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Tags atheism , deism , falsifiability , god , science , theism

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Old 15th February 2009, 07:26 PM   #1
Skeptic Ginger
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Taking a second look at untestable gods.

There is no disagreement science cannot look for gods that exist outside of the Universe so we can dismiss that issue up front. I propose looking at the problem of testing for gods in a different way.

I'm having a unsatisfying discussion with one person on the SWIFT blog so I thought I'd open it up to a wider group. The discussion was originally about a website Phil recommended called, Understanding Science. I am going to stick to the Deist definition of a god here since it simplifies the 'gods exist' question and because that is the direction the blog discussion took anyway.

There are 2 issues in the blog discussion. Do Deists make claims and are those claims testable?

One disagreement in the blog is whether saying, "a god exists", is a claim. It obviously is. Yet many skeptics are willing to overlook this and give Deists a pass on this claim by saying it is not testable. Being a claim and being testable are 2 separate issues. However, I understand the issue of not making testable claims.

The second disagreement then, is on testing the claim, "a god exists".

Deist claim #1: Because I make no claims my god does anything, you cannot directly test for the presence of said god.

This is correct. I cannot test for things which existed before the Big Bang and outside the Universe either. But you have to look more deeply at the issue, "can one test for the existence of gods", than just dismissing it on these grounds.

Before the BB and outside the Universe are untestable things which can be pondered, but nothing can be known about them. These two untestable conditions are reasonable to ponder. While we have no evidence anything existed before the Big Bang and/or outside the Universe, the rest of our knowledge, (things within the Universe generally do have conditions outside them and before them.), makes these two untestable conditions reasonable to ponder.

It is less reasonable to ponder untestable things outside the Universe or before the BB for which there is no evidence and no current knowledge suggesting potential existence. This category includes invisible pink unicorns, invisible garage dragons, and gods.

Belief such things exist is not evidence they exist. Widespread belief could be argued as a reason to ponder these things might exist outside the Universe, but I am arguing that is not the case because once we examine the nature of that widespread belief, nothing is left supporting a reason to ponder the actual existence of gods.

Which brings me to Deist claim #2: A god exists.

This is the claim most Deists avoid acknowledging is a claim. Some skeptics' view as legit, ignoring the claim a Deist god exists and only recognizing the Deist position, it is not a claim if it is not a testable claim.

The Deist claim, "a god exists" can be addressed with equal validity stated as, "the Deist believes a god exists". Now I can test the claim by asking, is that belief based on an interaction with a real god or is that belief the result of other factors? And asked in that format, it is a testable claim.

The test may not be able to reach absolute certainty, and the test addresses the claim of gods existing indirectly. But indirect, short of proof investigations compose a large body of our scientific works.

Once the claim of belief is tested, you are left with a non-evidence based claim that a god exists. It can be shown the evidence we do have, (and there is a lot of it), overwhelmingly supports the conclusion, all god beliefs, (which would include the Deist god belief), do not result from an interaction with a real god. The evidence supports the conclusion, god beliefs are imaginary beliefs.

The fact that we can't test the above condition for every god belief is no reason we cannot draw a scientific conclusion about all god beliefs. We haven't mapped every single genome either but that hasn't stopped science from drawing a conclusion about how all organisms evolved. Science does not require certainty to draw conclusions, and in fact, certainty is almost never known in scientific conclusions.

Whatever exists outside the Universe or existed before the Big Bang CANNOT BE KNOWN. That includes a Deist's claim that a god exists. The Deist cannot know there is a god outside the Universe anymore than I can know there isn't one. The argument, a god does exist outside the Universe because one could exist, gives weight to one of two answers of something that cannot be known either way.

On the other hand, the evidence actually does support the conclusion god beliefs originated as myths, not from interaction with real gods.
The evidence does provide weight that god beliefs are myths. I don't care if gods exist outside the Universe anymore than I care if invisible pink unicorns exist outside the Universe. There is not simply a lack of evidence, but rather, because I can explain the origin of god beliefs, there is nothing left as a reason to bother pondering the existence of gods.
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:41 PM   #2
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I don't understand this bit:

Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
The Deist claim, "a god exists" can be addressed with equal validity stated as, "the Deist believes a god exists".
Seems to be these are two completely different propositions.

Just as "Bigfoot exists" is very different from "Some people believe Bigfoot exists".

Can you 'splain this better for me?
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
The Deist claim, "a god exists" can be addressed with equal validity stated as, "the Deist believes a god exists".

What in the hell does that mean? What is meant by can be addressed with equal validity in regards to two very different statements a god exists and so-and-so believes a god exists?
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Yeah! What Joe said!
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Whatever exists outside the Universe or existed before the Big Bang CANNOT BE KNOWN.
Do you have any evidence for that claim?

Quote:
On the other hand, the evidence actually does support the conclusion god beliefs originated as myths, not from interaction with real gods. The evidence does provide weight that god beliefs are myths. I don't care if gods exist outside the Universe anymore than I care if invisible pink unicorns exist outside the Universe. There is not simply a lack of evidence, but rather, because I can explain the origin of god beliefs, there is nothing left as a reason to bother pondering the existence of gods.
That you can provide one possible explanition doesn't mean that that explanation is correct. Plently of theories that work fine until you start looking for ways to break them.

So lets consider the beliefs originated as myths theory. The most ovious problem is that there is no real reason to think that beliefs originated in the form of stories. In fact the availible archaeological evidence points to burial practices as the origens of belief. It is also slightly questionable if belief actualy postdates language.
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:52 PM   #6
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Overall, I agree with the way you think, but you still haven't made these claims more testable (that is falsifiable).

You've made a wonderful case why it's not reasonable to believe them. That they're not necessary (since we can explain the real-world phenomena they purport to explain without them, and we can even explain the origin of the god-myths themselves) and extremely unparsimonious. But that's still not the same as falsifying the claims.

On the "can theists be rational" thread, we've kicked around some of these same issues. Some theists were arguing that "rational" only means something like "not logically impossible".

I forget what flavor of dualism it's called, but there's one that puts all the God/soul claims completely outside the universe. There's no causal connection. My "soul" and the real me just happen to coincide all the time. An absurd notion, but I don't see how it could be considered "testable" in any way.

In fact, the fact that such things are untestable is what makes me think they're completely useless.
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:52 PM   #7
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Didn't know you guys would be so fast. I had just added this to the OP:


Why not test the "belief in god" instead of "the existence of god"? Testing the existence assumes a conclusion, "gods exist", and tries to fit the evidence to it. Deists in this case have come up with the ultimate 'fitting' exercise, they've simply defined god as not testable as if that supported the existence of a god.

But following the evidence supports the conclusion, god beliefs are imaginary beliefs. That conclusion includes Deist gods. I don't need to test for the existence of something the evidence supports is imagined to conclude it doesn't exist. And I don't have to test every single god belief to draw that conclusion. I can support the conclusion that all god beliefs are imaginary with overwhelming evidence by looking at a sufficient number of god beliefs and finding no variation from the conclusion.
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Do you have any evidence for that claim?
Personally I don't rule out ever knowing these things in the future but it is generally accepted in science that one cannot know anything about conditions before the Big Bang or outside the Universe. I did not make this concept up on my own.


Originally Posted by geni View Post
....So lets consider the beliefs originated as myths theory. The most ovious problem is that there is no real reason to think that beliefs originated in the form of stories. In fact the availible archaeological evidence points to burial practices as the origens of belief. It is also slightly questionable if belief actualy postdates language.
Are you saying all the god beliefs we know are myths is not overwhelming evidence god beliefs are myths?

A few examples: Ra, Pele, Zeus, Thor, ... I'm sure the list of mythical god beliefs is enormous.
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Old 15th February 2009, 07:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
So lets consider the beliefs originated as myths theory. The most ovious problem is that there is no real reason to think that beliefs originated in the form of stories. In fact the availible archaeological evidence points to burial practices as the origens of belief. It is also slightly questionable if belief actualy postdates language.

Um, how about stories of what happens after you die? That's a pretty big part of almost any religious belief system, and it's pretty well wrapped up in burial rituals. I don't see any contradiction, nor any distinction even, between mythic stories forming into anthropomorphised agents of creation/destruction and burial rituals. Why do so many pray to the deseased directly and to their memory, after having buried them with food and hunting implements for the afterlife?

Not only is it knowable by empirical inquiry, it's pretty much been found out all ready.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by hgc View Post
What in the hell does that mean? What is meant by can be addressed with equal validity in regards to two very different statements a god exists and so-and-so believes a god exists?
Besides beliefs in gods, do you have any evidence gods exist? Belief is all we have evidence for. We have no evidence of existence of gods.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Why not test the "belief in god" instead of "the existence of god"?
Oh I've done that myself in argumentation. (For example, I don't think anyone actually believes "abortion is murder" or that they'll actually truly see their deceased loved ones again in any meaningful way. I usually point to their behaviors that are completely inconsistent with holding those beliefs.)

However, it's not arguing the same proposition. Testing "belief in god" but it's not the same as testing "the existence of god".

Or at least I don't see how it is.

Quote:
Testing the existence assumes a conclusion, "gods exist", and tries to fit the evidence to it. Deists in this case have come up with the ultimate 'fitting' exercise, they've simply defined god as not testable as if that supported the existence of a god.
I agree. I think the sole reason for the development of the Deist non-definition of god is a retreat from beliefs in more "fleshed-out" or hands-on ideas of god. And I think it's just more socially acceptable--or was more socially acceptable-- to go to that position than to call oneself an atheist.

Quote:
But following the evidence supports the conclusion, god beliefs are imaginary beliefs. That conclusion includes Deist gods.
I agree. I take the skeptical model--follow the evidence and tentatively adopt that conclusion as the truth.

But this isn't what is meant by a testable proposition, is it? I thought that meant a falsifiable hypothesis. Since we don't have that, it's most reasonable to follow the skeptical model.

Quote:
I don't need to test for the existence of something the evidence supports is imagined to conclude it doesn't exist. And I don't have to test every single god belief to draw that conclusion. I can support the conclusion that all god beliefs are imaginary with overwhelming evidence by looking at a sufficient number of god beliefs and finding no variation from the conclusion.
I agree, and that's a very good description of what it means for me to be an atheist. (Although I do enjoy showing how well-defined God concepts are impossible by being internally inconsistent.)

But I thought you were saying you'd found a way to test the proposition "a god exists". Maybe I misread.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
Overall, I agree with the way you think, but you still haven't made these claims more testable (that is falsifiable).

You've made a wonderful case why it's not reasonable to believe them. That they're not necessary (since we can explain the real-world phenomena they purport to explain without them, and we can even explain the origin of the god-myths themselves) and extremely unparsimonious. But that's still not the same as falsifying the claims.

On the "can theists be rational" thread, we've kicked around some of these same issues. Some theists were arguing that "rational" only means something like "not logically impossible".

I forget what flavor of dualism it's called, but there's one that puts all the God/soul claims completely outside the universe. There's no causal connection. My "soul" and the real me just happen to coincide all the time. An absurd notion, but I don't see how it could be considered "testable" in any way.

In fact, the fact that such things are untestable is what makes me think they're completely useless.
My point is to get past this co-mingling of evidence for beliefs and evidence of existence.

It is clear to me you can draw conclusions about god beliefs. Why is it skeptics and scientists have little problem saying, there is no evidence for fairies ergo fairies are imagined creatures, but they have a hard time making a leap from, there is no evidence for gods ergo gods are imagined beings?

I am once again addressing the double standard some scientists give some god beliefs. And this particular approach to the double standard made sense and seemed worth sharing.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:10 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Why not test the "belief in god" instead of "the existence of god"?
OK--I follow now.

Still, when you say "test the belief in god" you're not really doubting that there are believers. You're just asking what the evidence believers have for their belief.

In other words, rather than coming up with a way to test an untestable claim, you're just using the skeptical model. If they make a claim, you evaluate the evidence. If there's not compelling evidence, you reject the claim (tentatively--because you'd be willing to change your conclusion if compelling evidence should ever come to light).

I would agree that that's the right approach.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
...
But this isn't what is meant by a testable proposition, is it? I thought that meant a falsifiable hypothesis. Since we don't have that, it's most reasonable to follow the skeptical model.
The falsifiable hypothesis is, a god belief is a belief in an imaginary being. Or there are other ways to word the hypothesis: God beliefs developed without interaction with actual gods.

The non-falsifiable hypothesis is, gods exist that are outside the Universe.

Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
...I agree, and that's a very good description of what it means for me to be an atheist. (Although I do enjoy showing how well-defined God concepts are impossible by being internally inconsistent.)

But I thought you were saying you'd found a way to test the proposition "a god exists". Maybe I misread.
I am saying that. But I am taking the question on in a different way. I am saying that claiming a god exists outside the Universe ignores the evidence gods are imaginary creatures.

I am saying one need not have absolute proof to determine if gods are imaginary creatures.

I am saying one need not test every god belief to determine gods are imaginary creatures.

I am saying if the evidence shows gods are imaginary creatures then why are we concerned about the ability or inability of science to test for the existence of gods before we can say that science supports the conclusion gods are imaginary?
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
....

Still, when you say "test the belief in god" you're not really doubting that there are believers. You're just asking what the evidence believers have for their belief. ....
Not exactly. I am looking at the evidence of all god believers throughout history as a whole rather than an individual's single god belief. I think it is a double standard to leave certain current god beliefs out of the picture as if there really was a reason to.
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Old 15th February 2009, 08:36 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
The falsifiable hypothesis is, a god belief is a belief in an imaginary being. Or there are other ways to word the hypothesis: God beliefs developed without interaction with actual gods.

The non-falsifiable hypothesis is, gods exist that are outside the Universe.
But what makes it non-falsifiable is saying that the gods exists outside the universe. Adding the layer of beliefs in (itself) doesn't change it. It's the requirement for interaction with gods (that is, backing off of the Deist's undefined god and talking about some form of a hands-on god that does stuff in this universe).


Quote:
I am saying that. But I am taking the question on in a different way. I am saying that claiming a god exists outside the Universe ignores the evidence gods are imaginary creatures.
As a bit of an aside: I don't think it ignores it. I think historically, it's a reaction to the fact that science started making the old version of god an untenable belief. Rather than jump all the way to calling themselves atheists, Deists just shrunk their god to the gaps in our knowledge (or, if you prefer, put it outside the universe and out of the reach of science).

I think it was an intentional move!

At any rate, I agree with the direction you're saying to go. To me, that's simply the skeptical model. It's not up to me to prove that a god-claim is false. It's up to the god-claimant to provide evidence for that claim. Failing that, I reject the claim.
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Old 15th February 2009, 09:01 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
But what makes it non-falsifiable is saying that the gods exists outside the universe. Adding the layer of beliefs in (itself) doesn't change it. It's the requirement for interaction with gods (that is, backing off of the Deist's undefined god and talking about some form of a hands-on god that does stuff in this universe).
Can science not then address the fact fairies are imaginary creatures? Leprechauns? Where's the distinction?

Does science have nothing to say about human imagination and the development of god beliefs and does what science has to say about those things not apply to the question, do gods exist?

The evidence supports the conclusion gods are imaginary beings. End of evidence.

Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
As a bit of an aside: I don't think it ignores it. I think historically, it's a reaction to the fact that science started making the old version of god an untenable belief. Rather than jump all the way to calling themselves atheists, Deists just shrunk their god to the gaps in our knowledge (or, if you prefer, put it outside the universe and out of the reach of science).
@the choir
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Old 15th February 2009, 09:59 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Can science not then address the fact fairies are imaginary creatures? Leprechauns? Where's the distinction?

Does science have nothing to say about human imagination and the development of god beliefs and does what science has to say about those things not apply to the question, do gods exist?

The evidence supports the conclusion gods are imaginary beings. End of evidence.

@the choir
I agree wholeheartedly. I think in large part, many scientists and skeptics don't make the case that gods are simply products of the human imagination due to the privileged position of religion in society. Arguments in favor of atheism often become unnecessarily complicated and lost in the wilderness of philosophy as if there is any merit to god-belief, compared to say elf or fairy-belief. It sounds so "crude" and "disrespectful" to compare God or gods to creatures that even most God-believers don't believe exist. In many societies around the globe, God-belief is very nearly universal and plays a very important role in people's lives. Belief in God is therefore considered important, whereas belief in elves is generally not.

Another reason may be due to the flexible, nebulous nature of the "God" concept. In this respect, it can't be compared to elves or pink flying unicorns, which are much easier to define than "God". As far as supernatural ideas go, "God" is in a class by itself; it is an extremely powerful idea, it is often identified with the universe, and/or as the all-powerful creator of the universe. This is why it is often so tempting for many scientists to use "God" metaphorically when describing the nature of reality, even by scientists who are non-believers.

Einstein for all his unparalleled genius and brilliance may have confused matters by his frequent use of "God". By the standard definition of atheism, I believe Einstein was an atheist. Yet to my knowledge, he didn't consider himself to be one, and didn't want "professional atheists" using him in support of their non-belief, even though he stressed he did not believe in a personal God or a God who listens to prayers. I don't think he believed in supernatural anything. Maybe he could best be described as agnostic, which is what he called himself after repeatedly getting asked about his beliefs.

Many historians and biographers of Einstein don't help matters much since they often group him more with traditional religious believers than with atheists and skeptics, since "Einstein believed in God". Even atheist authors, like Richard Dawkins for example may inadvertently make God belief seem more respectable due addressing so many utterly ridiculous "arguments" in favor of God's existence and demolishing them - belief in fairies is seldom if ever treated like this. Of course they'd have less to write about if they said it is as simple as seeing theism as fairy-belief, end of story, no need to dignify any God arguments with a refutation. Certainly, I may be a hypocrite for even participating in this discussion.

Now we have Stuart Kauffman, another brilliant scientist who sees "God" and the universe as synonymous in his book, "Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion." There is nothing new about this, it just seems like the "new pantheism", in reaction to both the "new atheism" and the "new religious fundamentalism". It is an illusory "Third way", yet at its core it is atheism bending over backwards pretending to be something else.

I wish skeptics and scientists did compare God or gods to elves or fairies more often, and would love it if they stopped using "God" even in a metaphorical sense. Too many people refuse to let God die, even those who do not believe in it.

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Old 15th February 2009, 10:08 PM   #19
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Double post.

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Old 15th February 2009, 10:42 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Zelenius View Post
....
I wish skeptics and scientists did compare God or gods to elves or fairies more often, and would love it if they stopped using "God" even in a metaphorical sense. Too many people refuse to let God die, even those who do not believe in it.
Lovely post, Zel. Join me in battle, the theist skeptics have not yet discovered the thread.
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Old 16th February 2009, 02:15 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Zelenius View Post
I wish skeptics and scientists did compare God or gods to elves or fairies more often...
God is a little different: The Tooth Faerie, the Easter Bunny, and Father Christmas are all purported do things that we know parents actually do. God at least is purported to do something for which we, as yet, have no answer - the creation of the universe, something out of nothing.

Hey, I said a little different, I'm not going to hijack this thread.

Also God is, at least potentially, falsifiable. If, in the distant future, science does discover how the universe originated, how something arose out of nothing, God would seem to have been falsified.

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Old 16th February 2009, 04:45 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by hgc View Post
Um, how about stories of what happens after you die?
Stories require language. Can you show that ceromonial burrial requires the same?
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Old 16th February 2009, 04:48 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Personally I don't rule out ever knowing these things in the future but it is generally accepted in science that one cannot know anything about conditions before the Big Bang or outside the Universe. I did not make this concept up on my own.
No but you appear to have misunderstood it. Our churrent scientific understanding and enigineering ability doesn't let us know what is outside the universe but if thats enough for you to reject a claim you also have to reject string theory.
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Old 16th February 2009, 05:28 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
No but you appear to have misunderstood it. Our churrent scientific understanding and enigineering ability doesn't let us know what is outside the universe but if thats enough for you to reject a claim you also have to reject string theory.
In a sense, if something is scientifically detectable outside the universe, then it's not outside the universe. If something is considered to exist outside the universe, then it must be in principle scientifically undetectable.

The issue as to whether something undetectable outside the universe can interact with the universe has just been covered elsewhere.
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Old 16th February 2009, 05:58 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
In a sense, if something is scientifically detectable outside the universe, then it's not outside the universe. If something is considered to exist outside the universe, then it must be in principle scientifically undetectable.

The issue as to whether something undetectable outside the universe can interact with the universe has just been covered elsewhere.
We strongly suspect that something undetectable outside visable universe can interact with the universe. The recent discovery of dark flow points in that dirrection.
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Old 16th February 2009, 06:03 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Before the BB and outside the Universe are untestable things which can be pondered, but nothing can be known about them. These two untestable conditions are reasonable to ponder. While we have no evidence anything existed before the Big Bang and/or outside the Universe, the rest of our knowledge, (things within the Universe generally do have conditions outside them and before them.), makes these two untestable conditions reasonable to ponder.
As geni and others have suggested, you may be too quick in barring science from "before the Big Bang."

http://www.space.com/scienceastronom...-big-bang.html
Quote:
"It's no longer completely crazy to ask what happened before the Big Bang," Kamionkowski said. "All of that stuff is hidden by a veil, observationally. If our model holds up, we may have a chance to see beyond this veil."

The next step is to gather better data about the Cosmic Microwave Background, to confirm that the unevenness seen so far really holds up.

This is an important distinction between science and religion. In the former, the "unknowable" often proves a temporary roadblock. God, on the other hand, is permanently unknowable by definition.
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Old 16th February 2009, 09:29 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
We strongly suspect that something undetectable outside visable universe can interact with the universe. The recent discovery of dark flow points in that dirrection.
The visible universe is not the universe. Dark matter, as envisaged, remains part of the universe. That's if dark matter exists, of course.
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Old 16th February 2009, 11:07 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Besides beliefs in gods, do you have any evidence gods exist? Belief is all we have evidence for. We have no evidence of existence of gods.
We have indirect evidence via the fine-tuning of the physical constants. We have anecdotal accounts from reliable people who claim to have spiritual experiences related to God and to have observed supernatural phenemena. We now know millions of people have had NDE's, a sizeable percent of which report a highly spiritual experience complete with visitations from dead people, being in the presence of God, and veridical OBE's. Science does not have a satisfactory account for the NDE phenemenon, nor is it clear why we should have evolved as creatures who have intensely spiritual experiences right before death. Children's vivid memories of past lives are evidence that a soul exists, which is indirect evidence for the existence of God.

All of this is evidence, though none of it will be convincing evidence to most people here. How convincing it is will depend on metaphysical atitudes about reality itself.
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Old 16th February 2009, 11:11 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
The visible universe is not the universe. Dark matter, as envisaged, remains part of the universe. That's if dark matter exists, of course.
Dark Matter interacts with the universe and is therefore part of the universe.
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Old 16th February 2009, 11:18 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Malerin View Post
We have indirect evidence via the fine-tuning of the physical constants.
An argument that you've tried before but has been utterly demolished. Using this discredited claim again despite being corrected is telling.

Quote:
We have anecdotal accounts from reliable people who claim to have spiritual experiences related to God and to have observed supernatural phenemena. We now know millions of people have had NDE's, a sizeable percent of which report a highly spiritual experience complete with visitations from dead people, being in the presence of God, and veridical OBE's.
Anecdotes, inconsistent and unverified claims are not exactly evidence for your god or even a god but is poor evidence for ALL gods, pixies, spirits and juju monsters.

Quote:
Science does not have a satisfactory account for the NDE phenemenon, nor is it clear why we should have evolved as creatures who have intensely spiritual experiences right before death.
So? If and when we actually figure this out, what's going to happen to your "faith"? Will you suddenly become an atheist?

It isn't that surprising that people experience weird things when their brains malfunction.

Quote:
Children's vivid memories of past lives are evidence that a soul exists, which is indirect evidence for the existence of God.
Hahahahahaha...snort. Talk about a big leap into nonsense. Except for the the terrible evidence for "past-life" nonsense, it would be evidence for a soul, not any god. The Buddhist may be a tad surprised.

Quote:
All of this is evidence, though none of it will be convincing evidence to most people here. How convincing it is will depend on metaphysical atitudes about reality itself.
Ahhh, the Malerin cop-out excuse for his sad evidence.

"You all close minded. Open your mindz and accept what I sayz because reality is really subjective blah blah blah..."
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:25 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
No but you appear to have misunderstood it. Our churrent scientific understanding and enigineering ability doesn't let us know what is outside the universe but if thats enough for you to reject a claim you also have to reject string theory.
I don't think we need to waste time on this sidetrack. If you think your concept of testable and untestable is relevant then tell us why.

I see no reason a tedious semantic argument about the distinction between "knowable", "testable" and "falsifiable" is necessary here.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:27 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
We strongly suspect that something undetectable outside visable universe can interact with the universe. The recent discovery of dark flow points in that dirrection.
You are confusing unseen dimensions with outside the Universe.

Please take this hijack elsewhere.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:32 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Ryan O'Dine View Post
...

This is an important distinction between science and religion. In the former, the "unknowable" often proves a temporary roadblock. God, on the other hand, is permanently unknowable by definition.
The only permanently unknowable god is one defined that way. One can define a god so as to describe it as untestable. We know that.

My premise is that one can determine if god beliefs are based on imagination or based on real gods. One need no longer look for real gods since it can be shown god beliefs are imaginary.

Defining a god as permanently untestable is simply making the scientific process fit the preconceived conclusion, an untestable god exists. That is bad science.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:35 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Malerin View Post
We have indirect evidence via the fine-tuning of the physical constants. We have anecdotal accounts from reliable people who claim to have spiritual experiences related to God and to have observed supernatural phenemena. We now know millions of people have had NDE's, a sizeable percent of which report a highly spiritual experience complete with visitations from dead people, being in the presence of God, and veridical OBE's. Science does not have a satisfactory account for the NDE phenemenon, nor is it clear why we should have evolved as creatures who have intensely spiritual experiences right before death. Children's vivid memories of past lives are evidence that a soul exists, which is indirect evidence for the existence of God.

All of this is evidence, though none of it will be convincing evidence to most people here. How convincing it is will depend on metaphysical atitudes about reality itself.
How convincing it is depends on following the evidence to a conclusion (good science) or fitting the evidence to a preconceived conclusion (bad science).


....and, what Paxi said.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:40 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
I don't think we need to waste time on this sidetrack. If you think your concept of testable and untestable is relevant then tell us why.

I see no reason a tedious semantic argument about the distinction between "knowable", "testable" and "falsifiable" is necessary here.
In a way, I think these issues are germane. If you'll bear with me a bit. . .

The reason God claims retreat toward something like the un-defined, non-intervening deist God is so that they can remain safe from the scrutiny of science.

You've very correctly made a strong case that "testable" doesn't have to mean we have access to realms that are somehow outside the natural world. (It's similar to a discussion I once had with Schlitt about his assertion that we need to identify all the trapdoors to reject a vanishing illusion as being something supernatural.)

Instead, the burden is on the claimant to provide evidence for his or her claims. If that "evidence" comes up short, we reject the claim. (As you said--period.)

So claims of a God outside the reach of science or completely separated causally from the natural world can't possibly have any evidence to support them and are necessarily rejected.

It is unreasonable even to entertain such claims.

The problem is that a number of folks around here give these words very narrow meanings. One a few threads "rational" was defined as anything that is possible, with "possible" meaning anything that is not logically contradictory. (And yes, at least two of these people said that it would be "rational" to believe the claims of those Nigerian scam e-mails!)

So. . I think the tedious semantic argument over many of these terms is necessary.

Having said that, I think the burden of proof is properly where you have placed it (in the sentence I highlighted above).
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:48 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by paximperium View Post
Dark Matter interacts with the universe and is therefore part of the universe.
That something interacts with the universe doesn't necessarily make it part of the universe - though dark matter is part of the universe, if it exists.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:51 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
In a way, I think these issues are germane.
Testable and untestable is of course germane, but Geni's sidetrack about whether outside the Universe and before the BB were knowable or not, was not germane.

Originally Posted by JoeTheJuggler View Post
The reason God claims retreat toward something like the un-defined, non-intervening deist God is so that they can remain safe from the scrutiny of science.....
It is unreasonable even to entertain such claims.
But the scientific community does entertain these claims by allowing the "untestable" definition to block scientific scrutiny when there is overwhelming evidence all god beliefs are mythical beliefs.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:52 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
That something interacts with the universe doesn't necessarily make it part of the universe - though dark matter is part of the universe, if it exists.
Name one thing that exists that meets your criteria.
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Old 16th February 2009, 01:58 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
That something interacts with the universe doesn't necessarily make it part of the universe - though dark matter is part of the universe, if it exists.
Detecting the gravity of dark matter confirmed it exists, unless you want to re-write the physics of gravity laws, but I digress.

Whether or not something interacts with the Universe in the case of god definitions is what supposedly makes a Deist god belief make no testable claims. So for the sake of this discussion, detectable/testable/falsifiable/interacts with the Universe vs something that is not detectable/testable/falsifiable and does not interact with the Universe is the definition being used.

Whether something is or is not interacting with the Universe that is also outside the Universe is a thread hijack. PLEASE FOLKS, take this discussion elsewhere! Assume for the sake of the discussion the claim has been made that an undetectable god exists.

The thread is about how science might examine a claim that an untestable god exists other than to look for evidence of that god directly.
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Old 16th February 2009, 02:08 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
How convincing it is depends on following the evidence to a conclusion (good science) or fitting the evidence to a preconceived conclusion (bad science).


....and, what Paxi said.
How is positing the existence of a spiritual being to explain a highly spiritual event like an NDE "bad science"? "God exists" is currently a much better explanatory hypothesis for NDE accounts than science. Or are you assuming, from the start, that all phenemena must have a material physical cause? Because an assumption like that would need some evidence to support it.
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