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Old 02-10-2007, 05:40 AM   #46
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
God, being absolute and eternal, requires no cause.
Not to pass on Nicato's defences or anything, but this argument is indeed circular. Inasmuch as you use a word like "eternal" or "absolute" to describe an object, you are ascribing it properties which must then be sustained by logical argument or evidence of some kind. As it stands, God is not eternal by definition, but by description.

As in, if I call a boat "The Unsinkable" it's not like I can go around saying "it's unsinkable by definition!". Likewise, if you posit such a thing as a God whose properties are the eternal, the absolute, etc. the mere act of positing it as such doesn't make its concept plausible or logical. (unless you can provide a reasonable explanation of how it is possible for a being to be eternal, but I think we all see how that is a logical conundrum).

EDIT: What the hell? Why did the site suddenly create those hyperlinks in my post?

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Old 02-10-2007, 03:06 PM   #47
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Avptallarita (Post #45):
What you define as "transcendent of natural laws" might simply be some other natural law which is yet to be discovered. 300 years ago, the existence of complicated life forms might have been used as proof of the necessity of God, until we discovered evolution. Today the temporal condition of the universe is used for the same purpose, but in 300 years' time we might have the answer to that too.
This is the advantage of having a god which only exists inside a rhetorical vacuum: it will always exists just outside the edge of knowledge. Even if we discover that X caused the universe and that Y caused X, Mike's god will be the perpetual Z.
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Old 02-12-2007, 12:36 AM   #48
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Well isn't that just convenient. I have to say, Mike, your god is nothing if not cleverly designed. It requires no cause, it can transcend the laws it supposed created, it can't be verified with observable evidence. Remarkable.
Would it not be a bit incongruous for God to be constrained by the laws he created, be they known physical laws or spacetime itself? Divinity is synonymous with transcendence. You've offered no rebuttal to this concept, only attempted to divert the discussion with sarcasm and positivist rhetoric.

The reasoning I have been using is a form of indirect logic, which is used in science all the time. Let me ask you this: are dinosaurs extinct? Yes? How do you know? In order for a scientist to prove that dinosaurs are extinct, he would have to find every species of animal on the planet and prove that it is not a dinosaur. This could never be accomplished because the planet is too big and there are too many animals. So how does a scientist come to the conclusion that dinosaurs are extinct? Through indirect logic. They reason that since nobody has seen any dinosaurs walking around, it's logical to infer that they must be extinct.

The same concept is inherent in divinity and creation. Scientists don't know how the universe came into existence or how self-replicating RNA appeared on the earth billions of years ago. Indeed, many explanations for such ideas have actively contradicted established physical laws (1, 2, 3). To take it a step further, the very nature of our universe suggests that these questions cannot be answered through naturalistic observations (how could we observe that which is outside of our existential bubble?). Due to the limitations science has in providing naturalistic explanations, we can logically infer that something transcendent of natural law is a catalyst for these events.

An atheistic view of science relies on the "naturalistic axiom". It is the assumption that all things can be explained through natural causes. It doesn't render God's existence impossible, only unnecessary. Science can't infer a divine consciousness even when it can be logically inferred, simply because to do so would contradict this assumption. The concept of a divine consciousness, or God – unlike the naturalistic axiom upon which you are basing the whole of your reasoning – is not an assumption. Rather, it is a concept that is logically inferred as we reach limitations and contradictions within the boundaries of naturalistic science.

If you're looking for "God" to be some sort of quantifiably testable scientific hypothesis, you're going to be left wanting. The question is whether that's the limit of our understanding – whether reason is a tool that can function congruently with other means of understanding ourselves and our world, or whether our capacity for understanding is reducible to the empirical. Judging by your frequently cavalier and sarcastic tone, that's a question you don't seem interested in exploring.
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Old 02-12-2007, 06:22 PM   #49
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #48):
To take it a step further, the very nature of our universe suggests that these questions cannot be answered through naturalistic observations (how could we observe that which is outside of our existential bubble?). Due to the limitations science has in providing naturalistic explanations, we can logically infer that something transcendent of natural law is a catalyst for these events.
But here's the thing: you haven't demonstrated that there are any questions about the origin of the universe (or life) which are absolutely out of the reach of science. You've only made an assumption that there are. Worse, having drawn your arbitrary boundary ("limitations") of science, you've simply stepped over the line and set up shop for your god.

You say that "the very nature of our universe suggests that these questions cannot be answered through naturalistic observations." But that is just so much rhetoric. The fact is that you do not know if a completely naturalistic explanation for the universe is attainable or not. Even if it isn't, it seems to me that ignorance is the most intellectually defensible position to take, rather than gratuitously positing an entity which requires no cause or evidence; an entity which is only one of an infinite number of equally plausible entities; an entity which can only exist in circular arguments and rhetorical vacuums. What is wrong with saying "I don't know?"

----

On this "intuitive" jazz:


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Old 02-13-2007, 04:27 AM   #50
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
Due to the limitations science has in providing naturalistic explanations, we can logically infer that something transcendent of natural law is a catalyst for these events.
We can not! The limits of (contemporary) science are not the limits of nature! *chokes*
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Old 02-15-2007, 08:11 PM   #51
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by avptallarita
We can not! The limits of (contemporary) science are not the limits of nature! *chokes*
Possibly, certainly. As I said earlier, the basis of the naturalistic axiom is the notion that science can explain all things. It may be true, and we do not know. This is why, though I have very general theistic beliefs, I consider myself a "theistic agnostic". But assuming science can or will answer all things is no less a position of faith than any religion.

I'd urge you guys to pay homage to a formerly active GC.com member and read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. There's an outline on Wikipedia here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_pure_reason
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:41 AM   #52
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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But assuming science can or will answer all things is no less a position of faith than any religion.
I think you're starting to go in circles. The naturalistic assumption is that should there be something that transcends our methods of investigation and observation, that something will in turn be accountable to other logical, non-contradictory registers. The theistic claim is that there is something out there which is not accountable to anything at all. I don't wish to negate this claim outright, but I simply don't see any good grounds or reason to believe in it, nor have you provided any. (Not to mention that it overlooks a rather important contradiction - that of employing reason to posit something outside reason).

And yes, I've gone through the critique - the first half of it anyway, the rest will have to wait until I have some free time again. Not really sure how it's relevant to what you're saying though.
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Old 02-16-2007, 01:31 PM   #53
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Avptallarita View Post
I think you're starting to go in circles. The naturalistic assumption is that should there be something that transcends our methods of investigation and observation, that something will in turn be accountable to other logical, non-contradictory registers. The theistic claim is that there is something out there which is not accountable to anything at all. I don't wish to negate this claim outright, but I simply don't see any good grounds or reason to believe in it, nor have you provided any. (Not to mention that it overlooks a rather important contradiction - that of employing reason to posit something outside reason).
I think this whole conversation has been going in circles for a while. If you're saying that I haven't provided a naturalistic proof for believing in God, then you're right, but that was never my intention. As I said earlier, invoking reason to help explain a concept doesn't mean that it's reducible to it. There's nothing irrational about positing evidence of things that transcend our ability to observe them naturally. It just means that there are things cannot be explain by reason alone.

I think your take on the naturalistic axiom is a bit dubious though. It seems as though you are assuming that if something exists that transcends the natural as we know it, then we would still be able to fully understand it by its own "logical, non-contradictory registers" but then how would we understand such rules without in turn subjecting them to our own naturalistic logical registers?

Quote:
And yes, I've gone through the critique - the first half of it anyway, the rest will have to wait until I have some free time again. Not really sure how it's relevant to what you're saying though.
Kant's critique is practically a summation (and expansion) of everything I've said. The concept is that naturalistic reasoning is subject to inherent limitations, and that it is not our only means of understand ourselves and our world.
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Old 02-17-2007, 05:52 PM   #54
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Mike Doolittle (Post #51):
I'd urge you guys to pay homage to a formerly active GC.com member and read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. There's an outline on Wikipedia here:
I hope this current debate tactic you've recently been employing--the kind which you attempt to undermine core, well-established premises/sources (mimes, reason, the NPD)--dies. Its fairly obvious that you only unleash this tactic once you've been backed into a corner--which is why they often come up late in discussion. (And all without irony too, you criticize me for linking to a Wikipedia article refuting a specific argument, then turn around and cite two general refutations.)

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But assuming science can or will answer all things is no less a position of faith than any religion.
Yes, no. Naturalism is, in a sense, a matter of faith, however, I would not so readily equate it to that of religion. As has been demonstrated in this thread (among other discussions), there is no objective evidence that anything exists outside of the natural world. Therefore, it seems more reasonable to me that a naturalistic explanation exists than a perpetual Z.
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Old 02-17-2007, 06:53 PM   #55
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
I hope this current debate tactic you've recently been employing--the kind which you attempt to undermine core, well-established premises/sources (mimes, reason, the NPD)--dies. Its fairly obvious that you only unleash this tactic once you've been backed into a corner--which is why they often come up late in discussion. (And all without irony too, you criticize me for linking to a Wikipedia article refuting a specific argument, then turn around and cite two general refutations.)
I criticized you for citing an article without providing any context within the discussion basically you just stuck it in there and left for me to find the context. I referenced the Kant article because, near as I can tell, the discussion's reached an impasse, and I posted it up there as further reading to better understand the core concepts I'm trying (unsuccessfully it would seem) to communicate.

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Yes, no. Naturalism is, in a sense, a matter of faith, however, I would not so readily equate it to that of religion. As has been demonstrated in this thread (among other discussions), there is no objective evidence that anything exists outside of the natural world. Therefore, it seems more reasonable to me that a naturalistic explanation exists than a perpetual Z.
What you consider "objective evidence" is a concept constrained by the tenants of the naturalistic axiom. "I cannot observe anything outside of my room by observing my room, thus nothing outside of my room exists." You're supporting one assumption with another.
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Old 02-18-2007, 05:02 AM   #56
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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There's nothing irrational about positing evidence of things that transcend our ability to observe them naturally.
I'm not disagreeing with this, all I'm asking is for you (or anyone else) to give me some reason to believe in something which transcends my ability to understand it. You keep pointing out that reason and science are not exhaustive, but that's not what I'm arguing for. You're saying that there's something else, I'm saying fine, what is it?

Quote:
Kant's critique is practically a summation (and expansion) of everything I've said. The concept is that naturalistic reasoning is subject to inherent limitations, and that it is not our only means of understand ourselves and our world.
Insofar as I've understood it, it says exactly the opposite. Reason does have inherent limitations, but it is indeed our only means of understanding ourselves and our world and it's preposterous to conceive of understanding something outside of our categories.
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:47 AM   #57
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Mike Doolittle View Post
What you consider "objective evidence" is a concept constrained by the tenants of the naturalistic axiom. "I cannot observe anything outside of my room by observing my room, thus nothing outside of my room exists." You're supporting one assumption with another.
For me, the question is not "Is there anything outside my room?" rather "Why shouldn't there be anything outside my room?" (Likewise, why shouldn't the tree which falls in a forest make a sound?) My premise is that there is because there has never not been something outside my room.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you're going to tell me that we are all living in simulated reality then the burden of proof lies on you to prove it. Otherwise, if I were to take that claim on face value, then I would have to accept any old claim that the human mind could conjure. (Suddenly the simulated reality which is being operated by the agent is itself a simulated reality, and so on and so on.)

What I'm saying is that my belief in an "outside of my room while inside my room" is difference from a belief of an afterlife. That no "objective evidence" (as you put it) can be demonstrated for either claim does not mean that each claim is equally plausible. Further, while I may not be able to objectively prove that there is anything to see while being blindfolded, I can always take the blindfold off. Or, in other words, the conditions by which you've demanded evidence made it impossible to demonstrate said evidence. That there is an "outside of my room" is a testable claim; the addendum of "while inside my room" makes it untestable (though something must be causing me to turn my heater on). That there is an afterlife or "creative god" is not testable by any means, only a mere supposition once you've dictated the so-called boundaries of reason.

In summation, all "faiths" are not created equal. Some are based on reason and some or not. My belief that the Earth is round could be demonstrated several dozen ways; your belief in a "creative god" can't be objectively demonstrated it all. There is a difference.

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Old 02-20-2007, 05:42 PM   #58
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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Originally Posted by Avptallarita View Post
You're saying that there's something else, I'm saying fine, what is it?
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Originally Posted by Nicato
In summation, all "faiths" are not created equal. Some are based on reason and some or not. My belief that the Earth is round could be demonstrated several dozen ways; your belief in a "creative god" can't be objectively demonstrated it all. There is a difference.
Here's the problem, as I see it.

In order to "believe" in God, you want "positive evidence", or scientific proof, of God's existence. If God is to exist he must be eminently observable and describable. The mere possibility that things exists that transcend our ability to fully understand them by naturalistic observation is absurd to you. Anything less and you see no reason to believe (I maintain that such an attitude renders the term "believe" moot). I've pointed to what I would consider to be signs of the supernatural's existence. However, since these things can't be proven to be supernatural by naturalistic observation, you dismiss them.

Obviously neither I nor anyone else can prove the existence of God and the supernatural. If it could be done, then there would be no controversy about it, no religion, no theology, no belief, no a/theism only acknowledgment of fact. And obviously the very act of responding to suggestions of transcendent and spiritual phenomenon with positivist reductionism is a circular and evasive tactic. I posited certain phenomena that I feel is suggestive of a spiritual, transcendent element in our existence. It's not surprising that a positivist would simply defer to "that doesn't prove anything" type of arguments. Well... duh. That's not the point.


Quote:
Insofar as I've understood it, it says exactly the opposite. Reason does have inherent limitations, but it is indeed our only means of understanding ourselves and our world and it's preposterous to conceive of understanding something outside of our categories.
Kant postulates that only those things which are sensory experiences can be known through pure reason, thus there can be no empirical proof of God. But, he distinguishes between experiencing objects cognitively, and the ability to experience something cognitively in the first place. Kant does not find God in the idea that the universe is coherent and ordered, but in our ability to perceive the universe as ordered. Some principle of systematicity is necessary to account for the interconnectedness or coherence we perceive in nature. Kant further believes that we experience God in a sphere of a distinct but interconnected moral reality, which we experience intuitively take for example what I've described in this thread as our tendency toward empathy and altruism, even when such ideals stand in direct opposition to our basal evolutionary instincts even though by his own admission he has no empirical way of knowing that this experience is truly "God", nor does he attempt to quantitatively ascribe objective characteristic to God.

The arguments I postured about the universe and morality and all that stuff were not intended to be "proofs" of God. Obviously such a thing lies beyond our ability to comprehend, which is the crux of Kant's argument. The point was to encourage you guys to think beyond the scope of what you can objectively know, and yet to see a reasoned and pragmatic foundation for faith.

Hopefully that explains it well enough. I found a good (but long) paper on the subject, and I think it does a good job of describing Kant's theism:

http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/srp/arts/KTS.html
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:41 PM   #59
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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The mere possibility that things exists that transcend our ability to fully understand them by naturalistic observation is absurd to you.
You are (once again) wrong in your characterization of me. That things exist which transcend our ability to understand may in fact exist. What I'm saying is if they are inherently unknowable, then they are neither worth discussing nor believing and that you posit one of an infinite number of equally plausible hypothesises is in no by no means intellectually satisfying.
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Old 02-24-2007, 09:23 PM   #60
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

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You are (once again) wrong in your characterization of me. That things exist which transcend our ability to understand may in fact exist. What I'm saying is if they are inherently unknowable, then they are neither worth discussing nor believing and that you posit one of an infinite number of equally plausible hypothesises is in no by no means intellectually satisfying.
I'm sorry you find the idea of God "intellectually unsatisfying." But it's not a scientific hypothesis, and shouldn't be treated as such. Again this really just goes back to the whole point behind the thread. If something transcends our ability to be understood through naturalism alone, does that mean we have no means to understand it at all? Science by definition is only able to observe that which is subject to the laws within our own existential bubble. As long as you adhere to the idea that only that which can be scientifically observed exists or can be known, you won't be able to grasp the validity of faith and spirituality in the human experience. Faith is the idea, a perfectly reasonable one in my estimation based on the clear limitations of science, that there are things beyond this bubble we live in, and that we have a means to connect with them that brings greater fulfillment, direction and purpose to our lives.
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