Christian/Religious call-in show similar to The Atheist Experience?

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SonicWaffle:

If your religious beliefs are based simply around what you are most familiar with, does that mean you've never experienced God?

I have experienced what I would call God, but I'd certainly admit it's a likely case of confimation bias.

Silvanus:

How does this make any sense whatsoever? How does your familiarity with Christianity make it any more likely to be true? You seem to be explaining why you like Christianity, which of course lends it no greater likelihood of truth.

Right, but nothing has any greater likelihood of truth. There is no position with any real ability to back itself up without assumng it in the first place. Every position of faith (including none)is dependant on the initial assumptions of its believer. Once those assumptions have been made, almost all positions on the esistance of God are equally valid logically. If you pay close attention, there's almost never anyone trying to logically debate about whether or not a deity exists, all the arguements are about whther or not it is logical to believe in one, and while that's a subtle difference, it's importnat

tstorm823:

Right, but nothing has any greater likelihood of truth. There is no position with any real ability to back itself up without assumng it in the first place. Every position of faith (including none)is dependant on the initial assumptions of its believer. Once those assumptions have been made, almost all positions on the esistance of God are equally valid logically. If you pay close attention, there's almost never anyone trying to logically debate about whether or not a deity exists, all the arguements are about whther or not it is logical to believe in one, and while that's a subtle difference, it's importnat

Nothing has any greater likelihood of truth than anything else? I don't see how you could come to that conclusion. I come to conclusions about the world through evidence, and without evidence for a proposition, there is literally no reason to believe it.

Non-existence is the default. It's not a positive statement.

Take anything else and apply the same logic, and see the obvious fallacy. If I tell you that I saw somebody conjuring fire out of his ass, but he's invisible now so you can't see it, and I gave you no reason whatsoever to believe it... it is NOT "equally likely" that it's true as that it's false. I have provided zero evidence. Assuming the non-existence of the flaming butt-entity is the default, and only logical, position.

tstorm823:

SonicWaffle:

If your religious beliefs are based simply around what you are most familiar with, does that mean you've never experienced God?

I have experienced what I would call God, but I'd certainly admit it's a likely case of confimation bias.

And there was nothing about the experience that specifically led you to believe it was the Christian God? Just some force beyond your comprehension that you've chosen to place within the religious framework you're most familiar with?

Please don't take this as trolling, as I'm genuinely interested :-P

tstorm823:

Right, but nothing has any greater likelihood of truth.

Gravity is generally considered to be true. We can see its effects and measure it. I would say that it is more likely that gravity is true than the existence of ghosts.

This is a common objection. "Oh sure, what I believe in is indefensible and sounds like nonsense, but so's the stuff YOU believe in." Fallacious and incorrect.

itsthesheppy:
This is a common objection. "Oh sure, what I believe in is indefensible and sounds like nonsense, but so's the stuff YOU believe in." Fallacious and incorrect.

Not so. The stuff I believe in does sound like nonsense, but it's all true.

The little plastic bits on the end of your shoelaces are called aglets. Their true purpose is...sinister...

tstorm823:

Right, but nothing has any greater likelihood of truth. There is no position with any real ability to back itself up without assumng it in the first place. Every position of faith (including none)is dependant on the initial assumptions of its believer. Once those assumptions have been made, almost all positions on the esistance of God are equally valid logically. If you pay close attention, there's almost never anyone trying to logically debate about whether or not a deity exists, all the arguements are about whther or not it is logical to believe in one, and while that's a subtle difference, it's importnat

Assumptions are supported. What are they supported by? Evidence but what type of evidence? There are stronger and weaker levels of evidence which give way to stronger and weaker assumptions. The line of thinking you present is an interesting admission, something I've seen quite a lot of. Unable to present that your beliefs are strongly grounded in reality you accept that they aren't but also put forward that nobody else's 'beliefs' are either. Unfortunately the only thing this argument succeeds at is showing that you continue to be less grounded when everyone else is able to explain clearly how they are at least correct in supporting their own assumptions. You're correct that all positions on god that have been presented share equal validity, however. Logic is great, as well, but you need to combine it with reasoning and context.

tstorm823:
Right, but nothing has any greater likelihood of truth. There is no position with any real ability to back itself up without assumng it in the first place. Every position of faith (including none)is dependant on the initial assumptions of its believer. Once those assumptions have been made, almost all positions on the esistance of God are equally valid logically. If you pay close attention, there's almost never anyone trying to logically debate about whether or not a deity exists, all the arguements are about whther or not it is logical to believe in one, and while that's a subtle difference, it's importnat

People have already commented on this so I'm somewhat repeating what's already been said, but you are wrong to think all possible options are equally likely, and even if they were you'd be a fool to pick any one of them over simply recognising you don't know which is most/more likely.

To give an example, imagine you left a ham sammich on the kitchen bench and when you returned it was gone. You consider three possible reasons why:

1) A magical leprechaun stole it and stashed it away in his pot of gold.
2) The Easter bunny stole it because he's considering delivering ham sammiches instead of eggs this year, and was doing some R&D.
3) There is some other natural explanation that I haven't yet considered.

Would you argue that all three possibilities are equally likely? Based solely on what we know about reality, there is no evidence that the leprechaun or Easter bunny exist, yet we have plenty of evidence of both natural causation and the limits of human imagination. Given this, we can quite comfortably say that of the options presented, option 3 is more likely to be true than either of the above options.

Now, let's look at the possible explanations for the existence of the universe:

1) YHWH did it.
2) Odin did it.
3) Marduk did it.
4) Some other deity/supernatural entity did it.
5) There is some other explanation, natural or supernatural, I've yet to consider.

Again, options 1-4 have a grand total of ZERO supporting evidence, yet the possibility of a cause we've yet to consider - even if it's a supernatural cause - has evidential support (people aren't omniscient). So even in an abstract case like the origin of the universe where no positive evidence for any cause exists, it's still less likely it was created by God than it was by "something else". We can therefore comfortably rule out any and all hypothetical proposals that aren't based in evidence.

Is it still possible God created the universe? Yes. That said, it's infinitely more likely that he didn't.

Jerram Fahey:

2) Odin did it.

Tsk tsk, nobody ever claimed Odin created the Universe, that would be ridiculous! He did slay Ymir the Frost Giant and mold Midgard, the land of men, from his corpse, though.

Of course, this clearly has 50/50 chance of being true, since we have a zero-evidence starting point.

Silvanus:
snip

itsthesheppy:
snip

Notsomuch:
snip

Well, I could have saved all of us some time by spelling out "with regards to a deity" instead of assuming it would be implied. Good work, team.

Comparing physical phenomena to something supernatual is not a good analogy, assumptions are not supported by evidence or they would not be assumptions, and without any assumptions, it's impossible to declare someting to be evidence.

Jerram Fahey:

Is it still possible God created the universe? Yes. That said, it's infinitely more likely that he didn't.

That's not how probability works. And following from above, the only reason any of you declare that there is no evidence for God is because the assumptions under which you live your life preclude the assignment of that status to anything. If you assume there is no God, nothing appears as evidence for God, but the inverse is true that if you assume there is, everything is. And neither side can come up with a concrete difference in the world from how it is now if it gained/lost its deity.

SonicWaffle:

And there was nothing about the experience that specifically led you to believe it was the Christian God? Just some force beyond your comprehension that you've chosen to place within the religious framework you're most familiar with?

Please don't take this as trolling, as I'm genuinely interested :-P

Have you seen the other responses? If I'm not taking them as trolls (and I'm not) then you certainly get a pass.

Of course there's nothing specifically leading me to think anything was done by the Christian God, but I fit everything into the religious framework I'm most familiar with. Everyone does that with their own pespective. There is no objective view on anything, it just so happens that my perspective on God has a convenient label.

tstorm823:
That's not how probability works.

Where am I going wrong?

tstorm823:
And following from above, the only reason any of you declare that there is no evidence for God is because the assumptions under which you live your life preclude the assignment of that status to anything. If you assume there is no God, nothing appears as evidence for God, but the inverse is true that if you assume there is, everything is.

Absolute nonsense. Assuming the existence of invisible rubber bands trying everything down does NOT make gravity evidence for such. I declare there's no evidence for God because there isn't any (that I'm aware of). Every piece of "evidence" I've heard can be better explained without appealing to the supernatural. And again, no it's absolutely NOT true that assuming your conclusions turns non-evidence into evidence. That's called begging the question.

tstorm823:
And neither side can come up with a concrete difference in the world from how it is now if it gained/lost its deity.

But only one side is required to. Theists have the burden of proof here.

tstorm823:
Of course there's nothing specifically leading me to think anything was done by the Christian God, but I fit everything into the religious framework I'm most familiar with. Everyone does that with their own pespective. There is no objective view on anything, it just so happens that my perspective on God has a convenient label.

The problem is that for everything else we share the same (or similar enough) perspective - the same approach for determining fact from fiction. You just want to make a special case for your religious beliefs.

tstorm823:

Comparing physical phenomena to something supernatual is not a good analogy, assumptions are not supported by evidence or they would not be assumptions, and without any assumptions, it's impossible to declare someting to be evidence.

Wh... what? What assumptions am I making when I say that the Coccyx is evidence that Humans evolved from creatures with tails? What assumptions am I making when I say that carbon-dating provides evidence for the age of the earth?

Those things are evidence. They have nothing to do with assumptions.

tstorm823:
That's not how probability works. And following from above, the only reason any of you declare that there is no evidence for God is because the assumptions under which you live your life preclude the assignment of that status to anything. If you assume there is no God, nothing appears as evidence for God, but the inverse is true that if you assume there is, everything is. And neither side can come up with a concrete difference in the world from how it is now if it gained/lost its deity.

That's EXACTLY how probability works. The greater the uncircumstantial evidence, the greater the probability. Zero uncircumstantial evidence, zero probability.

Don't let me get into that "no concrete difference" thing, because if the world and humanity were created, they were created very poorly.

Jerram Fahey:

Where am I going wrong?

The part where you make up numbers because you think so. Probablity i only used correctly when based off of data, and our data for the sate of reality is a set of one...

No it's absolutely NOT true that assuming your conclusions turns non-evidence into evidence. That's called begging the question.

Exactly. That's what almost everyone here does. I'm not claiming thre's objective evidence for my claims.

But only one side is required to. Theists have the burden of proof here.

Burden of proof is a rediculous concept that makes debate sound like bickering children whining its someon els's fault. But if such a thing does matter, you all have it wrong, because it belongs to the person making the arguement, not the anyone but atheists 100% of the time.

The problem is that for everything else we share the same (or similar enough) perspective - the same approach for determining fact from fiction. You just want to make a special case for your religious beliefs.

No, you do. You do not beg for evidence and mock the lunacy of 99% of the things people think. You only do that for things you don't like and are argueing with people about. Almost everythng you know, youtake without question because living by scientific rigor probably leads to a swift death...

Silvanus:

Wh... what? What assumptions am I making when I say that the Coccyx is evidence that Humans evolved from creatures with tails? What assumptions am I making when I say that carbon-dating provides evidence for the age of the earth?

Those things are evidence. They have nothing to do with assumptions.

Are you joking? Have you ever read a scientific paper? You always start with our assumptions or else the whole paper is worthless.

Look! Assumptions!

That's EXACTLY how probability works. The greater the uncircumstantial evidence, the greater the probability. Zero uncircumstantial evidence, zero probability.

That is the wrongest thing I've ever heard! I'd have to start at probability and statistics 101 to fix something that wrong. I'm not doing that. The probablity of an event is not dependant on evidence.

Don't let me get into that "no concrete difference" thing, because if the world and humanity were created, they were created very poorly.

Because you know what is good and poor?

tstorm823:

Are you joking? Have you ever read a scientific paper? You always start with our assumptions or else the whole paper is worthless.

I've not read a scientific paper on the subjects I stated above (though I've read many scientific articles), but I have done extensive first-hand research on Historical topics. Now tell me what I've read doesn't amount to 'evidence' for the conclusions I've drawn in papers and dissertations. Tell me that there's as much reason to draw my conclusions as there is to draw the conclusion that a wizard did it all.

The evidence for scientific conclusions is there to be peer-reviewed, tested, refuted. Who am I going to put my trust in; the Scientist, who makes a conclusion and says, "my method and use of evidence is here for you to check it"? Or the Priest, who makes a conclusion and says, "Just put your faith in me on this. I'm absolutely sure"?

tstorm823:
That is the wrongest thing I've ever heard! I'd have to start at probability and statistics 101 to fix something that wrong. I'm not doing that. The probablity of an event is not dependant on evidence.

The probability of something being true "is not dependent on evidence"? If you truly believe that, I can't possibly hope to argue. That's just mad. How do you measure the probability of truth? If something just feels right...? If you're familiar with it? If a book written two thousand-odd years ago tells you so?

tstorm823:

Because you know what is good and poor?

Uhrm, yes, quite frankly. The appendix is an organ that does nothing but kill us. We're prone to painful and horrific birth defect, and our body's own defences kill us frequently. The moon's orbit causes tidal waves just as it creates the tides. Our planet is made up of ill-fitted plates, the friction between which can kill us. Our planet needs to vent, and when it does, it kills us. Natural disasters and disease affect some nations far more than others, so death and natural genocide isn't even even-handed.

This all makes sense from the point of view of an uncaring universe. If we then add a supernatural governor, and claim he made everything perfectly, it clearly doesn't add up. Don't look at all that stuff and reply that it's "all part of the plan", some plan I can't possibly understand because the invisible flying man who came up with it is just so incomprehensibly perfect.

tstorm823:
Comparing physical phenomena to something supernatual is not a good analogy, assumptions are not supported by evidence or they would not be assumptions, and without any assumptions, it's impossible to declare someting to be evidence.

Given that the 'supernatural' has yet to be demonstrated to exist, there is no need to make any assumptions at all. The reasoning that is being applied here to the god question can be extended to any supernatural claim. No such claims can stand the test of even casual scrutiny.

To assume otherwise is to simply used one's imagination. Fun, perhaps, for children. But not way to approach talking about the nature of our lives and the universe we communally inhabit.

tstorm823:

Well, I could have saved all of us some time by spelling out "with regards to a deity" instead of assuming it would be implied. Good work, team.

Comparing physical phenomena to something supernatual is not a good analogy, assumptions are not supported by evidence or they would not be assumptions, and without any assumptions, it's impossible to declare someting to be evidence.

Nope, that's wrong. Assumptions can be supported by evidence. I'm guessing you will give a dictionary link now because the only way you could be close to correct is if you are resorting to semantics. The essence of what I'm saying is correct. There are levels of evidence which support stronger or conversely, weaker beliefs.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Where am I going wrong?

The part where you make up numbers because you think so. Probablity i only used correctly when based off of data, and our data for the sate of reality is a set of one...

I was basing it off data. Admittedly with such little data the answers we get are going to be very unreliable, but it's better than nothing.

tstorm823:

No it's absolutely NOT true that assuming your conclusions turns non-evidence into evidence. That's called begging the question.

Exactly. That's what almost everyone here does. I'm not claiming thre's objective evidence for my claims.

No, that's what you are doing here. No one else is making claims re: the (non)existence of deities. The only claim I've been making is that your beliefs are unjustified, and I believe I've provided ample, non-circular evidence to back that up.

tstorm823:

But only one side is required to. Theists have the burden of proof here.

Burden of proof is a rediculous concept that makes debate sound like bickering children whining its someon els's fault. But if such a thing does matter, you all have it wrong, because it belongs to the person making the arguement, not the anyone but atheists 100% of the time.

With all due respect, shrugging off burden of proof like that makes you look like an ignoramus. You're right that it applies to the one making the argument, but again as I've said earlier you're the only one here making an argument. Unless the atheist is actively arguing for the non-existence of gods (which doesn't happen often, and is something I don't believe has happened in this thread yet) they don't have a burden of proof. Likewise, if I claimed unicorns existed you would NOT have to construct a proof for their non-existence in order to reject my claim - you can simply appeal to my lack of evidence to justify disbelief.

tstorm823:

The problem is that for everything else we share the same (or similar enough) perspective - the same approach for determining fact from fiction. You just want to make a special case for your religious beliefs.

No, you do. You do not beg for evidence and mock the lunacy of 99% of the things people think. You only do that for things you don't like and are argueing with people about. Almost everythng you know, youtake without question because living by scientific rigor probably leads to a swift death...

As was said earlier, not all claims require equal amounts of scrutiny. I am NOT making a special exception because I hold the exact same standard for ALL extraordinary claims. For your(?) "dinner will be ready in 10 minutes" scenario I can make reasonable, evidence-based inductions - I know what dinner is, I know what "10 minutes" is, I know that people generally announce things like that prior to serving dinner, I'm (presumably) in a situation where I'm expecting to be served dinner, and I know that people don't tend to lie about simple things like this. This gives me a great pile of evidence to support the belief that dinner will be ready in 10 minutes.

But let's put it in a different context - let's say I'm walking down the street and a homeless man grabs me and says "DINNER WILL BE READY IN 10 MINUTES!". I'm obviously going to react very differently in that situation and come to the belief that he's mentally unstable before I come to the belief that dinner will, in fact, be ready in 10 minutes. This is, again, based on evidential experience with homeless people.

Another example, let's say my wife takes notoriously long to get dressed. She tells me she'll be ready in 10 minutes, but past evidence indicates it'll likely be 30 minutes before she's ready. So I'm not going to believe her when she says she'll only be 10 minutes, because it's more likely she'll be longer.

So the "99%" of things people think are reasonable and based in their experience of the world, and furthermore, are inconsequential. In most cases it doesn't matter whether dinner is 10 minutes or 12 minutes away, so doing the sceptical leg work has no practical pay off. Something like the existence of God, however, is consequential (unless you're a deist). It's worth the effort to be as sure as possible.

tstorm823:
The probablity of an event is not dependant on evidence.

*eye twitch*

tstorm823:
And neither side can come up with a concrete difference in the world from how it is now if it gained/lost its deity.

Well, yeah. Theists tend to make ad hoc adjustments to their ideas in order to save the belief whenever a disproof occurs. This has included making 'benevolence' and 'love' into completely meaningless concepts in response to the problem of suffering/evil. The insincerity is easy to spot from a distance.

Jerram Fahey:

The only claim I've been making is that your beliefs are unjustified, and I believe I've provided ample, non-circular evidence to back that up.

I must have missed that one. Unless you think justifying your own position means that everyone else's is ujustified, you've done no such thing.

Jerram Fahey:

You're right that it applies to the one making the argument, but again as I've said earlier you're the only one here making an argument.

10 seconds ago you said that you were actively claiming that my beliefs are unjustified. Is that not a claim? Have I ever in this thread said that God is real? Do you (and everyone else) seriously have that much trouble seperating present debate from the talking points?

Notsomuch:

Nope, that's wrong. Assumptions can be supported by evidence. I'm guessing you will give a dictionary link now because the only way you could be close to correct is if you are resorting to semantics. The essence of what I'm saying is correct. There are levels of evidence which support stronger or conversely, weaker beliefs.

Semantics is everything. Your arguement is worthless if nobody understands what you meant to say.

Seanchaidh:

Well, yeah. Theists tend to make ad hoc adjustments to their ideas in order to save the belief whenever a disproof occurs. This has included making 'benevolence' and 'love' into completely meaningless concepts in response to the problem of suffering/evil. The insincerity is easy to spot from a distance.

Ad hoc is not a logical fallacy. You seem offended by a system that tries to explain itself. What eally offends you is not the sort of explanations that are given, but that there are explanations at all. Nobody is going to lie down and declar you the winner, so don't hold your breath.

Jerram Fahey:

tstorm823:
The probablity of an event is not dependant on evidence.

*eye twitch*

You disagree with this? Probability says nothing about things that have never had the oppurtunity to happen. If you have no information about something, you don't assume it less likely wihout data, you assume nothing at all.

tstorm823:

SonicWaffle:

And there was nothing about the experience that specifically led you to believe it was the Christian God? Just some force beyond your comprehension that you've chosen to place within the religious framework you're most familiar with?

Please don't take this as trolling, as I'm genuinely interested :-P

Have you seen the other responses? If I'm not taking them as trolls (and I'm not) then you certainly get a pass.

Of course there's nothing specifically leading me to think anything was done by the Christian God, but I fit everything into the religious framework I'm most familiar with. Everyone does that with their own pespective. There is no objective view on anything, it just so happens that my perspective on God has a convenient label.

That seems odd. You claim to have experienced God, but not been able to tell which deity it was - what form did this experience take? Those friends of mine who claim to have had religious experiences were left in no doubt who they were talking to. One believes Jesus himself speaks to her, and has guided her onto her current life path. Almost all claim to speak with God in one form or another, and they're all completely certain of who they were talking to.

I find it interesting that you claim to have had experience of God but that you didn't know which one, and so simply adopted the most convenient theological framework.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Well, yeah. Theists tend to make ad hoc adjustments to their ideas in order to save the belief whenever a disproof occurs. This has included making 'benevolence' and 'love' into completely meaningless concepts in response to the problem of suffering/evil. The insincerity is easy to spot from a distance.

Ad hoc is not a logical fallacy. You seem offended by a system that tries to explain itself. What eally offends you is not the sort of explanations that are given, but that there are explanations at all. Nobody is going to lie down and declar you the winner, so don't hold your breath.

No, ad hoc is not a logical fallacy. When used repeatedly it is just a strong indicator that someone is trying to sell you something without caring about any sort of intellectual integrity.

What you call 'explanation' is a response to new information that manages to never seriously examine or challenge core premises. Making things up that kind of fit is not "explaining" an idea so much as it is offering up crass deflections in an attempt to achieve (or maintain) acceptance of the idea because the idea is deemed more important than making an honest attempt at divining the truth. I'm not particularly, but perhaps I should be, 'offended' by such.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

The only claim I've been making is that your beliefs are unjustified, and I believe I've provided ample, non-circular evidence to back that up.

I must have missed that one. Unless you think justifying your own position means that everyone else's is ujustified, you've done no such thing.

It might have been in another thread, but it's so simple I'll repeat it here:

You believe there are multiple options with equal possibility of being true, therefore you're not justified in believing any one over any other.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

You're right that it applies to the one making the argument, but again as I've said earlier you're the only one here making an argument.

10 seconds ago you said that you were actively claiming that my beliefs are unjustified. Is that not a claim? Have I ever in this thread said that God is real? Do you (and everyone else) seriously have that much trouble seperating present debate from the talking points?

The only one here making an argument for or against the existence of gods. I didn't think I needed to specify that. To answer your question, yes you have said that God is real. That's implicit when you say you believe Christianity to be true.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

tstorm823:
The probablity of an event is not dependant on evidence.

*eye twitch*

You disagree with this? Probability says nothing about things that have never had the oppurtunity to happen. If you have no information about something, you don't assume it less likely wihout data, you assume nothing at all.

... you just blatantly contradicted yourself. You said probability is NOT dependent on evidence, now you claim you can't make probabilistic statements WITHOUT evidence. What even...?

Jerram Fahey:
You believe there are multiple options with equal possibility of being true, therefore you're not justified in believing any one over any other.

To play devil's advocate for a moment, if there are multiple options with equal possiblity of being true, but you've had an experience which suggests that one of them is true (you just don't know which - see his "experience of God" posts a bit earlier in the thread) then surely 'I like this one best' is all the justification you need for picking one?

SonicWaffle:

Jerram Fahey:
You believe there are multiple options with equal possibility of being true, therefore you're not justified in believing any one over any other.

To play devil's advocate for a moment, if there are multiple options with equal possiblity of being true, but you've had an experience which suggests that one of them is true (you just don't know which - see his "experience of God" posts a bit earlier in the thread) then surely 'I like this one best' is all the justification you need for picking one?

Justification in what sense? Certainly not in presuming the one you like best is the truth. As he said earlier, his experience of "God" can be explained by confirmation bias - there's no legitimate reason to think you've actually experienced God, so you can't really posit said experience as justification for the truth of God. Doing so is completely circular. I mean, if you think you've experienced something you're justified in pursuing that hypothesis, but not in believing it.

tstorm823:

You disagree with this? Probability says nothing about things that have never had the oppurtunity to happen. If you have no information about something, you don't assume it less likely wihout data, you assume nothing at all.

"Assuming nothing" does not mean "assigning equal likelihood to every possibility", which you seem to have done. The default stance is non-existence. It's not an "assumption", it's the default when there is literally no reason to think something's there. Refer to my post above, which you missed.

For example: I sit here, and see no reason to think there is a wizard behind me. I can't see one when I check, and there's nothing abnormal happening about me. Absolutely nothing could be construed as magic in this scenario, as normal. But I must assign a 50% probability to the chance of said wizard, because him not being there would be just as much an "assumption" than him being there! Assume nothing! The wizard's got a 50% chance!

I'm sure you can see this is madness. The wizard needs evidence to be said to exist. I do NOT need proof to dismiss the likelihood as negligible.

Jerram Fahey:

... you just blatantly contradicted yourself. You said probability is NOT dependent on evidence, now you claim you can't make probabilistic statements WITHOUT evidence. What even...?

You actually phrased that really well for me to make non-contradcting statements.

The probablity of something happening is not dependant on evidence. It doesn't matter if we know how many blue or red marbles are in a bag, the real probability of picking a blue marble remains the same. But without evidence, we cannot make a statement on that probability.

The person I was originally responding to was saying that the actual probability was dependant on the amount of evidence, so if we have no evidence of blue marbles in the bag, to him, that would mean there's almost no chance of pulling a blue marble, and that's just silly.

Silvanus:
It's not an "assumption", it's the default when there is literally no reason to think something's there. Refer to my post above, which you missed.

I didn't miss it, I just picked out the most important parts from the 5 people all responding at once and figured youd see my response anyway.

Jerram Fahey:

Justification in what sense? Certainly not in presuming the one you like best is the truth. As he said earlier, his experience of "God" can be explained by confirmation bias - there's no legitimate reason to think you've actually experienced God, so you can't really posit said experience as justification for the truth of God. Doing so is completely circular. I mean, if you think you've experienced something you're justified in pursuing that hypothesis, but not in believing it.

If I get this idea across, I will consider this whole thread a major success. No arguement that anyone has ever made has stongly established any truth about the existance or nonexistance of God. Practically every debate that comes close centers not around whether God exists or not, but rather around whether or not one should believe in God. It is a subtle, but major difference. What belief system I like bears no weight on whether God is real or not, but neither does the lack of evidence for God. But having accepted the impossibility of knowing whether God exists or not, picking one side or another based on just justification of beliefs is what any reasonable person does. And while my beliefs are a little more nuanced than this, "I like this one the best" is perfectly valid reasoning to hold logically arbitrary beliefs. And everyone but agnostics holds logically arbitrary beliefs.

tstorm823:

Semantics is everything. Your arguement is worthless if nobody understands what you meant to say.

I just explained what I had to say pretty clearly. You just went off on a tangent of something that is not relevant because what I said was clarified in the post you quoted. You aren't doing your position any favors by avoiding arguing it in favor of pulling people off on unrelated topics.

If I get this idea across, I will consider this whole thread a major success. No arguement that anyone has ever made has stongly established any truth about the existance or nonexistance of God. Practically every debate that comes close centers not around whether God exists or not, but rather around whether or not one should believe in God. It is a subtle, but major difference. What belief system I like bears no weight on whether God is real or not, but neither does the lack of evidence for God. But having accepted the impossibility of knowing whether God exists or not, picking one side or another based on just justification of beliefs is what any reasonable person does. And while my beliefs are a little more nuanced than this, "I like this one the best" is perfectly valid reasoning to hold logically arbitrary beliefs. And everyone but agnostics holds logically arbitrary beliefs.

You admit that you are starting from a position of not knowing and claim that others are as well yet you still believe in god. This simply shows that you are wrong because if neither side can know something exists and no real tangible information exists on that particular thing then suddenly the evidence one has to support their claims becomes very important. The methods one uses in gaining evidence even more so. "I like this one" may be fine for you, but it is weaker than the opposite claim. Will you simply admit that your claims are weaker than those claiming the opposite?

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:
... you just blatantly contradicted yourself. You said probability is NOT dependent on evidence, now you claim you can't make probabilistic statements WITHOUT evidence. What even...?

You actually phrased that really well for me to make non-contradcting statements.

The probablity of something happening is not dependant on evidence. It doesn't matter if we know how many blue or red marbles are in a bag, the real probability of picking a blue marble remains the same. But without evidence, we cannot make a statement on that probability.

The person I was originally responding to was saying that the actual probability was dependant on the amount of evidence, so if we have no evidence of blue marbles in the bag, to him, that would mean there's almost no chance of pulling a blue marble, and that's just silly.

I get what you're saying, and I agree with you when we're talking about mathematical probability. That said, due to the nature of the universe and our point of view within it, that kind of mathematical probability is unattainable and useless to us, since we can never account for all factors. That's why, in attempting to learn about the world, we use Bayesian mathematics to determine probabilities, i.e. evidence-based probabilities. And in that respect his claim is not silly at all - it makes perfect sense.

Knowing that the bag contains blue and red marbles in a specific ratio is evidence. Once we disregard that evidence you're asking what the probability is for pulling a blue marble from a bag that may or may not have any amount of something in it - and that probability is close enough to zero be considered zero (you'd need to know the ratio of blue marbles to everything else, including empty space to calculate that probability). That probability only increases once you bring in evidence, e.g. the bag is only 1 cubic foot in volume, so we know Jupiter isn't in there.

So yes, I agree that the actual probability of God's existence is either 100% or 0%, but that's useless for determining how likely it is that God exists.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:
Justification in what sense? Certainly not in presuming the one you like best is the truth. As he said earlier, his experience of "God" can be explained by confirmation bias - there's no legitimate reason to think you've actually experienced God, so you can't really posit said experience as justification for the truth of God. Doing so is completely circular. I mean, if you think you've experienced something you're justified in pursuing that hypothesis, but not in believing it.

If I get this idea across, I will consider this whole thread a major success. No arguement that anyone has ever made has stongly established any truth about the existance or nonexistance of God. Practically every debate that comes close centers not around whether God exists or not, but rather around whether or not one should believe in God. It is a subtle, but major difference. What belief system I like bears no weight on whether God is real or not, but neither does the lack of evidence for God. But having accepted the impossibility of knowing whether God exists or not, picking one side or another based on just justification of beliefs is what any reasonable person does. And while my beliefs are a little more nuanced than this, "I like this one the best" is perfectly valid reasoning to hold logically arbitrary beliefs. And everyone but agnostics holds logically arbitrary beliefs.

No no no no no.

First and foremost, how strong a role evidence plays really depends on how you're defining God. There is evidence to suggest that YHWH, as far as he's portrayed in the Bible, does not exist. You can point to studies on intercessory prayer, numerous discrepancies between his attributes and his actions, and even holding logically contradictory attributes (e.g. being both perfectly merciful and perfectly just). So any concept of God that can be tested can have evidence for or against its existence. It's only concepts of God that are mysterious by definition (e.g. a deistic god) that have a likelihood of existing that doesn't hinge on a lack/preponderance of evidence. These concepts of God are inconsequential - whether or not they exist has no bearing on our reality, so it's a waste of time talking about them.

Secondly, when a reasonable person faces a question they can't answer they DON'T arbitrarily go with whatever they like better, they say "I don't know"! You're NOT justified in just picking an answer out of a hat, even if "everyone but agnostics" does it too. All that means is that agnostics are the only ones being reasonable.

And for the record, like most atheist I myself am agnostic. Whether some deities exist or not I really don't know, but with respect to YHWH and most/all other gods from various religions I'd argue there are good reasons to believe they don't exist. Even going off nothing more than statistics, let's say there are four different gods and each one is purported to be the sole creator of the universe. Logically they can't all be the creator, so we can know straight away that at least 3/4 of those claims are incorrect. So for each of those gods, it's at least three times more likely they don't exist than they do. But there are far more than four different creation gods, and I can potentially invent infinitely more. So again, in lieu of further evidence each proposed god is no more likely than any other, and given an infinite number of mutually exclusive god proposals the likelihood of any one of them being correct is 1 in infinity. Based on this, for any (evidence-less, mutually exclusive) concept of God you propose I can comfortably believe - with near certainty - that that God doesn't exist. But if any God exists at all it must necessarily be part of that infinity, which is why I can't believe with absolute certainty your proposed God doesn't exist and why I'm forced to remain agnostic on the issue of God's existence.

Your error is that you're assuming it's equally likely that either your specific concept of God exists or no God exists, and this is demonstrably false (as I just demonstrated). While it's true that either your concept of God exists or it doesn't, should any god exist the likelihood of it correlating with your concept is infinitely small. So for you to assume you've picked correctly - and to furthermore call that pick justified - is nothing short of lulz-worthy.

Jerram Fahey:

When a reasonable person faces a question they can't answer they DON'T arbitrarily go with whatever they like better

Of course they do. Which is better, blue or red? You don't say I don't know to that, you form an opinion.

Logically they can't all be the creator, so we can know straight away that at least 3/4 of those claims are incorrect. So for each of those gods, it's at least three times more likely they don't exist than they do. But there are far more than four different creation gods, and I can potentially invent infinitely more. So again, in lieu of further evidence each proposed god is no more likely than any other, and given an infinite number of mutually exclusive god proposals the likelihood of any one of them being correct is 1 in infinity.

Now you are doing exactly what I was recently accused of- assuming all possible explanation have an equal chance at being true. By your same logic, I could make those millions of belief systems, call atheism a single group out of the millions, categorize believers against atheists and say that God is a million times more likely to exist than not. That is not how probability works, I can't say that enough times in this thread it seems.

(as I just demonstrated).

Lol, no you didn't.

While it's true that either your concept of God exists or it doesn't, should any god exist the likelihood of it correlating with your concept is infinitely small. So for you to assume you've picked correctly - and to furthermore call that pick justified - is nothing short of lulz-worthy.

And why is that? Do you assume everything you believe to be true is 100% perfectly correct? That's rediculous. Why should the possiblity of ignorance prevent someone from making a judgement on something? If saying something wrong is so horrendous, you really shouldn't be here.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

When a reasonable person faces a question they can't answer they DON'T arbitrarily go with whatever they like better

Of course they do. Which is better, blue or red? You don't say I don't know to that, you form an opinion.

The question "Which is better, blue or red?" is most often used synonymously with "Which do you prefer, blue or red?". It's asking for a subjective opinion, which can give you, rather than an objective fact, which I can't. If you're asking me which I prefer I would say blue. If you're asking which is objectively better I'd say I don't know. Stop equivocating.

tstorm823:

Logically they can't all be the creator, so we can know straight away that at least 3/4 of those claims are incorrect. So for each of those gods, it's at least three times more likely they don't exist than they do. But there are far more than four different creation gods, and I can potentially invent infinitely more. So again, in lieu of further evidence each proposed god is no more likely than any other, and given an infinite number of mutually exclusive god proposals the likelihood of any one of them being correct is 1 in infinity.

Now you are doing exactly what I was recently accused of- assuming all possible explanation have an equal chance at being true.

I'm not assuming anything - I even specified that I was talking about "evidence-less, mutually exclusive" concepts of God. If somebody says "X created the universe, and Y didn't" and somebody else says "Y created the universe, and X didn't", and there is no evidence to determine which is more likely, then they are equally likely (using Bayesian probability, i.e. useful probability).

tstorm823:
By your same logic, I could make those millions of belief systems, call atheism a single group out of the millions, categorize believers against atheists and say that God is a million times more likely to exist than not. That is not how probability works, I can't say that enough times in this thread it seems.

No you can't say that - that's a complete and utter strawman of what I was saying. The propositions "X did it" and "Nothing did it" aren't even in the same category, so you can't compare atheism against individual god claims - you'd have to compare it against theism in general. Even if we were assigning equal likelihoods due to insufficient evidence, then we'd say there's a 50% chance there's no creator god and a 50% chance there is. Of that 50% chance there's a 1/x probability that any particular god out of x is the culprit. But we know from observation - from empirical evidence - that the likelihood of something existing vs not existing is NOT 50% - in fact we know that, in general, the more baseless the claim the less likely it is to be true. If I make up something on the spot - say a blue-breasted fumblewocky - it's VERY unlikely that such a creature actually exists.

tstorm823:

(as I just demonstrated).

Lol, no you didn't.

You didn't pay close enough attention.

tstorm823:

While it's true that either your concept of God exists or it doesn't, should any god exist the likelihood of it correlating with your concept is infinitely small. So for you to assume you've picked correctly - and to furthermore call that pick justified - is nothing short of lulz-worthy.

And why is that? Do you assume everything you believe to be true is 100% perfectly correct? That's rediculous. Why should the possiblity of ignorance prevent someone from making a judgement on something? If saying something wrong is so horrendous, you really shouldn't be here.

You don't need to be 100% perfectly correct to be justified in your belief, you just need to be able to show that, given the evidence, it's the most likely scenario (or at the very least a feasible scenario). To use an example, if I saw a person on the street eating an apple I would be justified in believing that person is eating an apple. It could be I'm hallucinating, it could be they're eating an alien fruit disguised as an apple, or there could be many other scenarios to explain why I'm seeing someone eating an apple - but the BEST explanation, i.e. the most likely explanation given the available evidence, is that the person is in fact eating an apple, and I'm witnessing it. I could still be incorrect, but I would be justified in assuming I'm correct.

Regarding your theism, your belief that you experienced the divine is (almost certainly) NOT justified. It's highly likely that you lack the capability to reliably discern divine experience from an unknown-to-you-but-nevertheless-perfectly-natural experience, and so your identification of said experience as being divine in nature in unjustified (and therefore, any appeals to theism based on this "evidence" are equally unjustified). I would argue that I'm justified in believing you're unjustified because 1) you and other theists have failed to demonstrate the manner in which you reliably identified the experience as divine in nature, 2) the world is filled to the brim with people claiming similar-yet-incompatible causation for their own experiences, and 3) via psychology we've begun to understand the psychological and physical nature of such experiences, and they don't point toward the divine.

tstorm823:

Now you are doing exactly what I was recently accused of- assuming all possible explanation have an equal chance at being true. By your same logic, I could make those millions of belief systems, call atheism a single group out of the millions, categorize believers against atheists and say that God is a million times more likely to exist than not. That is not how probability works, I can't say that enough times in this thread it seems.

You're just misunderstanding the argument. What he did was apply equal probability to all possible positive statements that have equal probability. What you did was assume equal probability of all possibilities, including the default non-existence.

The little strawman you built at the end to say, "that's not how probability works" is ridiculous, because no-one ever claimed that it works like that. I claimed that the probability of the truth of a positive statement is dependent on evidence for it, and you said that was the "wrongest thing you'd ever heard".

Silvanus:

You're just misunderstanding the argument.

I take back what I said. That is the wrongest thing I've ever heard.

Jerram Fahey:

The question "Which is better, blue or red?" is most often used synonymously with "Which do you prefer, blue or red?". It's asking for a subjective opinion, which can give you, rather than an objective fact, which I can't. If you're asking me which I prefer I would say blue. If you're asking which is objectively better I'd say I don't know. Stop equivocating.

Stop equivocating the equal? Are you telling me that your statement on the existance or non-existance of God is objective fact? Ha.

I'm not assuming anything - I even specified that I was talking about "evidence-less, mutually exclusive" concepts of God. If somebody says "X created the universe, and Y didn't" and somebody else says "Y created the universe, and X didn't", and there is no evidence to determine which is more likely, then they are equally likely (using Bayesian probability, i.e. useful probability).

Stop saying that you're not assuming anything. You are assuming many things. I am assuming many things. Everyone is assuming many things. Accept that or give up because debating is worthless for you. Without accepting and understanding the underlying assumptions of our personal perspectives, we cannot critically examine our beliefs. By imagining that you make no assumptions, you hold yourself outside of criticism.

I'm aware that isn't what you meant by "not assuming anything," but when that's already such a big part of the conversation, I expect more consideration.

And you say they are equally likely using useful probability, but useful and right are often totally seperate. For example, before heliocentrism was a thing, scholars of the time could accurately predict the movement of all heavenly bodies using their existing geocentric model. Was that model useful? Yes. Was it right? No. Your useful probability can say two different God claims are equally likely, but if one is right and the other is wrong, then your usefulness failed you. Your claim sounds good, like an accurately predictive model, just good enough to trick smart people into believing something completely wrong.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

The question "Which is better, blue or red?" is most often used synonymously with "Which do you prefer, blue or red?". It's asking for a subjective opinion, which can give you, rather than an objective fact, which I can't. If you're asking me which I prefer I would say blue. If you're asking which is objectively better I'd say I don't know. Stop equivocating.

Stop equivocating the equal? Are you telling me that your statement on the existance or non-existance of God is objective fact? Ha.

Which statement are you referring to?

And equivocating the equal? What are you talking about? You just argued that "Which is better, blue or red?" (or, in the context you were using it, "Which do you prefer, blue or red?") is analogous to "Does God exist?". Asking for a subjective opinion is NOT the same as asking for a position regarding the objective truth of a statement. You are EQUIVOCATING. Unless, of course, you honestly believe reasonable people would claim one colour is objectively better than another colour, and that's just laughably untrue.

tstorm823:

I'm not assuming anything - I even specified that I was talking about "evidence-less, mutually exclusive" concepts of God. If somebody says "X created the universe, and Y didn't" and somebody else says "Y created the universe, and X didn't", and there is no evidence to determine which is more likely, then they are equally likely (using Bayesian probability, i.e. useful probability).

Stop saying that you're not assuming anything. You are assuming many things. I am assuming many things. Everyone is assuming many things. Accept that or give up because debating is worthless for you. Without accepting and understanding the underlying assumptions of our personal perspectives, we cannot critically examine our beliefs. By imagining that you make no assumptions, you hold yourself outside of criticism.

I'm aware that isn't what you meant by "not assuming anything," but when that's already such a big part of the conversation, I expect more consideration.

Umm... thanks for that waffle. Next time try replying to what I said rather than throwing out meaningless red herrings.

tstorm823:
And you say they are equally likely using useful probability, but useful and right are often totally seperate. For example, before heliocentrism was a thing, scholars of the time could accurately predict the movement of all heavenly bodies using their existing geocentric model. Was that model useful? Yes. Was it right? No. Your useful probability can say two different God claims are equally likely, but if one is right and the other is wrong, then your usefulness failed you. Your claim sounds good, like an accurately predictive model, just good enough to trick smart people into believing something completely wrong.

But "right", from our perspective, is illusory. No matter how right we think we are, we're always potentially wrong. This is why "useful" is BETTER than "right"! Science is about utility. The heliocentric model didn't replace the geocentric model because it was "right" and geocentrism was "wrong", it replaced it because it allowed for more elegant and accurate predictions of celestial bodies. Furthermore, relative to the Earth the universe DOES revolve around it, so geocentrism isn't even "wrong"! Same thing regarding Newton's laws of motion and Einstein's theory of relativity - neither are "right" (or wrong for that matter) they just have varying degrees of utility.

Most of what we learn about reality is done through induction, and induction doesn't allow for "right" or "wrong" conclusions - only varying degrees of likelihood. We can use deduction to uncover logical and mathematical truths, but this method relies on the accuracy of the premises, which are almost always inductive conclusions. We can only say the deductive proof is true if the initial premises are true. This is why, this whole conversation, I've been using words like "likely" and "probably" rather than true or false. It's why I'm agnostic about God's existence. It's why I can't be sure the stranger on the street is actually eating the apple. "Right" and "wrong" are useless for forming beliefs about reality. "Likely" and "unlikely", however, are useful. You're suggesting we abandon utility in favour of certainty, but if you do that you can't get past solipsism. Are you a solipsist?

EDIT:

tstorm823:

Silvanus:

You're just misunderstanding the argument.

I take back what I said. That is the wrongest thing I've ever heard.

The ironing is delicious. What he said was absolutely correct - I encourage you to re-read what both he and I said, and hopefully you'll spot your error.

Jerram Fahey:
What he said was absolutely correct - I encourage you to re-read what both he and I said, and hopefully you'll spot your error.

We basically just had an entire conversation about how wrong he was...

Jerram Fahey:
But "right", from our perspective, is illusory. No matter how right we think we are, we're always potentially wrong. This is why "useful" is BETTER than "right"! Science is about utility. The heliocentric model didn't replace the geocentric model because it was "right" and geocentrism was "wrong", it replaced it because it allowed for more elegant and accurate predictions of celestial bodies. Furthermore, relative to the Earth the universe DOES revolve around it, so geocentrism isn't even "wrong"! Same thing regarding Newton's laws of motion and Einstein's theory of relativity - neither are "right" (or wrong for that matter) they just have varying degrees of utility.

Most of what we learn about reality is done through induction, and induction doesn't allow for "right" or "wrong" conclusions - only varying degrees of likelihood. We can use deduction to uncover logical and mathematical truths, but this method relies on the accuracy of the premises, which are almost always inductive conclusions. We can only say the deductive proof is true if the initial premises are true. This is why, this whole conversation, I've been using words like "likely" and "probably" rather than true or false. It's why I'm agnostic about God's existence. It's why I can't be sure the stranger on the street is actually eating the apple. "Right" and "wrong" are useless for forming beliefs about reality. "Likely" and "unlikely", however, are useful. You're suggesting we abandon utility in favour of certainty, but if you do that you can't get past solipsism. Are you a solipsist?

Stop saying exactly what someone would need to know to agree with me and then disagreeing. I will say this in the terms you just used as clearly as possible.

Every conclusion relies on the premises. I've said assumptions plenty of times, but apparently you don't like synonyms so we'll go with premises. If you start out believing, basing what you deduce in a world with a God, that initial premise is never going to contradicted, and everything in existance fitting within that paradigm will support that belief. To that person, the agreement of everything ever to that first premise will be more than enough to make continued belief the obvious logical answer. If the initial premise is that the world does not have or need a God, everythign in existance will agree with that belief and make continued disbelief the obvious logical answer.

I'm not solipsist, but I understand it to be the only externally consistent position. I'm not because solipsism is boring and silly and that's a valid reason to not hold a position. You're not agnostic about God's existance because or the inexactness of inductive reasoning, you're agnostic about God's existance because you want to win arguements, and that's also a perfectly valid reason to hold a position.

There is nobody alive who thinks that all positions on faith are equally valid because regardless of what they see as the objective truth, they've already picked a position. When you say to someone in a religion that all others are equally likely or valid, they instantly disagree, atleast in their head, because the premises on which they base all their conclusions includes that their religion in the most right. When you say to an atheist that a religious position is just as valid, they instantly disagree because the premises on which they base all their conclusions includes that there isn't a God. And to be honest, nobody ever gets from one position to another withou at least a brief moment of solipsism inbetween, because logic and reason cannot defeat the premises on which they are based.

And you can't expect your statements about the existance of God to be useful no matter what you base your statement on. Furthermore, if you abandon certainty in favor of utility, your foolish to try and convince others that you're right.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:
What he said was absolutely correct - I encourage you to re-read what both he and I said, and hopefully you'll spot your error.

We basically just had an entire conversation about how wrong he was...

Umm... we did? Where? He and I basically said the same thing, in different words. I explained to you that you were strawmanning my argument (as did he), I explained that possibilities with equal evidential support are equally likely (as did he), and I explained why you assigning equal probability to all possible scenarios, regardless of evidence, is both incorrect and not the same thing that I was doing (as did he). So I don't know where you got this impression that I disagreed with him.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:
But "right", from our perspective, is illusory. No matter how right we think we are, we're always potentially wrong. This is why "useful" is BETTER than "right"! Science is about utility. The heliocentric model didn't replace the geocentric model because it was "right" and geocentrism was "wrong", it replaced it because it allowed for more elegant and accurate predictions of celestial bodies. Furthermore, relative to the Earth the universe DOES revolve around it, so geocentrism isn't even "wrong"! Same thing regarding Newton's laws of motion and Einstein's theory of relativity - neither are "right" (or wrong for that matter) they just have varying degrees of utility.

Most of what we learn about reality is done through induction, and induction doesn't allow for "right" or "wrong" conclusions - only varying degrees of likelihood. We can use deduction to uncover logical and mathematical truths, but this method relies on the accuracy of the premises, which are almost always inductive conclusions. We can only say the deductive proof is true if the initial premises are true. This is why, this whole conversation, I've been using words like "likely" and "probably" rather than true or false. It's why I'm agnostic about God's existence. It's why I can't be sure the stranger on the street is actually eating the apple. "Right" and "wrong" are useless for forming beliefs about reality. "Likely" and "unlikely", however, are useful. You're suggesting we abandon utility in favour of certainty, but if you do that you can't get past solipsism. Are you a solipsist?

Stop saying exactly what someone would need to know to agree with me and then disagreeing. I will say this in the terms you just used as clearly as possible.

Every conclusion relies on the premises. I've said assumptions plenty of times, but apparently you don't like synonyms so we'll go with premises. If you start out believing, basing what you deduce in a world with a God, that initial premise is never going to contradicted, and everything in existance fitting within that paradigm will support that belief. To that person, the agreement of everything ever to that first premise will be more than enough to make continued belief the obvious logical answer. If the initial premise is that the world does not have or need a God, everythign in existance will agree with that belief and make continued disbelief the obvious logical answer.

No, this is hugely incorrect. Let me show you why: (also, for the record, I have no problem with the word "assumption", only the context in which you were using it)

Let's assume I structure my worldview around the assumption that there are no deer in North America. I then go to North America and witness a great number of deer myself, that can be independently verified by other observers, plus an entire population of people that disagree with my initial assumption and can justify their beliefs better than I can. These observations seem to contradict my initial assumption, so a reasonable person would conclude my assumption is flawed. A reasonable person would NOT conclude that the apparent existence of deer in North America is an illusion.

Likewise, I start with the same position on God I do for every unknown - I assume it doesn't exist until there's evidence to the contrary (this is also what YOU do for practically EVERY non-God claim, hence my prior argument that you make special exceptions for God). If there is such a God, then we would expect there to be evidence for it. Once that evidence is presented I'm going to reassess my assumption and potentially change them. I'm not going to ignore the evidence because it doesn't fit my bias - that's silly.

To give another analogy, do you believe that the Sasquatch exists? I'm going to go ahead and assume you don't for the purpose of this hypothetical, but if I'm wrong feel free to substitute "Sasquatch" with unicorns or fairies or some other creature you don't believe exists. Now let's say a hunter finds the fresh remains of a large, hairy ape in the woods near where Sasquatch sightings have been recorded. After careful examination by multiple independent zoologists there's a consensus that the remains don't belong to any known species of ape - it's a new species that's never been scientifically observed. This creates a huge boost in public interest, and before long a living specimen is captured, with blood tests confirming the two animals are indeed the same, new species. Given this new evidence, do you now believe the Sasquatch exists? Or do you believe "everythign in existance will agree with [your prior assumption of the Sasquatch's nonexistence] and make continued disbelief the obvious logical answer"?

tstorm823:
I'm not solipsist, but I understand it to be the only externally consistent position. I'm not because solipsism is boring and silly and that's a valid reason to not hold a position. You're not agnostic about God's existance because or the inexactness of inductive reasoning, you're agnostic about God's existance because you want to win arguements, and that's also a perfectly valid reason to hold a position.

*clap clap* Bravo. You've got me. No, it's not because I care about truth and wish to remain open-minded, consistent and intellectually honest in my beliefs - I'm agnostic because I want to win arguments. Yep, you totally got me there!

That's pathetic, dude. Don't do that.

Regarding solipsism, I agree with you that it's boring and silly but that in itself doesn't justify belief to the contrary. I would argue that regardless of the truth of solipsism, reality presents itself in such a way that I'm forced to assume the outside world is real, and solipsism is false (or at the very least inconsequential). So unless there's a good reason to assume solipsism is true, why not just assume it's not? But I don't want to derail this into solipsism.

tstorm823:
There is nobody alive who thinks that all positions on faith are equally valid because regardless of what they see as the objective truth, they've already picked a position. When you say to someone in a religion that all others are equally likely or valid, they instantly disagree, atleast in their head, because the premises on which they base all their conclusions includes that their religion in the most right. When you say to an atheist that a religious position is just as valid, they instantly disagree because the premises on which they base all their conclusions includes that there isn't a God. And to be honest, nobody ever gets from one position to another withou at least a brief moment of solipsism inbetween, because logic and reason cannot defeat the premises on which they are based.

No, this is, again, completely wrong (at least with regards to the sceptic/atheist beliefs). As I said earlier, the default position for unknown claims is disbelief - i.e. to not accept the truth or probability of a claim before it's met its burden of proof. To keep our beliefs consistent this has to be as true for Sasquatch as it is for God. So when a theist presents a rational, sceptical atheist with a religious claim, their response is to ask for justification. They want to know why you believe what you believe, and whether or not those reasons are strong enough to justify that belief - for either/both themselves or the believer. If the believer fails to justify that claim, then the atheist is free to dismiss it.

But I'll be fair, and I'll agree with you that the sceptical position (not all atheists are sceptics) includes, by default, the assumption that God doesn't exist - and makes the same assumption for Sasquatch, unicorns, fairies, uncharted islands, new weight loss programs, and any and all new claims. The fruits of this application of uniform doubt can be seem in every scientific development throughout history - in fact it's one of the very foundations of science. As a tool for garnering reliable knowledge about reality, would you not agree that the scientific method is by far the strongest we have at our disposal? So why wouldn't apply the same foundations we do with science to other areas? When scepticism is so demonstrably useful, why wouldn't you adopt scepticism? When the contrary position is faith - something that has no track record at all or producing reliable knowledge - wouldn't you agree with the atheist in their belief that faith-based beliefs are less valid than ones based in scepticism?

tstorm823:
And you can't expect your statements about the existance of God to be useful no matter what you base your statement on. Furthermore, if you abandon certainty in favor of utility, your foolish to try and convince others that you're right.

First and foremost, I haven't made any statements regarding the existence of God - as I've said earlier I'm agnostic, and can't claim whether or not God exists. Secondly, I'm not trying to convince anyone I'm "right" about anything objective, only whether or not beliefs about reality are justified and/or likely based on utility.

For example, Einstein showed that Newton's laws weren't "right" yet they're still the staple of any physics or engineering degree. This is because they have predictive utility in common, everyday frames of reference. The super obvious success of these laws is enough to say Newton was "right", colloquially speaking, so as far as "right" and "wrong" are used colloquially there's absolutely no disconnect, nor am I foolish, to try and convince someone I'm "right" by appealing to utility. Indeed, it's only the fool that believes "right" and "wrong" in terms of certainty are anything more than abstract concepts. If anyone thinks they're right about anything, with certainty, they're delusional (with perhaps "cogito ergo sum" being the one exception).

tstorm823:

Silvanus:

You're just misunderstanding the argument.

I take back what I said. That is the wrongest thing I've ever heard.

Okay, you've ignored the content of my last three posts, now, and choose to focus on this. Please, address the points I brought up, specifically the wizard question.

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