may NOT have been natural to some people here, or that it even happened at all.

    This is dogmatic rigid thinking that reminds me of the dogmatic rigid thinking that I left when i walked out of that church! Maybe that’s why I’m taking it so personally, and if so, I apologize. :)

  98. Infinite123Lifer says

    KG

    who mentioned anything about gods, leprechauns or werewolves. That is one of my points, that the basic arguments against supernatural human held beliefs/myths/tales/religions do not hold water when dealing with ALL possibilities of any type of physical phenomenon.

    Yet again, applying the scientific method we do not arrive at any argument FOR any type of possibility either. However, that is not to say philosophically that your argument bears absolute certainty.

  99. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @anonymous,

    I wish, but so far, I could at least 5 people disturbed by it (
    John Morales, infinite123lifer, consciousness razor, alex tyrant of skeptics, & KG, just for starters. Note you’re not on this list, I think you may understand my points :)

    I’m not disturbed by anything, I don’t know how you got the idea. If you go back to my comment you will find that I commended you for your essay and calmly remarked that some of the speculative things you propose in the end as remote possibilities are very far-fetched, but often are treated by us as more sensible than they really are because of cultural bias and psychology, that’s all.

  100. anonymous says

    KG, ANY idea is testible SOMEDAY…just maybe not today.

    50 years ago, there were no tests for neutrinos. anyone who thought they existed would have been a crackpot pulling the idea out of their ass. We’re now testing for them.

    If someday we prove the existence of multiple dimentions or wormholes, maybe there will eb tests for some phychic phenomins, or the physical presence of Hell or some other radical idea. It may FAIL the test, but it could be tested as science’s knowledge grows.

    Stop being so rigid! LOL

  101. Ing says

    Infinite lifer. Your problem isn’t in any structure, it’s in that your sentences don’t make any damn sense half the time. Read aloud what you write before you submit.

  102. anonymous says

    Infinite122lifer, true enough, you were the first to point out how shocked you were on seeing the point being made of the possibility of guidances and gods or just unknowns, and when others jumped on it as silly and ludicrious I guess I missed your point. I’m sorry.

    see guys, it’s OK to admit when you make an error! LOL

  103. consciousness razor says

    “The one that was most disturbed by your last sentence was Infinite123lifer, not us.”

    I wish, but so far, I could at least 5 people disturbed by it (
    John Morales, infinite123lifer, consciousness razor, alex tyrant of skeptics, & KG, just for starters. Note you’re not on this list, I think you may understand my points :)

    I, for one, was not disturbed by it. You could’ve made your point more clearly in the article, but I was disturbed by the vague nonsense in some of the comments.

    Thus said, it’s wrong to BELIEVE in the possibility, but be open to it. You seem to understand this, but others here don’t, and hence the point of the essay is being missed. Like I said, very weird…:)

    If you think I’m one of the “others,” then you’re going to have to tell me exactly what possibility you think I’m dismissing. If I think something’s possible, then I am open to it. If there’s no content to the idea at all, then there is nothing to be open toward, nor does it make any sense to say it’s “possible” when there’s no “it” to even talk about.

  104. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Stop being so rigid! LOL

    Ok, I offer a deal: I will be totally flexible and admit that one day, we might find out all kinds of things that seem crazy to us now (*), and you stop LOLing at the end of all of your posts.

    (*) This does not change the fact that virtually all things we try to claim now, before any evidence, will be wrong. We can still entertain these ideas for fun, or literary purposes, or for the sake of an argument. There is no point in picking out any one of them, pointing to it and saying: see, this particular thing, it could too be true!!! LOL

  105. KG says

    My recollections are checked by 3rd parties…about a dozen of them to be precise (the doctors who pronounced her dead, parents who recieved the call, witnesses in the room when she called home, etc…all of whom have names and addresses and phone numbers) and the doctors crtificate stating the time of her death and the phone records would show no calls were made previous to her knowing and placing the outgoing call herself. Yes she was old so her death wasn’t a surprise to anyone, but that changes little except converging on probability of coincidence. Is this sufficient evidence? – anonymous

    No, of course not. All we have to go on is your unchecked account. (BTW “about a dozen” is not precise.) You don’t say (do you even know?) whether she had been ill.

  106. KG says

    Perhaps we need some new explanations. – Infinite123Lifer

    Explanations for what?I called that sentence of yours stupid because, the only way I could interpret it to make any kind of sense, “the universe created itself to acknowledge itself” implies that the universe existed (and had a mind) before it existed. That’s just stupid.

  107. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    However, that is not to say philosophically that your argument bears absolute certainty.

    Absolute certainty is for sophist philosophers or godbots. Not for anybody who stuidies reality, like scientists and real philosophers, who are grounded in reality. Still not making any sense, and still whining we don’t accept your bullshit “as is”.

  108. KG says

    The idea that a symbiotic relationship between KG & the Universe is in existence right now is not dismissable. – Infinite123Lifer

    Yes it is: I dismiss it. You do write the most ludicrous tosh. People die and the universe continues – I’ve seen it happen. It is as certain as anything outside logic and mathematics that I will die, and the universe will continue, even though I won’t be there to see it. So I depend on the rest of the universe, but not vice versa. So there is no symbiotic relationship.

  109. Infinite123Lifer says

    For the author at 104:

    Nice fight. Dude, I have had so many things happen that are weird or unexplainable or cannot be written off as coincidence that it has made me question my atheist upbringing…oh there was catholic upbringing as well, but I rejected that as a child and thus things changed to a more atheist view.

    It is pointless to provide my anecdotes about weird things, for all the reasons that have been mentioned in this thread.

    But since you shared some of your Life with us anonymous I would like to return the favor:

    Look heres just one…when I was 15 years old I told my mother I would have a Son at 25 and no matter what his birthdate I would find something cool in his birthdate….I was prepared to alter everything I could to find something that suited my expectations……..the thing is…after 38 hours of pitocin and a c-section…my sons birthday is 01-02-03 and I was 25 years old. 01-02-03. I was blown away that I did not have to change anything to find what I was looking for and even more blown away that his birthday represented such simplicity. That is why my name is Infinite123Lifer. Because I have infinite belief in the nature of math for Life. Having known something cool would happen with his birth at 15 made no sense to me. This is anecdotal and is not being provided as evidence for anything other than the coolest thing that ever happened to me.

    I also solved a murder in Anacortes Washington in 2003 from simply living in the house. I forced a cop to explain what had happened to my hungover girlfriend. It was a very odd situation which ended up dealing with detectives, my girlfriend and the man who went to jail. I cannot explain it, nor do I try, but once again this has no place here and I only share it with you anonymous because of the experiences you shared. I generally dont know what the hell to believe, just that science and math are good solid foundations and that my LIfe experience is not meaningless…that is basically my motto.

    I try to forget about these things because they are coincidental at best, but there are times when I don’t understand how so many coincidences can pile up on a person. I could write a book (if i could write) about the weird things that have happened that I could not explain which is why I am so passionate to keeping ALL possibilities OPEN in this particular case. Though I see the need for overturning what more than half the world thinks as religion as an increasingly forced reality upon young minds and all minds as being important to debunk.

    Those experiences are mine. They do not, nor do other peoples, hold up as any sort of factual evidence.

    One commenter mentioned how bad memory actually is and they were entirely correct.

    ibyea says:
    16 November 2011 at 11:32 am
    @anonymous
    You would be surprised by how much memory can deceive. Memories are not like films, they are more like blurry snapshots in which your mind fills in the gaps. Not only that, considering that at any single time, there are 300 million people in the US alone, if someone has a dream or feeling that something is going to happen in the future, some of the people are bound to get it approximately right.

    Which is why my experiences clearly cannot be offered as examples and I have understood this for quite some time.

    While most might say I am an idiot, I do not hear that in Life very often. It is usually the opposite, an open mind, subject to change, who only seeks truths.

  110. KG says

    I simply believe that iam part of this world, this nature, this universe & it is aware that it made me. The last bit I throw in for good measure but if you want to talk about natural things:

    There is no such thing as chance in reality. Whatever happens it happens in reality, however you percieve the chances of something happening does not matter. What happens is what happens and nothing else, science proves this very statement. – Infinite123Lifer

    More ludicrous tosh. You mix banalities and tautologies with absurd speculation and think you’ve said something profound. Of course you are part of the universe (banality), but there is no evidence at all that it is aware it made you, or of anything at all (absurd speculation). Quantum mechanics, incidentally, suggests that there are chance events. Science does not prove that “What happens is what happens and nothing else”, because this is a tautology, and science is not required to know that it is true.

  111. davem says

    I think Jadehawk that if you apply Occams Razor and the Null Hypothesis to the fact that you are alive and within the Universe that you will come to an alternate conclusion, leaving room for uncertainty in your bulletproof argument.

    Let’s suppose for argument’s sake there is an intelligent universe ‘out there’. How does it affect us? If we can see a burning bush, then we start to have evidence, and we can do some experiments, and can form a hypothesis. If however, this intelligence does not affect our lives in any way, nor does it intrude on the natural world in any way, then the whole thing becomes pointless. We cannot form any hypothesis, do any tests, come to any conclusion, generate any predictions. Even if it were true, there is no point in believing in it. We can indeed, speculate on infinite ‘things out there’ that might equally be true, but not affect us; Russell’s Teapot, the invisible pink unicorn in my garage, etc etc. Ockam’s razor says ‘get rid of them all’.

  112. anonymous says

    Alex:

    I’l stop LOLing if you wish, I just AM laughing and wanted you to know that I’m not losing my sense of humour on this. Imagine any emotion you wish on the post if you prefer. Are smile emotioncons ok?

    KG: Eat you? I don’t practice cannibalism, didn’t you remeber that I’m not religious? (lol supressed by request of alex)

    …and as I already told someone (post61), you’re right…you only have my story and the people involved could be told to lie to you if I gave you the names and addresses, and they could all be delusional. But that’s irrelevant since it could be coincedence. and it’s DOUBLY irrelevant since I’m not even trying to prove it to be true! (I was asked why i believe the possibility of supernatural and I gave an example of a weird event from personal experience…one I freely admit may NOT be supernatural. I don’t really care if anyone believes it or not as it’s irrelevant). and I already told you all (again post61) that she was old, so yeah, I DID know and DID tell you, and you didn’t bother to read it. Every point you’re bringing up has already been admitted by me, so…why again are we discussing this?

    Aside from clinging to the rigidy of the world as you know it, do you actually have a point to make? If you’re trying to get me to admit that the event wasn’t really supernatural, it’s already been done, so you’re typing for the sake of typing. Good finger exercise but kinda pointless. If you’re trying to make conversation, needs some work. If you’re trying to start a debate, can you tell me what ARE we debating anyway? If none of the above, then go get some sleep and dream of electric sheep!

  113. NitricAcid says

    It’s odd- I grew up knowing Catholics in Canada, but never saw anyone with ash on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday until I was over 30.

  114. Infinite123Lifer says

    KG @116

    There is an undefined relationship though. Do you through this fact out when considering philosophy. The scientific method obviously cannot explain the existence of your Life but surely it is ponderable.

  115. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Er, you said that there would be “something cool” with his birth date. Don’t you think that’s pretty vague? I mean, I’m pretty sure a math nerd could find something cool in any date, if they try hard enough. That’s hardly an evidence of an intelligent universe or your supernatural abilities or anything of sorts.

  116. Thuktun says

    “How did THEY know they were right and the others wrong?”

    In my opinion, this is all you needed to say.

  117. Ing says

    The scientific method obviously cannot explain the existence of your Life but surely it is ponderable.

    Explain in regards to WHAT?

    My parents fucked, science pretty much explains why I’m here.

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The scientific method obviously cannot explain the existence of your Life but surely it is ponderable.

    Sorry, science explains the existence of all hominids. So, probably what you are trying for is the “meaning of life” can be pondered. Mental masturbation, making you feel good, but getting nowhere (and don’t forget to use brain floss before you talk to other people).

  119. Ing says

    Infinitelifer seems to think that it’s a flaw of science that it can’t answer a question that was made up by nonscientific thought. I don’t think he understands WHAT he’s asking, he just thinks it’s profound.

  120. Infinite123Lifer says

    Damn you guys are relentlessly well maintained and well versed in the art of debate.

    Well done Pharyngulites. I give you props. Which is why I try here. You don’t let bullshit slide. I just wish I could become less of a tone troll and more of a well articulated writer. I suppose that comes with practice though.

    Or did all of you achieve that overnight in your cribs?
    Or wait let me guess for all those who called me harsh names, your ability to write and reason and rationalize:

    Is a god given ability!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    jk folks. hope you can smile. My time is spent. Plus I have to read about occams razor, null hypothesis, Sagans Invisible Dragon, and a concept or two previously mentioned. Also I need explanations for what a theist, atheist , agnostic, gnu atheist and some other things are, while some were explained it takes time to reflect on things to truly understand them. Reflection is the key component to understanding.

  121. Ing says

    For christ sake, READ what you write before you post.

    Or is that strategy intentional?

    Say something inane
    get called on it
    try to defend it
    fail to defend it and retreat into whining and taking insult.

  122. Ing says

    Also I need explanations for what a theist, atheist , agnostic, gnu atheist and some other things are, while some were explained it takes time to reflect on things to truly understand them

    It may surprise you to learn that no one here is your babysitter. No one is obligated to do your homework for you. If you wanted help you’re doing the opposite of endearing yourself and making people want to talk to you.

  123. Infinite123Lifer says

    Ing @127. No I dont think its a flaw and stand behind the scientific method as the best guide to understanding reality. Simultaneously I think it cannot explain everything, of which is left open for future inquiry and not rejected as absolute falsehood.

    Nerd, I have yet to feel an orgasm like sensation from all this mental masturbation. Maybe I should try some physical masturbation, it might make me feel better at least.

    Lay off the idiots, or is it genius level only here.

    Its called the FreeThoughtBlog I though for a reason. I am free to have thoughts and share them.

    I am so easily goaded, thank you for the training.

  124. Infinite123Lifer says

    Ing, I am just trying to offer an explanation for my behavior. I thought that was a courteous thing to acknowledge.

  125. Ing says

    Ing, I am just trying to offer an explanation for my behavior. I thought that was a courteous thing to acknowledge.

    It’s a sorry excuse.

    Its called the FreeThoughtBlog I though for a reason. I am free to have thoughts and share them.

    You’re free to…frankly I wish you wouldn’t. It’s like the flyers for titty shows they hand out in Vegas. Don’t want it even though it’s free.

    Oh and stop whining about people responding to your shitty thoughts.

  126. Infinite123Lifer says

    okay. I personally promise you Ing next time I give it a try…I will improve. (not that it would be difficult to improve)

    Personally promise. If you are fair about it and call me still mindlessly babbling I will never come back. But give me a fair chance on the next thread I come across.

    I would think it would be best for me to keep it short and simple and based on empirical evidence. Its a bet then?
    I need to stop right now. I am way out of my league.

  127. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am free to have thoughts and share them.

    If you share, we are free to share our thoughts criticize your stupidity. Because you are Someone Who Is Wrong On The Internet.

  128. Infinite123Lifer says

    Yes Ing, I know nobody is my babysitter, I was saying those are things I need to spend some time studying about.

  129. James the Less says

    Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is not required or obligatory. It is unfortunate that you were told that.

  130. consciousness razor says

    anonymous:

    But that’s irrelevant since it could be coincedence. and it’s DOUBLY irrelevant since I’m not even trying to prove it to be true! I was asked why i believe the possibility of supernatural and I gave an example of a weird event from personal experience…one I freely admit may NOT be supernatural. I don’t really care if anyone believes it or not as it’s irrelevant

    If you’re inferring the supernatural is possible based on this anecdote, then it is relevant that there’s no evidence the events described are of supernatural origin. Sure, you aren’t claiming it is supernatural, but you still can’t infer the supernatural is possible because X, Y, or Z are unexplained. It’s an argument from ignorance: even though you aren’t arguing specifically for this or that supernatural explanation, you’re still arguing for something based on your lack of knowledge.

    ——

    Infinite123Lifer:

    Lay off the idiots, or is it genius level only here.[?]

    I’m not a genius, but I’m sure you’re full of shit — it is rapidly approaching 100% absolute metaphysical certitude.

    And why should we lay off idiots? You can continue to blather all you like, at least until PZ gets cranky, but if you’re being a fucking idiot then I’ll try to be honest with you about it.

    Its called the FreeThoughtBlog I though for a reason. I am free to have thoughts and share them.

    We can share our thoughts too.

    Do you know what freethought is?

  131. KG says

    Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is not required or obligatory. It is unfortunate that you were told that. – James the Less

    You really think this is what was wrong with the way anonymous was treated? Not the bullying, the evasion of reasonable questions, the lies, the threats of hell?

    Sheesh.

  132. niftyatheist says

    Interesting essay. I can’t get over how often and how familiarly you seemed to interact with a Catholic bishop. Cradle Catholic here, attended Catholic school (including a convent while considering a life in the church)from age 5-17. In my traditional world the bishop was practically a demi-god – lived in a palace (his residence was, literally, called a palace) and descended among the rabble of ordinary Catholics only on certain special occasions, arrived at the church after everyone had been seated and left early while the people in the pews craned for a glimpse of him as he and his cortege swept out. No one ever approached him directly. He was never involved in such lowly activities as direct interaction with parishioners. Even priests in my parish were often more distant than your bishop. Unbelievable.
    I feel like that is an indication of a progressive element in your parish – which is ironic I guess, since it still did not succeed in keeping you!

  133. niftyatheist says

    NitricAcid says:
    16 November 2011 at 1:59 pm

    It’s odd- I grew up knowing Catholics in Canada, but never saw anyone with ash on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday until I was over 30.

    You probably either did not notice (it is just a little smudge) or weren’t looking for it (did not know about it?) or most of all, probably not around Catholic schoolchildren within an hour of the service on Ash Wednesdays, knew about it AND were looking for the evidence.

    The little smudge of ashes is usually wiped off (accidentally, never deliberately, oh no!) within an hour or so of the service. And, although I know some adults did go in the old days, most did not during the work day, but at night, after which they went straight home (lent, don’t forget).

    I think Catholics, competing with fundamentalist Protestants, are upping their game a little more. You see people going to churches on their breaks from work, so that they can have the ash smear on their foreheads in public. Perhaps this is why you’ve seen it in later years but not really before. I’m just guessing, but that has been my observation.

  134. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    WTF are you on about?

    señor anonymós is probably irritated by the scrutiny that some of his statements which he considers minor points, meet, is thusly not so sure what to think of this and how to deal with it. The whole is complicated by some sloppy language.

  135. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    niftyatheist says:
    16 November 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Interesting essay. I can’t get over how often and how familiarly you seemed to interact with a Catholic bishop. Cradle Catholic here, attended Catholic school (including a convent while considering a life in the church)from age 5-17. In my traditional world the bishop was practically a demi-god – lived in a palace (his residence was, literally, called a palace) and descended among the rabble of ordinary Catholics only on certain special occasions, arrived at the church after everyone had been seated and left early while the people in the pews craned for a glimpse of him as he and his cortege swept out. No one ever approached him directly. He was never involved in such lowly activities as direct interaction with parishioners. Even priests in my parish were often more distant than your bishop. Unbelievable.
    I feel like that is an indication of a progressive element in your parish – which is ironic I guess, since it still did not succeed in keeping you!

    Interesting observation, I would say that what you describe would be true in most of Europe, and (I guess now) might be the case in very catholic places in South America. Maybe anonymous is from a place where the catholic church plays a comparably minor role such as most of the semirural US. This would be an explanation why bishops there are not behaving like high nobility as they do in most of Europe.

  136. says

    Wow, I’m going to just skip down to the bottom here and comment.
    @Anonymous, excellent testimonial, my growth out of Catholicism was not as dramatic, but your story did resonate with my experience.

    @everybody who decided to ignore the moving story anonymous just told to get into a pedantic snit about the mild agnosticism he expressed in the last paragraph… stop it, you’re being serious fucking buttheads.

  137. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Lou Doench

    stop it, you’re being serious fucking buttheads.

    Some unfortunate dynamics I would agree, the story is important, and that aspect kind of drowned. Although if you send something to Pharyngula of all places, who knows off what tangent the discussion goes.

  138. Dhorvath, OM says

    Lou,
    So should we just wait on your analysis of posts to decide what is worthy of comment? This site can provide support, but it can also refine. Why try to limit it?

  139. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I was in Catholic schools for 12 years. I spoke to the bishop once during that time. He was at my high school graduation and I spoke to him then.

    Bishops are like army generals. The average soldier sees one very occasionally but hardly ever interacts with a general.

  140. Infinite123Lifer says

    Ing, don’t fire me. I said thread. And I was careful with my words this time around.

    Jadehawk@29 said:

    ”agnostic” and “atheist” are orthogonal to each other, not positions on the same sliding-scale. I, for example, am an agnostic atheist
    2)The Argument from Incredulity is not a valid argument. Reality being coutnerintuitive is a strange basis for a position on the issue of gods.

    I do not grasp this, though this is something I am not asking you to explain because it appears to be something self evident to me which I will be able to follow given some Webster’s, some time, thought and reflection on the matter. I did not understand the relationships here with orthogonal and incredulity, the sliding-scale /inference (if it was an inference even?), some thought must be given to what you have said there. I would think 99.9% of reality is counterintuitive if we are talking about the entire Universe, I am talking on the quantum level, the molecular level, the physical nature, time…

    Can you agree with me that 99% of reality will never be known? While this question may be deemed as not serving purpose I think it is a clear observation of Reality. And yes in a round about way I am asking the question, can science take intelligent Life all the way to a grand unified predictive theory of All? For me they are kind of the same question.

    For at the moment reality is a mystery. Surely Occam’s Razor would explain that “it is more likely we do not know 99% about all passing moments in the Universe”. Nothing can predict what will happen from one moment to the next with 100% certainty. If we increase the scale of certainty of things happening 14 billions light years away, it becomes increadibly weak.

    Jadehawk @52 said:

    There is no such thing as chance in reality-Infinite123Lifer

    you suck at language; are you even aware that you’re conflating two meanings of “chance”?

    Jadehawk could you please elaborate on what it means to conflate two meanings of any _W_O_R_D_, or at least especially chance please?

    I really would do not want to conflate two meanings of the word chance..or any word for that matter :) I yearn here

    That reasoning follows some very deep understanding that as things occur in the one true reality of everything it just happened. Chance is not a force of nature was my intended meaning. And sometimes I think it gets used often because it is advantageous for us to know such things. What happens, and what we think might happen are non even comparable.

    Jadehawk @ 60 said:

    a statement generally doesn’t assume; it does however imply,

    I am not sure about your use of the word generally here. I would have understood you better if you had personalized it, such as “my statement….”

    (I know at that point it was a little ridiculous for you though)

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis @81 says:

    You say “I think that we should not exclude the possibility that there is something out there”, and that is completely meaningless noise unless you specify what you mean by that something. If you don’t, the statement is meaningless, but as soon as you specify what you mean, the concerns I have outlined here apply.-

    They are necessarily all wrong except maybe one, but it is most likely that all those that you entertain are, in fact, wrong.-“

    To answer your fist paragraph I did ask the thread for new definitions and Jadehawk gave the example, to simplify of a “physical phenomenon”. You say I must define something, however in point of reflection sir, people have known about strange forces for a long time and to define gravity, magnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces took some time where they never did define the “something” that cause this force. They just knew it existed. I offer this as a serious rebuttal of your first paragraph using this analogy. What once was mystifying was soon discovered and named and proofed and tested and holds true, but at one time they were quite undefined as “something”. Being alive in the Universe is the only proof to offer to the existence of something, and that in itself is either entirely baseless, or entirely meaningful. This is where our only discrepancy lies I think.

    As for your second quote that I marked here I indeed accept the fact sir that there is only one reality. And we are all as far away as we can be from predicting each passing moment in the entirety of existence within the Universe. No matter what I entertain, it is not absolute 100% reality; nor will it be for anyone, or anything other than the fossil record (so to speak) of the stars and planets and galaxies or what you might call the signature the Universe imprints on space and time.

    For 118 KG:

    Quantum mechanics, incidentally, suggests that there are chance events. Science does not prove that “What happens is what happens and nothing else”, because this is a tautology, and science is not required to know that it is true.

    I am not aware of banality or tautology but I think I might infer what they mean by how you have used them. Disregarding my beliefs in this recent post, I have tried to focus on a few simple observations that we can all agree upon.

    1. I Love Science
    2. As you stated quantum mechanics suggest chance events. . . but we only view it as a chance. Once quantum teleportation occurs for instance it is in fact in reality that it has occurred. The chance is would occur is irrelevant to the overwhelming tantamount impossible task of knowing each passing moment.
    3. Science indeed is aware that chance is not a natural force. Science depends on the reality behind the force period.

    I am as sincere as I can be. Ing don’t fire me.

  141. Infinite123Lifer says

    @everybody who decided to ignore the moving story anonymous just told to get into a pedantic snit about the mild agnosticism he expressed in the last paragraph… stop it, you’re being serious fucking buttheads.

    I thought the mild agnosticism was the spark of the entire story. It made me happy somebody understood just how subject to change science is.

    I spent kindergarten and 1st grade in catholic school. Had to wear the uniform, had to get spanked with a yard stick, at lunch all the boys checked out the skirts (even back then, crazy) and it sucked as I remember. Our Father’s name was Roman. And I think we were Roman Catholics. By 2nd grade my family had turned the Catholic religion to ashes and we moved on. Good Story.

    It does beg the question though:

  142. Dhorvath, OM says

    Chance is pretty rigorously understood in QM to refer to probabilities of outcome. Some chances are equal, others not so much, and when the same apparatus performs the same routine, yes, each iteration produces a single definite outcome, but in a series of those iterations the percentage of observed results comes to reflect the probability of expected results. Probability drives populations, it doesn’t determine specific outcomes.
    So while it is strictly accurate in some perspectives to say that what has happened happened with a probability of one, it tells us nothing to say that, it’s a tautology.
    _

    Atheism is on axis with theism, they both deal with belief in the existence of deities. Agnosticism is on axis with gnosis and they deal with knowledge. Most atheists are agnostic due the acknowledged lack of completeness of human knowledge while still being comfortable stating their lack of belief in deities.

  143. Infinite123Lifer says

    The question the essay almost screams is Why Was It Like That Growing Up? wtf?

    Why can’t people move on from old beliefs? Grow up for that matter. Incorporate a reality check.

    William Lane Craig is an idiot. George Bush is an idiot. The americans who vote christian only are idiots. People who order chickenpox saliva suckers for there kids are idiots. People who think we have not been to the moon are idiots.

    I am a dreamer don’t get it twisted, get it str8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And you smart people need people like us.

    Your essay made my day because I saw there was another dreamer in the world and sometimes that is all it takes.

  144. niftyatheist says

    ‘Tis Himself, OM says:
    16 November 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I was in Catholic schools for 12 years. I spoke to the bishop once during that time. He was at my high school graduation and I spoke to him then.

    Bishops are like army generals. The average soldier sees one very occasionally but hardly ever interacts with a general.

    Exactly my experience, ‘Tis Himself. I lived in two provinces in Canada and two American states…same experience everywhere. The only bishop I ever met (if you could call it that) was at my confirmation, which in those days had to be done by a bishop…so he waved his hand in front of me and muttered magic words..that was it. In every other parish I have lived in (before walking away from the church finally), I had never even seen the bishop in person, let alone met him.

    Anyway, not to distract too much from the rest of the discussion – it just struck me as very unusual!

  145. Dhorvath, OM says

    Infinite123Lifer,
    I came to this late and may have missed most of a good conversation, but please don’t assume that means I was uninterested. You have asked some common questions, and I thought those two in particular I might have some help to offer.
    If you are confused, you are in good company, I don’t know half so much as I would like, but for me at least reading is insufficient. I need people to bounce ideas at, to tease my understandings against, and hopefully come to a better understanding afterwards. Not everyone here is highly educated, I have no post secondary papers, and I am not the only one.
    If you aren’t confused and my replies came inappropriately in time, I can only blame my excitement. It often gets the better of me.

  146. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As you stated quantum mechanics suggest chance events. . . but we only view it as a chance. Once quantum teleportation occurs for instance it is in fact in reality that it has occurred. The chance is would occur is irrelevant to the overwhelming tantamount impossible task of knowing each passing moment.

    Sorry, you misunderstand the word “chance”. Quantum mechanics is statistical, like radioactive decay. In a given time, we know half the radioactive atoms will decay. Which atoms do decay? That happens by chance, but half of them will.

    Don’t invest in quantum teleportation. The amount of energy required to fully sequence all the atoms and their interconnectivities in an adult human is larger than that in the universe. A little thinking, and back of the envelope calculations, avoids foot in mouth disease

  147. consciousness razor says

    You say I must define something, however in point of reflection sir, people have known about strange forces for a long time and to define gravity, magnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces took some time where they never did define the “something” that cause this force. They just knew it existed. I offer this as a serious rebuttal of your first paragraph using this analogy.

    In the cases you mention, there was some definite thing which led to us knowing it existed and trying to figure out how it works. This is what I mean by having some definition for your idea. Gravity and magnetism are part of our everyday experience, so of course we tried to figure out how those worked. Way back when, people had no idea how, but they knew something was happening and something needed to be explained. They could point to specific phenomena and try to figure out how best to explain them — scientists are still doing that. It took some time, and lots of wrong interpretations were made, but everybody wasn’t just playing pretend and making the whole fucking thing up.

    On the other hand, no one was thinking about the strong or weak nuclear forces until there was some evidence of them. Prior to that, no one had any reason to suspect such forces existed, since those don’t affect our everyday lives in obvious ways. That superstitious dolts were around a long time before claiming there were “strange forces” (or whatever) isn’t the same as claiming there is a kind of nuclear force based on actual scientific evidence. In fact, that’s about as diametrically opposed to empirical claims and the scientific method as one can get. They really had no idea what they were talking about, and in no way was the discovery of those forces somehow a validation of the their bogus nonsense.

    So, if you’re going to claim there could be “something out there” — or whatever you’re trying to say with your word-salad, it’s hard to tell — then you at least have to point to something that you already know is real, not just pull meaningless “possibilities” out of your ass and claim nobody can prove you wrong.

  148. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Infinite123Lifer,

    To answer your fist paragraph I did ask the thread for new definitions and Jadehawk gave the example, to simplify of a “physical phenomenon”. You say I must define something, however in point of reflection sir, people have known about strange forces for a long time and to define gravity, magnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces took some time where they never did define the “something” that cause this force. They just knew it existed.

    They knew it existed because it corresponded to very specific observable phenomena like gravitational attraction and magnetic attraction. The strong and weak force were not appreciated, not even really anticipated until the 20th century when the corresponding phenomena were measured in nice specific scientific experiments. More such forces may exist, a discovery of this type is I would say a hope of every physicist right now. You make it sound like there was some hunch that there is something like the weak force, that people simply felt that there should be such a thing – and that is certainly wrong. Again, if you simply state “there is something there” without stating what you mean, you are basically never wrong, but it’s also not a very content-rich statement.

    I offer this as a serious rebuttal of your first paragraph using this analogy. What once was mystifying was soon discovered and named and proofed and tested and holds true, but at one time they were quite undefined as “something”.

    No, I don’t get it. Help me out here, what exactly is this a rebuttal of? I have never denied that such a thing as new scientific discoveries exist.

    Being alive in the Universe is the only proof to offer to the existence of something, and that in itself is either entirely baseless, or entirely meaningful. This is where our only discrepancy lies I think.

    I don’t understand this sentence. Being alive is a proof you offer to the universe, or a proof of something existing in the universe? Huh?!

  149. KG says

    Infinite123Lifer,

    1. I Love Science
    2. As you stated quantum mechanics suggest chance events. . . but we only view it as a chance. Once quantum teleportation occurs for instance it is in fact in reality that it has occurred. The chance is would occur is irrelevant to the overwhelming tantamount impossible task of knowing each passing moment.
    3. Science indeed is aware that chance is not a natural force. Science depends on the reality behind the force period.

    1. You may think you do, but you clearly don’t have a clue what it’s about.
    2. This makes no sense.
    3. This makes no sense.

  150. anonymous says

    #145, Lou (and Infinite123life)
    Thank you…greatly appreciated. (bows deeply) Good to know SOMEONE took the story in the spirit it was offered!

    KG @120, just a little troll testing. Wanted to see if you were going to fight just for the sake of fighting. You never bit, so I know you’re just passionate about details and not a moron. (MINOR details, but details). Wanted to see if I was wasting time or not and I was getting tired so decided that was the simpliest approach.

    Incidently, I forgot to reference that “eat me” was from the poster ABOVE you (ing #112)…was getting late and forgot to include the 2nd person as reference, and the rest was for you. Sorry. As for ING, take the response exactly as written and smile. Do ya some good.

    As for the smudge not being required, yeah I know (now) that the church was being too dogmatic, but that’s the point. They had their rules and were willing to tell me that I was going to hell over it, and the religion itself apparently doesn’t even believe it as a whole! Anal-retentive pricks or what??? I still see people going around with them after the church, they do like to wear their religion on their sleeve don’t they?

    funny thing is…how does saying THIS is a requirement for salvation differ from them saying that church ITSELF is a requirement, or muslems and their daily set of prayers (facing Mecca or it doesn’t count) or any other stupid rule help people get closer to the religion. Just another control tactic, and sickning that they would rather torment a child than just admit it.

    I did enjoy the debates though…especially when I asked onetime HOW we know the Lord’s prayer. He looked dumbfounded. I explained further that the diciples were asleep, Jesus prayed, then the diciples woke up as he was being taken away, so who heard him say it? It was another “shut up and listen” reaction of course, but worth it for the look on the bishop.

    P.S. The reason the class was held at all and why we saw so much of the “general” was just because he lived near the church and it was considered an honour to the priest that he’d attend so many masses and host these classes (gag).

  151. KG says

    Incidently, I forgot to reference that “eat me” was from the poster ABOVE you (ing #112) – anonymous

    Hence my WTF. I ingored the rest as pointless dribble.

  152. anonymous says

    #138, consciousness razor:

    “If you’re inferring the supernatural is possible based on this anecdote, then it is relevant that there’s no evidence the events described are of supernatural origin. Sure, you aren’t claiming it is supernatural, but you still can’t infer the supernatural is possible because X, Y, or Z are unexplained. It’s an argument from ignorance: even though you aren’t arguing specifically for this or that supernatural explanation, you’re still arguing for something based on your lack of knowledge.”

    (sigh) Ok, final time…I am NOT argueing for the supernatural, I am stating that a weird unexplained event occured and that while it PROBABLY has a natural explaination, I am not closed off to a SUPERNATURAL one IF sufficient evidence was presented. I AM infering that is it possible just like I could infer that (as an example, please don’t shoot me!) the only reason you have random thoughts in general is that a spirit could be guiding you. Of course it’s more likely that it’s due to pure electrochemical rections in your mind and the combinations in your brain of all variables at any given moment could be predicted if we could map every single atom in a supercomputer, but until that evidence is airtight, there’s still the fact that there’s a SLIM chance of spirit. THUS SAID, it’s MORE reasonable to assume the former is why you have random thoughts, but to discount the 0.000001% chance completely of a spirit is closed minded until the proof is presented with the invention of said supercomputer. That’s ALL I’m saying, I’m not argueing FOR the supernatural at all.

    Now it’s your turn if you’d like to play a game. Can you explain with 100% certainity how gravity works without invoking extra dimentions to account for the losses in relative energy and the complete lack of any interacting force between the objects. Remember that extra dimentions (and thus the bengins of space curving it) has never been proven to exist by science YET and thus CANNOT be factored in your answer according to your own rules). In order for it to work, you have to BELIEVE and have FAITH that the curled-up dimentions exist in space in order to bend it and allow for gravety to function in 3D space. But BELIEF and FAITH are not allowed in your mind, so good luck! :)

  153. Dhorvath, OM says

    Gravity happens. It’s a well established, repeatable and predictable force operating between two or more masses. Any explanation of it is not supernatural, although it is possible that there is more to nature than we currently have on the table. As for curvature, general relativity works, and works well, the curvature of four dimensional space has been measured to fantastic precision. This curvature does not require a higher dimensional space to curve into, think of it more as how closely Euclidian space is in a given region.
    The extra dimensions are an interesting way of approaching unification between gravity and the other known forces of physics, but it’s not a done deal and it produces a number of problems in the process of answering a question. It is however testable, we have a known phenomena, gravity, and a boundary of measurement, currently in the mm scale if I recall, which puts strong constraints on how extra dimensions might exist. This is a reasonable thing for science to entertain, and is true of any realm of human knowledge: we don’t know everything so we look at the edges and see what interesting things happen.

  154. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Now it’s your turn if you’d like to play a game. Can you explain with 100% certainity how gravity works without invoking extra dimentions to account for the losses in relative energy and the complete lack of any interacting force between the objects.

    I have no clue what you are talking about. General Relativity does not involve extra dimensions, and it explains gravity extremely well. There are no gravity forces in GR, only geometry, but this does not require a separate explanation as such. Quantum Gravity theories such as String Theory do involve extra dimensions, but those are still speculative. I have however no idea what you mean by losses in relative energy.

    Remember that extra dimentions (and thus the bengins of space curving it) has never been proven to exist by science YET and thus CANNOT be factored in your answer according to your own rules). In order for it to work, you have to BELIEVE and have FAITH that the curled-up dimentions exist in space in order to bend it and allow for gravety to function in 3D space.

    Erm. No.

  155. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    anonymous,

    by invoking all caps BELIEVE and FAITH as an argumentative device in a barely literate discussion of gravitational physics, you have finally gone off the deep end. Maybe you should take a break and a deep breath before you go on with this inanity.

  156. ahs ॐ says

    Until the evidence is airtight, there is still a slim chance that green men live on the moon and feed captured human souls to the loch ness monster in a giant underground crystal pyramid.

    Anyway, have you read Richard Carrier’s stuff about the soul or spirit or whatevs? You should.

    +++++
    To all: okay seriously though, what if there was a god, and the only thing it did was answer prayers for pie? But you had to really worship the fuck out of it, and not just on the high holidays. Would you do it?

  157. KG says

    Hey, anonymous and Infinite123Lifer, you’re clearly made for each other – you both write semi-literate screeds of cack-brained nonsense about areas of science you clearly know nothing about, and insist we’re all closed-minded because we point this out. Maybe you could take this to email? I’m off to bed.

  158. John Morales says

    [meta]

    anonymous:

    KG @120, just a little troll testing.

    KG has a Molly (admittedly under an old ‘nym).

    [OT]

    Can you explain with 100% certainity how gravity works without invoking extra dimentions to account for the losses in relative energy and the complete lack of any interacting force between the objects.

    Gobbledygook; (1) you’re confusing that there is no unified theory with lack of knowledge altogether; (2) to what do you refer to as “losses in relative energy”? (The conversion of potential gravitational energy into kinetic energy doesn’t involve loss of energy); (3) gravity can be (and is) described as a force (ever heard of gravitational fields?).

  159. John Morales says

    ahs,

    To all: okay seriously though, what if there was a god, and the only thing it did was answer prayers for pie? But you had to really worship the fuck out of it, and not just on the high holidays. Would you do it?

    Fuck no!

    (The only way you’d get worship out of me is with the stick; the carrot ain’t worth the degradation of being a worshipper)

  160. ahs ॐ says

    John you must have a stronger constitution. If the pie was good enough, I’m pretty sure I would.

  161. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    But BELIEF and FAITH are not allowed in your mind, so good luck!

    That’s idiocy: I have faith that I shan’t break my leg when I next get up from my chair to grab a drink, and I believe I shall die. I believe that when next I use my card at an ATM, I shall be able to draw money from my account, and I have faith that my bank shan’t make that account arbitrarily disappear.

    It’s unwarranted belief and faith that are at best silly, and at worst foolish (and of course they’re allowed), and it’s counter-evidential and/or incoherent beliefs that are at best stupid (and at worst dangerous).

    All religious beliefs of which I’m aware fall into one of the above two categories, and you initially claimed this very thing (“So I studied ALL theologies looking for one that actually could back up their words, as clearly I was lied to several times already.
    To my surprise (but nobody here’s surprise), NONE of them had evidence! Not one had anything concrete, it was ALL faith!!! “).

  162. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am NOT argueing for the supernatural, I am stating that a weird unexplained event occured and that while it PROBABLY has a natural explaination, I am not closed off to a SUPERNATURAL one IF sufficient evidence was presented

    Whereas a skeptic would say the stupornatural would only, only be considered if no natural (scientific) explanation can be found over a reasonable period of time…Say 25 years….

    Can you explain with 100% certainity how gravity works

    Nothing in science can say anything with 100% certainty, since science doesn’t work that way. Only religion pretends absolute certainty, and they lie. Science can say with 99.99999% confidence….and if you can’t understand the difference, you have nothing cogent to say to us ever…

  163. anonymous says

    Thank you for playing the gravity game.

    You see, I obviously don’t dispute gravity’s existence. No sane person would But see how quick some people were to jump to defend it as soon as I brought up the words BELIEF and FAITH when dealing with a SINGLE variable of it?

    THAT was the point I was making. Everyone who replied lept onto that one aspect while missing the biger picture and was quick to dismiss my IDEAS on how it work with insults. That picture being that nobody knows exactly how it works YET with absolute certainity, all they have are theories. I worded the question by inserting a few possibilities and the backlash was instant. Why the hostility?

    And yet people in trying to prove my idiocy threw in their OWN UNTESTABLE evidences to support it (what physically is a “gravity field” What’s pulling the objects together? Science doesn;t know with 100% certainity yet, and that’s cool because we’re still learning. Nobody’s found the “graviton” yet Losses of energy was just refering to the fact it’s so weak compared to others with no known reason. Curving space in 4D is still a theory, albiet a good one, and no machine has actually seen it occur).

    All evidence was POSSIBILITIES, just like I offered, yet yours are absolutely correct and mine are crackpot BY DEFAULT? THAT was the point of the game…to simply show a closed mindness bias in some athiests.

    Sorry to poke a nerve deliberately, but I had to prove a point. Now like Lou said, why not relax and take the story as it was meant to be taken? Or shall we comment on my bad spelling and grammar next? :)

  164. says

    I am curious does using the Null Hypothesis and Occams Razor lead directly to atheistic interpretations?

    Is atheism the only plausible explanation given the lack of evidence?

    of course. specifically, it leaves agnostic atheism as the only sound conclusion; but like all skeptical conclusions, it is a provisional one, pending new evidence.

    To what degree of error does the Null Hypothesis and Occam’s Razor account for evidence of nothing? I don’t know if that is answerable but it is a philosophical question.

    no, it’s actually a question that reveals your complete ignorance of the concepts.

    To what degree are you certain that there is nothing?

    do you understand that this is not a relevant question?

    I wonder if they are applicable to some degree for the argument that there is nothing other than what we see.

    considering that no one is arguing for “there is nothing other than what we see”, that is irrelevant; still revealing a complete lack of understanding of the relevant concepts, though.

    But it seems the smart people have too narrow a beam on what they think would be proof of a physical phenomenon.

    evidence, not proof; also, you’re wrong. it’s not too narrow, it’s narrow enough to make sure we can still tell when we get it wrong.

    And by that I mean that a person cannot rule out every possible scenario.

    don’t need to; null hypothesis & occam’s razor

    by constantly asking for proof of the supernatural.

    evidence, not proof. seriously, learn the meanings of words before using them.

    A physically real phenomenon is what I am trying to say exists based upon the fact that:
    1. I am alive and
    2.within the Universe.

    nothing follows from those two premises, so whatever that “physically real phenomenon” is, it also does not follow from the premises.

    One that says “there is a physically real phenomenon that exists and I am proof of it”.

    evidence, not proof; also, the only phenomena human existence is evidence for are naturalistic and already known.

    I think Jadehawk that if you apply Occams Razor and the Null Hypothesis to the fact that you are alive and within the Universe that you will come to an alternate conclusion, leaving room for uncertainty in your bulletproof argument.

    you still don’t know anything about those two concepts.

    And if so, is it certain enough to make an infinite amount of possibilities irrelevant?

    you still don’t understand what the Null Hypothesis and Occam’s Razor are; and I suspect you don’t really understand the meaning of “irrelevant”, either.

    I still do not understand why that does not work both ways.

    yes, we know you don’t understand. I’ve been telling you to go learn about how Occam’s Razor and the Null Hypothesis work precisely so you might finally get a clue about why it doesn’t work both ways.

    I think what I am trying to get you and others to relinquish is that “there are other possibilities” than just our current view of reality.

    dude, we do know that. but until there’s any evidence for them, any such possibilities are purely speculative, and belief in them is frivolous and unparsimonious. until there’s evidence for them, any such speculative possibilities are pretty much irrelevant to an understanding of reality.

    perhaps no physical phenomenon is known to exist is the only logical answer for now.

    i see that “physical phenomenon” is another term you evidently don’t understand.

    the basic arguments against supernatural human held beliefs/myths/tales/religions do not hold water when dealing with ALL possibilities of any type of physical phenomenon.

    yes they do; no evidence = no reason to believe in its existence.

    However, that is not to say philosophically that your argument bears absolute certainty.

    you’re the only person here rambling about certainty.

    cannot be written off as coincidence

    because why?

    Aside from clinging to the rigidy of the world as you know it,

    there is no rigidity; only rigorousness

    The scientific method obviously cannot explain the existence of your Life but surely it is ponderable.

    wut. of course it can.

    Can you agree with me that 99% of reality will never be known?

    no; how much of reality is not accessible to the human mind and human inquiry is not a known or knowable entity.

    And yes in a round about way I am asking the question, can science take intelligent Life all the way to a grand unified predictive theory of All? For me they are kind of the same question.

    they are not.

    Jadehawk could you please elaborate on what it means to conflate two meanings of any _W_O_R_D_, or at least especially chance please?

    *sigh*
    for any of your ramblings to have any relevance, you need there not to be randomness, not probability. The existence or not of probabilities other than one and zero are really not helping your argument any.

    What happens, and what we think might happen are non even comparable.

    this is, of course, wrong.

    I am not sure about your use of the word generally here. I would have understood you better if you had personalized it, such as “my statement….”

    O.o
    you’re one dense cookie. I don’t even know how to explain this sentence to you, since I have no idea which part of it could possibly be difficult to understand.

    but we only view it as a chance. Once quantum teleportation occurs for instance it is in fact in reality that it has occurred.

    you’re doing it again, conflating probability and randomness. Though I suspect that you don’t understand what it means to say that the probability of events that already occurred is always 1, either…

  165. says

    @ 139, KG asks, re this:

    Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is not required or obligatory. It is unfortunate that you were told that. – James the Less

    You really think this is what was wrong with the way anonymous was treated?

    James the Less may be being kind, but I’m seeing the assertion in the OP as evidence of shenanigans, along with all that alleged chat with the bishop. Also, the “saved by faith/belief” line is typically Protestant, not Catholic.

    All that going-to-Hell stuff sounds more Prod than Cathoholic, too. Catholics can always make a sincere act of confession/Penance—what are they calling it these days? Sacrament of Reconciliation, I think. Even the right kind of contrition can ~save~ you at your death.

    I’m getting a whiff of last Friday’s mackerel here.

  166. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    All evidence was POSSIBILITIES,

    Possibilities are mental masturbation, not evidence. Evidence is solid, physical, and conclusive. Why can’t you see that distinction? Oh yes, you might have to back up your inane statements with real facts, not opinions…

  167. Dhorvath, OM says

    And are you denying that time is distorted by gravity? That’s pretty well established.

  168. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    anonymous #178

    All evidence was POSSIBILITIES, just like I offered, yet yours are absolutely correct and mine are crackpot BY DEFAULT? THAT was the point of the game…to simply show a closed mindness [sic] bias in some athiests.

    There’s the possibility there’s an invisible pink unicorn living in my garage but I’m not concerned about stepping into a pile of invisible pink unicorn manure when I get out of the car.

    If the possibilities are so close to zero as to be effectively zero then it’s not closed mindedness to dismiss them as inconsequential. All the capitalization of random words in the world won’t change that.

  169. says

    We stumbled over here by a different page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page repeatedly. Also I want to ask you something else. I have heard the 17Day Diet is a very good way to lose weight quickly. is that true? Also have you thought about the “telic 22 diet”? (search on google to learn about it) Ive heard some good things about it and my friend lost tons of weight with this diet.

  170. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    You see, I obviously don’t dispute gravity’s existence.
    […]
    [1] what physically is a “gravity field” [2] What’s pulling the objects together?

    1. The term “gravity field” is a model of physical reality; being a model, it’s an abstraction. You’ve reified it to try to make your gotcha, but in so doing have revealed your ignorance.

    g = -( \frac{GM}{r^2})

    2. Duh. The action of the gravity field on the (mass of the) objects.

  171. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    Losses of energy was just refering to the fact it’s so weak compared to others with no known reason.

    Talking about weak, that’s the feeblest attempt at an ex post facto ad hoc excuse I’ve encountered for quite some time — it makes no sense, though it reveals much about you.

  172. anonymous says

    #181, nerd of red. Still not getting it are you? Quote the ONE sentence that has nothing to do with the post and leap on it. The rest of the post clearly stated that my possibilities WERE inane and thus I’m not supposed to prove it. Please read #178 again and tell me if I’m trying to prove my theory on gravity, or am I trying to prove that some people are eager to jump when athiestic belief is questioned even slightly. Read closely, I was pretty clear on the intent I thought, but maybe not?

    And sorry, but even though I (like I said) agree with curvature of space time as a good theory on how gravity works, it hasn’t been PROVEN yet, it’s still just a good theory, and hence just a good possibility. Evidence shows it’s probably true, but the first time someone thought it up, they were as you put it “mentally masturbating” becasue no tests were run. Sometimes a good masturbation is a productive activity as it leads to a satisfying conclusion with physical evidence to show. :)

    Remember all theories are just possibilities until evidence is produced to prove it. It’s the starting point, is it not? Example, it’s possible the fire is hotor it’s cold. I touch it and feel the heat, so evidence shows it’s hot. Others repeat the experiment with the same result. Therefore, fire is proven to be hot. But before anyone touches it, when the first flame ever seen by anyone was observed in the distance, it’s just only a possibility it’s hot, right? Why can’t this be taken to other areas of reality?

    #183, dhorvah, see above. I deny nothing of the sort, and again you missed the point.

    #180 ron, Oh now the whole story is in question? Sheesh, PZ asks people to post their tales, I do because I thought others would enjoy it and maybe learn from it, and because of ONE sentence in it at the end suddenly it’s now considered a possibiltity to you of it being fake?

    Believe what you want, since nothing short of a videofeed from years ago recording the whole thing will apparently convince you, but surely you don’t think that the church is above lying to people??? Maybe I SHOULD have lied when I posted it and edited out the parts that people may object to, though is it fair to ask why I would bother to post the lie with nothing to gain from it? I don’t know anyone here, frankly don’t care if you believe it or not, and am simply replying to these postings because I have time to kill and I like to try to explain myself to anyone who may not understand the original point of my messages.

    Am I being asked to stop? If so, I’ll go back to just reading postings and enjoying the blog, I just thought I’d contribute for once. Apparently though freethought is just the blog name not the spirit of it. :)

  173. anonymous says

    (waiting patiently for those to now jump onto the gravity thing again in details rather than the point of keeping an open mind to the unknown)

    Oh, and I know the math of gravity and fields…what I asked in my example (and I am not trying to prove gravity is one thing or another so this is pointless but…) literally what is making the objects act as they do (attracting). Yes the model is abstract…and thus is a product of imagination to allow the numbers to work out so we know how masses interact with each other. I never said it doesn’t work, I said we don’t know HOW it works, we just have a theory. Or did I misread your post?

    again, totally irrelevant as my post was to show the mindset here that I’m confronting, but what the heck, if it makes people feel better, has everyone forgotten completely that I AGREE WITH SCIENCE AS THE BASIS OF REALITY? So far looks like it. Guess I just either don’t agree enough, or some people like to cherry-pick their arguements, even when it has nothing to do with the postings.

    Whatever…everyone needs a scratching post to claw at I guess, :)

  174. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    Oh, and I know the math of gravity and fields…what I asked in my example (and I am not trying to prove gravity is one thing or another so this is pointless but…) literally what is making the objects act as they do (attracting). Yes the model is abstract…and thus is a product of imagination to allow the numbers to work out so we know how masses interact with each other. I never said it doesn’t work, I said we don’t know HOW it works, we just have a theory. Or did I misread your post?

    I suspect (but can’t know, given your ambiguity) you’re responding to my response; if not, this is a wasted response on my own part.

    So, let me reiterate; there is a phenomenon which requires explanation (gravity), which phenomenon has been observed and investigated such that a predictive model has been generated (this is to what you refer as a theory). You don’t dispute that this model accounts for all instantiations of the phenomenon, but quibble that we can only know the model and not the phenomenon per se (though they are congruent as far as experimentation can show); this, I suspect, because you’re philosophically ignorant and don’t realise that (1) knowledge of reality is necessarily mediated via our senses and (2) absent agency, the ‘how’ is the ‘why’.

  175. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    or am I trying to prove that some people are eager to jump when athiestic belief is questioned even slightly.

    First, it’s ‘A (not) Theistic (goddish)’ – not ‘A Thiestic’.

    (You could try pronouncing it as you type it, so as to get it right)

    I note you’ve clearly ignored the distinction between belief and knowledge to which I and others have referred, above.

    Like you, I’m an agnostic atheist; unlike you, I have a cogent basis upon which to employ those terms.

    Here is yet another different link (which I hope doesn’t exceed your level) to an exposition of this concept which apparently yet eludes you: Atheism vs. Agnosticism.

  176. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    [1] Am I being asked to stop? [2] If so, I’ll go back to just reading postings and enjoying the blog, I just thought I’d contribute for once. [3] Apparently though freethought is just the blog name not the spirit of it. :)

    1. No.

    2. You imply a dichotomy which doesn’t exist.

    3. So you think criticism of your ideas should be out-of-bounds when in freethinking company?

    (I get you’re feeling uncomfortable with the probing; feel free to cringe away if that will salve your ego)

  177. says

    When I first saw the OP getting picked on over what I read as relatively minor stuff, I was a bit annoyed. Boy, was I wrong. What a train wreck, complete with anonymous resorting to SHOUTING and their posts getting more and more outlandish. Good times, man. The pharyngula take-no-prisoners approach yet again shows its value.

  178. niftyatheist says

    Ron Sullivan says:
    16 November 2011 at 8:23 pm

    @ 139, KG asks, re this:

    Receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday is not required or obligatory. It is unfortunate that you were told that. – James the Less

    You really think this is what was wrong with the way anonymous was treated?

    James the Less may be being kind, but I’m seeing the assertion in the OP as evidence of shenanigans, along with all that alleged chat with the bishop. Also, the “saved by faith/belief” line is typically Protestant, not Catholic.

    All that going-to-Hell stuff sounds more Prod than Cathoholic, too. Catholics can always make a sincere act of confession/Penance—what are they calling it these days? Sacrament of Reconciliation, I think. Even the right kind of contrition can ~save~ you at your death.

    I’m getting a whiff of last Friday’s mackerel here.

    Catholics virtually never use the terminology given in the essay (ie. there is no talk of being “saved” in the way described, and the use of “saved” in the currently popular – born again, actually – way is not at all typical in Catholicism); Catholics believe they are cleansed of original sin at baptism (infant baptism usually) and continue to be cleansed through confession/reconciliation, so there is never any need for “saving”. It is referred to as being restored to a state of grace.

    There is almost no talk of hell or damnation in Catholic services, either. Being “saved” by Jesus or the blood of Jesus or whatever are Protestant buzzwords and phrases, not Catholic at all.

    A lot of the essay sounds off somehow. Perhaps Anonymous went to a very unusual Catholic parish? Again, not trying to offend you, Anonymous, but it really is remarkable.

    Also the reference to “bishops” is odd. Not just the familiarity but the plurality. Bishops are not thick on the ground in the average Catholic parish, shall we say. I have to admit, your story is really a puzzle to me. I feel like I should be able to identify or at least understand your experiences, but somehow I don’t. But it is probably just me.

  179. niftyatheist says

    Oops. I meant to say QFT after Ron’s quote. Sorry Ron, I wasn’t arguing with you but agreeing/elaborating.

  180. Kagehi says

    I still do not understand why that does not work both ways. You can’t conclude that some inexplicable phenomenon does not exist just because so many religions say they do.

    Going to field this one too. One common argument sometimes given by those defending the idea of god is “fine tuning”. They claim a lot of things based on this. Now, not being a physicist, I don’t have a damn clue what some of this stuff is, but:

    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Cosmo/monkey.html

    Try playing with the numbers. Even doubling the size of a proton only reduces the “minimum length of time a sun can burn” from 67,800,000,000 years, to 33,900,000,000 years. The claim that the universe “must” be a certain way is both wrong, and one of those “inexplicables”. That is the problem with such phenomena, not that they are always impossible, but rather that, when they are not impossible, they are often trivial, meaningless, or explainable, via any sort of imagination at all, some other way that what religion *wants them to be*. None of which make them either inexplicable, or real, or those that find them absurd “unimaginative”.

  181. says

    Remember all theories are just possibilities until evidence is produced to prove it.

    There you go with “prove” again. You should drop that, it makes you sound like a godbot.

    And I join with a growing list of posters who note that your OP used a lot of very odd terminology for a Catholic. You weren’t telling porky pies, were you?

    It’s the starting point, is it not? Example, it’s possible the fire is hotor it’s cold. I touch it and feel the heat, so evidence shows it’s hot. Others repeat the experiment with the same result. Therefore, fire is proven to be hot.

    No, but it’s on its way to being demonstrated to a high degree of reliability. Assuming, of course, that you and the others have been careful to establish your test parameters. What if one of your fellow testers happened to check the fire place the next morning? What if one of your testers was a hellbeast from the Dimension With No Shrimp and considered 600°F to be “cold”? You need to show more care in how you define things.

  182. Ing says

    This story struck me as…odd. Catholocism as it’s practiced typically isn’t a faith through grace religion, and tend to look down on theologies that ignore works and the ashes aren’t even a sacrament. Unless the church was a hyper pre-vatican II Mel Gibson esq one I have trouble seeing this.

  183. Kagehi says

    Ing @127. No I dont think its a flaw and stand behind the scientific method as the best guide to understanding reality. Simultaneously I think it cannot explain everything, of which is left open for future inquiry and not rejected as absolute falsehood.

    Lets try this one: Science, like all logical pursuits, has to work from information. If the information is unavailable, not well understood, or incorrect, you get a case of GIGO, Garbage in = Garbage out. The things you find it failing to explain are things for which we have insufficient information, don’t know enough about, or we are mis-entering, as in “category errors”. This sort of thing is a bit like a post I made recently suggesting a new way to handle damage in a combat system. My intent had been to have the system itself handle “radial” damage, and how much less one received, the farther they where from the impact/explosion. Perfectly reasonable. The problem is, there was another solution. Detect everyone within the range of the blast radius, then fire off “custom” messages, for each one. So, the “bullet” would be doing the math to work out who was 10 meters away, rather than 20, not the “system”.

    Consciousness, I tend to suspect, even if I don’t know enough to be sure, and a great many other things, are these sorts of errors. They “seem” intractable, and unexplainable, because we are so used to looking at the damn things in a certain way, that we can’t take a step around the corner and notice that or “definitions” are all a facade, and the “explanation” in an entirely different bloody category. It would hardly be the first, or the last, time in scientific history where someone’s head slammed into the desk, in a “Duh!” moment, at realizing how bloody stupid they had been for decades, looking at the problem the wrong way.

    Might there be some cases where this isn’t the case? Who the heck knows. But, stating that its “unknown”, and currently, “unknowable”, doesn’t give you a single damn clue how *to* look at it. And, the last, and stupidest, solution to the problem isn’t to revisit old methods, which where rejected already, because they held no utility at anything other than making the inexplicable unexplainable, via proclamations of incomprehension.

  184. Infinite123Lifer says

    Jadehawk @ 179

    All my fault. I should of been more specific.

    KG @171

    Sleep tight.

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says@159:

    Being alive in the Universe is the only proof to offer to the existence of something, and that in itself is either entirely baseless, or entirely meaningful. This is where our only discrepancy lies I think-Infinite123Lifer

    I don’t understand this sentence. Being alive is a proof you offer to the universe, or a proof of something existing in the universe? Huh?!- Alex

    Being alive; in the Universe is evidence of consciousness. If you agree that I am part of the Universe than I indeed was evolved to contemplate my own existence, simply because that is provable and what I am doing. This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

  185. John Morales says

    Being alive; in the Universe is evidence of consciousness.

    As you wrote above, I “should of [sic]* been more specific”.

    You think fungi are evidence of consciousness?

    (They are undeniably alive)

    If you agree that I am part of the Universe than I indeed was evolved to contemplate my own existence, simply because that is provable and what I am doing.

    Teleological fallacy.

    You might as well claim someone was evolved to masturbate with a vacuum-cleaner, if they indulge in such activity. :)

    This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

    You should probably look up the term ‘phenomenon’, else you will probably once again ignorantly abuse it. Your self-contemplation is only knowable to us via your communication, and is thus only a putative phenomenon (if credible).

    * Should have → should’ve.

  186. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @anonymous,

    What’s pulling the objects together? Science doesn;t know with 100% certainity yet,

    I advise you to watch this.

    You see, I obviously don’t dispute gravity’s existence. No sane person would But see how quick some people were to jump to defend it as soon as I brought up the words BELIEF and FAITH when dealing with a SINGLE variable of it?

    Defend what, gravity? That isn’t necessary really… There were reactions because you brought the words up in a stupid fashion. Defend the theory of general relativity?

    THAT was the point I was making. Everyone who replied lept onto that one aspect while missing the biger picture and was quick to dismiss my IDEAS on how it work with insults.

    I hope the delicate flower that is your ideas will not whither away under actual scrutiny.

    That picture being that nobody knows exactly how it works YET with absolute certainity, all they have are theories. I worded the question by inserting a few possibilities and the backlash was instant. Why the hostility?

    Hostility is an exaggeration. As far as my response is concerned, it si certainly not hostile. Then later you piled on and said some stupid things, and people were annoyed by that. You don’t seem to understand the criticism at all, tough…

    And yet people in trying to prove my idiocy

    Don’t take it personally. Noone is trying to prove your idiocy. Go and defend your ideas, if they are defensible.

    threw in their OWN UNTESTABLE evidences to support it (what physically is a “gravity field”

    a “gravity field” is not an evidence, it’s a concept in a scientific theory. But it is untestable? You are confused and seriously need to read up on how scientific theories work. You know, get to know your lover a little better…

    Everyone here knows that. And everyone here is allergic to anything that smells like the “science does not know 100%, therefore any random thing I would like to believe is worthy of consideration” line of argument.

    and that’s cool because we’re still learning. Nobody’s found the “graviton” yet Losses of energy was just refering to the fact it’s so weak compared to others with no known reason. Curving space in 4D is still a theory, albiet a good one, and no machine has actually seen it occur).

    The theory of relativity has been tested if that’s what you mean. I get the impression that you are asking of science something that is nonsensical. There will always be “only theories”, and it is not clear whether we will ever have a complete one. Everyone here knows that, and I don’t know what your point is. This doesn’t make any outlandish ideas more plausible.

  187. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Being alive; in the Universe is evidence of consciousness.

    Nope. You being alive is evidence of you being alive, nothing more. Says nothing about the universe and your relationship to it woomeister.

    I indeed was evolved to contemplate my own existence,

    No, you weren’t evolved to contemplate your existence. Evolution has no purpose, nor does the universe. You do have a conscious, and you can contemplate what you want. Just do it elsewhere, and clean up after yourself. Nothing but mental masturbation.

    This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

    Nope, not a phenomenon. Nothing but your ego getting in the way of learning your insignificance to us and the universe.

  188. KG says

    OK, I’ll say straight out that I now see no reason at all to believe anything anonymous says. Others have picked up on the anomalies in his account of his Catholic upbringing. He has repeatedly claimed to be pro-science and even “I know the math of gravity and fields”, yet is semi-literate, repeatedly demonstrates elementary misunderstandings of how science works, does not know that the space-warping effects of mass predicted by general relativity have been experimentally confirmed, makes silly errors then tries to explain them away in implausible ways (the “losses of relative energy” farago of nonsense), and claims that FAITH (sic) is necessary to science. My current hypothesis is that he is some form of wooist, attempting to demonstrate Pharyngulites’ “close-mindedness”. (BTW, why do Americans leave off the “d” which would make “close-minded” into “closed-minded”, which makes much more sense? I suppose for the same reason they say “I could care less” when they mean “I couldn’t care less”.) In fact, what he’s demonstrated is that we don’t take bullshit even from those who present themselves as atheists and allies.

  189. anonymous says

    Ok, hard to reference all latest one by name, so I’ll go general:

    I have problem with scrutiny. In fact I encourage it, it’s what made me leave catholism in the first place.

    I’m being asked to not take things personally. But I have so been personally called silly, an idiot, ignorant, a liar, a godbot, a coward under the weight of questions, and various permietations therin…all for a single sentence at the end of an essay. All I was trying to do was (1) encourage an open mind that still retians it’s basis in reality, and (2)show a bias that some people had that seemed to close off their minds…a fundamentalist athiesm if you will. If that rigid mindset is bad for theists, isn’t it equally as bad for athiests as well?

    I admit freely that I make errors and apologize for them. I repond to critisms as best I can and frely admit when counterpoints are made correctly. I endorce reason and science and rationality the same as you all, yet I still get flack because I may have missed a single point. I find this interesting as it’s exactly the mindset I fought against in the church.

    I capatilize words becasue I do not know how to do formatting in replies and like to emphasize words. Ignorance of the formatting syntax does not equal general stupidity. I tried to show good humour emotions through LOL’s and emotionicos…I was asked to stop, so when you think I am cowering or hostile in a reply, it is not the case at all.

    Let me put it another way…what exactly are you expecting me to say? You want me to admit that science has or will have all the answers? I have done that! You want me to admit I don’t know everything and hence may reference something that sounds silly to those who researched it more? I have done that! What’s left…gushing praise to you all for showing me the error of even entertaining the possibility of a supernatural even though I am the first to admit that it all probably has a logical scientific answer??

    As for my story being a lie, all I can say is no it was not. I probably did have a uber-dogmatic parish, as the bishop lived right there and obviously was a hardass. I know that not all catholic faiths are as rigid, but as the original essay stated, that was what set me on the path of athiesm in the first place! Again, what am I supposed to say here? I can’t prove the story to be true to you, nor did I think I HAD to!

    BTW, thanks for those who gave me links in general for more information, it was very informative. I’ll add the information to the mental archives.

    I have no dog in this…I simply posted a story, and entertained a few comments. To those who claim no hostility was meant, you can’t call a stranger a lying cowardly moron while cerry-picking combat points, and expect it not to be taken as such. Do you do this in real life as well? If so, you must have a rough life. :)

    I invite critisms and love talking about philosophy and theology (or lack therin of), I’m just not sure exactly what you all expect me to say that hasn’t already been said. If it’s a grammar or tone thing, sorry, I’ll read more posts and learn the protocols. If it’s just debate for the sake of debate to stroke an ego, I’ll still play the game if it makes you all feel better. But is it wrong to ask why the rudeness?

    but if things degrade to a simple “You’re a lying idiot who’s clearly delusional because you don’t think like I do” than I’m not sure the point of replying is there, and I apologize for wasting your time. Again, I simply was posting my story that PZ asked people to contribute, and never suspected it would drive people so batty. The internet is a funny place…you learn a lot about the minds of people this way.

    If asked to leave, I will, though I’d like to contribute again . If asked to apologize for something I said, I will gladly. If asked to concede a point made, I thought I DID, but will if I agree or not. If someone’s insulted, I apologize.

    What more can I do to be fair? (SMILE) I do enjoy the blog and enjoy the discussions, but I don’t enjoy the lynchings. Debates…yes, critisms or educations on points I have wrong, yes, but it’s feeling like a witch hunt, and I left that behind in the church. Can you see whare I’m comming from here? I learly have a hard time expressing myself so if this is confusing I’ll try again. But this is just time killing while parts of my job are running automated, so I don’t need to do anything or prove anything here. I just enjoy the discussion.

    …or at least I did…(shrug)

  190. KG says

    anonymous

    But I have so been personally called silly, an idiot, ignorant, a liar, a godbot, a coward under the weight of questions, and various permietations therin…all for a single sentence at the end of an essay.

    That’s an outright lie. You have been called some of those things becuase of your performance since,/I> the OP, and you know it.

    All I was trying to do was (1) encourage an open mind that still retians it’s basis in reality, and (2)show a bias that some people had that seemed to close off their minds…a fundamentalist athiesm if you will.

    Thanks for offering such clear evidence for my hypothesis.

  191. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    anonymous,

    Ok, this is such a big mess. Can you please state once clearly and coherently in 3 sentences or so what you think the point of disagreement is between you and the majority of commenters in this thread, in particular what the deplorable attitude is you accuse them of having? If you manage to do that, we could analyze without getting a headache whether anyone is attacking strawmen or whether the disagreements are real.

    ———–
    Also, it’s atheist. from a-theist. a.t.h.e.i.s.t.! Not athiest. atheist! Don’t make me suffer any longer. *sob*

  192. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    All I was trying to do was (1) encourage an open mind that still retians it’s basis in reality, and (2)show a bias that some people had that seemed to close off their minds…a fundamentalist athiesm if you will. If that rigid mindset is bad for theists, isn’t it equally as bad for athiests as well?

    Most of us here are also skeptics. We have open minds, but not so open our brains fall out. We are regularly accused of being closed minded as we don’t swallow everything somebody says, even if it dosn’t make sense. Which is what you are doing. Also, there is no such thing as fundementalist atheism, as there is no holy book to consider as inerrant, no dogma, and no theology. Just the concept that gods don’t exist.

    I agree with Alex, ToS. Give us three sentences that are coherant about what you are trying to say.

  193. anonymous says

    Alex: Sounds good, ok (deep breath) I’ll try to keep to 3 sentences, but may stretch to 4-5:

    1) I merely ended my essay with the statement that weird things happen that science can’t explain and while it’s true that there’s a possibility of gods or supernatural, it’s more likely that it’s science based and it’s up to those who claim supernatural to prove their claims. The VERY FIRST POST jumped on this open-minded reality approach as silly, then things degraded rapidly into insults for even entertaining the thought, even though I demand proof the same as you all.

    2) I tried to use examples when asked. My examples were countered quite well, and because of this, I acknolodged all points as valid but STILL got insulted repeatedly. My spelling and grammar is bad and I may have took the personal insults personally (go figure) and have even apologized for that but still no change, as I’m still called ignorant, silly, stupid, and again a liar. Honestly, it’s hard to be 100% calm and reasonable when people are calling you a lying delusional moron, so points I tried to make came across wrong and once again apologizing for the bad tone meant nothing.

    3) I’m being asked to prove things that cannot be proven to any reasonable standard (my experiences and my pondering on possibilities) and then being attacked for the lack of it, even though nobody could prove it. My little experiment to see the mindset of who’s replying was taken literally and thus now I am considered a troll or something when I merely wanted to post a story and discuss the philosophy/rationality of it.

    Does this help?

    KG, my performace was to react badly when verbally punched in the nuts, a performance I have already apologized for repeatedly. It originated when people jumped on the single sentence by immediately insulting me, calling me silly and stupid, and then rather than trying to just point out errors, continued to insult more, even when I acknolodged the point being made as valid.

    Again, what would you like me to do? as an example, if a god-lover told you you were a delusional lying cowardly douchbag to your face, how polite would YOUR reply be. On the other hand, if they offered to sit down and discuss the bible with you and listen to your points, I’m sure your reaction would be different, right? I am only human, and I don’t like being insulted. Challenged is most welcome, but I respond to hostile tone with hostile tone by reflex, just as you would I’m sure.

  194. says

    Add me to those who think this story sounds more like Evangelicalism than Catholicism, but I won’t argue this here, as YMMV.

    But I actually wanted to nitpick here with what KG said:

    (BTW, why do Americans leave off the “d” which would make “close-minded” into “closed-minded”, which makes much more sense? I suppose for the same reason they say “I could care less” when they mean “I couldn’t care less”.)

    close-minded/closed-minded

    It’s not just the “d”, the pronunciation of the “s” should also be different. Apparently “close-minded” was first, according to the answers in this blog entry http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/28956/is-it-close-minded-or-closed-minded

    But the “why” is not quite clear yet. And I’d also be hesitant to say if it’s clearly AmE or not.

    But the classic could care less complaint, yes, it seems that this phrase is more common in AmE than BrE, but this doesn’t mean it’s wrong, which your comment seems to imply.

    There are two quite plausible explanations for the origin of the phrase, one being Steve Pinker’s sarcasm theory (of which Americans are capable, I’m told), and the “negation by association theory” akin to the French ne.

    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001209.html

    Also two more articles on the British attitude towards this phrase:
    http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2007/01/could-not-care-less-adverbs.html
    http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2011/07/anti-americanismism-part-2.html

  195. says

    anonymous,

    the disappointing thing about your last paragraph is that when asked to back it up, you came up with stuff that has been explained already by psychological research. Like those people answering the telephone and just knowing beforehand it was their best friend calling them. Science can’t explain this, right, it must be telepathy or something… NOT

    I suggest you take a look at

    Why we see what isn’t there by
    Richard Wiseman

  196. anonymous says

    pelamun, a fair point, and I did already concede that it may have been coincidence, or it may have been a scietific phenonomin that we don’t understand yet. Both are reality-based, but the “OR” really poked a few nerves. I never said it was telepathy…in fact I went out of my way to say that IF it was no coincidence it probably has a rational explaination nonetheless and NOT supernatural. People missed that part. :)

    I did see the book once at the library and breezed through it. It was pretty good from what i had time to read of it.

  197. niftyatheist says

    Anonymous, I have no idea where you are getting what you wrote above. It seems that you’ve jumped to all sorts of false conclusions based upon a false premise.

    I cannot speak for the other commentors, but I was discomfited by your apparent unfamiliarity with actual Catholic culture or dogma, yet you claim to have been raised Catholic – and quite actively so if the “advanced theology” class (something I have never encountered in 40 years as a very active Catholic) is anything to go by. I admit that I have certainly not visited every Catholic parish in Canada or North America, and have therefore only put forward my skepticism about your story in the most courteous way I can.

    The parish you describe does not sound “uber-dogmatic” in the least. It sounds radical. An important feature of Catholicism, as most Catholics know, is that a Catholic can walk into a Catholic church anywhere in the world and fit right in – the liturgy, the Catholic culture, everything is quite deliberately reproduced all over the world (with only decorative variations around the unchanging core to reflect local cultures) to enable a “world community of the faithful”. The sort of breaks with conformity to that church norm that you describe are radical; no Catholic dogma emphasizes being “saved” by Jesus or anything else. That would diminish the power of the church sacraments – infant baptism and reconciliation to name just two. Catholics do not speak like that because it is not reflective of their doctrine.

    Bishops are not numerous – there is no bishop for every parish. Bishops preside over dioceses which include several parishes, and in Canada there are fewer than 100 active bishops in the whole country. I know that does not preclude your having known your bishop, nor does it prevent him from living near the church and taking an astonishingly pedestrian role in a single parish’s extra-liturgical activities – but I am convinced that it is highly unlikely.

    These doubts I have about the veracity of your story prompted me to ask a few questions because I am genuinely curious about it. I would love to know what parish this is, or even in what province you resided when you were a member of that parish. I would love to know if your experiences are more generally felt by younger Catholics and if that, in fact, signals a shift in Catholic dogma toward a more traditionally protestant fundamentalism. Stranger things have been known to happen!

    It seems to me that you have been very active in this thread, unlike other essay writers (most of whom simply posted to thank readers for their comments or did not post at all), and that strikes me as significant, also. Your remarks in 206 make me wonder if your motive in posting your essay was not to tell your story but to spark a spirited discussion, with perhaps an underlying purpose? You seem to feel that you are being attacked from all sides, and you seem quite sure that the attacks are caused by your last paragraph. I can tell you that your last paragraph pretty much flew over my head, because I was noticing the inconsistencies in the rest of the essay and trying to identify my doubts.

    I am inclined to think, having watched this entire thread unfold in such a surprising manner on so many fronts, that you are an evangelical or fundamentalist protestant Christian who has hoped to engage the commentariat here in a debate through which you hoped to “prove” your already held belief that you would be attacked for expressing “uncertainty” while simultaneously “proving” that atheists are arrogant, know-it-alls who erroneously “believe” that they have certain knowledge. This sort of persecution complex is a common tell for that sort of fundamentalist field trip, and the tiresome repetition of false tropes about what atheists “believe” is another.

    If I am correct, then I think you have gotten off very lightly with a very restrained and respectful Pharyngula horde which has patiently and pointedly deconstructed your many posts, trying (in vain) to wring some sense out of them. Your ignorance of the actual science and math you claim to use to back your own arguments, is another typical tell of a fundamentalist on a field trip to trick the atheists into revealing their arrogance. In fact, it is you who seems to be revealing remarkably similar character to the usual Christian arrogance by basing false conclusions about us and about what atheism actually means on blind ignorance.

    If I am mistaken, and you have not been deceptive but merely inarticulate, I sincerely apologise, though my questions remain about your story and I am further perplexed by your performance in this comments thread. If you are sincerely atheist, then I recommend that you do a great deal more reading and learning. You sound like a fundamentalist evangelical Christian which will certainly confuse more people than just the people here who have tried to engage you and help you to clarify your thinking.

  198. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @anonymous,

    Still a little longer and with more whining than I hoped, but it’s a start. Generally, I second pelamun #214.

    You say things like this:

    I merely ended my essay with the statement that weird things happen that science can’t explain

    There is a very unskeptical sentiment that shines through here. It is paired with very sloppy terminology. What is a weird thing in your book? Do you have evidence that whatever you are referring to is not explainable by statistics? Do you have evidence that science can not explain it? You say “science”, do you mean our current scientific theories or science in general?

    This is why some of your writings are simply annoying. It may just be your wording, or it may be your sloppyness when it comes to critical thinking, but I am not surprised that people are angered by it.

  199. says

    niftyatheist,

    that was a very good analysis. I actually thought anonymous might have changed the name of their denomination (Catholicism instead of Evangelicalism) because of privacy issues, but your hypothesis sounds like a possibility too. I’ve witnessed Catholicism in different parts of the world, and what was described in the story certainly didn’t sound like the Catholicism I saw (but I was never a Catholic, so I’ll be cautious here)

  200. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m being asked to prove things that cannot be proven to any reasonable standard (my experiences and my pondering on possibilities) and then being attacked for the lack of it, even though nobody could prove it. My little experiment to see the mindset of who’s replying was taken literally and thus now I am considered a troll or something when I merely wanted to post a story and discuss the philosophy/rationality of it.

    I think you made a big mistake in thinking we are interested in “pondering on possiblities”. There are times and places for “bull sessions” where speculation can abound, or philosophical blogs where speculation can run rampant, but this blog isn’t that place. The regulars at this blog are rational folks grounded in the scientific method and and reality. All non-rational sounding claims will be asked for evidence. It does cut down on “pondering on possibilities”, but that is good from our standpoint, as those flights of fancy tend to be very irrational.

  201. niftyatheist says

    pelamun says:
    17 November 2011 at 9:20 am

    niftyatheist,

    that was a very good analysis. I actually thought anonymous might have changed the name of their denomination (Catholicism instead of Evangelicalism) because of privacy issues, but your hypothesis sounds like a possibility too. I’ve witnessed Catholicism in different parts of the world, and what was described in the story certainly didn’t sound like the Catholicism I saw (but I was never a Catholic, so I’ll be cautious here)

    pelamun, that is a very good point. I had not thought of the possibility that anonymous may have changed his denomination to protect his privacy.

    With all of those bishops, anonymous, perhaps you were a Mormon? Although, the doctrine still doesn’t fit.

    Perhaps you were raised in an evangelical church but in trying to hide those identifying clues, you decided to set your upbringing in an imagined Catholic church which you conflate with some of the characteristics of LDS since they are both believed to be unChristian cults by evangelicals?

    Or, in Canada, Anglican is a possibility, but since the Anglican church is Catholic in origins, the dogma still doesn’t fit. It is Lutheran and Calvinist-rooted protestantism which emphasizes faith over works and the necessity of post-infancy “saving”.

    I find your posts quite confusing, I have to admit!

  202. anonymous says

    alex: an example which was asked of me was the friend who knew their grandmother died. I provide my evidence, it was debunked, I acknolodged the probability of non-supernatural, and that was that…I thought.

    Nerd…if you don’t want to talk about possibilities, that’s fine, I thought i was pretty clear that am I reality based and merely open to other possibilities with evidence. Remember, YOU ALL brought up the discussion on this topic, not me.

    Perm and nift…not once have I said I believe in the supernatural. I already explained why I post anonymously here (the story referenced an embarassing phobia that I don’t want my co-workers to know about) and not ONCE have I said there is a god. I stated several times that the supernatural HAS SCIENTIFIC EXPLAINATIONS and what can’t be explained today may be explained tomorrow. I never once preached religion as I emphatically do not believe it myself. Frankly this makes you sound paranoid. :)

    as for the church not sounding like a “typical” church, it probably wasn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact it exists. The class was offered by the bishop who lived there, and I think I was clear that he was a wingnut so why WOULD you expect to to be the same? I did want discussion, that’s what comments are for but you’re reading thing into the posts that aren’t there…remember YOU ALL brought up the topics, not me!

    …and all because I said there are things that science can’t explain but will explain someday. Frankly this is getting absurd here.

    nifty, since I am not religious, I accept your apology. as for the story being unlikely, please don’t make be explain unlikely events still occuring, I’m in enough trouble already!!! :) It’s unlikely that you will win the lottery but if you do it doesn’t change the fact you did. but I’m not trying to prove it true, so people can believe whatever you wish. I’ll still be around.

    As for others, you’re too busy insulting me so you still never told me what you expect me to say. Remember, I can’t read your minds! ;)

  203. Dhorvath, OM says

    Anonymous,
    You are absolutely correct, I do not understand your point. I am trying, but all I seem to see are the places where you put words that almost relate to things I know about together in sloppy or outright inaccurate fashion. As someone who doesn’t always understand things, let alone have the capacity to explain them, this is vexing, but not a unique experience. I would be dishonest to claim I haven’t worn that shoe myself.

    To tease a bit: I expect, with nigh on certainty, that there are more things out there than we currently know about. From that I expect, again with much confidence, that we will see phenomena that do not make sense in the context of our current scientific knowledge. This is something that excites me: That’s weird is the clarion call of discovery.

    Strange things will happen. It would be nice to explore all of them, but given the nature of time, we can only do an effective job of exploring those things which are repeatable or have left lasting reliable records. What makes a record reliable is how well we understand the medium and its specific traits. So human memory for instance is a tough medium to use for a reliable record, we need to put much effort into reducing the impact of memory imperfections. Geologic records are a bit more reliable, although they too have problems and we need be aware of them lest we reach erroneous conclusions.

    My question to you is: How do you decide what is strange? If it is not repeatable, how do you decide whether the phenomena itself was strange or the record of it is flawed?

  204. niftyatheist says

    Just out of curiosity, anonymous…where in Canada was your parish? Can you give me the name of the bishop? I would be very interested in reading up about him. There is no chance that simply naming your bishop will “out” you among your co-workers, since as you must know, Catholic bishops preside over rather large geographical areas, often including many towns and cities.

    Thanks!

  205. Dhorvath, OM says

    Yes, I know, I mixed phenomena and phenomenon. I was even watching for it and still messed up. Phooey!

  206. says

    I cannot speak for the other commentors, but I was discomfited by your apparent unfamiliarity with actual Catholic culture or dogma, yet you claim to have been raised Catholic – and quite actively so if the “advanced theology” class

    I have taken Catholic classes in theology and scriptural analysis. If it is at an advanced level in my experience and that of others they are often honest and straight forward about historical and textual analysis of the Bible; it still has a Catholic slant and provides apologetic but you will learn about the polytheistic origins of the Bible, the parts lifted from other myths, the multiple sources and traditions of Genesis, Source Q, etc. It’s not what’s preached at mass but in education the Catholics tend to be honest and non-literalist about the bible. My education included pointing out how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and the internal contradictions in Genesis and explaining them in terms of the books being literary products of their time. The Catholic response to Pharaoh’s heart being hardened conflicting with gods nature was that It didn’t happen it’s just a story made up by people trying to figure out the nature of god and teach it to their children. People who it was pointed out to us were violent, tribalistic and had little regard for ethics as Catholocism understands it today. There’s a reason why some call Jesuit Schools “Atheist Factories”. This was a fairly standard, orthodox from the Vatican, conservative Catholic education. It doesn’t seem to jive with my experience that a Bishop couldn’t be bothered to give out the apologetic all Catholic seminaries learn.

    I’m not saying the story is wrong but that it doesn’t seem typical and providing additional details could solve doubts. Though the author seems more interested in taking offense to interest in his story.

    What Bishop was it for example. Bishops who are more hardline than normal develop a reputation for it and this could easily be confirmed.

  207. niftyatheist says

    Ing, in my quote above, I wasn’t clear enough. I did not intend to imply that there are no advanced theology courses taught within Catholicism, just that I doubt that such a course would be taught after school (or after Mass – anonymous says “after church” untypically for a Catholic) to children.
    I agree with everything you say here – and doubly so for a Jesuit school fostering freethinking and unintentionally helping people along to atheism.

  208. anonymous says

    nifty: Northern NB, and since you’re asking me to remember the name of a guy from over 20 years ago who I didn’t even like and only saw at masses giving speeches and the class, I’m going to have to look it up off a baptism record or something. So clearly since I never memorized the name I must be lying (rolls eyes).

    If it helps, the priest was named Father Jacques Landrey (since retired but still alive if you want to harass him). Giving the parish would identify me to my group, so you won’t get it. I’m going there in a few weeks for Xmas, would you like a photograph of the place as well with eyewitness accounts, or would you just assume I got my friends to pose in front of a random church? After all, I’m supposedly a christian who’s trying to decieve you all. (lol) A christian who advocates reason and evidence, believes in scientific explainations completely, hates the church, never preaches doctorine, but is trying to lie in order to worm religion into a discussion or something stupid like that.

    (sigh) Really, this is getting more absurd every time I read the replies. If I decide to stop, you can high-five and believe it as a “win” if you want (whatever “win” would mean…I still don’t know) because I’m only replying for entertainment. Nothing I can say or do will be enough so talk among yoursellves if I leave.

    Congradulations you managed to make someone who agrees with you, to agree with you, but regret it. The damn parish was less dogmatic than you guys, you really need to loosen up a little. You won’t win over any converts when a religious person comes your way if you keep driving them out. I’m trying not to insult you, but it’s not easy.

  209. Dhorvath, OM says

    Anonymous,
    I for one would not count any conversation that ended without some degree of understanding between the parties as a win. I don’t understand you.

  210. consciousness razor says

    anonymous

    As an ex-Catholic, I agree your story seems very unusual for the reasons others have noted. That said, I’ll take you at your word. Maybe it was embellished, misremembered, or entirely accurate. It makes no difference to me.

    Note also that I don’t disagree very much with your last paragraph in the article. If you expect me to agree with it entirely, then I’m afraid I can’t do that, but whatever mild criticism I’d have about it is hardly worth the effort now, so you shouldn’t feel too offended by that anyway.

    Your comments since then… well, those just made it worse. You may not like the criticism you’re getting, but please try to keep it together. I honestly don’t think we’ve been that harsh with you, even though you stopped making sense some time ago.

    As for Infinite123Lifer, I’ll admit I was pretty harsh with him or her, but I’m assuming you wouldn’t take that personally.

    The damn parish was less dogmatic than you guys, you really need to loosen up a little.

    What dogma are you talking about? Or are we supposed to “loosen up,” and accept that you don’t actually mean we’re being dogmatic?

    You won’t win over any converts when a religious person comes your way if you keep driving them out. I’m trying not to insult you, but it’s not easy.

    I’m not interested in converts anyway, but thanks for the advice.

    And for the record, calling you ignorant, or saying you’ve used an argument from ignorance, is not an insult.

  211. John Morales says

    Anonymous:

    If I decide to stop, you can high-five and believe it as a “win” if you want (whatever “win” would mean…I still don’t know) because I’m only replying for entertainment.

    So you don’t care to hone your beliefs by dint of sustaining them against criticism, yet you consider this a contest of sorts where one can “win”?

    Your thinking appears rather muddled.

    (Have you ceased to be entertained?)

    The damn parish was less dogmatic than you guys, you really need to loosen up a little.

    To what dogmata do you imagine we adhere?

    I’m trying not to insult you, but it’s not easy.

    Why not desist in your efforts at such avoidance, then?

    (You’re being your own worst enemy :) )

  212. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd…if you don’t want to talk about possibilities, that’s fine, I thought i was pretty clear that am I reality based and merely open to other possibilities with evidence. Remember, YOU ALL brought up the discussion on this topic, not me.

    No, you weren’t clear, because you kept mentioning on the pondering of possiblities like we are ignoring possibilities. Here’s the thing. If you are a true empiricist, the possiblities without evidence are ignored, and not continually mentioned in the first sentence of your defense. I suspect this is where you feel we are dogmatic, in that we won’t listen to what you consider possibilities without asking for real evidence, or refuting your claims. Try back issues of Skeptical Inquirer for where we come from.

    Personally, I really haven’t had much trouble with you on this, but Infinite123Lifer is bad case of fuckwitted philosopher, where pondering of possibilities all he can do. Some folks think that if they can consider far fetched possibilities, like their imaginary deity existing, that is simply reality not found yet. And you appeared to be mildly supporting that concept.

    As a skeptic, I’m open to new ideas. But as a skeptic, I also need evidence for the idea. Infinite1233Lifer isn’t bothered with at detail.

  213. Infinite123Lifer says

    Shame on you anonymous for trusting science to yield a view of reality.

    Shame on you anonymous for keeping an open mind and not a closed mind.

    Shame on you anonymous for recognizing that things happen (weird or not) which science cannot yet explain.

    Shame on you anonymous for Thinking outside of a box.

    Shame on you anonymous for responding to the fraudulent claims of others who cannot prove what they preach.

    Shame on me for becoming embroiled with subsequent stupidity. I have been called more names than you and cherry picked wickedly and many have made good arguments for “what is reality.” While I have agreed that my view of reality as it is today does not believe in anything “supernatural”…it has not mattered. I offered an example as to how one can stay open to belief’s not recognized in religion but I was still met with the same arguments they give to Catholics and Christians with the same savage butchery science uses to vanquish religious ideation.

    Infinite123Lifer said:

    Being alive; in the Universe is evidence of consciousness. If you agree that I am part of the Universe than I indeed was evolved to contemplate my own existence, simply because that is provable and what I am doing. This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

    Nerd says

    Being alive; in the Universe is evidence of consciousness.-Infinite123Lifer

    Nope. You being alive is evidence of you being alive, nothing more. Says nothing about the universe and your relationship to it woomeister.

    I indeed was evolved to contemplate my own existence,-Infinite123Lifer

    No, you weren’t evolved to contemplate your existence. Evolution has no purpose, nor does the universe. You do have a conscious, and you can contemplate what you want. Just do it elsewhere, and clean up after yourself. Nothing but mental masturbation.

    If you agree that humans experience a consciousness than how is that not evidence of consciousness? Me being alive is all the things that go with me being alive, it does not surprise me how you miss the SIMPLICITY of my argument. You really sound really really mad at theists, rightfully so, but I am not one. I never said there was evidence of any other consciousness other than mySelf thus being a part of the Universe my statement (as meaningless as it might be to your science) stands correct.

    You say I was not evolved to contemplate. While evolution’s purpose is a natural effect of the Universe I have indeed come to this point in time via an evolutionary process, (or did I skip that too) and you say and I quote:

    “Evolution has no purpose, nor does the universe”. Evolution is a word which we use to assign (like all words) to a process. As for the Universe having a purpose, is its purpose not to exist brainiac? Every process has a purpose. (not a godly purpose…I did not say godly purpose, nor should my use of the term purpose lead one to think {especially here} I am referring to a godly process)

    {you know anonymous, this is what is happening I think…

    There is a huge battle between religious nut jobs and scientists or reasonably minded people worldwide. This has created a standard (if you will) of using words and terms to support an idea or an argument. Perhaps even created a standard for the rebuttal of ideas because of the intense anti-reality movement prevalent in…oh…most of the damn world. This is why the ideas which you have presented and the ideas which I have presented have not been met with an open mind. You clearly have stated you are an advocate of science with an open mind and have been pummeled. I have offered my own idea about just being alive and being part of the universe and have pretty much been called a liar……like here}

    This is a phenomenon in and of itself.- Infinite123Lifer

    Nope, not a phenomenon. Nothing but your ego getting in the way of learning your insignificance to us and the universe

    Here is a definition of phenomenon for you since you obviously are clearly deranged and have no use of your most important ability to imagine reality.

    1.plural phenomena: an observable fact or event
    2.an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition.
    3. a temporal or spatiotemporal object of sensory experience as distinguished from a noumenon.
    4. a rare or significant fact or event.
    5. an occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses
    6. an unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurence, a marvel.

    Me being alive contemplating my own existence satisfies all of these definitions. Funny and it only has to satisfy one. As for #6, Nerd, honey…science does not currently possess a grand unified theory, it is in FACT a mystery how the Universe occurred. If the religious nutters and people like youself would step out of the way of human progress it would be appreciated by the rest of us. Though, to be me…I would pick you Nerd over probably 5 billion others, but still, rail against someone who thinks Christ is coming back to send you to hell.

    By the way before you start railing against imagination as well……………………………………………..
    Everything ever invented by man first started with his or her or its imagination. Imagination is the most powerful tool we possess, along with thumbs apparently. As much as it appears to be a downfall (religions spreading) it is our greatest asset. So please don’t show your ignorance by railing against imagination. In fact science does a wonderful job of recognizing the power of imagination. But you should know that if your science minded at all.

    anonymous, keep up the good imagination. It is our greatest tool. Every well proven tested theory in science can thank the human imagination, and our thumbs for its very existence in writing.

  214. Infinite123Lifer says

    Nerd of the Redhead says:

    If you are a true empiricist, the possiblities without evidence are ignored,and not continually mentioned in the first sentence of your defense.

    True scientists use empirical evidence to develop the possibility of what is actually happening in reality. Every theory ever developed and still today in labs across the world try to explain their proven results with a possibility.

    Nerd of the Redhead said:

    I think you made a big mistake in thinking we are interested in “pondering on possiblities”. There are times and places for “bull sessions” where speculation can abound, or philosophical blogs where speculation can run rampant, but this blog isn’t that place. The regulars at this blog are rational folks grounded in the scientific method and and reality. All non-rational sounding claims will be asked for evidence. It does cut down on “pondering on possibilities”, but that is good from our standpoint, as those flights of fancy tend to be very irrational.

    Pondering on possibilities is what scientist’s do once evidence is presented. This is as much a part of science as mathematics is. You said “All non-rational sounding claims” so pretty much everything science cannot explain is not welcome.

    Pondering of possibilities is a flight of fancy. Did you tell that to Pythagoras, Euclid, Copernicus, Newton, Strauss (the father of geology), Darwin, Planck, Eistein…do i really need to go on?

    What about Carl Sagan? Should he of not pondered possibilities?

    I do not think anonymous, nor I have presented any theory of Life. We simply stated some personal beliefs, which are very important as a whole; in being a person, to continue to search for the truth of reality.

    To be clear Nerd, the title of the essay is Why I am an Atheist. This thread therefore should be an open interpretation of what it is to be an atheist and why. Not a closed minded inane regurgitation of what every rational person already knows. Possibility is the fabric of science….and before you start, I know how to use the scientific method, I did not dream of something and then go looking for results to satisfy my dream.

    I have the evidence:

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    My conclusion:

    The Universe evolved to a capacity of contemplating itself.

    This is very very very simple. I believe the majority of you who have a problem with this are suffering from the exact same delusion which causes some people to think that
    a. they are not a part of nature
    b. evolution does not effect them
    c. you are not a part of the universe
    d. your atoms are yours

    This idea has been said that I am in effect saying God is the Universe. WRONG, I did not mention any theist bullshit, nor was it implied. People are inferring that what anonymous and I have stated is theistic in nature when it is quite the opposite.

  215. Dhorvath, OM says

    Infinite123Lifer,
    Can I reword that a bit?
    1. I contemplate.
    2. I am in the universe.
    3. I am here as a result of a process of evolution.

    A conclusion:

    The Universe evolved a capacity of contemplating.

    Your use of ‘itself’ is very ambiguous and I think it better excised altogether, the universe is not a self as most people use that term.

  216. Infinite123Lifer says

    Infinite123Lifer said:

    I offered an example as to how one can stay open to belief’s not recognized in religion but I was still met with the same arguments they give to Catholics and Christians with the same savage butchery science uses to vanquish religious ideation.

    To be clear for theist’s:

    Science is not savage butchery. In Latin scientia means knowledge. Webster defines science as “knowledge attained through study and practice”, “knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method concerned with the physical world.”

    To be clear for others:

    If you consider science dispelling the amount of religious dogma found in the world, it is indeed butchery of the most savage type. Millions, over time have given away their beliefs in support of scientific evidence. While science, as I have not implied as being savage butchery, its takedown of falsehoods I imply has been. Yet again, the science behind the takedown is not savage butchery, the cleansing of religious dogma I imply is.

  217. says

    I have the evidence:

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    My conclusion:

    The Universe evolved to a capacity of contemplating itself.

    Your conclusion in no way follows from your evidence. You are VERY, VERY BAD at logical thinking.

    This is very very very simple.

    Yes, it is. Your evidence is evidence that you are alive and a part of the universe. Nothing there about consciousness OR evolution at all.

    I believe the majority of you who have a problem with this are suffering from the exact same delusion which causes some people to think that
    a. they are not a part of nature
    b. evolution does not effect them
    c. you are not a part of the universe
    d. your atoms are yours

    Wow. Zero for four there dude. You really have no clue.

  218. consciousness razor says

    Damn, Infinite123Lifer, you just can’t stop bullshitting, can you?

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    My conclusion:

    The Universe evolved to a capacity of contemplating itself.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong…. ugh, what’s the point? Do you think this little deepity of yours is going to advance science or something?

    If you’re contemplating yourself, you’re doing a terrible job. Or if it is the universe doing the contemplating, then would you please relay the message for me? I don’t have time for this shit.

  219. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    Shame on you anonymous for trusting science to yield a view of reality.

    Shame on you anonymous for keeping an open mind and not a closed mind.

    Shame on you anonymous for recognizing that things happen (weird or not) which science cannot yet explain.

    Shame on you anonymous for Thinking outside of a box.

    Strawman fallacy (implicit).

    If you agree that humans experience a consciousness than how is that not evidence of consciousness?

    It’s evidence, of a near-worthless kind; if two people agree that Satan exists, then how is that not evidence of Satan?

    You say I was not evolved to contemplate.

    Teleological fallacy.

    While evolution’s purpose is a natural effect of the Universe

    Teleological fallacy.

    [skip numerous fallacies]

    I have the evidence:

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    My conclusion:

    The Universe evolved to a capacity of contemplating itself.

    Fallacy of composition.

    Here is a definition of phenomenon for you since you obviously are clearly deranged [copypasta]

    Heh. cf. my #202.

    (You do amuse)

  220. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Every theory ever developed and still today in labs across the world try to explain their proven results with a possibility. evidence.

    FTFY Oh, that was prima facie evidence you don’t know science, so stop pretending you do.

  221. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Every theory ever developed and still today in labs across the world try to explain their proven results with a possibility evidence.

    Dang, forgot this blog requires strike, no just s.

    Now it’s fixed.

  222. Dhorvath, OM says

    Nerd,
    I have gathered some evidence which suggests preview helps. It’s not proof, but hey, it’s progress.

  223. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd,
    I have gathered some evidence which suggests preview helps. It’s not proof, but hey, it’s progress.

    Yep, you’re right. This afternoon at work I was afraid to preview, as this blog kept kicking out (error messages from IE).

  224. Dhorvath, OM says

    Ah, Nerd, you know I am just poking for poking sake,eh? I do the same more often than I care to remember.

  225. anonymous says

    Ok, I’ll quote to try and make this simple:

    Dhorvath:
    “I for one would not count any conversation that ended without some degree of understanding between the parties as a win. I don’t understand you.”

    I agree with everything stated here. Therefore what is it you claim I do not understand? What are you all trying to prove? Nobody has yet answered my simple question…what would you like me to say? Many here are acting like they are trying to prove something to me, so since I agree with all the points so far, I want to know if this is a “win” or are they just talking for the hell of it? They act like there is come kind of debate or contest, yet agreeing isn’t enough.

    nerd (and John & razor regarding dogma):
    “No, you weren’t clear, because you kept mentioning on the pondering of possiblities like we are ignoring possibilities. Here’s the thing. If you are a true empiricist, the possiblities without evidence are ignored, and not continually mentioned in the first sentence of your defense. I suspect this is where you feel we are dogmatic, in that we won’t listen to what you consider possibilities without asking for real evidence, or refuting your claims.”

    But ALL scientific claims first started with possibilities without evidence, didn’t they? Someone comes up with an idea, then it’s tested and either proven or disproven…but before the tests, it’s just a possible idea, right? Machines that fly were just a possiblily with no scientific basis at all in the year 1800 but someone thought it up and started running tests. Electricity not generated by lightning was just a crackpot dream until someone used science to prove it could be done. The examples are endless. That’s what I mean by some being dogmatic…they are refusing even the possibility of a SCIENCE BASED “supernatural” because it can’t be proven by today’s science. That is a rigid thought and to me just as limiting as a theist POV.

    Here’s a better example. In the year 1000 someone picks up a magnetic stone (lodestone) and it attracts iron. The accepted theory is that it’s magic from God. They believe it has nothing to do with God but when asked for evidence to back up their claim, what the hell do you think they would say? To them it’s just a weird thing that metal sticks to it, but they refuse to believe that it’s religion based but instead believe it to be science based but they don’t know how. THEY can’t provide any evidence to support the “weird event” of metal sticking to the rock. To them, it’s just a possibility that it’s natural.

    Infinite123:, thanks for the support, sorry I misread you early on in this debacle. :) I think you at least see what I’m trying to say here…giod to know someone does. LOL

    Razor:, “ignorant” is an insult as it is rude, “misinformed” is not as it implies an attempt to educate. Again, since I AGREE WITH THE POINTS, I’m not sure what you are trying to teach me. Therefore you are being rude for rudeness sake. And there’s no way you can tell me being called an ignorant muddles liar by some here is not an insult! If that’s normal conversation to some people here, then I pity your social circles! LOL

    I’m glad you may take me at my word, but “mild criticism” is just fine by me, being called a moronic liar is not. Being asked to provide proof for defending possibilities is absurd, for the reason I just wrote to Nerd above. Therefore I’m being insulted for not providing proof that a possibility is a possibility and being asked to disregard it completely. If people did that, then no advances would ever be done and development would cease completely as there would be no theories to test eventually. Why am I wrong? Again it is tone that gets me…like I said above, if someone calls you an ignorant delusional liar it is not unreasonable to want to tell then to fuck off by reflex. When they claim that calling you a moronic delusional liar is just embilishing a “mild critism” then that makes them look like a douchebag. Especially what they are calling that to someone who acually agrees with them for 99.9% of their points. (I concede that I allow for possibilities but demand proof before believing them, hence the 0.1%. Apparently this is not enough, but if the wright brothers did that they would have thrown out the notion of powered flight as absurd before the first flight as there would be no vision to even run tests to see if the science was there)

    John: I won’t stoop to insulting because that would be stupid. To KEEP being entertained though, I will choose to completely ignore insulting posts though. Only polite rational ones will be considered as relevant, like the ones I just replied to such as Nerds…ones that make a point with simple words and an honest attempt to show me wrong if it is warrented without insults or rudeness.

    People, I’m trying to work with you here. Criticise all you want, but when you start acting like a fundamentalist expect to be treated as one. If you find politeness to be impossible to make a point, then you are a douchebag, but I trust that is not the case, right? :) I will try and be clearer as I admit my grammar and spelling sucks.

    What more can I do?

  226. Dhorvath, OM says

    Anonymous,
    I am not saying that you don’t understand something. The point that you told me had escaped me above still escapes me. If I knew what it was, I wouldn’t have asked. I can hardly tell you that you don’t understand something when I don’t grasp what you are trying to say.
    So, do you have answers to the specific questions I asked? I think they could direct me towards a conversation. If that isn’t interesting, well sorry to waste your time.

  227. Infinite123Lifer says

    For Dhorvath, OM @235:

    Thank you. Surely words are forever an Idol of Man (I recommend reading Frances Bacon’s “The Four Idols” for those who have not) even for the most articulated person in the world, which I am obviously not.

    And of the bigger issue Dhorvath, OM?

    Does my statement imply theism of any kind?
    Does my statement imply that atheist’s are wrong?
    Does my statement go against science?
    Does my statement offend people who are constantly battling religious nutjobs?

    Consequently, I am not trying to accomplish any of those.

    I am trying to accomplish what I said at post 7:

    A silly belief is any number of religions & or myths based upon human record which contradict themselves. Why is acknowledging the unknown a silly belief? Why is not knowing a silly belief? Doesn’t critical thinking urge one to consider everything & systematically remove pieces which don’t fit interpretation of data. Well in this case what’s the data? What’s the puzzle piece you are removing to make that belief silly? What is the interpretation that you find silly?

    To not consider the possibility I think is silly. To mindlessly say Yes there is a God or No there is nothing are equally silly IMO. Its like the Christian God has been force fed down peoples throats for so long that they immediately have a gag reflex which seemingly leads to the puking up of “any belief being silly”.

    Throughout this thread I do not articulate speech or imply ideas as well as I have liked to. People have helped me out with that as it has gone on, especially with several of my comments and I have acknowledged when I miss spoke.

    My thesis statement still stands unchallenged.

    All beliefs are not silly.

    Though it is as vague as you can make it, this is not an essay and really does not beg to even be questioned, but it has been here, intensely. It is a response to the first commentor. Who, throughout had some very good points, but more to my ineptitude and less to the dispute of the statement.

    John Morales @202 said:

    This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

    You should probably look up the term ‘phenomenon’, else you will probably once again ignorantly abuse it. Your self-contemplation is only knowable to us via your communication, and is thus only a putative phenomenon (if credible).

    I did. Consequently I used it correctly. See post 233. You are the ignorant abuser in this case.

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis in response to 159.

    Yes, I did not word things exactly correct. I am aware how the forces came to being explained. However you missed my point, that imagination and “something out there” came before the discoveries. The “something out there” in the context is
    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    Like it or not, this is the only information I can use to formulate any thoughts/possibilities/ideas of “why” I exist at all, and for that matter “why I am an atheist” and for that matter “why are all beliefs silly”.

    Alex tyrant of Skepsis said:

    Again, if you simply state “there is something there” without stating what you mean, you are basically never wrong, but it’s also not a very content-rich statement

    Never said it was content rich. All beliefs are not silly. I am basically not wrong.

    consciousness razor @ 158

    Very well said, and thank you.
    I also give you the award for what made me smile the most.

    So, if you’re going to claim there could be “something out there” — or whatever you’re trying to say with your word-salad, it’s hard to tell —

    I love it. For me, sad but true. I try.

    Since all beliefs are silly challenge this:

    The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42.

    And thats not post 42, though coincidentally Cosmic Teapot would by a nice answer to the ultimate question.

  228. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    But ALL scientific claims first started with possibilities without evidence, didn’t they?

    Certainly not all, and not even generally. Mostly, they started as observations that required explanation (but yes, some findings were initially conjectural).

    Scientific method.

    That’s what I mean by some being dogmatic…they are refusing even the possibility of a SCIENCE BASED “supernatural” because it can’t be proven by today’s science. That is a rigid thought and to me just as limiting as a theist POV.

    No, you misapprehend.

    When a putative scientific claim would, if true, overturn vast swathes of well-established science, such a claim requires not just evidence, but a reason why it’s a better explanation than existing ones.

    It’s not possibilities that are rejected, it’s claims that on the basis of extant knowledge are not, in fact, possible!

    Machines that fly were just a possiblily with no scientific basis at all in the year 1800 but someone thought it up and started running tests.

    Yet birds, fish, mammals and insects all were known to be able to fly. They were not machines, but they were physical objects.

    That’s what I mean by some being dogmatic…they are refusing even the possibility of a SCIENCE BASED “supernatural” because it can’t be proven by today’s science.

    That’s being rigorously rational, not dogmatic.

    (Do yourself a favour and look up ‘dogma’, ere you further misapply the concept)

    Here’s a better example. In the year 1000 someone picks up a magnetic stone (lodestone) and it attracts iron. The accepted theory is that it’s magic from God.

    You are equivocating between scientific theory and ‘guess’ by naive use of natural language.

    (I’ve taken the liberty of hyperlinking to the definition, for your edification)

  229. Infinite123Lifer says

    myeck waters said:

    This is very very very simple.-Infinite123Lifer

    Yes, it is. Your evidence is evidence that you are alive and a part of the universe. Nothing there about consciousness OR evolution at all.

    I am alive is directly because of a process of evolution. My particles, my molecules, my atoms are part of the Universe and I do have consciousness. Therefor you are suffering from c and d. You think you are separate from the Universe.

  230. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    John: I won’t stoop to insulting because that would be stupid.

    Too late; you don’t realise that (for example) calling me dogmatic is insulting?

    (You are hung up on terminology and form, but fail to note the semantics of your propositions)

  231. Infinite123Lifer says

    consciousness razor says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong…. ugh, what’s the point? Do you think this little deepity of yours is going to advance science or something?

    My point is is that not all beliefs are theist beliefs.
    Also, if I am part of the Universe than is it not contemplating itself. Last I checked I have not retained all atoms of my body since the existence of mass. I think this little deepity of evidence is staring everybody in the face and nobody can acknowledge it because they cannot step away from their brains telling them how important it is not to have belief in anything

  232. John Morales says

    [meta]

    anonymous:

    If you find politeness to be impossible to make a point, then you are a douchebag, but I trust that is not the case, right? :)

    Who do you think you’re kidding?

    (It’s stupid to imagine we’re so stupid as not to see your intended insulting snideness here)

  233. Infinite123Lifer says

    Uh John Morales @ 239, I do not know what strawman arguments are, but that was from me to the author. It was just a joke to make him feel better.

  234. consciousness razor says

    But ALL scientific claims first started with possibilities without evidence, didn’t they? Someone comes up with an idea, then it’s tested and either proven or disproven…but before the tests, it’s just a possible idea, right?

    No, I don’t think so. Evidence first, not mere possibilities floating around in someone’s head.

    Machines that fly were just a possiblily with no scientific basis at all in the year 1800 but someone thought it up and started running tests.

    You’ve seen a bird or a bat, right?

    As for hot air balloons, I don’t know the exact history. In any case, they already had evidence that things can fly. There were observations that air was made of some kind of matter, and they found out that they could use its buoyancy (also observed) to lift an object.

    Electricity not generated by lightning was just a crackpot dream until someone used science to prove it could be done.

    Which crackpot was that, and did he or she record a dream journal of some kind? Is this really how you think scientists work?

    The examples are endless.

    Really, should we go on then?

    THEY can’t provide any evidence to support the “weird event” of metal sticking to the rock. To them, it’s just a possibility that it’s natural.

    No, go back to the very first step where someone finds a lodestone. That’s a real fucking piece of evidence. It’s not just a “possible” rock that some crackpot caveman could only dream of. No, you’ve got the rock sitting right there in front of you, doing it’s weird magical shit, and you have to try to explain it. But that evidence, that there is something to explain, came first.

    Razor:, “ignorant” is an insult as it is rude, “misinformed” is not as it implies an attempt to educate.

    Please. I freely admit I am ignorant of a great many things. I also admit that I don’t think (but can’t be certain — I’m ignorant, you see) that you know an “argument from ignorance” is a conventional name for a particular kind of fallacy. I also find it highly confusing that an agnostic would think it’s rude, since ignorance is a very basic and necessary component of agnosticism.

    Therefore you are being rude for rudeness sake.

    No, I could be rude if you want to see what that’s like, but I doubt you would like it.

  235. Infinite123Lifer says

    At anonymous:

    Yes I agree with you. Thank you for the article as well. Science does not have all the answers yet and I am thankful for science and I keep an open mind. Thank you for trying to expound on good points I make but write them coherently.

    Nerd, you and your play with words. The Theory of Relativity is a possibility. Thermodynamics is a possibility. Everything in science is possibility. Electricity is a possiblity….al possibilities in explaining evidence.

    All beliefs are not silly. Only a robot would disagree.

  236. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    John Morales @202 said:

    This is a phenomenon in and of itself.

    You should probably look up the term ‘phenomenon’, else you will probably once again ignorantly abuse it. Your self-contemplation is only knowable to us via your communication, and is thus only a putative phenomenon (if credible).

    I did. Consequently I used it correctly. See post 233. You are the ignorant abuser in this case.

    Really.

    So how exactly have I observed you “being alive contemplating [your] own existence”? The phenomenon I have observed are LEDs lighting up in various configurations — that’s an epiphenomenon, not a phenomenon. ;)

    (D-K in action)

  237. Infinite123Lifer says

    Hello

    Definition of possibility:

    1. The fact or state of being possible
    2. Something that is possible
    3. Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

    This is truly sad anonymous.

  238. Infinite123Lifer says

    John @ 258:

    Are you just showing off? You cant answer my statement because your showing off.

  239. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Uh John Morales @ 239, I do not know what strawman arguments are, but that was from me to the author. It was just a joke to make him feel better.

    How on earth could you ever figure out what a strawaman argument is?

  240. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    Uh John Morales @ 239, I do not know what strawman arguments are, but that was from me to the author. It was just a joke to make him feel better.

    Your ignorance is, by now, no more surprising than your inability to fathom that I am aware you were being sarcastically reassuring anonymous that we imagined those things about hir, and that this was in fact the message I was sending.

    (Your capabilities (such as they are) are no longer unknown)

  241. says

    Infinite123Lifer #250

    I am alive is directly because of a process of evolution. My particles, my molecules, my atoms are part of the Universe and I do have consciousness.

    Yeah, and…?
    What you have so far is:
    You exist.
    You evolved.
    You have consciousness.
    You are part of the universe.
    What does this tell us about the universe?
    It tells us that it includes you – a thing that exists and evolved and has consciousness.
    That is pretty much all it tells us about the universe, aside from true-but-trivial shit like it existed long enough for you to occur. It does NOT say anything about the universe having consciousness or a purpose or a sparklepony.

    Therefor you are suffering from c and d. You think you are separate from the Universe.

    Nope. Not even remotely close. I am obviously part of the universe. To think anyone would think themselves to be not part of the universe is to project some weird sort of insanity on people. And as for:

    d. your atoms are yours

    …that is a just plain weird thing to write.

  242. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    You cant answer my statement because your showing off.

    No, I can answer questions, but statements I can only respond to. :)

    (You’re funny when you get upset)

  243. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    My thesis statement still stands unchallenged.

    All beliefs are not silly.

    Wow, such profundity!

    Let me put forth my thesis: All propositions are not false.

    (Glow of achievement)

  244. Infinite123Lifer says

    consciousness razor:

    But ALL scientific claims first started with possibilities without evidence, didn’t they? Someone comes up with an idea, then it’s tested and either proven or disproven…but before the tests, it’s just a possible idea, right?

    No, I don’t think so. Evidence first, not mere possibilities floating around in someone’s head

    Your wrong. Viewing evidence is the same as having a possibility floating in your head, if I am looking at the loadstone and studying it I am simultaneously trying to infer the possibility of how it is happening. Possibilities are not “mere” either in the way it is being used.

  245. Infinite123Lifer says

    @265 John Morales

    If its so damn obvious than why have you and others been arguing against it. I was not trying to achieve anything. You personally said the author’s beliefs were silly. I say your statement is wrong.

    You just now get it? It was not profound, nor was I trying to be smart. I made the observation that what you said at comment Numero Uno was bullshit. It is not silly. And now you agree. Good

  246. consciousness razor says

    Let me put forth my thesis: All propositions are not false.

    (Glow of achievement)

    John, I just don’t know how you do it. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your forthcoming Nobel prizes and Fields Medals.

  247. consciousness razor says

    Also, John, I bet you could get a recording contract out of this. I’m sure people will never tire of hearing such profundity over and over.

  248. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But ALL scientific claims first started with possibilities without evidence, didn’t they?

    Nope, possibilities as such aren’t considered. What is considered is old evidence and the new evidence you found. Possibilities (potential anti-cancer compound) only come into play trying to sell your idea to a funding agency. Once sold, the work begins…without possibilities, just work. Possibilities is code words for a brain-storming session. Even then, evidence rules, not imagination.

    In case you two want to discuss how science is done, I have practiced science for 35 years now. I think I know more about how it is done than you neophytes who only dream and discuss, but not work.

  249. Infinite123Lifer says

    @271 Nerd

    Your evidence means jack shit without the mind and its ability to imagine possibilities and interpret data.

    What the fuck do you think interpreting data is? Its using your imagination to figure out the possibilities of what is happening.

  250. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    It is not silly.

    Yes, yes it was. There’s nothing we have learned in the history of the human race that points us towards some guiding force or being. In fact everything we have learned has moved us farther from that proposition. Every single bit of knowledge we have about this universe has come about via empiricism and none of that has given us any reason to believe that there is some supernatural force guiding it.

    It is silly wishful thinking to think otherwise.

    You’re silly.

  251. Father Ogvorbis, OM: Delightfully Machiavellian says

    Viewing evidence is the same as having a possibility floating in your head

    Care to expand on that and explain how it is different than the classic argument about the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin?

  252. Infinite123Lifer says

    I surely was not seeking a nobel prize. I was seeking for closed minded atheist’s (no that is not an oxymoron, before this post I might of thought it was but not now) to recognize that science leaves open possibilities for unexplained phenomena.

    But still, robot spewing non-sense. Use your imagination for crying out loud.

    Oh wait, here in this thread just so everybody knows:
    possibilities, phenomenon’s, ideas and imagination have NOTHING to do with science. Nothing.

  253. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    But John @264 you are responding to statements.

    Yet I remain unable to answer them, since they’re not questions.

    (Have at me for such a failure!)

    If its so damn obvious than why have you and others been arguing against it.

    (sigh)

    I take pity on you, and hereby explicitly note that it can be the case that some beliefs can be silly and that not all beliefs are silly.

    (You should become aware of the concept of universe of discourse, if you wish to pursue these philosophical avenues, so that you can ensure your claims encompass it)

  254. Father Ogvorbis, OM: Delightfully Machiavellian says

    What the fuck do you think interpreting data is? Its using your imagination to figure out the possibilities of what is happening.

    And figuring out the possibilities is the theory which is developed based on the data.

  255. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    I was seeking for closed minded atheist’s (no that is not an oxymoron, before this post I might of thought it was but not now) to recognize that science leaves open possibilities for unexplained phenomena.

    Fractal wrongness here; not worth my trouble to address.

    So — care to quote anyone at all here (other than yourself and anonymous) negating the claim that science leaves open possibilities for unexplained phenomena (or stating the claim that science leaves no possibilities open for unexplained phenomena)?

    (Your straw dummies are crude)

  256. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Oh wait, here in this thread just so everybody knows:
    possibilities, phenomenon’s, ideas and imagination have NOTHING to do with science. Nothing.

    Gibberish

  257. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My point is is that not all beliefs are theist beliefs.

    Inane and stupid point. With stupid beliefs. Delusional thinking is belief without evidence. That can apply to imaginary deities, or bad sophistry like you do. That makes you a delusional fool, even if you aren’t a godbot.

  258. Infinite123Lifer says

    @263

    Yeah and

    1. I am alive
    2. I am part of the Universe

    conclusion: not sparkle ponies, not angels dancing on pins, not werewolves, Jesus or anything other than

    I have evolved to be conscious of Self. I am part of the Universe. All beliefs are not silly.

  259. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd, you and your play with words. The Theory of Relativity is a possibility reality.

    Fixed that for you loser. String theory is a possibility. It might be right, it might not. But not relativity, too much evidence for it.

  260. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    @263

    Yeah and

    1. I am alive
    2. I am part of the Universe

    conclusion: not sparkle ponies, not angels dancing on pins, not werewolves, Jesus or anything other than

    I have evolved to be conscious of Self. I am part of the Universe. All beliefs are not silly.

    But that does not mean the universe has conscious. All it means is that the universe contains beings with conscious.

    All beliefs are not silly, but the one you keep trying to push is.

  261. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I my species have evolved to be conscious of Self.

    Fixed another wrong item for you loser. You evolved nothing. It was done long before your parents fucked.

  262. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    All beliefs are not silly.

    All beliefs, that is believing without evidence, are delusional. Evidence separates the immature like yourself from a mature adult like myself. I need evidence for a reasonable certainty. Beliefs are for kids (Easter bunny, Santa Claus, tooth fairy, etc). You are as delusional fool.

  263. Infinite123Lifer says

    “The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.” -Carl Sagan

    1. I am alive
    2. I am part of the Universe

    Conclusion:
    The Universe has evolved to contemplate itself.

  264. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Viewing evidence is the same as having a possibility floating in your head,

    Nope, not possibility, thinking about reality, and grounded in reality, not fairy tales, which is what your possibilities really means through your inane definitions.

  265. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Your evidence means jack shit without the mind and its ability to imagine possibilitiesdeal with reality and interpret data.

    Fixed another one for you loser. Try losing the concept of possibilities, or fairy tales.

  266. says

    You evolved nothing. It was done long before your parents fucked.

    I did not read that I will not think about that I will not allow that mental image toAAAAAUUUUUUGH!

    *whimper*

  267. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The Universe has hominids have evolved to contemplate itself.

    Fixed another logical flaw for you loser.

  268. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sorry Myeck, here’s some mental floss and a tankard of five-day-old grog.

  269. Infinite123Lifer says

    “The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.” -Carl Sagan

    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
    ― Carl Sagan

    “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” -Carl Sagan

    Science relies upon imagination, possibilities and new ideas. Evidence is useless without these things.

  270. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Infinite123Lifer wrote:

    1. I am alive
    2. I am part of the Universe

    Conclusion:
    The Universe has evolved to contemplate itself.

    You don’t really understand logic, do you? Here’s a parallel to what you’ve written:

    1. Cats have whiskers
    2. My neighbour owns a cat

    Conclusion:
    The Baltimore Ravens are going to win the Superbowl.

    See how stupid that is?

  271. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Science relies upon imagination, possibilities rational thinking, and new ideas. Evidence is useless without these things.

    And possibilities are fairy tales for woomeisters and losers. That explains you loser.

  272. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer: Funny that you quote Sagan, who was antithetical to all that you hold dear.

    Science relies upon imagination, possibilities and new ideas. Evidence is useless without these things.

    Sigh.

    You are yet to grasp that science employs an empiricist epistemology, the which is its hallmark and the reason for its success.

    (Religion also relies upon imagination, possibilities and new ideas, but doesn’t rigorously employ empiricism (evidence). This is the salient difference that eludes you)

  273. Infinite123Lifer says

    Uh Nerd, to be pedantic all theories are possibilities. Nothing is 100%. They can be 99.999999 % correct (which relativity is not)

    Nerd: I am part of my species. You did not fix anything

    Nerd: How is dealing with reality not imagining the possibilites

    Once again:
    Definition of possibility:

    1. The fact or state of being possible
    2. Something that is possible
    3. Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

    Nerd said:
    “Try losing the concept of possibilities and fairytales”

    Uhhh, fairytales are proven accurately to be wrong. No such thing exists for potentialities or possibility.

    You are just arguing to argue.

  274. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” -Carl Sagan

    Sagan was uncharacteristically imprecise here, and is in fact wrong in the general case (you’re ignored the context of this proposition, and the universe of discourse to which it referred).

    (Absence of evidence that the Solar System has two stars (not just the Sun) is indeed evidence of the absence of such a second star)

  275. John Morales says

    PS Sagan’s own “The Dragon In My Garage” indicates how absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence.

  276. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer:

    You are just arguing to argue.

    What, you’re arguing not to argue?

    (Simpleton is simple)

  277. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Science relies upon imagination, possibilities and new ideas. Evidence is useless without these things.

    Fairy tales. Prove otherwise with solid and conclusive evidence. Or, shut the fuck up. Welcome to science, not sophistry.

    You are just arguing to argue.

    Look in the mirror sophist loser. That is all you are doing, trying to show the scientists they need to look well outside of the box. We need a smarter philosopher than you for that to happen…

  278. says

    Uh Nerd, to be pedantic all theories are possibilities.

    Pedantic is not what you’re being here. One thing you’re being is utterly ignorant about a whole lot of basic science stuff, like what a theory is.

    Nothing is 100%. They can be 99.999999 % correct (which relativity is not)

    It’s true that you cannot prove a theory to be true with 100% certainty.
    But you appear to confusing that with another concept – the idea that something proven true with a certainty of 99.999999% means the same as it being 0.000001% false, and that’s wrong.
    Proving something true with a certainty of 99.999999% means that for all intents and purposes it can be considered a fact.

  279. anonymous says

    john@249:

    “Certainly not all, and not even generally. Mostly, they started as observations that required explanation (but yes, some findings were initially conjectural).”

    Thank you for the link. But unless I’m mistaken we may actually agree. Tell me my error in this example (caps for emphasis only): We observe that objects move towards each other for no apparent reason. No physical interaction is detected. a scientist IMAGINES the possibility of electrons pulling them together, testes it and finds this false. He then IMAGINES the POSSIBILITY of space curving in order to draw them together. Tests pending validation. Without imagining possibilities semi-randomly with no evidence first, would said scientist have nothing to test to collect said evidence?

    Same with birds and other flying animals. We knew not HOW they flied, so we imagined possibilities to try and explain it other than “god is lifting them up” and through tests found out aerodynamics. Again imagination of random possibilties with NO evidence, and then eliminating them as evidence ws gathered until we found the one that worked. The starting point was still evidence-less possibilities, right?

    …and yes, I assumed dogma to mean “rigid adherance to a fixed set of beliefs”. I told you grammar was not strong for me, I’ll try and use a better word to state this.

    On the subject of grammar, note in #254, I said “*IF* you find politeness to be impossible to make a point, then you are a douchebag”, meaning that I not calling you a douchebag unless you provide me EVIDENCE of it by not acting politely when making a point. And honestly, I do mean it…is it really impossible to make a point without resorting to rudeness?

    Your last post was polite ergo you ARE capable of making a point politely and thus are NOT a douchebag. :) Believe me, if I want to insult you, I promise you it will not be subtle

  280. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    They can be 99.999999 % correct (which relativity is not)

    And you are telling this to scientists, who never claim absolute knowledge, which doesn’t exists, and who test theories with every experiment?

    Oh, and what is the confidence level for the Theory of Relativity. So far, it has been behaving exactly as predicted by Einstein and later physicists in that field.

  281. says

    Can the troll imagine consciousness evolving from non-consciousness? Or even, developing from non-consciousness in the case of each human?

    But of course we were blamed for imagining that consciousness can evolve from the non-conscious, then stupidly chastised for not imagining that consciousness simply must evolve from consciousness (genetic fallacy).

    No, we don’t have a problem with imagining. We just don’t mistake mindless metaphysical bullshit for thinking in ways that we have found are actually possible. Not for trolls to imagine doing science, however.

    Glen Davidson

  282. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No physical interaction is detected.

    The bending of space-time has been seen and detected. Gravity.

    He then IMAGINES the POSSIBILITY of space curving in order to draw them together.

    Nope, asks what would be the result, not the possibility. Possibilities are fairy tales, things that can’t be shown with evidence. Scientific thought avoids those fairy tales, and looks hard at realities.

    The problem with possibilities, is that folks, as Myeck mentioned in 305, confuse that any possibility (even 10^-9, one chance in a trillion) is equal to one that might be 85%. The two situations aren’t equal, and the same words should not be describing both if one is talking honestly, not in a sophist manner. Which is the problem with anonymous and infinite123lifer, they are confusing the two situations for a sophist point.

  283. John Morales says

    anonymous, you’re basing your speculations on extant knowledge; historically, people’s speculations were likewise based on extant knowledge. The actual history of gravitational theory, for example, was quite unlike your characterisation (for example, electrons were not discovered (or even postulated) until the C19), and were certainly not involved in its development.

    (As for heavier-than-air-flight, I’ll let you look up its history)

    …and yes, I assumed dogma to mean “rigid adherance to a fixed set of beliefs”. I told you grammar was not strong for me, I’ll try and use a better word to state this.

    That’s not grammatic, it’s lexical.

    You should understand that our (mine, specifically) set of beliefs is a minimal set, the which is necessary to avoid solipsism. These would be that (a) nature is consistent and (b) nature is perceptible. These are metaphysical assumptions, but so far there is no reason to doubt them.

    Your last post was polite ergo you ARE capable of making a point politely and thus are NOT a douchebag. :)

    Your inference is flawed because it implicitly assumes douchebags are incapable of making a point politely — this is a foolish assumption (and I could easily show it thus by counter-example) and evinces the lack of rigour you routinely exhibit in your public cogitations.

  284. Infinite123Lifer says

    All beliefs are not silly, but the one you keep trying to push is.

    Agreed. All beliefs are not silly. Thats what I am pushing.
    I used an example that many do not think follows logic or to be nice is silly..

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe

    Conclusion’s anybody?

    The point of the exercise is to think outside of religion about a big picture question. The conclusions are simple, because we do not have evidence for anything else. I was called a simpleton for not having anything profound. That is exactly my point though, all beliefs are not silly and all beliefs are not profound.

    My evidence does not dispel evolution or any natural laws, even the big bang.

    If somebody is not theist or atheist are they stupid?
    Or are they allowing evidence to prove religion wrong. If religion is wrong than there is no need for atheism. Where do we go from there.

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    f the conclusion. This is evidence that we exist (not profound but important). I don’t have any answers but I would like to think about some possibilities based upon science and philosophy.

    Conclusions?

  285. Ing says

    The point of the exercise is to think outside of religion about a big picture question. The conclusions are simple, because we do not have evidence for anything else. I was called a simpleton for not having anything profound. That is exactly my point though, all beliefs are not silly and all beliefs are not profound.

    Congratulations on using so many words to say absolutely nothing.

  286. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    If I’m told once more that 1) I’m alive and 2) in the fucking universe, I’m going to get a seizure.

  287. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Conclusion’s anybody?

    You are brain dead in the universe for such bad sophistry.

  288. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If religion is wrong than there is no need for atheism.

    Talk about bad sophistry. There is no need for religion, and atheism is the null hypothesis on the existence of deities. Learn how to think loser. You sound like a druggie with that bullshit.

  289. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    [meta]

    That Sagan quote has always annoyed me when taken out of context*. There are two reasons that evidence for a conjecture could be missing: 1) no one has looked for it, and 2) the conjecture is false. In the latter case, absence of evidence is the only evidence of absence.

    *Donald Rumsfeld should not be allowed to utter the words of Sagan. It’s fucking disgusting.

    [/meta]

  290. KG says

    If religion is wrong than there is no need for atheism. – Infinite123Lifer

    You never tire of providing further evidence that you are an idiot, do you? Atheism is required precisely because religion is not only factually wrong, but extremely damaging.

  291. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    1. I am alive
    2. I am in the Universe.

    f the conclusion. This is evidence that we exist (not profound but important). I don’t have any answers but I would like to think about some possibilities based upon science and philosophy.

    Conclusions?

    1. You are alive

    2. You are in the Universe.

    Additional conclusions from your performance

    3. If you are bright you aren’t making much a case for it here.

    4. You have an over inflated sense of self worth

    5. You like to hear [or read] your self talk.

  292. Kagehi says

    Yikes… No one seems to have brought up, save maybe indirectly, two points:

    1. Where there is no test you can make for a “possibility”, there is neither any way to validate/invalidate it.

    2. “Supernatural” is the opposite of science based, not simply because science deals with what exists, not what, “might, somehow, but we don’t know how to look for it”, but also because, as a category, it encompasses an insane number of things that range from testable, to not, and every “testable” one has failed scrutiny.

    In any case, atheism has nothing to do with it. If you want “science” to examine your “possibility”, you have to start, not with arguing against someone else’s unwillingness to consider the idea, but with, “So, I have this idea, now what would I need to do to see if it is in fact true?” And the problem, as I see it, in this case, is that your “possibility” is indistinguishable from asking, “Are we in a real universe, or a Matrix universe?” Either there is no way to test it, in which case the question is meaningless, from any “practical” point of view, or its “is” testable, in which case, the next step is figuring out how to test it, not showing up at some blog some place, and calling people dogmatic, because they refuse to accept the premise itself as plausible, based solely on your assertion that it has some “possibility”.

    Science has no problem testing “supernatural” things, but you need to define it well enough to test it “first”. After that, the only question is, “Is it more likely now that its been tested, or just one of thousands of other things, from ESP, to talking to the dead, to telekinesis, which simply don’t exist?” If you don’t have a way to test it, the “null hypothesis” you end up using is, “It doesn’t have any effect on my life, so it may as well not exist, even if it does.”, which is hardly an edifying state for a “possibility” to hold.

    The only “dogma” here might be said to be, “If the end result is that it doesn’t tell us anything useful, doesn’t do anything, and can’t be used to make anything, it may as well not be at all, so why bother with it, until someone can show that it *does* any of those things?” Somehow, I tend to suspect Mr. Infinite123Lifer, that there are myriad things that fall into that category for you too, and its only your wish that something like the Star Wars “Force” exists that keeps you from looking at this thing in the same way as someone asserting that there was, say, millions of dollars in alien hardware hidden under a rock, some place on the planet, and you had a) no way to know if it was true, and b) no practical way to look for it, and thus c) its not useful bloody information, even if you accept all premises needed to make it true, form the idea that aliens had visited, to that they or someone hid something under a rock, to that the rock is even some place people could look for it, rather than say, at the bottom of a sea trench, or something.

    Your premises run from, “Consciousness is something uniquely special.” – no evidence, to “Its possible for that consciousness to be part of some other conscience.” – Uh, also not in evidence, but there is a lot of “tests” done of the “paranormal” and “supernatural” which throw this into the realm of, “high probability of being total nonsense”, and finally, that some super-conscience created mini-consciences, to contemplate itself, somehow – presumes that he first two premises have any sort of evidence for them, since without the first, there is no reason to think such consciousness would be ale to/need to do so, and the second would seem to invalidate its ability to *get* anything out of doing such a thing, even if the first premise was true.

    So, again, where is the “test” for your “hypothesis”. For that matter, without presuming things not in evidence to begin with, how do you even get *to* that hypothesis, in any sort of logical way (and no, I don’t find your three step process logical, its missing about two dozen prior steps)?

  293. Dhorvath, OM says

    Infinite123Lifer,

    And of the bigger issue ?

    I should say, at least for my own part, that why an idea has been raised and what it tells me have a great deal of value. You are not the first person who I have encountered bringing up that humans are part of the universe and that being aware they are in a sense the universe having awareness. I think that the idea is valid, but what does it tell us? Why bring it up? Sure, it’s a pretty neat thing and if someone’s goal is to produce a sense of awe or connection through very widely accepted statements then I can understand the impetus and the effect. Is that where you aimed?

    Likewise with imagined things, why were they imagined? What do they tell us? Leprechauns are imagined, so is Middle-earth, so is quantum chromodynamics. Yet one of those was a response to a distinct lack of understanding about a rigorous subject and told us places to look for more understanding. QCD has a why that came not solely based on inspiration, but riding on the back of evidence, and in so doing it both explained what was known and made predictions for things we didn’t know yet. Leprechauns likely provided a small measure of explanation for missing items when they became a popular folklore, but the idea didn’t bear out: one can’t reach the base of the rainbow to search out their gold, and because of that and other features we recognize that leprechauns are an invention in a categorical fashion while the jury is still out on how accurately QCD’s colours reflect reality. On the other hand, Middle-earth is explicitly an invention whose purpose is at least a step removed from it’s initial formulation, this explicit factor means we can discount it’s reality and look to that purpose to learn why Tolkien invented it and what it can tell us.

    We have limited time and resources at our disposal, does it not make more sense to focus our attention, our efforts, and yes our imagination on those ideas which grow from a well understood why and produce guiding whats? I don’t think you want to argue in favour of indeterminate and unfocused research, I don’t think you want that at all, it would be clinging to a silly belief to adopt your terms, but some of the things you say make it unclear. Quark colour seems silly to many people, hell, it seems silly to me when I think about it, but it’s proven useful and it grew out of evidence so I accept it’s silly nature. For that matter I celebrate it, while other seemingly less farcical ideas earn nothing but frowns because they have no evidence and they don’t tell me anything.

  294. Dhorvath, OM says

    Anonymous,

    Without imagining possibilities semi-randomly with no evidence first, would said scientist have nothing to test to collect said evidence?

    This I think I understand. No, there was evidence first. The stones attracted, birds fly, what have you. Without that phenomenon to explore there is no justification for generating the hypotheses, there is nothing to experiment upon, and there can be no meaningful theory generated. We don’t have any use for conjectures and ideas that have no reason to exist save as flights of fancy, this is the first barrier if you will to becoming knowledge: something has to happen. From that we can start to play games, imagination can run wild, some ideas my mind balks at, yet they provide us great utility and so I accept them as useful.

  295. anonymous says

    John: Again, agreed, people observe something and test it. So let’s use my original example.

    Someone observed that many people seem to know when a loved one dies.

    Pure science explaination: It never actually happened (coincidence, memory falicy, basically all the reasons given). This is testable through CURRENT science and so matches up, so it is perfectly reasonable to assume that this is true.

    Pure scientific supernatural explaination: It does happen occasionally for real, the reason is assumed to be still grounded in reality, but science can’t test many of the literally infinite possibilities that could make it occur, such as mental wormholes, telepathy, temporal thought flashes through 4D space, etc. BUt acknolodges that future advances in science may someday make it testable.

    Pure supernatural explaiation: God and angels. Untestable by definition.

    While #3 may be thrown out, and #1 is reasonable to assume true, wouldmn’t it then be limiting to throw out even the chance of #2 just because you can’t test it today? Note this is not to say you have to believe it exists, but to throw out the possibility is where I think is an error in a “pure atheist” mindset.

    Another example…in the year 1000, a doctor observes some sicknesses and the way they spread, and imagining ways this could occur that are NOT “satan cursing people”, tells people that some diseases are caused by invisible lifeforms…too tiny to see but live everywhere and on everything. Some are good and some are bad. Current science of the day cannot possibly detect them so he’s assumed to be a crackpot.

    If his peers thought as you seem to, they’d never look for germs and viruses and either assume the god/satan theory, or assume that diseases aren’t really being spread and it’s just coincidence that everyone gets sick at the same time in the same area.

    See the parallell? I hope so, I’m trying to write clearer for everyone. :)

  296. Dhorvath, OM says

    Pure scientific supernatural explaination: It does happen occasionally for real, the reason is assumed to be still grounded in reality, but science can’t test many of the literally infinite possibilities that could make it occur, such as mental wormholes, telepathy, temporal thought flashes through 4D space, etc. BUt acknolodges that future advances in science may someday make it testable.

    What distinguishes the ‘real’ occurences from the false positives? Your line of reasoning seems to me to allow for fairies occasionally pushing rocks to fall rather than gravity.

  297. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Pure scientific supernatural explaination

    Doesn’t happen, an oxymoron, as the stupornatural, being an extraordinary claim, is not only is the last thing considered, but requires extraordinary evidence for it even to be considered. And no evidence of that quality is available for the stupornatural. Like an eternally burning bush that can be studied by science for the claim of the Xain deity existing.

    Evidence, which is what separates the possible from the impossible, and makes science such a powerful tool for gaining knowledge. Why? Science is grounded in reality, not imagination. Imagination is impossible (null hypothesis) until conclusive evidence is available to support the claim, making it possible. You are still as clear as mud. Try thinking it over for a few years.

  298. says

    [2]Pure scientific supernatural explaination: It does happen occasionally for real, the reason is assumed to be still grounded in reality, but science can’t test many of the literally infinite possibilities that could make it occur, such as mental wormholes, telepathy, temporal thought flashes through 4D space, etc. BUt acknolodges that future advances in science may someday make it testable.

    While #3 may be thrown out, and #1 is reasonable to assume true, wouldmn’t it then be limiting to throw out even the chance of #2 just because you can’t test it today? Note this is not to say you have to believe it exists, but to throw out the possibility is where I think is an error in a “pure atheist” mindset.

    Wouldn’t it be limiting to assume that unknowns are “supernatural”?

    Because we don’t rule out unknown causes. We have no reason to do so, it would be unscientific to do so.

    But to pigeonhole any set or subset of unknowns as “supernatural” and somehow unlike other causes is ridiculous. We assume regularity and accordance with known “laws” and other limitations so long as this works, and if it ceases somewhere to work we really don’t know what we might do–as we have no genuine experience of science ceasing to work, rather than simply not being developed enough.

    The presumption is for science, not for IDiocy or other woo. I suspect that if something truly woo-like were to exist science could play a role in its discovery, however our very ability to fully (as fully as humanly possible anyway) understand anything and everything is largely predicated upon the good inference that the world acts regularly and predictably (at least statistically), and nothing else has led to any meaningful results.

    We don’t rule out unknowns, but we have no reason to expect that any of these would involve woo. We’ll be looking for anything but magic whenever the previously untestable becomes testable. That’s the fight over evolution at the edge of the unknown, after all, where wooists claim that we should just accept that magic may very well have done it, and we ask why magic always lies outside of the reach of present science.

    Magic has fallen again and again as science advanced, yet we’re always told that we should consider its possibility at the edge of our knowledge because…

    There is no legitimate “because,” it’s just that many want it to be so.

    Glen Davidson

  299. John Morales says

    anonymous,

    Someone observed that many people [inexplicably] seem to know when a loved one dies.

    I know what you’re trying to get at, but such anecdotal claims have been previously investigated and found wanting — there are many cognitive biases that we humans have which account for these anecdotes*.

    That said, there are people who still investigate these fort of claims (for example, Rupert Sheldrake, among numerous others, has spent decades trying (but failing) to provide proof of such).

    * apophenia; post hoc fallacy; confirmation bias (motivated reasoning); communal reinforcement; selective thinking; self-deception etc.

  300. anonymous says

    Dhorvath and Nerd: Can you use your reasoning then to show the error in my example of the doctor in the year 1000 concerning germs? False positiives are possible under current criteria as well, and yet we accept them until evidence shows otherwise. If someone proposes fairies pushing rocks as a gravity theory and one devises a test that can detect faries, then the theory is either proven or discarded. If fairies are classified as gods then untestable by definition and discarded like scenerio #3. Not sure I see the problem here (and of course I do not believe that faries are responsible for gravity. :) )

    Like the doctor who believed that invisible lifeforms cause disease, it’s seems insane until someone can actually provide a test for it. Let’s pretend for example that germs do NOT exist…his theory would have been proven invalid the second a person looked under a microscope and saw nothing alive, right? Is the insane really a problem for science to disprove?

    Glen:, I am doing noting of the sort by limiting the unknown as supernatural. In fact, I am going out of my way to do the opposite…defining the supernatural as perfectly natural but using evidence we cannot collect yet due to the limits of our science. I admite your thought process as it’s exactly what I am trying to show to this group…that supernatural phenomin may have a scneitific basis and hence may actually exist without having to resort to gods and shit like that, and thus an open mind is not a bad thing.

    John: I’m glad I’m getting a little clearer at least. (lol). But like the odds of winning the lottery, if 10000000 people have a reasonable explaination for an event, the 20 people who do not should not be discpunted as insane just because the odds are agaihst them.

    Have you ever heard of the man who can survide ice cold temperatures (“wim hof” is his name. Feel free to google him) He claims to generate internal heat through yoga and survives insane temperatures for long periofds of time. Medical science has examined him under labritory conditions and cannot find how he does it, but he survives temperatures that all medical science says should kill him. Your line of reasoning would discount him completely, yet here he is. Should we stop studying his abiltities just becuase we cannot explain them today? That would be limiting…just as I believe it’s limiting to discount all possibilble explainations just because we cannot explain them today.

  301. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    Have you ever heard of the man who can survide ice cold temperatures (“wim hof” is his name. […] Medical science has examined him under labritory conditions and cannot find how he does it, but he survives temperatures that all medical science says should kill him.

    Oh, for goodness’ sake. Such high tolerance to cold is hardly supernatural, merely extreme, and I very much doubt your claim that “all medical science says [what he does] should kill him” — if nothing else, because science incorporates all applicable observations and this is one such.

    Your line of reasoning would discount him completely, yet here he is.

    I don’t know where you got that from; this is something that is in evidence and examinable, unlike your putative PSI.

    Should we stop studying his abiltities just because we cannot explain them today?

    No, of course not — if such have been made. Care to cite any such scientific study?

    That would be limiting…just as I believe it’s limiting to discount all possibilble explainations just because we cannot explain them today.

    The likeliest explanation is just that he’s at the extreme end of the bell-curve at thermoregulation and has trained for these feats.

    PS from the pfft: Hof broke his previous world record by staying for 1 hour, 13 minutes and 48 seconds immersed in ice at Guinness World Records 2008. […] Wim describes his ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures as being able to turn his own thermostat up by using his brain.

    Impressive, but clearly he felt he’d reached his limit at that point.

  302. Dhorvath, OM says

    Anonymous,

    Can you use your reasoning then to show the error in my example of the doctor in the year 1000 concerning germs? False positiives are possible under current criteria as well, and yet we accept them until evidence shows otherwise. If someone proposes fairies pushing rocks as a gravity theory and one devises a test that can detect faries, then the theory is either proven or discarded. If fairies are classified as gods then untestable by definition and discarded like scenerio #3. Not sure I see the problem here

    Was Democritus correct when he dreamed up atoms? Your 11th century example has no reason to suppose that life is that small, it’s a flight of fancy on equal footing with airs, vapors, spirits, and demons. However, were he to also make the inference that frequent hand cleaning should therefor decrease transmission he would have an idea that is testable and the results would bear out that he is onto a promising track of investigation. I see no need to entertain any notion which we can’t explore and either confirm or discard.
    I should note that I am not in favour of discarding things without exploration, I am saying that if we can’t explore them, ideas aren’t of any worth. Imagination is strong and when we find things that don’t make sense actually happening there is always a wellspring of ideas to help us explore and better understand those things, but postulating bizarre phenomena for no other reason than “well you can’t prove it’s not true” is fundamentally erroneous and represents a danger.

  303. says

    The “doctor in the year 1000″ is not impressive at all. Disease was a major problem and a major mystery. The scientific method as we now understand it was not in wide use then, so men of learning felt free to wildly speculate about practically everything. Lots of them made claims about the cause of disease. The fact that one dude’s speculations turned out, after the truth is understood, to have some similarities to reality, is not the least bit surprising.
    I would, however, be interested in knowing the name of this guy, so I could read his own words.

  304. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I see Anonymous is still missing the point with shoddy, imprecise language, and trying to pretend imagining something is the equivalent of it being true. Not the case. I don’t do sophist philosophy, as I had a choice between philosophy and mathematics back in my undergraduate days, and took mathematics.

    But there is one thing about logic Anonymous keep missing. What is it that separates real possibilities from utter bullshit possibilities? In the early stages, without a hint of evidence, nothing. So, to avoid the problem where all such possibilities are equally good, what science and skepticism does is to shove all good/bad possibilities into the null-hypothesis as not existing. They are treated equally as bullshit. This makes is plain it is utter speculation to talk about such things, as it is to pretend that the plot of any fantasy novel is about reality. The ideas can get out of the null hypothesis with solid evidence to show it matches reality. Note nothing in process says that even the bullshit possibility can’t happen, just that it won’t be removed from the null hypothesis without evidence. And it is useless to spend much time speculating about about such bullshit possibilities, especially those where there is not even a hint of evidence to remove them from the null hypothesis.

    A lot of false positives are caused by the people not being properly skeptical (physicist Richard Feynman, “the easiest person to fool is yourself”), or presupposing the result for various ideological/theological reasons. We had an idjit on SciBlogs who attempted for ages to prove a creator exists (fine tuning argument), and souls exist (NDE). He failed both arguments, but he still believed due to presuppositions on his part, which he always failed to acknowledge was the case (he fooled himself). He wished there to be a deity/creator, so not even suggestive evidence to a scientist/skeptic became conclusive evidence in his eyes after he twisted facts and logic to obtain his desired result.

  305. anonymous says

    Dhorvath:

    “Imagination is strong and when we find things that don’t make sense actually happening there is always a wellspring of ideas to help us explore and better understand those things, but postulating bizarre phenomena for no other reason than “well you can’t prove it’s not true” is fundamentally erroneous and represents a danger.”

    My methaphor of the doctor in the year 1000 would have postulated a bizzare phenomin of invisible living tiny things causing sickness. (maybe he even called them invisible pink unicorns! (laugh)) He would have been rejected because nobody would have been able to prove him true and his idea of invisible living things would have been called bizzare and undoubtably he would have been asked to stop thinking crazy shit and stick to reality, probably while bloodletting and applying the daily leeches. (grin) I think it’s an apt metaphor.

    John, I used Yim as an example not as supernatural, but as a clearly natural observed phenomin that cannot be explained. The fact that it is NOT supernatural is the point…anyone who claims he’s channeling a god or something would be absurd, but you represent the other side of the sprectrum, rejecting it as pure fantasy becasue it can’t be proven how he does it and therefore must not exist. Or to put it another way…he’s clearly generating an internal heat somehow and people are free to tossa round any wild idea as to how until tests can show it. He not just at the end of the bell curve, he’s well beyond it doing what is claimed to be the impossible. A simple look at the guiness book of world records show many other examples of people who simply should not be able to do what they do.

    Myeck: Thank you for proving my point 100%.You said in one paragraph what I’ve been trying to say…people WERE free to speculate wildly and yes one theory proved true by sheer odds. So why are we STOPPING speculating wildly? Clearly it has merit, but I keep hearing that all wild ideas should be thrown out because they can’t be tested yet. That is the danger to me.

    …and the doctor was always a thought experiment example for methaphoric purposes, and not based on a particular person. :)

  306. KG says

    anonymous,

    My methaphor of the doctor in the year 1000 would have postulated a bizzare phenomin of invisible living tiny things causing sickness. (maybe he even called them invisible pink unicorns! (laugh)) He would have been rejected because nobody would have been able to prove him true and his idea of invisible living things would have been called bizzare and undoubtably he would have been asked to stop thinking crazy shit and stick to reality, probably while bloodletting and applying the daily leeches. (grin) I think it’s an apt metaphor.

    He would have been rightly rejected. This is important, and I think goes to the heart of what you don’t get about science. Speculation that is too far from what can be tested – as would have been the case in this instance – is completely useless in science, although it may while away a dull afternoon. The fact that he would have turned out to be right centuries later is of no particular interest and reflects no merit on him. The best science 1,000 years ago was being undertaken in the Muslim world, where Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (“Alhazen” or “ibn Al-Haytham”) was busy formulating proto-scientific methods and laying the foundations of optics.

  307. says

    Myeck: Thank you for proving my point 100%.You said in one paragraph what I’ve been trying to say…people WERE free to speculate wildly and yes one theory proved true by sheer odds. So why are we STOPPING speculating wildly? Clearly it has merit, but I keep hearing that all wild ideas should be thrown out because they can’t be tested yet. That is the danger to me.

    Wrong again, meathead.
    What we get from lots of people speculating furiously is vast piles of rubbish. It gets us nowhere, it accomplishes nothing. The few teeny nuggets that turn out to be true are so utterly overwhelmed by the metric fucktons of stupid garbage that it’s impossible to pick them out of the pile.
    That doctor in the year 1000? His speculation accomplished not one goddam thing for humanity. Only many centuries later, after much hard work and incremental advancements by countless people, did we learn that germs cause disease.
    That doctor’s daydream had no part in the discovery. It couldn’t have played any part.

  308. KG says

    As I could have noted @336, those foundations of optics led in time to the invention of the microscope and the discovery of “animalcules”. So ibn Al-Haytham did far more for medical science than your invented doctor would have done.

  309. Kagehi says

    Hof broke his previous world record by staying for 1 hour, 13 minutes and 48 seconds immersed in ice at Guinness World Records 2008. […] Wim describes his ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures as being able to turn his own thermostat up by using his brain.

    There are also certain groups of monks that have “trained” themselves to a point where they can survive over night in blizzards. Their ability to do this isn’t instantaneous, requires years of training, and involves steps, such as wrapping themselves in wet cloth, to “prevent” dying from getting too hot, before their “magical feat”. Its not magic though, and it is explainable, if extreme, as you say. Likely, anyone could learn it, but, the problem is, unless you are in “extreme conditions” where its useful to do so, its also dangerous. The same ability to “turn up” the temp, could kill you, if you did it in normal weather and conditions. It does also imply that humans “might” survive in much more seriously nasty cold climates, based on the same trick, but it would also mean needing “far more” nutrient resources to maintain it. This later factor sort of precludes it becoming a “norm”, since if humans, normally, have trouble surviving in such conditions, having “actively” made their body go into hyper-mode, the odds of other species doing the same, without that level of control, or adapting to do so, never mind finding plants to live off of themselves… Well, its a neat trick, but resource intensive, and impractical. Sort of the reverse of extreme high thermal conditions, where the point is to not boil, and food is available.

  310. Kagehi says

    Can you use your reasoning then to show the error in my example of the doctor in the year 1000 concerning germs?

    How about we name all the things, including some surgeries, which no one performed, or knew about, from the period where the church rose to power, and made herbal remedies illegal (witchcraft), and began actively denying anything that seemed, to them, ungodly, and the point where this control started to seriously slip, while we are at it?

    1,000 years ago was just about in the middle of the whole damn mess, and as such, even if he could have shown clear evidence he was right, the odds are about 9:1 in favor of his lab, and person, being burned to the ground, for “consorting with the devil”. Had you said 2,000, I might have just gone, “Ah, yet another thing the Romans where on the verge of figuring out, but lost when the crazies took over.”, too. It wasn’t “science”, in that time period that denied such things, it was church dogma, which happily denied anything that smacked of witchcraft, or challenged their world view (usually the same thing). So, I personally don’t find it implausible that someone might have put two and two together, and never got the chance to go from there to producing an experiment to test it. He might have been two busy running from the authorities, once he suggested the idea.

  311. John Morales says

    anonymous:

    [1] John, I used Yim as an example not as supernatural, but as a clearly natural observed phenomin that cannot be explained. [2] The fact that it is NOT supernatural is the point…anyone who claims he’s channeling a god or something would be absurd, but you represent the other side of the sprectrum, rejecting it as pure fantasy becasue it can’t be proven how he does it and therefore must not exist. [3] Or to put it another way…he’s clearly generating an internal heat somehow and people are free to tossa round any wild idea as to how until tests can show it. [3] He not just at the end of the bell curve, he’s well beyond it doing what is claimed to be the impossible. [5] A simple look at the guiness book of world records show many other examples of people who simply should not be able to do what they do.

    1. Your example fails; it’s entirely explainable in terms of physics and physiology, and all he’s doing is what other people do, only more so (you’ve never heard of Winter swimming?)
    That’s what world-record holders do, you know. :)
    2. Rubbish; of course it exists — I’m just less easily impressed than you. The4 only thing I’ve rejected as “pure fantasy” is your claim that this is inexplicable.
    3. It’s called ‘metabolism’, and we know how it occurs (mitochondria).
    4. Only woomeisters such as you claim that it’s impossible; why do you put ascribe that claim to me when I’ve explicitly rejected it, and why do you ascribe it to science without evidence?
    5. You totally miss the point of empiricism; if something occurs, only a fool claims it’s impossible — the most one can say is that it’s inexplicable. And your example… ain’t.

    (Bah — what next, fire-walking? Deep free-diving?)

  312. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Kagehi,

    It does also imply that humans “might” survive in much more seriously nasty cold climates, based on the same trick, but it would also mean needing “far more” nutrient resources to maintain it.

    Case in point; the Tasmanian Aborigines*. When the Europeans first encountered them, they marvelled at their custom of remaining naked even during winter in Tasmania (which gets damn chilly).

    * A sad, sad story theirs is — a culture thousands of years old obliterated in a few decades, and in a most miserable way.

  313. vaiyt says

    The natives of Tierra del Fuego (at the extreme south of Argentina and Chile) also went around naked in the merciless winter. They developed a lot of practices to avoid freezing, such as covering themselves with blubber, staying hunched down as much as possible, lighting fires everywhere (even on their boats) and developing a way to walk around that minimized exposure to wind.

  314. Infinite123Lifer says

    WARNING: confused person in the process of learning. WARNING, this might not make sense, but is it making progress? I think I might have made a small breakthrough at C.

    The arguments are beginning to make more sense.

    Ing said @ 334:

    …The ideas can get out of the null hypothesis with solid evidence to show it matches reality. Note nothing in process says that even the bullshit possibility can’t happen, just that it won’t be removed from the null hypothesis without evidence. And it is useless to spend much time speculating about about such bullshit possibilities, especially those where there is not even a hint of evidence to remove them from the null hypothesis….

    This makes complete sense. So I have a question. Lets take Theoretical Physics for example ( I think this is a good example).

    (ahhhhh, I am having a hard time wording this correctly)

    A. Where is the line between speculation and interpretation in say Theoretical Physics?

    Let me answer my own question:
    No Matter What a person is seeking to discover it is always speculation without evidence?

    (maybe this is my question)

    B. At what point do you give up on speculating over the interpretation of data in Theoretical Physics?

    Let me try to answer my own question again:
    When the model does not fit the data you stop speculating? NoNoNo. . . is there not always speculation in developing a new hypothesis?

    (no, I am still not sure what I am asking, one more try)

    And it is useless to spend much time speculating about about such bullshit possibilities,

    C. At what point in any field can you determine when to stop speculating on data? IOW, lets just use Max Planck as an example in his “founding” of Quantum Theory. Did speculation on Planck’s part help him to develop the theory?

    Let me try to answer my own mangled question again:
    Planck speculated one tidbit, one piece at a time until tried and proven experiments let him advance past the precursory speculation to put parts of the research “into forming a theory” (and consequently could stop speculating about a piece of the puzzle because of empirical results). Once small pieces of the puzzle were provable by testing and observation he could then continue to move on with speculation about the bigger picture, eventually testing and proving (and speculating) his way to tried and proven theory.

    So it is okay to speculate, but we need proof, and if somebody is trying to prove something about a deity/god, they need to start of with tiny speculatory questions and seek evidence for the minutia of a theory and not just jump to the major speculation of god/deity existing. Since no “little pieces” of the godpuzzle exist it cannot be removed from the Null Hypothesis state. But more importantly, a tiny piece needs to be tested and proven before we can just jump to the end result, hence creationists have no evidence (not a little evidence, not a little proof, they have absolute zero evidence) to even consider moving from the Null Hypothesis to the alternative hypothesis?

    Ing said:

    Congratulations on using so many words to say absolutely nothing.

    I am trying not to do that :) Try, being the key word.
    Can anybody understand where I am at in trying to reason this all out? It’s difficult for me to posture the question’s.

  315. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Infinite123Lifer, I’ll give you my brief opinions, but you’re off-topic here; if you have general questions, ask them in the Endless Thread (look under PZ’s picture on the right sidebar).

    A. Where is the line between speculation and interpretation in say Theoretical Physics?

    Speculation and interpretation are two different things.

    Speculation refers to a hypothesis formed without evidential or theoretical basis, interpretation refers to trying to understand what something means.

    B. At what point do you give up on speculating over the interpretation of data in Theoretical Physics?

    There’s never a need to give up speculating; even once existing theory explains all observations and cannot apparently be made simpler, it’s possible that such speculation may lead to possibly testable hypotheses.

    C. At what point in any field can you determine when to stop speculating on data?

    Science is science; see the response to B.

  316. John Morales says

    Infinite123Lifer,

    So it is okay to speculate, but we need proof, and if somebody is trying to prove something about a deity/god, they need to start of with tiny speculatory questions and seek evidence for the minutia of a theory and not just jump to the major speculation of god/deity existing.

    No, there’s no ‘proof’ in science, only theories that have not been falsified. Science is provisional, and therefore always subject to revision.

    If someone wanted to “prove something about a deity/god”, then first of all they would have to define what it is they refer to when they speak about this putative deity (the conjectural phase), then they would need to form a set* of hypotheses about this deity that could be falsified and are testable and that (if they cannot be falsified) either explain more than existing theory does or explain what existing theory does but in a simpler** way.

    * Not an empty set.

    ** By making fewer assumptions.