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Establishing a default position on Deity

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by ragarth, Jan 20, 2009.

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  1. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Hiya!

    It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.
    It can also be said that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence against the existence of Deity, there is none. The only problem with saying this is that it's a negative argument, and makes as much sense as saying there is no proof against the existence of gold dubloons buried under my house.

    Given this, one must establish what's called a default position, ie: Which option is more likely to be the correct one in the face of little or no information. The most common method of doing this is an application of Occam's Razor based on the complexity of the argument postulated vs the alternative, and this is the method I used to arrive at atheism. But there is apparent contention for this position, since atheism is a minority position in the world. :) So I ask this:

    How have y'all arrived at the default position that Deity exists?
    extra credit: How did you arrive at the default position that Deity is a Christian God?

    If you're interested in my logic against Deity, ask and I'll post it, but it seemed to me that such was superfluous to the objective of this thread.

    note: This is my first post in this particular forum, how far can I take this debate? My objective is to learn, I like to have my ideas challenged, but I can get aggressive in doing so and the 'mood' of this forum seems different than the others I participate in.
     
  2. JohnDB

    JohnDB Regular Member

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    How about this?
    You mention observational data...
    How about the fact that no two posters ever see eye to eye on anything in these forums. I, at times, even disagree with myself on subjects when writing. (lousy editing...what can I say?)

    Then I look at the bible...which is rich with literary devices all throughout it. Symbolisms and metaphors again throughout. But all forty plus authors over a span of 1500 years writing a total of 66 books all agree perfectly. First with the foretelling of the messiah and what he would do to the culmination of the foretelling by the messiah showing up precisely when He was supposed to and did all of the things (over 1000) that He was to perform.

    When something is an exception to the rule...ya gotta pay attention. Somebody might be trying to tell you something.
     
  3. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    There are several refutations to this. The first is that the bible is not perfectly homogeneous with itself, it's got a number of self contradictions in it:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    This is a list of some of them.

    Second, the bible has been through several revisions in it's history, and specific to this issue is the translation between languages. Language is an interesting thing, and taking a block of text from one to the other is more an art than a science, therefore, when translating the bible's text multiple times, it's feasible that some of the more significant contradictions between the text had been resolved.

    Further, many of the people who performed the translations were lifetime biblical scholars. Usually monks who spent their lives studying the bible and so had already formed an overall opinion about it's content and statements. Due to the imprecise nature of translating from hebrew to greek to latin to english (I think the bible skipped old and middle english and went straight to modern, right?), there's plenty of chances for translator bias to smooth the edges, whether conciously or unconciously when choosing words with vague meanings.

    And finally, if I were to apply your proposal to other texts, I'd get a whole host of books that fit the bill as inspired by the divine. Take, for instance the series by Anne McCaffrey that started with 'The Ship Who Sang'. This series was written by several authors, many of which worked on the same book as well as wrote entire parts of the books by themselves, the authors are: Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, Mercedes Lackey, S.M. Sterling, and Jody Lynn Nye. The series was written over the period of a decade or so, and while you can pick out the books that were written by entirely different authors (same with the bible, you can see differences in writing style, even through the retranslations), the concepts within them mesh extremely well.
     
  4. JohnDB

    JohnDB Regular Member

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    One problem with your books...
    They aren't predicting the future...perfectly. The Bible does...and the last prophesy of Jesus' coming is roughly 600 years before He came...finalizing the completion of over 1,000 details of Jesus' life and ministry. Everything from the Jews losing the right to exercise capital punishment when Jesus was born to Judas' betrayal were all detailed. There are predictions in the Bible that even detail the hour in which things would occur.
    We look today at the predictions man has of the future and we laugh histerically at them. They usually are so far from the truth it is ridiculous.
     
  5. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    Then we can move on to Star Trek. It predicted the cellphone, as well as a variety of other technologies. The problem here is that I don't know the verses you're describing, or the actual facts supporting your claim. Care to provide them so I can do my end of the footwork?
     
  6. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    The reason deism is the default position for most is that we come into this world acknowledging that everything seems to have a purpose and that every cause has an agent behind it.

    We have bagged lunches at school cause our moms prepared them that morning and packed them for us. We live in a house that men built out of wood they cut and brick they formed. We turn the ignition in our cars and they start up.

    It takes quite a bit of working and reasoning to come to the conclusion that something (like the universe for instance) can come about without purpose or without an agent of cause. Atheism isn't and shouldn't be a default position, it's something that one has to consciously work at to come to.

    Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists...

    I've already hinted at the cosmological argument, but there also design arguments; the argument from mind, philosophical arguments based on metaethics and the meaning of life; and then, yes... even historical evidence. What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?
     
  7. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    This is an excellent post! Thank you. At the moment I don't have time to give it the thought it deserves, so I'll answer the last question first: "What's wrong with historical evidence exactly?"

    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.

    "Also, I think many can take issue with your assertion that "It's generally agreed upon that in terms of empirical, observational, and mathematical evidence there is none for the existence of Deity in any form. Proof to the contrary is usually anecdotal, personal, historical, or simply faith.". It is not generally agreed upon that there is no evidence for deity. It may be generally agreed upon by atheists..."

    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.

    I'll check out the rest of it later when I have a chance. I've gotta eat before I run off to classes!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  8. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    The majority of these "contradictions" are absolutely silly issues dealing with a lack of understanding context and culture. A little time spent reading the Bible like the ancient collection of diverse pieces of literature that it is rather than reading it like it's something off of Oprah's book of the week list goes a long way in resolving most of the issues one would have with "contradictions".

    We have versions of the Old Testament that date back to the 2nd century BC (Dead Sea Scrolls), and of the New Testament that date back to the 4th century AD (Vaticanus and Sanaiticus) with fragments dating to the 2nd century AD. We also have the writings of the early Church fathers who quote in part, or in whole, sections of both Testaments. Most current English translations of Bibles like the ESV utilize ancient manuscripts when crafting their translations and can be proof checked by going to the sources (if you know ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew).
     
  9. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    Thank you for the compliment.

    Ok. Well, I believe one needs to start someplace... You don't necessarily have to jump from acknowledging historical evidence in the Bible for people and places like Pilate and Asia Minor to believing that the Bible is the revealed word of God, but there comes a point when one can find themselves scratching their heads at things like 1 Cor 15 "Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep."

    That's a pretty deep testimony that would hold up under just about any court of law, and one that can't easily be thrown to the side of skepticism.

    I haven't mentioned proof from a personal perspective yet. The cosmological argument is essentially mathematical, the arguments from mind and the meaning of life are philosophical arguments, and of course, it follows that, depending on your presuppositions on these things the observational proof is all around us.

    So you DO want personal proof ;)

    Understood. See though, the issue I have with taking the approach you have is that you want to be able to put God under a magnifying glass or see him through a telescope. Our ability to perceive God empirically is limited to our 5 senses. Assuming that God is spiritual and immaterial, trying to observe him materialistically is going to be a futile task. That isn't to say that evidence for God is unobtainable, just that you'll have to find it in other ways.

    Sounds good. :)
     
  10. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    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.

    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.

    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. Another example is out of body experiences. A friend of mine recently claimed to have had an out of body experience. I asked him what he saw, he wasn't able to give detail that he wouldn't have otherwise known before the experience, so I recommended that he put a shelf in his room above his ability to see it, throw some dice up there, and next time he has an out of body experience to view the dice. This method is a way of empirically verifying his out of body experience because it gives a measurable value to base it on: The numbers of the dice. Out of body experiences that make religious claims such as visiting heaven or hell cannot be proven this way, you can't toss some dice into heaven or hell and know their value, therefore, out of body experiences proving the existence of Divine are personal since they cannot be measured in any meaningful way.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    The argument that the world is manufactured because we're familiar with a manufactured environment is an argument from experience. I haven't seen any mathematical arguments for the manufacturing of the universe yet, and the meaning of life is a human construct, I like to think we create our own meaning for our lives.

    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 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.
     
  11. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    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.

    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).
    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?

    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.

    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.

    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.
    Again, that wasn't an argument, simply a rationale for a "default position" for belief in deity.

    I can go into that if you'd like. I'm assuming you are not familiar with the Kalam cosmological argument.
    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. :D

    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.

    You too. Talk to you soon I hope.
     
  12. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    Sorry, double post.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  13. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Just gonna' chime in here a bit.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Such an expectation is not necessarily unreasonable or unwarranted.

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

    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: Jan 20, 2009
  14. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    No problem! I like the sound of chimes, very relaxing.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    and to you.
     
  15. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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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: Jan 20, 2009
  16. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    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: Jan 21, 2009
  17. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    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. Adrift*

    Adrift* Newbie

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    No we can start here.

    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 know what Occam's Razor states. :thumbsup:

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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).

    Oh ok.
     
  19. ragarth

    ragarth Active Contributor

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    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.

    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. :)


    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).

    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: Jan 21, 2009
  20. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    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.

    I think this might be a case of comparing apples to oranges...

    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.

    A thing may be aesthetically pleasing or not and still remain aesthetic.

    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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