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Author Topic:   An Exploration Into"Agnosticism"
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 76 of 179 (555008)
04-11-2010 2:54 PM
Reply to: Message 71 by Straggler
04-10-2010 7:31 PM


"Strong atheism" being what? The certainty that no gods exist?

Strong atheism = the positive belief that gods do not exists

as opposed to

Weak atheism = the lack of belief in gods

Neither being 100% certainty.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 71 by Straggler, posted 04-10-2010 7:31 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 80 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 1:52 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 6742
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 77 of 179 (555013)
04-11-2010 4:07 PM
Reply to: Message 73 by Straggler
04-10-2010 7:41 PM


Re: Are We All "Agnostics"?
I was reluctant to respond because I did not want to detract from the very interesting discussions elsewhere in this thread that I am happily watching you and others develop. I do not what to sideline your efforts here.

But, what the hey.

Funny you mentioned Russell. I just happen to be re-reading Our Knowledge of the External World. I think he might agree with me in this instance for the twist on reasons you brought up.

no matter how "absurd" or "made up" they may seem subjectively

I want to emphasize this only pertains to Pinkie and the Noodle.

“Absurd” and “made up” cannot be called “subjective” in this case. The objective evidence of when, where, why and who created these images cannot be denied. Consequently, the entities cannot be considered irrefutable which is made based solely on the supposed (objectively demonstrable as made up) trait of being supernatural.

Because the same objective facts may have been lost to antiquity concerning other proposed entities, even given (a) the preponderance of (lesser) evidence against such an entity and (b) the lack of evidence for such a thing, a level of agnosticism, small to be sure, seems to be the only logical place to stand.

But for some things, like Pinkie and the Noodle, no level of agnosticism, no matter how small, is warranted. Again, I submit the facts are conclusive to all but the most irrational or obstinate.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 73 by Straggler, posted 04-10-2010 7:41 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 78 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 1:13 PM AZPaul3 has taken no action

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 246 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 78 of 179 (555147)
04-12-2010 1:13 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by AZPaul3
04-11-2010 4:07 PM


Re: Are We All "Agnostics"?
“Absurd” and “made up” cannot be called “subjective” in this case. The objective evidence of when, where, why and who created these images cannot be denied. Consequently, the entities cannot be considered irrefutable which is made based solely on the supposed (objectively demonstrable as made up) trait of being supernatural.

Unless Pinkie or his Noodleiness in their infinite wisdom are simply having a laugh at our expense. Or are particularly inept entities. What if the IPU keeps trying to reveal itself to atheists whilst they are in the midst of debunking the existence of deities? Rather than accept this "subjective evidence" we closed minded pseudo-skeptic atheists keep on thinking that the entity which we are being supernaturally inspired to consider is actually supporting our erroneous position.

Unlikley? Very. Absurd? I would subjectively say so. But philosophically possible? Yes. Such inherently irrefutable concepts cannot be rationally dismissed as impossible. Thus they remain possible. Even if pointlessly unlikely and entirely worthy of ridicule.

But for some things, like Pinkie and the Noodle, no level of agnosticism, no matter how small, is warranted. Again, I submit the facts are conclusive to all but the most irrational or obstinate.

Unless they are logically and philosophically impossible I don't see how you can entirely eliminate the possibility of any irrefutable concept with absolute certainty. Thus a degree of agnsticism is required even if so negligible as to be utterly irrelevant in any practical sense whatsoever.

Because the same objective facts may have been lost to antiquity concerning other proposed entities, even given (a) the preponderance of (lesser) evidence against such an entity and (b) the lack of evidence for such a thing, a level of agnosticism, small to be sure, seems to be the only logical place to stand.

Indeed. I have never claimed that the evidence in favour of the wider god concept being a human invention is as overwhelming as it is in the case of the IPU (for example).

I have simply suggested that such evidence exists and that this evidence makes human invention a better evidenced and more reliable conclusion. The howling cries of "but gods are unknowable" makes no more difference to this evidence than the inherent irrefutability and unknowability of any other concept we can pull out of our arses.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 246 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 79 of 179 (555148)
04-12-2010 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 75 by RAZD
04-10-2010 8:54 PM


Why Decide? What is wrong with being an agnostic?
Why decide? What is wrong with being an agnostic?

Of course there is nothing wrong with being agnostic where there is a genuine absence of sufficient evidence in any direction. The problem arises when the ridiculous, inconsistent and contradictory assertion is made that something is so definitely unknowable as to rationally require agnosticism no matter how much evidence there may be in favour of an opposing conclusion. That is the context in which we find ourselves here.

So what exactly is your position on evidence that favours the concept of god as a human invention? Are you simply saying that there is currently insufficient evidence to draw such a conclusion and that more investigation into aspects of human culture and psychology are therefore required before this position can be legitimately taken? Or are you taking the more fundamentalist and extreme position that any empirical evidence suggesting that the concept of god is a human invention is entirely irrelevant because such things are just innately unknowable?

You very much seem to be saying the latter. And there are a whole host of problems with that position. But there is no point going into those until you clarify whether that actually is your position or not. So a frank and unambiguous statement of where you stand on this matter is necessary here before we can meaningfully continue.

So Straggler, why are you so obsessed with the question? Why do you feel so compelled to decide ... what is wrong with being an agnostic?

Nothing when it doesn't involve denying evidence that points towards a contrary conclusion.

But, as has been demonstrated on other threads, your "likelihood" is a product of your human invention.

Not "likelihood" RAZ. No-one is claiming that "there is a 82.364% probability that gods do not exist" - Or any other such imbecilic proclamation. Credit me with some intelligence please.

No - We are talking about "relative likelihood". My point is (and always has been) that there is good evidence (objective empirical evidence) favouring the conclusion that the concept of unknowable gods is a product of human invention. This conclusion is therefore more likley to be correct than the opposing and objectively unevidenced conclusion that gods actually exist.

Tell me why you find that stance so unbelievably unreasonable and worthy of such indignation and mockery?

And yet it is easy for a logical mind to conceive of many instances where knowledge, especially knowledge complete enough for making a logical conclusion, is not possible at this time.

And (to end on a positive note) I would entirely agree with your example of specific long term weather predictions as something about which is rational to be agnostic about.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 75 by RAZD, posted 04-10-2010 8:54 PM RAZD has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 81 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 2:27 PM Straggler has replied
 Message 135 by RAZD, posted 04-14-2010 10:54 PM Straggler has replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 246 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 80 of 179 (555153)
04-12-2010 1:52 PM
Reply to: Message 76 by New Cat's Eye
04-11-2010 2:54 PM


The Irrationality of "Strong Atheism"
The relevance is that it makes strong atheism irrational.

Strong atheism = the positive belief that gods do not exists

Ah. So is the belief that god as a concept is far more likely to be a human invention than to be a genuine aspect of reality an example of "strong atheism"?

Are you not strongly atheistic towards various unknowable and irrefutable concepts on the basis that they are almost certainly the product of human invention?

Is your "strong atheism" towards these concepts "irrational" too?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by New Cat's Eye, posted 04-11-2010 2:54 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 82 by New Cat's Eye, posted 04-12-2010 2:45 PM Straggler has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6009
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 81 of 179 (555165)
04-12-2010 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 79 by Straggler
04-12-2010 1:36 PM


Re: Why Decide? What is wrong with being an agnostic?
Straggler writes:
My point is (and always has been) that there is good evidence (objective empirical evidence) favouring the conclusion that the concept of unknowable gods is a product of human invention. This conclusion is therefore more likley to be correct than the opposing and objectively unevidenced conclusion that gods actually exist.

There is good evidence that the concept of money is a product of human invention. Should I therefore be agnostic or atheistic about my bank account balance?

There is good evidence that mathematical concepts are a product of human invention. Should I therefore be agnostic or atheistic about mathematics?

Straggler writes:
And (to end on a positive note) I would entirely agree with your example of specific long term weather predictions as something about which is rational to be agnostic about.

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense to be skeptical about long term weather predictions, but it makes little sense to be agnostic about them.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 79 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 1:36 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 83 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 2:59 PM nwr has replied
 Message 84 by bluegenes, posted 04-12-2010 3:03 PM nwr has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 82 of 179 (555169)
04-12-2010 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 80 by Straggler
04-12-2010 1:52 PM


Re: The Irrationality of "Strong Atheism"
Ah. So is the belief that god as a concept is far more likely to be a human invention than to be a genuine aspect of reality an example of "strong atheism"?

Are you not strongly atheistic towards various unknowable and irrefutable concepts on the basis that they are almost certainly the product of human invention?

Is your "strong atheism" towards these concepts "irrational" too?

Yes, yes (I am), no.

Some things we know are probably human invention, others we do not. In general, we can't say that god is more or less likely to be human invention.

This is a better layout of your position:

Not "likelihood" RAZ. No-one is claiming that "there is a 82.364% probability that gods do not exist" - Or any other such imbecilic proclamation. Credit me with some intelligence please.

No - We are talking about "relative likelihood". My point is (and always has been) that there is good evidence (objective empirical evidence) favouring the conclusion that the concept of unknowable gods is a product of human invention. This conclusion is therefore more likley to be correct than the opposing and objectively unevidenced conclusion that gods actually exist.

I don't think there is good evidence that god is a human invention and I don't think we know that there is zero evidence for god. I don't think you can determine that relative likelihood.

All you've done is set it up as 'some vs. none' and claimed the some must be more likely. But you haven't really supported yourself beyond making the assertion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 80 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 1:52 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 85 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 3:11 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 246 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 83 of 179 (555175)
04-12-2010 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by nwr
04-12-2010 2:27 PM


Re: Why Decide? What is wrong with being an agnostic?
There is good evidence that the concept of money is a product of human invention. Should I therefore be agnostic or atheistic about my bank account balance?

Does money exist? Does your bank account exist? Do banks exist? Is there any evidence to suggest that we have not only conceived of money but brought it into existence? Along with a whole financial infrastructure. Is there comparable evidence to suggest that gods exist? Along with immaterial realms in which such "unknowables" can exist unhindered by investigation except to conveniently reveal themselves non-empiricaly (somehow) every so often.

If none of the materially detectable aspects of money demonstrably existed and I simply told you about this concept I had called "money" and insisted that it must exist in some unknowable realm then we might be talking like for like. As things stand your comparison is just bewildering stupid.

There is good evidence that mathematical concepts are a product of human invention. Should I therefore be agnostic or atheistic about mathematics?

That is a much better question. Mathematical models of empirical reality are (practically by definition) based on empirical reality. So (especially if they are able to make verifiable predictions) we can conclude that they are worthy of confidence and reflect reality in some sense.

But does the mathematical construct of an infinite dimensional sphere (for example) "exist"? Well the concept exists in the same way that the concept of god can exist in my head. But is anyone claiming that it exists in the sense of existing in external reality independently of people's minds?

And (to end on a positive note) I would entirely agree with your example of specific long term weather predictions as something about which is rational to be agnostic about.

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense to be skeptical about long term weather predictions, but it makes little sense to be agnostic about them.

Maybe this is just sematics on your part but I mean (for example) that I am agnostic about whether or not it will be raining in London on the 24th June 2013. Unless of course you can show a method of weather prediction that makes such proclamations feasibly accurate.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 2:27 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 86 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 3:45 PM Straggler has replied

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 1754 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 84 of 179 (555178)
04-12-2010 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by nwr
04-12-2010 2:27 PM


Analogy?
nwr writes:

There is good evidence that the concept of money is a product of human invention. Should I therefore be agnostic or atheistic about my bank account balance?

If any prophets or theologians ever get around to minting whatever is on their minds, you'll have a good analogy, and I'll become a theist.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 2:27 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 87 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 3:49 PM bluegenes has taken no action

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 246 days)
Posts: 10332
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 85 of 179 (555181)
04-12-2010 3:11 PM
Reply to: Message 82 by New Cat's Eye
04-12-2010 2:45 PM


Re: The Irrationality of "Strong Atheism"
I don't think there is good evidence that god is a human invention.........

OK. But that is an argument about sufficiency of evidence rather than agnosticism derived from inherent unknowability. Which is the issue of this thread.

If you are simply saying that we need to do more research into human culture and psychology before we conclude that gods are probably a human invention then that is a relatively reasonable position. But that doesn't seem to be what is being said here.

......and I don't think we know that there is zero evidence for god.

I specifically avoided the rabbit hole of "subjective evidence" by not saying "zero evidence" (or the equivalent). I said "objectively unevidenced". Are you going to claim that there is objective evidence in favour of the existence of gods? That would be quite a claim on your part.

I don't think you can determine that relative likelihood.

Why? What is the barrier to doing so? "Unknowability"? Irefutability? Can we not invent concepts that are intrinsically as unknowable and irrefutable as the concept of god and yet still dismiss these as almost certainly invented? Thus demonstrating that unknowability and irrefutability become irrelevant if sufficient evidence towards a contrary conclusion is available.

All you've done is set it up as 'some vs. none' and claimed the some must be more likely.

If (hypothetically if you prefer) there is objective empirical evidence favouring the concept of god as a human invention but none favouring the actual existence of gods would considering human invention as more likely be rationaly justified? Is this not exactly your position with regard to the IPU and other such entities? The evidence in favour of human invention makes any irrefutability and unknowability almost utterly irrelevant to your conclusion regarding the existence of these entities.

But you haven't really supported yourself beyond making the assertion.

No I haven't. I can point you towards numerous posts (none replied to by RAZD I might add) where I have previously made that argument. We can go that route in one of those threads if you want.

But this thread is about exploring agnosticism and, in particular, what seems to be the "but gods are inherently unknowable" primary justification for this position.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 82 by New Cat's Eye, posted 04-12-2010 2:45 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 112 by New Cat's Eye, posted 04-13-2010 10:40 AM Straggler has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6009
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


(2)
Message 86 of 179 (555195)
04-12-2010 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 83 by Straggler
04-12-2010 2:59 PM


Re: Why Decide? What is wrong with being an agnostic?
Straggler writes:
Does money exist? Does your bank account exist? Do banks exist? Is there any evidence to suggest that we have not only conceived of money but brought it into existence? Along with a whole financial infrastructure. Is there comparable evidence to suggest that gods exist?

When I look around at all of the churches in town, when I consider the church memberships, the charitable work done by church based organizations, it seems to me that there is a pretty solid infrastructure in support of the God concept.

Straggler writes:
As things stand your comparison is just bewildering stupid.

I am more inclined to think that the rationality arguments you are persistently making are stupid.

John Searle, in his 1995 book "The Construction of Social Reality", makes what I think is a useful distinction between what he calls "brute facts" (such as facts about the height of a mountain), and what he calls "institutional facts" (such as facts about money).

Your persistent argument seems to be that we must treat the "God" question as a brute fact, and refuses to consider the possibility that we should look at it as an institutional fact.

Straggler writes:
But does the mathematical construct of an infinite dimensional sphere (for example) "exist"? Well the concept exists in the same way that the concept of god can exist in my head. But is anyone claiming that it exists in the sense of existing in external reality independently of people's minds?

Platonist mathematicians believe that, though they will say that it is a reality of platonic forms, rather than physical reality. And by most estimates, a substantial majority of mathematicians are platonists.

You might try asking some mathematicians about the continuum hypothesis. This has been proved independent of the other accepted axioms of set theory and independent of the axiom of choice. Many platonist mathematicians will assert that there is a fact about whether or not the continuum hypothesis is true, but that our current axiom systems are not yet powerful enough to get at that fact.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 83 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 2:59 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 95 by Straggler, posted 04-12-2010 5:28 PM nwr has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6009
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 87 of 179 (555196)
04-12-2010 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 84 by bluegenes
04-12-2010 3:03 PM


Re: Analogy?
bluegenes writes:
If any prophets or theologians ever get around to minting whatever is on their minds, you'll have a good analogy, and I'll become a theist.

I am not saying that money is a good analogy with God. But I am saying that the reasoning that Straggler uses does not distinguish between money and God.

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Replies to this message:
 Message 88 by PaulK, posted 04-12-2010 3:57 PM nwr has replied

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 17171
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 88 of 179 (555197)
04-12-2010 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 87 by nwr
04-12-2010 3:49 PM


Re: Analogy?
quote:

I am not saying that money is a good analogy with God. But I am saying that the reasoning that Straggler uses does not distinguish between money and God.

If you presume that God is essentially a fictional entity with no real existence, then you might have a point. However, that is not the concept of God that Straggler refers to.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 87 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 3:49 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 89 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 4:03 PM PaulK has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6009
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 89 of 179 (555200)
04-12-2010 4:03 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by PaulK
04-12-2010 3:57 PM


Re: Analogy?
PaulK writes:
If you presume that God is essentially a fictional entity with no real existence, then you might have a point. However, that is not the concept of God that Straggler refers to.

Many theists and deists presume that God is a real entity with no empirical existence. And Straggler has been arguing about what is empirical.

In perspective, most platonist mathematicians say that mathematical objects are real, but have no empirical existence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by PaulK, posted 04-12-2010 3:57 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 90 by PaulK, posted 04-12-2010 4:11 PM nwr has replied

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 17171
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 90 of 179 (555202)
04-12-2010 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 89 by nwr
04-12-2010 4:03 PM


Re: Analogy?
quote:

Many theists and deists presume that God is a real entity with no empirical existence. And Straggler has been arguing about what is empirical.

Straggler is arguing that "God" is more likely the product of human imagination than a real entity. Which is why your comparison with money only works if you insist that God isn't a real entity.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 89 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 4:03 PM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 91 by nwr, posted 04-12-2010 4:27 PM PaulK has replied

  
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