Does God Exist?

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infernovia
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:43 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Better doesn't have anything to do with it. The question becomes instead, that if your goal is to displace it, what is you strategy to be. It's about organizational inertia. Like an asteroid it's too large to stop, so the best strategy is to nudge it off course since the goal is to render it harmless. By treating Religion as a monolithic organization you strengthen them. If you wish to render them harmless than co-opt the parts of the organization that may share some commonalities with your goals. This requires a more flexible outlook than religion is evil or the belief in God is irrational. When looked at this way it becomes something like a force vector problem. Where do I act to achieve that maximum advantage with my limited resources?


I see your argument more clearly now and it is tremendously easier now to tell the difference between yours and mine. I can see why these ideas have enticed you so much.

For me, the idea of God is not an asteroid far away, it has come so close that even deflecting it would not be enough. It is a poison that already courses through my vein and I must spit it out. Nudging it away is certainly an interesting method but it is far too late for that; it has the habit of surviving absolutely everywhere like a cockroach.

I do not mind if I strengthen them, I must strengthen them. I must overcome when it is at its strongest, this is the only way to be done with the business.

uncivlengr wrote:Neither religion nor this business about "revolutions" are particularly relevant to the issue, which has admittedly been going in circles for some time.

If anyone would like to address the point that I feel has yet to be addressed by those who've put it forth, I'd like to continue with it:

How can you can you definitively say that something exists but is unobservable/unknowable, when
a) knowledge of its observability contradicts the fact that nothing can be known about it
b) nothing can distinguish existance from non-existance, and therefore its existence is a baseless proposition by definition

Look at it this way, you are saying that the question itself is something that is non-interesting and a dead-end, but if it is really so, why do you keep coming back to it? Why is it important that morriswalters thinks there is something out there that exists that is beyond the universe? It doesn't matter right?

So the question isn't "is the dead-end a dead end or can you still move forward?" but "why do you want to go to the dead-end willingly? What is the problem with this dead-end? Why do you want to completely wipe it from existence? Why does it matter if people keep going into the dead end if it makes them happy?" etc.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Qax » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:44 am UTC

My personal views on this topic are the following:
God in the theist sense of the word does not exist. There is no omniscient omnipotent omnipresent entity that is all of that and completely benevolent. The idea has just to many flaws, problems and not to mention serious paradoxes, which as it seems come out the more positive qualities you add to an entity or simply put, the more perfect the model of the God entity is, the more it produces internal contradictions and problems. At this point i must add that sure, there will be some people that will say that maybe the human brain is not equipped to understand this matter on the basis of normal human logic, but in that case what is the purpose of the existence of a benevolent godly entity? Why would some omnipotent entity exist in a such manner that its followers cant understand it? As it is omnipotent it could easily make the human mind able to understand it, and his benevolence will obligate him to do so. Which leads us to the malevolent or flawed God model. This is much better, a God that is like the Greek gods or for that matter all of the ancient pagan gods. A god that feels rage, lust, greed. This model does not produce any paradoxes, as they can all be explained trough the emotional state of the omnipotent entity. The last model that i want to observe is the model of the decentralised omnipotence. The universe as a whole does not have a central entity of conciousness that governs it all, but a set of rules that apply to everything and are not to constricting so they cast a deterministic net over everything, but are not to loose so that everything is left to causality and randomness. This leads us to the laws of physics, mathematics and logic. My personal believe is that "God" is in the wonderfully proportionate and exact natural constants and laws rather than in a single concentrated conciousness of omnipotence. As for the matter of why these constants and laws are what they are, that is a whole another issue which is more distant than the main topic of the thread.

I will be happy to hear your thoughts and feelings about this. :) Thanks for your time

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:13 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Look at it this way, you are saying that the question itself is something that is non-interesting and a dead-end, but if it is really so, why do you keep coming back to it? Why is it important that morriswalters thinks there is something out there that exists that is beyond the universe? It doesn't matter right?
Did I say anything was uninteresting or a dead end? I'm happy to discuss the issue, I just think you don't need to bring religion or social politics into the discussion - there's a thread for religion already.

So far the only thing that comes close to an argument for any god's existence is one that asserts that it can't be observed by any human. I find this argument, as put forth by a human being, contradictory for the reasons I outlined, and I was hoping someone would address that.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Observation. Rework this any way you wish. I'll change two words.
If I look at a diamondGod and perceive a plain old rock, I've still observed the diamondGod. I can't have this conversation with you if you continue to conflate concepts.

As to the last, ok.

the statement that is being made is that god can't be observed and can't be known. saying that you can see god but you just didn't know he's god negates that concept because you just observed god, whether you knew it was him or not. and as was previously stated by others, making an assertion about the nature of a god that is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable is making an observation of the "thing" in question, which negates the assertion that the "thing" is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable

morriswalters wrote:
Xeio wrote:This isn't "shifting" the burden, by default, you don't believe everything you hear (if you do, I have some wonderful snake oil to sell you).

From Wikipedia's article on Russell's Teapot.
Peter Atkins said that the core point of Russell's teapot is that a scientist cannot prove a negative, and therefore Occam's razor demands that the more simple theory (in which there is no supreme being) should trump the more complex theory (with a supreme being).

From the article on Occam's Razor
The principle is often incorrectly summarized as "the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one". This summary is misleading, however, since the principle is actually focused on shifting the burden of proof in discussions.[3] That is, the Razor is a principle that suggests we should tend towards simpler theories (see justifications section below) until we can trade some simplicity for increased explanatory power. Contrary to the popular summary, the simplest available theory is often a less accurate explanation (e.g. metaphysical Solipsism). Philosophers also add that the exact meaning of "simplest" can be nuanced in the first place.[4]

with regards to the existence of God and Occam's razor. the application is as such:

you have a question about how the world works, say, how do rainbows happen.

without any scientific tools at your disposal it's a reasonable application of Occam's Razor to assume that something magical is happening because it's the "simplest" solution available at the time.

flash forward a few hundred (thousand) years and you've got the tools to observe that it's water vapor in the air causing light to separate into it's component spectrums. magic is no longer the simplest solution because to negate the physical evidence (or enhance it) by the explanation of magic you have to add steps to the test. i.e. if magic is causing the rainbow you now have to state that magic is also causing the light to refract and it's causing the water vapor.

that added step adds no value to the observation so it's not necessary.

so, thousands (millions) of years ago, people didn't know shit about shit (air+meat=maggots) so the simplest solution was "God(s) did it". they had no other frame of reference at all to say otherwise. TODAY we DO have a frame of reference to say, with pretty good probability of accuracy, how things work and why things do the things they do, so the inclusion of God(s) in the theory is now not necessary for the equation to balance out.

in occam's razor "simple" doesn't mean "easiest to prove" or "easiest to achieve" or "least amount of steps". it means the solution that has the fewest items included that don't add value.

morriswalters wrote:
DSenette wrote:not knowing that an ugly rock is a diamond doesn't make it not a diamond

Read from the beginning.
[/quote]
i see what you did there, and it's humorous

i did read from the top and your first statement in this quote block doesn't negate what i said.
Last edited by DSenette on Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:33 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Did I say anything was uninteresting or a dead end? I'm happy to discuss the issue, I just think you don't need to bring religion or social politics into the discussion - there's a thread for religion already.

Well then your statement is more disappointing than I thought.

So far the only thing that comes close to an argument for any god's existence is one that asserts that it can't be observed by any human. I find this argument, as put forth by a human being, contradictory for the reasons I outlined, and I was hoping someone would address that.

Well yes. Why do you think you are going in circles? Because the question is a dead-end and all anyone can do is pace forward and backwards when being limited to this surface analysis. When even the "best argument" defeats itself to a series of irrelevancy then there is nothing there.

This is why the best analysis of God's existence comes not from a straight logical analysis (which is a very useful tool to get you to see the truth), but the much more interesting psychological and societal analysis. "God is dead, and we have killed him."

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:36 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:with regards to the existence of God and Occam's razor. the application is as such:

you have a question about how the world works, say, how do rainbows happen.

without any scientific tools at your disposal it's a reasonable application of Occam's Razor to assume that something magical is happening because it's the "simplest" solution available at the time.
Well, I tried to address this on the last page (apparently I failed?), but did you actually read the page on Burden of Proof? The claim of the supernatural is the one with the burden, it doesn't matter if occam's razor is used in conversation to shift the burden if the person using it never had it to begin with.

I don't assume something is "magic", I assume it's unexplained. Surely you don't think magicians are doing actual magic if you don't know how the trick is done?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

Binary problem


Yes----------------------------------No
Does God Exist?-----------------< Can either idea be tested? ---------Moot
No-----------------------------------No


DSenette wrote:the statement that is being made is that god can't be observed and can't be known. saying that you can see god but you just didn't know he's god negates that concept because you just observed god, whether you knew it was him or not. and as was previously stated by others, making an assertion about the nature of a god that is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable is making an observation of the "thing" in question, which negates the assertion that the "thing" is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable

Impressive!
From the Wikipedia article on Unobservable,
Metcalf[2] distinguishes three kinds of unobservables. One is the logically unobservable, which involves a contradiction. An example would be a length which is both longer and shorter than a given length. The second is the practically unobservable, that which we can conceive of as observable by the known sense-faculties of man but we are prevented from observing by practical difficulties. The third kind is the physically unobservable, that which can never be observed by any existing sense-faculties of man.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:08 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
DSenette wrote:with regards to the existence of God and Occam's razor. the application is as such:

you have a question about how the world works, say, how do rainbows happen.

without any scientific tools at your disposal it's a reasonable application of Occam's Razor to assume that something magical is happening because it's the "simplest" solution available at the time.
Well, I tried to address this on the last page (apparently I failed?), but did you actually read the page on Burden of Proof? The claim of the supernatural is the one with the burden, it doesn't matter if occam's razor is used in conversation to shift the burden if the person using it never had it to begin with.

I don't assume something is "magic", I assume it's unexplained. Surely you don't think magicians are doing actual magic if you don't know how the trick is done?

my quote tags got jacked, i wasn't quoting you, i was quoting morris quoting you. i just fixed it....do you want to edit your thing or are you still talking to me?

morriswalters wrote:Binary problem


Yes----------------------------------No
Does God Exist?-----------------< Can either idea be tested? ---------Moot
No-----------------------------------No


DSenette wrote:the statement that is being made is that god can't be observed and can't be known. saying that you can see god but you just didn't know he's god negates that concept because you just observed god, whether you knew it was him or not. and as was previously stated by others, making an assertion about the nature of a god that is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable is making an observation of the "thing" in question, which negates the assertion that the "thing" is unknowable/undefinable/unobservable

Impressive!
From the Wikipedia article on Unobservable,
Metcalf[2] distinguishes three kinds of unobservables. One is the logically unobservable, which involves a contradiction. An example would be a length which is both longer and shorter than a given length. The second is the practically unobservable, that which we can conceive of as observable by the known sense-faculties of man but we are prevented from observing by practical difficulties. The third kind is the physically unobservable, that which can never be observed by any existing sense-faculties of man.

I resign, citing dizziness from running in circles.
your bolded statement still causes conflict the the concept that's being put forth.

the statement is that god is now and forever unobservable, which coincides with the "third kind" of unobservable in your quote. that one coincides with the statement that anything that matches this definition of unobservable is EXACTLY the same as it being non existent

your bolded statement has no time frame associated with it. if we're currently prevented by practical difficulties it doesn't mean we'll always be prevented by practical difficulties. it also assumes that the practical difficulties can be assessed. that statement is in reference to things like atoms. you can't observe those directly with your eyes because of the practical difficulty of having eyes that aren't electron microscopes. if you gain access to an electron microscope then atoms are no longer unobservable.


BESIDES that, the statement that i'm refuting is the one that said "what if you saw god and didn't know it was god" which was answered, and you replied with some crap about a diamond. that was refuted as well via the same definitions. you not knowing that something is what it is doesn't negate it's existence and observability. me looking at a Chihuahua and thinking that it's a pit bull doesn't make it a pit bull, and it doesn't negate the fact that i observed a chihuahua but perceived a pit bull.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:15 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:my quote tags got jacked, i wasn't quoting you, i was quoting morris quoting you. i just fixed it....do you want to edit your thing or are you still talking to me?
Er, not really I guess, the mixed up order of the quoting really got me (that does explain why that looked really similar to what morris wrote though). The only thing I'd still take a stand with then is defaulting to "magic", though I'm not 100% sure if you meant this as what was done historically, or what we should be doing today for something unexplained.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:39 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
DSenette wrote:my quote tags got jacked, i wasn't quoting you, i was quoting morris quoting you. i just fixed it....do you want to edit your thing or are you still talking to me?
Er, not really I guess, the mixed up order of the quoting really got me (that does explain why that looked really similar to what morris wrote though). The only thing I'd still take a stand with then is defaulting to "magic", though I'm not 100% sure if you meant this as what was done historically, or what we should be doing today for something unexplained.

i was referencing historically.

since there was no ability to have a more "parsimonious" or "simple" answer at the time, given the tools, then they were applying the most parsimonious or simple answer when they said "magic did this shit". now we've got MUCH better answers and much better tools to find the answers we don't have yet so it's no longer the simplest answer
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:If you wish to make the claim that there is some sort of entity out there pulling all the strings in the universe, that calls the burden to fall on your shoulders. Whether or not occam's razor is generally used to shift the burden in a discussion or not (and many religious debates get into a "how do you know he doesn't exist" argument, for which there is no proof, but I'd call that a poor framing of the argument, and usually the one Russel's Teapot is used to 'deflect').

Just as a point of clarity. I have not been arguing that there is or is not a God. I have been arguing the position that there is no value in the question at all. The original question was.
Does God Exist?
Not are the odds more favorable, not are you a cretin to believe, or a genius not to believe. Russell's Teapot and it's misuse in this argument is an example of why I dislike it.
From the Wikipedia.
Russell's teapot, sometimes called the Celestial Teapot, Cosmic Teapot or Bertrand's teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), intended to refute the idea that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon the s[k]ceptic to disprove unfalsifiable claims of religions.
It has no evidential value at all, and it proves nothing. As I have pointed out over and again the question at hand, does God exist, is unfalsifiable, there is no test that you can conceive to settle the point. Russell's analogy speaks to the Religious claim of existence but is just as true for the skeptics claim of nonexistence. The claimant bears the burden of proof.

edit added content in italics

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Ideas sleep furiously. » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:59 am UTC

I think what people are trying to do here is to use logic to determine if God exists.
The issue is that God isn't a logical idea, it's beyond logic, and therefore unprovable.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Greyarcher » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Russell's teapot, sometimes called the Celestial Teapot, Cosmic Teapot or Bertrand's teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), intended to refute the idea that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon the s[k]ceptic to disprove unfalsifiable claims of religions.
It has no evidential value at all, and it proves nothing. As I have pointed out over and again the question at hand, does God exist, is unfalsifiable, there is no test that you can conceive to settle the point. Russell's analogy speaks to the Religious claim of existence but is just as true for the skeptics claim of nonexistence. The claimant bears the burden of proof.
Errh? Russel's Teapot is an analogy used to illustrate a point about some foolishness involving burden of proof shifting; I'm not sure anyone has said it's evidence or proof of something.

And it's not like the skeptics needs to claim non-existence, as they may also simply critically reject the reasons for theistic belief, because the neutral position is also non-theistic. Though I'm sure it's usually a combo of both methods. In a way, the skeptics have an easier time because it's a trinary setup and 2 out of 3 positions aren't theistic; except religion fascinatingly entrenches itself in the mind, so it's not so easy at all.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:17 pm UTC

The analogy also illustrates the absurdity of thinking you can define something into existence.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:27 pm UTC

Here is the link to the complete article. Quoted below is the relevant portion.

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
It is customary to suppose that, if a belief is widespread, there must be something reasonable about it. I do not think this view can be held by anyone who has studied history. Practically all the beliefs of savages are absurd. In early civilizations there may be as much as one percent for which there is something to be said. In our own day.... But at this point I must be careful. We all know that there are absurd beliefs in Soviet Russia. If we are Protestants, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Catholics. If we are Catholics, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Protestants. If we are Conservatives, we are amazed by the superstitions to be found in the Labour Party. If we are Socialists, we are aghast at the credulity of Conservatives. I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold.
I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.


The question of does God exist has a binary solution set, true or false. The point of view of the argument has three positions. Believe, disbelieve, and have no opinion. Two are claiming positions, one is not. The answer of reason is that there is nothing to talk about, there are opinions not facts. Science doesn't study the question because its not worthy of study. You can't settle it. Russell makes a superb argument. The first bolded section alludes to the argument he will make. The second bolded section illustrates the issue. Russell doesn't state that the teapot doesn't exist. Russell makes a relative value argument. Russell's argument speaks to the idea of a Theist's point of view having greater relative value with respect to any other point of view, as revealed by the third bolded passage, not with answering the argument "Does God exist?"

People in this thread have used it as a mechanism of proof
uncivlengr wrote:Again, we're back to your unwillingness to deny a cellestial teapot, or to distinguish fact from fantasy.

My position on this issue has been clear since my first post.
morriswalters wrote:So essentially the question, "Does God exist?", has no meaningful answer.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:23 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:People in this thread have used it as a mechanism of proof
No! Nobody has made such an assertion of proof in the entire thread, much less in the quotation of mine you posted - Russell's teapot is rather a "mechanism" of rejection of any claim that cannot be disproven. I can reject a claim that a teapot orbiting the sun exists, but that doesn't mean I have proof, and I've never claimed to have it.

Not once have I claimed proof of the existence or non-existence of any gods, and you're being either disingenuous or thick-headed in continuing to suggest as much.

Given this:
morriswalters wrote:Bertrand Russell should have been shot with that teapot.
and then this:
morriswalters wrote:Russell makes a superb argument.
I'm leaning toward the latter.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:23 pm UTC

Putting aside uncivlengr's rather brash way of putting things I think the point he makes is not that god definitely does not exist but that since we since there is no proof of gods existence or non existence we have no way of knowing if he exists or not and thus whether god exist or not is makes no difference.

Therefore there is no difference between something we can't know exists and something that doesn't exist, so we can assume that god does not exist.

I think this is what you are getting at (correct me if I'm wrong).

I don't think uncivlengr is saying he can prove that god exists or that god doesn't, after all if he could we would not be discussing this.

And (although I may be mistaken, and I hope I don't offend here) I think that his position is very similar to the agnostic stance of russell's argument, except he has taken an additional step of assuming god doesn't exist for the above reasons.

This isn't wrong it is just the way things stand from his perspective.

Again uncivlengr, correct me if I'm wrong but I think that this sums up your position in this matter.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:34 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:In this quote Russell says that it is reasonable to doubt the teapots existance. I think the key word here is "doubt". He does not say that we should completely write off the possiblity of the tea pot, he says that we should doubt its existence.
No, he doesn't say anything about doubt at all, he clearly says that it should be rejected as nonsense. You don't have to disprove something to reject a claim about it that clearly has no basis in reality.

Frankly, if your worldview leaves you open to entertaining the notion of an orbiting invisible teapot just because someone brings up the idea, then there's no point in having this discussion any longer.
This exchange illustrates why I believe he should have been shot with a teapot. In point of fact he says exactly what you deny in the bolded section. The argument is superb, but it was written to be misused.
I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.



uncivlengr wrote:No! Nobody has made such an assertion of proof in the entire thread, much less in the quotation of mine you posted - Russell's teapot is rather a "mechanism" of rejection of any claim that cannot be disproven. I can reject a claim that a teapot orbiting the sun exists, but that doesn't mean I have proof, and I've never claimed to have it.
Not once have I claimed proof of the existence or non-existence of any gods, and you're being either disingenuous or thick-headed in continuing to suggest as much.
Again in bold, you misuse the analogy. It is not a mechanism for rejection of any claim. It is an argument for stating the relative value of the argument for the existence of God versus nonexistence. He is careful not to make any claim other than that the doubter has no burden to disprove anything since the relative weight of the arguments is equal.
If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
The argument is completed when he shows that the relative value of either claim is equal.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:45 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:...
I can't imagine you'd find many atheists at all that say a god definitely does not exist - for most atheists, if some incontrovertible proof of god were presented to them, they would believe it.

The fact that the atheist position can only really be argued as a reaction to claims made about gods means that there's not a lot of "proof" to support it - merely a collection of claims that are rejected for various reasons. When I say that this "unprovable" god argument is nonsense, it's not saying that I can prove it doesn't exist, it's that there's nothing about it worth considering.

Note that this doesn't mean I put it on a special shelf because there's a 50/50 chance that it's true or false, or because I might one day discover the answer - it's simply rejected like any other nonsensical argument, like if someone stated, "the square root of Mexico is half the density of purple."

Also, I try not be be "brash" when people are interested in having a discussion of their ideas - I just find it tedious when I end up having a discussion with wikipedia.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Jimmigee » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:04 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote: It is not a mechanism for rejection of any claim. It is an argument for stating the relative value of the argument for the existence of God versus nonexistence. He is careful not to make any claim other than that the doubter has no burden to disprove anything since the relative weight of the arguments is equal.


Morriswalters, your take on Russell's teapot argument is entirely different from my understanding, and despite several readings I can't see it your way. As far as I can tell the point is exactly that we should conclude that the existence of a god is nonsense. The analogy is set up to show that there is no difference between the claim of god's existence and the teapot's (an idea we are supposed to consider ridiculous) and it highlights that it is only the history and tradition of religion that lend it any weight.

You've even highlighted "presumtuous to doubt" without the "cannot think it" part, was that intentional?

It looks to me like you've misunderstood it, not the otherway round. The argument is that the burden of proof is not eqully spread between the positions "god exists" and "god doesn't exist".

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Exactly - the "weight" of a nonsensical argument is zero, and Russell therefore suggests that there's no need for a rebuttle, so to say that each argument has equal "weight" is missing the point.

Any interpretation that leads one to consider the intentionally absurd teapot claim to have any validity at all is obviously the wrong one - that much should be clear.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:20 pm UTC

These two quotes are the paragraph before the analogy any the concluding paragraph which falls right after the end of the paragraph..

There is, it is true, a Modernist form of theism, according to which God is not omnipotent, but is doing His best, in spite of great difficulties. This view, although it is new among Christians, is not new in the history of thought. It is, in fact, to be found in Plato. I do not think this view can be proved to be false. I think all that can be said is that there is no positive reason in its favour.


I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.


The whole article is an argument against the idea of a God. However he never takes the position that he can prove or disprove the existence of God. So he takes the tactic of pointing out the relative value of the idea as compared to the theological view. He considers that putting forth the idea that the idea has any more relative value than the atheistic position is nonsense. In the bolded section he makes this abundantly clear. To paraphrase, just cause you think my idea is silly, it ain't no more silly than yours. He may well have believed that Religion was irrational but it's not what he argued.

Edit: To address a missed point, the presumptuous of doubt fragment that I bolded was to point out a contradiction in someones position not something relative to the argument
Edit 2; Put edit 1 where it belonged.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:21 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The whole article is an argument against the idea of a God. However he never takes the position that he can prove or disprove the existence of God. So he takes the tactic of pointing out the relative value of the idea as compared to the theological view. He considers that putting forth the idea that the idea has any more relative value than the atheistic position is nonsense. In the bolded section he makes this abundantly clear. To paraphrase, just cause you think my idea is silly, it ain't no more silly than yours. He may well have believed that Religion was irrational but it's not what he argued.


No, he clearly says that the atheistic position is the correct one to take. Read this again, particularly the last line.

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.


He argues that belief in the celestial teapot, and, by analogy, God, is nonsense in lieu of evidence. The atheistic position is not that the teapot, or God, cannot possibly exist. This is a positive claim that would need some justification. The atheistic position is simply that there is insufficient evidence to convince the atheist that the teapot, or God, does in fact exist. This isn't making a claim--if anything, it is a default position. If I have never encountered the concept of God, then I am, by default, an atheist, because I have an absence of belief. Russell makes no claims about the truth of the matter--there could well exist a celestial teapot and there could well exist a God--but until evidence for either matter can be presented, then it is irrational to believe in the existence of such things. Indeed, the bolded statement that you highlight indicates that disbelief is the natural position that we take to virtually all claims.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:33 pm UTC

I didn't say he didn't doubt the existence of God, and there is no doubt he argued that. However the analogy speaks to the relative value of the argument. He may well have thought that the belief in God was nonsense but he did not state it. The arguement arises from this statement.
Russell
Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them.
Russell sets the stage with this statement. It is straightforward. I don't need to prove you wrong.
But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Why, because your argument is no more credible than the Celestial Teapot. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. He contrasts his position by replacing theology with the Teapot. Relative value. How ever he makes no counter argument. Then at the end he executes the coup de grâce.
I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true
It is a matter of opinion. Running up to the analogy he pretty much shoots with both barrels. The arguments attack Theist positions and justifications, pretty relentlessly. Overall a very interesting read, it's to bad people focus so much of the analogy. I've included the article under spoiler because it is fairly long.

Is There a God?

by Bertrand Russell
Spoiler:
(commissioned-but not published-by Illustrated Magazine in 1952)

The question whether there is a God is one which is decided on very different grounds by different communities and different individuals. The immense majority of mankind accept the prevailing opinion of their own community. In the earliest times of which we have definite history everybody believed in many gods. It was the Jews who first believed in only one. The first commandment, when it was new, was very difficult to obey because the Jews had believed that Baal and Ashtaroth and Dagon and Moloch and the rest were real gods but were wicked because they helped the enemies of the Jews. The step from a belief that these gods were wicked to the belief that they did not exist was a difficult one. There was a time, namely that of Antiochus IV, when a vigorous attempt was made to Hellenize the Jews. Antiochus decreed that they should eat pork, abandon circumcision, and take baths. Most of the Jews in Jerusalem submitted, but in country places resistance was more stubborn and under the leadership of the Maccabees the Jews at last established their right to their peculiar tenets and customs. Monotheism, which at the beginning of the Antiochan persecution had been the creed of only part of one very small nation, was adopted by Christianity and later by Islam, and so became dominant throughout the whole of the world west of India. From India eastward, it had no success: Hinduism had many gods; Buddhism in its primitive form had none; and Confucianism had none from the eleventh century onward. But, if the truth of a religion is to be judged by its worldly success, the argument in favor of monotheism is a very strong one, since it possessed the largest armies, the largest navies, and the greatest accumulation of wealth. In our own day this argument is growing less decisive. It is true that the un-Christian menace of Japan was defeated. But the Christian is now faced with the menace of atheistic Muscovite hordes, and it is not so certain as one could wish that atomic bombs will provide a conclusive argument on the side of theism.

But let us abandon this political and geographical way of considering religions, which has been increasingly rejected by thinking people ever since the time of the ancient Greeks. Ever since that time there have been men who were not content to accept passively the religious opinions of their neighbors, but endeavoured to consider what reason and philosophy might have to say about the matter. In the commercial cities of Ionia, where philosophy was invented, there were free-thinkers in the sixth century B.C. Compared to modern free-thinkers they had an easy task, because the Olympian gods, however charming to poetic fancy, were hardly such as could be defended by the metaphysical use of the unaided reason. They were met popularly by Orphism (to which Christianity owes much) and, philosophically, by Plato, from whom the Greeks derived a philosophical monotheism very different from the political and nationalistic monotheism of the Jews. When the Greek world became converted to Christianity it combined the new creed with Platonic metaphysics and so gave birth to theology. Catholic theologians, from the time of Saint Augustine to the present day, have believed that the existence of one God could be proved by the unaided reason. Their arguments were put into final form by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. When modern philosophy began in the seventeenth century, Descartes and Leibniz took over the old arguments somewhat polished up, and, owing largely to their efforts, piety remained intellectually respectable. But Locke, although himself a completely convinced Christian, undermined the theoretical basis of the old arguments, and many of his followers, especially in France, became Atheists. I will not attempt to set forth in all their subtlety the philosophical arguments for the existence of God. There is, I think, only one of them which still has weight with philosophers, that is the argument of the First Cause. This argument maintains that, since everything that happens has a cause, there must be a First Cause from which the whole series starts. The argument suffers, however, from the same defect as that of the elephant and the tortoise. It is said (I do not know with what truth) that a certain Hindu thinker believed the earth to rest upon an elephant. When asked what the elephant rested upon, he replied that it rested upon a tortoise. When asked what the tortoise rested upon, he said, "I am tired of this. Suppose we change the subject." This illustrates the unsatisfactory character of the First-Cause argument. Nevertheless, you will find it in some ultra-modern treatises on physics, which contend that physical processes, traced backward in time, show that there must have been a sudden beginning and infer that this was due to divine Creation. They carefully abstain from attempts to show that this hypothesis makes matters more intelligible.

The scholastic arguments for the existence of a Supreme Being are now rejected by most Protestant theologians in favor of new arguments which to my mind are by no means an improvement. The scholastic arguments were genuine efforts of thought and, if their reasoning had been sound, they would have demonstrated the truth of their conclusion. The new arguments, which Modernists prefer, are vague, and the Modernists reject with contempt every effort to make them precise. There is an appeal to the heart as opposed to the intellect. It is not maintained that those who reject the new arguments are illogical, but that they are destitute of deep feeling or of moral sense. Let us nevertheless examine the modern arguments and see whether there is anything that they really prove.

One of the favourite arguments is from evolution. The world was once lifeless, and when life began it was a poor sort of life consisting of green slime and other uninteresting things. Gradually by the course of evolution, it developed into animals and plants and at last into MAN. Man, so the theologians assure us, is so splendid a Being that he may well be regarded as the culmination to which the long ages of nebula and slime were a prelude. I think the theologians must have been fortunate in their human contacts. They do not seem to me to have given due weight to Hitler or the Beast of Belsen. If Omnipotence, with all time at its disposal, thought it worth while to lead up to these men through the many millions of years of evolution, I can only say that the moral and aesthetic taste involved is peculiar. However, the theologians no doubt hope that the future course of evolution will produce more men like themselves and fewer men like Hitler. Let us hope so. But, in cherishing this hope, we are abandoning the ground of experience and taking refuge in an optimism which history so far does not support.

There are other objections to this evolutionary optimism. There is every reason to believe that life on our planet will not continue forever so that any optimism based upon the course of terrestrial history must be temporary and limited in its purview. There may, of course, be life elsewhere but, if there is, we know nothing about it and have no reason to suppose that it bears more resemblance to the virtuous theologians than to Hitler. The earth is a very tiny corner of the universe. It is a little fragment of the solar system. The solar system is a little fragment of the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is a little fragment of the many millions of galaxies revealed by modern telescopes. In this little insignificant corner of the cosmos there is a brief interlude between two long lifeless epochs. In this brief interlude, there is a much briefer one containing man. If really man is the purpose of the universe the preface seems a little long. One is reminded of some prosy old gentleman who tells an interminable anecdote all quite uninteresting until the rather small point in which it ends. I do not think theologians show a suitable piety in making such a comparison possible.

It has been one of the defects of theologians at all times to over-esti-mate the importance of our planet. No doubt this was natural enough in the days before Copernicus when it was thought that the heavens revolve about the earth. But since Copernicus and still more since the modern exploration of distant regions, this pre-occupation with the earth has become rather parochial. If the universe had a Creator, it is hardly reasonable to suppose that He was specially interested in our little corner. And, if He was not, His values must have been different from ours, since in the immense majority of regions life is impossible.

There is a moralistic argument for belief in God, which was popularized by William James. According to this argument, we ought to believe in God because, if we do not, we shall not behave well. The first and greatest objection to this argument is that, at its best, it cannot prove that there is a God but only that politicians and educators ought to try to make people think there is one. Whether this ought to be done or not is not a theological question but a political one. The arguments are of the same sort as those which urge that children should be taught respect for the flag. A man with any genuine religious feeling will not be content with the view that the belief in God is useful, because he will wish to know whether, in fact, there is a God. It is absurd to contend that the two questions are the same. In the nursery, belief in Father Christmas is useful, but grown-up people do not think that this proves Father Christmas to be real.

Since we are not concerned with politics we might consider this sufficient refutation of the moralistic argument, but it is perhaps worthwhile to pursue this a little further. It is, in the first place, very doubtful whether belief in God has all the beneficial moral effects that are attributed to it. Many of the best men known to history have been unbelievers. John Stuart Mill may serve as an instance. And many of the worst men known to history have been believers. Of this there are innumerable instances. Perhaps Henry VIII may serve as typical.

However that may be, it is always disastrous when governments set to work to uphold opinions for their utility rather than for their truth. As soon as this is done it becomes necessary to have a censorship to suppress adverse arguments, and it is thought wise to discourage thinking among the young for fear of encouraging "dangerous thoughts." When such mal-practices are employed against religion as they are in Soviet Russia, the theologians can see that they are bad, but they are still bad when employed in defence of what the theologians think good. Freedom of thought and the habit of giving weight to evidence are matters of far greater moral import than the belief in this or that theological dogma. On all these grounds it cannot be maintained that theological beliefs should be upheld for their usefulness without regard to their truth.

There is a simpler and more naive form of the same argument, which appeals to many individuals. People will tell us that without the consolations of religion they would be intolerably unhappy. So far as this is true, it is a coward's argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously choose to live in a fool's paradise. When a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is not thought the better of for shutting his eyes to the evidence. And I cannot see why ignoring evidence should be contemptible in one case and admirable in the other. Apart from this argument the importance of religion in contributing to individual happiness is very much exaggerated. Whether you are happy or unhappy depends upon a number of factors. Most people need good health and enough to eat. They need the good opinion of their social milieu and the affection of their intimates. They need not only physical health but mental health. Given all these things, most people will be happy whatever their theology. Without them, most people will be unhappy, whatever their theology. In thinking over the people I have known, I do not find that on the average those who had religious beliefs were happier than those who had not.

When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one. Those who imagine that the course of cosmic evolution is slowly leading up to some consummation pleasing to the Creator, are logically committed (though they usually fail to realize this) to the view that the Creator is not omnipotent or, if He were omnipotent, He could decree the end without troubling about means. I do not myself perceive any consummation toward which the universe is tending. According to the physicists, energy will be gradually more evenly distributed and as it becomes more evenly distributed it will become more useless. Gradually everything that we find interesting or pleasant, such as life and light, will disappear -- so, at least, they assure us. The cosmos is like a theatre in which just once a play is performed, but, after the curtain falls, the theatre is left cold and empty until it sinks in ruins. I do not mean to assert with any positiveness that this is the case. That would be to assume more knowledge than we possess. I say only that it is what is probable on present evidence. I will not assert dogmatically that there is no cosmic purpose, but I will say that there is no shred of evidence in favor of there being one.

I will say further that, if there be a purpose and if this purpose is that of an Omnipotent Creator, then that Creator, so far from being loving and kind, as we are told, must be of a degree of wickedness scarcely conceivable. A man who commits a murder is considered to be a bad man. An Omnipotent Deity, if there be one, murders everybody. A man who willingly afflicted another with cancer would be considered a fiend. But the Creator, if He exists, afflicts many thousands every year with this dreadful disease. A man who, having the knowledge and power required to make his children good, chose instead to make them bad, would be viewed with execration. But God, if He exists, makes this choice in the case of very many of His children. The whole conception of an omnipotent God whom it is impious to criticize, could only have arisen under oriental despotisms where sovereigns, in spite of capricious cruelties, continued to enjoy the adulation of their slaves. It is the psychology appropriate to this outmoded political system which belatedly survives in orthodox theology.

There is, it is true, a Modernist form of theism, according to which God is not omnipotent, but is doing His best, in spite of great difficulties. This view, although it is new among Christians, is not new in the history of thought. It is, in fact, to be found in Plato. I do not think this view can be proved to be false. I think all that can be said is that there is no positive reason in its favour.

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. It is customary to suppose that, if a belief is widespread, there must be something reasonable about it. I do not think this view can be held by anyone who has studied history. Practically all the beliefs of savages are absurd. In early civilizations there may be as much as one percent for which there is something to be said. In our own day.... But at this point I must be careful. We all know that there are absurd beliefs in Soviet Russia. If we are Protestants, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Catholics. If we are Catholics, we know that there are absurd beliefs among Protestants. If we are Conservatives, we are amazed by the superstitions to be found in the Labour Party. If we are Socialists, we are aghast at the credulity of Conservatives. I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold. I cannot, therefore, think it presumptuous to doubt something which has long been held to be true, especially when this opinion has only prevailed in certain geographical regions, as is the case with all theological opinions.

My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby 44 stone lions » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:15 pm UTC

My interpretation of this is:

You can't prove gods existence either way but whether He exist or not there isn't any point in believing in Him. 

What does everyone else think?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:59 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Why, because your argument is no more credible than the Celestial Teapot. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.
That's simply not the conclusion that this passage suggests. I don't expect you to get it after having it explained by four or five different people at this point.

Think about it for a second, rather than continuing to post the same excerpts over and over - your interpretation results in the honest consideration of the possibility of an invisible teapot floating around in space, or that rejecting the notion is just as ridiculous. A teapot. In space. The analogy was intended to be ludicrous for a reason, and it's gone over your head entirely.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:24 am UTC

As you will. Just this moment I find my patience vexed by the thought that you can't accept the fact that I understand the argument and just don't agree. In point of fact this is how my arguments with people of faith always ended. They never could figure out that I just didn't believe their arguments. Worse yet you continue to misstate my position.
uncivlengr wrote:Think about it for a second, rather than continuing to post the same excerpts over and over - your interpretation results in the honest consideration of the possibility of an invisible teapot floating around in space, or that rejecting the notion is just as ridiculous. A teapot. In space. The analogy was intended to be ludicrous for a reason, and it's gone over your head entirely.

I have never said or implied any such thing. I have said over and over again, the question of does God exist is moot. Currently I am defending the idea that Russell should have been shot with his teapot. Nothing that has occurred in this discussion has given me any reason to doubt that statement. If you think the the Celestial Teapot had a meaning other than what I have stated, then your are welcome to it. As Russell said
I do not know, dear reader, what your beliefs may be, but whatever they may be, you must concede that nine-tenths of the beliefs of nine-tenths of mankind are totally irrational. The beliefs in question are, of course, those which you do not hold.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Bean_Delphiki » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:39 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
Bean_Delphiki wrote:God (as a religious function) is NOT just a teapot or a star or something that is either "there" or "not-there". The term God, as defined by more or less the totality of humanity living and dead, is a being with supernatural powers with some sort of intent, plan, and, more importantly, effect.
What point are you trying to make here? Observing a god and observing a god's effects on the universe are synonymous - that's how observation works. If a god were granting the wishes of anyone that kills a goat in a particular way, we could measure the effect of the granting of those wishes without observing God "directly", or however you seem to think we're insisting he must be observed.

What I'm trying to state here is that God must be observed through the past. A god standing in front of you with power over lightening bolts would never impress the scientific mind. What I need to know about God is why my fucking gerbil died?

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:00 pm UTC

Bean_Delphiki wrote:What I'm trying to state here is that God must be observed through the past. A god standing in front of you with power over lightening bolts would never impress the scientific mind. What I need to know about God is why my fucking gerbil died?
Wait... you're saying that we have to assume historically inaccurate texts are accurate to believe, and that science would not go "holy shit!" when some giant man in the sky appears and start hurling lightning bolts and whatnot?

Also, about your gerbil, uh... things die, life is finite (for now... dun dun dunnnnnnn).

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:35 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:As you will. Just this moment I find my patience vexed by the thought that you can't accept the fact that I understand the argument and just don't agree.
Why would I accept that, when it's clear that you can't just read the entire passage and grasp its meaning, rather than picking out a sentence here and there that seems to represent your argument at that time?

You have continued to claim that rejecting the cellestial teapot holds the same "weight" or "value" as the claim itself - that both positions are nonsense. That's simply wrong, and certainly not what Russell concludes. Rejecting absurd claims is the logical position to hold, regardless of the fact that you cannot rationally disprove an absurd claim.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:27 pm UTC

Dude, you aren't understanding it.

Does God exist? You can't say yes, therefore you can't say no. A question like that will be relegated to nonsense. A nonsensical question does not have a yes/no answer. And it also defeats it immediately because the question becomes irrelevant.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:34 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Dude, you aren't understanding it.

Does God exist? You can't say yes, therefore you can't say no. A question like that will be relegated to nonsense. A nonsensical question does not have a yes/no answer. And it also defeats it immediately because the question becomes irrelevant.
Do you see me arguing that the answer to that question is no? The teapot analogy isn't about answering a yes/no question, it's about addressing a nonsensical claim.

If I claim that an invisible teapot is floating in space, that claim should be rejected as nonsense. That's not saying it's disproven, or that the question of whether such a teapot exists is answered, and I'm not sure why people continue to conflate these very different issues. That's why I said earlier that the atheist position isn't one that puts forth arguments, but rather addresses the claims made by others on the existence of gods.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

i think the answer is that you're both right.

morris is making a statement about the answer to the question. any answer of absolute knowledge of an unprovable statement (or ridiculous statement, or silly, or illogical, whatever) is automatically scientifically moot. both statements "god exists"/"god does not exist" have the same scientific weight, null. which is the way science views the question, as a non starter.

the other side (and Russell) aren't talking about the answer to the question they're talking about the response to the question directly. pastafarianism is a direct modern continuation of Russell's Teapot. If you are to accept the notion of an unknowable, un-seeable, unfindable god, then you also have to accept the existence of a giant pot of pasta reining with a noodely fist. to reject one as nonsense while still holding the other as fact is ridiculous. this is what russell was arguing against. the notion that one unreasonable assertion was perfectly and universally accepted as fact without evidence while all other equally unreasonable assertions were dismissed as lunacy (paganism, wiccaan, any savage faith, etc...).
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:11 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:morris is making a statement about the answer to the question. any answer of absolute knowledge of an unprovable statement (or ridiculous statement, or silly, or illogical, whatever) is automatically scientifically moot. both statements "god exists"/"god does not exist" have the same scientific weight, null. which is the way science views the question, as a non starter.
OK, but that has nothing to do with the teapot analogy, which is why I'm suggesting he's confused - the analogy is not put forth in terms of two opposing answers to a nonsensical question. Note that the teapot analogy doesn't begin with two people sitting down and asking a question - it's one person arguing that there is a teapot, and the other responding to that.

Aside from that, he's argued that rejecting the claim about the teapot "is no more credible than the Celestial Teapot. To suggest otherwise is nonsense." This is a blatant misinterpretation of the analogy.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby DSenette » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:17 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
DSenette wrote:morris is making a statement about the answer to the question. any answer of absolute knowledge of an unprovable statement (or ridiculous statement, or silly, or illogical, whatever) is automatically scientifically moot. both statements "god exists"/"god does not exist" have the same scientific weight, null. which is the way science views the question, as a non starter.
OK, but that has nothing to do with the teapot analogy, which is why I'm suggesting he's confused - the analogy is not put forth in terms of two opposing answers to a nonsensical question. Note that the teapot analogy doesn't begin with two people sitting down and asking a question - it's one person arguing that there is a teapot, and the other responding to that.

uh, yeah, if one person is making a statement, and the other is making a response, then those two people are in fact sitting down and answering a question. which implies that a question was asked.

the question at hand in the analogy is "does a magic teapot exist in space". russell's stance is that the question itself is ridiculous because of the criteria set forth in the description of the teapot (it always moves, it's hiding behind the moon, it's really freaking small). but by stating that the question is useless he's also extending out a statement about the answer to the question. you can't have a valuable or reasonable answer to a valueless or unreasonable question
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:23 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:
morriswalters wrote:As you will. Just this moment I find my patience vexed by the thought that you can't accept the fact that I understand the argument and just don't agree.
Why would I accept that, when it's clear that you can't just read the entire passage and grasp its meaning, rather than picking out a sentence here and there that seems to represent your argument at that time?

You have continued to claim that rejecting the cellestial teapot holds the same "weight" or "value" as the claim itself - that both positions are nonsense. That's simply wrong, and certainly not what Russell concludes. Rejecting absurd claims is the logical position to hold, regardless of the fact that you cannot rationally disprove an absurd claim.

Russell made the argument, not me. I'll try this analogy, and the I'll give up trying to help you see.
A friend and I watched two identical white mice, call the mice a and b, race at a lab. It was all in fun. We made some bets and and drank some beer. We then put the mice back in their cage. The mice are not marked. Now my friend and I are arguing. Which mouse won the race? I have a 50 50 chance of being right if I pick one at random, however I won't know if I picked the right one since there is no way to identify them. I pick one none the less, and my friend picks the other. Whose claim to having the winner is more valid? The answer is they are equally valid, and they both are a matter of opinion since there is no way to discern the "truth".

Remember that this is an analogy, meant to demonstrate the point. It's not about the mice.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:39 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:uh, yeah, if one person is making a statement, and the other is making a response, then those two people are in fact sitting down and answering a question. which implies that a question was asked.

the question at hand in the analogy is "does a magic teapot exist in space".
If you want to consider a question being asked, then it's more like, "should a claim about an invisible teapot in space be taken for granted". It's deals with burden of proof than the answer to any particular question.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby Xeio » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:42 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The answer is they are equally valid
Yes, in that neither is valid at all.

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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby uncivlengr » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
uncivlengr wrote:
morriswalters wrote:As you will. Just this moment I find my patience vexed by the thought that you can't accept the fact that I understand the argument and just don't agree.
Why would I accept that, when it's clear that you can't just read the entire passage and grasp its meaning, rather than picking out a sentence here and there that seems to represent your argument at that time?

You have continued to claim that rejecting the cellestial teapot holds the same "weight" or "value" as the claim itself - that both positions are nonsense. That's simply wrong, and certainly not what Russell concludes. Rejecting absurd claims is the logical position to hold, regardless of the fact that you cannot rationally disprove an absurd claim.

Russell made the argument, not me. I'll try this analogy, and the I'll give up trying to help you see.
A friend and I watched two identical white mice, call the mice a and b, race at a lab. It was all in fun. We made some bets and and drank some beer. We then put the mice back in their cage. The mice are not marked. Now my friend and I are arguing. Which mouse won the race? I have a 50 50 chance of being right if I pick one at random, however I won't know if I picked the right one since there is no way to identify them. I pick one none the less, and my friend picks the other. Whose claim to having the winner is more valid? The answer is they are equally valid, and they both are a matter of opinion since there is no way to discern the "truth".

Remember that this is an analogy, meant to demonstrate the point. It's not about the mice.
Perhaps a fresh analogy might make this clear, and explain the difference between "rejecting a claim" and "answering a question".

If you're drawing a parallel with the teapot analogy, then you didn't pick a mouse at all. Rather, your friend insisted that his mouse won the race, despite the fact that there was no way of knowing. You would correctly point out that asserting such knowledge is nonsense.

That's not saying that you know he's wrong, or that you know which mouse actually won. It's a simple statement about the validity of his claim, not the answer to the question.
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Re: Does God Exist?

Postby infernovia » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:58 pm UTC

If I claim that an invisible teapot is floating in space, that claim should be rejected as nonsense.

You still aren't getting it.

It doesn't matter what answer you are rejecting. If the question is nonsensical, the answer will be nonsensical. So it doesn't matter if such and such exists or not if nobody can prove it or disprove it. Why do you find it necessary to say "God doesn't exist" if the question is nonsense in the first place!

Is that really so hard to understand?


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