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  #11  
Old 20th January 2009, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
The first 3 paragraphs are basically an argument from experience. We grow up experiencing things a certain way and therefore we expect most everything to be that way, in other words, because we are familiar with an intelligently made environment, we expect everything to be an intelligently made environment. The problem is, just because we're used to something being a certain way does not mean it has to be that way. If I took a kid and raised them in a world where everyone speaks the same language, and never introduced them to the idea that other languages might exist, the first time they encounter someone who speaks a different language, they'd think it was gibberish.
Hello again ragarth.

I think I need to clarify something before we continue. I wasn't actually making an argument for God in those paragraphs you respond to here. What I was doing was simply trying to clarify that a default position for belief that a deity exists is not artificial, but rather natural. So it would appear that you're arguing a strawman here. My apologies for not making it clear that this was not necessarily an argument for God in the first place.

In the rth paragraph, I think the disagreement here is what we each define as proof. The 'proof' for the existence of God, while it may exist from a personal perspective, is not necessarily valid proof for scientific inquiry, that's why I defined proof 'in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical' evidence. If this did exist, then God could be scientifically proven to exist and me, as an atheist, would have no choice but to accept the existence of God. I am atheist due to a lack of proof and, in my opinion, a greater likelihood of natural processes being the answer rather than supernatural processes, if God can be empirically, mathematically, or observationally proven, then this would not be the case.
Again, I'm not arguing a personal perspective. And I have no issues with the scientific method for acquiring proof (though I think that the scientific method can only go so far when dealing with issues outside the natural and into the super-natural).
For instance, the bible is a wonderful reference for researching ancient cultures and societies. It gives a lot of information about this topic, but the fact that it provides information on ancient cultures is historical, not proof of Deity.
I'm not sure I follow exactly. You're saying that you don't think that historical documentation for someone is a form of evidence for that person? Let's just forget about arguments for deity at this point. I'm just trying to see if we can agree that... say... documentation for Alexander the Great is a form of evidence that someone named Alexander, who came from Macedonia, ruled most of the known world in the 4th century BC. Would you agree that the writings passed on to us about him count for evidence for his existence?

And finally:
There's nothing wrong with historical evidence, but unless the historical evidence is empirical to the nature of the research then it's not direct evidence. For instance, the bible speaks about significant places that happened in the past like Rome. In a historical context, this is great, it gives us a view into Roman culture and life, but it is not evidence of the bible being the word of God.
First of all, I have to know what you mean by direct evidence. Historical literature is a form of evidence. It can even be a form of direct evidence.

At this point I'm not arguing that because the Bible talks accurately of ancient cultures that it must be proof that it is the "word of God". I haven't made this type of argument yet, I don't think, so again I believe this may be a strawman. If I have, please correct me.

I understand, unfortunately I don't know greek, latin, and hebrew, and it's a safe bet that JohnDB doesn't either. Therefore his opinion on the contextual integrity of the bible across it's several sections is probably dependent upon a translation. I have seen nothing showing what he's claiming to be the facts across the ancient texts. Further, if what he were claiming were true, then I'd be able to read the bible as Oprah's weekly reader and not as a collection of ancient, diverse literature.
The non-scholar or non-expert can use tools to see and understand the Greek and Hebrew, and can always default to scholars and scholarly works. There's nothing in scholarly circles that's being hidden from non-experts (as far as I know ), no big surprises, no mysteries. No religious order safe-guarding the secrets "they" don't want getting out ala the Da Vinci Code or something.

If the bible is the work of man, then this is either myth or it's true meaning is dependent upon the surrounding text. If the bible is not literal, then it could mean many things based upon the context of it's usage.
Ok. Well let's start with the basics then. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the book of 1 Corinthians is not divinely inspired and is solely the work of the man Paul to the church at Corinth. When Paul says that 500 people have seen the resurrected Jesus, only a couple options present itself. Either he's telling the truth... and if so, case closed. He's deluded, or he's lying to hype the Gospel message. If Paul lies when he claims 500 witnessed the resurrected Jesus then he's hasn't given himself much leeway in the lie. He claims that some of those 500 hundred "sleep" (are dead), but some are very much alive. In order to confirm what Paul has said, one must only need ask a witness. The claim that Paul is making here was verifiable in his day if not our own, and this should at least give the skeptic or searcher pause to consider that maybe he's telling something he knows is true.
The argument that the world is manufactured because we're familiar with a manufactured environment is an argument from experience.
Again, that wasn't an argument, simply a rationale for a "default position" for belief in deity.

I haven't seen any mathematical arguments for the manufacturing of the universe yet,
I can go into that if you'd like. I'm assuming you are not familiar with the Kalam cosmological argument.
and the meaning of life is a human construct, I like to think we create our own meaning for our lives.
So you believe there is no objective meaning to life, only subjective meaning... Ok, well I think you're wrong. how's that for subjective.

I can observe a tree and asses it's aesthetic value, but this is an artificial, human manufactured analysis. A tree has no aesthetics as far as the tree is concerned. I can look at it's DNA and asses it's genetic lineage, it's evolutionary context, and place it on a phylogenetic tree. I can look at it's physiology and define it's efficiency at absorbing sunlight. None of this proves it was manufactured, unless it happens to be a genetically engineered or artificially crossbred tree, which can be discovered through observation- but this is human creation, not Divine.
I'm not sure I understand your argument here. I haven't made an argument for beauty if that's what you're hinting at, and if you think that a tree acquires its traits by accident rather than by design, then I'm not sure I can help you much lol.

I won't be posting for a few hours, I need to run off to college. It's a pleasure talking to you, Adrift, I like your brain.
You too. Talk to you soon I hope.
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  #12  
Old 20th January 2009, 02:49 PM
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Sorry, double post.

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  #13  
Old 20th January 2009, 02:51 PM
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Just gonna' chime in here a bit.

If this did exist, then God could be scientifically proven to exist and me, as an atheist, would have no choice but to accept the existence of God.
I find your choice of words very interesting. C.S. Lewis wrote (I'm paraphrasing now) that if God did stand upon terra firma for all to see He would remove all choice to believe in Him. His tangible presence would force everyone to accept His existence and His rule. The Bible, however, again and again tells us that God desires our love and worship, both of which become something else when compelled. God will not force the issue of our love; He won't make it impossible to reject Him.

For instance, the bible is a wonderful reference for researching ancient cultures and societies. It gives a lot of information about this topic, but the fact that it provides information on ancient cultures is historical, not proof of Deity.
You're making a distinction here that the text of the Bible itself doesn't make. The Bible makes an unabashed claim that it reveals Deity through its record of human history. Its historical accuracy reinforces this claim. Simply dismissing out-of-hand this fact, while convenient for atheist's, is rather intellectually dishonest. If a witness in court gives testimony to extraordinary events that in material detail are perfectly verified and accurate, it is completely in violation of the rules of evidence to simply dismiss the extraordinary elements of that testimony out-of-hand. But this is more or less what you have done.

The first 3 paragraphs are basically an argument from experience. We grow up experiencing things a certain way and therefore we expect most everything to be that way,
And we are so confident in the universal truth of certain experiences that we enshrine them as physical laws (ie. The Law of Gravity). My point being that there is nothing faulty, scientifically or logically, about expecting, even counting on, some things from our experience to be true universally. I experience the force of gravity in my bedroom and expect it to be the same half-way around the world on the African savannah. And I am right to have such an expectation. For gravity does work precisely the same way in both places.

in other words, because we are familiar with an intelligently made environment, we expect everything to be an intelligently made environment.
Such an expectation is not necessarily unreasonable or unwarranted.

The problem is, just because we're used to something being a certain way does not mean it has to be that way. If I took a kid and raised them in a world where everyone speaks the same language, and never introduced them to the idea that other languages might exist, the first time they encounter someone who speaks a different language, they'd think it was gibberish.
Your example here is a poor one. I've understood from a young age that there are other languages and I still, when I hear a foreign one, think it is gibberish! Would the child you describe be completely unable to understand that that "gibberish" is another language? I doubt it. He could simply extrapolate from his own experience that what unintelligible sounds he is hearing are words - especially if he witnessed two people speaking the same foreign language to each other. Even if all the child had growing up was the company of animals, he'd be able to distinguish the gibberish he was hearing from another human as an act of communication; for animals "speak" a language too with hoots, grunts, squeaks and cries.

The issue, though, isn't really if the child would think a foreign language was gibberish the first time he heard it, but whether or not he should assume that that "gibberish" was a form of communication. Would it be reasonable for him to expect that another unfamiliar human would have a language, too. The obvious answer is "yes."

Likewise, it is completely appropriate and rational to assume that a painting has a Painter, a building has a Builder, a sculpture has a Sculptor, and the creation has a Creator.

I like to think we create our own meaning for our lives
.

I highly suspect that this, more than anything else, provokes your atheism.

I can observe a tree and asses it's aesthetic value, but this is an artificial, human manufactured analysis. A tree has no aesthetics as far as the tree is concerned.
One could say the same about a Renoir painting, but the conclusion wouldn't be true. A Renoir painting has no aesthetics as far as the painting is concerned, but it is, nonetheless, intended entirely to be an aesthetic object. Really, though, it is not possible or rational to reason from the point of view of an inanimate or non-sentient object, be it painting or tree, because neither possesses a point of view.

I could reduce a Renoir painting to its constituent elements, as you have done with the tree, but this doesn't negate the existence of Renoir.

Peace to you.

Last edited by aiki; 20th January 2009 at 03:07 PM.
  #14  
Old 20th January 2009, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by aiki View Post
Just gonna' chime in here a bit.
No problem! I like the sound of chimes, very relaxing.

I find your choice of words very interesting. C.S. Lewis wrote (I'm paraphrasing now) that if God did stand upon terra firma for all to see He would remove all choice to believe in Him. His tangible presence would force everyone to accept His existence and His rule. The Bible, however, again and again tells us that God desires our love and worship, both of which become something else when compelled. God will not force the issue of our love; He won't make it impossible to reject Him.
From a logical standpoint, God in all his glory standing there would be proof in God, and therefore anyone of a logical mind would have to believe in him. This does not mean we must believe in him (unless his presence is a compulsion), one could simply refuse to believe in him regardless of the facts. This differs from what we have now, because while God standing before you is incontrovertible, there are alternatives to the idea of God creating the universe.

You're making a distinction here that the text of the Bible itself doesn't make. The Bible makes an unabashed claim that it reveals Deity through its record of human history. Its historical accuracy reinforces this claim. Simply dismissing out-of-hand this fact, while convenient for atheist's, is rather intellectually dishonest. If a witness in court gives testimony to extraordinary events that in material detail are perfectly verified and accurate, it is completely in violation of the rules of evidence to simply dismiss the extraordinary elements of that testimony out-of-hand. But this is more or less what you have done.
This isn't true at all. Don't read anything into my choice of book (it's just the first book to pop to mind that is terribly false in it's premise), but the Mein Kompf makes unabashed claims that are patently false, but it is still a historical text and provides information beyond it's core claim.

And we are so confident in the universal truth of certain experiences that we enshrine them as physical laws (ie. The Law of Gravity). My point being that there is nothing faulty, scientifically or logically, about expecting, even counting on, some things from our experience to be true universally. I experience the force of gravity in my bedroom and expect it to be the same half-way around the world on the African savannah. And I am right to have such an expectation. For gravity does work precisely the same way in both places.
Yes, but the force of gravity isn't the same everywhere. In a microgravity situation, while still being effected by gravity, you don't feel it's effects. On the moon the gravity is 1/8th what it is in your bedroom, and the effect of gravity varies depending on your distance from the planet's surface. Theoretically, at the event horizon of a black hole, gravity is even more strange, where ripple effects seem to have a macroscopic sway. To assume that your experiences are universally applicable is to deceive yourself.

The issue, though, isn't really if the child would think a foreign language was gibberish the first time he heard it, but whether or not he should assume that that "gibberish" was a form of communication. Would it be reasonable for him to expect that another unfamiliar human would have a language, too. The obvious answer is "yes."
Without conducting a scientific study into this, I can't prove it one way or another and therefore retract the example. I still hold to the premise though, that our experiences are not universally applicable, including the experience of living in a manufactured environment being translated to a star, solar system, or rock.

One could say the same about a Renoir painting, but the conclusion wouldn't be true. A Renoir painting has no aesthetics as far as the painting is concerned, but it is, nonetheless, intended entirely to be an aesthetic object. Really, though, it is not possible or rational to reason from the point of view of an inanimate or non-sentient object, be it painting or tree, because neither possesses a point of view.
This still doesn't mean that the idea of aesthetics isn't contrived. I have to admit, I had to look up renoir to see his art style, but what if I thought it was ugly? What if I thought the only real aesthetics in art were found in abstracts and anything still-life or portrait was a bland reproduction of reality? Still though, aesthetics isn't sign of creation. I could take sand and dash it across the ground, and still find the effect quite pleasing, even though the resultant design is random. Or I could see the splash of ocean upon a rocky shore and see it as beautiful (and I do!) even though the actual scene is random, with no intelligence guiding the waves.

Peace to you.
and to you.
  #15  
Old 20th January 2009, 05:51 PM
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This post is the reasoning I thought of earlier to explain why the arguments posted here are valid to my original post. I changed this post from effectively saying 'this has nothing to do with the op' to the text below.

A default position is not defined by personal preference, a default position is a direct result of Occam's razor, the idea that a less complex reason for something is more likely than a more complex reason for something. Ergo, if it's more complex for a letter to be from my mom than not, then it's more likely for it to not be from my mom. This can be illustrated with me putting a penny under a cup. If I put a penny under a cup and keep my eyes on it, it's less complex to say the penny did nothing, than it is to say the penny spontaneously dissolved into the atmosphere, fell through the table, or turned into a quarter, ergo, my default position is that the penny is still under the cup. I can't prove the penny is still there empirically until I measure this by lifting the cup, but my default position is that it's there.

To use aesthetics as a position for establishing a default position is more complex though., what one person finds aesthetic another may not. It also has no quantifiable method of measurement, I can't assign a number to how 'aesthetic' something is. For this reason, aesthetics is a subjective value, but it can still be used to define a default position even if it can't be used as outright proof. To do this is two fold, I must prove that aesthetics in the universe is different between a manufactured universe and a non-manufactured universe, and I must prove the validity of aesthetics as a measurement of this.

To show aesthetics to be a valid measurement, you must disprove the possibility that the state of the universe has influenced what we consider to be aesthetic (thereby avoiding causation/correlation problems), and prove that aesthetics is an intrinsic value to an object and not subjected to human thought (otherwise your results are meaningless, it'd be the same as saying God's actual existence from moment to moment changes based on the state of society's views on what constitutes an aesthetic painting.)

We cannot see the universe in it's totality, so we cannot judge the overall aesthetic nature of the universe. We must therefore judge the aesthetics of it's parts: Galactic clusters, galaxies, stars, rocks, planets, molecules, DNA strands, etc. Assuming we can put together an unbiased collection of things to test, we then move to the next part of the fold: prove that aesthetics differs between a manufactured and nonmanufactured universe. In a universe manufactured with the goal of aesthetics in mind, then more of the universe will be aesthetic than non-aesthetic. Then we must answer: Would a nonmanufactured universe be less aesthetic than a manufactured universe? Once we have that, the last would be: Would a manufactured universe built for a purpose other than aesthetics be more like the manfuactured aesthetic universe, or the nonmanufactured universe?

Because of the subjective nature of aesthetics, it's very difficult to measure it, ie I find forests to be beautiful, but I have a friend who thinks they are ugly (Frankly, I think she's a freak). This means that rating aestheticism is going to require a sample of people to get any meaningful rating, and the larger the sample size, the better. You then show your collection of images of things in the universe, and see if people view them as aesthetic or not. Run the numbers and see which is more likely, given the assumptions you make to the questions above.

So, if you assume that:aesthetics is intrinsic to an aesthetic object, that the state of the universe itself did not influence what we consider to be aesthetic, and that a nonmanfuactured universe if less aesthetic than a manufactured universe; and your test sample finds there to be more aesthetic items in your picture sample than nonaesthetic items, then you can surmise that based on aesthetics and your assumptions, that a manufactured universe is more likely than a nonmanufactured universe.

Last edited by ragarth; 20th January 2009 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 21st January 2009, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
This post is the reasoning I thought of earlier to explain why the arguments posted here are valid to my original post. I changed this post from effectively saying 'this has nothing to do with the op' to the text below.

A default position is not defined by personal preference, a default position is a direct result of Occam's razor, the idea that a less complex reason for something is more likely than a more complex reason for something. Ergo, if it's more complex for a letter to be from my mom than not, then it's more likely for it to not be from my mom. This can be illustrated with me putting a penny under a cup. If I put a penny under a cup and keep my eyes on it, it's less complex to say the penny did nothing, than it is to say the penny spontaneously dissolved into the atmosphere, fell through the table, or turned into a quarter, ergo, my default position is that the penny is still under the cup. I can't prove the penny is still there empirically until I measure this by lifting the cup, but my default position is that it's there.

To use aesthetics as a position for establishing a default position is more complex though., what one person finds aesthetic another may not. It also has no quantifiable method of measurement, I can't assign a number to how 'aesthetic' something is. For this reason, aesthetics is a subjective value, but it can still be used to define a default position even if it can't be used as outright proof. To do this is two fold, I must prove that aesthetics in the universe is different between a manufactured universe and a non-manufactured universe, and I must prove the validity of aesthetics as a measurement of this.

To show aesthetics to be a valid measurement, you must disprove the possibility that the state of the universe has influenced what we consider to be aesthetic (thereby avoiding causation/correlation problems), and prove that aesthetics is an intrinsic value to an object and not subjected to human thought (otherwise your results are meaningless, it'd be the same as saying God's actual existence from moment to moment changes based on the state of society's views on what constitutes an aesthetic painting.)

We cannot see the universe in it's totality, so we cannot judge the overall aesthetic nature of the universe. We must therefore judge the aesthetics of it's parts: Galactic clusters, galaxies, stars, rocks, planets, molecules, DNA strands, etc. Assuming we can put together an unbiased collection of things to test, we then move to the next part of the fold: prove that aesthetics differs between a manufactured and nonmanufactured universe. In a universe manufactured with the goal of aesthetics in mind, then more of the universe will be aesthetic than non-aesthetic. Then we must answer: Would a nonmanufactured universe be less aesthetic than a manufactured universe? Once we have that, the last would be: Would a manufactured universe built for a purpose other than aesthetics be more like the manfuactured aesthetic universe, or the nonmanufactured universe?

Because of the subjective nature of aesthetics, it's very difficult to measure it, ie I find forests to be beautiful, but I have a friend who thinks they are ugly (Frankly, I think she's a freak). This means that rating aestheticism is going to require a sample of people to get any meaningful rating, and the larger the sample size, the better. You then show your collection of images of things in the universe, and see if people view them as aesthetic or not. Run the numbers and see which is more likely, given the assumptions you make to the questions above.

So, if you assume that:aesthetics is intrinsic to an aesthetic object, that the state of the universe itself did not influence what we consider to be aesthetic, and that a nonmanfuactured universe if less aesthetic than a manufactured universe; and your test sample finds there to be more aesthetic items in your picture sample than nonaesthetic items, then you can surmise that based on aesthetics and your assumptions, that a manufactured universe is more likely than a nonmanufactured universe.
Hope you haven't missed my last reply to you in this thread. For some reason it had to go through the moderator gauntlet before it got posted (must have something to do with post length considerations or something...?)

Anyhow, I wanted to comment on a couple things you say in this post. First of all, your definition of what is and is not someone's default position on belief in God seems to me a bit willy nilly, and I'm not really sure what you're getting at anyways. If I were to use Occam's Razor to explain how the universe began, I'd still come to the conclusion that an all powerful designer created it. Far simpler than extrapolating that we our universe is one of a number of multiverses, or something like that. I don't see how Occam's Razor would lessen the chance someone would believe in God.

Also you lost me with your whole aesthetic manufactured vs. natural universe shpeel. I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread argue that subjective aethetic appeal proves God. I'm not saying an argument couldn't be made, but I just haven't seen one in this thread before you brought it up. The argument I think is simply design=pre-determined purpose, not necassarily aesthetic value=proof of deity. The Renoir scenario that aiki used seems to simply be an example for how design=purpose... I wouldn't get too caught up overthinking an argument based on aesthetics that I don't think anyone is really making.

Last edited by Adrift*; 21st January 2009 at 09:46 AM.
  #17  
Old 21st January 2009, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
Hope you haven't missed my last reply to you in this thread. For some reason it had to go through the moderator gauntlet before it got posted (must have something to do with post length considerations or something...?)

Anyhow, I wanted to comment on a couple things you say in this post. First of all, your definition of what is and is not someone's default position on belief in God seems to me a bit willy nilly, and I'm not really sure what you're getting at anyways. If I were to use Occam's Razor to explain how the universe began, I'd still come to the conclusion that an all powerful designer created it. Far simpler than extrapolating that we our universe is one of a number of multiverses, or something like that. I don't see how Occam's Razor would lessen the chance someone would believe in God.

Also you lost me with your whole aesthetic manufactured vs. natural universe shpeel. I don't think I've seen anyone in this thread argue that subjective aethetic appeal proves God. I'm not saying an argument couldn't be made, but I just haven't seen one in this thread before you brought it up. The argument I think is simply design=pre-determined purpose, not necassarily aesthetic value=proof of deity. The Renoir scenario that aiki used seems to simply be an example for how design=purpose... I wouldn't get too caught up overthinking an argument based on aesthetics that I don't think anyone is really making.
Yeah, I'm afraid I missed your last post, sorry about that. Do you want me to go through and answer it or continue on based on this post by you?

Default positions do tend to be a bit vague, that's why they're separated from actual facts and theories, because they're what we consider to be the state of a system in the absence of direct measurement of scientific proof, one might call a default position a prediction that has either not been proven or cannot be proven. For this reason, they can sometimes be subjective on 'soft' topics that don't have a footing in pure science, such as the existence of God, or the yumminess of a new brand of cheese cake. The existence or non-existence of multiple dimensions would be an example of a prediction that has no proof behind it, and is therefore considered a default position based on what theory of everything you ascribe to. I personally have no opinion on multiple universes, but work from the assumption that there are none because it simplifies a lot of things, or from the default position of whichever theory of everything I'm debating that day.

Let me explain my opinion on the existence of God, and how I came to apply Occam's razor to it. Basically, Occam's Razor states that the more complex a hypothesis, the less likely it is in the absence of proof, stated another way: the more assumptions you must make for the hypothesis to be true, the less likely it is to be true.

For God to exist, an omnipotent, omniscient, super natural force would have to exist, basically an ultimate intelligence with the capacity of infinitive manipulation. For God not to exist, naturalistic processes, much of which has already been proven to exist and much of which still remains to be discovered, would have to have created the universe. For the sake of brevity, the complications of God's existence within this problem are far more complex based on it's inherent unfalsifiability and/or reliance on significantly more unknown science than a reliance on purely naturalistic processes (in other words, we'd either never be able to answer the question of how God operates, or we'd have to explain a whole lot more about how God operates than with naturalistic processes.) Specifically in terms of processes, naturalistic methods rely on known and unknown methods of creation for the universe, God would have used supernatural phenomena and used his infinite knowledge and power to hide his existence from us.

Given this, the God process is much more complicated than the nonGod process of universe creation, making it more likely that God does not exist.

To list assumptions:
For God to exist, he must be omnipotent, omniscient, supernatural, have existed before the creation of the universe, and aligned the universe so as to mask his existence from us.

For God not to exist, the universe must arise from both natural laws we comprehend, and natural laws we have yet to comprehend. We do not need to assume that the supernatural, the omniscient and omnipotent do not exist, because these have not been proven to exist.

To justify the assumptions for God's existence, it would be impossible for God to have created the universe and hide his hand in the universe from us if thise assumptions were not met.

And the aesthetics thing was just my explaining to anyone who caught my post before I modified it why I changed my mind.
  #18  
Old 21st January 2009, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ragarth View Post
Yeah, I'm afraid I missed your last post, sorry about that. Do you want me to go through and answer it or continue on based on this post by you?
No we can start here.

Default positions do tend to be a bit vague, that's why they're separated from actual facts and theories, because they're what we consider to be the state of a system in the absence of direct measurement of scientific proof, one might call a default position a prediction that has either not been proven or cannot be proven. For this reason, they can sometimes be subjective on 'soft' topics that don't have a footing in pure science, such as the existence of God, or the yumminess of a new brand of cheese cake. The existence or non-existence of multiple dimensions would be an example of a prediction that has no proof behind it, and is therefore considered a default position based on what theory of everything you ascribe to. I personally have no opinion on multiple universes, but work from the assumption that there are none because it simplifies a lot of things, or from the default position of whichever theory of everything I'm debating that day.
I suppose what's confusing me about this line of thinking is that a "default position" is not necessarily a well reasoned position, it could simply be one based on one's own presuppositions and biases. What exactly does a default position prove about anything? Or was it just your own personal exploration of other's default positions out of curiosity?
Let me explain my opinion on the existence of God, and how I came to apply Occam's razor to it. Basically, Occam's Razor states that the more complex a hypothesis, the less likely it is in the absence of proof, stated another way: the more assumptions you must make for the hypothesis to be true, the less likely it is to be true.
I know what Occam's Razor states.

For God to exist, an omnipotent, omniscient, super natural force would have to exist, basically an ultimate intelligence with the capacity of infinitive manipulation. For God not to exist, naturalistic processes, much of which has already been proven to exist and much of which still remains to be discovered, would have to have created the universe. For the sake of brevity, the complications of God's existence within this problem are far more complex based on it's inherent unfalsifiability and/or reliance on significantly more unknown science than a reliance on purely naturalistic processes (in other words, we'd either never be able to answer the question of how God operates, or we'd have to explain a whole lot more about how God operates than with naturalistic processes.) Specifically in terms of processes, naturalistic methods rely on known and unknown methods of creation for the universe, God would have used supernatural phenomena and used his infinite knowledge and power to hide his existence from us.

Given this, the God process is much more complicated than the nonGod process of universe creation, making it more likely that God does not exist.
Not necassarily. Here, here's Kalam's Cosmological Argument in a nutshell as revised by William Lane Craig.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

Furthermore...

1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite.
3. Therefore, the universe cannot have existed infinitely in the past, as that would be a beginningless series of events.

A cause needs a causer. Only someone/thing outside of time and space can cause time and space to begin.

To list assumptions:
For God to exist, he must be omnipotent, omniscient, supernatural, have existed before the creation of the universe, and aligned the universe so as to mask his existence from us.
I've heard it argued that omniscience, though helpful, is not necessary. This is not a stance I take, but anyhow... And I disagree that God must need to align the universe to mask his existence. In fact, I'd argue that the universe reveals his existence, and that he has also revealed himself through his Son.

For God not to exist, the universe must arise from both natural laws we comprehend, and natural laws we have yet to comprehend. We do not need to assume that the supernatural, the omniscient and omnipotent do not exist, because these have not been proven to exist.
If the naturalist assumes that there are laws that have not yet been comprehended then it seems to me that this would possibly include the supernatural. I agree that there is no necessity to assume anything, but it's a bit closed minded if you ask me.

To justify the assumptions for God's existence, it would be impossible for God to have created the universe and hide his hand in the universe from us if thise assumptions were not met.
Not true, as the Kalam Cosmological argument proves out, as well as the more philosophical arguments from mind, design, and metaethics prove out as well (and I'm sure there are more I'm missing).

And the aesthetics thing was just my explaining to anyone who caught my post before I modified it why I changed my mind.
Oh ok.
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Old 21st January 2009, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Adrift* View Post
I suppose what's confusing me about this line of thinking is that a "default position" is not necessarily a well reasoned position, it could simply be one based on one's own presuppositions and biases. What exactly does a default position prove about anything? Or was it just your own personal exploration of other's default positions out of curiosity?
I admit I'm bastardizing the utility of the default position, since a default position is always trumped or proven by scientific evidence, but in the absence of scientific evidence, then all we have to go on is the default position. Since I've found no scientific evidence for or against the existence of Deity of any form, then I'm left with developing a default position on the subject. As pointed out previously, default positions are subjective, and so this post is my fulfilling my curiosity about the basis for default positions other than my own.

The usual utility of the default position is to establish an 'assumed' result of an experiment when there is no factual or evidential basis to have an actual scientific prediction. For instance, before the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics was conceived, the default position on the state of an object without observation would be that the object would have the same state as the state you find it in after observation, in other words, if I have a cat in a box, the cat is already either dead or alive, and my observation by opening the box merely confirms this. However, the default position of the copenhagen interpretation changes this to say that the cat exists in both states simultaneously, thereby providing a new default position on the subject of the cat's state of life or death. So, whatever your preferred theory to describe the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is, is what defines what you assume to be the default state of an unobserved particle. The Copenhagen interpretation has a lot of problems, but it solves others, therefore it's still in contention, but it may not be for too much longer, a 'weak' method of observation is under experimentation that could break the heisenberg uncertainty principle. I can try to find the paper on this if you'd like.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

Furthermore...

1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
2. A beginningless series of events is an actual infinite.
3. Therefore, the universe cannot have existed infinitely in the past, as that would be a beginningless series of events.

A cause needs a causer. Only someone/thing outside of time and space can cause time and space to begin.
I can agree with all of this, it does not, however, require that God exist. I think it's more likely that a non-intelligent agent is the cause of the universe's inception than an intelligent agent, much like when two rocks in space collide (defining the system as the interaction between the two rocks), it's more likely that neither rock was thrown by an intelligent hand then it is that they're space debris put in their current trajectories by gravitational forces. The actual forces that made the system possible by setting the vector of the rocks are not a part of the system (thereby making this an open system), but the forces are not intelligent.

Pushing the scope of view on this further incurs the same logical problem with both a God process and a natural process: Both rely on an infinite string of processes to create a universe (In one, God is infinite in power, scope, and existence, in another, successive naturalistic processes are required). This is an area that needs much more research, and we're working on it. :-)


I've heard it argued that omniscience, though helpful, is not necessary. This is not a stance I take, but anyhow... And I disagree that God must need to align the universe to mask his existence. In fact, I'd argue that the universe reveals his existence, and that he has also revealed himself through his Son.
This is two fold. The omniscience is a requirement of being able to mask his existence from us in terms of scientific inquiry. If it could be proven that God exists, then God need not be omniscient, but if no scientific proof exists to prove God's existence, then God must be omniscient to have set that up. Unfortunately I'm possessed of a very empirical mind, for the universe to reveal God's existence to me would require some form of scientific proof of his existence, in the absence of this, the universe does not reveal the existence of God. Jesus being the son of God is a topic in contention- we'd start talking about Jews, Muslims, etc, if we went here and so it's not proof of God either (even if you can validate his existence, which is a possibility- Jesus may very well exist, but his having lived is not proof of his half-divinity).

If the naturalist assumes that there are laws that have not yet been comprehended then it seems to me that this would possibly include the supernatural. I agree that there is no necessity to assume anything, but it's a bit closed minded if you ask me.
This is absolutely true, and it can be backed up. Lightning was once the domain of the supernatural... a Zeus's wrath striking down from the heavens, but it is now explained using scientific reasoning and proof. The supernatural is only supernatural as long as we can't explain it using known laws of nature. Taking this further (and off topic) I give you this thought set:

Anything defined by science, can be used in technology, like quantum processors, neural nets, lightning (electricity), and light (lasers)

Anything useable in technology can be used by humans to effect goals

Anything supernatural can eventually be defined using science, thereby making it no longer supernatural.

God's power uses the supernatural to effect powerful changes to reality

So, if we can define the supernatural to make it science in the future, and use science in technology to achieve our goals, and God's power is supernatural, then through science we can achieve the power of God for ourselves. If we can achieve the power of God in our future, are we then God's, or was God not truly a God to begin with?

This line of logic breaks if the supernatural cannot all be defined by science, but then, if not all supernatural can be defined by science, then that's one really big assumption without a backing of proof.

Last edited by ragarth; 21st January 2009 at 12:28 PM.
  #20  
Old 21st January 2009, 12:26 PM
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From a logical standpoint, God in all his glory standing there would be proof in God, and therefore anyone of a logical mind would have to believe in him. This does not mean we must believe in him (unless his presence is a compulsion), one could simply refuse to believe in him regardless of the facts.
I don't think the human mind could endure unassisted the incredible weight of the physical presence of the Almighty Creator of the Universe. When I think of the vastness and mind-boggling complexity of the Universe and then think of the One who made it all, I realize that simply seeing Him would instantly overcome every capacity I have to remain unaffected. His very presence would grip me with holy terror and crush me to the ground. It is only when one adopts a small view of God that the idea that one could see Him and not believe in Him is a possibility.

This isn't true at all. Don't read anything into my choice of book (it's just the first book to pop to mind that is terribly false in it's premise), but the Mein Kompf makes unabashed claims that are patently false, but it is still a historical text and provides information beyond it's core claim.
I think this might be a case of comparing apples to oranges...

Yes, but the force of gravity isn't the same everywhere. In a microgravity situation, while still being effected by gravity, you don't feel it's effects. On the moon the gravity is 1/8th what it is in your bedroom, and the effect of gravity varies depending on your distance from the planet's surface. Theoretically, at the event horizon of a black hole, gravity is even more strange, where ripple effects seem to have a macroscopic sway. To assume that your experiences are universally applicable is to deceive yourself.
I didn't mean to suggest that the force of gravity couldn't vary in its strength, but that my experience does serve as a reasonable basis for expecting that it exists in other places on the globe. And as you have just described, in a fascinating array of ways, the principle of gravity exists far beyond the limits of my planet! It appears that in this instance I am far from being deceived by extrapolating from my experience.

This still doesn't mean that the idea of aesthetics isn't contrived. I have to admit, I had to look up renoir to see his art style, but what if I thought it was ugly?
A thing may be aesthetically pleasing or not and still remain aesthetic.

What if I thought the only real aesthetics in art were found in abstracts and anything still-life or portrait was a bland reproduction of reality? Still though, aesthetics isn't sign of creation. I could take sand and dash it across the ground, and still find the effect quite pleasing, even though the resultant design is random. Or I could see the splash of ocean upon a rocky shore and see it as beautiful (and I do!) even though the actual scene is random, with no intelligence guiding the waves.
My point wasn't directed at personal aesthetic taste but at the intended purpose of a painting. You may not like Renoir's work, but that doesn't change the fact that Renoir intended that the painting he made serve an aesthetic purpose. You may regard the movement of the waves of the ocean as a purely random, unintended event, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is so. In comparison to Renoir's painting, the level of complexity, order, balance, and aesthetic impact of the ocean is far, far greater. Nonetheless, while you may acknowledge a maker in the first instance, you refuse to do so in the second. This seems to me to be profoundly inconsistent.

Peace to you.
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