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You are proof that god exist
Posted: 11 October 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 11:33 AM

As for the universe being proof that God exists, how so? What’s the proof? How does God’s existence explain anything? If you say, “Well, God created the universe”, who or what then created God? You get the same question all over again. God doesn’t solve anything, it’s just an extra wheel that does no work. Occam’s Razor would say to dispense with it as unnecessary.

 

Atheists have the best arguments. I’m playing devils advocate to see if I can get anywhere.

Would you deny there must be a first cause? Or say the big bang is it? Or do you look at it in a different way?

Stephen

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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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morgantj - 11 October 2007 11:57 AM
dougsmith - 11 October 2007 11:33 AM

Totally distinct. The Big Bang is the beginning of the universe. Evolution is a process by which living creatures change form over time; its engine is natural selection.

So evolution is a process that applies only to living creatures?

I’ve always found this topic very interesting. When Andromeda smacks into the Milky Way and destroys it, we could in a way say that it’ll be the fittest one that will survive. Now, Andromeda, as a galaxy, won’t pass any favorable heritable traits to some baby galaxies, but it will have a better chance than the Milky Way to give a pass to the existence of Darwin’s evolution that would apply to the organism living within the Andromeda galaxy.

[ Edited: 11 October 2007 12:19 PM by George ]
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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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morgantj - 11 October 2007 11:57 AM

So evolution is a process that applies only to living creatures?

Erm ... I hate to say it, but it depends what you mean by “evolution”. If you mean Darwinian evolution by natural selection, then yes, it only applies to living creatures. This may, in fact, be a matter of definition, however. That is, it may be that we simply call something “alive” if its history includes a string of ancestors that got how they were through the process of evolution by natural selection.

Check out the wiki page on disambiguating evolution to get some feel for different uses of the term ...

And I do suppose, George, that in some idea of the multiverse one could talk about universes “evolving” in a non-Darwinian sense. But I’m concerned that using that sort of language is very liable to misinterpretation by people who think of universes as living things.

morgantj - 11 October 2007 11:57 AM

If you are refering the the “God” that the religious believe in, then it would be a proper name. But for those who use “god” with a different assigned value, it may be grammatically correct to not not capitilize it depending on the value assigned to it.

I suppose, but what would that other meaning be?

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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 12:12 PM

Would you deny there must be a first cause? Or say the big bang is it? Or do you look at it in a different way?

Re. the first cause, there are many possibilities. IIRC Stephen Hawking in his book Brief History of Time discusses one possible model of the universe in which there isn’t a first cause, since there isn’t a first second. It could also be that time loops around at the beginning. It could be that there are an infinity of multiverses going back forever.

But at any rate, the only responsible answer to this question is that we don’t know.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 12:19 PM

And I do suppose, George, that in some idea of the multiverse one could talk about universes “evolving” in a non-Darwinian sense. But I’m concerned that using that sort of language is very liable to misinterpretation by people who think of universes as living things.

Yes, I agree. But we can apply the same logic to the multiverse as the one I used in the Andromeda vs. the Milky Way example. It will only be the successful universe (the fittest one) that will enable Darwinian evolution by NS to take place. In that sense we could say that non-living organism is part of evolution.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 12:23 PM
StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 12:12 PM

Would you deny there must be a first cause? Or say the big bang is it? Or do you look at it in a different way?

Re. the first cause, there are many possibilities. IIRC Stephen Hawking in his book Brief History of Time discusses one possible model of the universe in which there isn’t a first cause, since there isn’t a first second. It could also be that time loops around at the beginning. It could be that there are an infinity of multiverses going back forever.

But at any rate, the only responsible answer to this question is that we don’t know.

And if the theist says therefore you can’t rule out God?

Actually theist is a bad example, this would more likely be an argument from someone who is agnostic.

Stephen

[ Edited: 11 October 2007 12:33 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 11 October 2007 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 12:26 PM

And if the theist says therefore you can’t rule out God?

Well sure, it’s always possible that the universe was created by some omnicompetent being. One can’t rule that possibility out completely. But as Dawkins says, it’s vanishingly improbable. And it doesn’t add anything to one’s theory of the universe, so there’s no independent reason to posit God’s existence.

There are a very, very large number of possible ways the universe could have begun, given what we know. That it was created by a God is one of the less probable of these ways.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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cgallaga - 10 October 2007 10:27 PM

Vanessa, the History of god is a strong argument against your case. I am not trying to be mean to you so please don’t take offense. I don’t have kids so I don’t really know what I would do. But I don’t understand why parents when faced with difficult questions from kids resort first to quick lies that only cause more difficulty later. In your case why not just say the apparent truth: god is an idea invented by humans to give them comfort in times of fear and uncertainty. It is an imaginary friend of unimaginable powers. Kind of like superman.

No offense taken.  I appreciate all the varied responses.  I haven’t heard from too many other parents out there, but I can tell you that when your child begins the “why” phase, things start to come out of your mouth that you never, ever thought you would say.  My God question and answer session began like this:  “Why is the sky blue?” “Because it’s not pink.  Now get dressed.”  “Does a bear poop in a tree?”  “In the woods.  Now brush your teeth.”  “Can I go poop in the woods?”  “Maybe when we go camping.  Grab your lunch and get in car.”  “What is God?”  “The goodness and kindness in people.  GETINTHECARRIGHTNOW.”  (Just to give you some perspective about how much time I have in the morning to go into depth about theism with my children.)

And I do like the explanation about how God is a human concept (see cgallaga’s description above) and kind of like Superman, but since my son believes in Superman, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, perhaps that analogy won’t quite work yet.  But I’ll keep it in mind down the line.

Vanessa

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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When ever you make a claim it is based on a theory that is susceptible to investigation.  A theory in science is different than its colloquial use.  Typically the word theory refers to a guess or an assumption.  Scientists use a theory as an explanatory system or a unifying concept.  Theories range in spectrum from discredited, to highly speculative, to established beyond all reasonable doubt.  Many accepted scientific theories are labeled “established fact”.  This means that it is the best explanation for now.

There is an infinite supply of improvable possibilities, limited only by our imaginations.  This includes God, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, multivurses, string theory, etc.  The only empirical approach to topics of this nature is agnosticism.  To accept them without evidence requires a degree of faith.  Faith has no contribution in matters of fact.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 12:49 PM
StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 12:26 PM

And if the theist says therefore you can’t rule out God?

Well sure, it’s always possible that the universe was created by some omnicompetent being. One can’t rule that possibility out completely. But as Dawkins says, it’s vanishingly improbable. And it doesn’t add anything to one’s theory of the universe, so there’s no independent reason to posit God’s existence.

There are a very, very large number of possible ways the universe could have begun, given what we know. That it was created by a God is one of the less probable of these ways.

I can’t tell you why I’m not an atheist Doug it makes no sense to me but there you have it, I am what I am. For some reason I’ve started to want to delve into this recently. Sorry just felt I needed to explain, now back to the plot.

I’m not sure it matters if something is less probable. The less probable things happen, you and I are proof of that, assuming there are such things as genuine possibilities that is.

But I wouldn’t make that assumption at all anyway, in fact I lean the other way as you know. If I was forced to place my bet, I’d be a necessitarian, in which case there is only one possible way the world could be.

If this is true the Dawkins argument vanishes but I guess others take it’s place?

Stephen

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 01:24 PM

I can’t tell you why I’m not an atheist Doug it makes no sense to me but there you have it, I am what I am. For some reason I’ve started to want to delve into this recently. Sorry just felt I needed to explain, now back to the plot.

I’m not sure it matters if something is less probable. The less probable things happen, you and I are proof of that, assuming there are such things as genuine possibilities that is.

Well, but the point is this. How do you have a reliable epistemological program? That is, how do you structure your belief system such that you come to the most reliable beliefs? The answer is simple. You believe whatever is most probably true. It’s like betting. You’ll lose your shirt if you persist on taking the 40% bet in Las Vegas. And that’s not even talking about the .0000000001% bet. That’s a fool’s errand.

There’s a reason why some people call the lottery the “tax on stupidity”.

wink

StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 01:24 PM

But I wouldn’t make that assumption at all anyway, in fact I lean the other way as you know. If I was forced to place my bet, I’d be a necessitarian, in which case there is only one possible way the world could be.

If this is true the Dawkins argument vanishes but I guess others take it’s place?

I don’t see how a necessitarian can make sense of probability, except epistemic probability. But I don’t think you are a real necessitarian, since I’m sure you wouldn’t take the sucker bet in Vegas. Indeed, as you said, you’re making a “bet”, a probabilistic decision, on necessitarianism itself.

But at any rate I don’t think necessitarianism has any relation to the God argument. Even if you’re just left with epistemic probability, still and all the existence of God doesn’t look very likely.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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“Why is the sky blue?”  It’s a reflection of the ocean
“Does a bear poop in a tree?”  I doubt it
“What is God?”  A fictional super hero

The last one is difficult.  It is beneficial for children to accept what their parents tell them on faith at a young age.  “Don’t touch the stove!” “Don’t swim alone”.  If I lied to my kids about either one of those examples because it was too difficult to explain or they would figure it out eventually, I would loose my credibility and maybe my child.  I think it is important to share the information we spent a lifetime attaining in simple terms they can understand.  I wouldn’t think about telling my kids the facts on God in Iraq, but in the US we are tolerant.  I think there are valuable lessons to be learned.  Don’t shortchange your kids, there is no such thing as a bad question.  Questioning is the root of science and makes the world a better place.  Just think what beneficial questions will be asked if they don’t have to waste as much time as you hurdling false taboo subjects, like God.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Back to parenting and the “god question.” I discourage my daughter from saying “Jesus Christ” and “God Damn It” for the same reason I discourage secular profanity—because words with such powerful emotional resonances need to be used skillfully, and she’s not yet at a point where she appreciates the nuances enough to do so. I’m happy to offend people and deal with the consequences, but it’s hard to be seven and have an adult chide and embarrass you for “blasphemy” or just “bad manners.” Oh sure, I’d rip that person a new one later for doing so, but it doesn’t really help my duaghter much. So it’s a bit disingenuous to be blase about how our kids learn and use words that have social consequences, regardless of whether we mostly feel they’re meaningless.

As for explaining and discussing god as a concept with my daughter, this one comes up periodically. She went to a Jewish pre-school, so she was introduced to the concept early and had lots of questions. I use the “some people believe this, some that, what do you think?” approach myself. The argument from design is currently hard for her to shake since to a young child everything seems made and arranged by adults so wouldn’t the rest of the universe be that way too? She knows I think that the chances of there being a god are vanishingly small, but I don’t encourage mocking or feeling superior to people who think differently, as long as they keep out of our affairs. We also talk about death (a girl her age that she casually knows from school just died after suffering for a year from brain cancer). Again, she knows I think it’s the complete end of what we are, and that this is a natural and right, though sad, part of living. She also knows some people don’t think death is real (the girl who died had extremely religious parents who tried, for obvious and understandable reasons, to see the experience as ultimately good, part of God’s plan, and temporary). Again, I let her know I disagree, but I don’t teach her to be intolerant of other’s ideas.

I think ultimately giving your children information, slanted of course towards your own point of view but as open-mionded as you can bring yourself to be, is necessary, right, and very hard. The good news is they don’t come to understand these issues overnight, in one discussion that makes or breaks it for them anymore than they learn to read in a day. I read a lot of myths as bedtime stories, and I mix in those from contemporary religions as well, so the lack of any menaingful distinction is implicit without my having to be didactic about it. Little things like that help “immunize” our kids against blind belief. But we still have to prepare them for a world in which, if they are non-believers too, they will have to deal with all the suffering that can entail, and that’s hard for a parent.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 01:35 PM

I don’t see how a necessitarian can make sense of probability, except epistemic probability. But I don’t think you are a real necessitarian, since I’m sure you wouldn’t take the sucker bet in Vegas. Indeed, as you said, you’re making a “bet”, a probabilistic decision, on necessitarianism itself.

But at any rate I don’t think necessitarianism has any relation to the God argument. Even if you’re just left with epistemic probability, still and all the existence of God doesn’t look very likely.

I stick with the odds because I know that is my best bet but still know the best bet can be wrong.

I can only make sense of epistemic probability and epistemic possibility (off topic now)

If there is no need for anything else, I would rule it out using Occam’s razor.

Of course you think there is good reason to think there is need for something else and have given me cause to doubt my judgement on this.

So I’m on the fence for now.

Stephen

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Posted: 11 October 2007 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 02:04 PM

I stick with the odds because I know that is my best bet but still know the best bet can be wrong.

Exactly so. That’s a very scientific way of thinking about things. The evidence doesn’t ensure you are right; all it does is to make it more probable that you are right.

But if you go through life playing the odds, you are more likely to end up happy than if you don’t.

StephenLawrence - 11 October 2007 02:04 PM

If there is no need for anything else, I would rule it out using Occam’s razor.

Of course you think there is good reason to think there is need for something else and have given me cause to doubt my judgement on this.

So I’m on the fence for now.

Not sure what you mean—what “something else” have I given you reason to think exists?

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