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Thread: Does god exist?

  1. #21
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    Re: Does god exist?

    I think God's existence comes down to how evidence of a theory is judged.
    For an example, a catholic would insist that God exists because of the bible, miracles, near-death experiences and so on but these will easily we refuted. Scientifically, all these can be explained or ignored completely but when it comes down to it, they are just opinions.

    Although people might think the reasons for God's existence isn't valid because the evidence isn't trustworthy, others could say the same thing about scientific theories. The fact is, that the way we understand the world is just down to bias; Do you trust a scientists information or the religious person? Both are evidence, but it is up to the individual to assess the validity of it.

  2. #22
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    Re: Does god exist?

    I personally cannot seriously discuss anything for which there is no empirical evidence. On what would I base a reasonable opinion?
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

  3. #23
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    I personally cannot seriously discuss anything for which there is no empirical evidence. On what would I base a reasonable opinion?
    Personal experience?
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Personal experience?
    In the legal community, the most unreliable testimony is often eye-witness evidence. Being human beings, we experience things according to our nature. We do not experience them like dispassionate experts. So, I am not so confident in personal experience, especially if that personal experience involves no empirical evidence. I can easily say, "I have had what might be a supernatural experience, since I can not explain it any other way." I cannot easily say, "Therefore, I know all about metaphysical subjects." An inexplicable experience is just that, inexplicable. It is illogical to base a logical argument upon such things.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    In the legal community, the most unreliable testimony is often eye-witness evidence. Being human beings, we experience things according to our nature. We do not experience them like dispassionate experts. So, I am not so confident in personal experience, especially if that personal experience involves no empirical evidence.
    So, are you saying that subjective experience is of no value in the process of the discovery of knowledge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    I can easily say, "I have had what might be a supernatural experience, since I can not explain it any other way." I cannot easily say, "Therefore, I know all about metaphysical subjects."
    I don't think that anyone is seriously making that argument. Any sober-minded person, whether they have a mystical bent or not, is going to draw only conclusions which arise naturally from the evidence they have, be it subjective or objective. It would be just as fallacious to say, "I have confirmed for myself that gravity works as has been theorized by dropping this apple... therefore, I understand all of the laws of physics," as it is to make the argument you have proposed. Are you citing specific examples of someone making the type of argument you proposed?
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  7. #26
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    Personal experience?
    Here is a personal experience. Do you believe it? Why or why not?

    The central issue that I have yet to see addressed here or anywhere else is what the difference is between the personal spiritual experiences of one religion and any other. From what I have done my best to try and understand, they are often unfalsifiable, which is a dead end--or have been outright proven to be frauds and/or false. Otherwise, Christians have personal experiences they use to substantiate their faith, Hindus have personal experiences that do the same, and so do Wiccans, Muslims, Jews and the rest of the faithful of the world.

    Take away personal experiences, and what are does any specific religion really have to make it true?

    Remember that arguments that any/all religions can use (i.e. deistic god via cosmological argument) does nothing to forward your specific religion, only a nebulous "god" that has no meaning--why not aliens from another universe that created this universe for their own personal amusement and that agreed to never interact with this universe, for example?

    Then there are holy books. Yeah, there are lots of those, and they all have contradictions--within themselves and against each other. Also, a holy book saying that it itself is true is of course circular logic.

    But I digress... one thing at a time... let's get to the bottom of this whole personal experiences thing, Tal, since you brought it up.

    I've been waiting literally for years to see you or any other ODN Christian use personal experiences to support their implied claim that Jesus is the one true god. The one time I can remember someone (I won't say who to avoid the "calling out" rule) actually try and do this, all it was was an anecdote about god giving them specific information while they were working--which is of course unfalsifiable, and pretty similar to the above linked personal experience.

    From what I gather, there are no miracles, conflicting personal experiences related to faith that are often unfalsifiable, and no divine intervention of any sort that can be proven using solid methods. Which is odd considering that an all powerful being could just go on life TV and preform miracles and have scientists from all over the world run tests on them to confirm that they are miracles. That would certainly get me to convert.

    Hope everyone is doing well, btw.

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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    So, are you saying that subjective experience is of no value in the process of the discovery of knowledge?

    Certainly not, but I am saying that since it cannot be verified or reproduced that it is anecdotal evidence, which is not worthy of the characters it is written with. What happens to me that I cannot explain and what is empirical evidence are certainly different.

    I don't think that anyone is seriously making that argument. Any sober-minded person, whether they have a mystical bent or not, is going to draw only conclusions which arise naturally from the evidence they have, be it subjective or objective.
    Yet a sober minded person would believe that the most reasonable answer that develops from the facts is a single, lone, omnipotent being that needs no back story and just has unlimited powers for no discernible reason? How else would you be able to make such a claim other than to assume knowledge you do not have?

    Let us pretend this is true. Short of God speaking to you and introducing himself, what actual evidence leads you to the conclusion he exists? I do not believe such evidence exists. I believe that the predisposition by learning the mythology happens first and then the experiences fill the holes. Actual logical arguments let the facts lead to the conclusion through abductive logic, not through plugging in the holes with mythology.

    It would be just as fallacious to say, "I have confirmed for myself that gravity works as has been theorized by dropping this apple... therefore, I understand all of the laws of physics," as it is to make the argument you have proposed. Are you citing specific examples of someone making the type of argument you proposed?
    Again, a reasonable "theory" comes up with the most likely answer to fill in the gaps between facts. I can imagine no series of verifiable facts that lead to mythology of a single omnipotent creator that needs no creation itself being the most likely answer. Any theory that shuts the door on looking further is not reasonable. There are always more reasonable answers than that.
    Last edited by Joe Friday; April 6th, 2013 at 06:22 PM.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

  9. #28
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie View Post
    Here is a personal experience. Do you believe it? Why or why not?
    Sure.. I can believe that happened. Why not?

    i have no reason to doubt the veracity of the person saying these things, they are in keeping with existing understanding about Hindu traditions about Lord Krishna, and the result on a personal level seems to be consistent with what one might expect from someone who has had a personal encounter with Krishna. Does that mean I am going to start worshipping Krishna? Of course not. For a start, while there are some strains of belief that run along the lines that all supernatural entities that are not God or one of His angels are either demons or Satan himself... I do not agree with those. If we acknowledge that there is anything remotely resembling a collective unconsciousness in the vein of Jung or his ilk, the possibility of an encounter with one of the powerful archetypes that interact with the human spirit, or with an egregore (a psychic entity that is the result of collective consciousness directed toward a certain end) is not outside the realm of possibility. Yet, neither of these is worthy of worship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    The central issue that I have yet to see addressed here or anywhere else is what the difference is between the personal spiritual experiences of one religion and any other. From what I have done my best to try and understand, they are often unfalsifiable, which is a dead end--or have been outright proven to be frauds and/or false.
    And yet, the Catholic Church has concrete documentation of numerous miracles from reliable witnesses, rigorously tested and examined critically before being accepted as true. One does not need to look very hard to find exhaustive lists of these.

    Just to mention the first off the top of my head out of many verifiable miracles, hundreds of people witnessing an Apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary in the air on many consecutive days hardly seems "unfalsifiable." At some point, the plural of "anecdote" becomes "evidence" and "data," but I have a feeling that you're not going to accept that argument now any more than you did the last time we hashed this out. If I remember correctly, last time we talked about this, you seemed to believe that it was much more likely that everybody had the exact same hallucination at the same time and experienced it almost the exact same way on multiple days. I'm not interested in picking apart the specifics of any one specific miracle with you, just as I have never been... and never will be. You are not receptive to any of the fundamental assumptions that make a world where miracles are possible an item worth talking about because you operate from a paradigm that approaches the world from its own very strictly dogmatic assumptions, some of which I feel are every bit as untenable as you feel mine are. Apparently, the only things with any value are those things which can be explicitly quantified and observed... and falsified... with our current understanding of the universe and our current technological abilities, which is an assumption which I feel is the height of hubris.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    Otherwise, Christians have personal experiences they use to substantiate their faith, Hindus have personal experiences that do the same, and so do Wiccans, Muslims, Jews and the rest of the faithful of the world.
    Sure... all of those things are true. But just because someone has an experience with something of a spiritual nature does not mean that that experience imparted a good and true moral teaching. That's why it's important not to rely solely upon personal experience, but also upon other evidence, critical reason, and sober moral judgement to arrive at a conclusion when considering these things. Personal experience does not happen in a vacuum, and it should not be considered in a vacuum. To do so invites all the fallacies and pitfalls that go along with totally subjective approaches to faith and moral life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    Take away personal experiences, and what are does any specific religion really have to make it true?
    Tons of things. Historical fact, sound reason, internal consistency, and moral rectitude are a good start. However, without personal experiences to help each person to relate to the moral truths illustrated by the teachings of a faith, that faith's teachings mean very little on an individual basis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    Remember that arguments that any/all religions can use (i.e. deistic god via cosmological argument) does nothing to forward your specific religion, only a nebulous "god" that has no meaning--why not aliens from another universe that created this universe for their own personal amusement and that agreed to never interact with this universe, for example?
    Just about every time we talk about the existence of God, you try to bend the discussion back around to the question, "what makes you think your idea of God is right?" That's outside the scope of this discussion. I've only answered your questions thus far as a courtesy, but I won't be baited into this unless you want to start your own thread about it. So far, I don't believe anyone has made a single claim on this thread that their personal idea of what God is like is right and all others are wrong. Maybe I missed it... but I think I would have noticed. Did you see one that I missed? If not... it's outside the scope of the discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    Then there are holy books. Yeah, there are lots of those, and they all have contradictions--within themselves and against each other. Also, a holy book saying that it itself is true is of course circular logic.
    That's a huge generalization to make, and I don't think you can support it. For a start, what specific internal inconsistencies do you find in the Mandukya Upanishad regarding Aum?

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    But I digress... one thing at a time... let's get to the bottom of this whole personal experiences thing, Tal, since you brought it up.

    I've been waiting literally for years to see you or any other ODN Christian use personal experiences to support their implied claim that Jesus is the one true god. The one time I can remember someone (I won't say who to avoid the "calling out" rule) actually try and do this, all it was was an anecdote about god giving them specific information while they were working--which is of course unfalsifiable, and pretty similar to the above linked personal experience.
    I'm not going to ever do that with you, PZ. Not ever. I told you this the last time you asked, and I'll tell you again. My personal experiences are unique to me and would likely be edifying only to me, much in the same way that no two people respond the precisely same way to a certain work of art or a piece of music. To describe them to you would be pointless, as they would likely be meaningless and would be divorced from any context that would provide any useful direction in arriving at a sufficient understanding of them to matter. Furthermore, I'm not interested in taking experiences which were, to me, full of meaning and grace and putting it out on a board for you to use as target practice, especially when I already know that it won't do any good. I have never been, and I never will be, and I don't think that any Christian - or any other person of faith you meet, for that matter - will be interested in doing so once they understand what your purposes behind asking that question are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Zombie
    From what I gather, there are no miracles, conflicting personal experiences related to faith that are often unfalsifiable, and no divine intervention of any sort that can be proven using solid methods. Which is odd considering that an all powerful being could just go on life TV and preform miracles and have scientists from all over the world run tests on them to confirm that they are miracles. That would certainly get me to convert.
    Your standard of falsifiability regarding personal, subjective experiences only shows your total failure to understand the relationship between personal experience and faith. Nothing I can say, describe, or explain is going to help you, and I'm just not interested. You've got too many preconceptions and presumptions about what's true and what's not true to even bother. The last time we had this discussion, it became quite apparent to me that you weren't interested in understanding, but in "winning." I'm not interested in being a tally mark on an imaginary scoreboard. I'm only interested in talking with people who seem genuinely interested in arriving at some sort of understanding without the ultimate end of destroying the opposition's argument.

    What's ironic is that even if you were to prove me wrong, it still wouldn't necessarily mean that you're right, even though you might erroneously think it would. I'm not interested in having that discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    Certainly not, but I am saying that since it cannot be verified or reproduced that it is anecdotal evidence, which is not worthy of the characters it is written with. What happens to me that I cannot explain and what is empirical evidence are certainly different.
    I don't think that anyone is making the argument that personal experience and empirical evidence are equivalent. Just because something exists only as a thought-experience doesn't mean that it has any less impact on you as a person. That doesn't mean that it should always be held up as a piece of "empirical" evidence to show other people that what you're saying is objectively true. I don't think that it's reasonable to make the argument that solely because of their own personal experiences, we should accept - sight unseen - that a given statement a person makes is true. As I explained above, personal experiences aren't meant to be taken in a vacuum, picked apart and analyzed into their constituent parts, and explained away as delusions, wishful thinking, coincidence, or logical fallacies. They're meant to be understood in a larger context that includes not only other personal experiences, sound reason, careful reflection, and internal and external consistency with other truths one has already verified. It's not like doing an experiment to get a specific data point to be scrutinized along with all the other data points collected to arrive at the single conclusion. It's not a deductive process, but an inductive one... when it's even meant to impart a truth by itself at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    Yet a sober minded person would believe that the most reasonable answer that develops from the facts is a single, lone, omnipotent being that needs no back story and just has unlimited powers for no discernible reason? How else would you be able to make such a claim other than to assume knowledge you do not have?
    The characterization of belief in deity as having 'no discernible reason' does a disservice to the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, and several other very well-researched, well-examined, and well-defined positions that defend a rational explanation for belief in deity. You may disagree with the conclusions that they come to, likely based on a disagreement with some of the fundamental premises of the discussion... but that is something to be borne out during the discussion, not dismissed out of hand as "no discernible reason."

    Theists aren't any more or less likely to be stupid, irrational, illogical, or [insert intellectually pejorative term here] than atheists are. We just operate with different fundamental assumptions about the universe and how it works. Just because you disagree with those doesn't make us superstitious, irrational troglodytes clinging to a convenient lie to shield our fragile egos from the harsh realities of nihilism, as many atheists would like to characterize us... any more than your failure to comprehend God's existence makes you heartless, arrogant, amoral psychopaths bent on destroying society, as some religious fanatics may try to characterize you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    Let us pretend this is true. Short of God speaking to you and introducing himself, what actual evidence leads you to the conclusion he exists?
    The universe itself provides sufficient evidence for me. And if that's not enough, I can point to historical fact, moral reason, verifiable miracles, and the personal experiences of myself and others to provide additional context and framework to that evidence. I don't believe that you will find much value in these things, as we likely have different standards on what qualifies as admissible evidence, if you will only acknowledge that which is empirically verifiable from our current frame of reference, but that's always been one of the fundamental difference between atheists and theists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    I do not believe such evidence exists. I believe that the predisposition by learning the mythology happens first and then the experiences fill the holes. Actual logical arguments let the facts lead to the conclusion through abductive logic, not through plugging in the holes with mythology.
    There may be elements of what you describe in some religious teachings, and I would argue that people who settle for such a superficial understanding of what they believe should not be surprised when they fall apart under the weight of their own inconsistencies when put to the test.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    Again, a reasonable "theory" comes up with the most likely answer to fill in the gaps between facts. I can imagine no series of verifiable facts that lead to mythology of a single omnipotent creator that needs no creation itself being the most likely answer.
    That does not speak to its lack of existence... only your lack of imagination, and your insistence upon relying upon empirical evidence as the sole arbiter of what is true and what is not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday
    Any theory that shuts the door on looking further is not reasonable. There are always more reasonable answers than that.
    That's because you have a fundamentally different approach to understanding the universe which starts from the basic assumption that anything that can exist as something "real" can be objectively observed and quantified and understood with sufficient understanding and time.
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  10. #29
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    And yet, the Catholic Church has concrete documentation of numerous miracles from reliable witnesses, rigorously tested and examined critically before being accepted as true. One does not need to look very hard to find exhaustive lists of these.
    Many religions have internal claims of all sorts of things. One need not look very far for a list of these. Followers of Charles Manson have claimed that he levitated a bus over a creek, to name one. But what does that prove? Absolutely nothing. The catholic church is particularly dodgy on this one. Is there a single Catholic miracle claim that has been made available to be observed and analysed by objective scientists, in accordance with the well-tried scientific method? If so, what conclusions did these scientists reach? What peer literature can I find them in?


    Just to mention the first off the top of my head out of many verifiable miracles, hundreds of people witnessing an Apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary in the air on many consecutive days hardly seems "unfalsifiable." At some point, the plural of "anecdote" becomes "evidence" and "data," but I have a feeling that you're not going to accept that argument now any more than you did the last time we hashed this out. If I remember correctly, last time we talked about this, you seemed to believe that it was much more likely that everybody had the exact same hallucination at the same time and experienced it almost the exact same way on multiple days. I'm not interested in picking apart the specifics of any one specific miracle with you, just as I have never been... and never will be. You are not receptive to any of the fundamental assumptions that make a world where miracles are possible an item worth talking about because you operate from a paradigm that approaches the world from its own very strictly dogmatic assumptions, some of which I feel are every bit as untenable as you feel mine are. Apparently, the only things with any value are those things which can be explicitly quantified and observed... and falsified... with our current understanding of the universe and our current technological abilities, which is an assumption which I feel is the height of hubris.
    What apparitions?
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  11. #30
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    Many religions have internal claims of all sorts of things. One need not look very far for a list of these. Followers of Charles Manson have claimed that he levitated a bus over a creek, to name one. But what does that prove? Absolutely nothing. The catholic church is particularly dodgy on this one. Is there a single Catholic miracle claim that has been made available to be observed and analysed by objective scientists, in accordance with the well-tried scientific method? If so, what conclusions did these scientists reach? What peer literature can I find them in?
    There are several things wrong with your line of inquiry which demonstrate your lack of understanding about the nature of miracles. For a start, it's not something that could be studied by the scientific method, because it can't be reliably reproduced under controlled circumstances or on demand. If it could, it wouldn't be much of a miracle... just some novel natural phenomenon we've discovered. Simply the process of "proving" a miracle by your standards would render the miraculous mundane and sterile. That's not the nature of miracles. They're not some dog-and-pony show that God puts on to amuse and satisfy the curiosity of hardened atheists and skeptics who are going to find a way to explain away virtually anything, no matter how improbably they need to stretch the bounds of believability and probability to do so.

    For another thing, it's one thing to doubt the veracity claims of a known group of murderous psychopaths... but quite another to doubt the sworn testimony of morally upstanding, forthright people with no ulterior motives.

    However, as one example, several of the miraculous healings at Lourdes have been well-documented and have been declared as "inexplicable" by the Lourdes Medical Bureau - a status they reserve for very strict criteria, including the exclusion of diseases for which there is known to be a possibility of spontaneous remission. There are also several very well-documented cases of people surviving sometimes for years only on Holy Communion given daily with no other sustenance at all. In one case, the woman in question was hospitalized and was watched very closely to ensure that no other food was given to her by some illicit means.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus
    What apparitions?
    There have been numerous claims of Marian apparitions, and most of them are what you'd call "unverifiable," as they happened to individuals with no other non-involved witnesses, blah, blah. Not exactly admissible in court... but there have been a couple that were witnessed by thousands of people. One set of such apparitions occurred in 1968 at Zeitoun, Egypt and occurred many times over the course of 2-3 years and was witnessed by thousands, including Egyptian President Nasser. It was also photographed and caught on video.

    Another set of apparitions occurred in Assiut, Egypt and was also witnessed by thousands of people, many of whom photographed the apparitions they saw.

    A more complete list of Marian apparitions isn't hard to find if you want one.
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post
    There are several things wrong with your line of inquiry which demonstrate your lack of understanding about the nature of miracles. For a start, it's not something that could be studied by the scientific method, because it can't be reliably reproduced under controlled circumstances or on demand. If it could, it wouldn't be much of a miracle... just some novel natural phenomenon we've discovered. Simply the process of "proving" a miracle by your standards would render the miraculous mundane and sterile. That's not the nature of miracles. They're not some dog-and-pony show that God puts on to amuse and satisfy the curiosity of hardened atheists and skeptics who are going to find a way to explain away virtually anything, no matter how improbably they need to stretch the bounds of believability and probability to do so.
    A miracle either involves a supernatural intervention with the physical world, causing laws of nature to be disobeyed or it does not (I would think it must by definition).

    If it does not then miracles are irrelevant to the question of whether a god exists. They simply can't be observed in our world. There can never be a basis for saying that a miracle has in fact occurred.

    If it does involve supernatural intervention into the physical world causing laws of nature to be disobeyed then we're in business. But the raw end of that business is that their occurrance must be detectable. Once you're messing with the physical world, you're messing with the observable. Thus, they must be provable. There must be a way of demonstrating that there are more unexplained cures in connection with religious belief than that there are without that connection (taking placebo into account). Even where they can't be performed under controlled conditions, they can be studied and analysed statistically.

    So far, I'm unaware of any study that demonstrates that there's any significant (in the scientific sense of that word) statistical difference between religion-related unexplained recoveries and those that are not religion-related. If you know of any such study, do feel free to point me to it.

    For another thing, it's one thing to doubt the veracity claims of a known group of murderous psychopaths... but quite another to doubt the sworn testimony of morally upstanding, forthright people with no ulterior motives.
    There's no doubt that many of those who claimed that a miracle has occurred to them truly believe this to be the case. But that's not evidence of miracles. It's only evidence of the psychological power of faith itself. In order to prove a miracle, we have to demonstrate that there's some connection between the effect and religious faith (other than simply placebo).

    However, as one example, several of the miraculous healings at Lourdes have been well-documented and have been declared as "inexplicable" by the Lourdes Medical Bureau - a status they reserve for very strict criteria, including the exclusion of diseases for which there is known to be a possibility of spontaneous remission. There are also several very well-documented cases of people surviving sometimes for years only on Holy Communion given daily with no other sustenance at all. In one case, the woman in question was hospitalized and was watched very closely to ensure that no other food was given to her by some illicit means.
    Sure. About 3-5 (according to wiki) per year seem to have enough merit to be thoroughly investigated. And sure, the Bureau can in some cases conclude that a healing was inexplicable. That's fine. Once again, inexplicable (with our current knowledge) phenomena do happen. This does include people inexplicably getting better. I'm one example. Doctors were coninced I wouldn't be able to walk by the time I was 3 (something about my foot at the time of birth). I'm walking fine (normal, same as everyone else) and I'm 39. Miracle? No. Just something that they didn't know.

    Unexplained healings happen across the board and there's no evidence that they're causally connected to religious faith. The Bureau analyses a sub-sample of these events and documents the ones it can't explain. It makes the very point not to conclude that they were miracles.

    There have been numerous claims of Marian apparitions, and most of them are what you'd call "unverifiable," as they happened to individuals with no other non-involved witnesses, blah, blah. Not exactly admissible in court... but there have been a couple that were witnessed by thousands of people. One set of such apparitions occurred in 1968 at Zeitoun, Egypt and occurred many times over the course of 2-3 years and was witnessed by thousands, including Egyptian President Nasser. It was also photographed and caught on video.
    Well, if you say they're unreliable then they're unreliable. They're as good as Charles Manson levitating his bus, vampire abductions, werewolf incidents, UFO abductions, witches flying on their brooms, all sorts of mastery in mystery and sorcery. It's not evidence.

    As for the Egypt video, who caught it? How many bits of footage are there? Who has had custody of it? What do objective analysts say about it? What was actually in the video?

    Another set of apparitions occurred in Assiut, Egypt and was also witnessed by thousands of people, many of whom photographed the apparitions they saw.

    A more complete list of Marian apparitions isn't hard to find if you want one.
    Once again, I'm not taking any issue with the fact that members of a religious sect (in this case the Catholic Church) make claims about witnessing miracles. Nearly every sect in history has done that. And currently, milions of people of all faiths (and those without but superstitious enough) make all sorts of magical claims. They always have. Superstitious people make superstitious claims. The nature of these claims can't be verified without a proper, objective study. The fact that the Bureau that you quote above dismisses the vast majority of claims is in itself very telling; there's a stong tendency by the faithful to come up with miraculous claims that are false. Most by far are found to be false and very few are found inconclusive (unexplained but not deemed a miracle).

    Mind you, since the advent of the mobile phone camera, we've seen a spectacular drought in these phenomena. Somehow, now that everyone can film everything that happens, Virgin Mary (along with every other mystical creatures) stops showing up. Could it be that Apple will kill superstition?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

    "If you could rationalize with Religious people there would be no more Religious people" -Gregory House

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    Re: Does god exist?

    If I am going to give detailed rebuttals, I want to first add some disclaimers in the attempts to avoid issues that have arisen in the past.

    1. Text based communiques have inherent limitations and problems, such as a lack of accompanying body language and tone to accentuate points and such. I will in my replies endeavor to be as clear as possible, and if/when I choose to use stylistic tactics such as sarcasm or irony, I will clearly sign-post such usage. Too many times in the past have I been made into a boogieman based on subjective notions of tone, style, politeness (whatever those may mean), etc. Please give me the benefit of the doubt that I am trying to communicate to you without any ulterior motives and with the best intentions, and if there is something that you feel I have stated that is rude, mean, impolite, etc. please point it out to me and give me the opportunity to clear up a potential miscommunication or provide further context.

    2. I like you Tal. I have always liked you for a variety of reasons. I like many religious people on ODN and in person. Just something to keep in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal
    Sure.. I can believe that happened. Why not?

    i have no reason to doubt the veracity of the person saying these things, they are in keeping with existing understanding about Hindu traditions about Lord Krishna, and the result on a personal level seems to be consistent with what one might expect from someone who has had a personal encounter with Krishna. Does that mean I am going to start worshipping Krishna? Of course not. For a start, while there are some strains of belief that run along the lines that all supernatural entities that are not God or one of His angels are either demons or Satan himself... I do not agree with those.
    Understood, but you don't believe in Krishna, is what it comes down to in the end. You only believe in one true god, which is Jesus.

    If we acknowledge that there is anything remotely resembling a collective unconsciousness in the vein of Jung or his ilk, the possibility of an encounter with one of the powerful archetypes that interact with the human spirit, or with an egregore (a psychic entity that is the result of collective consciousness directed toward a certain end) is not outside the realm of possibility. Yet, neither of these is worthy of worship.
    Why should we acknowledge a collective unconscious? On what grounds ought we recognize such a thing?

    I find it confusing that when Christians pray, have dreams, or have personal experiences and/or so-called miracles, it's often no question that this is proof for Jesus. But when other faithful people pray, have dreams, or have personal experiences/miracles--it has to be something else. You have noted that you don't think it is Satan, and suggest that it could be some collective unconscious, which I would like you to get more specific about.

    The problem for you as a Christian is that it can't be both Jesus and Krishna, obviously, but it seems like there is a scramble to try and explain away other personal experiences from other faiths. Using your own logic, it is entirely possible that you are just experiencing a collective unconscious--otherwise what exactly is it that differentiates your personal experiences from other religions?

    And yet, the Catholic Church has concrete documentation of numerous miracles from reliable witnesses, rigorously tested and examined critically before being accepted as true. One does not need to look very hard to find exhaustive lists of these.
    I find this hard to believe. Please provide one example for us to examine, and please one at a time so we don't get too bogged down. I would like to give my full attention to any one supposed "concrete documentation" of a "miracle."

    Just to mention the first off the top of my head out of many verifiable miracles, hundreds of people witnessing an Apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary in the air on many consecutive days hardly seems "unfalsifiable." At some point, the plural of "anecdote" becomes "evidence" and "data," but I have a feeling that you're not going to accept that argument now any more than you did the last time we hashed this out.
    There are several claims of many people seeing Mary, which one in particular do you mean? I would echo Allo's point about the interesting trend of less and less miracles as modernity progresses and technology improves. It seems like the easier it has become to record images and/or sound with film, video, and now digital video--the less these claims pop up. You would think it would be just the opposite, especially considering the population growth as well.

    If I remember correctly, last time we talked about this, you seemed to believe that it was much more likely that everybody had the exact same hallucination at the same time and experienced it almost the exact same way on multiple days.
    With all due respect, let's not rely on memory. I think I know what discussion you are talking about, but I'd like to have an exact quote of what I said to work with.

    I'm not interested in picking apart the specifics of any one specific miracle with you, just as I have never been... and never will be. You are not receptive to any of the fundamental assumptions that make a world where miracles are possible an item worth talking about because you operate from a paradigm that approaches the world from its own very strictly dogmatic assumptions, some of which I feel are every bit as untenable as you feel mine are. Apparently, the only things with any value are those things which can be explicitly quantified and observed... and falsified... with our current understanding of the universe and our current technological abilities, which is an assumption which I feel is the height of hubris.
    I disagree of your characterization of me and my assumptions, and would ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt--and not just me, but the rest of the people that may be reading this thread and wish to examine specific miracles.

    Further more, if you are going to assert that I have "dogmatic assumptions" I would like you to please outline exactly what these are. It may be possible that you and I share certain assumptions and there is simply a misunderstanding of our nuanced stances, especially given the amount of time that has passed since we last debated. For example, I will go out on a limb and say that it is a given that you and I agree that our minds exist, and that other minds exist too. These are two assumptions that one could characterize as "dogmatic", though I think it would be more accurate to call them "axiomatic" assumptions.

    And of course I don't want to be guilty of "the height of hubris"! I view myself as a skeptic that is open to any/all evidence, and I do try to make careful analyses of given evidence before deeming it as convincing or unconvincing, e.g. I am convinced Antarctica exists though I have never been there, but I am not convinced any fey type creatures exist (elves, trolls, pixies, etc.).

    That's why it's important not to rely solely upon personal experience, but also upon other evidence, critical reason, and sober moral judgement to arrive at a conclusion when considering these things. Personal experience does not happen in a vacuum, and it should not be considered in a vacuum. To do so invites all the fallacies and pitfalls that go along with totally subjective approaches to faith and moral life.
    I agree, and would like to evaluate the personal experiences along with anything else connected to it that you note.

    Tons of things. Historical fact, sound reason, internal consistency, and moral rectitude are a good start. However, without personal experiences to help each person to relate to the moral truths illustrated by the teachings of a faith, that faith's teachings mean very little on an individual basis.
    But many other faiths say literally the exact same thing as you say. So-called historical fact, sound reason, internal consistency, and moral rectitude are all used by other religions to substantiate their status as true. What specifically differentiates your religion from others?

    Just about every time we talk about the existence of God, you try to bend the discussion back around to the question, "what makes you think your idea of God is right?" That's outside the scope of this discussion. I've only answered your questions thus far as a courtesy, but I won't be baited into this unless you want to start your own thread about it. So far, I don't believe anyone has made a single claim on this thread that their personal idea of what God is like is right and all others are wrong. Maybe I missed it... but I think I would have noticed. Did you see one that I missed? If not... it's outside the scope of the discussion.
    This is because I feel it is central to the issue at hand, and respectfully disagree that it is outside of the scope of this discussion. I don't think it is a very controversial or inaccurate observation when I point out that people of a specific faith--such as yourself being a Christian--have implied claims that you bring to the table. I do not have any implied claims that I bring to the table, other than axiomatic givens discussed earlier--I simply do not believe in the implied claims that you do. I am not trying to "bait" anyone, and I don't think it would be productive to start another thread about it when we can discuss it here and now.

    The moment you say "I am a Christian," you are saying, "Jesus is the one and only true god," and by default you are also saying "Krishna does not exist,"--if this is inaccurate, please explain why you feel this is the case. I did operate under the assumption that you are still a Christian, which in fairness to you (and it has been years), I should have asked you to re-confirm this given. I apologize for that. So please, for the record, correct me if I am mistaken in assuming that you are a Christian.
    That's a huge generalization to make, and I don't think you can support it. For a start, what specific internal inconsistencies do you find in the Mandukya Upanishad regarding Aum?
    Point well taken, and I gladly withdraw this issue. I, who likes specifics so much, should have known better, sorry about that. If a personal experience comes up that is connected to a specific part of a holy book, then we can examine it.

    I'm not going to ever do that with you, PZ. Not ever. I told you this the last time you asked, and I'll tell you again. My personal experiences are unique to me and would likely be edifying only to me, much in the same way that no two people respond the precisely same way to a certain work of art or a piece of music. To describe them to you would be pointless, as they would likely be meaningless and would be divorced from any context that would provide any useful direction in arriving at a sufficient understanding of them to matter. Furthermore, I'm not interested in taking experiences which were, to me, full of meaning and grace and putting it out on a board for you to use as target practice, especially when I already know that it won't do any good. I have never been, and I never will be, and I don't think that any Christian - or any other person of faith you meet, for that matter - will be interested in doing so once they understand what your purposes behind asking that question are.
    I respectfully disagree that it would be pointless. I think that it would be valuable to examine what your (or any other member's) personal experience with a god is. Please don't be offended, I really don't mean for this to come off as offensive, but I think that religions people don't want to share and examine their personal experiences because they realize that a peer-review type process would put their experiences next to the experiences of other faiths. I think that this is especially true of more rational, intelligent, and more aware of other faiths theists such as yourself, Tal. I think you understand that whatever your personal experience was/is with your god, it is essentially identical to people of other faiths. At least, this has been the case in the countless debates and discussions I have had with religious people in person that have forwarded personal experiences.

    They say things like, "I can feel God's presence inside me when I pray,"
    I then ask, "How do you know it was your specific god?"
    They say, "I just know."
    Then I point out that this is exactly the same thing that many other religious people of different faiths say. I have heard literally the exact same wording from Christians, Jews, Wiccans, Muslims, and Hindus.

    So I think, based on my previous experiences (no pun intended) of supposed personal spiritual experiences, there is an endgame that is reached I that perhaps you don't want to confront. And I empathize with you for not wanting to go there. I too was religious, and I was convinced that I had felt god when I prayed--and please keep in mind that I was very devoutly religious and prayed often. But none of my experiences while I was religious are any different than other personal experiences, and not just that, but they are indistinguishable from imagination. I speak only for myself here, keep in mind. I have no idea what your personal experiences were/are--which is why I have asked to know the specifics of them to see if they are any different.

    Your standard of falsifiability regarding personal, subjective experiences only shows your total failure to understand the relationship between personal experience and faith.
    Perhaps you can help me understand then, and how I have failed?

    Nothing I can say, describe, or explain is going to help you, and I'm just not interested. You've got too many preconceptions and presumptions about what's true and what's not true to even bother.
    That's not true at all. I am always willing to change my mind, I can assure you of that. Again you operate using what you think are my preconceptions and presumptions--which may or may not be accurate, for one. But leave aside these supposed preconceptions and presumptions--they are not really relevant to our audience, after all.

    The last time we had this discussion, it became quite apparent to me that you weren't interested in understanding, but in "winning." I'm not interested in being a tally mark on an imaginary scoreboard. I'm only interested in talking with people who seem genuinely interested in arriving at some sort of understanding without the ultimate end of destroying the opposition's argument.
    Again, I would ask for specific links and quotes to what it was I said. You are generalizing my intentions, and regardless if these generalizations are true or not and to what degree, it's not relevant here and now--in fact, one could even say that this is a genetic fallacy, or at the very least denying me the opportunity to change my mind.

    For the record, as of right now, my stated purpose is not in "winning", and I am genuinely interested in arriving at some sort of understanding without the ultimate end of destroying your argument. You will have to take my word for it, that is the best that I can do. I simply want to get to the bottom of personal spiritual experiences and weigh just how convincing they are and how solid they are as evidence--i.e. I want to know the truth, and I believe there is an objective truth or reality that is clouded by our perceptions, including my own of course.

    What's ironic is that even if you were to prove me wrong, it still wouldn't necessarily mean that you're right, even though you might erroneously think it would. I'm not interested in having that discussion.
    I am not interested in proving you "wrong". I want to see exactly what it is about personal experiences that makes them so convincing to other people, and I want to contextualize personal experiences within the framework of what I understand reality to be. There are many people that make what I feel are bold claims that, if true, would shake my understanding of reality down to its very core--as such, I take this seriously. While no supposed piece of evidence has been able to convince me thus far, I am always willing to change my mind and accept solid evidence into the framework of my understanding.

    ---------- Post added at 11:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:38 AM ----------

    Also, on the subject of Lourdes, as the following video clip shows, a priest claims (around 4:40 mark) that about 80,000 sick pilgrims go there per year. They have been going for over a century. The priest says there are 66 supposed miracles confirmed by the church. As Dawkins notes at the end, all the miracles are things that could have gotten better anyhow--there have been no regrowing of limbs, etc.

    Please keep your opinions of Dawkins out of the discussion, I know he is a controversial person, and even I can admit he comes off as kind of a jerk sometimes. The video is to note the number of sick pilgrims vs. miracles, and that none of them were supernatural--as Allo noted, at best they are inconclusive.

    http://youtu.be/GH9aHTkRRw0
    Last edited by Prime Zombie; April 7th, 2013 at 02:44 AM. Reason: Fix quote tags, a few typos

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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talthas View Post

    I don't think that anyone is making the argument that personal experience and empirical evidence are equivalent. Just because something exists only as a thought-experience doesn't mean that it has any less impact on you as a person. That doesn't mean that it should always be held up as a piece of "empirical" evidence to show other people that what you're saying is objectively true. I don't think that it's reasonable to make the argument that solely because of their own personal experiences, we should accept - sight unseen - that a given statement a person makes is true. As I explained above, personal experiences aren't meant to be taken in a vacuum, picked apart and analyzed into their constituent parts, and explained away as delusions, wishful thinking, coincidence, or logical fallacies. They're meant to be understood in a larger context that includes not only other personal experiences, sound reason, careful reflection, and internal and external consistency with other truths one has already verified. It's not like doing an experiment to get a specific data point to be scrutinized along with all the other data points collected to arrive at the single conclusion. It's not a deductive process, but an inductive one... when it's even meant to impart a truth by itself at all.
    Notice that there is a difference between "personal truth" and "truth". Personal truth is a relative concept. Truth is a universal concept. How can one discuss rationally a set of "personal facts" that only make sense to me? In what way does that possibly compare to universal truths which everyone can recognize?

    The characterization of belief in deity as having 'no discernible reason' does a disservice to the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, and several other very well-researched, well-examined, and well-defined positions that defend a rational explanation for belief in deity. You may disagree with the conclusions that they come to, likely based on a disagreement with some of the fundamental premises of the discussion... but that is something to be borne out during the discussion, not dismissed out of hand as "no discernible reason."
    You can't be serious. Those arguments are simply giant anthropomorphisms. We make the unfamiliar familiar by arbitrarily giving it qualities we share. This is not logic. This is a security blanket.

    Theists aren't any more or less likely to be stupid, irrational, illogical, or [insert intellectually pejorative term here] than atheists are. We just operate with different fundamental assumptions about the universe and how it works.
    Yes, you replace it with the assumption that you can suspend truth when it becomes inconvenient and replace it with mythology and it is just as correct as strictly adhering to empirical evidence.

    Just because you disagree with those doesn't make us superstitious, irrational troglodytes clinging to a convenient lie to shield our fragile egos from the harsh realities of nihilism, as many atheists would like to characterize us... any more than your failure to comprehend God's existence makes you heartless, arrogant, amoral psychopaths bent on destroying society, as some religious fanatics may try to characterize you.
    Here you take two opposing rhetorical views and present them as if they accurately represent the people of two different specific viewpoints. Your descriptions are of no logical use and fulfill no reasonable purpose but to make dissimilar things appear more similar. It is an emotive argument that makes no logical sense. Just because theists are NOT "irrational troglodytes clinging to a convenient lie to shield our fragile egos from the harsh realities of nihilism" does not absolve them from the responsibility to actually be as reasonable as they claim to be.

    The universe itself provides sufficient evidence for me. And if that's not enough, I can point to historical fact, moral reason, verifiable miracles, and the personal experiences of myself and others to provide additional context and framework to that evidence. I don't believe that you will find much value in these things, as we likely have different standards on what qualifies as admissible evidence, if you will only acknowledge that which is empirically verifiable from our current frame of reference, but that's always been one of the fundamental difference between atheists and theists.
    A reasonable mind fills a gap with the most probable answer and recognizes it as a working theory. A theist fills gaps with mythology and calls it belief that is personal in nature, so they alone are capable of evaluating it and somehow, without any corroboration except the encouragement of others with the same bent on mythology, that evaluation is precise and correct.

    There may be elements of what you describe in some religious teachings, and I would argue that people who settle for such a superficial understanding of what they believe should not be surprised when they fall apart under the weight of their own inconsistencies when put to the test.
    My my. There "may be" elements? Let's look at your Teleological argument.

    The argument is based on an interpretation of teleology wherein purpose and design appear to exist in nature beyond the scope of any such human activities. The teleological argument suggests that, given this premise, the existence of a designer can be assumed, typically presented as God.

    The existence of a designer can be assumed? In no way does this use the abductive reasoning model of choosing the most likely explanation. When I walk around a small peninsula at my dad's, on the inside towards the bay there is fine mud, then sand, then gravel, I turn the corner to the ocean side then there are rocks the size of golf balls, then rocks the size of baseballs, then rocks the size of basketballs and then huge rocks. I suppose I should assume that the hand of God sorted them. But, I used abductive logic and found the most logical explanation instead, using empirical evidence. Where the water hits from the open ocean we find the largest rocks, which break down into smaller rocks. The current carries them until it weakens to the point the rocks are too heavy. The tiny particals of mud are the smallest and, therefore, travel farthest. See? Assuming someone must have intended any order seen is always a less logical answer than that natural processes appear to be acting with intent, when they are not.

    That does not speak to its lack of existence... only your lack of imagination, and your insistence upon relying upon empirical evidence as the sole arbiter of what is true and what is not.
    It directly speaks to the probability. One believes in a deity only when one willingly chooses to believe the lesser of the probable answers. There is never any evidence provided for which a better, more logical answer, is a deity simply because it is not an actual answer. How can one consider a deity the most probable answer if one cannot even define the answer in empirical terms?

    That's because you have a fundamentally different approach to understanding the universe which starts from the basic assumption that anything that can exist as something "real" can be objectively observed and quantified and understood with sufficient understanding and time.
    Not at all. I hold the position of extreme skepticism. We don't really "know" anything and must satisfy ourselves with the next best thing, by selecting the most probable working theory. I can only discount the concept of God because it is never based upon the empirical facts and is, therefore, never the most logical and probable explanation.

    Think about it. I can't have people saying, "There goes Joe Friday. He chooses the lesser of the probable answers and expects to improve his knowledge base by doing so." That would be a pretty neat trick! Unfortunately, it could only ever work by accident.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

  15. #34
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    Yes, you replace it with the assumption that you can suspend truth
    What is truth ? What truth are you assuming not to suspend?

    I hold the position of extreme skepticism.
    Extreme? Why extreme? How is an extreme approach rational, objective and not vulnerable to extreme outcomes?

    skepticism (skĕp'tĭsĭzəm) [Gr.,=to reflect], philosophic position holding that the possibility of knowledge is limited either because of the limitations of the mind or because of the inaccessibility of its object. It is more loosely used to denote any questioning attitude. Extreme skepticism holds that no knowledge is possible, but this is logically untenable since the statement contradicts itself.
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    What is truth ? What truth are you assuming not to suspend?
    That which is accurate, corresponds to real events in the universe.


    Extreme? Why extreme? How is an extreme approach rational, objective and not vulnerable to extreme outcomes?

    skepticism (skĕp'tĭsĭzəm) [Gr.,=to reflect], philosophic position holding that the possibility of knowledge is limited either because of the limitations of the mind or because of the inaccessibility of its object. It is more loosely used to denote any questioning attitude. Extreme skepticism holds that no knowledge is possible, but this is logically untenable since the statement contradicts itself.
    The statement is apparently logically unreliable. It is not what skeptics believe. This is simply the words of someone who has not done their homework. Skeptics believe knowledge is most definitely possible, but always incomplete. We could compensate for the incompleteness of the knowledge if we knew the scope of it's incompleteness. The actual skeptical claim is:

    All knowledge is incomplete because there is no complete system with which to determine its completeness. We have no method of determining the scope of the incompleteness of any knowledge.

    Imagine a pie. Each fact is like a piece of pie. When you have all of the pieces you have a complete pie. We can easily see by the shape of the pie plate the number of slices needed to complete the pie.

    When we seek knowledge we look for facts. We do not have such a pie plate that tells us when we have all of the facts. We never know when a fact will arise that will change the nature of our knowledge. To say: "I know that no fact can arise that will change the context of how we see this knowledge." is an unprovable and illogical claim without having complete knowledge and context of some kind. Yet, there is no kind of knowledge that is complete, no context which is complete.

    Since knowledge is dependent upon so many different understood concepts that themselves may become modified as new information in totally unrelated fields of knowledge take place, we can never know ahead of time what new fact may change our perspective on any knowledge we have.

    Therefore, knowledge is certainly possible. It is, however, always incomplete until such time we either have it all (all knowledge) or we at least know the size and scope of what we don't know. Since this appears to be an impossibility, the most reasonable approach is to recognize the incompleteness of our knowledge as a given.
    Last edited by Joe Friday; April 7th, 2013 at 12:54 PM.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    The statement is apparently logically unreliable. It is not what skeptics believe. This is simply the words of someone who has not done their homework. Skeptics believe knowledge is most definitely possible, but always incomplete. We could compensate for the incompleteness of the knowledge if we knew the scope of it's incompleteness. The actual skeptical claim is:

    All knowledge is incomplete because there is no complete system with which to determine its completeness. We have no method of determining the scope of the incompleteness of any knowledge.

    Imagine a pie. Each fact is like a piece of pie. When you have all of the pieces you have a complete pie. We can easily see by the shape of the pie plate the number of slices needed to complete the pie.

    When we seek knowledge we look for facts. We do not have such a pie plate that tells us when we have all of the facts.
    Sorry, I have to "butt in" as this is a particular area of interest for me (finishing my minor in philosophy atm). That skepticism is merely a matter of certainty and/or knowledge about reality is attainable is simply not true (at least, not in any traditional sense, and therefore, you'll need to expand and defend that assertion). What you are describing is the concept of certainty. It is a given that there is very little we can be absolutely certain about (having complete knowledge), but we do not need to be completely certain or have complete knowledge in order to have enough information to make a reasonable decision or come to a reasonable explanation. Skepticism isn't about certainty, it is about the nature of knowing itself. Skepticism is a philosophical, epistemic worldview. And saying that one is a skeptic is insufficient due to the ambiguity involved. For example...someone may hold a skeptical view about empirical knowledge (which is what you have admitted to) but not a priori knowledge...or even vice versa.

    Philosophically, the position of the skeptic is that we should suspend judgment about truth statements because the nature of things is "indeterminable." Sextus Empiricus, perhaps the most influential skeptic and on of the Prryonists wrote about this by explaining about our modes of reasoning in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book 1.

    The first mode illustrates that the sense organs of animals differ from species to species. "We can think of the registration of the world in the many-faceted eye of a fly, the echo-location of a bat, and tin what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain. Cats and owls see much better in the dark than we do, and the olfactory world of the dog must be immensely rich compared to ours1." The 2nd mode illustrates the differences among human beings and because of this, the message is the same: "We must suspend judgment."

    So what does that mean, to "suspend judgment" according to skepticism? "It means that we do no say either yes or no; we do not affirm or deny any proposition about the real nature of the underlying objects. We do not say, as the Stoics do, that they are part of the divine nature, no do we deny that. We do not say, as the atomist do, that reality is composed of atoms and the void but neither do we deny it. We do not say, as the Platonists do that the things of sense are shadows of the eternal Forms, but neither do we deny it2."

    This does now however, mean that we cannot say what the object or case appears to be. We most certainly can. "We just refrain (as skeptics) from making further judgements In terms of the appearance reality distinctions, the skeptic restricts himself to appearance. he is forced to this by the consideration in the 'modes3.'"

    A skeptic considers someone who affirms what is not evidence dogmatic; and any claim about how things really are, independently of their appearance to our sense, is a claim bout the non-evident To be dogmatic, in this sense, is to claim to know something for which you have no evidence. So all the other schools of philosophy, with their theories about the reality beyond the appearances, are classified as dogmatic by the skeptics.3

    Now, that being said, most people, when they wiki "skepticism" or they read about it on popular blogs, particularly apologetics sites, are informed, erroneously mind you, that skepticism necessarily implodes on itself because it maintains it knows something that it cannot know (by definition of being a skeptic). And while it is true that there are some skeptics who hold this contradictory and thus, self-defeating view (which would I would argue is properly but popularly labeled as "extreme skepticism"), it is not the case that all skeptics do, and therefore, it is not the case that all skeptics are "extreme skeptics." In fact, Sextus apparently realized this problem and was careful not to make any such claim. His position was that of noncommitment to any knowledge claims that concern how things really are.

    In other words, in all possibilities, the result is the same: we must suspend judgment on matters about reality. This does not apply to appearances.

    No matter which alternatives we choose, the result is the same. And if we suspend judgment about a criterion [for truth], it follows that judgment is suspended about each and every claim to knowledge; for each claim to know depends on there being a criterion by which it is singled out as true knowledge. So if we cannot solve the problem of the criterion, we must spend judgment generally.

    Second, note that Sextus does not claim there is no criterion of truth; about that very question - is there or is there not a criterion? - the Pyrrhonian skeptic suspends judgment5.


    This is a flow chart that represents the skeptic's philosophy:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In addition, since skeptics do not deny appearances, skeptics claim that we can live and live well, by restricting ourselves to how things seem. Though there may not be a criterion to distinguished reality from appearance, there is a criterion for life and action.

    denotes the standard of action by conforming to which in the conduct of life we perform some actions and abstain from others; and it is of the latter that we are now speaking. The criterion, then, of the Sceptic School is, we say, the appearance, giving this name to what is virtually the sense-presentation. For since this lies in feeling and involuntary affection, it is not open to question. Consequently, no one, I suppose, disputes that the underlying object has this or that appearance; the point in dispute is whether the object is in reality such as it appears to be4.


    One of several counters to skepticism, would be foundationalism. But that is off-topic and would be best discussed separately.

    Therefore, knowledge is certainly possible. It is, however, always incomplete until such time we either have it all (all knowledge) or we at least know the size and scope of what we don't know. Since this appears to be an impossibility, the most reasonable approach is to recognize the incompleteness of our knowledge as a given.
    This would fall under the empiricism worldview, but not necessarily that of skepticism. I believe you have mixed your terms here. eye's source does in fact, properly identify and define what would be an "extreme skeptic." Obviously, you do not hold this philosophy, so you are not really an "extreme skeptic." My hunch is that you merely were unaware of the formal meanings of these terms and misused the terms to identify your worldview.


    Sources:

    1. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy; Melchart, Norman, 6th ed, 2011, p 211
    2. ibid; pp 211-212
    3. ibid p 212
    4. SEXTUS EMPIRICUS - OUTLINES OF PYRRHONISM, Book 1; CHAPTER XI. -- OF THE CRITERION OF SCEPTICISM
    5.
    The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy; Melchart, Norman, 6th ed, 2011, p 213
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
    Senior Administrator
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  18. #37
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Friday View Post
    That which is accurate, corresponds to real events in the universe.
    Accuracy determines your truth? So what is accurate today is truth for you, but next year if it's no longer accurate, you suspend it?

    What determines accurate events? Is a Marian apparition seen by thousands people, as Talthas suggested, an accurate event? Or is it only accurate if you see such an event?

    The statement is apparently logically unreliable. It is not what skeptics believe.
    But you said you are an extreme skeptic. Isn't there a difference between healthy objective skepticism verses extreme skepticism?

    This is simply the words of someone who has not done their homework.
    It's a rather standard dictionary definition. Here's some more

    Definition of skeptic
    a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
    a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist or agnostic.
    2 Philosophy an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere.
    The leading ancient skeptic was Pyrrho, whose followers at the Academy vigorously opposed Stoicism. Modern skeptics have held diverse views: the most extreme have doubted whether any knowledge at all of the external world is possible (see solipsism), while others have questioned the existence of objects beyond our experience of them
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/def...nglish/skeptic


    skepticism cultural definition
    http://culture.yourdictionary.com/skepticism

    In philosophy, the position that what cannot be proved by reason should not be believed. One of the main tasks of epistemology is to find an answer to the charge of some extreme skeptics that no knowledge is possible.

    Skeptics believe knowledge is most definitely possible, but always incomplete.
    Well then, maybe you're not really an "extreme" skeptic after all. You never know what you might discover about yourself on ODN.

    Therefore, knowledge is certainly possible. It is, however, always incomplete until such time we either have it all (all knowledge) or we at least know the size and scope of what we don't know. Since this appears to be an impossibility,
    How do you know it's impossible to expand our awareness of more knowledge?

    the most reasonable approach is to recognize the incompleteness of our knowledge as a given.
    But incompleteness of knowledge is not stagnant. Stagnation is not a given. Is it a given to someone who thinks they are an extreme skeptic? If so, why?
    Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there.
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Sorry, I have to "butt in" as this is a particular area of interest for me (finishing my minor in philosophy atm). That skepticism is merely a matter of certainty and/or knowledge about reality is attainable is simply not true (at least, not in any traditional sense, and therefore, you'll need to expand and defend that assertion). What you are describing is the concept of certainty. It is a given that there is very little we can be absolutely certain about (having complete knowledge), but we do not need to be completely certain or have complete knowledge in order to have enough information to make a reasonable decision or come to a reasonable explanation. Skepticism isn't about certainty, it is about the nature of knowing itself. Skepticism is a philosophical, epistemic worldview. And saying that one is a skeptic is insufficient due to the ambiguity involved. For example...someone may hold a skeptical view about empirical knowledge (which is what you have admitted to) but not a priori knowledge...or even vice versa.

    Philosophically, the position of the skeptic is that we should suspend judgment about truth statements because the nature of things is "indeterminable." Sextus Empiricus, perhaps the most influential skeptic and on of the Prryonists wrote about this by explaining about our modes of reasoning in his Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book 1.

    The first mode illustrates that the sense organs of animals differ from species to species. "We can think of the registration of the world in the many-faceted eye of a fly, the echo-location of a bat, and tin what the frog's eye tells the frog's brain. Cats and owls see much better in the dark than we do, and the olfactory world of the dog must be immensely rich compared to ours1." The 2nd mode illustrates the differences among human beings and because of this, the message is the same: "We must suspend judgment."

    So what does that mean, to "suspend judgment" according to skepticism? "It means that we do no say either yes or no; we do not affirm or deny any proposition about the real nature of the underlying objects. We do not say, as the Stoics do, that they are part of the divine nature, no do we deny that. We do not say, as the atomist do, that reality is composed of atoms and the void but neither do we deny it. We do not say, as the Platonists do that the things of sense are shadows of the eternal Forms, but neither do we deny it2."

    This does now however, mean that we cannot say what the object or case appears to be. We most certainly can. "We just refrain (as skeptics) from making further judgements In terms of the appearance reality distinctions, the skeptic restricts himself to appearance. he is forced to this by the consideration in the 'modes3.'"

    A skeptic considers someone who affirms what is not evidence dogmatic; and any claim about how things really are, independently of their appearance to our sense, is a claim bout the non-evident To be dogmatic, in this sense, is to claim to know something for which you have no evidence. So all the other schools of philosophy, with their theories about the reality beyond the appearances, are classified as dogmatic by the skeptics.3

    Now, that being said, most people, when they wiki "skepticism" or they read about it on popular blogs, particularly apologetics sites, are informed, erroneously mind you, that skepticism necessarily implodes on itself because it maintains it knows something that it cannot know (by definition of being a skeptic). And while it is true that there are some skeptics who hold this contradictory and thus, self-defeating view (which would I would argue is properly but popularly labeled as "extreme skepticism"), it is not the case that all skeptics do, and therefore, it is not the case that all skeptics are "extreme skeptics." In fact, Sextus apparently realized this problem and was careful not to make any such claim. His position was that of noncommitment to any knowledge claims that concern how things really are.

    In other words, in all possibilities, the result is the same: we must suspend judgment on matters about reality. This does not apply to appearances.

    No matter which alternatives we choose, the result is the same. And if we suspend judgment about a criterion [for truth], it follows that judgment is suspended about each and every claim to knowledge; for each claim to know depends on there being a criterion by which it is singled out as true knowledge. So if we cannot solve the problem of the criterion, we must spend judgment generally.

    Second, note that Sextus does not claim there is no criterion of truth; about that very question - is there or is there not a criterion? - the Pyrrhonian skeptic suspends judgment5.


    This is a flow chart that represents the skeptic's philosophy:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	skepticism.jpg 
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ID:	3421


    In addition, since skeptics do not deny appearances, skeptics claim that we can live and live well, by restricting ourselves to how things seem. Though there may not be a criterion to distinguished reality from appearance, there is a criterion for life and action.

    denotes the standard of action by conforming to which in the conduct of life we perform some actions and abstain from others; and it is of the latter that we are now speaking. The criterion, then, of the Sceptic School is, we say, the appearance, giving this name to what is virtually the sense-presentation. For since this lies in feeling and involuntary affection, it is not open to question. Consequently, no one, I suppose, disputes that the underlying object has this or that appearance; the point in dispute is whether the object is in reality such as it appears to be4.


    One of several counters to skepticism, would be foundationalism. But that is off-topic and would be best discussed separately.


    This would fall under the empiricism worldview, but not necessarily that of skepticism. I believe you have mixed your terms here. eye's source does in fact, properly identify and define what would be an "extreme skeptic." Obviously, you do not hold this philosophy, so you are not really an "extreme skeptic." My hunch is that you merely were unaware of the formal meanings of these terms and misused the terms to identify your worldview.


    Sources:

    1. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy; Melchart, Norman, 6th ed, 2011, p 211
    2. ibid; pp 211-212
    3. ibid p 212
    4. SEXTUS EMPIRICUS - OUTLINES OF PYRRHONISM, Book 1; CHAPTER XI. -- OF THE CRITERION OF SCEPTICISM
    5.
    The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy; Melchart, Norman, 6th ed, 2011, p 213

    If one cannot know anything without experience through the senses, and if that sensed knowledge can only be structured in our minds by innate categories, then we can only know things as they are to us. We can never know reality as it actually is. Our reference point is always ourselves and not the things themselves. There is a gap between appearance to us and reality.

    http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/agnosticism-faq.htm


    This is from someone paraphrasing Immanuel Kant. To be precise, it is a rough description of Philosophical Agnosticism, which is another form of Extreme Skepticism. It refers to the nature of the incompleteness of all knowledge, as I mentioned before.

    “It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.”
    ― Thomas Henry Huxley


    Following this to its ultimate logical conclusion, since it is all but impossible to justify the certainty of objective truth, agnostics are humble and accept their limitations graciously.

    Do not think that an agnostic or a skeptic says that knowledge is any less important or worthwhile because it is not absolute, it is as important to them as to everyone. They simply are humble and honest about the nature of their knowledge and do not claim it is what it is not.
    Last edited by Joe Friday; April 7th, 2013 at 10:06 PM.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

  20. #39
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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaos View Post
    I think God's existence comes down to how evidence of a theory is judged.
    For an example, a catholic would insist that God exists because of the bible, miracles, near-death experiences and so on but these will easily we refuted. Scientifically, all these can be explained or ignored completely but when it comes down to it, they are just opinions.

    Although people might think the reasons for God's existence isn't valid because the evidence isn't trustworthy, others could say the same thing about scientific theories. The fact is, that the way we understand the world is just down to bias; Do you trust a scientists information or the religious person? Both are evidence, but it is up to the individual to assess the validity of it.
    Actually, people can't say the same thing about scientific theories. Most scientific theories can be demonstrated. And the remaining theories are almost always based on things that can be demonstrated. You can't do that with religion. If you could then it would be a scientific theory also. I'm pretty sure that if there was ANY evidence out there to justify making religion a scientific theory there would be scientists publishing like crazy. That would be the biggest discovery ever. Seriously, can you imagine what kind of fame you would get for proving there was a God?

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    Re: Does god exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Accuracy determines your truth? So what is accurate today is truth for you, but next year if it's no longer accurate, you suspend it?
    Yes. I write 2013 on my checks this year and 2014 next year. There is a difference between truth and "truth for you". Your argument here is vague.

    What determines accurate events? Is a Marian apparition seen by thousands people, as Talthas suggested, an accurate event? Or is it only accurate if you see such an event?
    It is an event. More facts are needed to determine the accuracy.


    But you said you are an extreme skeptic. Isn't there a difference between healthy objective skepticism verses extreme skepticism?
    All skepticism is healthy unless it is illogical pseudo-skepticism that does not hold all parties to the same standards.




    Definition of skeptic
    a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
    a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist or agnostic.
    2 Philosophy an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere.
    The leading ancient skeptic was Pyrrho, whose followers at the Academy vigorously opposed Stoicism. Modern skeptics have held diverse views: the most extreme have doubted whether any knowledge at all of the external world is possible (see solipsism), while others have questioned the existence of objects beyond our experience of them
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/def...nglish/skeptic
    I am aware of these definitions. See my response to Apokalupsis.


    skepticism cultural definition
    http://culture.yourdictionary.com/skepticism

    In philosophy, the position that what cannot be proved by reason should not be believed. One of the main tasks of epistemology is to find an answer to the charge of some extreme skeptics that no knowledge is possible.


    Well then, maybe you're not really an "extreme" skeptic after all. You never know what you might discover about yourself on ODN.
    I do not believe that the standard classifications are always accurate. They are the long distance trains we ride before jumping into a cab to take the final twisted journey.


    How do you know it's impossible to expand our awareness of more knowledge?
    We can have infinite knowledge and still not know a fraction of what there is to know.


    But incompleteness of knowledge is not stagnant. Stagnation is not a given. Is it a given to someone who thinks they are an extreme skeptic? If so, why?
    They thought that when they smashed atoms they would find the final building blocks of the universe. What actually happened is that it raised far more questions than it answered. As we answer those questions, more questions will arise. Like dividing the circumference of a circle by the diameter, there will be no end to knowledge. There will always be another question raised. Stagnation is not a consideration.
    The inevitable argument of every theist comes down to, "God can move the goalposts whenever he wants." making a logical discussion pointless, because the logic only extends so far.

 

 
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