Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 115 (8796 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 10-20-2017 3:07 AM
340 online now:
caffeine, CosmicChimp, PaulK, Tangle (4 members, 336 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: jaufre
Upcoming Birthdays: Flyer75
Happy Birthday: Astrophile
Post Volume:
Total: 820,883 Year: 25,489/21,208 Month: 1,116/2,338 Week: 237/450 Day: 2/55 Hour: 0/0

Announcements: Reporting debate problems OR discussing moderation actions/inactions


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev1
2
3Next
Author Topic:   The persistent question of evidence (RAZD and subbie only)
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 16 of 42 (605521)
02-20-2011 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by subbie
02-19-2011 11:43 PM


splish splash back in the bath
subbie and RAZD only

Hi subbie, thanks.

I do agree that the standard of evidence has to be the same for both sides.

Good, that's a start.

My question still remains: do you agree with my definition of "evidence?"

Just to be sure, what you previously stated (Message 13) was:

quote:
Let me begin with the definition of evidence that the law uses and see where that gets us.

Fact X is evidence is support of hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y more probable than it would be without. The converse, obviously, would be that fact X is evidence against hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y less probable than it would be without. Evidence does not need to conclusively establish or invalidate a hypothesis by itself to be evidence in support of or against a hypothesis.


We could start with that and see where it goes.

My concern is that it leaves the door wide open for presentation of all the subjective evidence for the existence of god/s from all around the world, from religious documents to records of religious experiences, especially where there is a strong similarity of religious experiences across human cultures. There are many people convinced that they have a personal communication with god/s. If this is admitted, then it seems to me that the vast wealth and depth of this evidence should be taken as making the existence of god/s more probable than not. Certainly such evidence could not be ignored if your evidence against god/s is not of a higher quality.

In contrast, I place this evidence on the second level of confidence on my scale of concepts:

RAZD's Concept Scale (revised)
  1. Zero Confidence Concepts

    1. No evidence, subjective or objective, hypothetical arguments,

    2. No logical conclusions possible, but opinion possible

  2. Low Confidence Concepts

    1. Unconfirmed or subjective supporting evidence, opinion also involved, but no known objective empirical evidence pro or con, nothing shows the concept per se to be valid or invalid; untested hypothesis.

    2. Conclusions regarding possibilities for further investigation, and opinions can be based on this level of evidence,

  3. Medium Confidence Concepts

    1. Based on some objective empirical evidence, but may also have contradictory or anomalous (unreconciled) evidence, a scientific hypothesis that has not (yet) been tested and that has not (yet) provided any new predicted evidence or information, or still in development

    2. Conclusions regarding possible reality can be made, methods to test and falsify such concepts can be developed to measure the possibility of their being true\false.

  4. High Confidence Concepts

    1. Validated and confirmed objective supporting evidence, and no known contradictory evidence

    2. Conclusions regarding probable reality can be made, repeated attempts to falsify such concepts can lead to high confidence in their being true.

Thus we could derive some conclusions regarding possibilities for further investigation, and opinions can be based on this level of evidence, but not any conclusions on the relative likelihood of the existence vs non-existence of god/s.

I'm certainly aware that there are people who believe in different gods. My argument is that the tremendous diversity and lack of consensus suggests that there is not in fact an actual being behind those beliefs.

In a forest each tree is different, individual, with some characteristics in common and some characteristics that differ: different species of trees, different types of trees, different types of vegetation from trees to vines, that all together form the entity known as the forest. If we look at each of these individual aspects of the forest and focus on the differences, then we are neglecting the overall picture that encompasses all these elements and aspects into one forest. People from different fields around the forest could have quite different impressions of the details of the trees in their area.

(O)f course, this argument would be clearer if we could agree at some level about what constitutes a god for purposes of this discussion.

Let me ask you some basic questions before we go further on this. Assuming (for the sake of the argument) that god/s exist:

  1. Do you think it is possible for a human mind, especially a pre-scientific mind, to completely understand god/s, or only able to assimilate some parts of the whole?

  2. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to different individuals, especially individuals from different cultures with different backgrounds, and especially when taking the ability of individuals to understand the god/s into account?

  3. If the only means of communication between humans (or any earthly organism, we don't have to be the "chosen" species) is via religious experiences, where the experience occurs within the mind, then can you suggest some means to test whether this is actually happening or being imagined?

These are questions I have asked myself and used in the formation of my personal opinion about the existence of god/s.

Imho, if, and only if, you can honestly answer "yes" to both (1) and (2) would your observation of differences in details have some merit, otherwise we would need to look at the consilience between all the various trees and other elements\aspects to determine what the concept of the forest would entail.

I put it to you that there is far greater diversity between all the individual organisms within the entity we call a forest than you see in "the tremendous diversity and lack of consensus ... behind those beliefs" -- and that the impressions of humans of the forest differs from person to person, and culture to culture, based on the different elements\aspects each person focuses on and their individual ability/ies to conceptualize the whole.

This analogy, to me, exemplifies the difficulty in understanding\defining a single "god/s" concept.

This is not evidence for the existence of god/s, but rather evidence concerning the relative (in)ability of humans to understand and perceive god/s as a single gestalt concept.

Would you care to take a stab and defining god for purposes of our discussion?

I'll let you know some of my personal conclusions (level II opinions), for what they are worth, after seeing your answers to these questions.

Enjoy.

subbie and RAZD only

Note that Great Debate participants have been asked not to participate in the Peanut Gallery threads that are for other people to comment on the Great Debate/s.

Edited by RAZD, : banners, note: I often edit my posts for greater clarity and emphasis, and I may miss your response if it is quick.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by subbie, posted 02-19-2011 11:43 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by subbie, posted 02-20-2011 5:44 PM RAZD has responded
 Message 19 by subbie, posted 02-20-2011 6:06 PM RAZD has responded

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 17 of 42 (605526)
02-20-2011 5:40 PM


Branching begins here
It seems that our various posts are raising multiple issues that might be more clearly addressed for now in separate subthreads. I shall endeavor to subtitle these separate subthreads to hopefully make it easier to follow them. This is likely to result in multiple responses to single posts initially.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 18 of 42 (605527)
02-20-2011 5:44 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by RAZD
02-20-2011 4:39 PM


Evidence definition
For now, we seem to agree with this statement as at least one part of our definition of evidence:

Fact X is evidence is support of hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y more probable than it would be without.

I do agree with your concern about subjective evidence. We could reduce that concern by adding a requirement that evidence must be objectively available for others to review and verify.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by RAZD, posted 02-20-2011 4:39 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by RAZD, posted 02-20-2011 8:29 PM subbie has acknowledged this reply

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 19 of 42 (605529)
02-20-2011 6:06 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by RAZD
02-20-2011 4:39 PM


Basic questions
Let me ask you some basic questions before we go further on this. Assuming (for the sake of the argument) that god/s exist:

1. Do you think it is possible for a human mind, especially a pre-scientific mind, to completely understand god/s, or only able to assimilate some parts of the whole?

2. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to different individuals, especially individuals from different cultures with different backgrounds, and especially when taking the ability of individuals to understand the god/s into account?

3. If the only means of communication between humans (or any earthly organism, we don't have to be the "chosen" species) is via religious experiences, where the experience occurs within the mind, then can you suggest some means to test whether this is actually happening or being imagined?

These are questions I have asked myself and used in the formation of my personal opinion about the existence of god/s.

Imho, if, and only if, you can honestly answer "yes" to both (1) and (2) would your observation of differences in details have some merit, otherwise we would need to look at the consilience between all the various trees and other elements\aspects to determine what the concept of the forest would entail.

Well, I first note that 1 seems to include two questions that cannot both be answered in the affirmative as they seem to be asking opposite things. I suspect scrivener's error.

As before, the difficulty in proceeding lies in the fact that we don't know what we are talking about when we say "god/s." If I assume that by "god" you simply mean a supernatural creation by superstitious pre-scientific humans in an effort to explain to their satisfaction certain natural phenomenon that they don't understand, then it's perfectly reasonable to suppose that they could completely understand gods since gods are their creation. It's also reasonable to suppose that they could create gods to be completely inscrutable.

If we suppose that we're talking about some kind of trickster god who wants to use humans as his catspaw for amusement, it's easy to imagine that it would be impossible for any human mind to comprehend that god because he might be deliberately misleading us.

If we suppose a benevolent, omnipotent god who only wants to guide us to a more perfect existence, then I would assume that such a god would be able to make himself known to any human in ways that that human understands and would still be consistent with any other interaction with any other human.

I'm not sure your forest analogy is apt. A forest is a collection of millions of different entities, a god is a single entity. (Unless you are suggesting that we broaden our discussion to include a pantheon. Since we so far seem unable to arrive at an agreement on what "god" means, it would seem counterproductive to instead switch the discussion to a group of them.) Perhaps you meant to suggest that "god" could be a collection of many different attributes, some of which he displays to one group and others of which he displays to another. I must reject this suggestion unless you are willing to commit to a trickster god, because it's clear to me that there are multiple inconsistent attributes among the various world religions. And I cannot conceive of how a benevolent, omnipotent god could account for multiple inconsistent religions.

This is not evidence for the existence of god/s, but rather evidence concerning the relative (in)ability of humans to understand and perceive god/s as a single gestalt concept.

Surely a benevolent, omnipotent god could at least make himself known to humans in a consistent manner.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by RAZD, posted 02-20-2011 4:39 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by RAZD, posted 02-20-2011 10:19 PM subbie has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 20 of 42 (605557)
02-20-2011 8:29 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by subbie
02-20-2011 5:44 PM


Re: Evidence definition
subbie and RAZD only

Hi subbie, thanks.

Fact X is evidence is support of hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y more probable than it would be without.

I do agree with your concern about subjective evidence. We could reduce that concern by adding a requirement that evidence must be objectively available for others to review and verify.

Good enough for now, so let us begin there --- with the provision that the starting point at this time is the agnostic position, that there is insufficient information\evidence pro or con to make a valid logical conclusion with the evidence provided to date.

The evidence discussed so far includes:

  • the subjective evidence of multiple religions, and
  • the seeming paradox of differences -- as the con evidence,
    and
  • the multiple and many forms of religious belief that gods exist,
  • the multiple and many forms of belief in personal communication with god/s, and
  • the documented similar religious experiences of all types around the world -- as the pro evidence

Is that a fair summary?

We may expand this list as evidence is presented and discussed.

Again, I note that my replies are more based on taking the devil's advocate position than on my personal beliefs.

Enjoy.

subbie and RAZD only

Note that Great Debate participants have been asked not to participate in the Peanut Gallery threads that are for other people to comment on the Great Debate/s.

Edited by RAZD, : added fact X quote for clarity


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by subbie, posted 02-20-2011 5:44 PM subbie has acknowledged this reply

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 21 of 42 (605562)
02-20-2011 10:19 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by subbie
02-20-2011 6:06 PM


Re: Basic questions, some answers, some redirects
Hi subbie,

Well, I first note that 1 seems to include two questions that cannot both be answered in the affirmative as they seem to be asking opposite things. I suspect scrivener's error.

You'll excuse me if I just take this as a fancy way of avoiding the questions, so I'll spell them out in baby steps:

Assuming (for the sake of the argument) that god/s exist:

  1. Do you think it is possible for a human mind to completely understand god/s?

  2. Do you think it is possible for a pre-scientific mind, say the mind of a 30k year ago Cro-Magnon, for example, to completely understand god/s?

  3. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to different individuals?

  4. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to individuals from different cultures with different knowledge backgrounds?

  5. Do you think that different abilities to understand between individuals would affect their ability to understand god/s to the same degree?

That should answer some of your first complaint. This is based, not on what we know or don't know about god/s, per se, but on the ability of the human mind to understand things outside our knowledge base AND the ability of humans to be faithful recorders of what we have observed.

I'm sure with your experience as a lawyer you are familiar with the degree of precision (or lack thereof) in human witnesses to faithfully record what happened in a set circumstance.

For the above exercise you could assume that instead of {god/s} you could use {some being acting in ways you do not understand} and ask the same questions. This, of course, begs the question of whether god/s are understandable or not -- I don't think they can be, by definition of having abilities that we cannot understand.

As before, the difficulty in proceeding lies in the fact that we don't know what we are talking about when we say "god/s.

As before, I'm not sure this can be really be defined, hence the questions. Specifically I don't think that it can be defined in a way that does not end up with a simplified straw man.

We could start with a being that creates the universe, some 13.7 billion years ago: do you think you could perceive\understand more than a fraction of that being and what was done?

If we suppose a benevolent, omnipotent god who only wants to guide us to a more perfect existence, then I would assume that such a god would be able to make himself known to any human in ways that that human understands and would still be consistent with any other interaction with any other human

See -- that would be a straw man based on the concept that god/s would dance to your whim and desire. I see no need to make such a self-aggrandizing assumption.

If I assume that by "god" you simply mean a supernatural creation by superstitious pre-scientific humans in an effort to explain to their satisfaction certain natural phenomenon that they don't understand, then it's perfectly reasonable to suppose that they could completely understand gods since gods are their creation.

And that too is begging the question, now by assuming a priori that they are fictional inventions, and therefore another straw man.

If we suppose that we're talking about some kind of trickster god who wants to use humans as his catspaw for amusement, it's easy to imagine that it would be impossible for any human mind to comprehend that god because he might be deliberately misleading us.

This again assumes that we are of some consequence to god/s capable of making universes. Why would we assume that god/s are necessarily interested in human beings? Isn't this a species "egotism" (albeit common) rather than a logical conclusion from the evidence: why would the rest of the universe be created if this were the case?

I'm not sure your forest analogy is apt. A forest is a collection of millions of different entities, a god is a single entity.

The forest is a living ecology that is made up of elements, the same way colonies and multicellular life forms are made up of cells, including some that are specialized for certain tasks, and without which the whole organism can perish. The whole is a synergy, it is more than the sum of the parts.

Perhaps you meant to suggest that "god" could be a collection of many different attributes, some of which he displays to one group and others of which he displays to another.

In part yes, but again, you are also confusing what the (assumed for the sake of argument) god/s are and do with what the human perception of what they are and do would be. This relates back to my questions about what humans are capable of perceiving rather than about what god/s are actually like.

It is necessary that any discussion of god/s also include a discussion of our ability to adequately understand and comprehend what would be involved. Our ability to understand is limited by what we know.

I must reject this suggestion unless you are willing to commit to a trickster god, because it's clear to me that there are multiple inconsistent attributes among the various world religions.

Again, you are letting your a priori assumptions of how you think god/s should behave lead you astray, rather than follow what is logical to conclude from the available evidence (per previous posts).

And I cannot conceive of how a benevolent, omnipotent god could account for multiple inconsistent religions.

And again, this failure is due to your a priori assumption of how god/s would act according to your straw man version\vision.

Let me introduce you to what I call the "Hindu Hypothesis":

quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_deities

Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods, are worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the supreme Brahman, avatars of the supreme being, or significantly powerful entities known as devas. ...

The pantheon in Ϊrauta consists of many deities. Gods are called devas (or devatβs) and goddesses are called devis. The various devas and devis are personifications of different aspects of one and the same God.[7] ... These various forms of God are depicted in innumerable paintings, statues, murals, and scriptural stories that can be found in temples, homes, businesses, and other places. ...


In other words there is a duality between a single supreme all everything god, and the worlds largest pantheon of gods taking on various tasks, from making wind blow and rain fall to controlling the behavior of the universe. But this pantheon is in actuality a personification of the different aspects of the one universal truth. This accounts for the various thunder god/s etc. seen around the world, as well as the trickster god/s (that seem to exist in every religion).

There are many sites on Hinduism that repeat this concept of all different god/s being different aspects of one (or a small subset of) god/s. This concept is as old as this particular religion, and that predates Christianity by several centuries, so it is not a recent invention.

A quick google finds many such sites. Here's another one that speaks to this particular point:

quote:
http://www.hindunet.org/god/

Western religions have said that only the names and forms which refer to this One God are valid but those which appear to worship another God, or a multiplicity of divinities, must be false. They have restricted the names and forms they use in religious worship, and insist that only one set is true and correct and others are wrong or unholy.

As a universal formulation Hinduism accepts all formulations of Truth. According to the universal view there is only One Reality, but it cannot be limit ed to a particular name or form. Though Truth is One it is also Universal, not an exclusive formulation. It is an inclusive, not an exclusive Oneness - a spiritual reality of Being - Consciousness - Bliss, which could be called God but which transcends all names. The different Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism represent various functions of this One Supreme Divinity, and are not separate Gods.


This shows a universal acceptance of other god/s etc within Hinduism, and they see other religions as just portraying different aspects of god/s, just as they see this within their religion. They (the god/s) are mutually compatible with all other religions.

According to "the Hindu Hypothesis" then, all the different religions are just portraying different aspects of the same universal truth. This simple concept leads to some interesting conclusions:

(1) god/s are necessarily more complex than they are portrayed in any religion.

(2) god/s are not completely or fully understood in any religion, nor in piecing all religions together, they appear to be beyond human understanding.

(3) god/s appear to be capricious (in human terms), and often act in incomprehensible ways, not because they necessarily are, but because we are limited in our ability to understand them and their purposes.

We can put the forest analogy together with the (documented btw, not made up) Hindu hypothesis formulation to develop a possible of what god/s may be like and what our perceptions of them would likely be in different circumstances. This, in my humble opinion, adequately explains the divergence of specific beliefs within the overall universal (possible) truth.

Surely a benevolent, omnipotent god could at least make himself known to humans in a consistent manner.

So then we need to throw this out of the definition. That would be the scientific approach yes? to discard elements that are essentially falsified to refine the concept further?

I must reject this suggestion unless you are willing to commit to a trickster god, because it's clear to me that there are multiple inconsistent attributes among the various world religions.

Or that some of the differences may be due to human embellishment/s.

Of course it is always possible that some concepts are made up: humans add embellishments to stories all the time, and one need only look at tales of Davy Crockett and the like to see some fanciful additions. The problem, specifically with god/s, is being able to discern where actual experience ends and embellishment begins, and to do that we need and answer to the last question:

  • If the only means of communication between humans (or any intelligent organism, we don't have to be the "chosen" species) is via religious experiences, where the experience occurs within the mind, then can you suggest some means to test whether this is actually happening or being imagined?

Can we test for imagination versus actual religious experiences?

Enjoy.

subbie and RAZD only

Note that Great Debate participants have been asked not to participate in the Peanut Gallery threads that are for other people to comment on the Great Debate/s.

Edited by RAZD, : banner

Edited by RAZD, : ..


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by subbie, posted 02-20-2011 6:06 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by subbie, posted 02-21-2011 8:36 PM RAZD has responded

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 22 of 42 (605736)
02-21-2011 8:36 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by RAZD
02-20-2011 10:19 PM


Re: Basic questions, some answers, some redirects
You'll excuse me if I just take this as a fancy way of avoiding the questions,

Please, do me the courtesy of assuming that I mean what I say, rather than trying spin it into something you think you can use to advance the debate. If you insist on reading what I write to mean something else, this discussion is pointless.

Assuming (for the sake of the argument) that god/s exist:

1. Do you think it is possible for a human mind to completely understand god/s?

2. Do you think it is possible for a pre-scientific mind, say the mind of a 30k year ago Cro-Magnon, for example, to completely understand god/s?

3. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to different individuals?

4. Do you think it likely that god/s would appear, or be perceived, exactly the same to individuals from different cultures with different knowledge backgrounds?

5. Do you think that different abilities to understand between individuals would affect their ability to understand god/s to the same degree?

That should answer some of your first complaint. This is based, not on what we know or don't know about god/s, per se, but on the ability of the human mind to understand things outside our knowledge base AND the ability of humans to be faithful recorders of what we have observed.

I'm sure with your experience as a lawyer you are familiar with the degree of precision (or lack thereof) in human witnesses to faithfully record what happened in a set circumstance.

For the above exercise you could assume that instead of {god/s} you could use {some being acting in ways you do not understand} and ask the same questions.

If we assume that a god is a being that humans do not understand, then a natural consequence of that is that humans will not understand it, whether pre-scientific, from different cultures and different backgrounds, or with different abilities. Thus, tautologically, the answer to questions 1 and 2 is yes.

I cannot assess the likelihood of a god appearing the same to different people without knowing more about the god. Thus, I cannot answer questions 3, 4 and 5, other than to note that differences in cultures, backgrounds and abilities often generally affect how people perceive, recall and relate any experience. If it will advance our discussion, I will concede that it's possible that if a god existed, that god could be perceived differently by different people from different cultures and different backgrounds and with different abilities, and I think it's possible that if there were a god, it might be an entity that human minds could not completely understand.

You criticize the various hypothetical examples of gods that I used in an attempt to show why your questions cannot yet be answered. I was not in any way trying to proffer these as actual examples of possible gods, but simply to demonstrate the futility of pursuing your questions in the absence of some sort of definition of god.

subbie writes:

Surely a benevolent, omnipotent god could at least make himself known to humans in a consistent manner.

So then we need to throw this out of the definition. That would be the scientific approach yes? to discard elements that are essentially falsified to refine the concept further?

Yes, I'm more than willing to discard any definition of a god that has been falsified by logic or human experience.

subbie writes:

I must reject this suggestion unless you are willing to commit to a trickster god, because it's clear to me that there are multiple inconsistent attributes among the various world religions.

Or that some of the differences may be due to human embellishment/s.

Yes, I'm also willing to attribute any aspect of religious beliefs to human embellishment.

* If the only means of communication between humans (or any intelligent organism, we don't have to be the "chosen" species) is via religious experiences, where the experience occurs within the mind, then can you suggest some means to test whether this is actually happening or being imagined?

Can we test for imagination versus actual religious experiences?

Nothing comes immediately to mind.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by RAZD, posted 02-20-2011 10:19 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by RAZD, posted 02-28-2011 4:20 PM subbie has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 23 of 42 (606851)
02-28-2011 4:20 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by subbie
02-21-2011 8:36 PM


are the preliminaries done?
subbie and RAZD only

Hi subbie, sorry to take so long getting back to you.

Can we test for imagination versus actual religious experiences?

Nothing comes immediately to mind.

I have been unable to develop a reasonable test either, for this or for a number of similar situations:

  • in many religions there are beliefs involving god/s appearing as humans or animals for any number of reasons,
  • many eastern religions believe in enlightenment, which involves a level of understanding universal truths,
  • many religions claim that prayers are means to communicate with god/s, and
  • there are religions (like the Australian Aborigninal's) that believe in dreamtime experiences.

That's four additional ways that various religions have claimed to have a source of knowledge about supernatural beings\entities\etc. -- without actually seeing\experiencing them directly.

Again, I see no direct way to test these as being actual experiences or imagination, and would be happy if someone could enlighten me .

Thus, tautologically, the answer to questions 1 and 2 is yes.

I think it is a little more than tautologically true, because people are notoriously incompetent at describing things they do not understand. One needs only read some creationist accounts of evolution to see this. In general people, imho, are basically incompetent to describe things they do not understand.(1) This is one reason that eye witness accounts may not be accurate, and why single person experiences (whether normal mundane or extraordinary like aliens and yeti) are generally not accepted as evidence without some substantiation.

Yes, I'm more than willing to discard any definition of a god that has been falsified by logic or human experience.

Objective evidence, yes, but I'm not sure that I trust logic alone to demonstrate something is falsified, unless what is falsified is a logical argument that is invalid (bad structure or logical fallacy). Logic like opinion is not able to alter reality, just our personal perceptions\understanding of reality ... and not necessarily in a good way (ie feeding confirmation of biases rather than open-minded skepticism).

Yes, I'm also willing to attribute any aspect of religious beliefs to human embellishment.

But just willy-nilly attributing them to human embellishment does not mean it is true. I think we can be aware of the possibility that it is, but not assume that it must be so without some substantiation. When such an embellishment is falsified however, all if falsifies is the embellishment. An example of this would be the attribution of Santa Claus living at the north pole to the embellishment of the existing previous folklore by artists and magazine writers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_clause

quote:
The legend that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole may also have been a Nast creation. His Christmas image in the Harper's issue dated December 29, 1866 was a collage of engravings titled Santa Claus and His Works, which included the caption "Santa Claussville, N.P."[24] A color collection of Nast's pictures, published in 1869, had a poem also titled "Santa Claus and His Works" by George P. Webster, who wrote that Santa's home was "near the North Pole, in the ice and snow".[25]

Thus we can assume that falsification of a Santa Claus living at the north pole is only falsifying this late addition to the folklore\myth.

I cannot assess the likelihood of a god appearing the same to different people without knowing more about the god.

And yet, as an attorney I am sure you are aware that several eye witnesses can describe quite different people as perps of various crimes, and that this occurs extremely frequently, in spite of the fact that {people} are a fairly well known type of being.

If it will advance our discussion, I will concede that it's possible that if a god existed, that god could be perceived differently by different people from different cultures and different backgrounds and with different abilities, and I think it's possible that if there were a god, it might be an entity that human minds could not completely understand.

Good. If we reach a point where no logical conclusion/s can be reached based on the available evidence, then we can re-visit this assumption.

And again, the definition of evidence so far is Message 20:

quote:
Fact X is evidence is support of hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y more probable than it would be without.

I do agree with your concern about subjective evidence. We could reduce that concern by adding a requirement that evidence must be objectively available for others to review and verify.

Good enough for now, so let us begin there --- with the provision that the starting point at this time is the agnostic position, that there is insufficient information\evidence pro or con to make a valid logical conclusion with the evidence provided to date.

The evidence discussed so far includes:

  • the subjective evidence of multiple religions, and
  • the seeming paradox of differences -- as the con evidence,
    and
  • the multiple and many forms of religious belief that gods exist,
  • the multiple and many forms of belief in personal communication with god/s, and
  • the documented similar religious experiences of all types around the world -- as the pro evidence

We may expand this list as evidence is presented and discussed.


We can now add that there is objective evidence that shows that Santa Clause does not live at the north pole, but that this only falsifies the 19th century embellishment of the folklore\myth that added this location.

So are we ready for you to present your argument?

Enjoy.



(1) Note that this includes people that do not understand an argument, and then try to describe it to someone else.

subbie and RAZD only

Note that Great Debate participants have been asked not to participate in the Peanut Gallery threads that are for other people to comment on the Great Debate/s.

Edited by RAZD, : subtitle, end q

Edited by RAZD, : added fact x etc quote, making same edit to msg 20


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by subbie, posted 02-21-2011 8:36 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by subbie, posted 02-28-2011 4:59 PM RAZD has responded

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 24 of 42 (606859)
02-28-2011 4:59 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by RAZD
02-28-2011 4:20 PM


Re: are the preliminaries done?
This is only a partial response to one single question from your post. I shall address other points if it becomes necessary.

So are we ready for you to present your argument?

No.

I have stated several times that it's impossible to discuss evidence for or against god without a definition of "god." I see two possible alternatives. The first is that you could supply a definition for purposes of this discussion. The second is that we could go, in serial fashion, through every different concept of "god" that people currently do or in the past have believed to exist. The latter seems ridiculous and unnecessary.

Unless and until we can agree on what a "god" consists of, I can't conceive of a way to proceed. Perhaps you have another idea. Or perhaps you are ready to supply a definition.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by RAZD, posted 02-28-2011 4:20 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by RAZD, posted 02-28-2011 5:30 PM subbie has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 25 of 42 (606863)
02-28-2011 5:30 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by subbie
02-28-2011 4:59 PM


... are the preliminaries done? or are we at an impasse?
subbie and RAZD only

Hi again subbie, that was quick.

I have stated several times that it's impossible to discuss evidence for or against god without a definition of "god." ...

And again, sadly, I am unable to define what I feel is essentially undefinable, especially in any detail, virtually by definition, I cannot define a mechanism for making a universe, let alone a being that would do it. Powers and abilities that are often attributed (omnithis and omnithat) don't define a being, per se.

Nor am I aware of any religious document that endeavors such, except possibly in broad and often contradictory terms. "God is good" seems inadequate, and a burning bush that talks would hardly be said to describe the god involved here.

... The second is that we could go, in serial fashion, through every different concept of "god" that people currently do or in the past have believed to exist. The latter seems ridiculous and unnecessary.

If that is what we are left with, then we should start with what you think would be the best case for your position, then if we find that you cannot establish evidence X ...

quote:
Message 20:
Fact X is evidence is support of hypothesis Y if the existence of X makes Y more probable than it would be without.

I do agree with your concern about subjective evidence. We could reduce that concern by adding a requirement that evidence must be objectively available for others to review and verify.

Good enough for now, so let us begin there --- with the provision that the starting point at this time is the agnostic position, that there is insufficient information\evidence pro or con to make a valid logical conclusion with the evidence provided to date.


... that shows {god}1 is falsified, then we have reached a point where it would be more logical to say that the agnostic position is more rational: that we don't have sufficient evidence on which to base a rational conclusion.

In Topic Proposal Issues Message 359 you said:

RAZD has proposed a topic that appears to address the question of the existence of gods. His position seems to be that neither the existence nor nonexistence can be supported by evidence, so the only logical position is that of agnosticism. Petrophysics1 has apparently indicated an interest in participating to defend the position that at least one god exists. I would be interested in participating to challenge both positions and in support of the proposition that gods do not exist.

The onus is on you to support your position, if you are a [6] or a [7], or to state the reasons for your opinion if you are a [5].

If you cannot support more than a [5] position - evidence of the type and character that can be used, but doesn't have to be, to form an opinion, then my position is substantiated.

Alternatively if you want to start with my proposition that the agnostic position is the proper logical conclusion at this time, then I can do that. I have not posted that here yet, so you may not be aware of the argument.

Or we could discuss something like Santa Claus to see how the arguments develop.

Enjoy.

subbie and RAZD only

Note that Great Debate participants have been asked not to participate in the Peanut Gallery threads that are for other people to comment on the Great Debate/s.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by subbie, posted 02-28-2011 4:59 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by subbie, posted 03-02-2011 1:36 AM RAZD has responded

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 26 of 42 (607107)
03-02-2011 1:36 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by RAZD
02-28-2011 5:30 PM


Re: ... are the preliminaries done? or are we at an impasse?
And again, sadly, I am unable to define what I feel is essentially undefinable, especially in any detail, virtually by definition, I cannot define a mechanism for making a universe, let alone a being that would do it. Powers and abilities that are often attributed (omnithis and omnithat) don't define a being, per se.

This is absurd.

You are taking the position that it's impossible for someone to prove or disprove the existence of a being you are unable to define or describe with any degree of detail or clarity. I will have to concede that your challenge is impossible. I cannot prove the non-existence of an undefined entity.

If anyone else wants to take a stab at this fool's errand, I hereby abandon this Great Debate.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by RAZD, posted 02-28-2011 5:30 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by RAZD, posted 03-02-2011 1:02 PM subbie has acknowledged this reply
 Message 28 by RAZD, posted 03-02-2011 8:36 PM subbie has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 27 of 42 (607193)
03-02-2011 1:02 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by subbie
03-02-2011 1:36 AM


It seems we have reached an impasse.
Hi subbie, I don't mean to be difficult, it's just the way I see it.

I will have to concede that your challenge is impossible.

It's not really my challenge, Message 14 was your challenge that:

RAZD has proposed a topic that appears to address the question of the existence of gods. His position seems to be that neither the existence nor nonexistence can be supported by evidence, so the only logical position is that of agnosticism. Petrophysics1 has apparently indicated an interest in participating to defend the position that at least one god exists. I would be interested in participating to challenge both positions and in support of the proposition that gods do not exist.

My position is that there is not enough information to make a logical conclusion one way or the other on whether god/s exist/ed, and that anyone that disagreed would need to provide evidence to support their position.

You said you would "support ... the proposition that gods do not exist" so you must have had some reason for doing so, some evidence, some understanding of the basic issue/s.

This was not predicated on my providing you with a hand picked definition of god/s, so you must have had some notions of your own, assumptions, concepts, etc. that you based your opinion/s on.

I cannot prove the non-existence of an undefined entity.

Or in other words, you do not have sufficient information to make a logical conclusion one way or the other on whether god/s exist/ed.

I hereby abandon this Great Debate.

Sorry to have wasted your time.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by subbie, posted 03-02-2011 1:36 AM subbie has acknowledged this reply

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 28 of 42 (607267)
03-02-2011 8:36 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by subbie
03-02-2011 1:36 AM


Closing
Hi subbie - do you want to make a closing statement?

You are taking the position that it's impossible for someone to prove or disprove the existence of a being you are unable to define or describe with any degree of detail or clarity. I will have to concede that your challenge is impossible. I cannot prove the non-existence of an undefined entity.

Just to let you know, I have gone through this process myself. I used to be an atheist, raised in an atheist family, but I became disillusioned with what seemed to be false certainty based on an apparent absence of evidence for god/s. There is no real evidence that god/s do not exist, that I can determine in any real way, either. But I also could not come to a useful description of what god/s would be like.

Taking an open-minded yet skeptical approach, I find that the only position that I can rationally support is that there is insufficient information one way or the other on whether or not god/s exist. The logic of this argument is described elsewhere, but in accordance with your previous request I will re-post it here:

Compare:

• any X with no contradictory evidence is possibly true

• X(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ X(a) can be true

to:

• any X with no contradictory evidence is absolutely true

• X(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ X(a) is absolutely true

OR:

• any X with no contradictory evidence is more likely true than false

• X(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ X(a) is more likely true than false

If the logical form is true for any X then it is true for Y, now let Y = notX:

• any Y with no contradictory evidence is possibly true

• Y(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ Y(a) can be true

== notX(a) can be true ...

... and by the form of the argument, X(a) still can be possibly true ... which is in fact the case, so this is a valid argument, and a true conclusion is reached.

3, 4 and 5 fit this pattern. Possibility is a valid conclusion from a lack of contradictory evidence.

versus:

• any Y with no contradictory evidence is absolutely true

• Y(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ Y(a) is absolutely true

== notX(a) is absolutely true ...

... and by the form of the argument, X(a) is still absolutely true ... which is a contradiction ... unless you have objective empirical evidence that directly contradicts one or the other being true: without such evidence there is a contradiction in the form of the argument and the argument is invalid, falsified, void.

As the second premise is the same as above, we see that the first premise is falsified. 1 and 7 fit this pattern and are logically FALSE arguments.

OR:

• any Y with no contradictory evidence is more likely true than false

• Y(a) has no contradictory evidence

∴ Y(a) is more likely true than false

== notX(a) is more likely true than false ...

... and by the form of the argument, X(a) is still more likely true than false ... which is a contradiction ... unless you have objective empirical evidence that directly contradicts one or the other being true: without such evidence there is a contradiction in the form of the argument and the argument is invalid, falsified, void.

As the second premise is the same as above, we see that the first premise is falsified as well. 2 and 6 fit this pattern and are logically FALSE arguments.

Results

  1. Absolute Theist: knows god/s exist. (logically invalid position)

  2. Strong Theist: the existence of god/s is more likely than not. (logically invalid position)

  3. Weak Theist: the existence of god/s is possible, maybe likely, but not sure. (logically valid position)

  4. Agnostic: god/s may exist or they may not, there is insufficient evidence to know one way or the other. (logically valid position)

  5. Weak Atheist: the non-existence of gods is possible, maybe likely, but not sure. (logically valid position)

  6. Strong Atheist: the non-existence of god/s is more likely than not. (logically invalid position)

  7. Absolute Atheist: knows that god/s do not exist. (logically invalid position)

Unless there is objective empirical evidence to support positions 1, 2, 6 and 7 they are logically invalid due to internal contradiction or by assuming a premise is true that has not been demonstrated.

One can be a (5) agnostic atheist, a (4) agnostic, or a (3) agnostic theist (me), provided that one recognizes that they are relying on personal opinion/s, bias/es and worldview for (3) and (5)

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by subbie, posted 03-02-2011 1:36 AM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by subbie, posted 03-02-2011 9:24 PM RAZD has responded

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 265 days)
Posts: 3508
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 29 of 42 (607271)
03-02-2011 9:24 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by RAZD
03-02-2011 8:36 PM


Re: Closing
High RAZD

I've got a snorfdoogle named Luxury Yacht living in my pants. I bet you can't disprove that. And I can make my point without any extraneous colors, fonts or boxes.

Envoy.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

...creationists have a great way to detect fraud and it doesn't take 8 or 40 years or even a scientific degree to spot the fraud--'if it disagrees with the bible then it is wrong'.... -- archaeologist


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by RAZD, posted 03-02-2011 8:36 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by RAZD, posted 03-02-2011 10:19 PM subbie has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19085
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 30 of 42 (607278)
03-02-2011 10:19 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by subbie
03-02-2011 9:24 PM


Re: Closing
Hi subbie, thanks.

I've got a snorfdoogle named Luxury Yacht living in my pants. I bet you can't disprove that. ...

Curiously, I have no need to prove or disprove your claim: you made it not me.


question
|
is there sufficient valid
information available to decide?
| |
yes no
| |
decide based is a
on empirical decision
valid evidence necessary?
(A) / \
yes no ... but ...
/ | |
decide why make a
based on decide decision
inadequate at this anyway
evidence time? based on
=guess =wait opinion
(B) (C) (D)

I'm a (C) on your statement. (A) would be scientific answers, while (D) would represent people that seem to make up their minds for no apparent reason other than it is based on their opinion of reality, common with creationists, but they are not the only ones.

I am sorry that you are taking this route, as I offered a couple of other alternatives.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : added


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by subbie, posted 03-02-2011 9:24 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by subbie, posted 03-04-2011 12:44 AM RAZD has responded

  
Prev1
2
3Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2015 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2017