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Author Topic:   I Know That God Does Not Exist
TrueCreation
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 256 of 2312 (676595)
10-24-2012 4:08 AM
Reply to: Message 254 by Straggler
10-23-2012 5:36 PM


Re: Rational Swans
quote:
I put it to you that there is an immaterial unicorn looking over your shoulder as you type.

Do you know that I have just invented this proposition? If so - How do you know this? What are the chances that I did invent this but that by some miracle of co-incidence it also happens to be true?

Whilst we can't claim certainty I think it perfectly reasonable (and rational) to say that this immaterial unicorn almost certainly does not exist and is nothing more than a product of human imagination.

Given that nothing is absolutely certain it seems silly to restrict the term "know" to such certainty. So - Again - It is perfectly reasonable and rational to conclude that we know said immaterial unicorn does not exist.

"Knowledge" has the proviso of being tentative and potentially fallible. But beyond that where is the problem in the non-existence of aforementioned immaterial unicorn being known?



You are correct, in a sense, that knowledge has a tentativity, but this is because claims to knowledge inherently involve methods of determination. We can say we know C as long as A and B are true. This is why we can make truth claims about things which are not directly observable in sciences. However, this sort of claim loses a lot of power in the case of the invisible unicorn because invisibility means that there is no A or B--C must be critiqued in isolation.

More importantly: A critical piece of misinformation is involved in this contrast. You are trying to corroborate uncertainty of a proposition with the absurdity of a specific case. The absurdity comes from the knowledge that unicorns are the subject of classical legendary, strengthened by the implication that invisibility is an ad hoc explanation for it's absence in nature. What this seems to do is take the logically strict remark that it is impossible to say that invisible unicorns do not exist in any case, and suggest that apparent absurdities allows us to further pretend that absurdity is a demonstration of non-existence. It should also be noted that this auxiliary absurdity doesn't necessarily exist in the case of god in general. However, even in this example I maintain that non-existence is unknowable. It remains a justified belief, not a claim to knowledge about the categorically unobservable. Moreover, I maintain that such claims to knowledge are merely, basically, instinctually, simply a residue of our more childish desires to satisfy inquiry by meeting an end.

The correct (and infinitely more effective) course action is to demand that your opponent play by the rules, not pretend that his refusal or incapacity to play means he has lost. One does not need to pretend they have initiated checkmate against invisible unicorns when all you need to do is laugh at their struggles.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 254 by Straggler, posted 10-23-2012 5:36 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 258 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 12:51 PM TrueCreation has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 257 of 2312 (676622)
10-24-2012 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 248 by Stile
10-23-2012 1:41 PM


Re: A good foundation
I try to do that as well. I just find that some dirtyness may be required in order to "know things" about my past, present and future based on an analysis of the data I have been able to accumulate. I find that to be acceptable.

Well, one of the problems with your usage of knowing things is that it allows people to know things that are not true.

You'd say that people knew the Earth was flat... and that's just a load of horseshit


This message is a reply to:
 Message 248 by Stile, posted 10-23-2012 1:41 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 259 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 12:53 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 280 by Stile, posted 10-26-2012 12:08 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 258 of 2312 (676623)
10-24-2012 12:51 PM
Reply to: Message 256 by TrueCreation
10-24-2012 4:08 AM


Re: Rational Swans
Why is it that when confronted with what should be an un-contentious example that we can all agree upon as something which is almost certainly non-existent theists feel the need to start throwing terms like “absurd” around?

What is or is not absurd is entirely subjective. I may well find your concept of god absurd. So let’s put aside assertions of what is absurd and what isn’t.

I am trying to establish a baseline. I am trying to see if we can both agree that we know that the immaterial unicorn in question doesn’t exist.

Do you agree that we can know this? Or do you claim that we cannot know this?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 256 by TrueCreation, posted 10-24-2012 4:08 AM TrueCreation has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 278 by TrueCreation, posted 10-24-2012 5:16 PM Straggler has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 259 of 2312 (676624)
10-24-2012 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 257 by New Cat's Eye
10-24-2012 12:14 PM


Re: A good foundation
CS writes:

Well, one of the problems with your usage of knowing things is that it allows people to know things that are not true.

That's called fallibilism.

Are you denying that science can lead to knowledge? Because all scientific knowledge is potentially fallible. It might be wrong. Indeed some of it very probably is.

quote:
Fallibilism (from medieval Latin fallibilis, "liable to err") is the philosophical principle that human beings could be wrong about their beliefs, expectations, or their understanding of the world. In the most commonly used sense of the term, this consists in being open to new evidence that would disprove some previously held position or belief, and in the recognition that "any claim justified today may need to be revised or withdrawn in light of new evidence, new arguments, and new experiences."[1] This position is taken for granted in the natural sciences.

Wiki on Fallibilism

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 257 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 12:14 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

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 Message 260 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 1:35 PM Straggler has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 260 of 2312 (676634)
10-24-2012 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by Straggler
10-24-2012 12:53 PM


Re: A good foundation
CS writes:

Well, one of the problems with your usage of knowing things is that it allows people to know things that are not true.


That's called fallibilism.

Are you denying that science can lead to knowledge? Because all scientific knowledge is potentially fallible. It might be wrong. Indeed some of it very probably is.

Wait, you think the Earth could actually be flat?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 259 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 12:53 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 261 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 1:37 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 261 of 2312 (676636)
10-24-2012 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by New Cat's Eye
10-24-2012 1:35 PM


Re: A good foundation
No.

I think that some of our present scientific knowledge might well trun out to be wrong.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 260 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 1:35 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 262 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 1:52 PM Straggler has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 262 of 2312 (676646)
10-24-2012 1:52 PM
Reply to: Message 261 by Straggler
10-24-2012 1:37 PM


Re: A good foundation
I think that some of our present scientific knowledge might well trun out to be wrong.

Like what? And like, wrong wrong, or just a little inaccurate and maybe in need of a tweak?

I've been using the word established to describe things that I use the word "know" for.

There's scientific theories that that I might believe that might turn out to be wrong, but I doubt they're things that have been established and I probably wouldn't say that we know them.

The Earth isn't flat. That's been established. People never established that the Earth was flat. I wouldn't say they knew the Earth was flat.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 261 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 1:37 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 263 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 2:09 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 263 of 2312 (676651)
10-24-2012 2:09 PM
Reply to: Message 262 by New Cat's Eye
10-24-2012 1:52 PM


Re: A good foundation
Are you suggesting that an established scientific fact has never been overturned? Ever?

CS writes:

Like what?

How the hell am I supposed to know which of our presently established scientific facts is going to be wrong?

CS writes:

And like, wrong wrong, or just a little inaccurate and maybe in need of a tweak?

It depends if you call the complete replacement of a world view and understanding of reality a "tweak".

Relativity and QM were paradigm shifts that fundamentally and significantly changed our understanding of reality. Things that transformed what we thought were the facts regarding the universe and the natural laws that govern it's behaviour.

But I am guessing you are going to call the difference between Newtonian gravity and General relativity a "tweak" because it suits your argument better.

I am guessing that the notion that things are probability smudges rather than things with a concrete position will also qualify as a "tweak"....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 262 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 1:52 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 264 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 2:12 PM Straggler has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 264 of 2312 (676653)
10-24-2012 2:12 PM
Reply to: Message 263 by Straggler
10-24-2012 2:09 PM


Neat. Its like I don't even have to reply.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 263 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 2:09 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 265 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 2:16 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 265 of 2312 (676655)
10-24-2012 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 264 by New Cat's Eye
10-24-2012 2:12 PM


Did we used to scientifically know the position and momentum of particles?

Now we know that we couldn't actually know that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 264 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 2:12 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 266 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 2:22 PM Straggler has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 266 of 2312 (676656)
10-24-2012 2:22 PM
Reply to: Message 265 by Straggler
10-24-2012 2:16 PM


The word "know" is better reserved for things that have been established. You can't really establish things that aren't true, unless you got a busted establisher. Its just dumb to say that people knew something that is false.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 265 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 2:16 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 267 by Rahvin, posted 10-24-2012 3:09 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 274 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 4:34 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 267 of 2312 (676660)
10-24-2012 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by New Cat's Eye
10-24-2012 2:22 PM


Its just dumb to say that people knew something that is false.

It's funny how you just go on assuming that people in the past had access to the same evidence that we have today.

A few hundred years ago, people would tell you that they "know" the Earth to be flat - because they weren't even aware of any evidence to the contrary, it was the accepted wisdom of the time (ie, it was "established," as you like to use the term), and if you just look at the lay of the land from anything other than extreme altitude, it looks overall pretty flat.

Many things that you or I "know" are wrong, simply because we are unaware of evidence that would force us to readjust our internal models of external reality. Most of the ways we're wrong will be small...but chances are high that at least a few are completely off the mark.

For many years it was "established" that phlogiston was responsible for combustion. Any educated person would have told you so, and would have said that this is "known."

And of course they were all wrong.

"Establishing knowledge" is simply like any logical argument - you can create a statement that is entirely logically self-consistent, but if your basic premise is wrong, your argument is still false.

So too with "established knowledge" - you use the term to describe theoretical models that are well-supported by evidence and are accepted by the greater scientific community...

...but any scientist worth a dozen neurons will tell you that even "established" theories are tentative pending new evidence or the falsification/alteration of existing evidence.

Newtonian gravity turned out to be pretty wrong even though it gives "close enough" answers at the right scales, and was considered "established knowledge" for a long time...

...right up until Einstein came and changed everything by fundamentally altering some basic assumptions about reality.

quote:
Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody "knew" that the earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody "knew" that the earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you "knew" that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll "know" tomorrow. ~ Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Men in Black

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus

"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of
variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the
outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." Barash, David 1995.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 266 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 2:22 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 268 by 1.61803, posted 10-24-2012 3:32 PM Rahvin has responded
 Message 272 by New Cat's Eye, posted 10-24-2012 3:47 PM Rahvin has not yet responded

  
1.61803
Member
Posts: 2926
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 5.6


Message 268 of 2312 (676663)
10-24-2012 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 267 by Rahvin
10-24-2012 3:09 PM


Hi Rahvin,

... Imagine what you'll "know" tomorrow. ~ Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Men in Black

Yes, imagine what unknown things will present themselves tomorrow that you will gain knowledge of and still might prove to be incorrect.
I think that was K's point, but I could be wrong.

Edited by 1.61803, : bad sentence structure.


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

This message is a reply to:
 Message 267 by Rahvin, posted 10-24-2012 3:09 PM Rahvin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 270 by Rahvin, posted 10-24-2012 3:41 PM 1.61803 has acknowledged this reply

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 17651
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 269 of 2312 (676664)
10-24-2012 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 255 by Straggler
10-23-2012 5:42 PM


Re: A good foundation
Straggler writes:

Why should the term "know" be used in the way you suggest?

What is wrong with an epistemological stance that recognises the role of tentativity and fallibilism in knowledge and knowledge acquisition?


I do recognize the role of tentativity and fallibilism. Tentativity means that we can give up an idea if it is proven to be wrong. It doesn't mean that we jump to conclusions prematurely.

One more time, it has nothing whatsoever to do with absolutism. It has to do with staying tentative until we can make an informed conclusion, not saying we "know" something when we haven't bothered to look at the evidence yet.

Precise language should be important to science-minded people. They should be the first ones to say, "I haven't seen any evidence that points to God, so it seems pretty unlikely that He exists - but I don't know for sure."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 255 by Straggler, posted 10-23-2012 5:42 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 271 by Rahvin, posted 10-24-2012 3:43 PM ringo has responded
 Message 275 by Straggler, posted 10-24-2012 4:43 PM ringo has responded

  
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 270 of 2312 (676665)
10-24-2012 3:41 PM
Reply to: Message 268 by 1.61803
10-24-2012 3:32 PM


Yes, imagine what unknown things will present themselves tomorrow that you will gain knowledge of and still might prove to be incorrect.
I think that was K's point, but I could be wrong.

Regardless of what the screenwriter intended the line to mean, I agree with your interpretation.

All "knowledge" is tentative. Nothing is absolutely certain. If I hold what I "know" to be absolutely certain, then I close off those opportunities to more closely align my internal model with external reality.

This should not be misconstrued to mean that all knowledge is equally tentative; well-supported and rigorously tested models are by far more likely to be accurate than lesser hypotheses, and random guessing falls in with unsupported assertions in the "you're more likely to win the lottery three times consecutively and be struck by lightning while catching a meteorite in your hand" category.

But even the most rigorously tested and "established knowledge" is tentative. After all...if we live in the Matrix, that's not really air you're breathing.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

“A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.” – Albert Camus

"...the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of
variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the
outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit." Barash, David 1995.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 268 by 1.61803, posted 10-24-2012 3:32 PM 1.61803 has acknowledged this reply

  
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