Friday, August 28, 2009

Episode 50 God, Gays and Gunmen

For their 50th episode the doubtcasters barely take a breath. What arguments against the existence of God do you find the most persuasive? Is there anything that could change your mind? Join us for a candid (if sometimes rambling) discussion about theism, atheism and the nature of evidence. Also in this episode: the motivation behind Blackwater founder Eric Prince’s bloody religious crusade is revealed and the American Psychological Association comes out against "therapies” that purport to turn gays straight.

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great show fellas...And congrats on the wedding!

LOL. Not in a church was it? Is it really a wedding then? or just a civil union? I like the term civil union better (romantically).

Hey I think I have you stumpt with my god view....I mean, I can solve all the problems you propose, and can describe my reasons, and object to your proposal that the burden of proof is with the believer...would you like me to come on the show? We can try a recording session anyway, see how it goes. No strings attached.

nice and civil.

peace!

radicalcleric

(not a fundamentalist Muslim) just a philosopher...lol

Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...

radicalcleric: The burden of proof is ALWAYS with the proponent of a given proposition. ALWAYS!

snafu said...

Dear Mr Radicalcleric
It's funny you should raise this thing about burden of proof. You see, my dog emailed me last night saying that fairies really do exist. Now that's cool. If you don't believe me about the email, well, sorry, you have to prove that it didn't happen, otherwise my claim stands (by your logic), and the fairy thing, yes, you must prove that wrong too. Have fun assuming someone else's burden of proof. :)

Dear RD,
How about a forum function?

Anonymous said...

well I'd hoped to do this on the show...but I'll explain my position here for you guys......

My point about the burden of proof is quite simple.

The question proposes itself!

You see, I'm not talking about a Christian God or anything like that...the question that we ALL face, that we all can (but may or may not choose to try and answer) is:

WTF? Where are we? Why are we? How are we? That is why the burden is on BOTH the athiests and the believers. Until you can explain the "why" of it, it remains unanswered.

To but it another way, this question is not asked by the believer alone...so theists and skeptics alike are actually both asking the question to each other, and to ourselves.

radical

What's a forum function? I'm down!

As for your claims of fairies, you're right, it's subjective, so I have to "believe you".

It all comes down to what you think the word "god" means.

Scott and Wendi said...

Radicalcleric:
the problem with your position is that asking the questions "where are we? why are we? how are we?" are not all necessarily valid questions.

"where are we?" is easy enough to answer and "how are we?" is on its way to being answered (yes, i am admitting that we don't have all the answers, but we are on the way to finding out through scientific inquiry).

but "why are we?" commits the logical fallacy of begging the question. it presupposes that we are here for some purpose and purpose presupposes and intentional being that put us here. asking "why are we?" negates the possibility that there is no reason for our being here. thus it is an invalid question. it is quite possible that there is no good reason we are here. we simply are.

for some, this is a difficult concept to internalize, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Matt said...

Hi RadicalCleric,

I think you're missing the point.

Yes, there are unanswered "why" questions that may be posed by both atheists and believers, but merely asserting the existence of a God (however you choose to define it) does not answer those questions.

Such an assertion is merely a statement of your own personal subjective belief in a deity.

I agree that in a generalised sense both atheists and believers need to support their positions, but once you get into any specifics about the nature of your God (and that includes His existence) then the burden of proof is all on you.

Anonymous said...

true, I am assuming there is a "why"...my point is atheists can't disprove god, theists can't prove it, so we are all agnostic by default, until we have FAITH there IS or IS NOT a god. Yes being an atheist is making a leap of faith, because you cannot prove your stance either. "I'm right I I don't have to prove it" doesn't cut it with me.

I stand by my statement that the question proposes itself. That is just where we find ourselves in this life. Here, but not knowing how. Science and religion both try to answer that BIG question.

Lets restart by figuring out exactly what that big question is.

RADICAL

Strider said...

Personally, I think the "Why?" question is meaningless. WE make the "Why" ourselves as we journey through life, don't we? I don't need an imaginary being to bring meaning to my life, pal. Second, I don't know about you but I know exactly where I came from: my Mother and Father. THEY, and only they, deserve credit (or blame) for my existence. Third, there is no need for a god or gods to explain ANYTHING, not that it or they ever could, and so the very concept needs to be shitcanned.

Nicholas B. said...

No, atheists can't disprove god. I also can't disprove there aren't tiny magical stealth-midgets who steal my socks from the dryer, either. But there is no sensible reason to think so, based on my experiences in the real world as an adult with a functioning brain. I don't have to prove god doesn't exist the same way I don't have to prove the ninja-midgets don't exist. It's an abuse of the process of logical thinking to say otherwise. If you want to believe in a god or tiny magic midgets, as has been stated ad nauseum, the burden of proof will always and forever be on your shoulders, not mine.

Mr Rad, you say you're not talking about the Christian god or anything like that, but...you go on talking about it anyway. "Scott and Wendi" already did a fab job deflating your "where/why/how" argument, so I won't rehash that. But there was one line I wanted to take up with you:

"atheists are making a leap of faith"

No, no, and no. Sorry. Atheism is a rejection of presupposed superstitions that have no basis in observation or reality. Believing in something that there is no objective evidence for (not a shred) is making that leap.

Anonymous said...

Funny how some atheists get so upset when you challenge them. It's like some deep seeded belief is being thrown out the window....I understand. I was one too most of my life....

But you CANNOT compare the god concept to little fairies, pasta monsters, or magic midgets, because none of those things are god-like. That is to say we mean something else when we say "god". We imply that God has the power to create everything. I know that's a copout, but my argument goes full circle. I'm not going to type that entire theory here, so you'll have to wait for my book or a podcast.

The reason we use the word god is to explain everything. It's just the word that we use. Those other things are not suspected of being able to create a universe, so sorry, but you do have to prove god doesn't exist if you claim to me, an agnostic, that god doesn't exist.

Even Dawkins says there might be some sort of god. The great one Carl Sagan too....he's smart enough to know he doesn't actually know.

Don't be so afraid to think about it. You're acting like theists!

no harm intended.

RAD.

Chris said...

I'll add my own perspective regarding the "atheism vs. agnosticism" definitional problem that I seem to stumble onto repeatedly in discussions such as this one. I realize in common usage there are numerous understandings employed, but to me it isn't an "either/or" between the two, as they address different aspects of the problem.

Agnosticism addresses "knowledge", i.e., what we can or do know or not know. The position may vary in strength (cannot know vs. simply do not at the moment know). The big problem with agnosticism as a single descriptor, IMO, is that one may say "I'm agnostic" but that doesn't at all explain whether we believe or not. As I've met several agnostic Christians or other agnostic theists in my life (who proclaim not knowing whether there's a god but having believed it anyway), saying "I'm agnostic" and nothing further will only leave me wondering, "yes, but do you BELIEVE or not?"

That's where theism vs. atheism comes in. That's a statement of belief or lack of belief. Of course, again this comes in differing strengths -- from positively believing no gods do exist or can possibly exist, vs. simply lacking belief.

Here's where radicalcleric has confused himself with respect to the definitions: atheism, at least negative or weak atheism, is simply a statement that I lack belief (do not believe) in deities for one reason or another, generally that I have not been persuaded to believe in them, but that weaker / negative variation does NOT imply that I positively believe deities NOT to exist. I just don't believe at the moment that they do, pending evidence to the affirmative that isn't currently in my possession. That isn't an affirmative statement, hence I have no "faith" assertion to defend, and burden of proof does not fall on me but rather on the one who says "I believe" and accordingly is making a proposition to the affirmative.

I carry both labels -- agnostic and atheist (the weak/negative variety). I don't know whether any gods exist, and having not been persuaded that any do exist, I do not believe. That lack of belief is always provisional, as strong evidence in favor will persuade me to change my position. I'm following evidence, not faith, so may I respectfully redirect the burden of proof to the one harboring a belief, even if he has admitted agnosticism with respect to what he can know on the question. That he has taken up a position of belief even not knowing leaves him in a position that needs to be defended, because to me that's a questionable epistemology that I think would be interesting to discuss.

Radicalcleric interestingly is yet another of the handful of self-proclaimed agnostic theists I've met, and I continue to be perplexed by the epistemology that leads one to that particular position.

With respect to the "why are we here" question, I concur with the others who suggest that this is a fallacious begging of the question, because if the every real possibility exists that there IS no "why", that we simply ARE, then there is no point in the question. It seems to me that we can't even go about discussing that until we've all agreed on the existence of a purposeful intelligent creator, and talking about the "why" when we don't even agree on that creator question is a gigantic waste of time. We're not even in the same metaphysical universe if we undertake this question prematurely.

Regards,
Chris
Atlanta, GA

Chris said...

radicalcleric,

Regarding your most recent post, I'm baffled by your interpretation of any of the above posts as expressing any "upset". I've picked up a few instances of passion, maybe a bit of mild dismissal, but no one has seemed particularly upset to me. I've seen anger and upset in these kinds of discussions before, and neither appear to have arisen here. Disagreement can seem that way, but there is a difference between passionate, civil disagreement and "upset".

You are correct in that Dawkins and Sagan, and for that matter many other nonbelieving scientists (including Asimov) have acknowledged the possibility that some sort of god COULD exist. So do I, and so do many other atheists who aren't necessarily in the "strong/positive" category. I won't rehash what I've written above, but I will add that while we (and those guys) always leave open the possibility, the utter lack of unambiguous evidence in favor of the proposition is why we maintain our current "don't believe it" position. Why should we believe it, really?

As Dawkins points out, it is entirely possible that some sort of god has deliberately created a universe that appears to have arisen and developed in precisely the same way as a universe that managed to do so by purely natural means, and there is no way we could dismiss that possibility. Lack of evidence that this has happened, though, leaves us rather well justified in not believing this has happened.

Between a universe that appears to have evolved by natural means, and one that appears to have evolved by natural means but has a god of some sort behind the scenes leaving that very appearance in place, I don't think it makes sense to add that god to the picture without a very good reason to do so.

Regards,
Chris

Chris said...

radicalcleric

Now at risk of overstaying my welcome and flooding the forum now with my 3rd post, I regret that I can't just edit this question into one of my two previous posts.

I had taken the liberty earlier of defining you as an "agnostic theist" as you have undertaken the interesting task of defending "purpose" in existence (which seems to need a god to even have that position), but reading through once more I question whether you're actually defining yourself as an agnostic theist or whether you're an agnostic who-knows-what (see my definitions above) who is merely playing devil's advocate and raising these questions for discussion's sake. Would you care to define your position a bit more clearly? I'm confused. I guess your initial signature: "(not a fundamentalist Muslim) just a philosopher..." leaves me wondering, and later your self-ascription of "agnostic" without describing your positions with regard to belief. Was the "Muslim" part entirely in jest or were you differentiating perhaps a non-fundamentalist philosophical Islam (maybe one of the mystical sects, such as Sufi) which you might hold from the more familiar fundamentalist varieties? Just looking to understand the other side of the discussion to avoid needless and probably inaccurate ASS-umptions.

Thanks,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks for your time and ASS-uptions.

You are exactly right, I'm stating that I don't know, but that as a philosopher I have reasoned-through tough logic-that it is more likely that some sort of creator existed than not-because of my life and all I have learned, just like many great philosophers before me.

I would LOVE to talk that out with you. Your last show inspired this because you're getting really really close to my thesis. ie: Quoting Dawkins: "If God did create this universe it went out of it's way to hide that fact from us." This is what I have an answer for.

I use the handle "radical cleric" but not as it's traditionally used. It's like a graffitti name...just was clarifying that.

I will admit it does come down to how you define theist, atheist, and agnostic.

I tend to divide them into 3 distinct modes of thought, and then use them as a stepping stone for DOING philosophy.

I did sense some upset atheists, but I could be wrong. I don't want to upset anyone, because I really appreciate this podcasts and the free thinkers of the world.

I do however stand by my statement that the problem of creation proposes itself, and then we all "choose" to believe, not to believe, or to not think about it anymore. It just happens, almost as a by product of consciousness itself? Very interesting!

RADass

Brad said...

Yes, I feel the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. I have a co-worker that, when shown proof of Christian fallicy, immeadiately ends the conversation, and states such arguements are beneath her. Such closemindedness is one of the arguments that leads me away from religion. I state that there are things I can't explain, but don't automatically jump to the extreme that there is a supernatural force at work. She claims that it must be god because any other explaniation isn't satisfactory. It just frustrates me to no end that people are not only seeking easy answers to questions, but are not even willing to hear counter-discussion.

"Through fear, you're sold into the fraud. Revelation revolution, I see through your christ illusion." - Kerry King

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

Have any of you heard "the question proposes itself (a by product of consciousness itself)" arguement or did we make a philosophical breakthrough here on the forums?

that would be cool.

RAD

snafu said...

To quote from Atheism:The Case Against God, George H Smith

"The agnostic theist believes in the existence of God, but maintains that the nature of God is unknowable.

The agnostic atheist maintains that any supernatural realm is inherently unknowable by the human mind, but this agnostic suspends his judgement one step further back. For the agnostic atheist, not only is the nature of any supernatural being unknowable, but the existence of any supernatural being is unknowable as well. We cannot have knowledge of the unknowable; therefore we cannot have knowledge of god's existence. Because this variety of agnostic does not subscribe to theistic belief, he qualifies as a kind of atheist.
p 10"

I have found this book fantastic in sorting out these definitions, and providing a careful and intellectually sincere examination of the issue. Yes, this is a shameless plug to read the book if you have not. To the RD guys, thanks for pointing out the book in your shows.

I did not sense any upset people in the previous posts either, and speaking for myself, I wasn't.

I am prone to a bit of sarcasm though. Perhaps that can look like being upset.

A man stopped me in the street the other day, and said whether I wanted to know something about something that can't be known. He also wanted to sing me a song that can't be sung. And he wanted to drive a car that can't be driven. And he wanted to tell me all about God which he freely said can't be known. Does anything smell fishy here? Yes I am writing in jest, but the point is valid. If god can't be known, how can we ascribe qualities to him? or say anything about him?

Thanks all for the thoughtful discussions.


snafu

Strider said...

I wasn't upset by your "challenge" at all because it's not a challenge. It's easily batted away because religion has NO explanatory power for ANYTHING, does it? Thus, it's indistinguishable from nothing and so should be treated as such. With respect to your comment that atheist make a leap of faith, as Jeff Schweitzer said, "The absence of Dogma is not Dogma". As for the question that "poses itself", what that question is is not made clear at all in your posts, but if it can be answered then SCIENCE, not religion, will answer it because religion has NO answers.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the quick replies my friends, great responses all. That book sounds awesome.

I was being over sensitive, sorry about that. I'm not used to people being able to talk about god. lol.

The challenge still stands: If you claim to know god isn't so, prove it.

It's not "proving a negative" it's solving a paradox.

Trust me I have doubted myself with loving care searching for the truth, and would not have bothered to request a chat otherwise...

It's true, I have "convinced" myself, but not conned myself. There is a big difference. I feel I have good theory here..it's not all new stuff, but I have a few high points.

I bet if you hear my theories and philosophical keypoints you might have a new realization.

Sounds crazy I know. That's why I'm talking to you guys. I like doing philosophy...I should just write a book...talking stuff out is just fun for me. RAD

Anonymous said...

Found this kids chart, good for the self taught fools like me out there...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l7pRVBaQAU&feature=related

I'm a Gnostic according to this chart. RADICAL

Anonymous said...

I've been reading through these comments, and it basically appears to me as a game of definitions. I'm sure the Linguistic Turn of the 20th century for those who are familiar have probably addressed much of the back-and-forth that you guys have been haggling on about.

But just to point one thing out, as Radical Cleric points out, it seems that the conception of "god" is what you would term the (process? initiator of such processes?). However, this may very well not be a thing, but rather a human construct. It's like IQ: just because we have something to measure doesn't mean that IQ is a real 'thing.' It's a human constructed number, a label per say, of some other process. Which begs then why call whatever you conceive as God, God? Why not go by some other name that does not confuse most people with the traditional image(s) of what God(s) look like?

snafu said...

Radical,

Have you heard of Richard Dawkin's teapot analogy?

It goes like this. Someone comes up to you and says there is a tiny teapot circling neptune. He believes it vehemently, and says he is a teapotist.
You are not convinced, and say it is horribly unlikely there is a teapot circling neptune.
Your companion objects, and labels you an a-teapotist. And then he lays down a challenge like yours "if you claim the teapot doesn't exist, prove it."

Your challenge, and the teapot challenge are the same. I am tempted to write teapot on the screen next to your challenge, like Dawkins says he does in books, but that would wreck my screen. :)

You are asking someone to prove a negative. It doesn't work that way. You must prove your positive claim.


If you believe fairies don't exist. Prove it. Same argument.

In this case, it would be my job to prove fairies do exist. Or UFO's for that matter. Are you an ufo-ist? I'm an a-ufo-ist.

best regards
snafu

cleanwillie said...

Just to nitpick a little, the celestial teapot analogy is actually by Bertrand Russell, not Dawkins. That is all. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Great points. I have heard of the Tea pot in space, but that's just like the afore mentioned fairies and magic midgets...there is no reason to assume or postulate that they exist, yet there is reason for us to wonder about god because when we use the word god we are implying that god has the power to create universes and we seem to be in one. It's apples and oranges.

And yes again it does come down to definitions, and to wither or not we are assuming that there was some design to the universe...thus a designer...As Kant said: "the best arguement for the existence of god is the fact that the universe looks as though is was designed."

Christians have hijacked a very sound philosophical arguement and given it a bad name...but i take ID a few steps further.

All I'm actually hoping for is very strict god talk. Logical philosophical debate. I don't believe in the christian god, or the muslim god, or most organized religions, but I do think there are valid arguements to be made for the existence of god, cuz I've argued them out with myself.

Also, in my god concept, god changes itself over time. Because of this it's hard to label myself "gnostic" entirely.

I'm enjoying this too much thank you for commenting.

I listened to the show again and I was saddened that we're here talking about the least important of the 3 subjects covered...

RAD

Brad said...

My main objection about religion is its relatively unchallanged supernatural claims. Historically, was there a Moses and Jesus? Possibly, if not probably. I just think all the supernatural elements of their relative stories is nonsense. People have a tendency to try to explain events, and when rational thoughts come up short, irrational ones fill the void. I am perfectly comfortable knowing that mankind can't explain and/or had yet to fully comprehend things about the world. The challange is to keep exploring the very small to the very large. Religion just says, "god did it all. he's the reason everything's as it is. the end." Life would be all too boring if that was the case.

Anonymous said...

I take the stance they were created by con artists to control the masses...happens all the time as I'm sure you all know.

That's another reason I care about these distinctions so much, rather than trying to convert theists to atheists, why not meet halfway? This "you can't prove a negative" is counter productive and a false equation.

The equation is not that simple. We are in the middle of a problem, not creating one. Atheists that say "I'm right and I know it and I don't have to prove it you have to disprove me" are just dodging debate, philosophy, perhaps even logic itself!

God dammit that's Blasphemy!

I just listened to show rd40, some many great points there...but most of the counter arguements for +G (positive god) are based on false assumptions, like that we can't know god or that we can't imagine god, or what it would be like to be god, or that an omnipotent god can't die or is "good" or "perfect" etc...

I really loved the level detail you guys used on that show. Wittgenstein would be proud.

RADman

cleanwillie said...

Radical cleric, you claim there is an important difference between assuming there is a god and assuming there are fairies or magic midgets etc., because god supposedly can create universes and we happen to be in one. I think this is essentially a god of the gaps type of argument and therefore pretty weak. What you are saying is that since we don't yet know exactly how the universe got started, a creator god must be a default assumption, which has to be proven wrong. How is this different from saying that if we didn't know exactly where morning dew came from, we would have to assume that it is sprinkled on the grass by fairies at dawn? If I understood correctly, you base your god concept partly on the idea that the universe looks like it was designed. Does it really? I think the only reason we might perceive the universe as being designed is the fact that we humans have a tendency to look for design because it is something we are used to seeing in our daily lives. Also we humans have a habit of anthropomorphizing the universe and everything in it. I think it was Hitchens who pointed out that the alleged design is actually quite a poor one when you think about it. We are stuck on a planet full of suffering that is eventually going to be destroyed anyway. Also this "design" doesn't seem to be heading anywhere specific. To me the "universe seems to be desiged" is merely an illusion.

Curt Cameron said...

radical wrote:
The challenge still stands: If you claim to know god isn't so, prove it.

That's not our claim. No atheist tries to claim that god isn't so. There are a few definitions of "god" that have logical internal contradictions (I include the Christian God among those), so we claim that these gods don't exist, but a general concept of a god, we have no claim.

Since there is zero evidence for this god's existence, I'm forced to provisionally accept the null hypothesis, that there is no god, unless/until such evidence is found.

That's what an atheist is.

Chris said...

radman,

Trying to get at the heart of the matter, I have a question/observation, but before that, a clarification.

Clarification: I don't believe you're likely to have much of a discussion in this forum on proof that a god doesn't exist because so far it appears that our population consists of weak/negative atheists who aren't actually saying that we somehow know a god doesn't exist. Rather, we're saying we really DON'T know either way but because we have no evidence in favor, we don't believe it. So I would point to this empty space where evidence should reside and leave it to you to fill that space with evidence... My position simply being that I lack belief in a god due to that empty space where the evidence should be doesn't leave me in a position to prove anything.

Now on to my question/observation. It would appear that you're considering the whole "god" question to be self-proposing because..... the universe appears to have been designed? Is that an accurate summary of your breakthrough? In the event your answer is "yes", would you care to give some examples of what aspects of the universe appear to you to be designed? Because to me, that isn't self-evident.

Regards,
Chris

Anonymous said...

hum...well I would hope that you don't speak for your entire flock, but I'm getting the hint...slowly, but I'm getting it. Again I'm not trying to argue, and I do have some key points in my favor here for professional reasons so I'm asking a lot of you to rehash old debates.. Thank you for that.

.Aaaa.... what was my breakthrough again? I'll have to go back and re-read it..

"Since there is zero evidence for this god's existence, I'm forced to provisionally accept the null hypothesis, that there is no god, unless/until such evidence is found."

this seems odd. why would you assume that "there is no god"...some could argue the evidence is everywhere...I think that's what grabs most people...almost naturally. Then some jerk comes around with a book and a name for it and the whole shbang goes up in flames!

Got an email back from the rd crew, sounds like no philosophy jam, and I totally understand...you can't just be giving your time and mic to any kook with a computer.

As I told JB I'm working on a book so rather than give away my biggest breakthroughs here to an uninterested bunch, I'll try to get it published and send the show a copy...once that's done I'd love some feedback.

And yea the universe looks designed to me. On many levels far beyond the just the physical. Imagine when the first ape became human, at that moment, perhaps it was thinking, for the first time ever thought in the universe...WTF? WHAT am I? Where am I? How am I? Those questions almost come out of the ground to a blank mind IMO.

I do accept evolution is a proven fact but in no way negates a designer. God stumps any answer it's true..Gnostics can always say "God did it"...but that doesn't mean it's NOT true...I'm getting the vibe you guys more often than not might be too skeptical, I mean, ever doubt your own doubt? Now that's real skeptisism.

Let me ask a few bangers here: See if you can "put up or shut up" as you said in show rd40:

1. Can something come from nothing?

2. Isn't life rad?

RADster

Anonymous said...

EDIT!!

Again I'm not trying to argue, and I do have some key points in my favor [that I'm leaving out] here for professional reasons so I'm asking a lot of you to rehash old debates.. Thank you for that.

RADoops

snafu said...

To look at the world and universe, and conclude it must be designed is quite tempting sometimes. But a quick examination of history concludes to me that this temptation isn't worth giving in to.

Supernatural explanations have always caved in to naturalistic ones over time as technology and scientific discovery progresses.

We get sick because we sin, gave way to germ theory of disease. Demon posession gave way to epilepsy. Dancing to the gods to make rain, gave way to meteorology. The day turning into night because of angry gods turned into solar eclipses. How tempting it would have been in those times to have believed the supernatural explanation. You can imagine someone on a forum back then, saying this isn't fairies I'm talking about, I'm talking about how the day turning into night guys, I'm talking about why our crops have failed for 3 years because we havn't danced enough.
Radical, your argument is the same as those back then, about "this isn't fairies, this is god. etc.."

We need to be careful here. History shows supernatural explanations fail over time. There is no reason to think that trend will not continue today. So we don't have a final explanation for why we are here. So what. I have faith that we will one day, even if it is after my lifetime.

Supernatural explanations, if they are believed, halt progress. Can you imagine where we would be if everyone listened to the supernatural explanations for things in times past. Well, we would not have medicine, would not know about the genetic basis for disease, etc... Thank goodness people ignored the supernatural explanations back then, and worked hard to discover the real explanation.

We need to do the same now, and ignore supernatural explanations so we can better humanity just like those of the past.

Leonard Susskind's "The Cosmic Landscape:String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design" is a good beginning into where some scientific thought is going on this topic. Very interesting is the multi-verse, and anthropic principle. We owe it to humanity to explore these explanations for truth, rather than just accept a most likely specious supernatural answer.

snafu
ps. bertrand russel for teapot. thankyou. read it in dawkins god delusion, and assumed it was his idea.

Curt Cameron said...

Rad wrote:
> why would you assume that "there is no god"...some could argue the evidence is everywhere...I think that's what grabs most people...almost naturally.

Uhh, where is this evidence again? I've heard people talk about the beauty of trees and mountains as their proof of God, but we know how all of those things came about quite naturally. Pretty much the only thing we don't know is the very first instants of the universe, but we have ideas and we're working on it. The idea of a God doesn't help here though, because if you say that something as complex as the universe just had to have had a creator, then surely that creator had to be created too, and who did that?


> As I told JB I'm working on a book so rather than give away my biggest breakthroughs here to an uninterested bunch, I'll try to get it published and send the show a copy...once that's done I'd love some feedback.

I'd suggest getting feedback on your ideas before publication.

> And yea the universe looks designed to me. On many levels far beyond the just the physical.

You can see levels other than the physical? How? How can you detect something that's not physical?


> Imagine when the first ape became human, at that moment, perhaps it was thinking, for the first time ever thought in the universe...

???

What was that ape thinking just before he became human?

> I'm getting the vibe you guys more often than not might be too skeptical, I mean, ever doubt your own doubt? Now that's real skeptisism.

Skepticism doesn't mean that someone doubts everything, it means that he doubts things that don't have sufficient evidence to believe them to be true. And it involves a lot of work to recognize the myriad ways that people can fool themselves.

Let me ask a few bangers here: See if you can "put up or shut up" as you said in show rd40:

1. Can something come from nothing?


Sure, it happens all around you millions of times every second. Particles appear out of the void and usually vanish again (but not always). This is truly uncaused action.

2. Isn't life rad?

Way.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify I'm not SURE that I'm right, I just think I have the best arguement for that god exists that I've ever heard..there's a lot of setup for the arguement. It's actually quite tempting to just spill it here but..I think you're right about getting feedback first.

anthropic: "we wouldn't be here to wonder this if the universe wasn't perfect for us to do it"...

is that right? That makes sense to me, and fits in my thesis. it actually supports it.

I see things other than the physical with my mind.

I wouldn't say those particles are coming from nothing. They are within existing material, and interacting with in in transformations of energy etc...but to give you your credit I shall put it another way:

1.Could everything have come from nothing?

2. Do any of you guys out there play video games or table top RGP's?

God vs tea pot, teapot fails.

RAD!

snafu said...

"Particles appear out of the void and usually vanish again (but not always). This is truly uncaused action."

Too right.
Any quantum mechanics book will cover this.
The Hawking Radiation after astrophysicist Stephen Hawking relies on it.

Can something come from nothing? Another more fundamental question is can there be nothing?

snafu



snafu

Anonymous said...

oh and on the infinite reduction: To me that arguement also shows that if you go back far enough, everything is god.

isn't that Spinoza?

Anonymous said...

Yea I was wondering that..."can nothing exist?" If not, then something couldn't come from nothing, not even those particles.

Also, is a particle a thing? I mean in the metaphysical world they exist in, are they "things" or just energy?

Again that's not coming from nothing but rather nowhere.

Sorry I'm a physics noob.

RADnoob.

Fletcher said...

Normally I try to stay out of the fray here, but I couldn't help myself.

Don't let your publisher hear this, Rad:

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/podcastplayer.aspx?MasterPodcastId=2

Strider said...

"oh and on the infinite reduction: To me that arguement (sic) also shows that if you go back far enough, everything is god."

HUH?!

Enough. Dude ain't listening to ANYTHING anyone writes, no matter how cogent.

Anonymous said...

Fletcher,

it's not a error in arguement if you are talking about god. that's why the "why" matters...

I know it's a lame answer, but it COULD be right.

The question then becomes, why would a god create a universe like this?

The anthropic cancels out god, and god cancels out the anthropic, so we have a paradox...I can solve that paradox, anyone can, but do do that you have to be under the assumption that you can understand god's mind, so to speak.

Please keep them coming!

RAD

Chris said...

rad:

"well I would hope that you don't speak for your entire flock"

I won't claim to do that, and will readily suggest that my expectation that most here are more apt to take the "weak" position is bound to result in some exceptions, and you would be well justified in sharing the burden of proof with those exceptions.

"And yea the universe looks designed to me. On many levels far beyond the just the physical. "

Such as? I ask this because as far as we're able to discern, everything has the appearance of being physical. Even consciousness has every appearance of being a manifestation of a physical brain. If you can give me a few examples of what appears to you to be designed, that would be helpful.

"et me ask a few bangers here: See if you can "put up or shut up" as you said in show rd40:"

I haven't noticed whether any of the show's three hosts are directly participating in the discussion, and although I'm not one of them, I'll respond as if the "you said in show rd40" does apply to me :-)

"1. Can something come from nothing?"

Depends on what you mean by "nothing". There is such a thing as a quantum vacuum in which virtual particles (a positive and a negative, no net increase in energy) do appear to pop into existence. I'm not a physicist and by far not qualified to discuss this further, but Victor Stenger discusses it at length in several written pieces. That vacuum may not entirely fit the definition of "nothing" that you're meaning, so:

Let me anticipate why you're asking this and suggest that "something from nothing" is only one of several cosmological possibilities. Scientific American just released an "origins" issue that I highly recommend to everyone, and I have no doubt you'll find it very well worth reading. An article on cosmology offers these possibilities:

1) Universe appears from nothing
2) Universe arises from a quantum vacuum (assuming that already exists)
3) Eternal universe, which is cyclical and endlessly follows a pattern of expansion-collapse-expansion-collapse
4) Some sort of "metaverse" has always existed, which has forever been spawning universes, of which ours is but one

Personally, I rule out #1 but leave open the other three as viable. That would leave me actually saying "no" or at least "probably not" to your question, as I really don't consider #2 to be "something from nothing". Option #3 is what is suggested by the Ekpyrotic model, based on superstring theory and having no experimental support behind it. Option #4 is suggested by the Inflationary model, and an excellent article on this was written by Andrei Linde some years back in Scientific American. I believe that article can be found as a PDF online somewhere.

I don't really know which of these, if any, is actually consistent with reality, or how many other alternatives exist that have not yet been thought up and proposed. What I do know is that it seems to be "god of the gaps" thinking to conclude that an intelligent supernatural creator must be how things came to be, and that this would be so even if no one had thought of four alternative hypotheses. Those four views -- even discounting #1 -- are testable, as certain predictions can be made regarding the associated cosmologies.

2. Isn't life rad?

Youbetcha!!!!

Chris said...

"anthropic: "we wouldn't be here to wonder this if the universe wasn't perfect for us to do it"...
is that right? That makes sense to me, and fits in my thesis. it actually supports it."

Let me challenge that line of thinking, because it looks like you're making a "fine tuning" argument. This one can be quite lengthy to work out the fallacy in it, but can I try for the Reader's Digest version and let you tell me whether I need to expand on it?

1) I'm not proposing a specific cosmology as being "proven", but let's think of possibilities. What if our known/visible universe is but one bubble in an infinitely large, eternal cosmos that we might call "the metaverse" and each of the infinite number of bubbles is its own universe which contains its own assortment of physical properties? The implications of this are that every possible universe would exist, and this one would not so much be fine tuned as it would be inevitable.

2) Is it REALLY fine tuned, though? As Victor Stenger points out, while altering a single property might result in an unworkable universe, altering some others at the same time can still yield a workable universe. That vastly increases the number of possible sets of properties that could work.

3) Some other physicists (source: Discover Magazine a few years ago) note that it isn't actually ideally fine-tuned, that certain of the key properties could be slightly adjusted to yield better results, leaving one wondering why an intelligent designer didn't go with the perfect settings for all of the variables

4) Fine tuning takes up the issue of a universe being able to form structures as it does, but still leaves us all wondering why an intelligent designer would deliberately create a universe in which 99.99% of is is absolutely hostile to any possible forms of life. That's a "workable" universe but not one that's particularly amenable to life.

5) Here's my favorite, and I believe this one is a huge problem for fine-tuning advocates whose conception of god is that of an omnipotent being. Suppose it were true that the universe really IS fine-tuned, and (as necessary for fine-tuning to be a compelling argument) this is really the ONLY possible set of physical properties that could produce a workable universe. Would this imply that God (let's call this omnipotent deity "God" with a capital G) had NO CHOICE but to create the universe with this particular set of physical constants? If God could manage to construct a universe with enough of a variety of constants so as to allow us to say that "God had choice in the matter", then why couldn't all of those other ways God could have created the universe also have been candidates for something that could arise naturally, hence this assortment of possible universes sort of kills the probability angle? And if God had no choice in the matter, what is to be said of omnipotence?


"I see things other than the physical with my mind."

Meaning, "see" literally or is that a metaphor for "I imagine things other than..."?

"1.Could everything have come from nothing?"

See my post above. I anticipated this.

"2. Do any of you guys out there play video games or table top RGP's?"

I play computer games. At the moment, World of Warcraft is what I'm playing.

"God vs tea pot, teapot fails."

I don't see it as either/or, because they're both in the same predicament.

Chris said...

"The question then becomes, why would a god create a universe like this?"

If we have a universe that from the moment of the big bang to present day appears to have developed in accordance with physical processes, and we're able to conceive of how this universe could even exist without some sort of god to bootstrap it, it doesn't exactly leave a very compelling reason for shoe-horning a god into the whole process.

As with many of the other arguments for god, it appears that we are again arguing for god by appealing to what we either don't know, may not know, or suspect but aren't certain of. Isn't that "god of the gaps"? Let's step back and think about whether what you're viewing as evidence for god in your estimation is positive, affirmative data or whether you're having to rely on what isn't known elsewhere. I'll have to leave that to you to think through, because as of yet, I still haven't been able to get at exactly what your argument in favor of a god actually is. I've seen hints at fine-tuning and argument from design, both of which are "what else could it be" type arguments.

Kudos for patiently hanging in there, but any chance we can be a little more direct with respect to what your argument is and move away from the older and more common and less novel fine-tuning and design arguments?

Regards,
Chris

Osyris Diamond said...

My views on this topic are simple-

Demonstrate to me (in order) that:

1) this universe was necessarily created by any divine or creator being;

2) it was necessarily your particular divinity/creator that created it (the universe);

3) the scriptures ascribed to this divinity/creator are necessarily thus (that is, its origins are of your divinity/creator);

4) your interpretation of said scriptures are necessarily accurate, true, and/or correct.

If these criteria can be adequately met, then I will believe.

Anonymous said...

Answers for Osyris Diamond:

"1) this universe was necessarily created by any divine or creator being;"

I can't...but this all seems just too weird, to interesting, too beautiful, almost as if we're supposed to try and figure it out...isn't that what science is doing too? Is philosophy a science? How far can logic take us?

"2) it was necessarily your particular divinity/creator that created it (the universe);"

My angle is it's not "my" god, or a personal god, but THE god. I use infinite reduce to reach ONE god...but again, that god changes over time.

"3) the scriptures ascribed to this divinity/creator are necessarily thus (that is, its origins are of your divinity/creator);"

I don't believe in scripture. I don't think god left us anything but logic to solve this puzzle.

"4) your interpretation of said scriptures are necessarily accurate, true, and/or correct."

see above

"If these criteria can be adequately met, then I will believe."

I'm not asking anyone to believe me, I know I can't prove my ideas even to myself...that's the cool part! :-)

rad

Anonymous said...

W.o.W. Chris thank you so much for your time & knowledge. I was going back and re-listening to the old shows to try and get a better handle on what I'm trying to say here...

Yeah I just listened to the Sci Am podcast...some great stuff..

I guess my angle really is a fine tuning ID arguement, but I'm leaving out some key details. Sorry for that.

You asked what I see as designed. Well I think the universe was designed to run on its own (the laws of physics) and that it was designed for us to have something to do. Even to be a mystery. I look around and see so much crap all jammed into one universe it leads me to ask myself IF god created this universe, WHY would it do so? I postulate what god actually is or might be and then search for reasons for this universe. Once i did that, something really funny hit me. A ureka moment if you will...

I do also delve deep into what omni means, what is and is not doable from that POV etc...I think those are great ways to get to the heart of the matter.

Yes the "mind" exists in the brain, but my minds eye is not physical.

Other things that are not physical: Metaphors. Ideas. Poetry. Numbers.

2+2 = 4. this is a NON physical truth is it not?

"Could everything have come from nothing"?

Can you argue this without falling back to someone elses theories? ;-) I think it's a valid philosophical question and I'd love to actually explore that in simple terms.. I do like the infinite energy arguement as a counter to that...that all the mass and energy we have has & always will here..That makes sense, and no god is needed, but then ID kicks in...and I have to wonder again...WTF? Where the hell are we? How did life happen? Why? The fact we don't know makes me wonder....And I love this universe for that!

"Altering a single knob of the fine tuning would change it all.." unless the universe was designed to fine tune itself...looks to me as if energy is infinite, space too, and time, and that in the big picture this universe has laws that keep it balanced too support life within transformations of mass/energy. Yes it's harsh, but that MAKES life have value. It makes life precious.

We all know the big bang happened, but what was before that? Can science ever know that, or is that where science falls short and philosophy takes over? Doesn't science state we cannot see before the big bang?


I don't trust string theorists...LOL.

Here's a really fun part of my theory: God wanted us to be atheists...I'm totally serious. That's because in my god concept god is us. You and me, but you and me are also distinct individuals INSIDE the game. Not in some supernatural way, because god isn't supernatural anymore. God was a game designer. An adventurer. I'm actually glad you guys don't believe me, it preserves the mystery.

Oh and I believe we have free will. LOL you guys are determinists huh? Oh boy....now I'm in trouble!

rad

Strider said...

Osyris Diamond:
Question #1 is excellent! What I've been writing is that we don't need to go any farther because we've known for some time that it's NOT necessary. LaPlace put it elegantly when asked by Napoleon where god fitted into his work on planetary motion: "I have no need of that hypothesis", Laplace is reputed to have said. And he was right. Arguments from personal incredulity aside, we don't need it, it does nothing for us, and we'd all be better off if we dropped it.

snafu said...

I am done. Rad, when you are able to bring your A-game to the table, I will read with interest. Until then, it's adios from me.

I need you to provide a coherent presentation of your ideas, as opposed to piece-meal blutterings, from which it is impossible to understand your perspective.

Unexplained responses such as:
God Vs Teapot, Teapot fails, and
I don't trust string theorists,
appear perfunctory, and progress the discussion nowhere.

I am not annoyed, just frustrated, and am now unwilling to devote precious time to what seems like ramblings.

Your A-game please

snafu
ps. Best of luck with the book.

Anonymous said...

snafu,

I hope you have a great life! (and if you care to talk about bulk of my posts I'll be here!.)

RAD

P.S. I may have talked myself out of writing it (again).

P.S.S. I countered the teapot perfectly. You can't equate god with a teapot in theory or reality. It's so simple you can't see it...but that's not my problem.

snafu said...

Ok. Against my better judgement here we go.

Of course God is not a teapot. But how is that the point? That counters nothing. At issue is the validity of the request to ask others to prove the negative. You have to attack that idea itself.
What you have done is to point out that God is not a teapot. That is a different question entirely, and is irrelevant.

Imagine a ufo-ist saying a ufo is not a teapot, so teapot fails. That is the same argument. Just because it is a god concept should mean nothing.


I hope your point is not to say that proving the negative is wrong for everything else but questions about God. That would be such a double standard it would be amusing.

As I see it your options are
1. Defend proving the negative as a valid strategy for everything, God, fairies, UFO's etc..
2. Concede that proving the negative is not valid at all.

snafu

ps - it occured to me that based on the content of our exchanges, a more appropriate tag to end with for me should be 'antioxidant'. Yes, that was a very bad chemistry joke, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Yes that is exactly what I'm saying. This whole "proving a negative" is a weak excuse for not bothering to do the work and is really getting old.

What we have is an "I don't know". Just because YOU have no reason to think god may exist, or may have existed, doesn't mean there is no reason. Unless you are claiming to be all knowing?

Is that your A-game?

:-)rad

snafu said...

So are you
1) supporting proving the negative, or
2) agreeing it is invalid

Not clear to me from your response.
Would you mind explicitly answering the question on these terms above, just for clarity. Agree with you, this is growing whiskers at an alarming rate.

Always my A game. Not holding anything back.

snafu

snafu said...

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/ignorance.html

In regard to 1B, arguing something does not exist, is different to lacking a belief that the something exists.
Take UFO's.
I am not ever going to argue that I know they don't exist - because to do that, I would have to go everywhere in the universe, looking under every rock etc.. to substantiate the claim.
But I can simply not believe in them.

snafu

Anonymous said...

thanks for the replies.

Sorry-I meant that yes, in theory god trumps everything. That is what the word is used for in my thesis. The entire universe could be "god". (see Spinoza) Would you deny that that exists too?

I should state that if you're talking about a specific theology, say Christian, I would be the first to say "well prove that to me". I think that's what Russell was doing. He was saying "I should no sooner believe in Christ as the son of god than that there is a tea pot floating in space." He wasn't discounting god all together, just the dogmas of religions. Side note: If anyone from NASA is reading this please please take a teapot on the next space mission and throw it out the window! Thank you.

The only reason I allow myself to even postulate that there could have been a designer is because of the universe itself. Yes I understand evolution, yes it makes sense, and yes it seems to me that god created evolution. To me evolution is even more proof that this universe was designed to support life. Oh boy I just pissed of a whole lot of atheists with that one! :-)

"You will find that many of the truths we cling to are determined by our own point of view."

Obi-Rad Kenobi

OMG the word verification on this post was "amens"....ffs.

cleanwillie said...

radical

Could you please just answer snafu's questions instead of dodging them. They are perfectly valid questions and you answering them would clear things up remarkably.

I'll just post them here again:

So are you
1) supporting proving the negative, or
2) agreeing it is invalid

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not dodging anything.

re-read what I wrote before. I discredit the "supporting a negative" because it is illogical. ie: It is a subjective question, so can only be subjectively answered. It's a set up. The entire idea that god is a negative that must my proven is the fallacy. I'm here to do objective philosophy.

I've written many many questions here that have been "dodged". Would you care to answer those?

rad.

Anonymous said...

Again I should state I don't claim to know the truth about god...I just found an arguement that leans towards some sort of creator...the more I look at it from that angle, the more it makes sense. Every challenge I tried to use against it dissolved itself.

As Wittgenstein said: "philosophy brings itself into existence."...by this he meant most of the questions philosophers ask are not proper logical questions and cannot and should not be treated as logic because the questions are not logical, and that when we do strict logic, all problems dissolve. This is why he felt he "solved all the problems of philosophy". What he didn't do is solve all the problems of existence...but he paved the way. He showed it can be done. In his later works he comes to the belief that language is perfect for doing logic, and that everything that we can know can be proven logically. Isn't that interesting!

That leads us to defining everything very carefully. God is the hardest word to define so I've gone out of my way to first qualify what I mean when I say god.

I haven't read it but in the book "the evolution of god" the author says there's actually much more scientific evidence for god than most people realize (or want to accept).

I'm going to stop using the word god and replace it with a creator...I think there's more than a justified negative response to the word god, and that's part of the problem with people (atheists) being unable to do philosophical god theory without falling back on what they were taught in University.

RADgenstein

cleanwillie said...

rad,

Now you're simply not making sense anymore.

"The entire idea that god is a negative that must my proven is the fallacy. I'm here to do objective philosophy."

No one here ever said "god is a negative". Frankly, I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. The reason why people objected so strongly to your posts in the first place is that you said you could, and I quote, "object to your proposal that the burden of proof is with the believer". Later you elaborated on that by basically saying the following: the burden of proof is with the person who makes a positive claim, except when we are talking about god. Many people rightfully objected to this and pointed out that your claim, that god is somehow special compared to teapots or fairies, because he/she/it supposedly created the universe, is basically "god of the gaps"-thinking.

You wrote: "I discredit the "supporting a negative" because it is illogical. ie: It is a subjective question, so can only be subjectively answered. It's a set up."

I'm a little confused here. Do you discredit snafu's question or are you in fact answering the question by saying that you think one should be able to prove a negative?

"I've written many many questions here that have been "dodged". Would you care to answer those?"

Well aim one at me directly and I will try my best to answer it.

Anonymous said...

Was I ever making sense? Let me simplify:

The "god is a negative" comes from the arguement "you can't prove a negative". Sorry if that came out wrong.

I'm saying that god is different. God is special. Why? If I have to explain that well, there's no hope of us getting anywhere. You just can't fathom the possibility, so you are unable to do the equation.

Funny how you alone know why everyone else objects. I suppose you're all knowing too? I'm doomed! :-)

The burden of proof is always upon the person making a claim. Agreed.

Anyone here claiming a creator didn't/doesn't exist? Prove it.

Anyone here claiming a creator did/does exist, should ALSO have to prove it.

This is the subjectivity of the arguement. We may not have to prove things to ourselves, but we have to prove them to others if we are making any claim. The "I can't be asked to prove a negative" is an illogical fallacy. Are you sure you don't see any evidence for a creator? Couldn't that itself be evidence? The subject itself almost eludes objectivity. So again, we must define what we mean when we say "god" then go from there, if we are going to do theory.

To say there is no proof of existence is a subjective opinion based on subjective definitions of god, existence, etc... Hope you understand now.

RADICAL

P.S. My questions are in written form in previous posts and are directed at you and anyone that want's to actually read them...thanks again Chris for going to the trouble of reading them and typing so much.

Anonymous said...

EDIT!!

To say there is no proof of existence [of a creator] is a subjective opinion based on subjective definitions of god, existence, etc... Hope you understand now.

oppsRAD

snafu said...

Perhaps we are suffering the problem of different interpretations and meanings being ascribed to words. If you believe you have non-standard or non-commonly-held interpretations of 'god' and 'existence' and for that matter, any other term, it would help immensely if you could put them on the table for us and elaborate

Voltaire said "if you wish to converse me, define your terms.." and that strikes me as being good advice. Rad, please remove the subjectivity and spell it out for us.

In regards to the issue of proving negatives. You said that if you have to prove why god is special in regard to this, then there is no hope. Please don't be defeatist in that manner. I ask you to spell out why your concept of god should be immune or protected from the philosophical fallacy of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, argument from ignorance. I am from a theistic background, and can indeed fathom why some people believe the god idea is just so obviously different, as you say. The trouble is, now I see that that mindset is protecting the god concept from examination. It is a well intentioned and sincere, but false. Fundamentalists often begin by assuming the perfection of the bible as their starting point, and do not entertain or examine any idea to the contrary, doing that does not register with them, the bible is so perfect that if you can't see it there is no hope. Are you being fundamentalist in your approach to the idea that god is different to the extent it is immune from the argument from ignorance? If you would rather step it up a notch, please outline why any idea, god or not, should be immune, and how we can responsibly ascertain which ideas over other ideas qualify for immunity. You see everyone wants their idea immune. UFO, fairies, atlantis, bigfoot, and, god. You need to outline why god, as a concept, requires special treatment, and to do that, you must first establish, that there should be exception(s) to the argument from ignorance fallacy at all.


About dodging questions. I don't think I have dodged one you specifically asked of me in direct terms. If I have, apologies, and please re-ask.

snafu

Anonymous said...

We're doing good here, no complaints..

All I mean when I say god is some sort of all powerful being that could have created this universe. That's why it's special. God trumps everything, but only in theory.

I'm saying a theoretical god must come first, then everything else (using infinite reduce). Now when I say first I mean it always was and always will be. It has nothing to do with any other preconception than that one. I admit that is a cop out, and not good enough for "proof" and don't accept it without further investigation. It is upon further investigation through logic that I realized I could imagine what it might have been like to be god (if god was omnipotent.) As I say that I still feel the creepyness of it...but that's cuz I was born and raised in Utah! My family was nonreligious, but I was surrounded by god fearing good people...it rubs off.

This is where all theologies come from..people accept that there must have been some sort of creator, then they fill in the blanks (dogma). I try to avoid dogma and just concentrate on the question why (if such a creator existed) would it create this world? All I have to go on is this world and this universe....I'm not afraid of god, or of death (but I'm not looking forward to that)...I'm just interested:

Was god Omnipotent? If it was, what would that be like? What would you do if you were Omnipotent?

Please answer those three questions (just for fun & without quoting any other philosophers) if it's not rude of me to ask.

RADICALdoubt

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION!!

Rad here. few posts back I said the author of "the evolution of god" speaks of "scientific evidence" of god...I totally mis-spoke there...He was claiming that "the mechanics of history" show we are becoming more moral over time, and he equated that to "evidence" but I don't because I don't need a god to have morality.

thanks.

RADdumb.

Anonymous said...

guess I was being rude? or you've converted to pantheism and moved to the mountains?

SADrad

:(

snafu said...

Hello again,

Rad, there are a few different meanings attached to 'omnipotent'.
See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence
for a brief outline.
Out of interest, to which are you referring?

George H Smith, Atheism:The Case Against God discusses the supposed characteristic of omnipotence and the appearance of design. Seeing as both are covered in the comments to date, I have reproduced portions of his arguments below, as well as those from John Mill(quoted by Smith):

Quote"
Mill recognizes a point ... that every indication of design in the cosmos is so much evidence against the omnipotence of the designer.

What is meant by design? Contrivance:the adaptation of means to an end. But the necessity for contrivance - the need of employing means - is a consequence of the limitation of power. Who would have recourse to means if to attain his end if his mere word was sufficient? The very idea of means implies that the means have an efficacy which the direct action of the being who employs them has not. Otherwise they are not means but an encumbrance....Wisdom and contrivance are shown in overcoming difficulties, and there is no room for them in a being for whom no difficulties exist.

The necessity of employing means to accomplish an end is the consequence of limited power; therefore god cannot be said to employ means in any sense. Extending this argument, we also realize that god cannot be said to act in any manner, because actions are required only of a being who must resort to some means in order to accomplish a given end. Nor can god be said to have any kind of purpose, because purpose entails unfulfilled desires or goals - and these concepts cannot apply to an omnipotent being.

To imagine an omnipotent being, we must imagine a being with power to do anything, but who does not employ means, does not act, and does not have any purpose. In other words, omnipotence attempts to exclude God from causality.


Omnipotence simply tells us that God, an unknowable being, does things in an unknowable way, through some unknowable processes. We cannot understand the meaning of omnipotence, and once again face agnosticism."

Selected portions of P 71-72.

So, your appeal to consider "was god omnipotent" is a bit meaningless to me, as I do buy what Smith says. The concept of omnipotence, when you take away causality, is meaningless.


your thoughts?

snafu

Anonymous said...

Well since I've already seen all that stuff, and I asked you not to quote others, I guess we're aren't going to be doing any philosophy of are own here?

I'll take that as a dodge.

:(rad

snafu said...

Rad,
When the argument of another covers the issue well, I will quote it. If that is a dodge, then guilty as charged. But I think it is not irresponsible.
Are you really wanting to exclude the ideas of others? And since you say you have already heard of the ideas in my last post, but wanted to exclude them (supposedly), then you can only have your head in the sand?
Repudiate them if they are no good, instead of ignoring them, because they come from 'another'.

snafu

Nicholas B. said...

I get it now. I see what Rad is doing.

In essence, he's taking whatever concept of a creator god he has, giving deliberately nebulous explanations of it to avoid getting pinned down, while simultaneously making the claim that his version of a creator god is "special" and thus not subject to the laws of skeptical inquiry and logic, allowing him to justify ignoring any contradictory points.

Classy.

I'm not going to take you on point by point - others here have done so quite well, and thoroughly. Besides, with each point made, you sink further and further into this kind of obscurity that is akin to trying to have a conversation with a schizophrenic in a language you can't understand. Apples and oranges? We're on to apples and UFOs here.

Sorry dude, as much as I respect and appreciate how congenial you've been (and believe me, I wish the rest of the theist community were just *half* as polite as you've been), your concept of a "god" is no more special than my magic stealth midgets. Who's to say *they* didn't create the universe?

Anonymous said...

If they did, I'd call them god.

See that's just it...it's all in the word "god".

All I'm asking you to do see that when anyone says god, it always is the most special, the most omni, it always trumps everything...it IS everything...that's all...what's so hard to understand about that? That's how religions grab people....I'm trying to expose that, and to give believers and doubters a new perspective....

I'm on your side. I guess I'm trying to say atheism is too close minded. Weak atheists are agnostics. I'm sorry if that's insulting, but if "you don't know" then aren't you an agnostic? If you can't (or refuse to even try to define god) then aren't you missing a chance to explore reality? God isn't something supernatural IMO.

Maybe I have too much faith in logic?

I'm asking this as a laymen. And please quote anyone you want...But:

Does true logic exist? What is it exactly? Is it capable of discovering the ultimate truth?

All I'm trying to do is logic. Nothing more.

Atheism by it's nature is unable to even explore ANY concept of god because to do so, you must delve into theology, it is that theology I wanted to share.

Please forgive me for still posting here...as much as I'd like to be on the forums, I actually afraid of being a part of it. I really do play all the rd shows as soon as they land and am thankful for the time you have all spent with me here.

take care.

jasonNOTthatRAD

Nicholas B said...

"Atheism by it's nature is unable to even explore ANY concept of god because to do so, you must delve into theology, it is that theology I wanted to share."

What? See, it's stuff like this that convinces me you aren't working with a full deck. Atheism, by its nature, is in large part a rejection of theology. And to reject said theology intelligently, it HAS to delve into it, often deeper than most theologians. You have to know what you're arguing against, and why.

Your definition of god is the single most vague definition of anything I've ever heard. "It's, like, everything." Is *that* the theology you're trying to share? Come on, man. Please tell me you understand how that level of ambiguity can be frustrating when people are trying to have a debate.

I still fail to see how atheism is close-minded. All it's saying is there is no reason to believe in something that there's no evidence for the existence of. Most atheists I've met tend to be fairly intelligent people, and like any good skeptic, if presented with compelling, unambiguous, verifiable proof of something, would accept said proof. Yet most theists flat out ignore the fact that there is NO evidence for the existence of whatever god they believe in. So who is the true closed mind?

You are free to be as metaphysically new-agey as you want, but there will always be skeptics and rational people out there that will bring you back down to earth. Hard.

Reality can be a b*tch like that. :)

Anonymous said...

That's why I'm here brother! I'm saying I have a new theology! I want you to destroy it. I want to be an atheist! Again I should say I don't even KNOW I'm right, I just stumbled upon the best argument (and finally learned how to spell argument) that I've ever seen...

and you're right about that definition of god....I think it's the same one Dawkins uses when he talks about it too.

That's nothing to be afraid of.

rad

Nicholas B said...

Wait, hold on. Lemme get this straight. You say atheism is too closed minded, but in your next breath say you want to be an atheist. So you either want to be close minded, of you really don't think atheism is close minded.

I think your "theology" has been thoroughly "destroyed" by just about every other poster in here. You want to say you value logic, and that you're hear for intellectual debate, but you avoid actually using logic in the defense of your "theology". You want your cake and you want to eat it, too.

It's not an issue of fear, at least not from my end. I don't fear the idea of god any more than I fear the idea of magic stealth midgets. I relegate both to the realm of fantasy the same way we do with Santa Claus.

You don't need a god. You don't need to perform all these mental gymnastics and break just about every law of logic and reason to defend an ever-changing concept of divinity that cannot hold its own to even the most elemental and cursory skepticism. When you realize this, my friend, being an atheist is not simply a choice - it becomes the only sensible position to take.

Chris said...

Rad,

I've been away at DragonCon for nearly a week and see that this discussion has more or less run its course, but I thought I'd drop a parting remark that occurred to me right around when I was preparing to leave. You've kept the bulk of your argument very obscure as you've suggested you're writing a book on the subject, and it never was clear to me why it made sense for you to keep it obscure for that particular reason.

If you're going to publish a new argument, it seems to me that you would WANT to thoroughly test the idea, to have it critically examined, to have it beaten all to hell, and to allow you to find the possible holes in it before taking it to publishing. With that approach, you would either find yourself able to adjust it accordingly and make it stronger or, worst case, to discover that it isn't as solid as you initially believed, which I would think you would want to know before taking it to publishing if that turns out to be the reality. Why would you want to publish something that isn't critically vetted? If it really is airtight, it will stand up to scrutiny and then you can take it to publishing with confidence.

I'm not so sure there is life left in this particular thread to re-open the subject and finally have a look at what you've been frustratingly arguing so vaguely, but for future consideration, give that some thought and realize that it is in your interest to go over your thesis carefully and with many different eyes before running it to the publisher.

I commend your friendly demeanor here, and appreciate it to the point that as the other guy suggested it would be fantastic if others were so cordial. It has, though, been difficult to have much of a discussion without having the specifics of the argument actually on the table. The nebulous nature of the discussion has, unfortunately, left this thread far less productive than I think it could have been. Thank you, nonetheless, for your participation and for at least seeding a discussion.

Regards,
Chris Jones

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback. I do feel we are going around and around. I haven't been that vague. The punchline for my idea is one sentence long. I haven't given it out because It's too easy to steal. Also, it doesn't prove it to me either, but it does make me wonder even more. I was an atheist until it hit me, now I guess I'm agnostic leaning towards theism...I really hate dogma though, that's why I "want to be an atheist". I'll alloy myself to believe in karma, but that's about it.

My point about your atheism: If you cannot separate god from magic, you will never be able to think new things, realize "hey, maybe there was something alive that caused the big bang..." That is why you are closed minded IMO. You have decided god is not real based on your definition of god. I understand that. First undefine god, then see how hard it is to take a stance.

Are pantheists theists? I would say they are both theists and atheists, maybe even gnostic and agnostic too. it's all in our SUBJECTIVE definition of god. I think you think I am trying to prove MY god exists..I'm not. I don't think we can ever prove or disprove god to each other...that's why I challenged the boys. The burden is on the theists and atheists, because they both are subjective decisions based on subjective definitions. As I said before, it's a paradox. The only way to solve a paradox is with a paradox. My answer wont even make sense to atheists...cuz they won't consider it anything but magic.

I don't need god. I don't want there to be a god. I'm just not afraid to imagine that there could be a god. That is a leap of faith to the atheist, but to the agnostic, it's just rationality.

Hope I've been more clear.

I will take your advice and keep reading here...and when I'm ready I'll send you an entire philosophical work for you to go over...good luck with the forums and the future and thanks again for keeping it real.

RAD

shoottokill said...

Another thing that kills the 'soul' idea for me, in addition to lobotomies, is Dissociative identity disorder -- when someone has multiple personalities, which goes to the afterlife?