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Author Topic: Same old question, dog, just a different day  (Read 8912 times)

Graebeard

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Same old question, dog, just a different day
« on: May 29, 2012, 09:51:03 pm »

Ok.  It's been asked before.  It's been asked before on these forums.  But I am feeling inquisitive, so I will ask Bay12 for its opinions again:

Is the existence of god (in the way you choose that to mean) an antimony?  That is to say, do you believe that either the existence or non-existence of god is more rational than the alternative?  If so, why?  If not, upon what do you base your belief or non-belief in the existence of god?

Rules:
  • Be nice.  I'm serious.  Actually be nice, particularly to those who disagree or might disagree with your position.
  • Support your opinions.  Acknowledge unsupported opinions.
  • Don't condemn others' opinions.  Acknowledging inconsistencies is great, but don't demean anyone's beliefs.
  • Be clear.  Keep arguments short.  Let your sentences be unencumberd by superfluities.
  • Be nice :)


I'll start.

I don't believe that science or rational thought can or will prove the existence or non-existence of god.  I vacilate between agnosticism and atheism.  When feeling particularly atheistic I find myself thinking of this question Nietzsche posed: "If there were gods, how could I endure not to be a god?"  When feeling agnostic I don't know what to think, and solicit opinions on the matter from the internet.

Your turn.
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G-Flex

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 09:55:06 pm »

I don't believe that science or rational thought can or will prove the existence or non-existence of god.

This is true of absolutely any of the infinite number of vague, non-falsifiable claims in existence (at least in terms of proving non-existence). Being unable to prove the non-existence of something means very, very little, and what it does mean isn't very encouraging.

To put it simply: Science proving the nonexistence of something is completely unnecessary. If something can't be shown to be true, then it may as well be false.
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Flying Dice

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 09:59:06 pm »

I do not wish to believe, therefore I do not believe.


I'm deliberately avoiding the "there is no evidence for the existence of a deity in the traditional sense" line because it tends to lead to ping-pong arguments bouncing back and forth between "There are things we can't explain" and "What evidence we do have doesn't support the existence of deities", as well as the whole thing about treating ancient, repeatedly translated and reinterpreted documents as hard fact. In short, unwillingness to accept that the burden of proof falls on the individual attempting to prove that something exists tends to get in the way of rational debate on this.
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Fenrir

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 10:01:48 pm »

It is not even an important question. I shall not be changing my behavior either way.

If I were to speculate, however, I would say that there is not one, as the cause of the universe would likely be incredibly strange and incomparable to a personality—as such is what a god is, a personality—and that would make the answer “no”.

Further, humanity has a history of explaining the inexplicable with gods and spirits and whatnot, so I would suspect that you are doing it again.

I understand that the second is the weaker of my two reasons, but, of course, I am not certain of either.
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Graebeard

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 10:03:01 pm »

@ G-Flex:  So I take it your position is that you don't believe the statement "god exists" because you have no reason to believe it.  The tricky part of that argument, for me, is that the same can be said of that statement's converse unless there is some other way to distinguish them from one another.

@ Flying Dice:  Do you ever feel compelled to justify the desire not to believe that underlies you lack of belief?  Every time I find myself saying something similar I feel like I've taken the easy way out.


@ Fenrir:  Sorry for the edit-post.  My internets are angry with me.  I disagree with you on the importance issue.  I think the existence of god is an importent question to the extent that the answer bears on the way we conduct our lives.  I do, however, agree with both of your other points.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:06:57 pm by Graebeard »
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kaijyuu

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 10:10:16 pm »

A few things:


1) Burden of proof lies on the person making a claim. What claim that may be is irrelevant. It could be that God exists. It could be that God doesn't exist. It all depends who's making the assertion and who's countering it. Whoever's countering it does not have burden of proof.

2) God, other forms of deities, the supernatural, etc all lie outside of the empirical, meaning asking for empirical evidence is pretty damn stupid.

3) We live in an empirical world. You can't ask for anything other than empirical evidence, at least as far as others can provide.

4) Also as a consequence of living in an empirical world, anything outside the empirical cannot affect it. Therefore its existence or non-existence has zero effect on the world we live in.



My conclusion: Whatever is, is. Whatever isn't, isn't. I'm gonna eat drink and be merry in the one live I know I have, rather than worrying about things do not currently affect me or have knowledge that they will effect me in the future. That doesn't mean I don't make proof-less assumptions; I make the assumption every day that I'm living in a real world and not some Matrix-esque fantasy. However, I choose not to make an assumption on this particular topic, nor look down on those who do choose to make an assumption on it. I only look down on those who force their assumptions down other's throats.
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Quote from: Chesterton
For, in order that men should resist injustice, something more is necessary than that they should think injustice unpleasant. They must think injustice absurd; above all, they must think it startling. They must retain the violence of a virgin astonishment. When the pessimist looks at any infamy, it is to him, after all, only a repetition of the infamy of existence. But the optimist sees injustice as something discordant and unexpected, and it stings him into action.

G-Flex

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 10:17:25 pm »

@ G-Flex:  So I take it your position is that you don't believe the statement "god exists" because you have no reason to believe it.  The tricky part of that argument, for me, is that the same can be said of that statement's converse unless there is some other way to distinguish them from one another.

... You realize this works on literally everything, right? Or do you feel it's reasonable to believe in an infinite number of sometimes mutually-exclusive things, without evidence, or to pick-and-choose essentially at random?

Having no evidence of something is reason not to believe it. Period. If I come to a wall in a field, and I can't see over it, it's foolish for me to say there's an elephant behind it unless I have some actual reason to think there might be one.

2) God, other forms of deities, the supernatural, etc all lie outside of the empirical, meaning asking for empirical evidence is pretty damn stupid.

"Supernatural" doesn't imply "cannot be observed". People try to find empirical evidence of ghosts all the time (although I certainly don't think they're finding any). In order for something to "lie outside of the empirical", that would mean it simply can't be experienced, and might as well not exist.
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Fenrir

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 10:22:25 pm »

Graebeard, we have no way of being sure of what it wants us to do or what it means to do with us after we are dead, so I can not really imagine what I would do differently if I knew there is a god, besides trying to talk to it.
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kaijyuu

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 10:24:41 pm »

2) God, other forms of deities, the supernatural, etc all lie outside of the empirical, meaning asking for empirical evidence is pretty damn stupid.

"Supernatural" doesn't imply "cannot be observed". People try to find empirical evidence of ghosts all the time (although I certainly don't think they're finding any). In order for something to "lie outside of the empirical", that would mean it simply can't be experienced, and might as well not exist.
Replace "empirical" with "scientific," then. Remember science is based on experimentation and "beyond reasonable doubt." You can find plenty of videos of ghosts out there, and if one were actually real it'd be dismissed as a hoax immediately. It's not like it could be proven real either, since like hell you're going to get something that affects the world on arbitrary and unpredictable criteria to do it again.


As for "might as well not exist," that's true, but a far cry from a reason to think it doesn't. Some distant star in a galaxy we can barely see might as well not exist for all it affects us, but there it is. Things not affecting us is, at best, a reason to not worry about it, which is exactly what I personally do.
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Quote from: Chesterton
For, in order that men should resist injustice, something more is necessary than that they should think injustice unpleasant. They must think injustice absurd; above all, they must think it startling. They must retain the violence of a virgin astonishment. When the pessimist looks at any infamy, it is to him, after all, only a repetition of the infamy of existence. But the optimist sees injustice as something discordant and unexpected, and it stings him into action.

GlyphGryph

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 10:28:58 pm »

And here's the worse thing - what little evidence there is for a god or gods, when put together reasonable, does not result in the sort of god that, say, theists, actually want.

I myself believe in god(s) through a rather convoluted but structurally sound assortment of logic and evidence, with approximately 60% confidence (Similar, in form, to the drake equation - meaning it's quite capable of varying wildly with new discoveries). You think this would end up with me on the theistic side in debates! But when I calmly present my case, the response is always along the lines of "How can you even call that a god?"

I've long since realized that the people who argue the "god exists" side are sincerely disinterested in legitimate evidence of god, because all such evidence leads to a god other than the one they want, when taken as a whole.
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G-Flex

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2012, 10:29:35 pm »

Replace "empirical" with "scientific," then. Remember science is based on experimentation and "beyond reasonable doubt." You can find plenty of videos of ghosts out there, and if one were actually real it'd be dismissed as a hoax immediately.

If something can be observed and measured, then the scientific process can be applied to it. For example, if ghosts were real and interacted with the world in a measurable fashion (as proponents of ghosts believe), then it would be possible to show evidence for that via the scientific method.

Quote
As for "might as well not exist," that's true, but a far cry from a reason to think it doesn't. Some distant star in a galaxy we can barely see might as well not exist for all it affects us, but there it is. Things not affecting us is, at best, a reason to not worry about it, which is exactly what I personally do.

You're misinterpreting what I'm saying. When I say "might as well not exist", I'm talking about the existence of something being entirely moot because it doesn't interact with us in any way whatsoever, not just because its interactions with us are indirect or irrelevant on a human scale.

And yes, the default assumption for things for which there is no evidence is "it's not real/true". This would apply to anything which does not interact with the universe in any observable way, since there's no way to observe its existence and its existence would in no way affect us.
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Flying Dice

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2012, 10:30:07 pm »

@ Flying Dice:  Do you ever feel compelled to justify the desire not to believe that underlies you lack of belief?  Every time I find myself saying something similar I feel like I've taken the easy way out.

I honestly don't, not at this point. People who are either in agreement or willing to accept that I will continue to believe what I wish to believe will do so, and people who will attempt to refute my belief will continue to ignore both my own desires (namely, to not be harrassed with conversion attempts) as well as the lack of evidence for the existence of a deity. I've been through these arguments so many times that I'm quite tired of repeating them.

In other words, since people who disagree with me on this tend to be the ones who won't leave it alone but will also refuse to assume the burden of proof, I tend to ignore them, because I'm sick of hearing the same mysticism and spirituality used to cover the lack of evidence. Put simply: I don't really care any more about justifying my beliefs on this beyond saying "This is what I believe, and I believe it because I wish to." because the people on the other side of the issue have never justified their own beliefs to me with anything beyond "I believe this because I want to.", or suitably evasive variants on that theme.

In short, yes, it is possible that a deity or deities of some sort exist. Do we have any sort of concrete evidence to that at the current point in time? No. Therefore, I wish to leave the matter well enough alone.

Apologies if I'm a bit terse about this, but when people attempt to convert you on a near daily basis despite you being openly atheist and disinterested in joining any sort of organized religion, you tend to stop being overly polite about such matters.
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Aramco

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2012, 10:30:25 pm »

The way I see it, the nonexistence of a god is infinitely more logical than the existence of a god.

At the same time, not believing in a god is infinitely LESS logical than believing in a god.

Why is that? Well, I don't know about you, but I am not certain enough that a god doesn't exist to risk eternal punishment. Yeah. Maybe, 999,999 / 1,000,000 chance there are no gods? That's still a 1 / 1,000,000 chance of eternal punishment. I may not be the smartest man alive, but I'd rather not risk it.
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Or maybe there's a god who's just completely insane and sends you to Detroit, Michigan in a new body if you ever utter the name "Pat Sajak".

G-Flex

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2012, 10:34:19 pm »

The way I see it, the nonexistence of a god is infinitely more logical than the existence of a god.

At the same time, not believing in a god is infinitely LESS logical than believing in a god.

Why is that? Well, I don't know about you, but I am not certain enough that a god doesn't exist to risk eternal punishment. Yeah. Maybe, 999,999 / 1,000,000 chance there are no gods? That's still a 1 / 1,000,000 chance of eternal punishment. I may not be the smartest man alive, but I'd rather not risk it.

This is Pascale's Wager and has been sufficiently disproven. The logic doesn't add up at all. There are an infinite number of potential "gods" with an infinite number of things they might expect from you, and an infinite number of rewards/punishments. Sure, maybe, hypothetically, there's a god who will send you to Hell for not believing in him. Or maybe there's a god who will send you to Hell for believing in that first god but would send you to some Heaven even if you believe in no gods at all. Or maybe there's a god who doesn't want you to believe in him. Or maybe there's a god who's just completely insane and sends you to Detroit, Michigan in a new body if you ever utter the name "Pat Sajak". Or maybe there are things we'd call "gods" but which are so alien to us that how they respond to our belief/disbelief/actions wouldn't make any sense or be predictable in the first place.

Pascale's Wager only works if the only god whose existence you consider is basically Yahweh.
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Fenrir

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Re: Same old question, dog, just a different day
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2012, 10:36:17 pm »

I myself believe in god(s) through a rather convoluted but structurally sound assortment of logic and evidence, with approximately 60% confidence (Similar, in form, to the drake equation - meaning it's quite capable of varying wildly with new discoveries).
Tell us! This is the thread for that.
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