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Logic and God
Posted: 06 February 2007 01:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Re: Logic and God

[quote author=“l_johan_k”]Philosophy is not my cup of tea…

In a discussion with a creationist he said that…

#Logical laws prove the existence of God

#Logical laws disprove the naturalistic worldview

I’m not a philosopher, so how do I respond to that?

In my experience, few religious people truly understand the methods, concepts and required standards of logical argument. One only needs to read so-called ‘proofs’ of the existence of God by (supposedly learned and intelligent) theologicans - the best their kind can offer up as ‘intellectuals’, one supposes - to see that they haven’t actually got the faintest idea how to argue logically.

I was once on a forum where this guy - who was probably a theology student - published (with evident pride/arrogance) an argument he had constructed which claimed to prove the existence of God from first principles. He simply used a few known facts about the universe and cosmology (in order to give his arguments the appearance of scientific respectability, one assumes) and then extrapolated these using what he believed to be sound logical inference in order to reach the inevitable (to him) conclusion ‘And therefore God exists!’.

It was almost trivially easy to pull his arguments apart.

This partly involved pointing out that a number of the premises and assumptions he was quietly slipping into his arguments were nothing more than unfounded beliefs that derived from his pre-existing religiosity. In other words, he was using his a priori belief in God and his divine attributes (the sheer hubris of assuming that one could know such things in the first place was quite astonishing) in order to prove that God must exist!

The remainder of the job simply required pointing out that he didn’t know how to derive a sound logical consequence from previous logical consequences, that he misunderstood and confused the relationship between cause and effect, that he was omitting alternative deductions without any justification simply because they didn’t support the conclusion he was trying to reach or conflicted with one of his unsupported premises, and that he clearly didn’t understand the science he was trying to use to support his arguments.

It was really quite pathetic. And very sad. Because it made me realize how religious people tie themselves in intellectual knots whenever they try to justify their unjustifiable beliefs, while simultaneously convincing themselves that their arguments are perfectly rigorous just because they are sprinkled with impressive-sounding liturgical waffle.

Theological arguments are all about the triumph of style over substance, form over content, and they will only ever convince those who already want to be convinced.

(If you think it might be instructive for me to publish the aforementioned critique here, I’ll happily do so, though it is somewhat long…)

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Graduate in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Member and forum contributor of The Brights (US & UK), the National Secular Society (UK) and the British Centre for Science Education. Forum contributor to richarddawkins.net.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Re: Logic and God

Thanks for that, Steve. FWIW, I do find the supposed “proofs” for god’s existence to be interesting as philosophical curiosities. I am sure you have seen J.L. Mackie’s Miracle of Theism where he does quite a good job taking them all into bits.

[quote author=“Steve Denton”](If you think it might be instructive for me to publish the aforementioned critique here, I’ll happily do so, though it is somewhat long…)

Up to you, since you’ve seen the argument and we haven’t. If you think it would actually be instructive, post away. If, OTOH, you just think it’s a bunch of silliness, it may not deserve to become a ‘meme’, if you know what I mean.

:wink:

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Posted: 06 February 2007 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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I think only the dumber theologians and atheists get into arguments trying to prove the existence or non-existence of god and the supernatural.  I recall being introduced to a fundamentalist at my first job out of college.  The idea the others had was, “Let’s you and him fight, and we’ll watch for our enjoyment.”  We approached each other gingerly at first, but fairly quickly began a discussion in which we agreed on the flaws in the proofs on both sides.  The observers quickly got bored and left.

I had many enjoyable conversations with him and we both learned quite a bit about the other’s views.  And we both agreed that we could only ultimately justify our two opposite beliefs by faith based on how we explained reality as we saw it.

Occam

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Posted: 07 February 2007 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”] And we both agreed that we could only ultimately justify our two opposite beliefs by faith based on how we explained reality as we saw it.

What do you mean? What “faith” is involved in a naturalist worldview?

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Posted: 07 February 2007 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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We’ve had this disagreement before, Doug.  It’s more a matter of definition.  What I’m calling faith, here, I think you call belief.  My Webster’s even shows them as synonyms.

I think you differentiate between them in that faith cannot be validated but belief, while not yet validated, is capable of validation.  Although that’s an interesting dichotomy, I don’t think that’s how the words are commonly used.

Occam

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Posted: 08 February 2007 01:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]I don’t think that’s how the words are commonly used.

Perhaps and perhaps not in daily life, but certainly in the context of theology, faith is used to differentiate one’s sort of belief from that which is held by reason.

I suppose in this context it’s a minor quibble, but I am quite concerned to rebut the notion foisted by some religious apologists that science and reason are simply other forms of faith, and so that religious belief is on all fours with science. This is quite a pernicious argument, and quite false.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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I agree that the theist argument about science being based on faith is pernicious, but I was using the word in the daily and/or theistic context.  That is, I was stating that my belief in the non-existence of any god is not provable, but that I have faith in such non-existence.

Occam

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Posted: 08 February 2007 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]That is, I was stating that my belief in the non-existence of any god is not provable, but that I have faith in such non-existence.

Well I guess I’ll go ahead and repeat myself here ...

Agreed entirely that one cannot prove the nonexistence of god. But it is extremely misleading (especially within a theistic context) to then go ahead and say you have “faith” that god doesn’t exist. What you have—I will assume—are various arguments that demonstrate rationally that god is unlikely to exist.

The word “faith” may have a number of connotations in everyday language. However, it has a very particular meaning in a theistic context. It is belief in the absence of reason.

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Posted: 09 February 2007 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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And to repeat myself, one of the major problems we have in discussion is the tendency of people to self-define words.  If some insist on using different definitions from those listed in standard dictionaries it makes successful communication difficult.

Occam

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Posted: 09 February 2007 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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I understand where you’re coming from, but this isn’t really a case of ‘self-definition’, it is perhaps closer to a technical definition within a certain context.

It’s rather like “force” may mean one thing to the man-in-the-street, and quite another to a physicist.

But so long as we are clear about the context of the discussion, there needn’t be a problem. My only concern at the outset is that you were having this discussion with a theist. I wonder if he had the same contextual awareness that you or I might have ...

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Posted: 14 March 2007 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“Occam”]That is, I was stating that my belief in the non-existence of any god is not provable, but that I have faith in such non-existence.


The word “faith” may have a number of connotations in everyday language. However, it has a very particular meaning in a theistic context. It is belief in the absence of reason.

True, yet I would argue that [religious] faith to another degree borders on self-deception and delusion when it is maintained against evidence to the contrary.

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Posted: 15 March 2007 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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[quote author=“skepticdave”]True, yet I would argue that [religious] faith to another degree borders on self-deception and delusion when it is maintained against evidence to the contrary.

Sounds about right ...

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Posted: 21 March 2007 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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I guess that what my “dear” cretinist “friend” means is that logical laws (or propositions) can’t be described in terms of atoms, therefore they can’t be a part of a naturalistic world view.

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"A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence." David Hume (1711-1776)
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