1003: "Hitler and Eve"

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Footnotes » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:26 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
J L wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Atheists claim there is no god, which does involve a belief.

Monika wrote:I feel there is no significant difference between "I do not believe there is a god" and "I believe there is no god". I am an atheist and for me this means I believe there is no god.

You never have to prove a negative. My lack of belief is not a belief in itself. The moment you claim something exists, you have to prove it ... any other approach makes no sense, cf. flying spaghetti monster et al.


I think it would be possible to construct valid definitions along Monika's lines. You can say "I don't know X but I believe X" and have them be two distinct things.

But to me there is a difference between "I don't know whether or not the Higgs boson exists" versus "I know there is no such thing as a Higgs boson". To me those two statements do not say the same thing at all.

There is a big difference between "I do not claim there is a god" versus "I claim there is no god".

If you want to claim something does not exist then you have as much obligation to prove it as you do if you claim it does exist. So for example I would argue that vegetarian cats are rare because we know most cats cannot make their own taurine but must get it from animal sources. So a vegetarian cat would get sick fairly fast, unless it was an unknown mutant cat which could make its own taurine.

I have reason to believe though I cannot prove that there are no nymphomaniacs. The concept of "nymphomaniac" was invented as a wish-fulfillment fantasy and there is no reason to believe in them any more than Santa Claus's elves.

Some negatives can be proven by sleight-of-language. There cannot be any such thing as an electron with a positive electric charge, because if you show me such a thing it will be a positron. If your uncle was a woman she would be your aunt. Etc.

Again, there is a big difference in general between "I do not claim X is true" versus "I claim X is false". It is not a matter of opinion whether these are different. They are different.


Obviously I cannot prove that their is absolutely no god, but I choose to call myself an atheist because I give significantly more weight to the proposal that their is no god than the proposal that their is. I do not claim to be able to disprove the existence of something which has no observable effect on the universe (Deist God, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Invisible Intangible Inaudible Unicorn, etc.), but I say that these are very poor theories because they say nothing meaningful about the universe. From a positivist perspective, any theory which is not testable is a foolish one, and it is simpler to cut out the unnecessary. As for the god as posited by many religions, he would have observable consequences, and as these have not been observed, I say that he does not exist.

As for your example with cats, I agree: vegetarian cats don't exist. However, I cannot prove that by the same standard as you demand disproof of God. What if there's a vegetarian cat that gets its taurine by magic? I do not believe this. I cannot prove that it is impossible, but I can say that it highly unlikely, just like God. It simplifies everything to simply say "I don't believe in magical vegetarian cats" or "I don't believe in God."

I consider these ideas atheism, as I think agnosticism to gives undue weight to the belief that god exists as opposed to the alternative non-existence, and because I disbelieve in the god as described by any religion. It seems that you have very similar beliefs, but choose to call it agnosticism, which is fine. However, I think at this point the argument has been reduced to one of semantics, and has strayed far from the original topic of discussion (Haha! The Bible implies incest!).

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Partyr101 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:32 pm UTC

I guess atheists have a more accepting view of cheating, so my comparison didn't get a very strong reaction.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:46 pm UTC

Sad troll is sad.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:58 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
doogly wrote:
J Thomas wrote:You have a model which goes beyond the known facts, which makes it harder to think about them. This is not useful.

No, I am just an actual, practicing, professional physicist. You need to try to actually do some of the physics to offer nonstandard interpretations about it.
I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.
Or, you could go check in with the science subforum, that's a place.


I've been here before. When the actual, practicing, professional astrologer tells you that you're not qualified to have an opinion about astrology, it's time to stop arguing.

You can have as many opinions as you want, it's just that without scientific training, the chances that those opinions will turn out to be both correct and useful are vanishingly small.


Sure. The astrologer said exactly the same.

You may not have noticed, but you have stopped responding with any sort of factual content and have descended entirely into insult and stupid attempts to pull rank over the internet. It's possible that you are really a professional physicist and not a dog or a cabbage or something. It's even possible that you are competent at your work when you are not spouting unscientific opinions about it. But no one could tell that from your recent comments, which display none of your abilities. Unless you have something substantive to add this conversation ended with my last post. In case you didn't notice....

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:21 pm UTC

J L wrote:You never have to prove a negative. My lack of belief is not a belief in itself. The moment you claim something exists, you have to prove it ... any other approach makes no sense, cf. flying spaghetti monster et al.

Giving either affirmation or denial priority yields nonsense results. You're right that you can't give affirmation priority because then you assume everyone's crazy pet theory is true until you can show otherwise (and what about when they contradict?). But giving denial priority has its own problems, because it's not possible to ever concretely verify any specific state of affairs to be true; at most you can falsify alternatives, but there will always still be more alternatives (this is called the curve-fitting problem: there is always another curve [equation] which fits the same data points). So if you refuse to believe anything until it's conclusively proven, you will end up permanently believing nothing, as nothing will ever be sufficiently proven.

The only reasonable stance to default to in absence of proof either way is "maybe, maybe not". Reject anything you can disprove, and from what remains, tentatively accept what seems most plausible to you, but recognize that that is a subjective assessment. If you meet someone who disagrees with you, offer disproofs of what you can, and accept any sound disproofs he offers, and if, when you're both down to the same set of remaining possibilities, you still disagree on which of them is more plausible, agree to disagree until one of you can show the other to be wrong. That still doesn't make you right; there is always still another alternative possibility he might accept. But if you keep this up you will continually get closer and closer to the truth as more and more possibilities are ruled out.

TL;DR: If you believe something exists and someone else believes it does not, and neither of you can conclusively show the other to be incorrect, agree to disagree for now and move on until you have something to show for your position.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J L » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:26 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:There is a big difference between "I do not claim there is a god" versus "I claim there is no god".

If you want to claim something does not exist then you have as much obligation to prove it as you do if you claim it does exist.

If it existed in the first place, yes.

I think we're running the risk of just arguing personal opinions here, but to explain my point of view: as long as the existence of something hasn't been proven, that means (at least to me) behaving like it wasn't true, to all intents and purposes. So I don't claim it doesn't exist, or know it doesn't exist, but just stick to what is known for fact. Everything else, as intriguing and colorful as it might be, just doesn't play a role in my life.

In my opinion, there is no more evidence for the existence for gods than for the existence of the FSM, pink unicorns or Santa's elves. They just don't happen in the world I perceive, never have. So I feel no need to even start arguing about them, and honestly, I don't have the slightest idea why other people keep bringing them up. In fact I strongly dislike the term "atheist" because it makes it sound like an aberration from the usual, like "non-swimmer".

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J L » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:40 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote: But giving denial priority has its own problems, because it's not possible to ever concretely verify any specific state of affairs to be true; at most you can falsify alternatives, but there will always still be more alternatives (this is called the curve-fitting problem: there is always another curve [equation] which fits the same data points). So if you refuse to believe anything until it's conclusively proven, you will end up permanently believing nothing, as nothing will ever be sufficiently proven.

[...]
TL;DR: If you believe something exists and someone else believes it does not, and neither of you can conclusively show the other to be incorrect, agree to disagree for now and move on until you have something to show for your position.


I wished you had replied to my Schrödinger question from last page instead of this ;) Anyway, I find the curve-fitting problem hard to understand, or at least hard to apply to everyday life. As Philip K. Dick had it, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. If you jump from the top of the Eiffel Tower, you're dead; that's sufficient proof or gravity for me.

It was never my intention to show believers to be incorrect to believe, or to prove that the Christian god doesn't exist. I don't even feel the necessity. I just felt that people tend to see "atheism" as just another kind of religion, and I don't feel that away (and still think the burden of proof lies with the one coming up with any claim in the first place). See also my post above.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Eternal Density » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:46 am UTC

So, Bible Fanfiction is a thing...
rdi wrote:First time poster. lol

The way I understand it, Adam and Eve's kids incl the sons and daughters that only get a passing mention married each other. God creating woman as a helper for man, and the commandment of being fruitful and multiplying says something about God's intent for sexual unions (and if God made everything, He defines right and wrong). In the subsequently fallen world, there's nothing to preclude the descendants from having had other unions, oedipal or homosexual or whatever, the Bible doesn't say anything about it at this point, but it's not inconceivable that mankind's sexual desires weren't deviating from God's plan until later.

Over 2000 years later (according to the Bible's chronology), God declares brother-sister incest immoral, probably for the mutant baby issue. If mankind was created genetically flawless it'd take a while before harmful mutations would run the risk of becoming dominant. Dunno how long. Bro-sis unions might not have been a health concern early in the world if the Bible is to be believed when it says God saw that it was "very good". Seems consistent to me.

Hey, an xkcd comic that makes you think.

Quoting for truth and agreement. Also the genetic bottleneck due to the global flood killing off all but 8 people would have hastened the genetic degradation necessitating the no-incest law at the time of Moses. This genetic degradation is also consistent with the recorded decreasing lifespans after Noah.

vortighast wrote:I, being a lover of science yet a strong believer in Christianity and the inerrancy of God's Word, felt I must get my two cents in. First I must say that I take the Bible literally, cover to cover, and use it as the basis for all my beliefs (bitwise seemed to differ on this point). Arguing over the accuracy of the Bible is a whole different topic, but on that note I will say you have The God Delusion and we have The Case for Christ; in other words I've seen many sound arguments by experts in the field attesting to the historical accuracy of the Gospels, that they were written in 1st century AD.

How I feel about the discussion at hand is that morality in not invented by man, as some have said, but instilled in every person by God. Therefore, believing that Christianity applies to all people and not just those who accept it, it would follow that those who practice incest, or as I feel the Bible makes clear, homosexuality, are choosing to go against that morality that has been placed in them. As for the incest references in the Bible, I assume that God was not opposed to it (if in fact He approved of it in Scripture, I don't recall much of the Old Testament), possibly because its negative effects were not an issue at the time.

Another quote for agreement (though I should point out that taking 'all' the Bible literally is slightly too much, as there's bits which are clearly meant to be metaphorical (i.e. I don't literally have a plank in my eye despite Jesus saying so).
One of the problems in an argument going on here is that some people are defining morals as 'what God says is good for us' and other people are defining morals as 'what is not hurting anyone'. With the latter definition it then becomes easy to define 'hurt' or define what a person is, such that what you want to do is okay. Examples: if you define someone in a coma as not really being a person since they can't act like a person, and point out that they can't feel anything and then justify that they're wasting resources for nothing, you've just made it okay to pull the plug on that person. Or define some group of humans as sub-human and detrimental to the true human race and kill them off (woo Godwin's Law!) or say that a fetus is not a person yet so killing it is doing no harm to a person (which ignores the physical and emotional harm done to the mother).
Anyhow my point is that in an argument over morals it's important to recognise that different morals stem from different foundations and they can never be reconciled because both appear to be right to the people that hold them, based on their foundations. (Doesn't mean that both actually are right though.)

Randomizer wrote:And one day the realization hits - All sex is incest.

All of it.

If you start with 4,294,967,296 magically unrelated people, after 32 generations of no inbreeding, the offspring are all related. If everyone reproduced at age 40 that would take 1280 years. The only way to prevent everyone from ending up related is for the population to split completely and for inbreeding to start before the 33rd generation. But how can the population stay split? People migrate, different groups mingle. We had about 200 million people about 2000 years ago. Humans have been around a lot longer than that, with a smaller population than that.

You hear about common ancestors. You do the math. You hear "If you go back far enough..." You think, "Starting with two people? That's silly, there's no way to avoid inbreeding. Adam and Eve? Hah!" But one day you're not just abstractly thinking about these things, it finally clicks. It would happen if you started with two billion. We didn't even start with that. Then comes the dawning realization; It wouldn't have mattered who you'd been with, the conclusion is inescapable. "Oh, shit..."

I had been fucking my relative. :shock:
Either all humans are related, or else all humans and all animals are related. Incest is just a matter of degree.
doogly wrote:1) Nobody cares. Darwin is *not* to scientific method following folks as any biblical figure is to the bible folks. Maybe if you repeatable falsifiable controlled experiments cheating on their partners, we would be offended. I hold those guys pretty sacred. Then again, it might be amusing.
2) There is no reason to suspect Darwin did. What would motivate such a comic other than spite? But, if you believe Adam, Eve and Seth exist as described by the book of genesis, then you believe Eve had sex with both Adam and their son Seth. That's what's in there. Are you offended that Randall *noticed?* It's in the book! He didn't make it up, the Jahwist did!
What. Did you fail to notice "After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years, and he had sons and daughters."? I guess Randall did too.
Jamaican Castle wrote:And as Randall posits, Abel invented sleeping with another man's wife
What we do know is that Reuben (of The Tribe of Reuben fame) slept with one of his father's (Jacob also know as Israel) wives, and then there was Judah (of the even more well known Tribe of Judah, from which we have the name Jews) and his daughter-in-law (the resulting child being in the direct ancestry of King David, also Jesus) and of course I can't forget to mention the nephew of Abraham (who incidentally married his half sister, their son Isaac married his cousin Rebecca and their son the aforementioned Jacob married both of his cousins (the nieces of Rebecca) (and also their maidservants) ) yeah, Abraham's nephew Lot (after his wife gets turned into salt) whose virgin daughters get him drunk for the express purpose of getting themselves knocked up, and succeed.

[edit] I see that's been mentioned:

cephron wrote:
boothby171 wrote:Here we go! The "Top Six Incestuous Relationships in the BIBLE!"

http://listverse.com/2008/05/26/top-6-i ... the-bible/

Soooo......

According to many Christians, morality is DEFINED by the Bible.

If, in the Bible, God hisself recommends incestuous relationships, then incestuous relationships must therefore be moral.

I am an atheist.

Therefore: I, an atheist, have proven that incest is moral. For a given--though fully recognized--category of "moral" (what more can one do?)

QED (Quite Easily Done)


Quite easily skipping a couple steps, too.

Just because something exists in the Bible doesn't mean God recommends it.
There's plently of stuff in the Bible that God actively condemns--including incest, actually (during the covenant with the Israelites).
If one is trying to use God's recommendations as a moral template, I think it would be hard to justify incest.

"But what about the 'good guy' characters found in incestuous relationships?", some might ask. Someone pointed out that Lot was called a "just man" by Peter in the New Testament, and that Lot had impregneted his daughters (although the text would seem to have the daughters being the instigators, wanting children and having no other men around). So...does God recommend this course of action? Not explicitly, no. And what about Lot being a just man, a "good guy"...shouldn't he be a role model? Well, yes and no. Take David, for example. He's probably one of the Bible's biggest role models--God calls him "a man after my own heart"--but then he goes and commits adultery, and then murder to cover it up. And God gets royally angry with him and punishes him severely, and David lives with hard consequences of this action even beyond the punishment. So, saying: "X is a Biblical role model, and X did Y, so God recommends Y" is not a solid argument by any stretch of the imagination.

If you want to talk about God actively condoning incest between Adam and Eve and/or their children, bitwiseshiftleft made an excellent post about genres in the Bible ( viewtopic.php?f=7&t=79431&start=40#p2858375 ) which addresses this issue (and most issues with creationism with it). I am of the same position as bitwise on this matter.

I should also point out that the sons of Lot's daughters and Lot were Moab and Amnon, which lead to some of Israel's worst enemies the Moabites and the Ammonites. (Though not all were enemies forever: see Ruth :D)
Last edited by Eternal Density on Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:00 am UTC

J L wrote:I think we're running the risk of just arguing personal opinions here, but to explain my point of view: as long as the existence of something hasn't been proven, that means (at least to me) behaving like it wasn't true, to all intents and purposes. So I don't claim it doesn't exist, or know it doesn't exist, but just stick to what is known for fact.


I don't think anybody actually lives up to your ideal here.

For example, does Israel have nuclear weapons? I don't know anybody who seriously doubts it. But the evidence is weak. There has never been a definite nuclear test that was attributed to them. The only real evidence was testimony by somebody who could easily be an Israeli agent. He made the announcement and provided some documents and photos that could be fake. Then he disappeared and the Israelis claimed they had kidnapped him and were holding him in solitary confinement. Eventually they claimed to let him out, and he made a few more statements about Israeli nuclear capability and was promptly shut up again. If Israel wanted to make people think they had nuclear weapons, they could easily have arranged this.

So, if you lived in Egypt or Syria or Iraq or Saudi Arabia, would you behave like it just plain wasn't true because it hasn't been proven? If you were running the Iranian government would you bet your population that Israel has no nukes and won't nuke you?

What you don't know can hurt you. When there's a chance that you will be hurt by something you don't know, most likely you try to be careful.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:17 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:So, Bible Fanfiction is a thing...

....

... and of course I can't forget to mention the nephew of Abraham (who incidentally married his half sister, their son Isaac married his cousin Rebecca and their son the aforementioned Jacob married both of his cousins (the nieces of Rebecca) (and also their maidservants) )


If we're doing Bible Fanfic, I want to point out that the Abraham/Sarah thing can easily be interpreted as the badger game.

They go to a new kingdom. They trick the king into putting Sarah into his harem. But then all his other wives and concubines come down with an STD. The king's doctors tell him "This is a curse you get by marrying another man's wife." A serious matter, the king's public reputation could suffer real bad. He yells at Abraham. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?" "Because I thought this was an uncivilized place where you might kill me for her." They work out a deal. The king pays Abraham and Sarah a whole lot of money to go away and never tell anybody what happened. Then they do it again in another kingdom.

Then Jacob and Rebecca play exactly the same scam. Is it an accident when they document doing it the same way 3 different times, in defiance of their oaths to three kings? Obvious conclusion -- badger game.

As I understand it, when somebody tried that same trick on Alexander Hamilton, the US Treasury secretary, President George Washington threw them into the nation's deepest dungeon and tried to keep them there indefinitely without trial, the Bill of Rights not having been invented yet. But they managed to sneak word out and the newspapers made a big scandal of it. I haven't heard that they managed to raid the Treasury, though. It would have been harder for them to get their story out if Washington had had them killed. There's a lot at stake in that profession. Lives, vaginas, etc. But Abraham and Sarah were wildly successful.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Yondrose » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:35 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
J L wrote:I think we're running the risk of just arguing personal opinions here, but to explain my point of view: as long as the existence of something hasn't been proven, that means (at least to me) behaving like it wasn't true, to all intents and purposes. So I don't claim it doesn't exist, or know it doesn't exist, but just stick to what is known for fact.


I don't think anybody actually lives up to your ideal here.

For example, does Israel have nuclear weapons? I don't know anybody who seriously doubts it. But the evidence is weak. There has never been a definite nuclear test that was attributed to them. The only real evidence was testimony by somebody who could easily be an Israeli agent. He made the announcement and provided some documents and photos that could be fake. Then he disappeared and the Israelis claimed they had kidnapped him and were holding him in solitary confinement. Eventually they claimed to let him out, and he made a few more statements about Israeli nuclear capability and was promptly shut up again. If Israel wanted to make people think they had nuclear weapons, they could easily have arranged this.

So, if you lived in Egypt or Syria or Iraq or Saudi Arabia, would you behave like it just plain wasn't true because it hasn't been proven? If you were running the Iranian government would you bet your population that Israel has no nukes and won't nuke you?

What you don't know can hurt you. When there's a chance that you will be hurt by something you don't know, most likely you try to be careful.


He may have been oversimplifying, but he states an ideal I myself strive for. No one said probabilities/risk assessment couldn't be taken into account. For instance, known possibilities based on known facts and probabilities derived from observations of behavior and known goals and motivations.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Randomizer » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:52 am UTC

Partyr101 wrote:I guess atheists have a more accepting view of cheating, so my comparison didn't get a very strong reaction.
I wouldn't approve of someone falsely claiming, "Haha, Darwin cheated on his wife!" particularly if they tried to establish this as historical fact without any evidence, anymore than if someone tried to claim Hitler was a puppy killer or Obama was born in Moscow, Russia or that ospreys are large rodents. I'm not really a fan of the deliberate spread of misinformation.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:01 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
doogly wrote:
J Thomas wrote:You have a model which goes beyond the known facts, which makes it harder to think about them. This is not useful.

No, I am just an actual, practicing, professional physicist. You need to try to actually do some of the physics to offer nonstandard interpretations about it.
I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.
Or, you could go check in with the science subforum, that's a place.


I've been here before. When the actual, practicing, professional astrologer tells you that you're not qualified to have an opinion about astrology, it's time to stop arguing.

You can have as many opinions as you want, it's just that without scientific training, the chances that those opinions will turn out to be both correct and useful are vanishingly small.


Sure. The astrologer said exactly the same.

You may not have noticed, but you have stopped responding with any sort of factual content and have descended entirely into insult and stupid attempts to pull rank over the internet. It's possible that you are really a professional physicist and not a dog or a cabbage or something. It's even possible that you are competent at your work when you are not spouting unscientific opinions about it. But no one could tell that from your recent comments, which display none of your abilities. Unless you have something substantive to add this conversation ended with my last post. In case you didn't notice....

This comment is intended to note the end, not continue beyond it.

You do realise you're talking to more than one person, right?
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:20 am UTC

J L wrote:I wished you had replied to my Schrödinger question from last page instead of this ;)

I wanted to, but I can't remember the answer to your question off the top of my head and am too lazy to look it up, plus there's an actual physicist in this thread who can probably answer it better than I could. Einstein held that it was not random but that there were hidden (unknown) yet deterministic variables at play, and I have a vague memory of some experiment proving that either that or an even more fundamental postulate must be false, so that was rejected.

Doogly, maybe you can fill in here?

On a related note though, you do make a good point about the creation of information by random processes, and I've raised that before in discussions with physicists on the topic of black hole information destruction: it's supposed to be a problem because it makes time irreversible, as if you played time backward any energy emerging from the back hole (an object falling into it, in reverse) would be completely randomized and so you could not recover the original object by reversing time. I like to point out that the random Hawking radiation coming off black holes all the time is essentially new information being created constantly, and playing time in reverse would destroy that information just as it was creating new information at random instead of reconstructing the original object. And that this is just what indeterminism is: you can't consistently translate from one moment in time to another and back again. If information was never created or destroyed, then everything would be deterministic, as all information about how things will be in the future would have to be present (in obfuscated form) now. Accepting indeterminism means accepting that information can be created and destroyed. So why are black holes destroying information a problem, in a quantum-mechanical framework which is already indeterministic?

Anyway, I find the curve-fitting problem hard to understand, or at least hard to apply to everyday life.

The basic mathematical idea is that a curve, equivalent to some equation, is a densely-packed set of points, and there are absolutely no points missing from it; there is no x value for which the curve does not have a point with that x value and some corresponding y value. The equation can be identified as exactly that set of points. Because this requires uncountably infinite points, no finite set of points can be precisely identified with any given curve; there are always infinitely many curves which match exactly those points but differ in the space between them in infinitely many ways. So no matter how many points you plot, you can never say that any equation is the equation which matches those points, only that is is an equation which matches them.

Applied to every day life, this means that no matter how many observations you make, there are always infinitely many possible theories which precisely match those observations, but differ in areas you haven't observed yet. Because of this, we can never say that any theory is the theory which matches the evidence; only that it is a theory which matches it.

Of course there are other, practical concerns in picking which curve to follow. One of them is that a lot of our data points are imprecise smears more than discrete points (our measurements are imprecise, so we make many measurements and average them out), so we can pick curves which go through the denser parts of those smears more frequently than the less dense parts, and even though without contradicting solid data points we can't properly rule out the curves through the less-dense parts, we can say the curves through the denser parts are in some ways more likely.

Another popular concern is "parsimony", often summed up as Occam's Razor. I like to combine this with information theory and Kuhn's Structure of Scientific revolutions and phrase it as: use the theory which requires the least information to state for the same accuracy. The way this relates to Kuhn is that sometimes there will be a theory with known exceptions, and another much more complicated theory which matches the same data points and doesn't have those exceptions, but until it takes more information to state the simpler theory plus all of its known exceptions than it does to state the more complex theory, it's more practical to stick with the simpler theory and just note its exceptions. In practice this equates to sticking with the current theory until enough counterpoints pile up that it's worth abandoning it for a new theory.

As Philip K. Dick had it, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Yes, and our incomplete experience of reality is what comprises the observational data points in question above. Those data points don't stop asserting themselves just because we believe reality follows a curve that doesn't match them. But because our experience of reality is perpetually incomplete, we are never able to conclusively say what reality in its entirety really is; only that it certainly isn't this or that. Reality is something which matches these observations; but we can forever only guess at which of the infinitely many things which match those observations is truly reality.

It was never my intention to show believers to be incorrect to believe, or to prove that the Christian god doesn't exist.


For what it's worth, I think it is possible to show that the Christian god as commonly formulated does not in fact exist, and furthermore that is is not even possible for anything which could legitimately be called a god to exist.

I don't even feel the necessity. I just felt that people tend to see "atheism" as just another kind of religion, and I don't feel that away

I define religion in terms of appeals to authority ("faith" in another is an appeal to their authority, "faith" in oneself is an appeal to one's own authority, in either case admitting "I can't give you a reason, it's just right!"); and consequently any belief in the supernatural (which by definition cannot be demonstrated by evidence and thus requires faith and thus appeal to authority) counts as religious.

Atheism then, in denying the existence of something supernatural, is not itself a religion in the second, ontological, sense (though you could have a religion in that sense which is still atheistic, if you believe in non-divine spirits and things). If someone were to claim that no gods exist and push that claim without any sound argument to support it, however, that could be religious in the first, epistemological, sense. (Not that I'm accusing you of that).

(and still think the burden of proof lies with the one coming up with any claim in the first place).

I agree completely; I just qualify that anyone putting forth a claim either for or against has that same burden of proof. It's never enough to say "you can't prove your side, therefore my side is proven by default". By default neither side is proven, both sides are possible.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:24 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
doogly wrote:
J Thomas wrote:.

No, I am just an actual, practicing, professional physicist. You need to try to actually do some of the physics to offer nonstandard interpretations about it.
I could teach you, but I'd have to charge.
Or, you could go check in with the science subforum, that's a place.


You can have as many opinions as you want, it's just that without scientific training, the chances that those opinions will turn out to be both correct and useful are vanishingly small.


You do realise you're talking to more than one person, right?


I don't know that now, but if I had noticed that the name was different the last time I wouldn't have responded as if it was the same person. Apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Eternal Density » Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:04 am UTC

I ran into a quote which says one of the points I was getting at above, but better: "There can be no useful debate between two people with different first principles, except on those principles themselves."
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby NotAllThere » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:09 am UTC

re: "I'll only believe what can be proved to be true".

Gödel showed it is impossible to prove that arithmetic (for example) is consistent. I.e. that it will never lead to a contradiction. However, no-one really thinks that arithmetic would ever lead to a contradiction. "Arithmetic is consistent" is true (most probably). But not provable. The same may apply to the existence of God.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:19 am UTC

NotAllThere wrote:Gödel showed it is impossible to prove that arithmetic (for example) is consistent. I.e. that it will never lead to a contradiction.

Not quite. Godel proved that any system from which arithmetic can proven cannot itself be both consistent and complete. If we take consistency as a given, that just means that any formal system capable of proving arithmetic is capable of formulating some other statements which it cannot assign any truth values to.

If we were instead to take completeness as a given (i.e. any well-formed formula can be assigned a truth value), then it would not only mean that the system might not be consistent, but Godel's theorem would entail that the system is inconsistent. That's still not quite the same thing as arithmetic itself being inconsistent, although given the principle of explosion, it would make the axioms of arithmetic, as well as everything else the inconsistent system is capable of formulating, both true and false.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:32 am UTC

J L wrote:As Philip K. Dick had it, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. If you jump from the top of the Eiffel Tower, you're dead; that's sufficient proof or gravity for me.


There are some giant gray areas there.

Suppose you don't smoke cigarettes because you believe they cause lung cancer. Perhaps lung cancer has gone away for you because you believe cigarettes cause it. But a few people get lung cancer without smoking.

Then you stop believing and you start smoking. 30 years later you get lung cancer. Somebody visits you in the hospital and asks whether you believe your lung cancer came from your smoking. "No, it was just a coincidence."

There's a subtle difference between believing in gravity and believing that things fall down. I remember that my 14-month-old daughter was terrified when we got her a helium balloon. She couldn't talk well enough to tell us what the problem was, but we guessed that it bothered her that the balloon fell up.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby elasto » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:20 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:I remember that my 14-month-old daughter was terrified when we got her a helium balloon. She couldn't talk well enough to tell us what the problem was, but we guessed that it bothered her that the balloon fell up.

I'm in my 30s and, believe it or not, I have a genuine (albeit very slight) phobia of helium balloons. It was only this year that I realised that it was exactly this: They fall upwards - and for some reason them falling upwards a great distance triggers the same phobic neural pathways as a fear of falling a great distance downwards.

It's only outside my phobia kicks in though, not inside. I no more worry about the balloon falling to the ceiling than me falling to the floor. But, give me a helium balloon to hold outside and I get distinctly uncomfortable...

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby markfiend » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:28 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:For example, does Israel have nuclear weapons? I don't know anybody who seriously doubts it. But the evidence is weak.

There's a difference between the claim that "Israel has nuclear weapons" and the claim that "the god of Abraham as described in the old testament texts exists".

We know that Israel exists. We know that nuclear weapons exist. We know that Mordechai Vanunu exists and we have his photographs of Israeli nuclear weapons labs. As you point out, it is possible that all this was arranged by the Israeli secret services, but the more likely explanation is that Israel does, in fact, have nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, gods are a class of mythical being (like the elves that someone upthread mentioned) which are not known to exist. There are many aspects of the universe which we might reasonably expect to be different if there were gods; prayers might be answered, for a start.

And anyway, why do believers believe in their favourite deity but not Óðinn, Zeus, or any of the million other gods which are described in devotional texts, both ancient and modern?

Regarding the argument that morality is instilled by deities, here's an argument that has only been kicking around since Plato's days; the Euthyphro dilemma: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"

Given some of the things described in the old testament...
Psalm 137 verse 9 wrote:Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

... even if the gods were real, I wouldn't worship this immoral monster. (There are numerous other examples in the OT, but I can't be bothered tracking them all down right now.)

J Thomas wrote:What you don't know can hurt you. When there's a chance that you will be hurt by something you don't know, most likely you try to be careful.
This sounds suspiciously like Pascal's Wager. What happens if you bet on the wrong god? If the Muslims are right, the Christian belief that Jesus is a god is probably enough to condemn you to hell. OTOH some strands of Judaism teach that there's no afterlife at all. As all gods seem equally (un)likely to me, how am I to decide which way to bet? (All of this hinges on the rather dubious notion that I could choose to believe in a god in the first place, and that it wouldn't be able to see through such a blatantly self-serving "belief".)

Furthermore, considering the argument that I can't disprove gods... I have an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my front room. I cordially invite you to disprove his existence.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby The Moomin » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:36 pm UTC

doogly wrote:The first thing to do is to distinguish between "diffraction" and "interference."


My thoughts on the matter:

It is against the laws of the United Kingdom to interfere with a badger.
It is against the laws of nature to diffract a badger.
I possibly don't pay enough attention to what's going on.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:07 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
J Thomas wrote:For example, does Israel have nuclear weapons? I don't know anybody who seriously doubts it. But the evidence is weak.

There's a difference between the claim that "Israel has nuclear weapons" and the claim that "the god of Abraham as described in the old testament texts exists".


Yes there is! But there is a fundamental similarity, as follows: As long as Israel does not use nukes, it doesn't much matter whether you believe in Israeli nukes or not. They will make no difference in your life. But if Israel chooses to nuke your nation then Israeli nukes suddenly become one of those things that are true whether you believe in them or not. The change is sudden and dramatic. One hour there is no reliable way to find out what's true and it makes no difference to your life. The next hour many of your relatives are dead, your electronics have all stopped working, you might be getting radiation poisoning yourself.

Similarly, at this time there is nothing you can do to get objective evidence about the existence of the christian or muslim god. But within the next hour you might die unexpectedly and might find that one or both of them do exist and are calling you to account for your life. They might blame you for not believing in them.

And anyway, why do believers believe in their favourite deity but not Óðinn, Zeus, or any of the million other gods which are described in devotional texts, both ancient and modern?


I can't tell you why people believe what they believe. Freud believed he could understand how normal people think by looking at deranged people, who might display the normal thinking more openly. I once had a long conversation with a deranged friend. He tried to tell me that the earth is hollow, and there is a smaller earth inside. Since there is no gravity inside a hollow sphere, the outside shell did not affect the gravity for the people living on the smaller earth who got all their gravity downward. Their earth was also hollow with a still-smaller hollow earth inside. Also he had decided he would leave his wife and instead be with Heather Locklear. She would want him if he could get a message past her censors. When I suggested weak points in his theories he explained that they had to be true because they were so beautiful. It all fit together!

I think maybe people generally believe things because they want to. They prefer to believe things that are esthetically pleasing, and they prefer to believe things that they think are good for them.

Regarding the argument that morality is instilled by deities, here's an argument that has only been kicking around since Plato's days; the Euthyphro dilemma: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"


Yes! Do we judge morality by its results? Or does morality judge us by our results? Once you decide that you will choose your own morality based on what you think it will accomplish, you have already set yourself above the morality you might choose to live by. If you are the master and not the slave, how can it control you?

... even if the gods were real, I wouldn't worship this immoral monster.


Yes, that's a valid choice. It's separate from the question whether a monstrous god is real, of course. If you choose to disbelieve in a god because you find him esthetically displeasing, that's no better than my deranged friend, but the choice to defy him and take whatever monstrous consequences he imposes is outside the domain of truth or falsehood. It's in the domain of responsibility.

J Thomas wrote:What you don't know can hurt you. When there's a chance that you will be hurt by something you don't know, most likely you try to be careful.
This sounds suspiciously like Pascal's Wager. What happens if you bet on the wrong god?


Then you're screwed? What you don't know can hurt you. There are things that you cannot find out until they hurt you. It isn't fair. Somehow I grew up with the idea that it ought to be fair, and it just isn't.

Furthermore, considering the argument that I can't disprove gods... I have an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my front room. I cordially invite you to disprove his existence.


Suppose he's real and I prove he's real by getting burned up. Not a valuable experience to me. So what if I look and fail to find any evidence of it. Just when i'm congratulating myself it might pop out and burn me. What do I get from this? I tell you what, it's your dragon in your house. You figure out how to get rid of it, or get along with it, or move out. It isn't my problem.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Monika » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:34 pm UTC

J L wrote:Santa's elves

I read that as Satan's elves.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby markfiend » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote: As long as Israel does not use nukes, it doesn't much matter whether you believe in Israeli nukes or not. They will make no difference in your life. But if Israel chooses to nuke your nation then Israeli nukes suddenly become one of those things that are true whether you believe in them or not. The change is sudden and dramatic. One hour there is no reliable way to find out what's true and it makes no difference to your life. The next hour many of your relatives are dead, your electronics have all stopped working, you might be getting radiation poisoning yourself.

It's not really a case of "believing in" the Israeli nukes though. The hypothesis "Israel has nuclear weapons" better explains the evidence of Mordechai Vanunu than the hypothesis "The Israeli secret service planted Vanunu's evidence." Frankly the "secret service plant" hypothesis grants more power to Israel than the "nukes are real" hypothesis, and so, were I living in one of Israel's neighbouring counties, I'd be more worried if the latter were true!

Something else though; the "nukes are real" hypothesis is falsifiable, at least in principle. For instance, someone could discover the Mossad memo saying "hey let's invent this Vanunu character and convince the world we have nuclear weapons". The god outside the universe who seems (if it exists at all) to be hiding from us is inherently unfalsifiable. (Of course this hidden god has been posited largely due to the fact that falsifiable interventionist deities have in fact been falsified.)

J Thomas wrote:Similarly, at this time there is nothing you can do to get objective evidence about the existence of the christian or muslim god. But within the next hour you might die unexpectedly and might find that one or both of them do exist and are calling you to account for your life. They might blame you for not believing in them.
Both? It's literally impossible that both are real. Either the triune god of the Christians (the Father, the Sun, and the Wholly Ghost) is real, or the Allah of the Musilims is real (both claim to be the only god)... or neither is real. And as I say, the traditional view that the texts themselves take, of interventionist gods, actively engaging with the universe, cannot stand up. The field of attempting to hand-wave this away is not called "apologetics" by accident; it's a sorry mess.

And if there is some kind of deist god outside the universe who lit the blue touch-paper of the Big Bang, he's so well-hidden that I can't see how he could "blame me for not believing in him". *shrug*

J Thomas wrote:
Regarding the argument that morality is instilled by deities, here's an argument that has only been kicking around since Plato's days; the Euthyphro dilemma: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"


Yes! Do we judge morality by its results?

I see no better way to judge. Utilitarianism is my preferred ethical framework.
J Thomas wrote:Or does morality judge us by our results? Once you decide that you will choose your own morality based on what you think it will accomplish, you have already set yourself above the morality you might choose to live by. If you are the master and not the slave, how can it control you?

I'm not at all sure what you mean here. Morality is not some anthropomorphic being who can "judge" me. My morality is what it is.

I will not bow my knee to a tyrant who demands child-sacrifice and I deem myself more moral than a milquetoast Christian who only abstains from villainy because of fear of "divine punishment".
J Thomas wrote:
What happens if you bet on the wrong god?


Then you're screwed? What you don't know can hurt you. There are things that you cannot find out until they hurt you. It isn't fair. Somehow I grew up with the idea that it ought to be fair, and it just isn't.

This kind of caprice seems entirely at odds with the kind of loving god in which the faithful claim to believe. *shrug*
J Thomas wrote:
Furthermore, considering the argument that I can't disprove gods... I have an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my front room. I cordially invite you to disprove his existence.


Suppose he's real and I prove he's real by getting burned up. Not a valuable experience to me. So what if I look and fail to find any evidence of it. Just when i'm congratulating myself it might pop out and burn me. What do I get from this? I tell you what, it's your dragon in your house. You figure out how to get rid of it, or get along with it, or move out. It isn't my problem.

OK then. Unless you teach your children that he's real, I'm going to bring my invisible dragon round to your house and have him burn you up.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby jjcote » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:26 pm UTC

Partyr101 wrote:I'm a creationist and to be honest, I'm somewhat offended by this. How would atheists feel if we made a comic about Darwin cheating on his wife?

What an interesting misconception! Darwin has no particular connection with atheism. Yeah, he did some science that turns out to be a problem for people who are intent on a literal interpretation of the Bible, but it's not like he was the founder of Atheism or something. I don't know if Darwin even had anything to say on the topic (I'm not that well read up on Darwin, despite my putting no credence at all in the Biblical account of the origin of the universe). A cartoon about Darwin cheating on his wife would be about as offensive as a cartoon about Galileo, Newton, or Lavoisier cheating on their wives. Probably a bit more than a cartoon about Eve cheating on Adam, because in the cases of the scientists, we've got real historical wives who would presumably have been unhappy if it had occurred, as opposed to fictional characters. (Greek and Roman gods supposedly did a bunch of cheating, and nobody's the victim in those cases either, because everybody knows they aren't real, right?) In any case, atheism existed before Darwin came along, and would exist even if Darwin hadn't done this particular bit of science, or if it had been done by somebody really offensive.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby bmonk » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:09 pm UTC

distractedSofty wrote:
Kibate wrote: i DO would let police search my house just like that, because i have nothing to hide.


This may sound like a troll question, but in fact it's very legitimate: how do you know you have nothing to hide? There are literally tens of thousands of laws on the books, as well as an untold number of precedents that determine exactly how those laws are enforced. Bills regularly pass that contain hundreds of pages, which many of the politicians do not even read in full. The effect is multiplied for your individual state, county and town.

Of course, it's conversely possible that, in a state with no privacy whatsoever, the people would be more hesitant about passing so many complicated and/or stupid laws. (In the actual state of affairs, the right to privacy provides an incentive not to care which laws get passed, and so we get what we have today.) However, this is not the nation you currently live in.

It's still perfectly logical to state "I have nothing to hide". If the police searched my house and found I was violating some obscure law, then why shouldn't I expect to be prosecuted for it? That is, I'm not hiding the fact that I'm hypothetically, say, improperly storing a hazardous substance, I just didn't know that a rusty milo can in the back shed was not proper storage. But having now been informed of my transgression, I'll pay the fine/do the time/whatever.[/quote]

Two responses: (1) "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." That is, you are supposed to know and comply with all laws. In theory.

(2) Your defense doesn't work with, say, the IRS: even the government experts often don't know exactly what the Income Tax law says, but you are definitely responsible for keeping it. And penalized when you don't (if they catch you). Which means a lot of wasted effort to learn and apply it. And just in case, they like to change it every single year.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby neoliminal » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:16 pm UTC

Fuel, meet more fire. More fire, meet fuel.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Fire Brns » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:35 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
J Thomas wrote:What you don't know can hurt you. When there's a chance that you will be hurt by something you don't know, most likely you try to be careful.
This sounds suspiciously like Pascal's Wager. What happens if you bet on the wrong god? If the Muslims are right, the Christian belief that Jesus is a god is probably enough to condemn you to hell. OTOH some strands of Judaism teach that there's no afterlife at all. As all gods seem equally (un)likely to me, how am I to decide which way to bet? (All of this hinges on the rather dubious notion that I could choose to believe in a god in the first place, and that it wouldn't be able to see through such a blatantly self-serving "belief".)

Fixing some miscomprehensions here. One Jews don't believe in heaven but they do believe in resurection. Some christians believe the same but have Jesus instead of some weird rituals to garuntee this; What I have read seems to indicate heaven is for Jesus and a few chosen people to rule the earth. Jesus is not god; he is the son of god. He never preforms acts of god, in the bible he asks his father to preform miracles and then gives god credit.
Islam has a command to protect all christians the way christians have the command to protect Jews so I doubt that Christians would "go to hell" over believing in Jesus. And I sound crazy right now making points about Christianity but one final point: there is no hell, a loving god would not want you to suffer in fire and brimstone for an eternity.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Oktalist » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:12 pm UTC

KShrike wrote:oh, I feel like leaving. I just know that this will be a huge bash on Christianity.
Abandoning thread...

7 pages, 263 posts, and not a single bash on Christianity.
A couple of people pointing out inconsistencies in the Bible, in response to you, but criticising is not bashing.

Fire Brns wrote:either through evolution or creationism incest would have had to happen.

Evolution does not require incest. Not saying it never happened, of course, just that it doesn't need to have happened for evolution to be true.

AutoHawk wrote:I am an agnostic, I think.

If I was an agnostic, that would mean I was unsure whether or not there was a god. But I'm not sure if that's the case, so I must be an agnostic agnostic.

meerta wrote:
KShrike wrote:Brings up a very good point. Just like "Adam and Steve", "Abel and Eve" is also immoral, probably even more immoral.
I stand here right now and challenge every single atheist/agnostic in this thread to prove to me that incest is moral. Go! (No, I'm not trolling)

'Just like...' - isn't this disgusting homophobia? Why aren't people calling this out?

O. M. G. I think I just figured out KShrike's irrefutable logic. Atheists think homosexuality is moral, and the Bible says homosexuality is immoral, therefore atheists think that everything that the Bible says is immoral is actually moral. It makes perfect sense.

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Azkyroth wrote:Gym socks aren't able to give consent either.
The question, again is "who does it hurt?"

Given that logic, you'd be raping a condom any time you used one. You're not actually having sex with the sock, merely using it as a container, in a similar way to a condom.

1. Dildo/fleshlight.
2. That fetish some people have where they have actual romantic feelings towards a car or other inanimate object and have sex with it.

J Thomas wrote:Schodinger's cat is not alive and dead both. It's indeterminate. At least, it makes sense that way, while it doesn't make sense to say it's both.

The universe is under no obligation to make sense.

J Thomas wrote:It is not known that each buckyball goes through both slits, unless you know there is no other way they could produce that interference pattern.

The probability wavefunction of each particle definately goes through both slits. Whether you think that's the same thing as the particle itself going through both slits is a matter of semantics. Is the particle an actual thing, whose observable properties are controlled by a wavefunction, or is the wavefunction the actual thing, and what we think of as the particle is just our perception of the wavefunction as it interacts with us? Does that question actually mean anything?

Pfhorrest wrote:Either there is something special that happens at some level of interaction and facts can be created from nothing just by being observed to be so, or the whole universe exists in a superposition of possible states just as much as each particle does. Pick your flavor of weirdness. Personally, I prefer the option that has the universe consistent at all scales and doesn't ascribe magic powers to human observation.

Neither interpretation ascribes magic powers to human observation. Humans, cats, carrots, rocks, photons, slits, photosensitive paper and geiger counters are all equally capable of collapsing wavefunctions by observation. It just so happens that humans are the only ones who can recognise it when it happens.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Absotively » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:34 pm UTC

The Moomin wrote:You haven't eliminated the impossible, merely stated that you prefer the interpretation that leads to the result you want to prove? [...] That's not science, or even an argument.


I probably shouldn't open a new can of worms in this thread, but it's been my impression that lots of science is done like that. Although usually not experimental physics. It's more common in, say, medical research funded by large corporations.

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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:38 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
J Thomas wrote: As long as Israel does not use nukes, it doesn't much matter whether you believe in Israeli nukes or not. They will make no difference in your life. But if Israel chooses to nuke your nation then Israeli nukes suddenly become one of those things that are true whether you believe in them or not. The change is sudden and dramatic. One hour there is no reliable way to find out what's true and it makes no difference to your life. The next hour many of your relatives are dead, your electronics have all stopped working, you might be getting radiation poisoning yourself.

It's not really a case of "believing in" the Israeli nukes though. The hypothesis "Israel has nuclear weapons" better explains the evidence of Mordechai Vanunu than the hypothesis "The Israeli secret service planted Vanunu's evidence." Frankly the "secret service plant" hypothesis grants more power to Israel than the "nukes are real" hypothesis, and so, were I living in one of Israel's neighbouring counties, I'd be more worried if the latter were true!


I wind up with this kind of result almost every time I look at the details. It winds up being not "X is true" or "X is false". It turns into "X explains the limited available evidence better than anything else I've thought of yet" or "Y fits the limited available evidence better than X according to my esthetic judgement".

I tend to agree with you this time, on Bayesian grounds. Israelis knew how to build nukes starting in 1948. They had the technical skill and the plutonium and the money. They had no ethical qualms. Why would they pretend to do it and not actually do it? But which is true does not change according to which is scarier.

Something else though; the "nukes are real" hypothesis is falsifiable, at least in principle. For instance, someone could discover the Mossad memo saying "hey let's invent this Vanunu character and convince the world we have nuclear weapons".


That would not be falsification. First, it would be easy for Mossad or someone else to falsify such a memo. Second, the existence of a fake nuclear program 50 years ago is no evidence that Israel has no nuclear program today, and only a somewhat-plausible indicator that Israel did not have a real nuclear program 50 years ago.

Whether or not it's falsfiable in principle, though, it cannot be falsified today by private citizens.

The god outside the universe who seems (if it exists at all) to be hiding from us is inherently unfalsifiable. (Of course this hidden god has been posited largely due to the fact that falsifiable interventionist deities have in fact been falsified.)


Again I must disagree. Gods outside the universe who are postulated to never do anything detectable, are unfalsifiable. Gods who do subtle things only gradually lose authority as the universe becomes more predictable. When we reach the point we can predict the weather correctly a month ahead, then we will know that no god is interfering with the weather to answer human prayers etc -- unless he does it subtly at least a month ahead.

Interventionist deities have not in fact been falsified. We have merely observed that sometimes people have prayed to them and their prayers went unanswered. But since gods are inherently unpredictable, the fact that gods have sometimes been observed not to intervene in the past, does not prove they will never intervene.

J Thomas wrote:Similarly, at this time there is nothing you can do to get objective evidence about the existence of the christian or muslim god. But within the next hour you might die unexpectedly and might find that one or both of them do exist and are calling you to account for your life. They might blame you for not believing in them.
Both? It's literally impossible that both are real. Either the triune god of the Christians (the Father, the Sun, and the Wholly Ghost) is real, or the Allah of the Musilims is real (both claim to be the only god)... or neither is real.


They could both be lying about being the only god. Or they could be the same god who tells different people different things. They could both be upset if you suspect them of lying. I'd be pretty disgusted if it turned out like that. Probably there wouldn't be much I could do about it.

J Thomas wrote:
Regarding the argument that morality is instilled by deities, here's an argument that has only been kicking around since Plato's days; the Euthyphro dilemma: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"


Yes! Do we judge morality by its results?

I see no better way to judge. Utilitarianism is my preferred ethical framework.


You are utterly unapologetic about your hubris. I like that in a human.

J Thomas wrote:Or does morality judge us by our results? Once you decide that you will choose your own morality based on what you think it will accomplish, you have already set yourself above the morality you might choose to live by. If you are the master and not the slave, how can it control you?

I'm not at all sure what you mean here. Morality is not some anthropomorphic being who can "judge" me. My morality is what it is.


I run into this a lot from libertarians. Some of them say that they themselves are the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong. If they get into a serious disagreement with another libertarian, they will attempt to arrange voluntary binding arbitration with an arbiter they both agree to. If that fails, they might try a duel to the death. They insist that this is all the social control they need. Nobody has to coerce anybody else, ever. Voluntary agreement and vendettas are enough.

I say, if you get to decide entirely for yourself what's right and wrong, and you can change it whenever you want to, we probably shouldn't call that "morality". Maybe call it "ethics", or "situational ethics". The whole point of morality is that lots of people agree and they try to force it on everybody they can intimidate.

I will not bow my knee to a tyrant who demands child-sacrifice and I deem myself more moral than a milquetoast Christian who only abstains from villainy because of fear of "divine punishment".


Good for you! I personally hope you won't be punished for that.

J Thomas wrote:
What happens if you bet on the wrong god?


Then you're screwed? What you don't know can hurt you. There are things that you cannot find out until they hurt you. It isn't fair. Somehow I grew up with the idea that it ought to be fair, and it just isn't.

This kind of caprice seems entirely at odds with the kind of loving god in which the faithful claim to believe. *shrug*


If we wind up with a kind loving god who forgives us after the fact, then you and I will have won Pascal's wager. Yay!

J Thomas wrote:
Furthermore, considering the argument that I can't disprove gods... I have an invisible fire-breathing dragon in my front room. I cordially invite you to disprove his existence.


I tell you what, it's your dragon in your house. You figure out how to get rid of it, or get along with it, or move out. It isn't my problem.

OK then. Unless you teach your children that he's real, I'm going to bring my invisible dragon round to your house and have him burn you up.


You are no longer being cordial. I will assume you are being facetious and that you do not actually intend harm to my family. I am also glad that we are on the internet with no direct way to find each other's home addresses.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

Oktalist wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Schodinger's cat is not alive and dead both. It's indeterminate. At least, it makes sense that way, while it doesn't make sense to say it's both.

The universe is under no obligation to make sense.


True. And human models of the universe have no obligation to make sense. Human stories about what physics means have no obligation to make sense. And yet sometimes we have a simple choice between stories that do make sense and stories that do not, that both describe the evidence identically. And lots of people prefer the stories that do not make sense. Perhaps to satisfy the audience, the story-tellers are obligated not to make sense.

J Thomas wrote:It is not known that each buckyball goes through both slits, unless you know there is no other way they could produce that interference pattern.

The probability wavefunction of each particle definately goes through both slits.


No, if you write the probability wavefunction on blackboards it does not go through both slits, it just sits there. Similarly if it sits in a computer program. The probability wavefunction describes -- correctly -- the distribution at the detectors. There is no particular reason to think it correctly describes the distribution at places where there are no detectors.

Whether you think that's the same thing as the particle itself going through both slits is a matter of semantics.


Yes! And whether you think that eating a piece of paper with the words "hot dog" on it is the same as eating a hot dog, is a similar matter of semantics.

Is the particle an actual thing, whose observable properties are controlled by a wavefunction, or is the wavefunction the actual thing, and what we think of as the particle is just our perception of the wavefunction as it interacts with us? Does that question actually mean anything?


That question doesn't mean much to me. The particle is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The wavefunction is a method that correctly predicts a variety of statistical behaviors. Both of them are actual ideas in people's minds. Both of them have some degree of concordance with some observations of real events.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby addams » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:17 pm UTC

Suppose he's real and I prove he's real by getting burned up. Not a valuable experience to me. So what if I look and fail to find any evidence of it. Just when i'm congratulating myself it might pop out and burn me. What do I get from this? I tell you what, it's your dragon in your house. You figure out how to get rid of it, or get along with it, or move out. It isn't my problem.

I read so much weird stuff on this thread. The Dragon is the only part that I like.

I want to see the Dragon! There is no Dragon. Right?

Darn. I, kind of, want a Dragon.
It could be a pretend Dragon that we don't tell, just, everyone about.

Umm. Let's talk to the pretend Vet. Maybe, we can have the fire glands removed.

Like de stinking a skunk. Then, we can look at it and not become toast.
After the fire glands are removed we can make fun of if. What defence does it have?

God. Are you people typing about God? Really?
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Even God would think so.
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Weird thread.
Able and Eve?

How did that work out? I did hear about some other homiosapian DNA recently. We don't all have it. Rumor. Most likely faulty lab procedure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human
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Can't find the paper.
It is stupid anyway. We are all people. Even some of the dogs.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Oktalist » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:43 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:The probability wavefunction describes -- correctly -- the distribution at the detectors. There is no particular reason to think it correctly describes the distribution at places where there are no detectors.

We have no reason to think that there is any distribution at places where there are no detectors.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby doogly » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:15 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:The particle is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The wavefunction is a method that correctly predicts a variety of statistical behaviors. Both of them are actual ideas in people's minds. Both of them have some degree of concordance with some observations of real events.

OK, but they have very different degrees of success. The particle concept is absolutely insufficient to model all observed behavior, as is the wave concept. These are two concepts from classical physics. Occasionally when talking about quantum mechanics we make analogies to classical objects, but they are only to help you feel not completely lost.

But the actual story of quantum mechanics, using states and operators and all sorts of goodies, is adequate for every experiment we have been able to perform so far. It just happens to be a little unintuitive.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby Eternal Density » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:36 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote: And I sound crazy right now making points about Christianity but one final point: there is no hell, a loving god would not want you to suffer in fire and brimstone for an eternity.
1. A loving God would not want you to suffer in fire and brimstone for an eternity.
2. A just God is required by justice to condemn you to suffer in fire and brimstone for an eternity. (And can't be bribed by 'good works'.)
3. Therefore, God made a way that we can be let off from the punishment, not by unjustly forgiving our crimes, but by Jesus' sacrificial death in our place. This requires trust in Jesus and repentance. (It's not conditional on doing good works, but we should do good in appreciation of what was done for us.)
4. Thus there's a perfectly good and just way of escaping the eternal suffering provided by God. God takes no pleasure in justly punishing those who reject this ticket out of hell, because he still loves them.

It's like this: you have a son who lit a fire and burned down a store. He's sentenced to pay a fine or get jail time. He can't afford to pay the fine, and you don't want your son to go to jail, so you offer to pay the fine for him. He now has the choice of accepting this, or rejecting it and going to jail. If he rejects your payment of the fine, justice demands that he go to jail. You still love your son but breaking him out of jail would be an act of injustice.


On a slightly different topic, my 2c on Pascal's Wager is as follows: Pascal's wager serves to show that it's very important that everyone figures out for certain what will happen when they die, because of the very bad potential outcome if they just hope everything turns out okay and it doesn't.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:54 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:A just God is required by justice to condemn you to suffer in fire and brimstone for an eternity.

Is there any reason to believe that this is a requirement of justice, beyond that it's necessary as an ad hoc premise to make this theodicy work?
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:01 am UTC

Oktalist wrote:
J Thomas wrote:The probability wavefunction describes -- correctly -- the distribution at the detectors. There is no particular reason to think it correctly describes the distribution at places where there are no detectors.

We have no reason to think that there is any distribution at places where there are no detectors.


Yes, so we don't need to suppose that the probability wavefunction goes through both slits.

Thinking about it going through both slits is one possible approach to visualizing part of what goes on, but it's a flawed way to visualize what's going on.
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Re: 1003: "Adam and Eve"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:02 am UTC

doogly wrote:
J Thomas wrote:The particle is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The wavefunction is a method that correctly predicts a variety of statistical behaviors. Both of them are actual ideas in people's minds. Both of them have some degree of concordance with some observations of real events.

OK, but they have very different degrees of success. The particle concept is absolutely insufficient to model all observed behavior, as is the wave concept. These are two concepts from classical physics. Occasionally when talking about quantum mechanics we make analogies to classical objects, but they are only to help you feel not completely lost.

But the actual story of quantum mechanics, using states and operators and all sorts of goodies, is adequate for every experiment we have been able to perform so far. It just happens to be a little unintuitive.


Thank you. I thought we'd probably agree when it got this specific.
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