Religion

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theonlyjett
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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:58 pm UTC

Nath wrote:Could you clarify? I'm not sure what this means.
Sorry, I just didn't want to get hung up on how a god could create himself. Looking at it now, I think I misspoke. Really, I think God created the universe in himself, so he is the universe and is bigger than the universe. God himself either emerged from the void, I suppose you could say, or has existed forever or before time, or however is easiest to wrap your head around. Anyhow, arguing over these points are hardly relevant to the rest of the discussion, which is why I wanted to avoid it.

Nath wrote:
theonlyjett wrote:If probability is an inherently subjective thing, than saying "the probability of god existing is low," is just a more "intellectual" way of saying "I don't believe god exists," rather than an actual explanation.
Right. That's why I had to follow it up with an actual explanation.
Ok, basically it comes down to what we all believe is true, which may or may not be true.

Nath wrote:Right; that's why this is a bias, and not a deterministic fact. But it is usually a pretty accurate bias.
Bias - a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. Reading the definition does not make it sound "pretty accurate." If bias was accurate I could then believe that since there are more religious people than non-religious people, and since I have to assume that their biases must be "pretty accurate" since they also have no proof, then by taking the average of all bias in the world, being Christian must be the most accurate. I'm going to go ahead and say that that's not gonna fly with you guys. Despite already being a Christian, it doesn't sit well with me, either.

Really, you and I have been here before. You and I both believe what we do based on life experience and the evidence we personally have had available. Neither of us can fault the other for that. But it also means that probability, itself, is simply not a good enough reason to make a wager.

oxoiron wrote:My understanding is that the Three Pure Ones are representations of three facets of the Tao (compassion, humility and moderation), not literal deities. Of course, as with all philosophy, interpretation is open to debate, but as Wikipedia says in this very abbreviated section on the Taoist pantheon:
Wikipedia wrote:Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism and monotheism.
I do hope you realize that there is not a big point or argument I'm trying to make here. It's just fascinating to me just how much most religions have in common besides "love people." For instance:

SJ Zero wrote:You Chrisitans who think you've got the only god are going to be shocked when you die and come face to face with Shiva the destroyer.

Hinduism
The trinity and god becoming a, or like a man to show us how to live.

The main text of the latter link is quoted here: (blue mine)
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Wikipedia wrote:Most Hindus believe that the spirit or soul — the true "self" of every person, called the ātman — is eternal. According to the monistic/pantheistic theologies of Hinduism (such as Advaita Vedanta school), this Atman is ultimately indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit. Hence, these schools are called non-dualist. The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realize that one's ātman is identical to Brahman, the supreme soul. The Upanishads state that whoever becomes fully aware of the ātman as the innermost core of one's own self realizes an identity with Brahman and thereby reaches moksha (liberation or freedom or salvation?).

...
Hindu epics and the Puranas relate several episodes of the descent of God to Earth in corporeal form to restore dharma in society and guide humans to moksha. Such an incarnation is called an avatar. The most prominent avatars are of Vishnu and include Rama (protagonist in Ramayana) and Krishna (a central figure in the epic Mahabharata).


So the array isn't quite as simple as Pascal originally made it. It's more like this:
believe/follow - not believe/follow
One True GodTM.......................infinite gain - either infinite loss or no loss
(Christian, Judaism, Islam)
atheism................................no gain - no loss
“mythological” religions.............good crops, healthy kids - no loss
(Greek, Roman, Norse Mythology)
most other major religions..........good life - do over or no loss
(Hinduism, Taoism, Wicca, etc.)
Cthulhu.................................destruction - maybe not destruction(but probably destruction)
other constructions...................no gain - no loss
(teapots, unicorns, pasta, raptors)

In order to minimize losses, one must choose the One True GodTM.

In order to maximize benefits, one must choose the One True GodTM.

Please note, that not all options are mutually exclusive. For example, one can choose the One True GodTM AND choose to oppose Cthulhu, again, to minimize losses.

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Re: Religion

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:09 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote:I'm going by the writings themselves, which tend to be jealous of followers such that worshipping the wrong god is a high offense (one of God's big 10 given to moses), while worshipping nothing is a lesser offense (such as the hindu story of the atheist who went to heaven)

I think you're mischaracterizing Christianity here. The ideas of layers of hell, levels of torment, etc. isn't really a part of the Bible, it's stuff added on later by people absorbing aspects of other religions' afterlife. The Christian Bible talks a lot about salvation and little about damnation, because it treats damnation as the default and salvation as the special case. The most Biblically sound view of hell is not a place of eternal torment, of which there may theoretically be different levels, but as the destruction of the soul, which is a one-time thing that there can't really be "levels" of.

Since you're very unlikely to find any Christians who believe in the damnation of the worshippers of false gods but not of atheists, as far as Christianity is concerned, there's no difference between the two. Hell is hell.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:19 pm UTC

It's a bit of a slippery slope. There's a lot of stuff in Christianity that isn't part of the bible. Most of the Satan mythology, for example.

I guess that brings me to an excellent logical point that damages Christianity.

Why would an omnibenevolent God create a world where millions of religions could exist, then damn the people who choose the wrong one? Seems a bit dickish. Doom entire societies who believe in the same morals and follow almost but not quite the same god. That's such a nice thing to do!

"Sorry, you're a Jew, you don't believe I sent my son to earth, down you go!"
"Sorry, you're a Muslim, you believe an Arabic version of events told by some Mohammed guy. Down you go!"
"Sorry, you're a Mormon, you're just stupid. Seriously, why would a religion that involves north america only show up when you guys discover north america? Maybe because IT'S FREAKING MADE UP? Down you go!"
"Sorry, you're a scientist, you don't believe anything unless it makes sense. Down you go!"

Either God is a serious noob, or there's something fishy going on with this whole concept of omnibenevolence.

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:25 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Why would an omnibenevolent God create a world where millions of religions could exist, then damn the people who choose the wrong one?
Why don't you assume that the people who told you this are wrong? I could see maybe how they could twist the bible to support that, but I have read nothing that automatically leads to that.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:27 pm UTC

Besides the 10 commandments? The first one seems like a pretty strong condemnation of other religions.

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Re: Religion

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:08 am UTC

The 10 Commandments never explicitly state "if you don't follow these, you will be damned!"
Besides which, if you view damnation as the destruction of the soul (and not as eternal torture, which is extremely unfounded biblically), how is damnation necessarily terrible for an atheist? If atheists are correct, they'll experience an absence of being at the point of death. If atheists are incorrect, they'll... experience an absence of being at the point of death. It doesn't seem particularly cruel of God to give atheists exactly what they expect.

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:16 am UTC

I've already said how that commandment doesn't have to lad to what you are saying.

theonlyjett wrote:
SJ Zero wrote:EXODUS 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me."

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." - Exodus 20:4 In context, god is saying that you shouldn't make a god from your own idea of what god should be. As what was habit among the Israelites, they would make an idol of gold and even say that that was the god that had rescued them from Egypt. Soon they would worship what they thought god was rather than what god was, which is, to them and us, quite unknowable completely. I suspect that these idols are the very "gods" that many look at and say, "pfft, that doesn't exist."

Additionally, "you shall have no other gods before me," doesn't even have to mean not to believe that other gods exist, but rather, to not serve them, or anything else, instead of, or more than, the one True God.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:09 am UTC

Honestly, there's some serious stretching going on in this thread.

I definitely prefer stretching to hating. It's this sort of stretching that's why I don't have any problem with religious folks, and won't try to 'convert' them.

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:40 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Honestly, there's some serious stretching going on in this thread.
Please do explain.

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Re: Religion

Postby yoni45 » Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:18 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Besides the 10 commandments? The first one seems like a pretty strong condemnation of other religions.


+ the ten commandments only apply to Jews - non-Jews are only expected to follow the 7 noahide laws (according to Judaism anyway, not so sure about Christianity)...

That said, the 1st noahide law does have something similar, but at least some translations cite it simply as not following false Gods (ie, those that one knows to be false)...
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Re: Religion

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:21 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Why would an omnibenevolent God create a world where millions of religions could exist, then damn the people who choose the wrong one? Seems a bit dickish. Doom entire societies who believe in the same morals and follow almost but not quite the same god. That's such a nice thing to do!

emphasis mine

It seems to me that the Judeo-Christian God never indicates people worshiping separate gods would receive worse punishment than anybody else who didn't worship the 'One True God'. And, all fairness to the Jews, the other religions of the time didn't really 'believe in the same morals' or 'follow almost but not quite the same god'.
pretty much all the other religions fo the period and region were pantheistic and advocated things like temple orgies, eating pork, and other foods Jews were not allowed to partake of (generally with good reason, pork espescially could pose a significant health risk in that period), week long parties of tremendous excess, occasionally human sacrifice etc.
The Jews were very uptight morally at the time, and in scripture we see that other cultures often mocked them for it. Although the joke was on them, One of those cultures survived to modern times and the others did not (protip: it was the one that didn't advocate human sacrifice and orgies) many Jewish religious strictures have been upheld today as objectively hygienic and otherwise conducive to good health.

In Christian times, Jesus indicated that these requirements were no longer necessary (and indeed, many religions of the time had stopped doing things that weren't really productive to their continued existence, although there were still orgies and excessive parties, though it was less, 'almost every other religion does this' and more 'some Romans do this sometimes' and a few remaining cults of earlier pantheistic gods who still orgied a lot and were generally avoided anyway, and in both cases, they pretty much either converted or died off in fairly short order).
With fewer Hygienic concerns, Jesus went ahead and simplified the rules to 'Love God and treat others well', along with a few admonishments against the more unsavory practices of various cults and the Romans.

I'm obviously not an expert or scriptural scholar, so I'm simplifying things.
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:55 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Who say's the Universe is Everything that ever existed?

Isn't that what 'universe' means? Though if you'd prefer to use another definition in this thread, let me know.

EdgarJPublius wrote:For that matter, As far as I know, the only religions that unambiguously state their god existed at the beginning of everything that's ever existed also tend to accept that the creation of their god is an unsolvable paradox. In either case, you have just as little idea about how everythign that ever existed came to exist int he first place as I do.

Sure. I claim no knowledge of how exactly the universe came to be. That doesn't mean all hypotheses are equally probable.

EdgarJPublius wrote:I believe that Atheists should stop trying to discredit religion on the basis of the paradox of a god that always existed at least until they can solve the paradox of how existence started in the first place.

My argument (well, at least this argument) doesn't aim to discredit all religion. I am merely making the simple observation that if any entity created everything that has ever existed, then it would have had to create itself. This still leaves room for an entity that created a subset of the universe -- all observable matter and energy, for instance.

theonlyjett wrote:Sorry, I just didn't want to get hung up on how a god could create himself. Looking at it now, I think I misspoke. Really, I think God created the universe in himself, so he is the universe and is bigger than the universe. God himself either emerged from the void, I suppose you could say, or has existed forever or before time, or however is easiest to wrap your head around. Anyhow, arguing over these points are hardly relevant to the rest of the discussion, which is why I wanted to avoid it.

OK. There's a bit of nitpicking I could do here, but I'll let it go.

theonlyjett wrote:Bias - a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. Reading the definition does not make it sound "pretty accurate." If bias was accurate I could then believe that since there are more religious people than non-religious people, and since I have to assume that their biases must be "pretty accurate" since they also have no proof, then by taking the average of all bias in the world, being Christian must be the most accurate. I'm going to go ahead and say that that's not gonna fly with you guys. Despite already being a Christian, it doesn't sit well with me, either.

I didn't say that all bias is pretty accurate. I said that the specific bias I was talking about ("The universe's unobserved behaviour is correlated with the universe's observed behaviour") was a pretty accurate bias. That's why I use it. There are plenty of inaccurate biases; I try to avoid them.

Remember: bias isn't optional. Without bias, we couldn't have reasoned opinions about anything we couldn't directly observe. Coins would be just as likely to turn into parakeets as they would be to land heads-up. Our only choice in the matter is that of which biases we use, and how much weight we give each one.

theonlyjett wrote:Really, you and I have been here before. You and I both believe what we do based on life experience and the evidence we personally have had available. Neither of us can fault the other for that.

I don't see how you get from there to:
theonlyjett wrote:But it also means that probability, itself, is simply not a good enough reason to make a wager.

Again, probability is for making wagers. If there was no uncertainty, then it wouldn't be a wager. Probability is a formalization of how we reason about uncertainty.

It's true that two people can come up with a different answer to a question. They may have different observations, or different biases. Whatever answer they end up choosing, they got there by reasoning about uncertainty. What is the alternative to probability?

Besides, the fact that two people arrive at different answers doesn't mean that dialogue between them is impossible. They can still exchange observations, make each other question their biases, examine each others' reasoning processes. For me, at least, that's the purpose of this discussion.

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Re: Religion

Postby oxoiron » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:16 pm UTC

theonlyjett wrote:
oxoiron wrote:My understanding is that the Three Pure Ones are representations of three facets of the Tao (compassion, humility and moderation), not literal deities. Of course, as with all philosophy, interpretation is open to debate, but as Wikipedia says in this very abbreviated section on the Taoist pantheon:
Wikipedia wrote:Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism and monotheism.
I do hope you realize that there is not a big point or argument I'm trying to make here. It's just fascinating to me just how much most religions have in common besides "love people."
I didn't really have a big point, either. As I said, Taoism is very open to interpretation, especially since there is no formal source of dogma.

On the commonality thing, I've always found it interesting how often the same numbers are considered special in the mythology and superstitions of numerous, unrelated societies.
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Re: Religion

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:52 pm UTC

oxoiron wrote:
theonlyjett wrote:
oxoiron wrote:My understanding is that the Three Pure Ones are representations of three facets of the Tao (compassion, humility and moderation), not literal deities. Of course, as with all philosophy, interpretation is open to debate, but as Wikipedia says in this very abbreviated section on the Taoist pantheon:
Wikipedia wrote:Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism and monotheism.
I do hope you realize that there is not a big point or argument I'm trying to make here. It's just fascinating to me just how much most religions have in common besides "love people."
I didn't really have a big point, either. As I said, Taoism is very open to interpretation, especially since there is no formal source of dogma.

On the commonality thing, I've always found it interesting how often the same numbers are considered special in the mythology and superstitions of numerous, unrelated societies.


Yeah, and a number of other themes carry over, too. I'm not 100% sure, but I seem to recall Greek mythology having something similar to the story of Noah's Ark....I think it was shortly after Pandora's Box? And then something about a new race of men, born of Stone, who were more resistant to the evils released from the Box.....
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Re: Religion

Postby McCaber » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:42 pm UTC

Not to mention Gilgamesh, or any one of the hundreds of other flood myths out there. Even civilizations like the Toltecs and Samoans had legends of a god getting upset and sending a flood, and only a very few righteous people survived on a raft or in a chest or what have you. I'm not sure what that signifies, but it's certainly interesting.
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Re: Religion

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:19 pm UTC

Nath wrote:.
EdgarJPublius wrote:I believe that Atheists should stop trying to discredit religion on the basis of the paradox of a god that always existed at least until they can solve the paradox of how existence started in the first place.

My argument (well, at least this argument) doesn't aim to discredit all religion. I am merely making the simple observation that if any entity created everything that has ever existed, then it would have had to create itself. This still leaves room for an entity that created a subset of the universe -- all observable matter and energy, for instance.


There are two ways you can look at 'the universe'. One, is everything that ever existed, the so called 'infinite universe'. This is not what I'm talking about.
The other way, as it is generally understood today, is the universe that 'began' with the big bang and represents the current set of matter, it's current organization etc. (one might also call this 'the cosmos', M theory would call it a 'Brane' etc., this is the universe that's expanding, the universe that is 22% Dark Matter and 74% Dark Energy. This is the 'Universe' that scientists talk about, and the Universe that I talk about.). I am positing that God, in some way initiated or manipulated the big bang, and thus created 'the cosmos/Brane universe'. As I stated, creation myths don't generally say 'god created everything', for example in Genesis 1:1-2, "In the beginning, God created the Heaven and Earth./And the Earth was without form, and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." seems to me more indicative of God having created the Cosmos than the Universe. Even John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God./The same was in the beginning with God./All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Says that all things made were made by God, not that all things were created by god, he simply gave form to the matter and energy.
And other religions either use the same sort of ambiguity, or establish their creation myth as an unsolvable paradox (I.E. it's turtles all the way down)
If you want to go further back than the Big Bang... Well, you're leaving current science behind just the getting too close to the big bang. Experiments like the LHC may eventually tell us the 'How' of the big bang, but likely not the 'Why'. At best, ideas like String and M theory may explain what caused the Big bang on a theoretical level, but experimental/observational proof is unlikely. As far as we know, the so called 'infinite universe' is just as paradox ridden as the idea of a God that creates itself and all matter/existence. it could just be a beginningless series of big bangs that eventually result in heat death, contraction, and a new Big Bang. As discussed here as time progresses towards ∞, the probability of any event, however improbable, approaches 1 (and in some cases may exceed 1)
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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Fri Oct 10, 2008 1:36 am UTC

theonlyjett wrote:
SJ Zero wrote:Honestly, there's some serious stretching going on in this thread.
Please do explain.


Interpretations of scripture which doubt the existence of hell, and which don't take the 10 commandments as commandments "or you're going to hell" are pretty rare. It's a stretch, going for pure theoretical theology from the source, ignoring dogma created over the ages.

I like it. More people need to stretch, just as as an atheist I've "stretched" beyond atheistic dogma by saying I don't see any need to try to convert people to atheism. It's stretched to fit my own belief, making it more correct for me. :)

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:26 am UTC

Nath wrote:I didn't say that all bias is pretty accurate. I said that the specific bias I was talking about ("The universe's unobserved behaviour is correlated with the universe's observed behaviour") was a pretty accurate bias. That's why I use it. There are plenty of inaccurate biases; I try to avoid them.
Right, but any observation you have at all is biased. You say "the universe's unobserved behaviour is correlated with the universe's observed behaviour." There is a lot of things you have not seen or experienced. So all you really have to work with is "the universe's unobserved behavior must be correlated with my own observations of my small part of the observed universe." It’s the best you and I can do, but I wouldn’t jump to a conclusion of saying it’s accurate if I had to speak concisely.

For example, person A may be surrounded by mean people. Person B is surrounded by nice people. A may think that the rest of the world is more of the same, after all, it's all they really know. B may think the same. A may be right or B may be right, or the truth may be in the middle or somehow completely unrelated (idk, everybody else may be robots). Any correlation with reality that their perceived probability has, is completely coincidental.

Now, to top it off, the wager isn't even about perceived probability, it's about game theory. All options are not the same with only differing odds of truth. You should choose which option maximizes your gain and minimizes your loss. Looking at the array I posted before, the comparison is easy. Even if the perceived odds of the OTG being true is a 10100 to one, it is still the best choice because if one of the other choices is actually true, you still have lost nothing, and potentially have much gain. (Unless Cthulhu is the only true option, but then there's nothing you can do about that either way.)

Nath wrote:OK. There's a bit of nitpicking I could do here, but I'll let it go.
Eh, please do, if you like, though I think you might be already on this topic with EdgarJPublius.

yoni45 wrote:+ the ten commandments only apply to Jews - non-Jews are only expected to follow the 7 noahide laws (according to Judaism anyway, not so sure about Christianity)...

That said, the 1st noahide law does have something similar, but at least some translations cite it simply as not following false Gods (ie, those that one knows to be false)...
The Seven Laws of Noah are:

Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit adultery.
Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name.
Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4)
Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly.

“According to Judaism any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as a Righteous Gentile and is assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba), the Jewish concept of heaven.” - Wikipedia

As far as Christians, this is what is written in Acts 15:19-20, said by James regarding the gentiles: “"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” Of course, this is added to the actual teachings of Jesus, as well.

SJ Zero wrote:Interpretations of scripture which doubt the existence of hell, and which don't take the 10 commandments as commandments "or you're going to hell" are pretty rare. It's a stretch, going for pure theoretical theology from the source, ignoring dogma created over the ages.
Don’t take commandments as commandments? That’s not accurate at all. Read this for more information on the possible interpretations of this particular commandment, which are neither rare nor stretching.

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True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:34 am UTC

Assume there is a set that represents the range of opinions exists, S, which contains two elements: belief of God (B), and disbelief of God (D).

Assume that there is some statement, "I have B" or "I have D," in which the terms are mutually exclusive (i.e. to state "I have B" means "I do not have D," or B => ~D and the converse).

The converse of this statement is not necessarily true: stating "I do not have B" does not entail "I have D" (one may not have B, but one may also not have D).

There must be some sort of proof or evidence of existence or non-existence in order for one to hold a belief in God; namely, in order for the statement "I have B" to be logically consistent, there must be some function of persuasion [P(E)] to put B (and subsequently ~D) in your grubby little hands. It may very well be justified to say that one must qualify the holding of D by saying that it must likewise be generated by P(E).

One would logically assume that the arguments of P(E) are composed of evidence [E]. If there were null inputs into the function, and yet it generated a positive output, we would assume that there was some bias in P(E) (which is not a good thing for a persuasive function to have). A lack of evidence would thus result in a null response, and would undermine the logical holding of any given position.

Given that there is no positive evidence for either B or D, we must assume that P(E) would give a null response, and that both B (belief in God) and D (disbelief in God). Given this, it is neither logical to hold either B or D.

Now, as one must invariably have an opinion on the matter, as we've all been exposed to the arguments on both side, one may still hold a logical position. If L represents the subset of S which represent all logical choices of S, we would have to rule out both B and D. As B and D are the only elements of S, we rule them both out and look at the only thing that's left: the null set (lack of positive belief).

So the statement "I don't hold B or D" is logical, presuming the absence of [E]. An agnostic is defined as one who has no gnosis to whether or not deities exist. If you are agnostic, and have no [E], then you must also say "I don't hold B or D." Weak atheism is defined as "One who does not hold belief in god(s)." Or simply put, "I don't hold B."

ALL people who do not have any personal gnosis SHOULD be atheists, and the people who are hard atheists or theists have irrational beliefs.

Is there a flaw in the logic here? If so, point it out please.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Kaiyas » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:50 am UTC

The tl:dr version: There's no proof for or against God, so we should be agnostic.

Yeah, that's basically it. Science cannot (ever) prove or disprove God's existence, so it's unknowable (scientifically. Damn pedants. :P )

On a side note, merge into Religion thread?
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gunfingers » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:53 am UTC

In the most literal sense one must be agnostic about everything. I don't know that there is/is not a god. I also don't know that my eyes and ears are correctly providing me data on the world. Maybe everything i'm seeing is wrong, and i'm really sitting in a mental institution frothing at the mouth while eating my feces.

But that doesn't really function practically. I'm not going to call myself agnostic on the existence of god anymore than a theist will call himself agnostic on the existence of apples or an atheist will call himself agnostic on the existence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Just to nitpick: there's plenty of evidence for and against the existence of a god.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:57 am UTC

Kaiyas wrote:The tl:dr version: There's no proof for or against God, so we should be agnostic.

Yeah, that's basically it. Science cannot (ever) prove or disprove God's existence, so it's unknowable (scientifically. Damn pedants. :P )

On a side note, merge into Religion thread?

What you just said is identical to the main point to the thread.

Except, I was just displaying how it is concluded with a formal logical explanation to those who don't understand the reasoning behind, "No evidence therefore agnostic" as opposed to "No evidence therefore any belief".

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:00 am UTC

Gunfingers wrote:In the most literal sense one must be agnostic about everything. I don't know that there is/is not a god. I also don't know that my eyes and ears are correctly providing me data on the world. Maybe everything i'm seeing is wrong, and i'm really sitting in a mental institution frothing at the mouth while eating my feces.

But that doesn't really function practically. I'm not going to call myself agnostic on the existence of god anymore than a theist will call himself agnostic on the existence of apples or an atheist will call himself agnostic on the existence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Just to nitpick: there's plenty of evidence for and against the existence of a god.

If there is evidence, we cannot take it to be useful or reliable because of what you explained in the first paragraph. Since we cannot prove/disprove all things to be illusions, the existence of reliable evidence cannot be known.

Solipsism ftw.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Matsi » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:01 am UTC

While i agree with your logic, I describe myself as an atheist to make it clear that i do not believe there is a reasonable chance that god exists. I do not care that I can not disprove the existence of god, and neither do I care I cannot prove the existence of the invisible pink unicorn or the FSM (Blessed be his noodly appendages).

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:14 am UTC

If you're going to get into the logic of if then you're missing so much...

You can be...

Agnostic Theist (Person which holds that there is no way of KNOWING B or D, but he believes B)
Agnostic Atheist (Person which holds that there is no way of KNOWING B or D, but he believes D)
Gnostic Theist (Person which holds that you can KNOW B or D and believes/knows B)
Gnostic Atheist (Person which holds that you can KNOW B or D and believes/knows B)

There are variations on "Atheist" and "Theist" in these descriptions too! Weak Atheists don't outright proclaim D but say "D is probable". Weak Theists don't outright proclaim B but say "B is probable".

You can also be simply "Agnostic" and say "The truth value of B or D is unknowable" (Strong Agnosticism) or "I do not know the truth value of B or D" (Weak Agnosticism, basically "I don't know").'

You can also be Ignostic (which I would describe myself as) which in a simple description says "Please define B and D properly before I even start assessing it, and if you're definition isn't falsifiable then it's incoherent/meaningless and I won't assess the question anyway".

Theological Noncognitivism says "The question is meaningless, regardless of the definition"

"I don't hold B or D" is consistent with ANY of the above that is a "weak" position on the question, because most only "believe" B or D (which is different to KNOWING) and the ones which don't believe only make probabilistic claims to it's truth value. So the only two positions you can take on this subject which DO "Hold B" or "Hold D" are Strong Gnostic Theism/Atheism.
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:21 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:If you're going to get into the logic of if then you're missing so much...

You can be...

Agnostic Theist (Person which holds that there is no way of KNOWING B or D, but he believes B)
Agnostic Atheist (Person which holds that there is no way of KNOWING B or D, but he believes D)
Gnostic Theist (Person which holds that you can KNOW B or D and believes/knows B)
Gnostic Atheist (Person which holds that you can KNOW B or D and believes/knows B)

There are variations on "Atheist" and "Theist" in these descriptions too! Weak Atheists don't outright proclaim D but say "D is probable". Weak Theists don't outright proclaim B but say "B is probable".

You can also be simply "Agnostic" and say "The truth value of B or D is unknowable" (Strong Agnosticism) or "I do not know the truth value of B or D" (Weak Agnosticism, basically "I don't know").'

You can also be Ignostic (which I would describe myself as) which in a simple description says "Please define B and D properly before I even start assessing it, and if you're definition isn't falsifiable then it's incoherent/meaningless and I won't assess the question anyway".

Theological Noncognitivism says "The question is meaningless, regardless of the definition"

"I don't hold B or D" is consistent with ANY of the above that is a "weak" position on the question, because most only "believe" B or D (which is different to KNOWING) and the ones which don't believe only make probabilistic claims to it's truth value. So the only two positions you can take on this subject which DO "Hold B" or "Hold D" are Strong Gnostic Theism/Atheism.

This is all true. One can be all of these things. But this is not what is being dealt with.

The question is, "Do you hold belief or disbelief in deities?"
It is a yes or no question. Since each person reading this has been exposed to both sides of the matter, one must invariably have an opinion on the matter.

True agnosticism, which is described to be the only reasonable choice due to the train of logic that is displayed. True agnosticism implies weak atheism, since the only necessity of weak atheism is that one does not hold any positive beliefs about the existence of deities.

Ignosticism also implies weak atheism. Since you cannot accept any definition, you cannot have an opinion on the matter, and since you would therefore have neither B nor D, you would be a true agnostic, and furthermore a weak atheist.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:31 am UTC

MisterSam wrote:This is all true. One can be all of these things. But this is not what is being dealt with.

The question is, "Do you hold belief or disbelief in deities?"
It is a yes or no question. Since each person reading this has been exposed to both sides of the matter, one must invariably have an opinion on the matter.

True agnosticism, which is described to be the only reasonable choice due to the train of logic that is displayed. True agnosticism implies weak atheism, since the only necessity of weak atheism is that one does not hold any positive beliefs about the existence of deities.


I think we have different definitions of Weak Atheism. What I call Weak Atheism is "I don't assert any particular truth value of B or D, but I think D is most likely".

If by "True Agnosticism" you mean "Does not hold B or D" or "Does not assert any particular truth value of B or D" then, as I mentioned, everything except Strong Gnostic Theism/Atheism would fit.

Ignosticism also implies weak atheism. Since you cannot accept any definition, you cannot have an opinion on the matter, and since you would therefore have neither B nor D, you would be a true agnostic, and furthermore a weak atheist.


Well, I can accept definitions, just not unfalsifiable ones. For instance if by "Does God Exist?" and by "God" you mean "That limited edition car" (or something) then I can scientifically test and find out whether "God" exists. If you say "God? I find god in the wonders of the universe" I say "That's meaningless, I can't falsify other people's qualia and regardless of it's truth value it doesn't actually change anything". If you say "God is a magical being that is awesome" I say "what?".

Ignosticism is distinct from Agnosticism and Atheism/Theism like this. The only thing it is comparable to is Theological noncognitivism.
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:58 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I think we have different definitions of Weak Atheism. What I call Weak Atheism is "I don't assert any particular truth value of B or D, but I think D is most likely".

If by "True Agnosticism" you mean "Does not hold B or D" or "Does not assert any particular truth value of B or D" then, as I mentioned, everything except Strong Gnostic Theism/Atheism would fit.

Weak atheism is defined as ANY sort of non-theism. (Non-theism being the simple absence or rejection of theism.) This definition is also supported by the Wikipedia articles.

True Agnosticism being the belief that there exists no [E] to put into P(E), whether the [E] be for or against the existence of deities.

Ignosticism is distinct from Agnosticism and Atheism/Theism like this. The only thing it is comparable to is Theological noncognitivism.

Indeed it is distinct from agnosticism, atheism, and theism, but Ignosticism implies agnosticism and atheism. Of course agnosticism and/or atheism don't imply Ignosticism.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:21 am UTC

MisterSam wrote:Weak atheism is defined as ANY sort of non-theism. (Non-theism being the simple absence or rejection of theism.)


Ah okay, I understand what you're saying now.

True Agnosticism being the belief that there exists no [E] to put into P(E), whether the [E] be for or against the existence of deities.


So, if I understand what you're saying. Weak Atheism/Non-Theism = "I don't hold B or D". And True Agnosticism as above. And so True Agnosticism "implies" Non-Theism because no [E] leads to "I don't hold B or D".

Ignosticism implies agnosticism and atheism. Of course agnosticism and/or atheism don't imply Ignosticism.


This is where I don't agree. Because depending on how you define it I could be a I'm Theological Noncognitivist (If the definition is not coherent). I could be a theist if the definition is coherent and testable and the evidence points towards God (what ever this definition of "God" is in this context) existence. Or a Strong Atheist if the definition is coherent and testable and is falsified.

So I don't think it implies Agnosticism OR Atheism. It might imply Atheism or Agnosticism under the definition of God you're working with, but not in general.
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:So, if I understand what you're saying. Weak Atheism/Non-Theism = "I don't hold B or D". And True Agnosticism as above. And so True Agnosticism "implies" Non-Theism because no [E] leads to "I don't hold B or D".

Exactly.

This is where I don't agree. Because depending on how you define it I could be a I'm Theological Noncognitivist (If the definition is not coherent). I could be a theist if the definition is coherent and testable and the evidence points towards God (what ever this definition of "God" is in this context) existence. Or a Strong Atheist if the definition is coherent and testable and is falsified.

If there were a coherent definition, there would never exist any testable evidence that God does or does not exist, however. The possibility of Solipsism puts everything to the shits.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:38 am UTC

MisterSam wrote:If there were a coherent definition, there would never exist any testable evidence that God does or does not exist, however. The possibility of Solipsism puts everything to the shits.


God is just a word, it can mean what ever it's user wants it to mean. There is no logical reason 'god' can't mean something coherent and falsifiable although most (nearly all) people who use the word "God" probably don't even get past coherent.

The possibility of solipsism and BIV etc. while interesting and cool, are meaningless and shouldn't even really be addressed. Those are along the lines of "All logic and reason can be wrong!" the right response is to not respond or consider it at all.
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:47 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
MisterSam wrote:If there were a coherent definition, there would never exist any testable evidence that God does or does not exist, however. The possibility of Solipsism puts everything to the shits.


God is just a word, it can mean what ever it's user wants it to mean. There is no logical reason 'god' can't mean something coherent and falsifiable although most (nearly all) people who use the word "God" probably don't even get past coherent.

The possibility of solipsism and BIV etc. while interesting and cool, are meaningless and shouldn't even really be addressed. Those are along the lines of "All logic and reason can be wrong!" the right response is to not respond or consider it at all.

The possibility of Solipsism means that we must assume that everything we perceive is true. Assumptions are not logically supported. The claim "I am typing on a computer right now" is unreasonable, since I cannot prove that there is really a computer before me.

They should be addressed. Their possibility makes it so that EVERYTHING is an assumption. The only thing that can be known, ever, is the existence of the self.

Logic, by its nature, cannot be invalid. Like math. It's all deductive. "Presume 1 has a value of 1." "Presume the Earth exists in reality, and it is Tuesday" etc. It's all based off of presumptions.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:57 am UTC

MisterSam wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:
MisterSam wrote:If there were a coherent definition, there would never exist any testable evidence that God does or does not exist, however. The possibility of Solipsism puts everything to the shits.


God is just a word, it can mean what ever it's user wants it to mean. There is no logical reason 'god' can't mean something coherent and falsifiable although most (nearly all) people who use the word "God" probably don't even get past coherent.

The possibility of solipsism and BIV etc. while interesting and cool, are meaningless and shouldn't even really be addressed. Those are along the lines of "All logic and reason can be wrong!" the right response is to not respond or consider it at all.

The possibility of Solipsism means that we must assume that everything we perceive is true. Assumptions are not logically supported. The claim "I am typing on a computer right now" is unreasonable, since I cannot prove that there is really a computer before me.

They should be addressed. Their possibility makes it so that EVERYTHING is an assumption. The only thing that can be known, ever, is the existence of the self.

Logic, by its nature, cannot be invalid. Like math. It's all deductive. "Presume 1 has a value of 1." "Presume the Earth exists in reality, and it is Tuesday" etc. It's all based off of presumptions.


I don't assume anything, but I don't deal with Solipsism and BIV etc. stuff because they're not meaningful, whether BIV or solipsism is the case can't change anything. Whether "this reality" is a dream, or just the result of scientists stimulating brains in vats or not doesn't matter because "this reality" is the one that matters.

I'm not assuming everything I perceive is true my assumption is that it doesn't matter whether what I perceive is true or not, because regardless of the "actual nature of reality", I can still use those perceptions meaningfully. I can use those perceptions to change the reality I perceive and feel and so I don't have to (and don't) assume that 'everything we perceive is true'

There is no assuming, all I do is realize that solipsism, BIV, etc. and also all ontology is meaningless. So when people say "What if it's all a dream or what if all reality we perceive is wrong?" my response is just "That's meaningless, akin to the meaningless of claiming that reason doesn't work, and there is no point to addressing that which is meaningless".
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby MisterSam » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:03 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I don't assume anything, but I don't deal with Solipsism and BIV etc. stuff because they're not meaningful, whether BIV or solipsism is the case can't change anything. Whether "this reality" is a dream, or just the result of scientists stimulating brains in vats or not doesn't matter because "this reality" is the one that matters.

I'm not assuming everything I perceive is true my assumption is that it doesn't matter whether what I perceive is true or not, because regardless of the "actual nature of reality", I can still use those perceptions meaningfully. I can use those perceptions to change the reality I perceive and feel and so I don't have to (and don't) assume that 'everything we perceive is true'

There is no assuming, all I do is realize that solipsism, BIV, etc. and also all ontology is meaningless. So when people say "What if it's all a dream or what if all reality we perceive is wrong?" my response is just "That's meaningless, akin to the meaningless of claiming that reason doesn't work, and there is no point to addressing that which is meaningless".

Agreed.

All further tracing back to my point. Theological Noncognitivistism implies atheism and agnosticism.

If you make no assumptions about anything, no assumptions at all, then this means that you do not assume that God exists. And you do not assume that there exists evidence that there is a God, no matter what the definition is.

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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:12 am UTC

MisterSam wrote:If you make no assumptions about anything, no assumptions at all, then this means that you do not assume that God exists. And you do not assume that there exists evidence that there is a God, no matter what the definition is.


True, I don't -assume- that there exists evidence. But that doesn't mean I can't find out whether there is or whether there isn't for some specific definition that can be tested.


Theological Noncognitivistism implies atheism and agnosticism


Agreed, but that is because they ALWAYS proclaim the question incoherent/meaningless.

Theological noncognitivistism is different from Ignosticism in this respect that it claims that the concept of God itself is incoherent, and so under any definition the question is incoherent.

Ignosticism doesn't say that the question incoherent if the definition of "God" is coherent. It doesn't say that it's meaningless if it's falsifiable or testable. Meaning that a coherent and meaningful definition may end in the Ignostic taking a theistic stance per that particular definition. How can Ignosticism imply atheism/agnosticism if it can lead to theism under certain conditions?



Edit:

This happens all the time, especially when getting into these philosophical discussions. However considering the number of "agrees" we have with each other this discussion is most likely stemming from slightly different definitions of words which is causing an "apparent" disagreement.
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Re: Religion

Postby cooldude76 » Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:21 am UTC

Gadren wrote:Burden of proof or anthropic principle? Never heard of them. Our response to inquiry is evasion and belittling of the inquirer. And if you keep being mean to us, I'll cry -- and emotion beats facts, hands down.


What is it you yourself are doing? Breaking up the argument, spitting out little insults in a highly sarcastic voice, and then moving on. Put some serious open-minded thought into this passage and your response. That was an excellent piece of literature, regardless of religion, just reading it is powerful (that sort of came out of "High Culture" field, but whatever) and it has a deeper meaning than. 'God is better than science'. Mind you, I'm atheist (based on the principle that agnosticism is just atheism without balls) and I HATE most Christians. I don't know if the author of that passage is such, but irregardless, he is highly intelligent and his thoughts should not just be discarded sarcastically by some one such as your self.



On the subject of Science totally ruining the earth:

WHERE'S MY FUTURE?
I WANT MY JETPACK!
WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR?
etc. (Doktor Sleepless)
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Re: Religion

Postby Dr Strangelove » Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:18 am UTC

You hate most Christians? Aww, isn't that cute. Anyway, while this issue hasn't come up recently, it did come up earlier, so let me just clear up a few questions about Christian theology.

- Hell is eternal separation from God. The brimstone and fire was removed for Health and Safety reasons.
- Damnation/salvation is indeed a binary state, there is no grey area.
- Salvation comes not from being an awesome person, but from accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who died for your sins, and acknowledging your own imperfection.

Wish I could contribute to the argument, but flat out of time.
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:09 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:There are two ways you can look at 'the universe'. One, is everything that ever existed, the so called 'infinite universe'. This is not what I'm talking about.
The other way, as it is generally understood today, is the universe that 'began' with the big bang and represents the current set of matter, it's current organization etc.

Fair point, though it's debatable which definition is in wider use. For the first definition, most hypothesized gods would have created a subset of the universe.

Note that it's still impossible for any entity to have created the entire observable universe (i.e. everything we could possibly interact with) without having created itself.

EdgarJPublius wrote:the probability of any event, however improbable, approaches 1 (and in some cases may exceed 1)

For the record, no. I don't know if you want to go into it in this thread, though.

theonlyjett wrote:So all you really have to work with is "the universe's unobserved behavior must be correlated with my own observations of my small part of the observed universe." It’s the best you and I can do, but I wouldn’t jump to a conclusion of saying it’s accurate if I had to speak concisely.

Not perfectly accurate, but from what I can tell it's generally pretty good. It's the primary one we use, consciously or unconsciously, every time we try to predict anything.

Which way will a pen fall if I let go? From past experience, I it'll very probably fall downwards, because that's what pens usually do. However, maybe there's no such thing as gravity. Maybe if you drop something, there's a 50% chance it'll fall to the ground, and a 50% chance that it'll float to the roof, and it just so happens that all my observations have been in the first category. Maybe next time it'll go to the roof.

For any bias, you can construct examples in which it will fail. Good biases -- accurate biases -- are ones that usually turn out to make the right prediction.

The bias described above is a good bias. Not a perfect bias, because there is no such thing.

theonlyjett wrote:Now, to top it off, the wager isn't even about perceived probability, it's about game theory. All options are not the same with only differing odds of truth. You should choose which option maximizes your gain and minimizes your loss. Looking at the array I posted before, the comparison is easy. Even if the perceived odds of the OTG being true is a 10100 to one, it is still the best choice because if one of the other choices is actually true, you still have lost nothing, and potentially have much gain. (Unless Cthulhu is the only true option, but then there's nothing you can do about that either way.)

I hesitate to go back into old territory, but I think we've already discussed the problems with treating Pascal's wager as a free choice. People -- I, at least -- can't deliberately choose what to believe; I have no choice but to follow the evidence.

Besides, I haven't found the post with array of choices, but I don't think believing in a non-existent god is a zero-loss state.

theonlyjett wrote:Eh, please do, if you like, though I think you might be already on this topic with EdgarJPublius.

Yeah, it's similar territory. It doesn't make sense for an entity to create everything that's ever existed within itself. 'Emerged from the void' and 'before time' are not meaningful concepts; it's like saying 'norther than north'.

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Re: Religion

Postby thomson2008 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:22 am UTC

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. Organized religion generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity (see religion-supporting organization). Other religions believe in personal revelation. Religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

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EdgarJPublius
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Re: True Agnosticism IS the only logical choice

Postby EdgarJPublius » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

MisterSam wrote:If you make no assumptions about anything, no assumptions at all, then this means that you do not assume that God exists. And you do not assume that there exists evidence that there is a God, no matter what the definition is.

Right, if you start with nothing then you can't assume you exist either, you can to reason that 'I think therefore I am' or else nothing you do or say makes any sense, why should you care about the actions of a nonexistant thing? And from the position of 'I think therefore I am' you build other unassailable conclusions, like there is an evil genius/wizard manipulating your every sense... oh wait.
Yea, Cartesian Hyperbolic Doubt is good, but going back to my comparison of religion to the Airplane-Treadmill problem, some people will deduce a God, some people will not.

Nath wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:There are two ways you can look at 'the universe'. One, is everything that ever existed, the so called 'infinite universe'. This is not what I'm talking about.
The other way, as it is generally understood today, is the universe that 'began' with the big bang and represents the current set of matter, it's current organization etc.

Fair point, though it's debatable which definition is in wider use. For the first definition, most hypothesized gods would have created a subset of the universe.

Note that it's still impossible for any entity to have created the entire observable universe (i.e. everything we could possibly interact with) without having created itself.


I'm not sure we can say that without a reasonable doubt (for starters, you probably don't want to say 'observable universe', there's no reason to suspect that God is observable, and talking about the 'observable universe' implies the 'cosmos' anyway, since the observable universe is just everything inside our light-cone, and events prior to and including the big bang certainly are outside our light-cone and therefore unobservable.) The universe has been around a long time, and we can't make any inferences about it before the Big Bang. How long it has existed, how it began, etc. talking about the origins of the 'infinite' universe with any degree of certainty is ridiculous, I won't do it. Maybe the universe has always existed, it is infinite (just like it says on the box) and God came into being some finite time before or aftert he creation of the observable universe, that's still infinitely long ago. Maybe they came into being at the same time, an infinite time later, it doesn't really matter, both would be infinitely old.
Maybe the universe isn't infinitely old, then where did it come from? Maybe there was god, and god created the universe, maybe there was the universe, and the universe created god, maybe both happened at the same time. Maybe god didn't happen until much later, in some way unrelated to the beginnings of the 'infinite' universe. Maybe god didn't happen at all. I don't know, and you don't know. and Arguing about which is true is pointless until we get a better idea of the origins of the 'infinite' universe, which may never happen.
Roosevelt wrote:
I wrote:Does Space Teddy Roosevelt wrestle Space Bears and fight the Space Spanish-American War with his band of Space-volunteers the Space Rough Riders?

Yes.

-still unaware of the origin and meaning of his own user-title


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