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Author Topic:   I Know That God Does Not Exist
Percy
Member
Posts: 19891
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 8.5


(1)
Message 286 of 2688 (677232)
10-28-2012 9:44 AM


Connie Muller's Website
For a hoot, take a look at new member Connie Muller's website: http://ourpurposeanddestiny.com/

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by Tangle, posted 10-28-2012 10:45 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 295 by Connie Muller, posted 10-29-2012 3:01 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8052
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 287 of 2688 (677234)
10-28-2012 10:45 AM
Reply to: Message 286 by Percy
10-28-2012 9:44 AM


Re: Connie Muller's Website
what a pity he failed to provide links to the source of those wonderful photos - I wonder why that is?

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

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Replies to this message:
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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 288 of 2688 (677237)
10-28-2012 11:42 AM
Reply to: Message 287 by Tangle
10-28-2012 10:45 AM


Re: Connie Muller's Website
Here is a link to AIG's take on these photos:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/...etons-found-in-the-desert

quote:
Why should we not be excited about these discoveries that once again “prove the Bible is true”?

Well, mainly because these reports are false.

However, the photographs in question are faked. They are the product of a competition for digital photographers who were trying to create an archaeological hoax. This innocent competition’s photos were then used as the basis for a very widespread Internet hoax.


Yep. AIG is talking about the same photos Connie Muller is hosting.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
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TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 289 of 2688 (677315)
10-29-2012 7:41 AM
Reply to: Message 282 by Stile
10-26-2012 12:20 PM


Re: Rational Swans
quote:
Can you explain to me how such a statement about black swans could be rational based upon the example?
If all the swans we've ever heard of or seen are always white... how is it rational to propose that "maybe black swans exist?"

Because nothing exists which necessarily rules out black swans. Moreover, you ask the question based on the proposition that we have gathered sufficient data to rule out the possibility of black swans existing. As such, the relevant question is whether or not it is feasible that the data are insufficient. If the data are not, all things considered (and all free parameters understood), overwhelming, one is not only justified to state that "maybe black swans exist". This should be a trivial exercise in logic.

Black swans happen to be native to Australia. If it were 16th century Europe and someone ruled out the possibility of black swan's existing based on their observations of the known world, I don't suppose you would be with them. Moreover even if the species of black swans did not exist as known today, we would still be justified in saying "maybe black swans exist" given uncertainty elsewhere.

Recognize, also that a statement of a logical reality is not necessarily correlated with justifications for seeking out evidence for that reality. If no black swans had ever been observed, one might not be justified to, for instance, explore African jungles with the sole purpose of looking for black swans. This is because the logical capacity to state that "maybe black swans exist" is based on incomplete information, not an inference from complete information. You only seem to think that inference directly from available data is rational, which would, if accepted by the scientific community, almost entirely incapacitate investigation. It certainly would impugn nearly all of my work in theoretical geophysics.

quote:
If all the swans we've ever heard of or seen are always white... how is it rational to propose that "maybe black swans exist?"

Because maybe we have not seen all swans? Maybe because we have not explored all possible habitats for the theoretical black swan? There are also unstated premises--does "black-swan-ness" require distinct speciation, or can a black swan be born of a white swan via mutation? Can the species be extinct?

quote:
I fully admit that it can be an idea. But how is it possibly rational? Especially scientifically... how would you test it?

The statement that "maybe black swans exist" is not scientific. It is logical.

quote:
Wouldn't you just watch the birth of swans for a while? And if they all, always, came out white... wouldn't you say that the proposal is falsified and therefore invalid?

Are you trying to plagiarize the peanut butter argument for intelligent design?

Edited by TrueCreation, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 282 by Stile, posted 10-26-2012 12:20 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 290 by Panda, posted 10-29-2012 7:49 AM TrueCreation has responded
 Message 294 by Stile, posted 10-29-2012 10:07 AM TrueCreation has responded

  
Panda
Member (Idle past 2462 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 290 of 2688 (677317)
10-29-2012 7:49 AM
Reply to: Message 289 by TrueCreation
10-29-2012 7:41 AM


Re: Rational Swans
In your view, is there anything that does not exist?

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

This message is a reply to:
 Message 289 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 7:41 AM TrueCreation has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 7:58 AM Panda has responded
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TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 291 of 2688 (677318)
10-29-2012 7:58 AM
Reply to: Message 290 by Panda
10-29-2012 7:49 AM


Re: Rational Swans
quote:
In your view, is there anything that does not exist?

It depends entirely on how it is stated, and what is stated, and whether or not what is stated is presumed to justify investigation (ie, that one can test the proposition). I would agree that it is known that dinosaurs, as they are preserved in the fossil record, are extinct (and do not exist in that way), but I would not agree that we know that fluorescent ants or black swans--even if we did not have knowledge of them--do not exist. Similarly, i would say that we can say that "we know that there are no large land dwelling organisms on Mars", but I would not say that "we know there is no life on Mars".

Edited by TrueCreation, : No reason given.

Edited by TrueCreation, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 290 by Panda, posted 10-29-2012 7:49 AM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
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Phat
Member
Posts: 14868
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 292 of 2688 (677322)
10-29-2012 8:13 AM
Reply to: Message 290 by Panda
10-29-2012 7:49 AM


To Know and yet to Not Know
This post serves as my topic summation.

In your view, is there anything that does not exist?

In my mind, anything within the realm of my imagination can exist. In my belief, GOD(as I understand Him) exists. Stile does, however, have a point in that testable observable human reality, we collectively must have logic, reason, and reality as our basis for knowledge.

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


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Panda
Member (Idle past 2462 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 293 of 2688 (677329)
10-29-2012 9:07 AM
Reply to: Message 291 by TrueCreation
10-29-2012 7:58 AM


Re: Rational Swans
You appear to be applying different criteria when declaring what you know and what you don't know.

TC writes:

I would agree that it is known that dinosaurs, as they are preserved in the fossil record, are extinct (and do not exist in that way)


But dinosaurs could exist in a hidden valley in the Amazon or on a different planet.
You have not looked everywhere for dinosaurs yet.
Until you do, you cannot claim they do not exist.

TC writes:

but I would not agree that we know that fluorescent ants ... do not exist.


Because you haven't looked everywhere for fluorescent ants?
Until you do, you cannot claim they do not exist?

And again:

TC writes:

Similarly, i would say that we can say that "we know that there are no large land dwelling organisms on Mars"


But there could be rock-like creatures (ala Apollo 18) living on the surface of Mars.
You have not looked everywhere on Mars for large land dwelling organisms.
Until you do, you cannot claim they do not exist.

TC writes:

but I would not say that "we know there is no life on Mars".


Because you haven't looked everywhere on Mars for life?
Until you do, you cannot claim it does not exist?

Your position seems contradictory. :S

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 7:58 AM TrueCreation has responded

Replies to this message:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 4017
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 294 of 2688 (677342)
10-29-2012 10:07 AM
Reply to: Message 289 by TrueCreation
10-29-2012 7:41 AM


Re: Rational Swans
TrueCreation writes:

You only seem to think that inference directly from available data is rational, which would, if accepted by the scientific community, almost entirely incapacitate investigation. It certainly would impugn nearly all of my work in theoretical geophysics.

No, not necessarily "directly."
Let's say we know white mice exist, and we know that black mice exist.
Let's say we know white wolves exist, and we know that black wolves exist.
Let's say we know white blackbirds(!) exist, and we know that black blackbirds exist.
Then let's say we know white swans exist... and all the swans we know of (but we haven't checked the entire world) are white.

Now I think it is quite rational to think that black swans may exist.

...but this comes from the data we have (as described in the example).

What if we did check the entire world, and we still never found any black swans? What if we studied swans for 50 years, all over the world, every single swan... and all of them were always white?

Then I think it is rational to say "I know that black swans do not exist."
In the same way that I think it is rational to currently say "I know that plaid swans do not exist."



Added By Edit

You mentioned that black swans are native to Australia.
I would like to add to the example that (to make things easy) all white swans are restricted to everything-but-australia and black swans are restricted to australia.

Lets say australia hasn't been discovered yet. Therefore black swans haven't been discovered yet.
All swans in the entire world (as we know) are always white.
We learn that there's "a new area" called australia to go and explore (and that's all we've heard about it...)

I'm saying that at this point it's still rational to say "I know that black swans do not exist" because there is no indication that black swans are going to exist in australia. To propose that they would, given that all the swans we know are always white... would be going against the evidence we have collected. Such a decision doesn't seem like an honest analysis of the data.

It's like calling the idea "maybe the sun won't rise tomorrow" a rational thought. It's a thought, but there's nothing rational about it. It completely goes against all the data we do actually have.


I am also very intrigued by your implication that science is off investigating anything that is not inferenced from the data we have. Could you provide us with an example? Perhaps maybe even something you're working on (if you'd like)?

We should note, that ringo asked if I found it rational to think that maybe a McDonald's exists on another planet. And I do agree that such an idea is rational. We know that intelligent life can evolve on planets. I find it rational to think that similar (enough) intelligent life could evolve on other similar (enough) planets. Therefore, I would not say that "I know McDonald's does not exist on any other planet in the universe."
I find it highly unlikely that you're working on something that cannot be inferenced from the data we have. I also assume you're getting paid for your work? I find it even more unlikely that you (or perhaps your colleagues/supervisors) were able to convince someone to give you funding without being able to explain how your current work is building off the existing knowledge.

I also would not claim that all "investigation" is necessarily rational. I think it's quite possible that some irrational investigation can lead to concrete knowledge and new possibilities. If fire-breathing dragon lovers actually did find some sort of strange komodo-dragon that breathed actual fire... I would find that fascinating.
However, I would still say that before such was found... it was irrational to think that fire breathing dragons existed.

Edited by Stile, : Wanted to add a chunk in about Australia


This message is a reply to:
 Message 289 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 7:41 AM TrueCreation has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 299 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 11:49 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

  
Connie Muller
Junior Member (Idle past 2917 days)
Posts: 2
From: Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Joined: 10-28-2012


Message 295 of 2688 (677408)
10-29-2012 3:01 PM
Reply to: Message 286 by Percy
10-28-2012 9:44 AM


Re: Connie Muller's Website
LOL !

Well, at least my ignorance has provided some mirth.
That will teach me to do proper research before posting.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by Percy, posted 10-28-2012 9:44 AM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4017
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 296 of 2688 (677417)
10-29-2012 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 285 by Connie Muller
10-28-2012 9:17 AM


Connie Muller writes:

I suppose it also depends on what your definition of God is.

Definitely. I've proposed one in Message 63 which basically boils down to:

quote:
That God is a rational concept of some entity that sits back and governs good things and helps out people who pray to Him and used to do grand miracles but hasn't felt like it since we started to monitor such things.

But feel free to propose another. (The post I linked to above also describes some limitations I think should exist on the definition).

I believe there is evidence of lastmentioned. Very visible evidence. The most recent post on my website gives detail - Giants in Greece.

Very visible evidence would certainly give me cause to investigate and see if I should change my mind...

Well, at least my ignorance has provided some mirth.
That will teach me to do proper research before posting.
Message 295

...but it seems you don't fully agree that it's very visible anymore?

As you seem new to the site, if the thread goes into "summation mode" (where you can only post 1 more message) but you still have questions/comments about the topic... feel free to create a new thread about the topic. Or you can see if your comments might be on-topic in some of the other open threads.

And if you want to know how I did all the fancy quotes and post-linking (or anything else you see in any other post)... just click on the "Peek" button in the bottom-right of a post. That will show you what was typed into the reply box in order to create that specific post.

Welcome to EvC and hopefully you have fun!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 285 by Connie Muller, posted 10-28-2012 9:17 AM Connie Muller has not yet responded

  
TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 297 of 2688 (677458)
10-29-2012 9:43 PM
Reply to: Message 293 by Panda
10-29-2012 9:07 AM


Re: Rational Swans
You are right I am applying different criteria, but they are not really contradictory as long as we accept that science constrains knowledge, without which you only have logic--so we can make scientific truth claims without deductive exactness. Whether or not dinosaurs exist today is well constrained by what is already known about those organisms, so their existence is precluded by more than simply whether or not we have observed every place on Earth's surface. There are important unstated premises about what a Dinosaur "is" (do modern birds count?), but this will not apply to species like T-rex or Brachiosaurus--so you might be right that I would have to constrain my criteria when I am talking about 'dinosaurs'. But this doesn't apply to the black swan because the important question in that case is whether or not mechanisms by which a black swan can be produced is sufficient to say that exploration remains a caveat to the inference of non-existence. The main question is whether or not the characteristic of being black is impossible, which might be evidenced by, for instance, the knowledge that Swans simply cannot be black. Stile has made assertions about circumstantial knowledge that we may have always observed swans to be white, but that simply isn't an appropriate constraint--all of it is trumped by the biological conceivability that a Swan can naturally acquire the characteristic of being colored black.

quote:
But there could be rock-like creatures (ala Apollo 18) living on the surface of Mars.
You have not looked everywhere on Mars for large land dwelling organisms.
Until you do, you cannot claim they do not exist.

I think you're right. I would have to modify the claim to require that the Martians have certain characteristics--this is what I tried to do by saying "land dwelling", but it seems insufficient. Mind you, we could still say make the truth claim that dinosaurs do not exist on Mars because this is constrained by scientific knowledge about dinosaurs, but things aren't nearly as easy for general truth claims about life on Mars.

But back to god. Science cannot say anything so we can't use scientific knowledge, or observations of nature, to say anything about the existence of god the way we can about dinosaurs on Earth or on Mars. So, does the existence of god preclude anything which is observed? No. Therefore, god can exist. Therefore "god does not exist" is an erroneous inference. Therefore the inference is not knowledge--not scientific, not logical, not rational.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by Panda, posted 10-29-2012 9:07 AM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 298 by Panda, posted 10-29-2012 10:19 PM TrueCreation has responded

  
Panda
Member (Idle past 2462 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 298 of 2688 (677459)
10-29-2012 10:19 PM
Reply to: Message 297 by TrueCreation
10-29-2012 9:43 PM


Re: Rational Swans
(I'll switch the example to 'red swans', since (I think) we know black swans exist.)

TC writes:

Whether or not dinosaurs exist today is well constrained by what is already known about those organisms, so their existence is precluded by more than simply whether or not we have observed every place on Earth's surface.


But dinosaurs could exist somewhere on earth.
You haven't looked everywhere, so you can't claim they don't.

TC writes:

Stile has made assertions about circumstantial knowledge that we may have always observed swans to be white, but that simply isn't an appropriate constraint...


But inductive logic is used all the time by science.
To say that a scientific claim is invalid because it is based on previous experiences undermines most of science.

TC writes:

...all of it is trumped by the biological conceivability that a Swan can naturally acquire the characteristic of being colored black.


So - do red swans exist, then?
We have never found one and ornithologists will confidently claim that they know red swans don't exist.
But there is nothing stopping them from existing.

TC writes:

The main question is whether or not the characteristic of being black is impossible, which might be evidenced by, for instance, the knowledge that Swans simply cannot be black.


But our judgement of what is impossible is based on our current knowledge.
You haven't learnt all about everything, so you can't claim red swans are impossible.
Maybe red swans are only impossible via natural means.
But maybe some scientist mutated a swan into being red - you don't know.

TC writes:

But back to god. Science cannot say anything so we can't use scientific knowledge, or observations of nature, to say anything about the existence of god the way we can about dinosaurs on Earth or on Mars.


I disagree. Science can show (for example) that prayer doesn't work.
Science can look at many examples of proposed evidence of god and say "This is not evidence of god".
(In fact, it has done so. Many times. e.g. Lightning is not caused by Thor.)

TC writes:

Therefore, god can exist. Therefore "god does not exist" is an erroneous inference. Therefore the inference is not knowledge--not scientific, not logical, not rational.


And by the same logic, there is very little that can't exist.
As long as it is internally consistent (i.e. is not an invisible pink unicorn), then there is nothing stopping it from existing.
Can you give me an example of something that can't exist?

Dinosaurs: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
Red swans: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
Large lifeforms on Mars: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
(But at least we have evidence that something similar does exist/has existed.)

Can you think of anything that could not exist, using your "No evidence for it and no evidence against it means it could exist"?
Because using that logic, I see nothing stopping fairies, goblins, invisible dragons and Santa Claus from existing.


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

This message is a reply to:
 Message 297 by TrueCreation, posted 10-29-2012 9:43 PM TrueCreation has responded

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TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 299 of 2688 (677460)
10-29-2012 11:49 PM
Reply to: Message 294 by Stile
10-29-2012 10:07 AM


Re: Rational Swans
quote:
Now I think it is quite rational to think that black swans may exist.

...but this comes from the data we have (as described in the example).

What if we did check the entire world, and we still never found any black swans? What if we studied swans for 50 years, all over the world, every single swan... and all of them were always white?

Then I think it is rational to say "I know that black swans do not exist."



Your assertion that it is rational to think black swans "may exist" because of the data that we have from other species is not compatible with your assertion that you can rationally say that "black swans do not exist" (which is not the same as "black swans probably do not exist") based on the exploration--at least the way it SHOULD have been stated. If you COULD say that "every single swan" has been observed, and none of them are black, then deductively it follows that there are no black swans. This isn't appropriate because it destroys the only reason the 'black swan' problem is interesting--because we have many samples of white swans but none of black. The question is whether or not the fact that all observed swans are white is sufficient to say that there are no black swans. You cannot rule out black swans unless you can A) catalog all existing swans and deductively rule out black swans or B) establish that no unobserved swans CAN be black. As long as all swans are not observed (i.e. exploration is limited), the possibility of black-swan-ness trumps arguments about the impressiveness of the extent of exploration.

Therefore, it is not rational to say that "I know that black swans do not exist" since this is necessarily a different class of argument from that which can be drawn from evidence which is correctly stated "I know that black swans probably do not exist", inasmuch as it is conceivable that all swans are not cataloged and black-swan-ness is within normal possibility.

quote:
You mentioned that black swans are native to Australia.
I would like to add to the example that (to make things easy) all white swans are restricted to everything-but-australia and black swans are restricted to australia.

Lets say australia hasn't been discovered yet. Therefore black swans haven't been discovered yet.
All swans in the entire world (as we know) are always white.
We learn that there's "a new area" called australia to go and explore (and that's all we've heard about it...)

I'm saying that at this point it's still rational to say "I know that black swans do not exist" because there is no indication that black swans are going to exist in australia.



And I am saying that that inference is obviously irrational. The statement that "I know that black swans do not exist" necessarily covers the statement "I know that black swans do not exist in Australia", which in your scenario also translates to "I know that black swans do not exist in Australia, but I have no data from Australia". Do you honestly not see the problem here?

quote:
To propose that they would, given that all the swans we know are always white... would be going against the evidence we have collected. Such a decision doesn't seem like an honest analysis of the data.

It is beyond me how you cannot see the problem with this reasoning. Every trivial discovery must be an astonishingly dumbfounding experience for you.

quote:
It's like calling the idea "maybe the sun won't rise tomorrow" a rational thought. It's a thought, but there's nothing rational about it. It completely goes against all the data we do actually have.

These two ideas aren't even remotely analogous--a more appropriate analogy to "I know that black swans do not exist in Australia, but I have no data from Australia" would be "Maybe the sun is the only body of it's type in the universe", "Maybe there are only a few thousand stars in the universe", or "Maybe there are only 8 planets in the universe" before the associated discoveries. These assertions went against demonstrable inference from available data, but they did not contradict available data.

quote:
I am also very intrigued by your implication that science is off investigating anything that is not inferenced from the data we have. Could you provide us with an example? Perhaps maybe even something you're working on (if you'd like)?

Pretty much all scientific activities at the edge of knowledge involve investigations into things not demonstrably inferred from the data. The subject of my current work is the attempt to understand the properties and behavior of the oceanic lithosphere, an active problem of research since the tectonics revolution. The idea is that oceanic plates are formed at spreading ridges and gradually migrate away as a rigid unit until they encounter subduction zones. Over time, up to about 180 million years, the mantle below the surface cools by losing heat to the oceans above. So if we know the age of the surface we can attempt to infer something about the thermal state of the mantle below, constrained by certain observations (like the heat flow measured at the surface or the subsidence of the surface from thermal contraction) and modeling based on heat transport theories and experiments. The problem is that there is a lot that we do not know either because our models are unsophisticated, our understanding of mineral physics is poor, or the geophysical observations (e.g. subsidence, heat flow) are unclear or problematic. Nevertheless, our modeling and surveying activities has lead us to a model of the Earth which we think is at least fundamentally accurate. There are, however, many "black swans in uncharacterized Australia's" because our understanding is so limited. I'll give a couple:

1) The temperature of ambient mantle throughout the upper mantle (upper 100-300 km of the Earth) is not well understood--we can constrain mantle temperatures from studies of rocks at the surface of oceanic crust, but it is possible that the temperature changes with depth, with horizontal distance, or as a function of age, which is not possible to constrain at this time. So we have a good handle on the temperature of the mantle near the surface where the lithosphere forms, but not elsewhere. It is reasonable to assume that there are no significant variations like I just suggested, but to claim that we know there are no such variations is an absurd extrapolation of limited data.

2) It turns out that the geophysical observations indicate that after the lithosphere cools for about 50-70 million years, something appears to cause the lithosphere to heat up somehow, probably from the base, which increases heat flow at the surface and causes the seafloor to stop subsiding. What causes this behavior? We're not really sure, but there are popular ideas. For instance, the most popular explanation is that convection below the plate introduces additional heat. There is no direct evidence for this, it is simply an explanation of observations, and it turns out that some of the best "pictures" of the upper mantle from seismic tomography show that small-scale convection might not be the correct explanation. Nevertheless, it remains a popular explanation which will be vigorously debated in the literature. One of the principle debate points is whether or not such small-scale convection is possible (analogous to the question: are black swans possible?), because the only way to demonstrate that this "black swan" does not exist is to demonstrate that it cannot exist. These activities remain 100% rational because it is understood that tomographic methods contain their own uncertainties (maybe our methods of exploration hasn't allowed us to find "black swans"?) and that the geophysical observations may not have not been correctly filtered to ascertain what is really going on at depth (are we sure this swan is black?), among other unertainties. There remain other alternatives, such as volcanic events causing crustal thickening near the surface (explaining elevated old-age seafloor, which we know happens), perhaps radiogenic heat in thick sediments over old seafloor causes the elevated heat flow, or perhaps our understanding of convection at the base of the lithosphere needs revision before we compare it with tomographic evidence. We do not know if these "black swans" exist, and we have no direct evidence (or in some cases any evidence), that they do. But proposing them is not irrational. We do it all the time. This is the nature of the scientific investigation at the boundaries of knowledge. Most importantly, it is absurd to pretend that just because the popular models have proven efficacious that these unevidenced alternatives therefore do not exist. If I were reviewing a paper which made such statements I would find it difficult to recommend it be accepted without careful revision.

Have you been reading Feyerabend?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 294 by Stile, posted 10-29-2012 10:07 AM Stile has acknowledged this reply

  
TrueCreation
Inactive Member


Message 300 of 2688 (677462)
10-30-2012 12:08 AM
Reply to: Message 298 by Panda
10-29-2012 10:19 PM


Re: Rational Swans
quote:
And by the same logic, there is very little that can't exist.
As long as it is internally consistent (i.e. is not an invisible pink unicorn), then there is nothing stopping it from existing.
Can you give me an example of something that can't exist?
Dinosaurs: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
Red swans: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
Large lifeforms on Mars: could exist, but are currently undiscovered.
(But at least we have evidence that something similar does exist/has existed.)

Can you think of anything that could not exist, using your "No evidence for it and no evidence against it means it could exist"?
Because using that logic, I see nothing stopping fairies, goblins, invisible dragons and Santa Claus from existing.



Your correct that I agree that absolutely anything could exist, this is the nature of logic. There is always the possibility of encountering an illusion--maybe unicorns exist. Maybe they are invisible. Maybe 40km tall unicorns exist which are visible but my mind is wired in such a way that it is impossible to observe these unicorns as they are and everyone else is running around terrified and shaking me because they don't understand why I am the only one who can't see the giant unicorns destroying the planet.

These absolute uncertainties do not bear on knowledge in general because of epistemic enterprises like science. The existence of red swans is a function of our capacity to determine whether or not we have knowledge of all swans and whether or not swans can be red at all. If we are talking about something which has scientific content, we can constrain knowledge about that thing. We don't need to have perfect certainty about it. The problem is that god has no scientific content. It cannot be constrained by scientific knowledge. Therefore we are left only with the logical uncertainty which demands that we say nothing about whether or not it exists.

What I'm trying to say is that classifying knowledge depends on what one is willing to accept as a qualification of knowledge. Scientific knowledge is not in the same bin as knowledge acquired from deductive inference. The existence or non-existence of things like red swans and life on mars is subject to scientific qualification because testability is conceivable even if it is not, at the moment, within our capacity to infer from data. It is not possible to perform such tests on god, meaning that the problem of god cannot be ascertained as a subject of scientific knowledge--neither positive or negative. Failure to qualify as scientific knowledge doesn't mean the thing doesn't exist, it means that we must relegate to an alternative scheme of epistemic qualification.

Edited by TrueCreation, : Added the last paragraph.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 298 by Panda, posted 10-29-2012 10:19 PM Panda has acknowledged this reply

  
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