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Thread: Proving the non-existence of god?

  1. #1 Proving the non-existence of god? 
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    Recently I've been thinking about the tendency for many people to claim that we can't prove that gods don't exist, with the implication being that they might indeed exist. This view is quite often accompanied by a claim that science is limited and can't answer the question definitively. This sort of claim can be made by both the devout and the atheist alike. Richard Dawkins, for example, in The God Delusion gave himself a score of six on his seven-point "spectrum of theistic probability" scale, basically saying the probability for the existence of gods is non-zero.


    The claim that there are no gods (which I hold) is much rarer. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that gods, as defined, can not exist. Is that such a minority view as I am thinking it is? I was wondering if anyone knows why the slight doubt argument is so popular among those who would describe themselves as atheists.


    Although descriptions of god are very varied, a common theme amongst modern theologians is to describe god like so: God is not composed of matter or energy. God transcends reality. God does not exist within the universe OR outside of the universe. God transcends the universe. God can interact physically with the world. God is - or, is the source of - love, truth, morality and happiness.


    Now, taking such a definition of god one can see that as an argument it is illogical, paradoxical, nonsensical, poorly-defined, incoherent and violates the laws of nature. I would maintain that such an argument can legitimately be rejected without any evidence. The question can't be answered not due to the limits of science but because there is no question. I would claim that such entities can not exist. I would also claim that any god that does not have these properties can not in fact be a god, only something that could be wrongly interpreted as being one.


    I have a little itch at the back of mind that says maybe such a strong atheistic view is not common because it's flawed. Is it? Or is it the case that most atheists are afraid to stick their necks out for some reason?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Recently I've been thinking about the tendency for many people to claim that we can't prove that gods don't exist, with the implication being that they might indeed exist. This view is quite often accompanied by a claim that science is limited and can't answer the question definitively. This sort of claim can be made by both the devout and the atheist alike. Richard Dawkins, for example, in The God Delusion gave himself a score of six on his seven-point "spectrum of theistic probability" scale, basically saying the probability for the existence of gods is non-zero.


    The claim that there are no gods (which I hold) is much rarer. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that gods, as defined, can not exist. Is that such a minority view as I am thinking it is? I was wondering if anyone knows why the slight doubt argument is so popular among those who would describe themselves as atheists.


    Although descriptions of god are very varied, a common theme amongst modern theologians is to describe god like so: God is not composed of matter or energy. God transcends reality. God does not exist within the universe OR outside of the universe. God transcends the universe. God can interact physically with the world. God is - or, is the source of - love, truth, morality and happiness.


    Now, taking such a definition of god one can see that as an argument it is illogical, paradoxical, nonsensical, poorly-defined, incoherent and violates the laws of nature. I would maintain that such an argument can legitimately be rejected without any evidence. The question can't be answered not due to the limits of science but because there is no question. I would claim that such entities can not exist. I would also claim that any god that does not have these properties can not in fact be a god, only something that could be wrongly interpreted as being one.


    I have a little itch at the back of mind that says maybe such a strong atheistic view is not common because it's flawed. Is it? Or is it the case that most atheists are afraid to stick their necks out for some reason?
    Well lets look at it this way, to understand God would be limit him or the concept of him to our own understanding. Yet our own understanding cannot even understand why we or our universe exist in the first place.

    To even begin to speculate on such a possibility of his existance we first need to difine what exactly it is we are trying to determine does or does not exist. Certainly many things we can learn through science teach us of the that what religion tells us is wrong. But is this really relevant? Only if we actually attach the the concept of God to that of the man made creation of religion.

    If for instance God exists and was capable of creating the entire universe, nature and all of time do we really have the tools to even begin to understand any of his creatations nevermind God himself.

    Could an ameba understand the existance of a human? What tools would it even have to comprehend what a human being is or the relm in which they reside? Like wise why would we have the tools to comprehend a true God or the relm in which it may live. Would it even exist in our linear time frame?

    For all we know the universe could be God.

    There are just to many unanswered questions to come up with an answer and there will remain so for the forseeable future.


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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    You're not dealing with the specific subject at hand.

    I'm suggesting that many atheists refuse to fully rule out the existence of god on grounds that are not sound. I doubt many atheists refuse to dismiss god for the reasons you outline. Gods are often like blue-spotted magnitude-9 earthquakes that exist in the pockets of leather jackets - that is, utterly incoherent entities that can not exist. Otherwise rational people will say that such things may well exist and can't be ruled out. Many people seem to allow for the possibility of gods without ever thinking too much about what a god really is; what a god must be, in fact.


    The main stronghold of the "atheist argument for god" (for want of better terminology) seems to be a Creation based one - it's invariably about the creation of the universe. I would maintain that the creation of a universe is not a skill that need be restricted to the divine.

    If god doesn't have the properties I've outlined then it's not a god. It's just an entity that is, or once was, biological and manipulates matter and energy with technology.
    Last edited by Zwirko; June 21st, 2012 at 01:33 PM. Reason: multiple typos
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    In holy text, if there appears an obvious error or if one passage contradicts another then I think it safe to eliminate said text as God's word. I say this knowing that by doing so I have placed a quality on God, in that I expect Him to be perfect. Why do I expect this when I haven't any idea of whether God exists or not? This is an example of just how easy it is for even a naysayer to describe a god. However, I realize this expectation has no basis in reality. Therefore I cannot tell you about a god, and if it is impossible for me then it is the same for everyone because in essence we are left with nothing but a notion, an idea, or a thought of a god's existence. It's not proof of anything, except that we have an imagination. That's enough for me to think God only exists in the minds of people. I haven't seen anything that would make me change my opinion.
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    For Zwirko. Would you accept as a possibility that there is a little bit of the God concept in all of us? The Soul? What part of an individual's identity or personality or biological existance could be identified as a possible God implant. Are we than God? We breathe Goodness. Are we breathing God? We feel compassion. Is our Compassion God? Sorrow overtakes our feelings, is our sorrow a manifestation of God? Where in our Genetic Strand or Duplex Ladder of Chromisoms and genes is the God gene implanted.? Is the Creation of Life itself, the procreation of offspring, a God like thing to do? Then we could surmise that as a Specie we have an inbuilt God, our Specie is a God. westwind.
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    zinjanthropos,


    I don't agree that we can't know the nature of god. From a process of logical deduction we can say what god is not and thus put constraints on the nature of god. For example, god is not a satsuma or an old leather boot. So, without trying very hard we've just put some boundaries on the nature of god. If you continue such a process of deduction you are forced to conclude that god has some of, or all of, the properties that I outlined in my first post. For example, god must be an immaterial entity not composed of particles; it must transcend reality. If you have a god composed of atoms then you immediately run into a whole raft of problems that can't be overcome. This is why theologians describe god in the manner that they do. Another property of god is that it must be supernatural. A god that is part of the natural order of things can't exist. It must transcend reality. It must not be subject to, bound by, and be described by physical laws.





    I'm not arguing that gods don't exist. If people want to believe in supernatural entities that transcend reality then that's fine. My argument is essentially questioning the atheistic slogan "god probably does not exist". Where does the wiggle-room come from that allows a haven - no matter how small - for god to exist, come from? Since gods must be supernatural entities then some atheists surely must believe that supernatural forces might actually be a fundamental component of the universe.


    My argument contains the provocative suggestion that many atheists get hung up on the origins of the universe and forget the true nature of god. Yes, the universe may well have been created by some sentient entity - BUT it couldn't have been a divine entity because gods are paradoxical, incoherent entities that exhibit extreme violations of physical law. They can't exist. If atheists don't rule out god completely and instead choose to leave room for it - usually at the origins of the universe - then I suggest that they are confusing an entity with god-like powers with a real god.
    Last edited by Zwirko; June 22nd, 2012 at 06:14 AM.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Semantics. Semantics are essential to communication. Without defined meaning then no meaningful communication exists.

    Then there are pedantic semantics. Semantics that offend the meaning of the word. I think you are swimming in that ocean.
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    I get your point Zwirko and have pretty much the same sentiments. The concept of God a lot of religions come up with as essentially an ultimate alpha figure with supernatural powers (not in the advanced science = magic sense) is to me also nonsensical.

    I like the concept of Ignosticism, which states that "An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether they are a theist or an atheist until a sufficient definition of theism is put forth." Basically, you define your God to me and I'll say if I believe in him or not.

    So, I have as much faith in the existence of the Biblical God as I do in the tooth fairy, but would not be so hasty when considering the possibility of an alien capable of creating universes, reading minds, copying and storing personalities, etc.
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    JG, that an excellent contribution to the discussion.

    Feel free to throw me a life belt then. I'll share it with you since your own contribution here seems to be lost at sea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I get your point Zwirko and have pretty much the same sentiments. The concept of God a lot of religions come up with as essentially an ultimate alpha figure with supernatural powers (not in the advanced science = magic sense) is to me also nonsensical.

    I like the concept of Ignosticism, which states that "An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether they are a theist or an atheist until a sufficient definition of theism is put forth." Basically, you define your God to me and I'll say if I believe in him or not.

    So, I have as much faith in the existence of the Biblical God as I do in the tooth fairy, but would not be so hasty when considering the possibility of an alien capable of creating universes, reading minds, copying and storing personalities, etc.
    Exactly, it's the magical and supernatural aspect of god that is the problem for me.

    The agnostic and the weak atheist must at some level accept the possibility of magic and/or the supernatural as being part of the fabric of reality, for without the supernatural there can be no gods. That acceptance of the supernatural can be acknowledged or not, but it is there, implicit. If Dawkins views the probability of god existing as being non-zero, I ask what sort of god does he think might/could exist? I argue that god must have certain properties and without those it can't be god. I further argue that those properties can't exist. You need to be a person of faith to accept such a god.


    It is an accepted and well-defended philosophical stance to reject god as being an incoherent, illogical and paradoxical concept (see works of authors such as Kai Neilsen for lengthy and acclaimed discussion on this). Gods can be, and are, rejected without the need of scientific evidence and without falling foul of logic and sound reasoning. I think that many atheists take the "probably no god" stance not because they have reached that conclusion, but rather because they have been exposed to it.
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    I think some of it has to do with the healthy scientific method approach where nothing is regarded as absolute. I just don't think it should apply here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I think some of it has to do with the healthy scientific method approach where nothing is regarded as absolute. I just don't think it should apply here.
    Good point; I don't think I considered that. Is it a misplaced application of the scientific method perhaps? Maybe, I'm not sure.

    As you pointed out with the "Ignostic" term, there is no well-defined coherent argument to answer. I don't think there ever can be, so I'd say that the scientific method does not apply here since in the end you are forced to conclude - as all good theologians seem to do - that god must have the bizarre impossible properties that it is claimed to have. Anything else is fatal to the concept. You can argue god out of existence (or try to); maybe that's all that is needed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    I get your point Zwirko and have pretty much the same sentiments. The concept of God a lot of religions come up with as essentially an ultimate alpha figure with supernatural powers (not in the advanced science = magic sense) is to me also nonsensical.

    I like the concept of Ignosticism, which states that "An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether they are a theist or an atheist until a sufficient definition of theism is put forth." Basically, you define your God to me and I'll say if I believe in him or not.

    So, I have as much faith in the existence of the Biblical God as I do in the tooth fairy, but would not be so hasty when considering the possibility of an alien capable of creating universes, reading minds, copying and storing personalities, etc.
    I'd never herd of an 'ignostic' but the idea makes sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    From a process of logical deduction we can say what god is not and thus put constraints on the nature of god.
    First you need to demonstrate that processes of logical deduction are qualified to analyze the subject of gods.

    As example, if a theist declares a god exists because the Bible says so, we reasonably challenge whether the Bible is a qualified authority on the subject. We ask for evidence of such authority, we examine the evidence, and follow the evidence trail where ever it may lead as best we can. We don't just blindly accept the assumption that the Bible is so qualified.

    So, before you start doing logic, apply this very same reasonable challenge to your own chosen authority. Be intellectually honest, and apply your own method, to your own method. Don't just assume that your chosen authority is qualified to come to meaningful answers on the subject.
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    A supernatural god violates logic. Can there be anything that defies logic? Not that I know of
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    Those are certainly good points, Typist.

    However, as I hoped I made clear in my opening post, my chosen experts were actually modern day theologians themselves. I know of no better authority than this to seek guidance from on the nature of god. Do you? It's the theologians and philosophers that have narrowed down the nature of god by centuries of reasoned and not so reasoned argument.

    God has no option to be anything other than a transcendent entity of immaterial composition. Without these essential properties you will quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble.

    My argument is that transcendent entities of immaterial composition are incoherent, poorly-defined and paradoxical concepts. They should be rejected without need of evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    A supernatural god violates logic. Can there be anything that defies logic? Not that I know of
    Not that you know of is an excellent statement. So what might we be able to know of? Let's review some known facts....

    US: We are a single species. On one little planet. In one of billions of galaxies. And that's just the stuff we know about. And we are continually living on the edge of catastrophe, given our inability to manage our own affairs. Quite a few of those posting about God in net forums have only been on our little planet for a few dozen years.

    GOD: Usually defined as an all powerful entity capable of things such as creating galaxies etc.

    Given the known facts, we might reason as follows...

    If a God does exist, what are the chances we would be able to understand it?

    If a God doesn't exist, how could we possibly know such a thing? As example, some will propose that no God exists in all of reality. Ok, well, but can they define "all of reality"? If we have no clue even how big reality is, how would we know what is or isn't contained with that reality? For fans of reason, this is pretty simple reasoning.

    Arguments like these could be why thoughtful atheists decline to make sweeping statements of certainty.
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    As it relates to the original question "Proving the non-existence of a god?" It is really difficult to prove a negative if there are no properties that define it should exist in the natural world. You might as well ask "Proving the non-existence of invisible unicorns?"

    The only things that consistently give the indication of non-existence, are things that don't exist.
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    Hi there Zwirko,

    1) You have yet to establish that reason is a qualified authority to address this particular topic. Until you do that, your argument is essentially the same as "because the Bible says so".

    2) Is your goal to understand whether there is a God or not? Or is your goal to prove there is no God?

    The first is reason, the second is ideology. Reason follows the evidence where ever it may lead, ideology starts with a conclusion and then assembles evidence to support that conclusion.
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    Logic, as I see it, is an absolute. It is a fundamental property of our universe. My reasoning is that nothing can exist that can defy it. So, if a supernatural being exists, it would be in violation of these fundamental constraints as I see it. A supernatural god is illogical then and hence, impossible.

    Would you postulate the possibility that logic can be defied?
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    If the existence of logic has been determined by a creator, then presumably the creator has the option to change the rules. Rather like programmers leaving a back door into supposedly secure systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Logic, as I see it, is an absolute. It is a fundamental property of our universe. My reasoning is that nothing can exist that can defy it. So, if a supernatural being exists, it would be in violation of these fundamental constraints as I see it. A supernatural god is illogical then and hence, impossible.

    Would you postulate the possibility that logic can be defied?
    Interesting, but let me put this to you, logic is our way of understanding the things around us and the laws that govern them. If I was to create a computer game and set the parameters for the charcters I as the game designer would not be governed by the game parameters. I think this is same for God, I don't think that a true God, that is capable of all of creation, would necessarily be limited to our parameters of logic. We might merely be to him as the characters of a computer game you or I could create. Thus leaving God to be well beyond any of our concepts of logic, time, dimension or even life.
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    Logic, as I see it, is an absolute. It is a fundamental property of our universe. My reasoning is that nothing can exist that can defy it. So, if a supernatural being exists, it would be in violation of these fundamental constraints as I see it. A supernatural god is illogical then and hence, impossible.
    Ok, you've stated what your authority is. This is the equivalent of saying, the Bible is absolute. So if you're content with expressing your faith, you're done, and we should respect your faith.

    If you would like to move beyond faith, then of course we need evidence to support your assertion.

    Would you postulate the possibility that logic can be defied?
    Let's examine the evidence. Where does logic physically reside? What is it's location?
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    If the existence of logic has been determined by a creator, then presumably the creator has the option to change the rules. Rather like programmers leaving a back door into supposedly secure systems.
    Yes, by the usual definition, God would be the creator of logic along with everything else. It's reasonable to question why such an entity would be bound by rules that it created.
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    Typist,

    I'm not trying to understand god or prove that god does not exist. I'm arguing that concepts of god are so poorly-defined and incoherent that they do not warrant a special preserve of probability in the mind of the atheist. I'm simply (albeit not clearly) arguing that god has - indeed, must have - certain properties. Unfortunately for god those properties turn out to be nonsensical. Without faith such properties can not be viewed as being a component of reality.

    For example, can you see what would happen if god was composed of matter like ourselves? Examination of those problems leads me to affirm the common theological claim that god must be a non-material transcendent entity. I argue that such things make no sense and can't exist. Therefore, the atheist should not express doubt or worry about the inability to prove their non-existence.
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    The limit I think that a God would need to exceed, is the question of what is possible. If something is possible, then it is not supernatural. See my logic?

    Anything possible is by definition natural as I see it. If anything is possible, then I guess one would define god as something that can do anything. I don't think everything is possible though, so a god would then be defined as something that can do the impossible, the supernatural. As you can see, it quickly becomes nonsensical and paradoxical.

    Do I make sense?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    I'm simply (albeit not clearly) arguing that god has - indeed, must have - certain properties. Unfortunately for god those properties turn out to be nonsensical.
    Right, you are reasoning. Please demonstrate that human reason is qualified to address this question.

    I argue that such things make no sense and can't exist.
    Please demonstrate that such things are required to make sense.

    Why would an entity defined as having created EVERYTHING be bound by any system of rules?
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    Typist,


    If you want to understand how human reasoning is well qualified to put limits on the properties of gods then simply answer the question I posed in my last post: what would happen if god was composed of atoms. You can provide the answer to your own question. Please, attempt it. Here.

    I think you will succeed in illustrating what god is not. You will therefore have put god in a smaller box than that which it was in before. Rinse and repeat, the box gets smaller.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    If atheists don't rule out god completely and instead choose to leave room for it - usually at the origins of the universe - then I suggest that they are confusing an entity with god-like powers with a real god.
    God is a belief. It's an idea. I accept the fact people have ideas. I don't share the belief but the idea of a god is certainly a fascinating one, alien or otherwise.
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    If you want to understand how human reasoning is well qualified to put limits on the properties of gods then simply answer the question I posed in my last post: what would happen if god was composed of atoms. You can provide the answer to your own question. Please, attempt it. Here.
    The equivalent of your statement is...

    If you want to understand why a God exists, simply look it up in the Bible.

    You keep sending me back to your chosen authority, reason. You want me to accept your chosen authority on faith. You want me to reason, but you decline to explain why a god said to have invented reason would be bound by reason's rules.
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    Typist,

    This is a discussion forum where humans talk about things that interest them using the skills available. Reason is all we have. Any conclusions we reach will not be set in stone. Consider them arrogant attempts to understand the world, no matter how feeble and fumbling or wrong they may be. Feel free to engage.

    How do you conclude that gods are beyond reason? How do you know that gods are not in fact very amenable to reason? Truth is, you don't. You just made that up in the hope that's it true because it would make things convenient for you. I don't accept that argument one bit. God sprang from human reason, so let us use human reason to study it. You are using this as a defensive tactic to avoid answering questions, nothing more. Given that we don't know either way then you have little choice but to put that line of argument on the back-burner. It's an unfounded argument.

    I claim that god can't be made of matter and conclude like many others that a god must be a non-material entity. If you have any good arguments against this claim then feel free to air them. Simply stating we're not smart enough to know is wasting everybody's time.
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    This is a discussion forum where humans talk about things that interest them using the skills available. Reason is all we have. Any conclusions we reach will not be set in stone. Consider them arrogant attempts to understand the world, no matter how feeble and fumbling or wrong they may be. Feel free to engage.
    Yes, as you can see, I've been engaging, using reason.

    How do you conclude that gods are beyond reason? How do you know that gods are not in fact very amenable to reason? Truth is, you don't.
    Correct, neither of us know whether a God would be bound by the rules of human reason. Thus, neither of us are in a position to use reason to disprove the existence of a god.

    I don't know that a god would be beyond reason. But it's pretty easy to make such a case, given that God is usually defined as the creator of everything, a term which would seem to include all natural laws and human reason.

    It's even easier to make the case that a single species on a single planet in one of billions of galaxies would be unlikely to be qualified to analyze an entity that created the billions of galaxies, should such an entity exist. Oh, don't forget, this species can only just barely manage it's own affairs.

    It's super duper easy to propose that those who've only been on the planet for a few dozen years may not yet be ready to fully join a conversation that's been going on for thousands of years.

    So, there's a pile of reason for you. It of course does not prove a God exists. But it's fairly strong evidence that the authority of human reason to address these questions should be challenged, just as we challenge any other authority that someone may propose.

    You just made that up in the hope that's it true because it would make things convenient for you. I don't accept that argument one bit.
    Please reference my screen name to understand what's convenient for me. :-) I don't mind at all if you don't agree with any of this. I'm not here to convert you, I'm just responding to the question you posed.

    God sprang from human reason, so let us use human reason to study it. You are using this as a defensive tactic to avoid answering questions, nothing more. Given that we don't know either way then you have little choice but to put that line of argument on the back-burner. It's an unfounded argument.
    If it's unfounded, it should be easy for you to defeat. Feel free to take a shot, or not, as you wish.

    I claim that god can't be made of matter and conclude like many others that a god must be a non-material entity. If you have any good arguments against this claim then feel free to air them. Simply stating we're not smart enough to know is wasting everybody's time.
    Nobody is obligated to read my posts. I've merely suggested we subject reason to the same test we would apply to any other proposed authority, such as the Bible. If this is too challenging, then feel free to put me on ignore and proceed as you wish.
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    Logic... Logic dictates.... Nothing can be beyond Logic... Then how does Logic explain things like Microbes surviving in the cold depths of space, can Logic explain the Actions of Mass Murderers or Child Rapists? I am not stating this as an attack but simply because such instances Defy Logic. If logic can be defied then it is fallible. Why? Because MAN is fallible. Does God exist? That should be a question left to the individual. A persons choice in regards to religion and God, or Goddess, or Pantheon of such should be a personal matter. What I choose to believe is my choice. People say "Prove that god/s exist". I say "Prove that they do not". It is an argument, not based on logic, but on lack of imperical data either way. Neither side can prove to the other definetively the existence/non-existence of an entity of such scale and scope.
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    Addendum to the above.
    I would add that in addition to the above points of actions/things that "defy" logic we may want to add the existence of life around oceanic thermal vents or "Black Smokers" I have read and heard Many oceanographers and Marine scientists as well as biologists and others state that "The existence of such life defies logic". Again I do not believe I should have to prove why I make a choice.
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    I would add that in addition to the above points of actions/things that "defy" logic we may want to add the existence of life around oceanic thermal vents or "Black Smokers" I have read and heard Many oceanographers and Marine scientists as well as biologists and others state that "The existence of such life defies logic".
    It's just an expression of awe for something that surprised them based on the science of the time...NON of them literately think life around black smokers defies logic; in fact black smokers and similar hydrothermal vents are now considered the lead hypothesis for how life started on earth.
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    Yes. But my point is that when first discovered, logic told us that nothing could survive those temperatures. The heat of the surrounding water was to extreme. We now know that it is possible. Today the existence of a deity is considered highly improbable if not impossible, by the closed minded. I think one should have proof before dismissing the beliefs of millions, if not billions, of people. It is arrogance to say "You are wrong and foolish for your belief and I am right and smart because I do not believe", sheer arrogance.
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    I think one should have proof before dismissing the beliefs of millions, if not billions, of people.
    Actually we do....thousands of facts from religious text which have completely and utterly failed verification or been completely disproven (e.g., big floods that didn't happen, toppling walls by impossible means, exoduses what didn't happen, talking animals, origin of people from the wrong place, people swallowed for days by whales, age of earth wrong, BIG miracles never noticed by choreographers at the right place at the right time, dragons, unicorns. a virgin birth, the resurrection of the son of god as a zombie etc etc etc), by science and reasoning which are believed by those those same people-- god such as it is, a failed hypothesis of monumental proportions. The burden is on those billions to prove their case--most likely they can't because what they believe is make-be-leave.
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    Typist,


    Your argument that reason is not sufficient is unfounded because you have given it no solid foundation.


    Your argument is largely based on your own personal incredulity - pathetic little humans lost in a big scary universe etc. A logical fallacy, surely? You could have chosen to describe humans as the most complicated and intelligent entities known in the universe (not that this has any relevance either). Your other argument that human reason lacks the authority because god created everything - including reason itself and so need not be bound by reason - is a conclusion that does not follow naturally from its premise. Why would the creator be beyond human reasoning? Because you declare it so? Because you desire it so? Why? You apparently see it as something so obvious it just fall straight out at the slightest prod. It doesn't.


    Contrary to what you claim, the case that human reason does not have the authority is not an easy one to make. You've certainly not made it here. All you've really done is thrown it up in the air as a possibility. Must I needlessly reply each time that your own claim may be invalid too? Let's go round in circles for the rest of time and see who get's dizzy first, is that your plan?


    Challenging the authority of those who bring an argument to the table is also a logical fallacy. In theory, but not always in practice, it is of precisely zero consequence to science what authority we turn to. It's only the argument and its supporting evidence that matters. Challenging reason itself is widely recognised as being one of the lamest arguments in existence. It achieves nothing. It's pointless. Its only purpose is to stifle discourse and function as a barrier to hide behind.

    Neither do you seem to realise that your claim is incoherent and self-contradictory. That always happens when god comes to town.
    Last edited by Zwirko; June 23rd, 2012 at 06:15 PM. Reason: clarification.
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    Your argument is largely based on your own personal incredulity - pathetic little humans lost in a big scary universe etc. A logical fallacy, surely?
    I'm sorry my friend, but we are pathetic little humans lost in a big scary universe. Fact not fallacy.

    I would define pathetic as "constantly on the verge of destroying ourselves". A fact, a couple thousand nuclear weapons aimed down our own throat, on a planet that has never seen the absence of all out human conflict for long. We're 30 minutes away from the end of civilization at all times, and few consider that worth discussing. What better definition of pathetic might there be??

    Big scary universe might be defined in a number of ways. Huge asteroids hit the earth on a regular basis. A big one hit Siberia only 100 years ago, wiping out hundreds of square miles of real estate. And then let us recall, the northern hemisphere was covered with a mile of ice only 15,000 years ago. The Yellowstone super volcano goes off regularly too, and is now over due. The next time it blows, say goodbye to the good old U. S. of A. And so on...

    Point being, we're not the big shots, nature is.

    You could have chosen to describe humans as the most complicated and intelligent entities known in the universe (not that this has any relevance either).
    This is the fundamental mistake of those who hold your view. You compare us to donkeys and earth worms, and based on that comparison declare us able to analyze entities defined as being able to create galaxies. This is not reason.

    Your other argument that human reason lacks the authority because god created everything - including reason itself and so need not be bound by reason - is a conclusion that does not follow naturally from its premise. Why would the creator be beyond human reasoning?
    So you're proposing that an entity said to have created all of reality would limit itself to the calculations of a single species confined to a single planet in one of billions of galaxies? Please explain why such an assumption is logical.

    Contrary to what you claim, the case that human reason does not have the authority is not an easy one to make. You've certainly not made it here. All you've really done is thrown it up in the air as a possibility.
    My claim is that we have no way of knowing what does or doesn't lie at the heart of all reality, because we can't even define reality. Please explain why a species that doesn't even know how big reality is would conclusively know there is no God in an arena it can't even begin to define.

    Your assumptions are based on what we know, and you have no idea what size of a sample that is. What we know might be 85% of reality, or it might be a percent so small that we don't yet have adequate math to express it. It's illogical to rush to conclusion based on so little information. And rush to a conclusion is what you wish to do.

    Must I needlessly reply each time that your own claim may be invalid too? Let's go round in circles for the rest of time and see who get's dizzy first, is that your plan?
    If you wish to claim to be a person of reason, you will sooner or later have to admit that nobody is making you read and reply to my posts.

    Neither do you seem to realise that your claim is incoherent and self-contradictory. That always happens when god comes to town.
    Yes, I know. I've had this conversation many times. You think I'm a theist and you're all geared up to fight that fight because you've memorized all the arguments. You're going to be very disappointed.
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    It is arrogance to say "You are wrong and foolish for your belief and I am right and smart because I do not believe", sheer arrogance.
    I'd be more inclined to say that belief is entirely conventional and predictable knowing what we do about ourselves from history, anthropology, psychology, sociology - and religions.

    What is wrong and certainly foolish is to try convincing others on the basis of the antiquity or obviousness or truthiness or the tediously recycled claims of predictive 'power' of religious writings. All great religious books and other writings have some valuable insights into human behaviour and society - but only some.

    Most are severely limited by the times and places they were written in and for. Which completely undercuts the claims of adherents to universal, eternal or exclusive truth.
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    All great religious books and other writings have some valuable insights into human behaviour and society - but only some.
    Agreed.

    Religious books have a longstanding record of adding value to some people's lives, as proven by the fact that people are still reading them. But being good at one thing does not automatically equal being good at everything.

    The very same thing can be said of reason. It's indisputable that reason is very useful for very many tasks. But again, being good at one thing does not automatically equal being good at everything.

    As example, is reason good for falling in love? Can we list 19 logical factual reasons supported by solid evidence why loving someone would be a good plan, and then bingo, we're in love with them?
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    Typist,

    The fallacy lies not with your view of the universe and our place within in it. The logical fallacy is concluding from your own sense of meekness and your own awe of the universe to suggesting that the creator of the universe is therefore beyond reason. That is a logical fallacy, specifically the argument form incredulity fallacy and is an argument from ignorance fallacy. There is no path from those personal opinions and observations to your conclusion. It's perfectly reasonable to have a view of humanity's place in the universe that is the complete opposite of your self-debasing one. Your personal views - or mine- have precisely zero relevance to answering the claim you have raised. Our personal opinions of our own self-importance can not be used to answer the question you have raised. It is fallacious reasoning.


    You have failed to demonstrate that we can't use reason to fathom god. Utterly and completely. You've stated it, nothing more. I reject your arguments as being either fallacious or irrelevant.


    All you are doing is raising a "what if?" question without providing any grounds to support it. Indeed, what if? So what? Do you want me to preface all my arguments with a note stating that I am assuming god can be understood? I can do that. You can of course choose to assume god can't be known through reason and preface all your comments accordingly.


    I have the authority to make the arguments I do. It's your job to challenge those arguments on their content NOT on the mere fact they were produced from the human mind.


    For the record, I did not assume you were a theist. My first thought was that you were an atheist in the mould of R Joseph Hoffmann. Truthfully, I've no idea how you choose to label yourself. It's not important.
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    The logical fallacy is concluding from your own sense of meekness and your own awe of the universe to suggesting that the creator of the universe is therefore beyond reason.
    Except that's not what I said. I said we have no way of knowing if a god would be beyond reason or not. Thus, we aren't in a position to do what you want to do, make a conclusive statement regarding the non-existence of God. To illustrate that we have no way of knowing, I made the case that a God would be beyond reason, to illustrate how easy it is to make that case.

    You asked:

    I was wondering if anyone knows why the slight doubt argument is so popular among those who would describe themselves as atheists.
    I'm trying to explain why a person loyal to reason would hold and express doubt, because it's very easy to make a case against certainty.

    If you wish to dismiss reason and be certain nonetheless, based on faith that human reason is binding on all of reality (an arena you can't define) then you are free to do so of course.

    It's perfectly reasonable to have a view of humanity's place in the universe that is the complete opposite of your self-debasing one.
    Then go ahead and make that case. Please explain how you can know what doesn't exist in an arena that you can't define.

    There's nothing self debasing about my point of view. As example, there's nothing self debasing about me admitting that I don't know what your shoe size is. I'm just stating an obvious fact.

    Your personal views - or mine- have precisely zero relevance to answering the claim you have raised. Our personal opinions of our own self-importance can not be used to answer the question you have raised. It is fallacious reasoning.
    You're relying pretty heavily in all your posts on characterizing the challenge instead of actually meeting the challenge. Please explain why it is fallacious reasoning, instead of just calling it fallacious reasoning.

    I reject your arguments as being either fallacious or irrelevant.
    I have no objection if you wish to reject my arguments. Again, I'm just addressing a question you yourself raised.

    All you are doing is raising a "what if?" question without providing any grounds to support it. Indeed, what if? So what? Do you want me to preface all my arguments with a note stating that I am assuming god can be understood? I can do that. You can of course choose to assume god can't be known through reason and preface all your comments accordingly.
    You're free to do what you wish of course. My challenge is simple.

    If someone says that a god exists because it says so in the Bible, you and I fully agree it is then reasonable to question whether the Bible is qualified to know such things.

    If the authority of the Bible can not be established, then it really doesn't matter what it says in the Book Of Somebody, Paragraph Nine, Line Three. If you examine you're own point of view, I believe you'll see that you don't care what the Bible says, because you don't accept the authority of the Bible. And you don't accept such authority because that authority hasn't been proven. Fair enough?

    All I'm doing is suggesting that the very reasonable reasoning which we share above be applied equally to all proposed authorities. My position here is actually even more atheist than yours, as I decline to accept any authority on faith.

    If you can not first demonstrate that a god would be bound by the rules of human reason, then it doesn't really matter what your logical arguments are.

    Again, this is the exact same test we reasonably apply to the Bible. If the authority of the Bible can not be established, then the Bible can't be used to prove or disprove assertions about gods. It would be highly illogical for me to say, I don't know if the Bible is the word of God or not, but it says so in the Bible, therefore it's true.

    You bear the same burden as the theist. If you wish to propose the non-existence of god based upon the authority of reason, you have to convincingly demonstrate that authority, just as the theist is required to demonstrate the authority of their holy books etc.

    I have the authority to make the arguments I do. It's your job to challenge those arguments on their content NOT on the mere fact they were produced from the human mind.
    Sorry dude, I'll write my posts, and you can write yours.

    Truthfully, I've no idea how you choose to label yourself. It's not important.
    Ok good, I agree with this.
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    You did not demonstrate that it would be easy to make the case that god might be beyond reason. You told me it was easy, yet you failed. You used fallacious reasoning to reach your desired conclusion. You've still to put forth a sensible argument for this claim other than merely stating it as a possibility. I reject your claim as unfounded and unsupported by valid argument. I can only refer you back to my previous comments on this matter. Until then I can only keep your argument in mind as a possible caveat when discussing certain aspects of god.


    I find it deliciously ironic that your line of argument will eventually lead one dangerously close to describing god in the manner that I have done previously.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    ...Exactly, it's the magical and supernatural aspect of god that is the problem for me.. ...
    Why do you assume "GOD" to be "supernatural"?
    You have created for yourself a logical blind alley--dead end---box canyon.
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    Sculptor,

    I didn't assume that god was supernatural. I deduced it as being the only possible state a god can find itself in. Anything else won't do.
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    You did not demonstrate that it would be easy to make the case that god might be beyond reason.
    Let's simplify it then.

    ONE: You wish to conclusively state that no god exists in all of reality. Please define reality. As example, how big is this arena for which you are making your claim?

    TWO: Please explain why an entity usually defined as being the creator of everything, would then for sure bound by the rules which it itself created?

    THREE: You are drawing conclusions about all of reality based on a sample, that which you know. Please explain how big your sample size is compared to the larger area which you are drawing conclusions about.

    You told me it was easy, yet you failed. You used fallacious reasoning to reach your desired conclusion. You've still to put forth a sensible argument for this claim other than merely stating it as a possibility. I reject your claim as unfounded and unsupported by valid argument. I can only refer you back to my previous comments on this matter. Until then I can only keep your argument in mind as a possible caveat when discussing certain aspects of god.
    Characterizing a challenge instead of meeting the challenge.

    I find it deliciously ironic that your line of argument will eventually lead one dangerously close to describing god in the manner that I have done previously.
    Your enjoyment is noted, but the basis for it remains unexplained.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Sculptor,

    I didn't assume that god was supernatural. I deduced it as being the only possible state a god can find itself in. Anything else won't do.
    lemme try an anecdote:
    (being rather myopic, i may have an advantage here)
    Lets say that you are extreemly myopic and 1/2 deaf, and you are crawling around on your hands and knees examinining the bugs, and the shapes and color and aroma of the leaves in a beautiful park-like setting, when out of nowhere(as per your perspective) a hard spherical object falls out of the sky and hits you in the head. Upon awakening, you wander off, and upon reflection, assume that the foregoing was of a super natural nature. For you maybe. And you may even tell your friends and/or write about it as such. However, for the other 18 guys who gathered together with bats and balls, there was nothing supernatural about the event.
    Being myopic, I have learned to realize that i see(know) the world around me within a very limited range of perception.

    When i was studying figurative sculpture, my fastest advancements came from "workshops" wherein several sculptors and painters shared a model and attempted to recreate what we were seeing in our respective mediums. During our breaks, i was gifted with the ability to walk around, perusing other's work, and learning to see through their perspectives and prejudices. It was already there before my eyes, i just hadn't learned to "see".

    the word "supernatural" (regardless of how you came upon it- deduced or assumed) is an intellectual and logical cop-out
    Only when we can accurately claim to understand all things "natural" does the word "supernatural" have meaning.
    Lao Tzu went through all this 3000 years ago.
    and, still, the questions remain unanswered----atleast most of the questions, but there is hope that we may yet learn to see(know) all of creation.
    and that, my friend, may just be the basis of "faith".

    I'm rambling
    hope this helps
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    Typist,

    This argument is your baby, not mine. You brought it to the table, so you deal with it. The onus is on you to explain why an entity that you claim may have created reason would not itself be amenable to reason. I am rejecting this aspect of your argument as fallacious. There is no structured argument there at all. I'm telling you - as anybody following this discussion can clearly see - that you are doing nothing but stating your desired conclusion. You explain to me why it would be bound or not bound with an actual argument that consists of more than a "why?. All "why?" arguments such as this can rightly be rejected with a "why not?" argument. For example:

    Q: Please explain why an entity usually defined as being the creator of everything, would then for sure bound by the rules which it itself created?
    A: Please explain why an entity usually defined as being the creator of everything, would then for sure not bound by the rules which it itself created?

    See how empty such arguments can be?



    Yes, I characterised your other challenge. It's full of logical fallacies that you can not see. What am I supposed to do with them? You need to construct a valid argument that is not based upon an argument from ignorance and upon your own sense of inadequacy. There is little more for me to say other than that which I have said already on those points.

    No, I don not want to conclusively state that no god exists in all of reality. I want to demonstrate that s god must transcend reality.
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    This argument is your baby, not mine. You brought it to the table, so you deal with it.
    I apologize for actually answering the question raised by your opening post. :-)

    The onus is on you to explain why an entity that you claim may have created reason would not itself be amenable to reason.
    Already have, multiple times. If you'd like to read it again, just scroll up.

    Q: Please explain why an entity usually defined as being the creator of everything, would then for sure bound by the rules which it itself created?

    A: Please explain why an entity usually defined as being the creator of everything, would then for sure not bound by the rules which it itself created?
    Correct. Completely correct. Which demonstrates that nobody knows WTF what they're talking about on such subjects, which would include anybody attempting to conclusively state that a god does not exist. Thus, thoughtful atheists who actually are interested in reason usually won't make a conclusive statement. This is the answer to the question you posed in your opening post.


    Yes, I characterised your other challenge. It's full of logical fallacies that you can not see. What am I supposed to do with them? You need to construct a valid argument that is not based upon an argument from ignorance and upon your own sense of inadequacy. There is little more for me to say other than that which I have said already on those points.
    More characterizing offered in place of actually addressing the challenge.

    No, I don not want to conclusively state that no god exists in all of reality. I want to demonstrate that s god must transcend reality.
    Before you proceed with that, please demonstrate that whatever method you select for your project is qualified to do the job you have assigned to it.
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    Sculptor,

    Describing god as supernatural is not an intellectual copout. If god were to be governed and bound by natural laws - that is, part of nature - then it's got a whole lotta problems a god would rather not have. For example, it would die - entropy doesn't care about ones status in life. Before it died it would, of course, have to have been created. God must transcend the natural world; I call that supernatural. Above and beyond nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    If god were to be governed and bound by natural laws - that is, part of nature - then it's got a whole lotta problems a god would rather not have.
    Why would an entity capable of creating everything have problems it would rather not have?

    Why couldn't such an entity simply define natural law to it's own liking? Why would it have to be consistent with your understanding of natural law?
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    Will the universe die?
    Last edited by sculptor; June 24th, 2012 at 01:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typist View Post

    Why couldn't such an entity simply define natural law to it's own liking? Why would it have to be consistent with your understanding of natural law?
    Indeed. A transcendental, non-physical supernatural entity might well do that very thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Indeed. A transcendental, non-physical supernatural entity might well do that very thing.
    Why does it have to be transcendental, non-physical and supernatural? These are limits imposed by you. Why would an all powerful god have to accept such limits?

    It might choose to of course. But why would it have to?
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    your
    "God is - or, is the source of - love, truth, morality and happiness."
    is from Zarathustra, ahura mazda

    You seek to deny GOD?
    and, The only way you can deny GOD is to first define GOD which you have failed to do in a non-refutable manner.
    Should you still wish to deny GOD
    It's simple, just ignore any mention of a diety.

    On a lighter note:
    If you are familiar with the driftless area of southwest Wisconsin, North east Iowa, south west Minnisotta, and north west Illinois.
    Where the glaciers pushed their various lobes, north of the driftless area, east of the driftles area, west of the driftless area, and south of the driftless area.
    And never entered the driftless area. Though I cannot tell you what to look for, nor how to recognize it if you should find it.
    If you would seek out one of the old nature gods, seek there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Indeed. A transcendental, non-physical supernatural entity might well do that very thing.
    Why does it have to be transcendental, non-physical and supernatural? These are limits imposed by you. Why would an all powerful god have to accept such limits?

    It might choose to of course. But why would it have to?
    Let me take one of these properties as an example.

    Matter itself was apparently created by god, so it couldn't have been a constituent component of god prior to the creation event. If god created everything, there were no things prior to the creation of things. This would be a paradox. Matter could not have existed before the universe did. God may have gone "fancy dress" since then, of course, but couldn't have been composed of matter originally. If one believes that the universe was created, then it is a requirement that the creator be a non-material cause.


    It would be good to have a material god because it would instantly resolve the knowability problem since all physical entities are in principle knowable even if not capable of being understood. They are all applicable to reason. If god was physical we could, in principle, stick a thermometer up its ass. That is, we could learn a lot of things about god, regardless of the fact that we may be eternally unable to comprehend it's full workings.
    Last edited by Zwirko; June 25th, 2012 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Insulting remark removed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmwyant View Post
    Yes. But my point is that when first discovered, logic told us that nothing could survive those temperatures.
    It has nothing to do with logic, it was just based on the understanding of lifeforms known at the time and the expectations, based on that, of where life could survive.

    Perhaps you have a different definition of "logic" than me. It sounds like you are using it to mean something like common sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It has nothing to do with logic, it was just based on the understanding of lifeforms known at the time and the expectations, based on that, of where life could survive.

    Perhaps you have a different definition of "logic" than me. It sounds like you are using it to mean something like common sense.
    And is it impossible that sometime in the future, as science and our understanding advances, that we may find evidence of beings that have qualities and powers ascribed to deities? I am not saying anyone has to believe anything specific, just asking that people try to keep an open mind and be respectful of those who have made the personal choice to believe rather than attacking them for their beliefs. It is the same respect that I try to afford everyone here who posts an opinion.

    As for logic- Strange, may I draw your attention to the synonyms below
    log·ic
    [ lójjik ]


    • theory of reasoning: the branch of philosophy that deals with the theory of deductive and inductive arguments and aims to distinguish good from bad reasoning
    • system or instance of reasoning: any system of, or an instance of, reasoning and inference
    • sensible argument and thought: sensible rational thought and argument rather than ideas that are influenced by emotion or whim
    Synonyms: reason, judgment, sense, common sense, lucidity, reasoning, rationality, sensibleness, soundness
    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmwyant View Post
    As for logic- Strange, may I draw your attention to the synonyms below
    log·ic
    [ lójjik ]


    • theory of reasoning: the branch of philosophy that deals with the theory of deductive and inductive arguments and aims to distinguish good from bad reasoning
    • system or instance of reasoning: any system of, or an instance of, reasoning and inference
    • sensible argument and thought: sensible rational thought and argument rather than ideas that are influenced by emotion or whim
    Synonyms: reason, judgment, sense, common sense, lucidity, reasoning, rationality, sensibleness, soundness
    Exactly. Nothing to do with assumptions/extrapolations from known lifeforms and habitable environments.
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    Imagine that you're on a religion forum. Somebody you're speaking with is absolutely sure the Bible has the answers. To them, the authority of the Bible is obvious, complete, beyond question.

    And so, no matter what you say, they quote a section of the Bible in reply. They're being sincere, and trying to find the answers with you, using the best authority they know, to them, the only authority.

    But they refuse to question the authority of the Bible. That's off the table.

    So unless you too accept the authority of the Bible on faith, there's not much to talk about.
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    But I am pretty sure that the Deities do not want unthinking unquestioning followers. If they are creators and they wanted unthinking followers they would have made them that way. Having faith is very difficult at times but it is the question that drives many of us. I am not saying that religions do not have brain dead mindless followers. Unfortunately though they are the minority from what I have seen they garner the most attention.
    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Now, taking such a definition of god one can see that as an argument it is illogical, paradoxical, nonsensical, poorly-defined, incoherent and violates the laws of nature. I would maintain that such an argument can legitimately be rejected without any evidence. The question can't be answered not due to the limits of science but because there is no question. I would claim that such entities can not exist. I would also claim that any god that does not have these properties can not in fact be a god, only something that could be wrongly interpreted as being one.
    I do not think you have proved the non-existence of God. Your argument boils down to an argument from incredulity: The proposed entity is too preposterous to be believed.

    Is it preposterous? Yes, but so is the alternative. The alternative is that the universe simply exists in all its vastness and complexity. Although the greatest minds in thousands of years of human history can barely comprehend a fraction of the physical laws, this universe simply sprang into existence, with no intelligence behind it. Preposterous.

    Is my argument an argument from incredulity? Yes, but so is yours.
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    But the alternative is that we don't know how it happened. That isn't preposterous. The argument is that a supernatural god is not one of the possibilities.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    But the alternative is that we don't know how it happened. That isn't preposterous. The argument is that a supernatural god is not one of the possibilities.
    The alternative to "there is a God" is "there is no God." You can also say "I don't know if there is a God," but that is not Zwirko's argument.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    But the alternative is that we don't know how it happened. That isn't preposterous. The argument is that a supernatural god is not one of the possibilities.
    The alternative to "there is a God" is "there is no God." You can also say "I don't know if there is a God," but that is not Zwirko's argument.
    His argument was a little more complex than that. Basically it was that there can be no such thing as a supernatural god. There may still be beings most theists would identify as a god.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    His argument was a little more complex than that. Basically it was that there can be no such thing as a supernatural god.
    Yes, but I don't see any proof of that assertion, other than that it seems too preposterous. Can you put it into a logical syllogism, containing two or more premises, and ending in "therefore there is no supernatural god"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmwyant View Post
    But I am pretty sure that the Deities do not want unthinking unquestioning followers. If they are creators and they wanted unthinking followers they would have made them that way.
    Indeed, agreed. I'm all for questioning. What usually happens is that we want to question everybody else's authorities, but not our own.
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    Aha, now we're getting somewhere.

    ]I do not think you have proved the non-existence of God. Your argument boils down to an argument from incredulity: The proposed entity is too preposterous to be believed.
    Yes, agreed. And the incredulity is built upon a blind faith in reason, which is similar to a blind faith in holy books or personal experience etc.

    The alternative is that the universe simply exists in all its vastness and complexity. Although the greatest minds in thousands of years of human history can barely comprehend a fraction of the physical laws, this universe simply sprang into existence, with no intelligence behind it. Preposterous.
    Agreed again. Imho, you are bringing us to an important fork in the road.

    What happens if we examine all declared authorities on this topic, and realize none of them can be verified? What happens when we realize that all the explanations are preposterous? What happens if we follow the trail of evidence to this point, and are still interested in the subject?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Typist,

    I'm not trying to understand god or prove that god does not exist. I'm arguing that concepts of god are so poorly-defined and incoherent that they do not warrant a special preserve of probability in the mind of the atheist. I'm simply (albeit not clearly) arguing that god has - indeed, must have - certain properties. Unfortunately for god those properties turn out to be nonsensical. Without faith such properties can not be viewed as being a component of reality.

    For example, can you see what would happen if god was composed of matter like ourselves? Examination of those problems leads me to affirm the common theological claim that god must be a non-material transcendent entity. I argue that such things make no sense and can't exist. Therefore, the atheist should not express doubt or worry about the inability to prove their non-existence.
    You are arguing from personal incredulity. As you know that is not a sound basis for an argument. You may continue to believe whatever you wish, but you have not demonstrated its validity - rather the reverse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    His argument was a little more complex than that. Basically it was that there can be no such thing as a supernatural god.
    Yes, but I don't see any proof of that assertion, other than that it seems too preposterous. Can you put it into a logical syllogism, containing two or more premises, and ending in "therefore there is no supernatural god"?
    I believe I provided something like that in post 23:

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The limit I think that a God would need to exceed, is the question of what is possible. If something is possible, then it is not supernatural. See my logic?

    Anything possible is by definition natural as I see it. If anything is possible, then I guess one would define god as something that can do anything. I don't think everything is possible though, so a god would then be defined as something that can do the impossible, the supernatural. As you can see, it quickly becomes nonsensical and paradoxical.
    Does that qualify?

    Basically, it depends on your definition of what is supernatural. Would a supernatural god be able to do anything imaginable, like create both an immovable object and an irresistible force at the same time? If no, then any god would be bound by rules itself and as such, to me at least, would qualify as entirely natural. IF a god is defined as a supernatural entity that can do anything imaginable, then by this logic he can't exist. Am I missing something?
    Last edited by KALSTER; June 26th, 2012 at 07:16 AM.
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    Harold14370,


    I'm not trying to disprove the non-existence of god. I've said this several times already. Yes, such a conclusion may well fall out from my argument, but it is not my aim. I am attempting to demonstrate that god must have certain properties; properties that are incoherent and paradoxical.


    Is it my own incredulity to refuse to accept that 2+2 does not equal five? No. Likewise it is not my own incredulity that makes me refuse to accept that physical objects existed prior to the existence of the universe. That is simple logic, equivalent to 2+2=4. We are forced to concede that god is non-physical. Likewise, we are forced to conclude that god transcends our reality, that god is above and beyond the natural world. God must lie within a realm that transcends the physical, transcends the animate, transcends mere consciousness, transcends space-time, transcends the universe. I argue that god is a transcendental, non-physical, supernatural entity.

    I've no idea what they even means, to he honest, but I've yet to see here a single sensible counter-argument.
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    Typist,


    You are using a philosophically bankrupt style of argument. You seem to think it's clever; that it demonstrates that we can't ever be sure of anything about god. It isn't and it doesn't.

    It's unacceptable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    You are arguing from personal incredulity. As you know that is not a sound basis for an argument. You may continue to believe whatever you wish, but you have not demonstrated its validity - rather the reverse.

    You are confused. Nonsensical things can be suggested. They can be rejected because of their nonsensical nature. That is not an argument from my own incredulity.
    Are you suggesting that there are no illogical statements? The description of god I have arrived at is incoherent, paradoxical and illogical. It says nothing that makes sense.

    I made a perfectly sound argument.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    His argument was a little more complex than that. Basically it was that there can be no such thing as a supernatural god.
    Yes, but I don't see any proof of that assertion, other than that it seems too preposterous. Can you put it into a logical syllogism, containing two or more premises, and ending in "therefore there is no supernatural god"?
    I believe I provided something like that in post 23:

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The limit I think that a God would need to exceed, is the question of what is possible. If something is possible, then it is not supernatural. See my logic?

    Anything possible is by definition natural as I see it. If anything is possible, then I guess one would define god as something that can do anything. I don't think everything is possible though, so a god would then be defined as something that can do the impossible, the supernatural. As you can see, it quickly becomes nonsensical and paradoxical.
    Does that qualify?
    It seems like a circular argument. You don't believe in anything that is supernatural. God is supernatural. Therefore God does not exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko
    I'm not trying to disprove the non-existence of god.
    Well, that's confusing, since it is the title of the thread.
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    I agree, it is not the greatest of titles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    You are using a philosophically bankrupt style of argument. You seem to think it's clever; that it demonstrates that we can't ever be sure of anything about god. It isn't and it doesn't..
    Speaking of bankrupt, characterizing a challenge is not meeting or defeating the challenge.

    If we are not allowed to challenge the authority of reason (in regards to these questions) then it logically follows we are also not allowed to challenge the authority of holy books, personal experiences, etc.

    Thus, I could defeat any argument you might make just by quoting from the Bible, the Koran or any other holy book. If all authorities are beyond challenge, I could defeat your argument simply by stating I've had some personal experience that contradicts your claims.

    I will accept either system you prefer.

    We could be intellectually honest and challenge all proposed authorities.

    Or, we could be intellectually honest and challenge no proposed authorities.

    You wish to have the cake and eat it too. You want to challenge every authority except your own chosen authority. That's not reason, but ideology.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    It seems like a circular argument. You don't believe in anything that is supernatural. God is supernatural. Therefore God does not exist
    I edited my post with: "Basically, it depends on your definition of what is supernatural. Would a supernatural god be able to do anything imaginable, like create both an immovable object and an irresistible force at the same time? If no, then any god would be bound by rules itself and as such, to me at least, would qualify as entirely natural. IF a god is defined as a supernatural entity that can do anything imaginable, then by this logic he can't exist. Am I missing something?"

    As I suggest in my first post in this thread, it depends on the definition of "god". If god is defined as a supernatural being, i.e. something that can do anything imaginable, then as far as I can see, such a being can not exist based on the fact that not everything is possible as far as I can see. That is basically Zwirko's argument as well.

    How would you define supernatural? Do you think everything imaginable is possible or do you think even that is unknowable? Same question goes to Typist. Could a being make both an immovable object and an unstoppable force? Something that would counter the very unlimited power of that being?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Same question goes to Typist. Could a being make both an immovable object and an unstoppable force? Something that would counter the very unlimited power of that being?
    My best guess is...

    The chance that human beings, a single species on a small planet in one of billions of galaxies, a species unable to manage it's own affairs, a species pointing a gun at it's own head...

    Could meaningfully analyze any entity that would meet the usual definitions of gods....

    Seems highly unlikely.

    Consider a mosquito trying to understand the concept "San Francisco". Like that. Hopeless. The calculations we are doing are most likely entirely irrelevant to whatever the reality is.
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    That doesn't answer the question though, does it? Irrespective of how limited the mosquito is, San Francisco either has objective meaning or it doesn't. Similarly, no matter how limited we are, we can understand that either everything is possible or it isn't. The question is, what do you think? If your answer is "I don't know", that is fine too. If the answer is that not everything imaginable is possible, then, per my previous posts, that would mean a supernatural god is not possible.

    One could go on and ask more questions: does it make sense for something to exist without somewhere for it to exist in? Is that possible? One could ask those questions of the universe itself also, which has a host of implication on its own, which in turn might inform the possibility of some form of god existing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Basically, it depends on your definition of what is supernatural.
    Here is the way I think about it. Feynman compared science to watching a corner of a chess board, and deducing the rules of the game from the way the pieces move. We can figure out that a bishop moves on the diagonal, the king moves one space at a time, etc. But then, after we think we have figured it out, we see a "castle" and have to revise our theory.

    Implicit in this analogy is that there is "someone" moving the pieces around on the chessboard, and "someone" who made up the rules of the game. As long as we watch our corner of the chessboard, we will only learn more about the rules of the game (but never all the rules). However we have no way of knowing who it is who made up the rules of the game. There may not even be a "who" but nevertheless there is something unknowable. Most likely, it will never be knowable. That's my definition of the supernatural.
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    That doesn't answer the question though, does it?
    It would be illogical for me to answer a question I have claimed we are most likely incapable of answering.

    Irrespective of how limited the mosquito is, San Francisco either has objective meaning or it doesn't. Similarly, no matter how limited we are, we can understand that either everything is possible or it isn't. The question is, what do you think? If your answer is "I don't know", that is fine too. If the answer is that not everything imaginable is possible, then, per my previous posts, that would mean a supernatural god is not possible.
    All of this is built upon an underlying assumption that human reason is qualified to meaningfully address the question. It's like the Bible student who feels that if they just read the right passages in the right way, they will get the correct answer, because the Bible is assumed to be a qualified authority. If the Bible is found to not be so qualified, then there's no point in endlessly reading the passages, except perhaps just for fun, a value I don't dismiss.

    I realize this isn't where the OP wants to go, but this is where reason demands we go. It's very easy to see when inspecting somebody else's chosen authority, and not so easy to see when challenging the authority we prefer.
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    Typist,

    We challenge the authority of the Bible based on its obvious errors, inconsistencies and general nonsense. You are challenging the authority of reason based on nothing. You are stating that it might be the case. You can have god do or be whatever you want when it suits you to do so. I too can make god have any property I wish for the purpose of argument. That is the flaw. It reduces to absurdity. We can not proceed on that basis. We must assume god is amenable to reason, no matter how limited.

    This style of argument can not only be applied to god, but to anything. You are giving yourself a free pass to say whatever the heck you like about anything. It's this free pass quality that ultimately demonstrates its own falsity.
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  85. #84  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    You are arguing from personal incredulity. As you know that is not a sound basis for an argument. You may continue to believe whatever you wish, but you have not demonstrated its validity - rather the reverse.
    You are confused. Nonsensical things can be suggested. They can be rejected because of their nonsensical nature. That is not an argument from my own incredulity.
    Are you suggesting that there are no illogical statements? The description of god I have arrived at is incoherent, paradoxical and illogical. It says nothing that makes sense.
    I made a perfectly sound argument.
    I am not at all confused. You have arrived, independently and without a connected logic flow, or other form of substantiation, at what you claim is a valid description of god. More than this, you claim that it is the only possible valid description of god. Based upon this description you declare it to be incoherent, paradoxical and illogical, without demonstrating that such is the case. Your entire argument, which you claim is logical, is nothing more than a statement that you find something you defined to be unbelievable. That looks like an argument from incredulity to me, wrapped up in a strawman.
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    We challenge the authority of the Bible based on its obvious errors, inconsistencies and general nonsense.
    Fair enough, no complaints. I'm for challenging.

    You are challenging the authority of reason based on nothing.
    I have actually made a pretty well reasoned case challenging (not disproving) the authority of reason in regards to a certain class of questions. You are continually hiding from that reasoning in general characterizations such as you offer here, as is your right.

    We must assume god is amenable to reason, no matter how limited.
    You are of course free to make that assumption and argue from it, but nobody else is so required. For myself, I argue that you have made reason itself in to a god, while arguing against gods. I propose this is not reason, but ideology.

    This style of argument can not only be applied to god, but to anything.
    I am perfectly content to accept the authority of reason in regards to say, building bridges, as we have thousands of well documented examples of reason accomplishing this task very successfully. I am perfectly content to accept the authority of reason in regards to a huge number of things.

    Reason being really good at a lot of things does not automatically reason being qualified to do ANYTHING.

    As example, if reason could be used to fall in love, I'd be in love with everybody on earth, because then everywhere I went I would be happy, excited, in lustful swoon etc. That would be very logical, but it's sadly just not possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    You are arguing from personal incredulity. As you know that is not a sound basis for an argument. You may continue to believe whatever you wish, but you have not demonstrated its validity - rather the reverse.
    You are confused. Nonsensical things can be suggested. They can be rejected because of their nonsensical nature. That is not an argument from my own incredulity.
    Are you suggesting that there are no illogical statements? The description of god I have arrived at is incoherent, paradoxical and illogical. It says nothing that makes sense.
    I made a perfectly sound argument.
    I am not at all confused. You have arrived, independently and without a connected logic flow, or other form of substantiation, at what you claim is a valid description of god. More than this, you claim that it is the only possible valid description of god. Based upon this description you declare it to be incoherent, paradoxical and illogical, without demonstrating that such is the case. Your entire argument, which you claim is logical, is nothing more than a statement that you find something you defined to be unbelievable. That looks like an argument from incredulity to me, wrapped up in a strawman.

    Not at all. I have presented an argument for why god must be non-material and transcendental. As yet it has not met a serious challenge. I reached my conclusion fairly. That conclusion results in illogical concepts that can't exist. Is most definitely not merely a statement expressing my own disbelief.

    I could of course be utterly wrong, Am I? Can physical matter and energy exist before the universe did?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    I have presented an argument for why god must be non-material and transcendental. As yet it has not met a serious challenge.
    You simply declare any serious challenge invalid. :-)
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    Typist,

    We can't proceed on the assumption that god is beyond reason and just shut our mouths for the rest of time. You haven't made a good argument for why this would be the case. I feel your arguments are essentially only raising it as a possibility. We have no reason to suspect it to be true, so why proceed on the assumption that it is? It's not the sensible path to take.

    If god is beyond reason then we may arrive at the conclusion after - and only after - we have given ourselves an almighty headache trying to ascertain that fact. Not before. You accept the reason of bridges because you have not failed to apply reason to them. I maintain that reason can be applied to god - because there are no good arguments to the contrary - and we must proceed on that basis until it is demonstrated otherwise, conclusively. We have no other choice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    I have presented an argument for why god must be non-material and transcendental. As yet it has not met a serious challenge.
    You simply declare any serious challenge invalid. :-)
    Not at all. If there exists an argument for why god can't be physical I would love to hear it. It's not in this thread I can assure you.

    I would like to hear it - even for my own edification. I have no qualms about being shown in public to be in gross error.
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    We can't proceed on the assumption that god is beyond reason and just shut our mouths for the rest of time.
    Do I look like I want to shut my mouth? :-) No, I share an interest with you in proceeding. I don't assume that gods being beyond reason is necessarily a bad thing. If that should be true, then I suggest we deal with it, and continue with the inquiry.

    You haven't made a good argument for why this would be the case. I feel your arguments are essentially only raising it as a possibility. We have no reason to suspect it to be true, so why proceed on the assumption that it is? It's not the sensible path to take.
    We're getting stuck in a rut here. You have time to repeatedly characterize my arguments, but not to address them. I don't mind, but I plan to type this each time you repeat the pattern.

    If god is beyond reason then we may arrive at the conclusion after - and only after - we have given ourselves an almighty headache trying to ascertain that fact. Not before.
    I'm not asserting that we can decisively conclude that gods would be beyond reason, because that too would imply a knowledge of gods that seems unrealistic.

    I maintain that reason can be applied to god - because there are no good arguments to the contrary - and we must proceed on that basis until it is demonstrated otherwise, conclusively. We have no other choice.
    I understand, for you, reason is the Bible. You are fully entitled to this view. Nobody is obligated to share your faith. It's not at all proven we have no other choice. We have the option to say, I don't know, and then explore that not knowing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Not at all. If there exists an argument for why god can't be physical I would love to hear it.
    What's being challenged is your ability to make any argument on this topic. That's a serious challenge, as it pulls the rug out from under the entire operation.

    You like the logic game and want to play it. Fair enough, please proceed.

    I want to tip over the card table, and so that's what I'll do.
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    Ok, I'm going to bail out of this topic. Im getting too involved. It's making me feel a little ill and causing me to lose sleep.Religion and pseudo sections of forums are places that have q bad effect on me., I get too consumed by them.r,I suspect I'm making a fool of myself too.Thanks to all who took the time to reply. Hopefully I least stimulated some thought if nothing else.KgPs weird typos in this post are the fault of my phone. Can't undo them.
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    last one Zwirko. You are the physical proof you are searching for .the universe as you might know is built of super symmetry or self symmetry. its called holographic universe sometimes. Simple as it is. fractals can be found everywhere - from numbers to living beings - structure within the structure. which means the greater part is the larger version of the individual. Applying this to your conscious being and God(whom i would call holy conscious) you are just the simpler version of the hc. Also applying self symmetry in a different way - like the quantum state vector its not only the act of measuring it makes it indefinite but the uncertainty is inherent or simply its complete without the other. Only when you truly believe the existence of hc you will realize and it cannot be easily discretized to words i guess. Good luck.
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    If we ever did have actual proof one way or another as to wether God exists would it really make any difference? If it was proved that God didn't exist religious people and groups would simply ignore it and if it was proved that God did exist would it really change non believers all that much? I don't think so.
    Either way we would still have religions argueing who is right or who is wrong.
    Also wether God exists or not he chooses not to actually interact with us, so does it really matter one way or the other? Maybe some would say that this is because hes's given us free will to decide to do what we think is right, but if he doesn't exist then we still have to decide for ourselves to do what is right.
    So we might as well just each choose to believe in whatever makes us happiest because when all is said and done it doesn't really matter.
    Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. - confucius
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Ok, I'm going to bail out of this topic.
    I'm sorry to see you go, especially now you've posted something very honest and intelligent, your best post yet.

    It seems true that some of us, on all sides of the issue, have a near incurable interest in these subjects. We just can't quite help ourselves.

    It seems equally true that none of us, all all sides of the issue, are in a position to prove much of anything. The simple fact is that this conversation has been going on for thousands of years, and we're right about where we started. That's a big pile of evidence we might listen to.

    We can't let it go, and we can't get anywhere. Now what?

    Why not take what we do have, and work with it? We have passion and ignorance in abundance. Given that is all we've really got, and we can't seem to stop, why not explore it?

    For those of you old enough....

    Remember your first lover? What made that so amazing?

    Yep, you guessed it.

    Passion and ignorance! :-)

    Maybe our mistake has been in assuming that what we've got is worthless, when maybe it's actually rather valuable?

    Well, ok, that's the end of the sermon. So before we move on to potato salad, who wants to accept the Invisible Pink Unicorn as their personal savior? :-)
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    Patience Grasshopper... The Universe will reveal itself when we are ready enough... And Remember that everything is about perspective, even cultural absolutes of right and wrong are a matter of perspective...
    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.
    -Jack London
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    Science has no need to prove a god anymore than it needs to prove fairies. They are immeasurable, untestable and unfalsifiable , they lie outside the realm of physics and empirical universe and are thereby useless to science. Gods are a self-correcting, self-improvising and have been shown to be mere products of the imagination and needful mind. God has no concrete set of laws because the concept differs. It's just one more needless step Call the workings of nature a 'god' if you wish, but that still doesn't justify and proof, just another concept.
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    My opinion is always the same: Have fun NOW, and AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, because when you die, no God will save you
    Last edited by adelady; September 22nd, 2012 at 08:25 PM. Reason: vulgarity deleted
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    Please, rectify; verbally flay; and even perhaps, burn me at the cross, should I err in reasoning. Just follow my logic, please?

    Is God omnipotent and omniscient?
    Yes -> The two are incompatible, and omnipotence is virtually impossible. It's reasonable to conclude, he cannot exist.
    No -> The only quality he can possess "logically" is omniscience.

    Is God a logical, and reasonable god? Say, he cannot simply make 1+4 = 25?
    Yes -> Interesting.
    No -> Then you agree, that he cannot be constrained by our thought and reasoning --- and sadly, as such: "Any rational discourse or thought about the deity cannot be held, including this one." Which is paradoxical, so it must be reasonable to assume that a God beyond reason cannot exist. Unless, he's one hell of a prankster.

    The universe is apt for entropy. It's hard to believe, that a self- existent and complicated deity already existed before... assuming, he's part of our universe. A God as our creator, is, sort of, a really sad way of solving our chicken and egg quandary. This belief in a God provides so much contradictions, paradoxes and complication; it's actually plain reasonable to just accept the null hypothesis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    Is God omnipotent and omniscient?
    Not necessarily. Some religions have portrayed her in this way, but it does not follow that this is the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    Yes -> The two are incompatible, and omnipotence is virtually impossible.
    1. You will have to justify the claimed incompatability.
    2. Omnipotence may be possible outside this universe. (I assume you were using the immovable stone/irresistible force paradox)

    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    Is God a logical, and reasonable god? .
    No idea. It always keeps her opinions very much to herself in my experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    No -> Then you agree, that he cannot be constrained by our thought and reasoning --- and sadly, as such: "Any rational discourse or thought about the deity cannot be held, including this one." Which is paradoxical, so it must be reasonable to assume that a God beyond reason cannot exist. Unless, he's one hell of a prankster.
    That's my default position some of the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    The universe is apt for entropy. It's hard to believe, that a self- existent and complicated deity already existed before... assuming, he's part of our universe..
    It is hard for you to believe, but the logical fallacy of Argument from Incredulity won't work here.

    Quote Originally Posted by alastairnye View Post
    A God as our creator, is, sort of, a really sad way of solving our chicken and egg quandary.
    It would be sad if I tried to use a painting by Turner as a platform for barbecued ribs, but the misuse of the painting wouldn't invalidate its reality.
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