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Offline Bill S

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I have given some thought to ideas arising from the suggestion that we might call the universe God.  As it stood, that seemed to have a lot of weak points, so I extended it to the cosmos, taking the cosmos as the eternal realm in which our Universe might be embedded. 

As far as possible I have limited references to the work of scientists rather than philosophers or theists.

Let’s take David Bohm’s concept of the “implicate order” to its logical conclusion.   Bohm  stressed the importance of wholeness.  Classical science has always viewed the state of a system as a whole as merely the result of the interaction of its parts.  Bohm appears to have seen this as being the other way round.   This went one step further than Bohr’s assertion that subatomic particles are not independent ‘things’, but are part of an indivisible system, and suggested that wholeness was in some way the more primary reality.

This fits well with the idea that infinity is the primary reality, and that our seemingly finite existence is a mere shadow of that reality. 

Julian Barbour writes of a realm – “Platonia” – in which movement and the apparent passage of time are illusions resulting from the way in which our minds interpret what he describes as a series of “snapshots” of a static, timeless cosmos. 

If the cosmos is eternal/infinite, then it is the realm that Barbour is describing.  There is no passage of time, nothing changes, everything just “is”.

A further corollary of the concept of the implicate order is that there is no distinction, or separation of parts in the cosmos.  Everything “contained” in the cosmos is the cosmos, and vice versa.

The cosmos contains life, knowledge, wisdom, understanding etc.  Therefore the cosmos is these things, and they are the cosmos.  Everything you know, or I know, the cosmos knows – even our most secret thoughts – does that have a ring of familiarity about it?

Reasoning along these lines, the cosmos is God; I am God, as are you, as is the lowliest creature or the smallest particle. 

You will note that there is no suggestion that God is supernatural, or a creator.  In fact, God is nature and reality and everything that exists.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Quote from: David
If you call the universe God, then by that definition you have a God

That raises an interesting idea. I must give that some thought see what I can come up with.

Come on, guys, be serious! If you call a cow a chicken, do you have a chicken or a cow? 

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Reasoning along these lines, the cosmos is God; I am God, as are you, as is the lowliest creature or the smallest particle.
and that's just crap too. If you label the set of all distinct things as A, then no one thing a can be A because a doesn't contain (A-a) by definition of "distinct".   
 

Offline Aemilius

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Aemilius, you know we are on to a looser here, don't you?
 

Right.... There's never really a winner though in this arena is there?
« Last Edit: 17/03/2014 13:36:16 by Aemilius »
 

Offline Aemilius

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Quote from: alancalverdlink=topic=50418.msg432426#msg432426 date=1395015164

If you label the set of all distinct things as A, then no one thing a can be A because a doesn't contain (A-a) by definition of "distinct".
   

Just an idea.... I'm visualizing something like a hologram infinitely/near infinitely shattered by the Big Bang as a possible analogy/example of a way to approach that, at least informationally, where not only would the one thing a contain all distinct things A, or (A-a), but also where the all the distinct things A would contain the one thing a, or (a-A).

That approach would at least seem to point in the direction of something like what Bill S is suggesting.... that, at least informationally, the cosmos (a) contains all distinct things (a-A), and also that all distinct things (A) contain the cosmos (A-a).
« Last Edit: 17/03/2014 16:09:25 by Aemilius »
 

Offline David Cooper

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I wonder what are we looking at as God today...

Everything? Well, that's certainly a big idea.

Okay, so we are now part of God, and that means we are going to want to worship ourself and that we can give ourself the fancy title "God" as a way of making ourself feel more special than we would feel without this title. But what does this fancy title actually add?
 

Offline RevLGKing

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Aemilius, it seems you are saying that the only scientific response to the concept of "God" is that of the agnostic. I would go with that.

In my experience, most objections to God turn out to be objections to religious beliefs and practices.  Many of these objections are well founded, but some are based on ignorance/prejudice.  Few, if any, say anything about God, certainly nothing with the scientific validity of a simple "I don't know".  Why does that seem to be such a difficult thing for some people to say?   
Bill S, good to meet you here. I assume you the same one I know at SAGG?
============================================================
Recently, I got this quote from one who wrote :A quote from GOD
Quote
[size:14pt]THIS IS GOD. I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW THAT I DO NOT EXIST. THE ATHEISTS ARE RIGHT ALL ALONG. SO THERE !!!
[/size]
WHAT'S THAT! Am I hearing things? Or is this dream? O well, I'll make a response and see what happens:

LET THE STORY--and this IS a story--UNFOLD
 
 GOD? Is it you, really you? Wow, what a pleasant surprise! :cool:

BTW, even though I am big and strong, keep in mind, I am a shy type . Therefore, I am not sure of how best to proceed, so go easy on me, but I have heard the story from the wise ones that you and I were born as fraternal twins, who as babies became separated form our more primitive parents. Later on, in our late teens, we met as strangers to each other. So, naturally, nature took it's course, we courted each other,  married and had a great family.   

About me: GOD, I too have a god-like name, but a little different from yours. Whenever I introduce myself for the first time, I always spell out the word and sound out the letters... G.Õ.D. Yes, I assume I was the twin who came first and, therefore, your older brother.

My god-like name, G.Õ.D. , simply means I am the one who generates (power and things), organizes (things and people) and delivers to family and community that which is needed to protect the one I choose to love to be the mother of the family.

It seems to me that your name, GOD means that you are one who freely chooses (wills) to be good, optimistic and delightful and the twin sister born just after I was. Now I feel, where we evolve from here is up to us.

BTW, I am glad to hear you say that you do not exist.   :cool:  IMO, a 'god' who exists in nothing more than an idol--an object that we can create with our hands, physically, or with our minds, mentally--in our own image. A very small package indeed!

I like to think of “God", as--using the words of a wise one --like, "an infinite sphere whose centre is everywhere and ... whose circumference is nowhere”. Later, a great inventor had the same thing in mind when he said, "God is without dimensions".  :)

Before I say more, may I ask you: How much have you heard about the story of the GOD family?--a great family, BTW--of which you and I were the first members to be consciously aware of, and with, one another.

I have the strong feeling that--not with standing, that is, despite what happened since the so-call BIG-bang ... which I prefer calling the "GREAT Omni Dazzlement" (overpowering light--like the sun)--we are not alone in the cosmos.

GOD, you are no doubt aware that, as of now (modern times), the human  family on earth is one that is indeed large, perhaps even problematically large.

The story of our family, as I understand it, began like as follows: Way back--that is, well before recorded history--at least two of us (let us mentally put ourselves in their place)--one male and one female--of our first human-like ancestors fortunate enough to evolve to the point where they became ready to make conscious choices, did so. So, despite the risks, they made the first quantum leap to consciousness, or self-awareness.

Of course, using this new gift of consciousness, WE both more rapidly began to evolve and we consciously (that is, spiritually) became physically and mentally stronger :)

As I have already indicated, being the male I was the larger of the two. Therefore, I automatically assumed the role as your protector.

You, as the physically smaller and a female, became the eventual mother of our family and many descendent families. This is why I am not surprised that in order to win and keep my protection, you chose to be god-like in your own and feminine way. You were: generous, gracious, genial, glamorous, grateful, obedient, obliging, open, optimistic, outgoing, dainty, delicate, delightful, devout, discreet, and whatever it takes ...
==================================================
                                                         BTW, THE FOLLOWING IS A SIMILAR AND ENLARGED VERSION OF SIGNATURE I SOMETIMES USE--see newbielink:http://www.scienceagogo.com [nonactive]

G.Õ.D ~ can also stand for the GREAT--let-there be-light--Omni Dazzlement. For Bio info see newbielink:http://www.lindsayking.ca [nonactive]  & newbielink:http://www.unitheist.org [nonactive]  BTW, I have one thread, PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION, ALL RELIGIONS ... which at this point has over 7.5 million hits.  Questions welcomed!
===================
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: DC
Creating something out of nothing will either depend on a mechanism or on magic. If the latter, then it is not something that God can understand - understanding something automatically requires it to be mechanistic. If it's mechanistic, then God is not doing anything special by making anything - he is just like a child playing with Lego, even if he can make blocks appear out of nothing.

This sounds good, but you are still trying to confine your concept of god to the 3+1 dimensions of spacetime.  You have no way of knowing if, outside that, the same rules, such as causality or linearity, apply.  They may, or they may not.     
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: DC
….and then the intelligence of the listener should be able to do the rest,

Isn’t that tantamount to saying: if you don’t agree with me, you lack intelligence?

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My position came out of working on AGI, looking for mechanistic ways to apply reasoning to all things. Soon, every AGI system will be pushing the same arguments about the impossibility of God.

AGI is obviously your thing, so you would be able to tell me if I am wrong in thinking that even AGI would have to base its reasoning on available information.  Beyond that would be only speculation.

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you have to add a God-property of some kind to it, and it's only necessary to attack that property to disprove it.

True, but at best you only disprove that particular god concept.
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: alancalverd
and that's just crap

and that's just an opinion. 

It's an interesting response, redolent of those sad schoolyard arguments in which one party runs out of relevant responses and takes the first step towards an exchange of insults.  Not going down that path, thanks.
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: Rev
Bill S, good to meet you here. I assume you the same one I know at SAGG?

Yep, same Bill S.  A bit like God, I'm everywhere.  Didn't someone say you find BS everywhere?

I wish I could understand your post!  Nothing changes, does it? :D
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: DC
Okay, so we are now part of God, and that means we are going to want to worship ourself...

Whatever turns you on. :)
 

Offline alancalverd

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Quote from: alancalverd
and that's just crap

and that's just an opinion. 

It's an interesting response, redolent of those sad schoolyard arguments in which one party runs out of relevant responses and takes the first step towards an exchange of insults.  Not going down that path, thanks.

Actually, it's the conclusion of a logical argument - the inverse of QED. I'm afraid there are no polite compromises in the language of science: a hypothesis is either robust or rubbish.
« Last Edit: 18/03/2014 07:36:10 by alancalverd »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Just an idea.... I'm visualizing something like a hologram infinitely/near infinitely shattered by the Big Bang as a possible analogy/example of a way to approach that, at least informationally, where not only would the one thing a contain all distinct things A, or (A-a), but also where the all the distinct things A would contain the one thing a, or (a-A).

That approach would at least seem to point in the direction of something like what Bill S is suggesting.... that, at least informationally, the cosmos (a) contains all distinct things (a-A), and also that all distinct things (A) contain the cosmos (A-a).


"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."

Blake was an interesting mystic but his appreciation of k-space was a bit like yours. It is true that everything in the universe influences a grain of sand, but as with all mappings, you lose a lot of information when you reduce the capacity of the map. The existence of the sand grain implies the existence of a universe (though the universe may be nothing more than that one grain of sand) but tells you nothing of its fine structure, and likewise a fragment of a hologram might imply a face but without enough detail to identify  it.   

The infinitesimalist god concept of a = A-a as a -> 0 is clearly wrong. An infinitesimal medium cannot contain a finite (let alone infinite) amount of information. 
« Last Edit: 18/03/2014 07:42:16 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: alancalverd
In the absence of a large brown animal that turns grass into milk, there is no cow.

I feel sure you didn't intend this to be taken seriously, but it does rather typify the kind or limited reasoning you tend to employ.

Friesians, Holsteins, Charolais etc, if they have opinions, might all disagree with you.

There couldn't be a spot of colour prejudice here, could there?  :)
 

Offline Bill S

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David & Dr Calverd, I really appreciate the effort and patience you have put into your responses.  One of the problems/ “advantages” with this type of discussion is that it is always possible to respond to selected points, while avoiding others.  I suppose we all do it, to some extent, and it tends to result in a degree of circularity.  I have learned quite a lot about the arguments used by atheists, and think I now have a better understanding of how this reasoning works, and why they are atheists rather than agnostics.

Not surprisingly, I think no one will have changed position significantly as a result of the discussion.  As far as I can see, no one has given a definition of God that was not derived from the imaginations of people.  Nor has anyone provided an argument that did not restrict God to the rules of causality/linearity of our observable Universe.  Probably someone will point out that this is not possible; but that, to some extent is the point.  It is not possible to provide such a definition, and without that it is not possible to rule out every possible god concept. 

Quot hominess, tot sententiae.  How dull life would be otherwise. 
 

Offline David Cooper

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Quote from: DC
Creating something out of nothing will either depend on a mechanism or on magic. If the latter, then it is not something that God can understand - understanding something automatically requires it to be mechanistic. If it's mechanistic, then God is not doing anything special by making anything - he is just like a child playing with Lego, even if he can make blocks appear out of nothing.

This sounds good, but you are still trying to confine your concept of god to the 3+1 dimensions of spacetime.  You have no way of knowing if, outside that, the same rules, such as causality or linearity, apply.  They may, or they may not.     

It would apply to any number of dimensions, and however much causality/linearity might not be applicable at some level of reality, it could always come in again at a higher level which cannot be known about from a lower level where it's been incorrectly ruled out.

Quote from: DC
….and then the intelligence of the listener should be able to do the rest,

Isn’t that tantamount to saying: if you don’t agree with me, you lack intelligence?

No - you're forgetting the option of not using one's intelligence to it's full capability due to not putting in sufficient time/effort - most of the time we don't come close to applying it in full because it's hard work.

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My position came out of working on AGI, looking for mechanistic ways to apply reasoning to all things. Soon, every AGI system will be pushing the same arguments about the impossibility of God.

AGI is obviously your thing, so you would be able to tell me if I am wrong in thinking that even AGI would have to base its reasoning on available information.  Beyond that would be only speculation.

I did say at the start that God can be disproved within reason (and AGI systems will apply reason), but if reason is thrown out you are in a different situation where almost anything goes. Fortunately though, God is in the same boat and cannot know if his reasoning is valid either because he cannot know he is at the top level. His kind of reasoning may be based on different rules from ours and it may be possible for him to rule out the possibility of higher levels than his own by applying his kind or reasoning, but then his argument may be wrong too as it is only a proof within a system of reasoning which can't be trusted.

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you have to add a God-property of some kind to it, and it's only necessary to attack that property to disprove it.

True, but at best you only disprove that particular god concept.

We can disprove the creator-of-everything quality of God, and the knowing and understanding of all things qualities of God, and the supernatural quality, and we can even throw out any undefined God quality, thereby covering everything else anyone could ever think up (and everything else they couldn't think up). What is there left that goes on giving us any justification to apply the word God to something that lacks all the vital qualities of God which would distinguish him from everything else that exists? You can define anything you like and call it a God, and if you've defined something that can exist then that kind of thing can exist, but it is simply not a God unless it is the kind of thing an atheist would take exception to. Atheists object to the kind of Gods proposed by religions. The qualities of those Gods are described in holy books, and they are not possible. Every time someone pushes the argument that God can still exist because something that isn't a God can be misnamed as one, this is taken by religious people as backing for the idea that all manner of disproved Gods can still exist within the bounds of reason, but they can't, and by making it sound as if they can, you are accidentally backing irrational beliefs and the terrorism that automatically results from people trying to do their religion properly by following all of its rules literally. For this reason, if you are determined to try to make the case that God cannot be disproved, you are duty bound to define the kinds of thing you want to call Gods that you think can still exist and to point out that they are not really Gods at all, but ordinary things which Atheists don't regard as Gods, or undefined shells of ideas with no content which are merely empty titles akin to the ludicrous idea that some people are royal.

As far as I can see, no one has given a definition of God that was not derived from the imaginations of people.  Nor has anyone provided an argument that did not restrict God to the rules of causality/linearity of our observable Universe.  Probably someone will point out that this is not possible; but that, to some extent is the point.  It is not possible to provide such a definition, and without that it is not possible to rule out every possible god concept.

Nothing that thinks it might be God is capable of correctly determining that it is God. Not only that, but if it looks at a slug it can't tell whether it is better qualified than the slug to be God, because whatever undefinable hidden properties he may have, the slug may have better undefinable hidden properties. A sensible thing that thinks it could be the most supreme undefinable thing in existence but which doesn't know if that's the case will not make any claim to be God and will reject the title if anyone tries to force it on him.

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Quot hominess, tot sententiae.  How dull life would be otherwise.

There are many highly destructive kinds of belief which should, for the well-being of all, be done away with. It will still leave plenty of things to keep the world interesting, even if we do have fewer snuff-videos to watch on the news if religious nutters stop killing each other. I'd like to see an end to all the child abuse that's caused by religion, and I don't mean the kind implied in the title of this thread, because that's just perverts using religion in the same way they use sports clubs and schools as a way to get access to children (although I'd obviously like to see an end to all that too), but I'm referring to the waste of children's time as they have fairy stories imposed on them, in some cases having to memorise hundred's of thousands of words of the stuff and being beaten for failing to do so. It's quite bad enough for the ones who merely have half their weekend wasted sitting around in buildings full of imbeciles who believe in an invisible monster in the sky. Life will be a lot more fun (and more moral) once all these ****ing Gods are put to bed.

In olden times people believed that there were dragons. They heard them roaring in the clouds and saw the fire that they breathed, so they weren't stupid to believe in them. However, science eventually provided us with much better explanations for thunder storms and so no one believes in dragons any more. Now, you could point to the Komodo islands and a "dragon" that lives there, but it is not a dragon in the same sense. The existence of Komodo dragons does not make the existence of fire-breathing, flying dragons real. Even so, there really could be flying, fire-breathing animals which look like dragons somewhere out there on an alien world, and they really would be dragons, qualifying as such by meeting the criteria of what qualifies something to be a dragon. For something to qualify as a God, it would have to meet the criteria of what qualifies something to be God. Some of those criteria exist, but it is impossible for anything to meet them, so God cannot exist. If something exists which meets other criteria which aren't known to us, then that thing needs to be given another name and not be mixed up with the idea of God. Something which meets unstated criteria may well exist, and indeed many things might exist which meet different unstated criteria, but none of those things would be God: they would be other things with names made to represent them once they have been defined in some way and are worth naming. None of those possible things would come anywhere near to being Gods because they cannot meet the criteria for that: we know what God is supposed to be, and if they don't meet the requirements they are not God. We could make up a name for some such thing which meets unstated criteria, such as a "nempty". We don't know what a nempty is, but it is something that could exist. As an atheist, I see no problem with nempties as one may well exist but it cannot be God. The possible existence of nempties also adds no weight whatsoever to the idea that a God could exist. It is clearly impossible to prove that a nempty doesn't exist, at least until it is determined to have impossible qualities, but God is known to have impossible qualities and therefore cannot exist. Pointing to a nempty and arguing that God can exist on the basis that a nempty can exist is an error.
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from:  DC
There are many highly destructive kinds of belief which should, for the well-being of all, be done away with.

I strongly agree, but let’s put the blame in the right place.  It’s people who have these destructive ideas, and fashion their “gods” in such a way as to support their ideas.

Part of my interest in the beliefs of atheists and the possible proof of the non-existence of God is linked to questions about what it might be scientifically acceptable to infer about anything that could be beyond the Universe, given that our experience/observations must be restricted to the Universe.

It fascinates me that as a scientist you are able to draw so many conclusions about God, when it seems that it is scientifically unacceptable to claim that there can never have been absolutely nothing.  Where do you stand on that?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Wrong premise, Bill. The essence of atheism is no belief, subtly different from belief in nonexistence. Belief is acceptance of a hypothesis in the absence of evidence. Atheists have no need of the hypothesis.

It is entirely possible of course to devise an atheist code of behaviour that harms others, but the distinguishing feature of theistic religions is that they use the god hypothesis to justify actions that would otherwise be considered at best insane and at worst, evil. 
« Last Edit: 19/03/2014 21:17:30 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: alancalverd
Wrong premise, Bill. The essence of atheism is no belief, subtly different from belief in nonexistence. Belief is acceptance of a hypothesis in the absence of evidence. Atheists have no need of the hypothesis.

It could equally well be said that atheists believe they have evidence that God does not exist.  Theists disagree with that, because they believe they can establish that God exists.  Each group believes the other has got it wrong, and they are right.  Each can manipulate semantics to frame an argument that satisfies them. 

Agnostics can stand aloof from this, because, although they may readily accept that much of the suffering in the world, as well as some of the good, might have religions at its root, that is to be laid at the door of people, rather than some deity they might invent to “justify” their actions.

Perhaps all three groups can be said to be characteristic beliefs.

Theistic belief: There is a God.

Atheistic belief: There is no God.

Agnostic belief:  I lack the evidence to say if God exists, and the conceit to claim that I know.   


 

Offline alancalverd

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It could equally well be said that atheists believe they have evidence that God does not exist.

Not this atheist. You can only prove the nonexistence of something if you have a consistent definition of it. So far, nobody has offered me a definition of a god that stands up to scrutiny, but that isn't my problem, it's theirs. I just live in a universe that doesn't imply anything supernatural, hence no need for any belief.

It could indeed be said, but not equally well. Your statement is not equivalent to mine.
 

Offline Bill S

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You can only prove the nonexistence of something if you have a consistent definition of it. So far, nobody has offered me a definition of a god that stands up to scrutiny..

Well said, Dr Calverd.  So you really are an agnostic.  :D

Is this not the argument I have been proposing as the only "scientific" position:  no adequate definition - no yes or no? 
 

Offline alancalverd

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No definition = no existence. We rational beings only assume the existence of things that are defined by observed properties. And quite often (bogeymen, phlogiston...) we later prove their nonexistence because the observation turns out to have a better explanation. Otherwise why stop at god? Why don't you assume the existence of zzy or any other combination of letters? According to your logic, the fact that I can't assign any properties to zzy doesn't preclude its existence. As I said earlier, this approach to language stinks of philosophy and is therefore of no possible use or interest.   
« Last Edit: 20/03/2014 17:07:38 by alancalverd »
 

Offline David Cooper

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Quote from:  DC
There are many highly destructive kinds of belief which should, for the well-being of all, be done away with.

I strongly agree, but let’s put the blame in the right place.  It’s people who have these destructive ideas, and fashion their “gods” in such a way as to support their ideas.

Every time an academic/intellectual person backs the idea that a God could exist, they are adding fuel to the fire, but the most damaging claim they can make is that  it's impossible to prove there's no God: that is just as big a claim to make as a claim that there is or cannot be a God. In each case it is wrong to make any of those claims unless you believe you can prove it. Un undefined thing is not sufficiently defined to count as God: there are essential definitions which must be attached to a thing before it can be regarded as a God. The original gods were supernatural beings which broke the laws of nature which constrain us, but these are just conjuring tricks and are not supernatural at all. The gods were then given a boss who eventually replaced them all, so he became the creator of all things, and the knower of all things, and the understander of all things, and he was the source of all good. On all of these points, he falls flat on his face. God is dead. If you want to propose the existence of something that doesn't have those impossible qualities, that's fine, but stop pretending that can be a God. It will lack the required qualifications for that. There may be something as-yet undefined out there called a nempty, but the nempty has none of the essential qualities of a God and it is an abuse of language to regard it as a compatible concept. Yes, you can call it a God just as a Komodo dragon has been called a dragon, but it will not be a God in the sense that matters any more than a Komodo dragon is a dragon in the sense of a fire-breathing, flying monster. Atheists believe there is no God, but most of them are probably fully open to the possibility of the existence of nempties.

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Part of my interest in the beliefs of atheists and the possible proof of the non-existence of God is linked to questions about what it might be scientifically acceptable to infer about anything that could be beyond the Universe, given that our experience/observations must be restricted to the Universe.

It fascinates me that as a scientist you are able to draw so many conclusions about God, when it seems that it is scientifically unacceptable to claim that there can never have been absolutely nothing.  Where do you stand on that?

Science, done properly, should have no problem with accepting the possibility that there are things outside the universe - it simply has little useful to say about those things unless there are actual signs of things on the outside interacting with the universe, although it could also be essential to postulate that something exists outside the universe in order to explain how the universe can exist and/or function. Importantly though, placing things outside the universe does not qualify them to be gods.

Perhaps all three groups can be said to be characteristic beliefs.

Theistic belief: There is a God.

Atheistic belief: There is no God.

Agnostic belief:  I lack the evidence to say if God exists, and the conceit to claim that I know.

Is it conceited to claim that you know that 1+1=2? Once you know that something is the case, it is not conceited to make a claim that you know it. Taking the position that you don't know that 1+1=2 in order not to be conceited is going to restrict your ability to derive rules, making it impossible to decide such things as what is moral and what is not. Without being able to declare anything to be right or wrong due to all certainty being conceited, you cannot justify punishing those who do evil and should also consider that anything good you try to do could be extremely harmful and therefore should not be done, only you wouldn't even be able to make those decisions as they aren't certain either, which means you're completely rudderless. No, what we have to do is make decisions on what's right or true based on reasoning, because reason is all we have to go by. If we can prove something to be the case within the rules of reason, we have a useful proof, even if though it still depends on reason itself being correct. My claim was that you can prove within the rules of reason that God is impossible - that is not an absolute proof as no absolute proof is possible. The same absolute problem gets in the way of anything that might be God too, because if you were to meet something that thinks it is God, it would be completely impossible for that thing to prove to you that it is God, or indeed to prove that to itself.

I agree with your definitions though: agnostics do not believe in God but do not believe there is no God either, while atheists believe that there is no God. Many dictionaries agree with this, but as many others give atheism the same definition as agnosticism. The preferred definition for atheism today appears to be one that specifically rules out the possibility of God.



No definition = no existence.

That would depend on virtual definitions. Before there was anything intelligent enough to define anything, plenty of things existed, but they were definable things. However, something that cannot be defined at all because there's nothing to it to define cannot exist.

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We rational beings only assume the existence of things that are defined by observed properties. And quite often (bogeymen, phlogiston...) we later prove their nonexistence because the observation turns out to have a better explanation.

I think it's unfair to say that phlogiston was disproved - it was an essentially-correct theory which is now understood in better detail (phlogiston is energy held in bonds which can be released when the bonds are rearranged).

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Otherwise why stop at god? Why don't you assume the existence of zzy or any other combination of letters? According to your logic, the fact that I can't assign any properties to zzy doesn't preclude its existence. As I said earlier, this approach to language stinks of philosophy and is therefore of no possible use or interest.

The idea that philosophy is a bad thing is itself a philosophical position, and a bad one at that. Philosophy is just applied reasoning, and the fact that most people do it badly is no justification for attacking philosophy: bad philosophers (i.e. most of them) should be the target of your ire rather than the entire field. Everything in science is grounded in philosophy and is indeed governed by it. If science claims that there isn't anything outside the universe because we can't detect it, science has gone wrong: it is an error to claim that something doesn't exist on the basis of lack of evidence for it.
 

Offline Bill S

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Quote from: alancalverd
We rational beings only assume the existence of things that are defined by observed properties. And quite often (bogeymen, phlogiston...) we later prove their nonexistence because the observation turns out to have a better explanation.

There are scientists who believe in God.
There are scientists who believe there is no God.
There are scientists who believe that we do not have enough evidence to rule out the possibility of God.

If you really believe what your quote says, you must accept that any of these could subsequently be proved wrong.

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As I said earlier, this approach to language stinks of philosophy and is therefore of no possible use or interest.

This says little about the subject under discussion; and more about your possibly prejudiced view of philosophy.  In view of the fact that science evolved from philosophy, the idea that philosophy could be of no possible use or interest, is a little surprising.
 

Offline alancalverd

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There are scientists who believe in God.
There are scientists who believe there is no God.
There are scientists who believe that we do not have enough evidence to rule out the possibility of God.

Calling oneself a scientist doesn't confer infallibility about anything. Applying scientific method, on the other hand, does tend to get to the right answer by eliminating wrong ones. Belief is inconsistent with the scientific method because it doesn't discriminate against wrong answers.
 

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