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Author Topic:   The persistent question of evidence (RAZD and subbie only)
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 1 of 42 (604395)
02-03-2011 2:57 AM


Who needs to supply evidence, when, and why.
From Message 774 on the Peanut Gallery thread, Coyote:

What they cannot tell is whether or not any of these communications come indirectly from supernatural sources. Thus they can experience communication of supernatural beings without knowing the source, without imagination and without direct experience of the supernatural.

Is there any evidence for the supernatural?

You keep ducking this question, yet your answers all seem to be based on your belief that there is a supernatural.

What's your evidence? Is it anything but belief and wishful thinking?

First, this questioning has no bearing on the great debate issue that should be the topic for the Peanut Gallery, so I have started this topic.

Is there any evidence for the supernatural?

Curiously, I have not made any claims that supernatural entities do exist, so why you keep asking me this is rather amusing.

However, I personally am not aware of an objective empirical valid evidence that would be likely sufficient to show that supernatural entities exist.

In addition I personally am not aware of an objective empirical valid evidence that would be likely sufficient to show that supernatural entities do not exist.

Nor am I aware of any subjective evidence that would likely be sufficient for you (Coyote) to accept, based on my observation of your attitude displayed to theists in this regard.

This would include all the world's religious literature, beliefs, myths, legends, etc., as well as instances like religious experiences and dreamtime visions, etc. These evidences are sufficient, imho, to suggest that god/s may possibly exist, but they are not definitive.

Nor am I aware of any subjective evidence that can show anything more than the possibility that god/s do not exist.

This would include the absence of objective empirical evidence that god/s do exist

If you have any additional evidence that god/s do not exist then please supply us with it, as this alone is a very weak argument, imho, because it involves a logical fallacy.

You keep ducking this question, yet your answers all seem to be based on your belief that there is a supernatural.

My answers in regard to unsupported assertions that god/s do not exist or related arguments (ie the stuff that straggler first and bluegenes second try to pass off as logical) is to recognize and show the existing support for the possibility that god/s exist and to expose the logical fallacies of the various arguments.

My personal belief is irrelevant to discussing arguments based on poor logic and ignoring the possibilities, or assuming that they do not exist.

There is insufficient evidence, imho, to support a logical conclusion that god/s exist.

There is also insufficient evidence, imho, to support a logical conclusion that god/s do not exist.

Logically the only supported conclusion is no conclusion, that the evidence pro and con is insufficient to form a logical conclusion at this time.

Being open-minded, I consider both existence and non-existence positions possibilities.

Being skeptical, I see no reason to accept that either position is sufficiently demonstrated, however I do consider the possible non-existing position to be weaker than the possible existing position.

The proper logical conclusion based on evidence and the "rules" of logic is agnostic. I have discussed this previously on several threads, including

quote:
Message 91: As a result of the logical analysis (see Message 508 of the Faith vs Skepticism - Why faith? thread) we have:

  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)

(4) is the position that logic supports: the default position when there is a lack of validated evidence is that no conclusion can be reached -- we don't know, can't know, which is true.

(3) is the position of someone that recognizes that (4) is the logical position, but is of the opinion that god/s may exist.

(5) is the position of someone that recognizes that (4) is the logical position, but is of the opinion that god/s may NOT exist.

(2) & (6) are people that think their position is based on something more than their opinion, and they need to provide evidence to substantiate that claim.

(1) & (7) are people that think their position is fact, not opinion, and they need to provide evidence to substantiate that claim.

I am a (3) - weak theist, or agnostic theist.

Enjoy.

Note to admins: this will likely need to be in Great Debates due to the probability of one against many participants.

Edited by RAZD, : clrty

Edited by RAZD, : format, subtitle

Edited by RAZD, : changed title

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Add the "(RAZD and subbie only)" to the topic title.

Edited by RAZD, : title adjustment

Edited by RAZD, : better


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.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Admin, posted 02-03-2011 8:41 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply
 Message 3 by Adminnemooseus, posted 02-03-2011 6:14 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 4 of 42 (604398)
02-05-2011 8:30 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Adminnemooseus
02-03-2011 6:14 PM


Re: Coyote says no, so let's move on to ... evidence/
Hi moose,

Since Coyote backed out, petrophysics has put in a new request = PNT Evidence.

This appeals to me for three reasons: (1) bluegenes seems stalled on the presentation of evidence, and wants to continue to argue his "mutually exclusive" test etc that have been refuted (instead of moving on to a new test, etc, as one would do in science), (2) the peanut crowd can't help him yet attack me, and finally (3) it will be refreshing to defend the logic and open-minded skepticism approach from the other side of agnosticism.

This may actually help to move the debate forward on the bluegenes thread.

Yes I agree with petrophysics on a lot of issues, but the one he claims here:

RAZD, I am a #1 absolute deist. God does exist.
I have looked for months here where the atheists could present no evidence.
As an absolute deist lets see if I can do better.

Indeed, lets.

Perhaps bluegenes will agree to put our thread on hold to see how this new one works out?

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 3 by Adminnemooseus, posted 02-03-2011 6:14 PM Adminnemooseus has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 5 of 42 (604399)
02-10-2011 9:24 PM


the absence of evidence is not by itself (negative) evidence (of absence), rather it
It amazes me that I need to spell this out.

For those who think I have changed my mind (Rahvin Peanut Gallery Message 1002, etc), I suggest that perhaps you are actually understanding the position I have had for a long time. What I have said before is that:

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, rather it is evidence of the absence of evidence.

Recently I have expanded this for better understanding. These quotes from recent posts are the gist of it:

From Peanut Gallery Message 980:

quote:
Properly speaking, the absence of evidence is not by itself (negative) evidence (of absence), rather it is evidence of the absence of (positive) evidence - in the areas where evidence has been sought, and with the methodology\technology used to look for (positive) evidence.

If you only look in area {A} and do not find positive evidence, that means that positive evidence is currently not available within area {A}, it says nothing about positive or negative evidence in area {B} ≠ {A} nor about positive or negative evidence in area {A} at different times or with different methodology\technology/s.

Likewise you can only calculate the probability of the absence from the lack of positive evidence within area {A} when you know the relative sizes of {A} and {B} ...
... with the probability becoming higher as {A} approaches {B}, however until the point that {A} = {B} is reached there is still a possibility that positive evidence exists within {B}, and the relative improbability is inconsequential if the truth is that positive evidence does lie in area {B} ≠ {A} no matter how large {A} is, ...
... as probability calculations, like opinions, are strangely incapable of controlling reality, they are based on properly knowing reality to be accurate, and can be highly inaccurate when reality is not known.


It is only when you have established that {A} == {B}, and the absence of evidence becomes an observed mundane tautological fact , that this can be used as {negative evidence of absence. This has been said before. This is the problem with proving a negative. This should also be evident from my previous post.

and again Peanut Gallery Message 1000

quote:
Modulous writes:

Properly speaking, the absence of evidence is not by itself (negative) evidence (of absence), rather it is evidence of the absence of (positive) evidence - in the areas where evidence has been sought, and with the methodology\technology used to look for (positive) evidence.

If you only look in area {A} and do not find positive evidence, that means that positive evidence is currently not available within area {A}

And we're talking about area {A} only. When we look there are two hypothesis

1. The pen is on the desk (evidence: I can see a pen)
2. The pen is not on the desk (evidence: I can not seen a pen on the desk, and I have reason to suppose it is likely that if a pen was present I'd see it).

The absence of the evidence for 1 just happens to be the evidence for 2.

It's really basic logic.

In other words: ... the absence of evidence is not by itself (negative) evidence (of absence), rather it is evidence of the absence of (positive) evidence - in the areas where evidence has been sought, and with the methodology\technology used to look for (positive) evidence" -- curiously, it really is basic logic.


Here we see that {A} = {B} by the definition of {B} as being =={A}, and the absence of evidence then becomes a mundane tautological fact ... within the area defined as the limits of the search. Of course if you only consider the places where you have found an absence of evidence, then you will reach a (false) conclusion that it is evidence of absence. Even then you have only shown that the evidence applies to the times when the search was made and to the technology with which the search was made.

I see absolutely no reason to make the assumption that all areas are searched in every case, or even in a high proportion of cases, and in those cases where this assumption is not, or cannot be, made, then the absence of (positive) evidence is not (negative) evidence (of absence), rather it is evidence of the absence of (positive) evidence - only in those areas where evidence has been sought, and only with the methodology\technology used to look for (positive) evidence.

Rahvin Peanut Gallery Message 1002:All of the components are important. But it's very clear that the adage "an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is not a universal, general rule.

This is what I've said in every instance where I used the example of a pen on a desk, RAZD. Are you now, finally, saying that you agree?

Yes, conditionally: when you absolutely limit the question to where {A} == {B}, and set observation time to only include those times an actual search was made, and where the object of the search is defined to be something that can be observed with current technology (ie the pen is not microscopic) as you have done with "All of the components" (or Modulus does by only considering {A}), then you have an observation of fact, not a probability, but a mundane truth that only applies when {A} = {B}. To apply this to any other cases you need to show that these qualifications apply.

Amusingly, as soon as you move away from those few instances where you can observe fact, then the logic (and any attempt to calculate probability) fails to provide you with answers that are necessarily true or even likely to be true. As I said about the Coelacanths

quote:
One thinks of the Coelacanth in the days before the modern species were found: the evidence only existed in the fossil record of shallow sea beds until ~60 million years ago. The evidence from trawling the seas of the world, and taking oceanographic samples with the then latest technology, did not show any positive evidence of extant Coelacanths, although there was evidence of other aquatic life from pre-60 million years ago (sharks etc). The actual probability of finding the modern Coelacanth was very small - using crashfrogs outcome space and probability calculations - the area currently occupied by the current species is a very small fraction of a percentage of the available space in the oceans of the world ... and yet the truth was that Coelacanths did exist === the absence of (positive) evidence was not (negative) evidence (of absence). There are many cases where this is found to be the case.

This, of course, is much more representative of the real world than artificial straw man hypothetical examples where you eliminate all other possibilities a priori, which then becomes meaningless jabberwocky.

Of course, one positive result is all that is necessary for the (negative) assumption (of absence) to be totally and irrevocably falsified, so any calculations (however made) of high probability odds against it provide a false impression of security in the calculations. This is like the difference in a lottery between a specific ticket winning and the lottery being won by at least one ticket: it takes incredible luck or prescience to pick a single winning ticket, and yet time and again the lottery is won. Mathematical calculations, like opinions, are strangely incapable of altering reality in any way, and they only reflect truth/s to the degree that they are based on truth/s.

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) • • •

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by AdminModulous, posted 02-10-2011 9:47 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 7 of 42 (604401)
02-10-2011 9:56 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by AdminModulous
02-10-2011 9:47 PM


just more definition of the basic argument.
Hi AdminModulous,

Is there some good reason to be here? This PNT doesn't appear to be going to be promoted since it was for a GD where the other person declined.

The GD was turned down by Coyote, that doesn't mean that someone else will not take it up. Of course they would need to ask.

It doesn't seem to be related to the OP.

Message 1:

quote:
Nor am I aware of any subjective evidence that can show anything more than the possibility that god/s do not exist.

This would include the absence of objective empirical evidence that god/s do exist

So Message 5 is some additional information on that issue.

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 6 by AdminModulous, posted 02-10-2011 9:47 PM AdminModulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by AdminModulous, posted 02-10-2011 11:27 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 12 of 42 (604645)
02-13-2011 7:30 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by subbie
02-11-2011 6:54 PM


Re: Definitions
subbie and RAZD only

Hi subbie, I thought you would take this up.

I can't guarantee rapid response as (a) I am busy with personal matters now, more than ever, due to some changes (non-health related), and (b) I am now involved in (3) great debates.

Evidence: what does it mean for something to be evidence for or against a particular proposition?

In previous discussions on similar topics I have listed what I call RAZD's Concept Scale

Now I have been thinking of revising II and making it four levels with III above becoming IV:

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 invalid
    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, that has not (yet) provided any new predicted evidence or information, or that is still in development
    2. Conclusions regarding possible reality can be made tentatively, methods to test and falsify such concepts can be developed to better 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.

You will note that this scale relies on the scientific method to reach levels III and IV and both of those require objective empirical evidence. In addition, each level leads to the next higher level as more evidence and information becomes available and stricter standards of testing are applied (ie, are falsifiable).

Levels III and IV start with objective evidence of specific instances where the concept/s are known to be valid (positive test), where IV has been tested and validated. These compare with scientific hypothesis and scientific theory.

In this regard evidence for something needs to be objective empirical evidence that positively supports a scientific hypothesis, and evidence against a particular proposition would be evidence that invalidates it.

Feel free to discuss and suggest modifications and clarifications.

God: what do you mean when you talk about god?

Generally speaking I don't talk about god/s per se, except in general terms that are commonly used. I have several reasons for this, one being that I think it is inconceivable that god/s could be adequately conceived by the human mind - it would logically take a mind equal (or nearly equal) to god/s, capable of understanding how god/s function - so all we could possibly have from any religious experiences would be little snippets of poorly understood information, likely to be contradictory due to misunderstanding, and incomplete due to sampling of different aspects: the blind people feeling an elephant metaphor.

In addition, my personal beliefs tend to be more in the Buddhist tradition/s - no central god/s but a "being that is not being" ... and a focus on personal enlightenment:

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm

quote:
  • Who Was the Buddha?

    Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism — called the Dhamma, or Truth — until his death at the age of 80.

  • Was the Buddha a God?

    He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.

  • Do Buddhists Worship Idols?

    Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favours. A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching.


In this regard I think of a spiritual (5th) dimension to the universe and of personal enlightenment as finding mental access to that dimension. I believe anyone can become enlightened, but that this does not mean they become gods, just spiritual beings. I also realize that this is essentially an unfalsifiable concept, and I note that this is my personal opinion\belief, and that I don't ask anyone else to accept it in any way: everyone needs to find their own path.

We won't get anywhere productive without agreeing when something is or is not evidence of a particular fact, nor will we unless we agree about what we are talking about when we talk about god.

Sorry if I haven't given you much to work with here,

Enjoy.

subbie and RAZD only

Edited by RAZD, : frmt

Edited by RAZD, : color blocks added

Edited by RAZD, : simplified

Edited by RAZD, : honed level III


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 11 by subbie, posted 02-11-2011 6:54 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by subbie, posted 02-13-2011 9:27 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 14 of 42 (605218)
02-17-2011 6:15 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by subbie
02-13-2011 9:27 PM


Definitions and Ground Rules
subbie and RAZD only

Hi subbie,

... because I'm lazy and want to mull these things over, and probably take them up in a piecemeal fashion.

Works for me.

Well, I agree as far as that goes. But what does it mean to say that something is evidence supporting or invalidating a hypothesis? Perhaps this seems self-evident, something not in need of definition. But I think it's crucial for us to agree on what this word means.

Evolution is the change in frequency of hereditary traits in breeding populations from generation to generation in response to ecological opportunities.

The theory of evolution is that this process can explain the diversity of life as we know it from the world around us, from history, from pre-history, from archeology, paleontology and geology, from the fossil record, and from the genetic record.

When we see documentation that this process happens and that it in fact results in greater diversity -- as when speciation occurs -- then we can say that this supports the theory of evolution.

If we saw evidence of diversity occurring without evolution (ie sudden creation) then this would invalidate the theory.

For example, the genetic similarity between humans and chimps is evidence in support of the ToE, but does not by itself make one conclude that the ToE is valid.

The genetic evidence is also objective empirical evidence that supports the theory. If the genetics were entirely different then this would invalidate common ancestry, which is a prediction of the ToE.

As I imagine you are aware, I'm an attorney. 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.

One thing we need to be agreed on, is that the evidence requirements are the same, pro and con.

For instance, bluegenes, in the  Great Debate  the bluegenes Challenge  , argues that he can make up evidence for his hypothesis, or that he can interpret hearsay circumstantial evidence so that it supports his assertions, but that it can only be falsified by objective empirical evidence of the actual existence of an actual supernatural being.

I point out that the same hearsay circumstantial evidence can also be interpreted so that it supports the existence of god/s, and he ignores that, dismisses it without addressing the issue (the issue being that because the conclusion depends on the interpretation, not on the evidence, that it does not support nor invalidate his position, but renders it inadequate for the formation of a logical conclusion).

I point out that there is substantial hearsay and circumstantial evidence that god/s exist, in the religious documents and in the reports of religious experiences. These documents are objective empirical evidence of people that believe god/s exist. These documents do not need interpretation to see that many people believe they have sufficient evidence to believe that god/s exist.

When I point this out to bluegenes and say that he needs to be able to invalidate these as evidence of god/s and communications with god/s in order to claim a sole source explanation, he ignores it because it is not scientifically validated.

This is a double standard.

As yet, I do not have sufficient debate with petrophysics1 in the Evidence (RAZD and Petrophysics only) thread to see where he is going with his claim to have evidence for the existence of god/s sufficient to support a [1] position on the belief scale (given in Who needs to supply evidence, when, and why. (Message 1)).

In any event, my position (as a [3] on the scale) is that there is insufficient evidence pro or con to substantiate a [1], [2], [6] or [7] position, and will be acting in these debates -- as I have on the bluegenes debate -- as a devil's advocate.

This means that I do not need to offer any evidence to support my position, other than to show that the logic in Who needs to supply evidence, when, and why. (Message 1) means that objective empirical evidence needs to be provided to substantiate any position other than [3], [4] and [5]. I can provide you with the logical evaluation that results in these groupings, if you so desire.

As devil's advocate, then, I can provide alternative/s to your argument based on what other people are known to believe - properly documented of course - without doing anything more than say that these are alternative explanations that are just as valid as yours. It is up to you to show that your position is better substantiated.

As I imagine you are aware, I'm an attorney. Let me begin with the definition of evidence that the law uses and see where that gets us.

And that different levels of evidence are used depending on how much doubt is allowed in the decisions, and what is resting on the conclusion (is it the ownership of a car or life and death?).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_%28law%29

quote:
Hearsay

Hearsay is one of the largest and most complex areas of the law of evidence in common-law jurisdictions. The default rule is that hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A party is offering a statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted if the party is trying to prove that the assertion made by the declarant (the maker of the pretrial statement) is true. For example, prior to trial Bob says, "Jane went to the store." If the party offering this statement as evidence at trial is trying to prove that Jane actually went to the store, the statement is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, at both common law and under evidence codifications such as the Federal Rules of Evidence, there are dozens of exemptions from and exceptions to the hearsay rule.

Circumstantial evidence

Evidence of an indirect nature which implies the existence of the main fact in question but does not in itself prove it. That is, the existence of the main fact is deduced from the indirect or circumstantial evidence by a process of probable reasoning. The introduction of a defendant's fingerprints or DNA sample are examples of circumstantial evidence. The fact that a defendant had a motive to commit a crime is circumstantial evidence. However, in an important sense all evidence is merely circumstantial because on no evidence can prove a fact in the absence of one or more inference.


I would point out that if you want to admit this kind of evidence, then the overwhelming evidence of a majority of people in the world that believe in god/s is evidence that god/s exist and that it is supported by religious documents and reports of religious experiences used by people in substantiating their beliefs. I'm sure you're aware of such people here in this forum, for example.

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.

This is where bluegenes is, currently (even though he has claimed to be an "agnostic [6]" ).

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.

I expect that a dedicated Peanut Gallery thread for this debate, similar to the one for the Peanut Gallery for the "Evidence" Great Debate thread thread will be created, or that it will be expanded to include this debate (as both are about evidence, one for and one against, the existence of god/s).

Edited by RAZD, : added banner, end note

Edited by RAZD, : format issues


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 13 by subbie, posted 02-13-2011 9:27 PM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by subbie, posted 02-19-2011 11:43 PM RAZD has responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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

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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
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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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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

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Edited by RAZD, : added fact X quote for clarity


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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: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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 Úrauta consists of many deities. Gods are called devas (or devatâs) 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

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Edited by RAZD, : banner

Edited by RAZD, : ..


we are limited in our ability to understand
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Rebel American Zen Deist
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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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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

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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
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Rebel American Zen Deist
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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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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
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Rebel American Zen Deist
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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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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.


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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: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


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

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20650
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 32 of 42 (607657)
03-05-2011 6:01 PM
Reply to: Message 31 by subbie
03-04-2011 12:44 AM


Another alternative course of discussion - why make a decision?
Hi subbie,

Amusingly, it turns out that you aren't actually making any claim at all about gods, ...

I thought that was relatively obvious in the original post: Who needs to supply evidence, when, and why. (Message 1):

quote:
Is there any evidence for the supernatural?

Curiously, I have not made any claims that supernatural entities do exist, so why you keep asking me this is rather amusing.

However, I personally am not aware of an objective empirical valid evidence that would be likely sufficient to show that supernatural entities exist.

In addition I personally am not aware of an objective empirical valid evidence that would be likely sufficient to show that supernatural entities do not exist.


Rather that what I would argue for is:

quote:
Being open-minded, I consider both existence and non-existence positions possibilities.

Being skeptical, I see no reason to accept that either position is sufficiently demonstrated, however I do consider the possible non-existing position to be weaker than the possible existing position.

The proper logical conclusion based on evidence and the "rules" of logic is agnostic. I have discussed this previously on several threads, including

(scale of belief from (1) absolute theist to (7) absolute atheist)

(4) is the position that logic supports: the default position when there is a lack of validated evidence is that no conclusion can be reached -- we don't know, can't know, which is true.

(3) is the position of someone that recognizes that (4) is the logical position, but is of the opinion that god/s may exist.

(5) is the position of someone that recognizes that (4) is the logical position, but is of the opinion that god/s may NOT exist.

(2) & (6) are people that think their position is based on something more than their opinion, and they need to provide evidence to substantiate that claim.

(1) & (7) are people that think their position is fact, not opinion, and they need to provide evidence to substantiate that claim.

I am a (3) - weak theist, or agnostic theist.


Your position seems to me to be more ignostic (a term that Onifre introduced me to) than atheist, due to your asking for a definition first before proceeding:

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

quote:
Ignosticism, or igtheism, is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts. The word "ignosticism" was coined by Sherwin Wine, a rabbi and a founding figure in Humanistic Judaism.

It can be defined as encompassing two related views about the existence of God:

  1. The view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of god can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless.
  2. The second view is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by 'God'?" before proclaiming the original question "Does God exist?" as meaningless.

Some philosophers have seen ignosticism as a variation of agnosticism or atheism,[1] while others have considered it to be distinct. An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether he/she is a theist or an atheist until a sufficient definition of theism is put forth.

Ignosticism and theological noncognitivism(*) are generally synonymous,[2] but the relationship of ignosticism to other nontheistic views is less clear. While Paul Kurtz finds the view to be compatible with both weak atheism and agnosticism,[3] other philosophers consider ignosticism to be distinct.


... and thus an ignostic would be a (4) or (5) on the previous belief scale, and - according to the logical analysis I have provided in Closing (Message 28) - does not need to provide objective evidence to justify that position.

This would also fit my definition of "Open-minded Skepticism" (which I personally prefer to "agnostic") and my feeling that god/s cannot really be defined, so I may be a "theistic ignostic" instead. ... I may need to change that chart ... again ... :D

...

It occurs to me that, rather than discussing the need for evidence to support a position that gods do not exist, where the terms "supernatural" and "god/s" cannot be defined, it might be of better value to discuss the decision making process in general terms first, and why some people seem to make a decision without the definitions or sufficient evidence: would you agree that it is silly to claim that {X} does not exist without either a definition of what {X} is or any evidence that it does not exist (as how could that ever be determined except by assumption of the conclusion)?

This would modify the graphic in Message 30 to:


question:
Does {X} exist?
|
is {X} defined? ----------> no
| |
yes <-------- can you define it?
| |
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)

Would you agree that without a definition of {X} and without evidence pro or con for the existence of {X}, that (C) is the logical position? that (D) is irrational?

Enjoy.


(*) -- Where the link to "theological noncognitivism" in the wiki article goes to:

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

quote:
Theological noncognitivism is the argument that religious language, and specifically words like "god", are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered to be synonymous with Ignosticism.

Theological noncognitivism can be argued in different ways, depending on one's theory of meaning. Michael Martin, writing from a verificationist perspective, concludes that religious language is meaningless because it is not verifiable.[1][2]

George H. Smith uses an attribute-based approach in an attempt to prove that there is no concept for the term "God": he argues that there are no meaningful attributes, only negatively defined or relational attributes, making the term meaningless.

Another way of expressing theological noncognitivism is, for any sentence S, S is cognitively meaningless if and only if S expresses an unthinkable proposition or S does not express a proposition.[original research?] The sentence X is a four-sided triangle that exists outside of space and time, cannot be seen or measured and it actively hates blue spheres is an example of an unthinkable proposition.


Note, this would mean that the proverbial Immaterial Pink Unicorn (IPU) so loved by some atheists is really a meaningless term, and therefor it does not justify any further thought on the matter.

This is not really an argument that god/s etc do not exist, per se, but that they cannot be understood in any meaningful way that can be discussed, pro or con.


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 31 by subbie, posted 03-04-2011 12:44 AM subbie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by subbie, posted 03-05-2011 7:26 PM RAZD has responded

  
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