Author Topic: 5 common arguments for the existence of God  (Read 1650 times)

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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5 common arguments for the existence of God
« on: November 16, 2013, 04:12:34 PM »
This thread is addressed to those who maintain a mainstream religious faith (I’ll zero in on Catholicism/most forms of Protestantism).

Argument: You cannot prove that God does not exist.

Actually, it’s extremely difficult to prove that anything doesn’t exist.  It is not as challenging to establish that something’s existence is highly improbable and unnecessary.  That’s where the scientific method and occam’s razor come into play here; if there is no evidence or explanation for God’s existence then the probability that your specific deity does is infinitesimal.  So when I say “there is no God”, I really mean “there is a 99.9999999…% chance there is no God”.  Really, this argument is no more valid for God than it is for flying unicorns or UFOs.

This is why the burden of proof lies on the one making an affirmative claim.  I cannot seriously expect you to prove that I’m not really President Obama trolling you all for the shits and giggles. 

Argument: Atheists cannot explain why the universe is fine tuned.

After Evolutionary Theory, the “god of the gaps” argument has been pushed back to its final frontier, the origins of the universe itself (if you don’t believe in Evolution please see my other thread).  But it really doesn’t work here; for one, it doesn’t “prove” the existence of any one religious deity as much as it suggests a vague, placeholder “God” figure(s).  From there, the clearly deterministic universe doesn’t leave much room for an interventionist deity.

This God of the Gaps idea has never succeeded in its history.  We used to worship Fire Gods because we didn’t understand fire; then we’d move to worshipping Sun Gods because we didn’t understand the Sun, to attributing natural disasters to God because we didn’t understand natural disasters, until we finally get to the origins of the universe itself.  Science was right in all these instances because it involves making testable theories based on evidence and observation, rather than making up stories to explain what we don’t already know.

And adding God here actually just makes the “first cause” problem worse.  God is a more complex entity than a universe; you can’t explain where God came from, which is a bigger hole than not being able to explain why a significantly less complicated universe is [somewhat] fine tuned.  Occam’s razor favors just leaving the question as it is than making the problem bigger with an even more complicated entity whose own existence is now unexplained.

Argument: Science cannot explain the purpose of the life/universe/everything

As Dawkins put it, just because a question is grammatically correct doesn’t mean it is intelligible.  “What is the purpose of the universe?” is akin to asking what is the color of math; there’s no answer because the question assumes that math has a color.  Where is the evidence that the universe need have an anthromorphized purpose?  We evolved to seek purpose in everything; that doesn’t mean everything has a purpose.  There is no observation to suggest that life has a divine purpose; it is up to us to create one.

Furthermore, just because religion claims to have the answer to the above irrelevant questions doesn’t mean it actually does.  It still needs evidence; just because you cannot answer a particularly challenging math question does not suggest that your friend’s random dice roll will give you a satisfactory answer.

Argument: Without religion we’d have no morals/purpose/etc.

This isn’t true, but even if it were, that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not God exists.  Just because something comforts you do not mean that it’s real.

And it’s clear that religion is not exactly the optimal way to get your morals.  You may be aware of some awful verses in the Bible telling people to slaughter children and rape random women; we’ve grown to pick and choose teachings from the Bible that we find moral, such as “love thy neighbor”.  But that suggests that we already have an external moral compass we are using to judge biblical morals, that we actually hold in higher esteem.

Indeed, I’d challenge any religious person to give a single moral lesson in the Bible that cannot be derived secularly.  I know not to kill; even some animals know not to kill (conditionally).  I know not to steal, and all that, and I also understand more enlightened moral teachings, such as social equality, that societies only began to implement thousands of years after Christ.  “love thy neighbor” is great but there’s no need for it to be a divine code rather than something you can figure out on your own.

The “moral” teachings of the Bible that aren’t secularly reproducible/logical are inevitably based on fiat.  It’s “this is wrong because God says so”, which isn’t a good moral system at all. 

Argument: atheism is itself a religion

Or, a variant, “science is based on faith”.

It really isn’t.  If you’re a Christian, you’re an atheist when it comes to Thor, Zeus, Allah and the Spaghetti Monster; we’re just atheists on one more god.  How can not believing in something be a faith?  Is it a faith that you don’t believe unicorns exist?  And again, that there is no evidence for God’s existence suggests his existence is highly improbable – it would only be a leap of faith to literally be 100% certain.

And Science is not a faith because it isn’t meant to be taken on faith.  It’s meant to be trusted because it makes accurate predictions.  It works – this is not faith, it’s observation.  And you could be sophistic and claim that we’re taking it on faith that our perceptions reflect reality, but again, occam’s razor.  Science does not claim for certain that reality is really reality, or whatever other philosophical dead ends have been reached. 

Once again, civil and rational responses would be welcome.  Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2013, 04:35:01 PM by Sci Fi Fan »

Offline MFA

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2013, 05:04:21 PM »
This thread is addressed to those who maintain a mainstream religious faith (I’ll zero in on Catholicism/most forms of Protestantism).

Argument: You cannot prove that God does not exist.

Actually, it’s extremely difficult to prove that anything doesn’t exist.  It is not as challenging to establish that something’s existence is highly improbable and unnecessary.  That’s where the scientific method and occam’s razor come into play here; if there is no evidence or explanation for God’s existence then the probability that your specific deity does is infinitesimal.  So when I say “there is no God”, I really mean “there is a 99.9999999…% chance there is no God”.  Really, this argument is no more valid for God than it is for flying unicorns or UFOs.

This is why the burden of proof lies on the one making an affirmative claim.  I cannot seriously expect you to prove that I’m not really President Obama trolling you all for the shits and giggles.

You've pointed out the failure of a lame "non-argument."

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Argument: Atheists cannot explain why the universe is fine tuned.

After Evolutionary Theory, the “god of the gaps” argument has been pushed back to its final frontier, the origins of the universe itself (if you don’t believe in Evolution please see my other thread).  But it really doesn’t work here; for one, it doesn’t “prove” the existence of any one religious deity as much as it suggests a vague, placeholder “God” figure(s).  From there, the clearly deterministic universe doesn’t leave much room for an interventionist deity.

"Clearly deterministic"?  How do you figure?

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This God of the Gaps idea has never succeeded in its history.  We used to worship Fire Gods because we didn’t understand fire; then we’d move to worshipping Sun Gods because we didn’t understand the Sun, to attributing natural disasters to God because we didn’t understand natural disasters, until we finally get to the origins of the universe itself.  Science was right in all these instances because it involves making testable theories based on evidence and observation, rather than making up stories to explain what we don’t already know.

You claim "testable theories based on evidence and observation" immediately after spouting the crap about "we used to worship Fire Gods because we didn't understand fire," etc., ad nauseum?  Pardon my incredulity, but where the frickin' crap is the observation and evidence that leads you to make those kinds of conclusions? :blink:

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And adding God here actually just makes the “first cause” problem worse.  God is a more complex entity than a universe; you can’t explain where God came from, which is a bigger hole than not being able to explain why a significantly less complicated universe is [somewhat] fine tuned.  Occam’s razor favors just leaving the question as it is than making the problem bigger with an even more complicated entity whose own existence is now unexplained.

Wrong.  "God is a more complex entity than the universe"?  Says who?

And all you're saying is that "we don't know and we don't like your answer."  What kind of answer is that?  All you're doing is agreeing with the argument you're attempting to refute:  namely, you can't explain the fine-tuning of the universe.

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Argument: Science cannot explain the purpose of the life/universe/everything

As Dawkins put it, just because a question is grammatically correct doesn’t mean it is intelligible.  “What is the purpose of the universe?” is akin to asking what is the color of math; there’s no answer because the question assumes that math has a color.  Where is the evidence that the universe need have an anthromorphized purpose?  We evolved to seek purpose in everything; that doesn’t mean everything has a purpose.  There is no observation to suggest that life has a divine purpose; it is up to us to create one.

Furthermore, just because religion claims to have the answer to the above irrelevant questions doesn’t mean it actually does.  It still needs evidence; just because you cannot answer a particularly challenging math question does not suggest that your friend’s random dice roll will give you a satisfactory answer.

Except that you (and Dawkins) could be wrong.  The universe could have a purpose.  Just because you (and arguable "we") might not know what it is doesn't mean it doesn't have one.

This is actually quite obvious.

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Argument: Without religion we’d have no morals/purpose/etc.

This isn’t true, but even if it were, that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not God exists.  Just because something comforts you do not mean that it’s real.

And it’s clear that religion is not exactly the optimal way to get your morals.  You may be aware of some awful verses in the Bible telling people to slaughter children and rape random women; we’ve grown to pick and choose teachings from the Bible that we find moral, such as “love thy neighbor”.  But that suggests that we already have an external moral compass we are using to judge biblical morals, that we actually hold in higher esteem.

Indeed, I’d challenge any religious person to give a single moral lesson in the Bible that cannot be derived secularly.  I know not to kill; even some animals know not to kill (conditionally).  I know not to steal, and all that, and I also understand more enlightened moral teachings, such as social equality, that societies only began to implement thousands of years after Christ.  “love thy neighbor” is great but there’s no need for it to be a divine code rather than something you can figure out on your own.

The “moral” teachings of the Bible that aren’t secularly reproducible/logical are inevitably based on fiat.  It’s “this is wrong because God says so”, which isn’t a good moral system at all.

That's actually not really an argument of strength that you're refuting.  The argument is that because morality exists we can deduce that God exists; not that "without God/religion we wouldn't be moral."

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Argument: atheism is itself a religion

Or, a variant, “science is based on faith”.

It really isn’t.  If you’re a Christian, you’re an atheist when it comes to Thor, Zeus, Allah and the Spaghetti Monster; we’re just atheists on one more god.  How can not believing in something be a faith?  Is it a faith that you don’t believe unicorns exist?  And again, that there is no evidence for God’s existence suggests his existence is highly improbable – it would only be a leap of faith to literally be 100% certain.

Ironically, Christians were first persecuting for being atheists, i.e., rejecting the Roman gods.  By the way, there is evidence for God's existence.  Simply saying there isn't doesn't make it true.  It's actually pretty transparent, petty, and a terrible way to make your case.  You could be a politician with those kinds of tactics...

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And Science is not a faith because it isn’t meant to be taken on faith.  It’s meant to be trusted because it makes accurate predictions.  It works – this is not faith, it’s observation.  And you could be sophistic and claim that we’re taking it on faith that our perceptions reflect reality, but again, occam’s razor.  Science does not claim for certain that reality is really reality, or whatever other philosophical dead ends have been reached.

Ironically, science does need to be taken on faith.  Again, simply denying this doesn't make you right.  It makes "accurate predictions"?  What does that mean when we are not certain that "reality is really reality"?  What kinds of predictions are we getting?  Real ones?  Or not real ones?  Or..."good enough"?  If it's "not guaranteed to reflect reality," what exactly are we trusting and to what extent?  Does that require a certain level of...dare we say it...faith?

Offline Sci Fi Fan

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2013, 06:22:18 PM »
MVC: hw
Physics: hw

You've pointed out the failure of a lame "non-argument."

A lame non-argument that is possibly the most frequent rebuttal given by the typical participant in your side of the discussion.  I'm glad that you don't fall for it, but I'm hardly attacking a strawman here.

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"Clearly deterministic"?  How do you figure?

Every theory and law we have discovered has been deterministic (or probabilistic).  There is no level of true randomness – even QM follows clear statistical trends.  Of course you could argue that there’s the distinct possibility that some level of true randomness exists in some aspect of the universe’s functions.  The problem is that we have observed enough of the macroscopic and microscopic interactions that are relevant to our lives and the overall appearance of the universe that any room for God is extremely minimal at best.

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You claim "testable theories based on evidence and observation" immediately after spouting the crap about "we used to worship Fire Gods because we didn't understand fire," etc., ad nauseum?  Pardon my incredulity, but where the frickin' crap is the observation and evidence that leads you to make those kinds of conclusions? :blink:

Egyptian mythology, Greek mythology, biblical explanations that have been since proven false by science (and rationalized as “parables”), religious arguments pre-Darwin, religious arguments about any random issue science could not immediately explain, even the flight of a honey bee.

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Wrong.  "God is a more complex entity than the universe"?  Says who?

God is conscious, omnipotent, omniscient, unpredictable, has a personality and oh yeah there’s no direct observation of him, whereas we can already see the universe.

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And all you're saying is that "we don't know and we don't like your answer." 

No, it’s “we don’t know and the proper response is to look for more evidence, not to arbitrarily turn to your deity.”

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What kind of answer is that?  All you're doing is agreeing with the argument you're attempting to refute:  namely, you can't explain the fine-tuning of the universe.

You’re just playing right into my point… “you can’t explain that, therefore I’m going to bring in God!”

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Except that you (and Dawkins) could be wrong.  The universe could have a purpose.  Just because you (and arguable "we") might not know what it is doesn't mean it doesn't have one.

You just called this a lame non-argument before…

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That's actually not really an argument of strength that you're refuting.  The argument is that because morality exists we can deduce that God exists; not that "without God/religion we wouldn't be moral."

LOL, no.  Morality exists because of evolutionary pressures; we can clearly see this in how conveniently adapted our morals are to hunter gatherer societies, hence why we also have negative impulses such as jealousy, xenophobia, anger, racism, etc.

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Ironically, Christians were first persecuting for being atheists, i.e., rejecting the Roman gods.  By the way, there is evidence for God's existence.  Simply saying there isn't doesn't make it true.  It's actually pretty transparent, petty, and a terrible way to make your case.  You could be a politician with those kinds of tactics...

Please provide this evidence.

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Ironically, science does need to be taken on faith.

You should never take science on faith.  Take science if/because it makes accurate predictions.  Take science because it works – this isn’t faith (more later).

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Again, simply denying this doesn't make you right.  It makes "accurate predictions"?  What does that mean when we are not certain that "reality is really reality"?  What kinds of predictions are we getting?  Real ones?  Or not real ones?  Or..."good enough"?  If it's "not guaranteed to reflect reality," what exactly are we trusting and to what extent?  Does that require a certain level of...dare we say it...faith?

Nope, that’s probability; it’s possible we’re all imagining this but that’s hardly probable and maybe it doesn’t even matter.  Science doesn’t specifically claim that nature is really reality…it simply examines nature.  And I hardly think that this “leap of faith”, even if it is that, matches up to there being an invisible man in the sky…you’re saying “well yeah, but hey, you’re just as crazy, you’re assuming that reality is really reality!”

Offline MFA

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 06:37:19 PM »
Every theory and law we have discovered has been deterministic (or probabilistic).  There is no level of true randomness – even QM follows clear statistical trends.  Of course you could argue that there’s the distinct possibility that some level of true randomness exists in some aspect of the universe’s functions.  The problem is that we have observed enough of the macroscopic and microscopic interactions that are relevant to our lives and the overall appearance of the universe that any room for God is extremely minimal at best.

And yet QM itself very likely allows for free-will consciousness.  Your flat approval of complete determinism reminds me of Lord Kelvin's famous statement:  "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

But, despite his confidence, he was dead wrong.

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Egyptian mythology, Greek mythology, biblical explanations that have been since proven false by science (and rationalized as “parables”), religious arguments pre-Darwin, religious arguments about any random issue science could not immediately explain, even the flight of a honey bee.

Nope...I'm sorry, you have provided no evidence that religion evolved from "fear of fire and explanations of fire gods."  In spite of your confidence in science and your appeal to evidence, you have spouted fabrications for which there is no evidence.  Inconsistent.

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God is conscious, omnipotent, omniscient, unpredictable, has a personality and oh yeah there’s no direct observation of him, whereas we can already see the universe.

So...only what we directly observe exists?  Nuts.  No more neutrinos, tachyons, Higgs boson, etc.  Right?

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No, it’s “we don’t know and the proper response is to look for more evidence, not to arbitrarily turn to your deity.”

Okay, I'll accept that.  I don't look to fine-tuning to "prove that God exists"; merely to point out that scientific answers do not suffice.

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You’re just playing right into my point… “you can’t explain that, therefore I’m going to bring in God!”

Not at all.  See above.  The existence of God can neither be proven nor disproven scientifically.

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You just called this a lame non-argument before…

No, once again this is not "proof of God" just as your "universe has no purpose" argument is not proof of no God.  You cannot prove that the universe has no purpose.  Your counter-argument to the "no purpose" argument is non-existent.

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LOL, no.  Morality exists because of evolutionary pressures; we can clearly see this in how conveniently adapted our morals are to hunter gatherer societies, hence why we also have negative impulses such as jealousy, xenophobia, anger, racism, etc.

LOL, no.  Altruism does exist and is unexplainable by naturalism.

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Please provide this evidence.

Personal evidence.  Evidence from the Bible.  Evidence that you reject is still evidence.  Saying it doesn't exist is like plugging your ears, closing your eyes, and yelling.  The evidence exists.  You reject it.  You claim it is not valid evidence.  But it does exist.

As I've said before, I believe, I could not convince a skeptic on this website that my wife exists.  It would be ludicrous for me to seriously entertain the possibility that she does not (although there is a possibility that she doesn't exist, and that I am insane).

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You should never take science on faith.  Take science if/because it makes accurate predictions.  Take science because it works – this isn’t faith (more later).

We've already done this.

Science is BASED ON PRESUPPOSITIONS THAT MUST BE TAKEN ON FAITH.  Without belief, science does not exist.

Most basically, AGAIN, we TRUST that the universe is understandable and that our minds our trustworthy when it comes to evaluating said universe and the predictions we make about it.  Does it "work"?  Of course.  How do we know?  BECAUSE OUR MINDS TELL US IT WORKS.  Are our minds trustworthy?

Hmmm...are they?  How do you know?  How would you evaluate your own mind objectively?

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Nope, that’s probability; it’s possible we’re all imagining this but that’s hardly probable and maybe it doesn’t even matter.  Science doesn’t specifically claim that nature is really reality…it simply examines nature.  And I hardly think that this “leap of faith”, even if it is that, matches up to there being an invisible man in the sky…you’re saying “well yeah, but hey, you’re just as crazy, you’re assuming that reality is really reality!”
[/quote

I'll just take it on faith that we're not all imagining this.  Don't you?

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 06:57:11 PM »
And yet QM itself very likely allows for free-will consciousness. 

Not remotely in what you want it to mean.  I’m sorry, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about here.  Quantum mechanics is probabilistic, it is not random, and even if it were, the room for God’s intervention is quite narrow.

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Nope...I'm sorry, you have provided no evidence that religion evolved from "fear of fire and explanations of fire gods."  In spite of your confidence in science and your appeal to evidence, you have spouted fabrications for which there is no evidence.  Inconsistent.

Did you honestly believe the fire god example was entirely literal?  That wasn’t the point – the point was that we’ve historically invented Gods to describe phenomena we could not understand, “fire god” being a placeholder.

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So...only what we directly observe exists?  Nuts.  No more neutrinos, tachyons, Higgs boson, etc.  Right?

By “directly observe”, did you honestly think I meant “light within the visible spectrum that hits our corneas”?  I’m referring to some manner of observation, be it through instrumentation, calculation or whatever.  And scientists consider tachyons to be hypothetical particles and make no pretense that they certainly exist, even though their existence is far more grounded than that of a deity – religious organizations do not extend the same humility.

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Okay, I'll accept that.  I don't look to fine-tuning to "prove that God exists"; merely to point out that scientific answers do not suffice.

Current scientific answers don’t suffice to explain why gravity is so much weaker than the other fundamental forces…this has no relevance to religion.

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Not at all.  See above.  The existence of God can neither be proven nor disproven scientifically.

And I’ve already pointed out that nothing can technically be “disproven” in science – that doesn’t mean we can’t conclude its existence is very, very improbable and unnecessary to explain any phenomena.

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No, once again this is not "proof of God" just as your "universe has no purpose" argument is not proof of no God.  You cannot prove that the universe has no purpose.  Your counter-argument to the "no purpose" argument is non-existent.

In what universe did I claim I had proof of there being no God?  Why do I have to prove a negative anyway?  Burden of proof 101.

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LOL, no.  Altruism does exist and is unexplainable by naturalism.

With all due respect you haven’t been keeping up with the science very well, have you?  Altruism is explained by naturalism, and there have been various studies to demonstrate the (not too difficult to understand) advantages of cooperating with others.  But we can recognize that we have evolved an altruism that seems uniquely adapted to hunter gatherer tribes – just look towards the less amiable sides of our nature.  Just look towards desire for social approval, etc.

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As I've said before, I believe, I could not convince a skeptic on this website that my wife exists.  It would be ludicrous for me to seriously entertain the possibility that she does not (although there is a possibility that she doesn't exist, and that I am insane).

That’s a silly argument.  There are numerous methods you could use to prove your wife’s existence.  What does this have to do with something such as God?

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Science is BASED ON PRESUPPOSITIONS THAT MUST BE TAKEN ON FAITH.  Without belief, science does not exist.

Most basically, AGAIN, we TRUST that the universe is understandable and that our minds our trustworthy when it comes to evaluating said universe and the predictions we make about it.  Does it "work"?  Of course.  How do we know?  BECAUSE OUR MINDS TELL US IT WORKS.  Are our minds trustworthy?

Hmmm...are they?  How do you know?  How would you evaluate your own mind objectively?

What you say isn’t true, but since you don’t seem to accept that truth is not necessarily a discrete quantity in empiricism, let’s presume for a moment that it is.  Do you really think “reality is really reality” being taken on faith means that it’s reasonable to take “there exists an invisible deity in the sky…with a name…and a gender…and a church…that I can all name arbitrarily!”?

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I'll just take it on faith that we're not all imagining this.  Don't you?

Let’s say that I do.  There are different levels of incredulity, and “reality exists” is not on the same level as “9999 religions are wrong, but my deity is most certainly the lord our savior who sent himself in the form of his son into the belly of a teenage girl, to have said son tortured to death to die for the sins of the beings he had created”.

Offline MFA

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2013, 10:02:51 AM »
Not remotely in what you want it to mean.  I’m sorry, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about here.  Quantum mechanics is probabilistic, it is not random, and even if it were, the room for God’s intervention is quite narrow.

Irrelevant.  Quantum mechanics is probabilistic, not random.  Well, I'm not arguing that consciousness is random.  Some scientists speculate that the microtubules in which consciousness appears to be generated can act like a kind of quantum computer.

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Did you honestly believe the fire god example was entirely literal?  That wasn’t the point – the point was that we’ve historically invented Gods to describe phenomena we could not understand, “fire god” being a placeholder.

Not at all.  But given the predictions of science which, albeit "not completely certain" but given a high degree of certainty, what certainty do we have at all of a detailed "evolution of religion" based on the foundation of sand characterized by the words "must have"?

Prehistoric man must have looked up at the stars in awe and personified them as "gods."

Prehistoric man must have cowered in fear at the thunder and lightning, attributing to them the characteristics of deity.

Prehistoric man must have expressed appreciation for the apparent divine provision of the harvest.

Etc.

Do you have anything more than that?  Cave drawings and clay figurines with exorbitant breasts and hips do not corroborate the above.

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By “directly observe”, did you honestly think I meant “light within the visible spectrum that hits our corneas”?  I’m referring to some manner of observation, be it through instrumentation, calculation or whatever.  And scientists consider tachyons to be hypothetical particles and make no pretense that they certainly exist, even though their existence is far more grounded than that of a deity – religious organizations do not extend the same humility.

Okay...so how would you suggest we might go about testing for the existence of God?  Is that something that is impossible?  Do you give God the same approach you do tachyons?  Or have you already written off his existence?  (I think I already know the answer...)

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Current scientific answers don’t suffice to explain why gravity is so much weaker than the other fundamental forces…this has no relevance to religion.

Really...kind of irrelevant.

[quote[And I’ve already pointed out that nothing can technically be “disproven” in science – that doesn’t mean we can’t conclude its existence is very, very improbable and unnecessary to explain any phenomena.[/quote]

Okay...unless you're wrong.  There are a whole bunch of things that might be considered "very, very improbably," except that they exist.

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In what universe did I claim I had proof of there being no God?  Why do I have to prove a negative anyway?  Burden of proof 101.

You stated quite categorically that the universe has no purpose.  So...how do you make such a claim without any evidence whatsoever, knowing that you cannot prove the statement?

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With all due respect you haven’t been keeping up with the science very well, have you?  Altruism is explained by naturalism, and there have been various studies to demonstrate the (not too difficult to understand) advantages of cooperating with others.  But we can recognize that we have evolved an altruism that seems uniquely adapted to hunter gatherer tribes – just look towards the less amiable sides of our nature.  Just look towards desire for social approval, etc.

Not quite.  There are advantages of cooperating with others like me.  That's not altruism.

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That’s a silly argument.  There are numerous methods you could use to prove your wife’s existence.  What does this have to do with something such as God?

Not to a skeptic.  How would you go about doing it?

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What you say isn’t true, but since you don’t seem to accept that truth is not necessarily a discrete quantity in empiricism, let’s presume for a moment that it is.  Do you really think “reality is really reality” being taken on faith means that it’s reasonable to take “there exists an invisible deity in the sky…with a name…and a gender…and a church…that I can all name arbitrarily!”?

It's not true that we presume the universe to be rationally understanding, both in the repeatability of phenomena and the trustworthiness of our own minds!? :blink:

That's NOT TRUE!?

Good Lord, then.

But you are committing a logical fallacy by "completing my argument" that taking the universe and the scientific method "on faith" is equivalent in my mind to "accepting the existence of God" on faith.

I'm not arguing that at all.  I'm saying that both starting points are "faith."  Where you go after that starting point is further conversation.  Otherwise it's like saying, "I understand the universe to be rational and my mind to be trustworthy, therefore microwave ovens."  There are some steps missing here.

Surely you're trying to be honest in this conversation...?

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Let’s say that I do.  There are different levels of incredulity, and “reality exists” is not on the same level as “9999 religions are wrong, but my deity is most certainly the lord our savior who sent himself in the form of his son into the belly of a teenage girl, to have said son tortured to death to die for the sins of the beings he had created”.

See above.

"The universe is rational and my mind is trustworthy...therefore, quantum tunneling."

Really?

And you're asking for serious responses?  Please do the same.

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2013, 12:40:12 PM »
Irrelevant.  Quantum mechanics is probabilistic, not random.  Well, I'm not arguing that consciousness is random.  Some scientists speculate that the microtubules in which consciousness appears to be generated can act like a kind of quantum computer.

An interventionist deity's existence does not predict randomness but rather bias towards certain outcomes.

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Not at all.  But given the predictions of science which, albeit "not completely certain" but given a high degree of certainty, what certainty do we have at all of a detailed "evolution of religion" based on the foundation of sand characterized by the words "must have"?

Because a common element we see throughout early religions and creation myths pertains to natural phenomenon we did not understand, such as the weather and the seasons.  We see this faulty mode of thinking reflected in the writings of apologists such as Aquinas and later various counter-enlightenment writers.  Indeed, many religious stories are specifically prefaced with the question "why does X happen?"  As science has developed and gained acceptance less and less of these stories are taken seriously, until reasonable religious persons have fallen back on the origin of life and the origin of the universe.  The more the god of the gaps shrinks, the less room there is for an interventionist deity.

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Prehistoric man must have looked up at the stars in awe and personified them as "gods."


This is not speculation.  Look at greek, norse and chinese myths.

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Prehistoric man must have cowered in fear at the thunder and lightning, attributing to them the characteristics of deity.

This is not speculation.  Have you no exposure whatsoever of ancient religious beliefs?

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Prehistoric man must have expressed appreciation for the apparent divine provision of the harvest.

We know that they did.


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Do you have anything more than that?  Cave drawings and clay figurines with exorbitant breasts and hips do not corroborate the above.

Jesus, I've never debated a greek history denier before.   :rolleyes:

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Okay...so how would you suggest we might go about testing for the existence of God?

You tell me.  If you can't come up with one, you admit your stance is unfalsifiable and therefore useless.

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  Do you give God the same approach you do tachyons? 

Scientists acknowledge that tachyons may or may not exist.  Religious organizations state with literal dogmatic certainty that their God, for which there is no observational evidence whatsoever, exists.  Notice whenever a religious person declares that atheists can't "disprove" god; they conveniently switch positions from "god certainly exists" to "well technically he could exist", most without even realizing it.

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Or have you already written off his existence?  (I think I already know the answer...)

Are you even going to pretend to accurately address my position?  Have I not already answered this question to you on literally dozens of occasions? 

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Really...kind of irrelevant.

Thank you.  So maybe you can toss out your "science has not explained everything" strawman alongside your "you're writing off the existence of god" strawman.  Because once you continue to repeat distortions of someone's arguments again and again despite constant clarification, people begin to question your integrity.

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You stated quite categorically that the universe has no purpose.  So...how do you make such a claim without any evidence whatsoever, knowing that you cannot prove the statement?

You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.  I stated quite categorically that there is no evidence that the universe has a purpose, and therefore that "what is the purpose of the universe?" is a loaded question.

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Not quite.  There are advantages of cooperating with others like me.  That's not altruism.

It most certainly is.  What you do not understand about evolution is that there is a difference between the "purpose" (being stated in an anthropomorphic sense) of an adaptation and the mechanism through which animals use it.  The evolutionary purpose of loving your child is to ensure the survival of your genetic material, but you have not adapted to consciously think that.

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Not to a skeptic.  How would you go about doing it?

Once again you seem to lack an understanding of the difference between mathematical proof and inductive evidence.

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It's not true that we presume the universe to be rationally understanding, both in the repeatability of phenomena and the trustworthiness of our own minds!? :blink:

The rationality of the universe is an observation, not a faith.  Were the universe modeled on the loony toons we would conclude otherwise.

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That's NOT TRUE!?

No it is not, and it baffles me that you fail to understand this.  Quantum mechanics accepts that some aspects of reality are based on probability, a contradiction of Newton and Einstein based on observation, not faith or belief.  What makes you think the observation that macro-interactions are deterministic is any different?

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Good Lord, then.

But you are committing a logical fallacy by "completing my argument" that taking the universe and the scientific method "on faith" is equivalent in my mind to "accepting the existence of God" on faith.

I would not have to if your argument were complete, rather than a string of criticisms of science that lend absolutely nothing to your point.

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I'm not arguing that at all.  I'm saying that both starting points are "faith."  Where you go after that starting point is further conversation.  Otherwise it's like saying, "I understand the universe to be rational and my mind to be trustworthy, therefore microwave ovens."  There are some steps missing here.

Technically you can reduce everything to axioms.  That doesn't mean some axioms are not more reasonable than others.

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"The universe is rational

This is an observation, not a faith.

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and my mind is trustworthy...

Science deals with theories and laws built around observational data.  Whether or not such data is "real" is for philosophers to argue over.

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therefore, quantum tunneling."

 :lol:

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Really?

And you're asking for serious responses?  Please do the same.

Well, let's see what you've done here.  You have repeatedly distorted my arguments by failing to understand the difference between noting a lack of evidence or necessity and stating categorically a conjecture's falsity.  You continue to demonstrate a palpable inability to distinguish observations and assumptions.  You continue to make silly reduction-to-first-principle tautologies without bothering to explain how it has anything to do with your point.  And you've demonstrated that you understand neither basic evolutionary or quantum mechanical principles, yet you continue to bluff your knowledge.  Nobody here is stating "god certainly does not exist"; I am stating that he most probably does not exist.  There is subtle distinction between the two contentions, and you've concocted the former as an excuse to butcher elementary scientific principles.  In other words, the same "lame argument" you labeled the first contention I attempted to address.

Offline Montesquieu

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 09:29:52 PM »
I don't buy that the laws of physics are random or that there is a way to reconcile creation with the law of conservation of energy,..

Offline grace_note

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Re: 5 common arguments for the existence of God
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 08:42:13 AM »
Good thread. I too am an atheist, but I would respond to those common arguments in a slightly different way.

Argument: You cannot prove that God does not exist.

Simplest response in the world: just because I can't disprove it, doesn't mean I am therefore consigned to believe it. If that were the case, I would believe everything. Theists can't prove that there aren't 20 gods hiding on the other side of Mars right now. But just because we can't prove that it's false, doesn't mean we have to believe it's true. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But absence of evidence of absence is not evidence of presence.

Argument: Atheists cannot explain why the universe is fine tuned.

Fine tuned for what? To be littered with black holes and have only one planet orbiting one star out of trillions able to support life?

This statement that the universe is fine tuned is strange because it's nothing more than a tautology. All it's saying is that the universe is fine tuned to be the way it is. As a demonstration of why this is a fallacy, I like to use random.org. I went to random.org, and generated a random number between 1 and 1 million. The result was 158799. The chances of it coming out to that were 0.0001%. Clearly it must have been by design! The random number generator must have been fine tuned to generate 158799 when grace_note used random.org at 11:38 EST.


Argument: Without religion we’d have no morals/purpose/etc.

This is proven false by the simple observation that there are non-religious people who have morals and a sense of purpose.

Argument: Science cannot explain the purpose of the life/universe/everything

You said it best. In order for this argument to be valid, one would have to prove that it is necessary for the universe/life/everything to have a purpose. Preferable, sure. But necessary? I'm not so sure about that. The facts of the universe don't bend to our preference. If they did, I'd have a million dollars and Obama wouldn't be president.

But even if there is a purpose of life/universe/everything, the fact that science can't explain it doesn't mean that a god is responsible for it. This is just the classic god of the gaps.

Argument: atheism is itself a religion

This doesn't even prove that gods exist. But atheism isn't a religion. It's merely a single position on a single claim. To that extent, theism isn't a religion either. A religion is a lot more than a single position on a single claim. It's a whole belief system with stories, a moral code, religious leaders, etc. Some people say that atheism has all of this in the form of moral relativism, secular humanism, evolution, etc. But the key difference is that not believing in any of these things doesn't make you any less of an atheist. The only thing that makes you an atheist is a lack of belief in gods.

Just like with theism. Theism isn't a religion for the same reason. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism, so the same principles apply.

 

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