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Old 20th November 2012, 10:15 AM   #121
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If you exist in the Universe, and you have value, then the universe is not value-free. Even if you are the only thing in the entire universe that matters.

You can of course act as if you (and others) have value, while considering that really you don't. That seems to be the basis of existentialism.
That's one of the silliest things in ages. By that kind of broken logic, I can't enjoy a beer unless the universe itself values beer, or two gays can't value their relationship without the universe itself and the very gods themselves valuing some homosexual intimacy.

WTH?

To see how absurd this is, far from their being just one true cosmic scale of value, different people value different things. Some people value their kids and family more, while some people would do anything to stay away from them. Most people value sex to at least some degree, while others have all sorts of hangups and disgust about it. (E.g., in the case of Lovecraft it even affected his work.) Some people value intelligence, while for others 'Einstein' is a pejorative. Some people value an evening spent with a good book, while for others it's only used in disparaging constructs, like 'if I wanted a story, I'd read a book'. Some people value having lots of friends and spending their time with them, while others are beyond introverted and feel sapped by too much time spent around people. Some people value their achievements and look for new challenges to overcome, while for others the most valuable thing in their life is some quality time on the couch with a six-pack and the TV remote control. Etc.

Who the heck are you to say they can't actually value something -- or in your words, they only pretend that it has any value -- unless they invoke your delusional imaginary friend as approving of it?

Do you genuinely think that, say, a relationship can have no value at all unless God and the whole universe approves of it? E.g., that a gay guy genuinely can't find value in his homosexual relationship with another guy, unless God himself has value for it? Or that someone can't find value in reading a blasphemous novel, unless your God himself gave it and finds value in it? That my reading the Quran for example can't have any value, because your imaginary friend doesn't approve of the Quran? Or what?

Because life is made of those moments. If you find value in what you do, congrats, that's the value of your life. FOR YOU.

But really, what kind of lack of a spine and of any self respect does one need, to actually only judge their life and value by how much it pleases some imaginary dictator in the sky?

It's like meeting some hypothetical North Korean who judges the value of his life only by how much it pleases dead president Kim Il Sung. (That is not dead which can eternal lie) I don't know about you, but I'd tell him to grow a spine and some sense of self-worth.

If there ever was a clear-cut display of what is wrong with religion, and what harm it does, such need to judge your life only through the glasses of what value it is to an imaginary guy in the sky, is up there with the best of them.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:26 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
Tu quoque fallacy noted. I was commenting on your posts in this thread, and what I've observed many theists similarly doing when they attempt to criticize atheist thinking.

If you've observed atheists pretend they know what theists think or believe, while being incorrect, feel free to point that out.
In any case, I'm not trying to assign specific beliefs to individuals. I'm pointing out a conflict between two sets of beliefs.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:39 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It depends. If you think that somebody else's view that you have no value is of equal weight with your own opinion that you in fact do, then value is a purely subjective matter, and not intrinsic.
Ok, but what do you think? Do things have intrinsic value, or do they require someone to assign value?
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:40 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If you exist in the Universe, and you have value, then the universe is not value-free. Even if you are the only thing in the entire universe that matters.

You can of course act as if you (and others) have value, while considering that really you don't. That seems to be the basis of existentialism.
So now it's another semantics argument? I can say I'm content with my values and rather than purpose, I derive pleasure from having goals and accomplishing them. If that to you means the Universe has purpose, then it does, but most people would not agree with your twisting of my statement.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:41 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
In any case, I'm not trying to assign specific beliefs to individuals. I'm pointing out a conflict between two sets of beliefs.
A conflict between what two sets of belief?
Theism and atheism?
You think that needs to be pointed out?
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:44 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by kerikiwi View Post
A conflict between what two sets of belief?
Theism and atheism?
You think that needs to be pointed out?
I think he's going for the fallacy that science is just someone else's religion.

This has been discussed ad nauseum in the forum. One has supporting observable evidence, one doesn't and they are qualitatively different despite what theists like to claim.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:46 AM   #127
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Nah, he's still going on about the supposed contradiction between valuing your own life and, as an atheist, thinking that there is no God to give a screw about you. Of course, that contradiction exists only in his head, but oh well.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:46 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by kerikiwi View Post
A conflict between what two sets of belief?
Theism and atheism?
You think that needs to be pointed out?
No, the professed belief that the universe is valueless, and the implied belief that people are worth something.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:48 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I think he's going for the fallacy that science is just someone else's religion.
How has anything I've said anything to do with that? I haven't even been discussing science.

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This has been discussed ad nauseum in the forum. One has supporting observable evidence, one doesn't and they are qualitatively different despite what theists like to claim.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:50 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Ok, but what do you think? Do things have intrinsic value, or do they require someone to assign value?
I don't think that things have intrinsic value in the absence of people. Being a person implies value.

This is just my personal view, of course.
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Old 20th November 2012, 10:59 AM   #131
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"In the absence of people" nothing exists, and therefore has no value.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:00 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
...Ginger

So, just to recap, S.J. Gould was an apologist for religious beliefs, the evidence bearing on the question of God enjoys similar weight with the evidence bearing on evolution, and your personal opinions about religion aren't opinions, but rather "We know...."

OK, then. Thank you for clearing all that up. Good luck with it.
Hans did a better job of answering than I could so I'll thank him and refer you to his posts.

I would only add one thing. I'm happy with the scientific concept one doesn't prove anything (except in math) and one should always leave the door open to the possibility new evidence will reveal new truths in the future.. My objection to applying this to the "you can't disprove gods exist" is threefold. One, that is not an argument for doubt about what the evidence overwhelmingly says that gods are human generated fiction. Yet it is often cited as evidence for gods existing, adding the caveat, "could or might exist".

Two, kind of overlapping the first objection is people apply this concept to gods while not applying it to invisible garage dragons or the Tooth Fairy or Hogwarts.

And three, a more practical matter is the concept science has with uncertainty. Yes science purposefully has uncertainty built into the process. But for all practical purposes we treat many things as scientific fact at the current time. It's OK people believed it was a fact the Earth's crust was fixed before plate tectonics was discovered. It's OK that we now believe it is a fact the Earth's crust is broken into plates that move.

It's a scientific fact pigs don't fly, fairies don't exist, the planet is not flat, Earth is not the center of the solar system, and gods are human generated fiction. On a technical level, the scientific process does not call these facts but rather conclusions supported with overwhelming evidence. On a practical level, so that we can function with a reasonable degree of certainty about the Universe when it is useful, they can be called scientific facts.

I believe I understand scientific uncertainty as well as the next skeptic. I have no problem with the concept. And as soon as people argue, one can't disprove invisible garage dragons exist as often as they say one can't disprove the existence of gods, I may stop bothering with my argument.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:05 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No, the professed belief that the universe is valueless, and the implied belief that people are worth something.
Perhaps you could elaborate on why an individual cannot perceive self value unless a god is out there to agree with that individual?
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:14 AM   #134
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Hiya, westprog. I have to say, like others, I am not quite getting what you're getting at. I guess it comes down to what is meant by "intrinsic". If I say, "the universe is capable of creating beings, one species of which is us, who "value" - derive pleasure from and seek to preserve - their own lives and the lives of others (assuming those others aren't threatening their own lives and the lives of the others whom they value)," does this imply, according to what you mean by "intrinsic", that the universe has intrinsic value, and I shouldn't, according to your definitions at least, say otherwise? Or are you getting at something else (and apologies for the convoluted question; just trying to cover all the bases)?
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:42 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Perhaps you could elaborate on why an individual cannot perceive self value unless a god is out there to agree with that individual?
I'm not directly concerned with gods per se. I consider that any belief in intrinsic value is incompatible with materialism.

It may well be that there are non-materialistic atheist philosophies that can encompass a universe with intrinsic value. I don't see them publicly expressed, but I dare say they exist.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:50 AM   #136
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm not directly concerned with gods per se. I consider that any belief in intrinsic value is incompatible with materialism.
Well that's ridiculous. You'd have to have a universe sans living organisms to have no intrinsic value in anything. Food has intrinsic value, gold has value. All of these are dependent upon living organisms existing.

I think your definition of intrinsic value is actually 'absolute' value. The fact value is relative does not make it non-materialistic.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:53 AM   #137
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
Hiya, westprog. I have to say, like others, I am not quite getting what you're getting at. I guess it comes down to what is meant by "intrinsic". If I say, "the universe is capable of creating beings, one species of which is us, who "value" - derive pleasure from and seek to preserve - their own lives and the lives of others (assuming those others aren't threatening their own lives and the lives of the others whom they value)," does this imply, according to what you mean by "intrinsic", that the universe has intrinsic value, and I shouldn't, according to your definitions at least, say otherwise? Or are you getting at something else (and apologies for the convoluted question; just trying to cover all the bases)?
No problem with the question. What often happens in these discussions is that people can just about understand their own position, but don't get what the other person is going on about at all. Sometime the best reason for participating in a discussion of this kind is to figure out what one thinks oneself.

Anyway - if you consider that all the points of view about value among the various people are equally valid - i.e. if you accept that while X thinks he is worth something, if Y thinks he is not, then both views are just as "correct" - then this would be purely subjective value, and entirely compatible with a valueless, materialist universe.

If you consider that what happens to those people actually does matter - even if some of them think it doesn't, and treat other people accordingly - then I don't see that as compatible with materialism.
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Old 20th November 2012, 11:58 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm not directly concerned with gods per se. I consider that any belief in intrinsic value is incompatible with materialism.

It may well be that there are non-materialistic atheist philosophies that can encompass a universe with intrinsic value. I don't see them publicly expressed, but I dare say they exist.
I don't know what's more sad, the idea that you really can't recognize that something doesn't have to be valued by the entire universe to have value to a person, or the idea that you do recognize that but are so blinded by hate and prejudice that you mentally block out that recognition just so you can look down on atheists.
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:05 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
AT BEST, the domain of ethics belongs to philosophy. Religious figures may of course also be into ethics philosophy, but they don't have a monopoly. And it's not up to Gould to just roll back THOUSANDS OF YEARS of rational thought on the topic, and decree that the delusional nutcases WITHOUT any rational argument ("my imaginary friend says so in my fairy tale" isn't a rational argument) should be the ones giving morals.
Whether they 'should be' the ones giving morals, it's pretty well established that they have been the one's doing so for thousands of years. Priests existed long before ethical philosophers did. I think Gould had a valid point about ethics being in the domain of religion.
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If he's not into the philosophy of morals, he should just stay out of it, not decree that the whole domain should be rolled back into the stone age.
A fair point, but not particularly related to his NOMA thesis IMO. I took it that he was suggesting that scientists should not claim defining morals to be part of the domain of science. That is NOT suggesting the domain of ethics should be rolled back into the stone age unless you think that the ethics that various religions promote today are unchanged from the ethics of the stone age. Also I don't think he was advocating that the domain of morality be excluded from philosophy, but it's been a few years since I read that essy.

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But even then, is it outside the domain of science? No, we can at least test if certain actions produce the predicted (and desired) outcomes, and testing predictions IS science, not religion. Just because it doesn't use microscopes and test tubes, doesn't mean that for example social sciences aren't science.
IMO defining morals IS outside the domain of science. Science cannot establish whether something is 'moral' because that is a subjective value judgement that humans make. Once 'moral' has been defined, science is useful in helping humans live moral lives and create a moral society according to their definition.

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Hans did a better job of answering than I could so I'll thank him and refer you to his posts.

I would only add one thing. I'm happy with the scientific concept one doesn't prove anything (except in math) and one should always leave the door open to the possibility new evidence will reveal new truths in the future.
While I agree with you on this...
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My objection to applying this to the "you can't disprove gods exist" is threefold. One, that is not an argument for doubt about what the evidence overwhelmingly says that gods are human generated fiction.
I can't agree with this conclusion. It is, IMO, an legimate argument for doubt. To claim otherwise is contrary to the previous statement that I just agreed with. To you, the sliver of doubt introduce by that argument may be inconsequential, but that's a subjective value judgement on your part.

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Yet it is often cited as evidence for gods existing, adding the caveat, "could or might exist".
I don't think anyone on this thread has been arguing that it's evidence for gods existing. Only that it is evidence for doubt regarding the certainty of the positive claim that no gods exist. What is your problem with that caveat?
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Two, kind of overlapping the first objection is people apply this concept to gods while not applying it to invisible garage dragons or the Tooth Fairy or Hogwarts.
Yes. People are horribly inconsistent in their application of rational standards to the various beliefs they may hold about the way the universe actually is. It's a ubiquitous human failing and an annoying one to boot.

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And three, a more practical matter is the concept science has with uncertainty. Yes science purposefully has uncertainty built into the process. But for all practical purposes we treat many things as scientific fact at the current time. It's OK people believed it was a fact the Earth's crust was fixed before plate tectonics was discovered. It's OK that we now believe it is a fact the Earth's crust is broken into plates that move.
I like that about science too!
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It's a scientific fact pigs don't fly, fairies don't exist, the planet is not flat, Earth is not the center of the solar system, and gods are human generated fiction. On a technical level, the scientific process does not call these facts but rather conclusions supported with overwhelming evidence. On a practical level, so that we can function with a reasonable degree of certainty about the Universe when it is useful, they can be called scientific facts.
It all depends on how you are defining various terms. Pig can fly on airplanes, fairies exist in our imaginations and literature, and the surface of our planet is basically flat relative to the size of human beings. So none of these statements are incontrovertible facts, but depend on unspoken assumptions you are making about the meaning of those terms in the context of this thread.

While I have no doubts regarding the meaning you were assigning to those terms, my point is that your argument depends on those unspoken assumptions. The term 'god' has so many different meaning to so many different people, it is not reasonable to assume that you can depend on other people holding the same unspoken assumptions about what you mean when you make statements about the existance of gods.

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I believe I understand scientific uncertainty as well as the next skeptic. I have no problem with the concept. And as soon as people argue, one can't disprove invisible garage dragons exist as often as they say one can't disprove the existence of gods, I may stop bothering with my argument.
But people do argue that you can't disprove invisible garage dragons. That's the point of the argument - it is equally applicable to both. The difference between the frequency of people arguing for one and not the other has to do with how many people in our culture believe in each of those things.
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:29 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No problem with the question. What often happens in these discussions is that people can just about understand their own position, but don't get what the other person is going on about at all. Sometime the best reason for participating in a discussion of this kind is to figure out what one thinks oneself.
Yes (we agree that these discussions matter, as able to affect what we think [introduced definition of "matter": able to affect us]).

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Anyway - if you consider that all the points of view about value among the various people are equally valid - i.e. if you accept that while X thinks he is worth something, if Y thinks he is not, then both views are just as "correct" - then this would be purely subjective value, and entirely compatible with a valueless, materialist universe.
I accept that people have different points of view and different values, but not that those different values are equally valid (I would need see the basis of Y's argument that X is worthless).

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If you consider that what happens to those people actually does matter - even if some of them think it doesn't, and treat other people accordingly - then I don't see that as compatible with materialism.
Does "matter" in what sense? Every person is able to affect us and so matters by my introduced definition (and not only affect by actions; the bare fact of their existence affects me, leads me to reason that they are conscious and autonomous and have the right to be just as I would ask it for myself); are you thinking of a definition where people matter just as people, with no other moral reasoning required?
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:32 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I'm not trying to assign beliefs to anyone. I'm just listing the alternatives that are available. Either there is inherent value in the universe, or there isn't. Either somebody considers that his life is of inherent value, or he doesn't. I don't insist that anyone picks one or the other, but I can't see any alternative options.
Properties of any object may be inherent or externally imposed.
Value, like beauty is a property of the beholder. It's a mental state.
This is hardly an issue worth debate. A simple example. A Steinway Grand Piano, A SMEG fridge freezer and a Ferrari Testarossa are all valuable objects in Knightsbridge.
What is their value on the Moon?

The value of anything is determined by who wants it and what use it is to them. If you honestly feel that the universe has value, whether or not it contains people, I'd be interested to hear why you think so.

To my mind, the universe has no value except insofar as someone values it, just as it has no beauty until someone admires it.

(On the contrary, I'd argue that it has a size, a mass and an energy and would retain those properties whether we existed or not).

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Old 20th November 2012, 12:39 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I don't think that things have intrinsic value in the absence of people. Being a person implies value.

This is just my personal view, of course.

I just saw this post.
I agree absolutely with your first sentence.

I'm unsure quite what the second means.
If you mean that people have innate value, I would phrase it differently- "People grant oneanother innate value. We value each other."

If that's what you mean, we have total agreement.

If you mean "Merely being a person confers value from some source other than the rest of mankind", then we disagree on that, because it makes no sense if your first sentence is correct, which we both agree it is.
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:39 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No problem with the question. What often happens in these discussions is that people can just about understand their own position, but don't get what the other person is going on about at all. Sometime the best reason for participating in a discussion of this kind is to figure out what one thinks oneself.

Anyway - if you consider that all the points of view about value among the various people are equally valid - i.e. if you accept that while X thinks he is worth something, if Y thinks he is not, then both views are just as "correct" - then this would be purely subjective value, and entirely compatible with a valueless, materialist universe.

If you consider that what happens to those people actually does matter - even if some of them think it doesn't, and treat other people accordingly - then I don't see that as compatible with materialism.
This goes back to tying to make moral values 'special'. People argue the same about math concepts, and anything else we make value judgements about, beauty, the right significant other and so on.

Yes, these concepts are created in our thoughts and don't actually exist as physical things. So what? My brain exists. The neuro-chemical processes that create my thoughts exist.
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:41 PM   #144
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Westprog- can you define your meaning of "value"? We may be talking past each other if we mean subtly different things by the same word. Happens here often.
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:42 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
This goes back to tying to make moral values 'special'. People argue the same about math concepts, and anything else we make value judgements about, beauty, the right significant other and so on.

Yes, these concepts are created in our thoughts and don't actually exist as physical things. So what? My brain exists. The neuro-chemical processes that create my thoughts exist.
Evidences??
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:22 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
Whether they 'should be' the ones giving morals, it's pretty well established that they have been the one's doing so for thousands of years. Priests existed long before ethical philosophers did. I think Gould had a valid point about ethics being in the domain of religion.
The existence of some bogus BS-peddlers on one domain, doesn't mean they should continue to be in charge of it. Unless you wish to commit the argument from tradition fallacies.

E.g., astrologers have existed for thousands of years before modern astronomy. That doesn't mean they get magisterium over studying stars.

E.g., exorcists have tried to cure schizophrenia and epilepsy for thousands of years before the advent of modern neurology, or indeed even Freud's attempt at psychology. That doesn't mean we should go back to giving exorcists magisterium over mental health.

E.g., barbers have been treating every disease imaginable by letting out blood, for at least a thousand of years before anything resembling modern medicine. It doesn't mean we should give barbers magisterium over medicine.

E.g., for thousands of years shamans have tried to manage the ecosystem, e.g., by praying to the animal spirits to send more of whatever animal was being hunted into extinction. It doesn't mean we should go back to giving shamans magisterium over ecology or preservation of endangered species.

E.g., priests and shamans have literally been conducting trials by divination or ordeal for thousands of years. The very first written code of laws we have, from a little before 2000 BCE, stipulates throwing a sorceror into a river and seeing if they come out alive. (Unlike medieval witch-finding, here if they floated, they were innocent.) It doesn't mean we should replace modern justice with giving the religious nutters magisterium to do that.

E.g., for at least 20,000 years, human tribes have been at endemic war. Inter-tribe relations were done by letting the shaman have a trance and learn from the great spirits which neighbour tribe is using dark magicks to keep your tribe from hunting rabbits, then starting by murdering a member of that tribe in cold blood to give them a strong signal that you're not gonna stand for that kind of crap. And then you could escalate from there. Needless to say, if the government wanted to give such drugged shamen magisterium over foreign relations, you'd probably be livid too.

Etc, etc, etc.

Just because some delusional clowns have been doing an irrational hash of something for thousands of years, doesn't mean we should discard more modern methods to let them keep that undeserved and unjustified prerogative.

In fact, on the contrary, almost any domain has progressed from its primitive roots to more advanced stuff, that works better. The idea that something should be done in a certain way just because it was done that way 5000 years ago is frankly absurd.
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:41 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
IMO defining morals IS outside the domain of science. Science cannot establish whether something is 'moral' because that is a subjective value judgement that humans make. Once 'moral' has been defined, science is useful in helping humans live moral lives and create a moral society according to their definition.
Ah, the 'you cannot get an ought from an is' argument, by any other name. The problem with that though is:

1. Religion has the same problem. If science actually studying reality can't say what ought to be, then WTH, on what basis would it be more rational to let some delusional ass-clowns just postulate it?

It's as absurd as saying that if science can't give me a definitive answer to how much I should save for my old age (they can't predict how much I'll live, economic crises, etc), then I can just go to a circus fortune-teller to tell me that. Why? Lacking a perfect answer doesn't mean you should skip directly to the most irrational and unfounded one.

2. No, the question isn't what is moral, because at that point you've already put the means before the ends. The question is what we want to achieve. What kind of society we want to live in. And also what are we prepared to give away for it.

E.g., the question shouldn't be whether usury should be moral or not, because at that point you're already deciding means without even having an end to justify them. The question is more like what kind of economic growth do you want, and roughly how much crap you want to take for it. Then you can see whether usury is more good than bad to that end, or if it's more bad than good.

You have to have some goals before you decide if the means to them are justified, unjustified, or if something is fully irrelevant to those goals.

And we don't need religion there. Sure, science can't tell you what goals to have, but neither can religion. We have democracy as a means to collectively decide what we want. There isn't even a way to turn that over to religion without basically turning into a theocracy.

And once you've decided what you want to achieve, science can tell you which means work to that end. E.g., if you want economic growth, it can tell you that forbidding usury as immoral is a horrible idea.

And again, even for those means we have democracy as a final way to say if we all, or a majority of us, are ok with those means.

Religion doesn't have any reason to enter it at all. We don't have to skip directly to religion vetting the means, when we have better ways to decide both our goals and our means to them.
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Old 20th November 2012, 01:59 PM   #148
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Finally, the biggest problem with NOMA is the same as with Pascal's Wager: which religion? Because the mores can vary more than you'd think. It's not like every religion has the same set of morals. Quite the contrary.

So once you gave religion magisterium over morals, now WHICH religion should give you those morals.

To illustrate the variability between religions, let's take a scale from 1 to 5 of how a religion feels about an issue. The grades being:

1. You're going straight to hell for it.
2. It's bad, but not a go-straight-to-jail card. You can still make up for it.
3. Couldn't care less.
4. At least in some forms it's good. Alternately, NOT doing it is bad.
5. At least in some forms you're going straight to heavens for it. Alternately, something that you go to hell if you don't.

You might be surprised to know that various religions rank it a 4 or 5 for the following:

- genocide: Old-time Judaism is a 5 or at least 4. Genocide is COMMANDED by God, and at least one guy is deemed evil for NOT doing genoicide.

- homosexuality: actually at least one tribe has it as a 5. It is mandatory for a teenager to "get his seed" by sucking an older guy off. Conversely, heterosexuality is something to be done as sparingly and inconveniently as possible. As in, you'd have to trek into dangerous woods to get it on with your spouse. A weird form of population control, but there we go.

- suicide: for the Norse it was a definite 5. Jumping off a cliff or volunteering to be sacrificed were definitive proofs before Odin that you didn't fear imminent death, and would instantly qualify you for Valhalla.

- murder: while secular authorities did have a grim view of it, for Odin it didn't matter at all. So most of the time it was a 3, but occasionally it was divinely condoned (e.g., according to one balad, Odin himself tells a king to burn an opponent alive in his home) so I guess that would make it a 4.

It was also a 4 or 5, as in explicitly divinely commanded, for the thugee.

- slavery: again, explicitly mandated and commanded by the OT God.

- burning widows alive: a clear 5 in Hinduism. Burning the widow alive for the goddess Sati would guarantee both her and the hubby a better afterlife.

Etc.

So WHICH religion do you give magisterium over morals? The murderous cult of Kali, who'd honour their goddess by strangling you and robbing you naked? The cult of Sati, and resign yourself to ending your life screaming in agony for an hour on a pyre if your hubby kicks the bucket first? The Aztec religion, whose gods NEEDED a steady supply of human hearts? Or what?

And if you can choose which religion has the morals you want, then why not skip the NOMA stupidity entirely and just choose the morals you want?
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Old 20th November 2012, 02:32 PM   #149
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Hi Beth, how are you?

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
Whether they 'should be' the ones giving morals, it's pretty well established that they have been the one's doing so for thousands of years. Priests existed long before ethical philosophers did. I think Gould had a valid point about ethics being in the domain of religion.
Religion and religious leaders don't create morality, they reflect it. At most they create some behavior rules like not eating pork or masturbating (the Catholics).

If morality is simply a nature/nurture process how is that outside the purview of science?

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
I can't agree with this conclusion. It is, IMO, an legimate argument for doubt. To claim otherwise is contrary to the previous statement that I just agreed with. To you, the sliver of doubt introduce by that argument may be inconsequential, but that's a subjective value judgement on your part.
How many god myths do you need to draw a conclusion they all have something in common, they are all the same?

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
I don't think anyone on this thread has been arguing that it's evidence for gods existing.
Not on this thread, no, but in general, yes people do. They throw it out there all the time, you can't prove god doesn't exist. How often do you hear people spontaneously saying, you can't prove Hogwarts doesn't exist? I think you know what I'm talking about.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
Only that it is evidence for doubt regarding the certainty of the positive claim that no gods exist. What is your problem with that caveat?
When discussing the scientific process, I have no issue with that caveat. When discussing the serious question, do gods exist, I do. I've just gotten to that point. I cannot believe modern educated people today still believe in the modern equivalent of Zeus and Thor. It's become so ludicrous to me, it makes no more sense to question such an obvious conclusion than to question the Earth is not flat.



Originally Posted by Beth View Post
It all depends on how you are defining various terms. Pig can fly on airplanes,
Analogy fail.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
fairies exist in our imaginations and literature,
Exactly my point about god myths.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
and the surface of our planet is basically flat relative to the size of human beings.
Analogy fail.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
So none of these statements are incontrovertible facts, but depend on unspoken assumptions you are making about the meaning of those terms in the context of this thread.
Again, in terms of the scientific process, there is built in necessary uncertainty and at the same time there are certain operation situations where we ignore the technical issue of uncertainty and deal with scientific fact.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
The term 'god' has so many different meaning to so many different people, it is not reasonable to assume that you can depend on other people holding the same unspoken assumptions about what you mean when you make statements about the existance of gods.
Come on, we are talking about magical beings, not someone's personal imaginary friend. If you want to talk about other definitions of god, it muddies up the discussion. Deism probably comes close to your personal imaginary god, and it's been discussed.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
But people do argue that you can't disprove invisible garage dragons.
Only in the context of the can't disprove god question. No one brings it up because people believe in the garage dragon.


Originally Posted by Beth View Post
That's the point of the argument - it is equally applicable to both.
It is not equally applied.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
The difference between the frequency of people arguing for one and not the other has to do with how many people in our culture believe in each of those things.
Yeah, zero and a few billion.

I'm not impressed by the god believer numbers, BTW.
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Old 20th November 2012, 02:59 PM   #150
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Just want to point out what a pleasure it is to read your posts, HM.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
That's one of the silliest things in ages. By that kind of broken logic, I can't enjoy a beer unless the universe itself values beer, or two gays can't value their relationship without the universe itself and the very gods themselves valuing some homosexual intimacy.

WTH?

To see how absurd this is, far from their being just one true cosmic scale of value, different people value different things. Some people value their kids and family more, while some people would do anything to stay away from them. Most people value sex to at least some degree, while others have all sorts of hangups and disgust about it. (E.g., in the case of Lovecraft it even affected his work.) Some people value intelligence, while for others 'Einstein' is a pejorative. Some people value an evening spent with a good book, while for others it's only used in disparaging constructs, like 'if I wanted a story, I'd read a book'. Some people value having lots of friends and spending their time with them, while others are beyond introverted and feel sapped by too much time spent around people. Some people value their achievements and look for new challenges to overcome, while for others the most valuable thing in their life is some quality time on the couch with a six-pack and the TV remote control. Etc.

Who the heck are you to say they can't actually value something -- or in your words, they only pretend that it has any value -- unless they invoke your delusional imaginary friend as approving of it?

Do you genuinely think that, say, a relationship can have no value at all unless God and the whole universe approves of it? E.g., that a gay guy genuinely can't find value in his homosexual relationship with another guy, unless God himself has value for it? Or that someone can't find value in reading a blasphemous novel, unless your God himself gave it and finds value in it? That my reading the Quran for example can't have any value, because your imaginary friend doesn't approve of the Quran? Or what?

Because life is made of those moments. If you find value in what you do, congrats, that's the value of your life. FOR YOU.

But really, what kind of lack of a spine and of any self respect does one need, to actually only judge their life and value by how much it pleases some imaginary dictator in the sky?

It's like meeting some hypothetical North Korean who judges the value of his life only by how much it pleases dead president Kim Il Sung. (That is not dead which can eternal lie) I don't know about you, but I'd tell him to grow a spine and some sense of self-worth.

If there ever was a clear-cut display of what is wrong with religion, and what harm it does, such need to judge your life only through the glasses of what value it is to an imaginary guy in the sky, is up there with the best of them.
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Old 20th November 2012, 03:01 PM   #151
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Wow, three posts to respond to me. Most of it is in response to stuff I didn't right, so I'll just respond to the parts that do address what I wrote.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The existence of some bogus BS-peddlers on one domain, doesn't mean they should continue to be in charge of it. Unless you wish to commit the argument from tradition fallacies.
I didn't say anything about who should be in charge of morality. I was pointing out that your complaint about Gould giving ethics to the domain of religion was unfounded. Morality has been in the domain of religion for as long as it's been around. You don't appear to be arguing this point, only complaining about it.
Quote:
Just because some delusional clowns have been doing an irrational hash of something for thousands of years, doesn't mean we should discard more modern methods to let them keep that undeserved and unjustified prerogative.
Who is saying we should discard anything? It's not what I got from Gould's essay. He didn't object to ethical philosophy or other advances in moral reasoning.

Quote:
In fact, on the contrary, almost any domain has progressed from its primitive roots to more advanced stuff, that works better. The idea that something should be done in a certain way just because it was done that way 5000 years ago is frankly absurd.
I agree. Why did you interpret my post as if I had made that claim?

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Ah, the 'you cannot get an ought from an is' argument, by any other name.
Yes.
Quote:

The problem with that though is:
For you, the fact that it is true. You cannot get 'an ought from an is' without some initial 'ought'.

Quote:
1. Religion has the same problem. If science actually studying reality can't say what ought to be, then WTH, on what basis would it be more rational to let some delusional ass-clowns just postulate it?
Even if I agree that religion has the same problem, it doesn't invalidate the point that 'you cannot get an ought from an is' .

Also, I didn't say it would be more rational to let delusional ass-clowns postulate it, whether those delusional ass-clowns are priests, philosophers or scientists. My point was only that science does not determine which moral values we hold.

Quote:
2. No, the question isn't what is moral, because at that point you've already put the means before the ends. The question is what we want to achieve. What kind of society we want to live in. And also what are we prepared to give away for it.
Whether you want to define those issues as morality or not, those evaluations cannot be determined by science. Science can help us make those determinations by telling us what the costs and benefits of various choices might be, but that isn't in the same domain as actually making the choices. Also, it doesn't invalidate the point that 'you cannot get an ought from an is'.

Quote:
And we don't need religion there. Sure, science can't tell you what goals to have, but neither can religion.
Both science and religion can inform us about what goals to have, while neither can force their goals upon us. But while the domain of religion is about attempting to do just that, the domain of science is NOT.

Quote:
Religion doesn't have any reason to enter it at all. We don't have to skip directly to religion vetting the means, when we have better ways to decide both our goals and our means to them.
Ethics has been part of the domain of religion since it's inception. Complaining that this is so and insisting that it does not need to be so does not refute the fact that it is so.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Finally, the biggest problem with NOMA is the same as with Pascal's Wager: which religion? Because the mores can vary more than you'd think. It's not like every religion has the same set of morals. Quite the contrary.
I don't think the variety of moral teachings is a problem for NOMA as it isn't claiming any particular set of ethics is correct.
Quote:
So WHICH religion do you give magisterium over morals?
Why would you conclude that NOMA requires that only one religion could be allowed magisterium over morals? That isn't my understanding of NOMA. To me, this question is akin to asking whether botany or zoology should have magisterium over genetics.

Quote:
And if you can choose which religion has the morals you want, then why not skip the NOMA stupidity entirely and just choose the morals you want?
Why do you think that NOMA is incompatible with choosing the morals you want? NOMA only says that which morals we decide upon is a decision made outside the domain of science, not that people cannot decide for themselves between the various different moralities offered by religious and non-religious philosophies.
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Old 20th November 2012, 03:17 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No, the professed belief that the universe is valueless, and the implied belief that people are worth something.
What values did the universe have before humans?
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Old 20th November 2012, 04:39 PM   #153
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Beth, I had written a longer answer, but the short version is that you seem to base it all on a misunderstanding of what it's about. Starting with what he means by "magisterium". The definition he gives for magisterium is: "a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution."

He's explicitly saying that religion DOES have the tools and methods for a meaningful discussion and resolution of moral issues.

It's NOT about just 'oh well, the religion has been TRYING it for millennia', nor any of your other mis-representations and re-imagining what it might actually be about.

And for the real issue it IS relevant whether religion actually can do that, not just whether science can't. No matter what science can't, it still doesn't justify the stupidity of the NOMA actually recognizing that religion can meaningfully resolve moral issues. Not just try, not just have millennia of pretending, but actually having the tools and methods to actually resolve the issues.

And yes, if we do grant THAT to religion, then it kinda becomes important which. Because if we accept the NOMA, we just granted not only that it has a tradition of trying, but that actually it can give meaningful answers and resolutions. And then we kinda have a problem if 10 different religions give 10 different and mutually incompatible resolutions. They can't all be right, and they can't all have the methods and tools that give meaningful results.

And if we granted that it is equipped to answer such questions meaningfully, then we kinda should pay attention to the answers it gave. But which of those 10 meaningful answers should we follow, if they're so wildly all over the map? Which of them gives the most meaningful answers?

Should we burn widows? Is that moral? Well, that wouldn't matter if religion was just some irrelevant guys who just have a tradition of talking about it, but that's not what the NOMA means. It does matter if we acknowledge that religion has a magisterium, i.e., that it can actually give meaningful answers and resolutions. If one religion says "yes, it's the right thing to do" and another says "no, it's an atrocity", we kinda have a problem. Both can't be right. We can't follow both. How do we tell whose tools give the most meaningful resolution there?

Etc.

But basically wake me up when it's about the actual NOMA, not about some sanitized version that you just imagined.
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Old 20th November 2012, 04:43 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
What values did the universe have before humans?
I've heard that hydrogen and helium have very high moral standards.
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Old 20th November 2012, 04:49 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
I've heard that hydrogen and helium have very high moral standards.
and tend to be quite reactive.... but they do like to pair bond
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:13 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
and tend to be quite reactive.... but they do like to pair bond
They do? Hydrogen, sure, but He2? I thought helium was too noble to pair.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:20 PM   #157
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damn you woman and yer debunking of my sarcasm!!!



the funny thing is I never paid Helium any mind at all and went right for the Hyrdogen joke.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:26 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Hi Beth, how are you?

Religion and religious leaders don't create morality, they reflect it. At most they create some behavior rules like not eating pork or masturbating (the Catholics).
I agree.
Quote:
If morality is simply a nature/nurture process how is that outside the purview of science?
Studying morality isn't outside science. It is doing morality - deciding which morals should be adopted - that lies outside science. IMO, that is what Gould is talking about in NOMA.
Quote:
How many god myths do you need to draw a conclusion they all have something in common, they are all the same?
It's not a question of how many. How many alien abductions do you need to research before you can conclude that aliens from other planets don't exist? I just don't feel comfortable concluding that such beings do not exist even if I agree that all known instances should be presumed false.

If you are willing to do so, that is your prerogative. I don't consider your conclusions to be a rational belief. Now, I consider this judgement a matter of taste rather than a fatal flaw in your assessment or substantive disagreement regarding the likelihood of the claim being true.

Quote:
When discussing the scientific process, I have no issue with that caveat. When discussing the serious question, do gods exist, I do.
Excuse me, but I'm having a little trouble parsing your meaning here. You seem to be saying that you don't think such caveats are appropriate when having a serious discussion about whether or not gods exist. Is that what you meant?

Quote:
I've just gotten to that point. I cannot believe modern educated people today still believe in the modern equivalent of Zeus and Thor. It's become so ludicrous to me, it makes no more sense to question such an obvious conclusion than to question the Earth is not flat.
Flat is entirely dependent on definition, which needs to have caveats. If the earth were the size of billiard ball, it would be smoother than a billiard ball. When you reject the caveats that people are using AND reject what they are saying, it's like you're refusing to listen when someone is explaining to you that what they meant by 'flat' was 'smoother than a billiard ball'.
Quote:
Exactly my point about god myths.
Yes. So in addition to defining what you mean by 'god', you also need to define what you mean by 'exist'. Neither are words with well defined unique meanings. By some definitions of god and exist, saying that god exists would be a true statement. It seems to me that those caveats you are disparaging are necessary in any serious discussion of the matter.

Quote:
Again, in terms of the scientific process, there is built in necessary uncertainty and at the same time there are certain operation situations where we ignore the technical issue of uncertainty and deal with scientific fact.

Come on, we are talking about magical beings, not someone's personal imaginary friend. If you want to talk about other definitions of god, it muddies up the discussion. Deism probably comes close to your personal imaginary god, and it's been discussed.
Actually, I don't hold any beliefs in any gods according to your apparent definitions of belief, god and exist. This would include the deist god that's been discussed. Please don't assume that disagreement wrt your logic is a defense of some god belief.
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Only in the context of the can't disprove god question. No one brings it up because people believe in the garage dragon.

It is not equally applied.
because.......no one actually believes in the garage dragon. Why would it be equally applied when the difference in the believer base is:
Quote:

Yeah, zero and a few billion.

I'm not impressed by the god believer numbers, BTW.
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Old 20th November 2012, 05:35 PM   #159
I Ratant
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
What values did the universe have before humans?
.
Value is a human added attribute. Before humans then, the universe was valueless... but not of no value.
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Old 20th November 2012, 06:11 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
...
It's not a question of how many. How many alien abductions do you need to research before you can conclude that aliens from other planets don't exist?
Another bad analogy. There is different evidence supporting ET some place in the Universe. In particular, we exist, so we have evidence that life in the Universe exists. The Universe is vast. We can draw some conclusions that the conditions for life to develop exist elsewhere in the Universe.

With god beliefs, there is no other evidence whatsoever except belief and we can see from older god myths said gods are fictional. There is no evidence of any gods like there is evidence for life existing in the Universe.


Originally Posted by Beth View Post
...I just don't feel comfortable concluding that such beings do not exist even if I agree that all known instances should be presumed false.
It's not just that all known instances have been demonstrably false, it's that fiction best explains the evidence.


Originally Posted by Beth View Post
... Excuse me, but I'm having a little trouble parsing your meaning here. You seem to be saying that you don't think such caveats are appropriate when having a serious discussion about whether or not gods exist. Is that what you meant?
As long as people are talking about the scientific process, uncertainty is built in.

That doesn't mean we can't also consider things current scientific fact. I consider it a current scientific fact that people invented god myths and no real gods exist. The supporting evidence is overwhelming. It's time to state that clearly.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
...Flat is entirely dependent on definition, which needs to have caveats. If the earth were the size of billiard ball, it would be smoother than a billiard ball. When you reject the caveats that people are using AND reject what they are saying, it's like you're refusing to listen when someone is explaining to you that what they meant by 'flat' was 'smoother than a billiard ball'.
Yes. So in addition to defining what you mean by 'god', you also need to define what you mean by 'exist'. Neither are words with well defined unique meanings. By some definitions of god and exist, saying that god exists would be a true statement. It seems to me that those caveats you are disparaging are necessary in any serious discussion of the matter.
If you have a definition of god that is outside the evidence for fictional human inventions, let's hear it.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
... Please don't assume that disagreement wrt your logic is a defense of some god belief.
because.......no one actually believes in the garage dragon. Why would it be equally applied when the difference in the believer base is:
I'm pretty sure I understand your version of god/atheism but I could be wrong. As for, people don't actually believe in garage dragons, that was my point.
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