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Thread: Supernatural?

  1. #101
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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    No, not even then.

    Only if when concluding that "P is a fact" someone means that "P is necessary" or "P is absolutely true," only then would someone else's showing that P is merely possibly false, refute their argument. Rarely, if ever, does anyone intend by "Evolution is a fact" or "It's a cold fact that God doesn't exist" to say that it is IMPOSSIBLE for evolution to be false or for God to exist.
    In this thread, Sharma said that he could prove that ghosts don't exist so if THAT's the debate, then forwarding that it's possible that ghosts exist is a direct rebuttal to that position and therefore significant within the context of the debate.

    Likewise hard atheists (like Zhav) will argue that its' a fact that God does note exist. In THAT debate, the issue of whether God's existence is possible is likewise very significant for it is to be considered true, then the hard atheist position must be rejected.

    So whether any argument is significant or not is dependent on the nature of the discussion or debate so one cannot say that "it's possible" is inherently insignificant. It's significance, or lack thereof, is entirely dependent on the context of the discussion.

    So, it's not uniformly true that it's not significant. You can certainly find many types of discussions where it would not be significant but it's not uniformly insignificant.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    What could be more clear than to write "Theistic beliefs are not rationally justified" to mean "The totality of the evidence does not support a belief in God's existence"? Yet even in that thread many of the intended rebuttals were not aimed at that conclusion but instead were written to rebut a strawman conclusion that says something like "God's existence is impossible."
    I participated in that thread and the context of the debate that I was engaged in is whether one is justified in having his own belief in theistic notions such as believing in God due to having an experience where they met God. And when one has an experience of God and has to decide for themselves if they actually saw God or not, one of the very, very, very significant factors in determining whether such a thing actually happened is whether it could have happened. Obviously if it's impossible that God contacted you, then it's not justifiable to think that that happened. On the other hand, if it's possible that it could have happened, then one has more justification for believing that it did happen. So when it comes to justifying one's own belief in X (which also does not require providing evidence that might convince someone else), the possibility that it happened is quite significant.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Clearly, then, I'm referring to the mere "possibility" of something's existence, not to the "probability" of its existence. Your bringing up the fact that people claim to have seen ghosts and that no one (at least no sane adult above the age of consent) has claimed to have seen Santa as if it is in some way relevant to the respective claims for each entity's possible existence is entirely off base.

    Evidence has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether it is merely possible for a proposed entity to exist. Evidence comes into play only once the discussion turns to the probability of that possible being's existence. So whether a billion people claim to have seen ghosts and no one has claimed to have seen Santa or vice versa, it doesn't matter in the least to the logical possibility of their existences.
    Actually, it does come into play.

    If a billion people claim to have seen ghosts, then it's a FACT that this has happened (that a billion people have made such a claim, that is) and unless one is going to just ignored this phenomena (a billion claims), they must draw some kind of conclusion from it. Even if the scientists don't do studies on the issue and forward no official scientific conclusions, laypeople would be very justified in contemplating and debating why a billion people made that claim (it's beyond obvious that the media would widely report the phenomena of a billion people claiming they saw a ghost). And a very logical conclusion for the reason billions of people have experienced X is because X exists and people have experienced it. I understand that one can come up with alternative hypothesis but if those other hypothesis do not jibe with any known facts (such as known prior phenomena of billions of people having the same vivid hallucination of the same thing), one is perfectly justified in thinking that it's much more likely that X actually happened than X didn't happen and the accounts of it happening or due to something else. It goes without saying that in a trial, a hundred witnesses saying they saw the defendant commit the crime will overcome reasonable doubt so a billion witnesses is very, very convincing and it should be.

    While I do agree that nothing beats a solid scientific analysis for determining what is real and not real, if there is no scientific analysis of whether X has happened or not, there are other means to logically determine if it's more likely if X happened or it did not happen.





    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    The argument of yours to which I refer that elicited your above reply is the one that I quoted in my response, namely, this one: "Actually, I would guess that any knowledgeable scientist would say that there is A LOT we don't know about the universe and other dimensions and would say that what we don't know dwarfs what we do know by a huge margin."

    . . . with the implied conclusion supposedly being "therefore it's about as likely as not that ghosts exist."
    The implied conclusion is clearly that the argument of your that I was addressing is incorrect. You made the argument that said, to summarize "If ghosts exist, science would have proven that they exist" and therefore the implication of my rebuttal is "Even if ghosts exists, it's not a given that science would know that." Why? Because "I would guess that any knowledgeable scientist would say that there is A LOT we don't know about the universe and other dimensions and would say that what we don't know dwarfs what we do know by a huge margin" and therefore the notion that science does not know enough to determine whether ghosts do or do not exist is quite valid.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    My point is that what we don't know has no bearing on what we do know and that it is a fallacy to suggest that it does.
    which engages in the straw man fallacy since I didn't argue otherwise.

    In fact, I'm saying we don't know if ghosts exist because we don't have strong evidence either way.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Not so. The onus of proof in this case clearly lies with the side making the extraordinary claim. It is incumbent upon someone claiming that ghosts or witches or gods or extraterrestrials on earth exist to provide evidence to substantiate his claim. It's not the job of others to disprove such an extraordinary claim. Such claims should be assumed mistaken by reasonable people until and unless they are proved correct.
    Whether the claim is 'extraordinary" is completely irrelevant to burden of proof. The burden is ALWAYS on the claimant no matter how mundane or extraordinary the claim is.

    If a believer and an unbeliever both claim that, respectively, ghosts do and don't exist, they BOTH have the burden to support their position. And if they both fail, then neither claim is supported and therefore the outcome is that it's not been shown that ghosts do or don't exist and in essence, the agnostic position wins. Failing to show that they don't exist does not support that they do and failing to show that they do exist does not support that they don't. Since you are clearly familiar with the argument from ignorance fallacy, I assume you will agree with me on this.

    And for the record, I am taking the agnostic position. I do not claim that ghosts do exist and I don't claim that they don't.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    So by this I gather that you, unlike the vast majority of the educated world, do not accept the scientific description of the world as by far the most accurate description of the world that has yet to be advanced?
    No, I do accept the scientific description of the world.

    And if science proves that ghosts don't exist, then I will concede that they don't exist.

    And I think you misunderstood what I was saying and I clear this up below so you may want to skip responding to this or at least read what's below before generation a response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Quite a few mischaracterizations of my beliefs and statements in there, but that's OK. People often get sloppy when they get emotional. I'm only pointing out known facts to you. You can continue to ignore them if you wish.
    I've got to say that one of the things I like about you as a debater that compared to many here, you do a very good job at refraining from making personal comments about your opponent and just stick to addressing the arguments and not the person (sincerely, for that and other reasons you are one of my favorite opponents here). And right now you are deviating from that nice qualify. Calling me "sloppy" emotional" and accusing me of intentionally ignoring your arguments are comments about ME and not my arguments. I'm not particularly upset nor seeking an apology nor a defense. But I do ask that you do your best to avoid this going forward. Believe me, I am NOT emotional about this


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    So, again, if your friend claims to have seen a ghost and assuming your friend is human, then ghosts are perceptible to the naked human eye. Things that are perceptible to the naked human eye are part of the physical world. Science, in particular physics, is quite adept at discovering that which exists on a physical level -- even on the subatomic level or even at a distance of light years away. Yet something as large as a ghost allegedly detectable by the unaided human eye is not a part of any scientist's model of the world. And, if ghosts actually exist, that is odd. It's very, very odd.
    Then let me repeat an argument I made earlier. I think you must have thought that I was rejecting the scientific model for discovering things and I was not so I will explain further after I forward it again.

    It sounds like science is some kind of all-seeing entity that sees everything and if something exist, it is automatically spotted. That's not how it works. Before anything can be scientifically discovered, there has to be an attempt by scientists and they have to likewise do such a good job of capturing evidence that the scientific community is convinced that ghosts are real. Anything short of that and science has not confirmed that ghosts exist.

    So no, I don't think lack of scientific confirmation means much of anything at all.


    Now, you apparently read that as a repudiation of the scientific method and it is not. If I have to put my point more succinctly, it would be that science can only detect what it chooses to look at and if doesn't look at X, then it not seeing X does not show that X doesn't exist.

    To us a more mundane scenario to make this point, let's say that there is a hypothesis that a certain species of lizard emits a high-pitched screech that people cannot hear to attract a mate. And let's say that no scientist has taken it upon himself to see if that is actually true. So the "screech hypothesis" has never been verified by science. Now if science is truly the all-seeing-eye, that would mean that the fact that science has not determined that the screeching lizard exists means that the lizards do not screech. But of course it doesn't mean that. It's just one of many, many, many, many hypothesis of the world that science has not confirmed and that is by no means a repudiation of science or means that the things science has confirmed should be doubted.

    And the same principle applies to ghosts. The ghost hypothesis, as far as I know, has not been tested and therefore science cannot confirm nor deny that hypothesis.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    So are there any alternate explanations that might explain this phenomena? As it happens, yes, there are.

    As you yourself pointed out (ad nauseam), sometimes people, for one reason or another, hallucinate. Sometimes people "see" things that do not exist in external reality. That's just a plain fact. You can accept it or not.

    Alternatively, people sometimes lie to others for some reason. Maybe they want attention. Maybe they do it for financial gain. Maybe they do it to advance some argument they are making like you did earlier in this thread when you claimed to have seen a ghost yourself when in fact now you admit you haven't. There are many different circumstances that motivate people to lie.

    Sometimes people play ruses on their friends. Has it occurred to you that perhaps your friend, knowing how "open-minded" you are, is just having you on with his ghost story for his own amusement? This happens, too, does it not?

    People sometimes suffer mental decline or some other cognitive malfunction that has them seeing things that do not exist outside their brains.

    Who knows which explanation is the correct one for any particular ghost sighting but one thing we do know: Each of the various alternate explanations that I've outlined have occurred and do occur in reality. Very few people doubt that and no scientist does.
    Actually, it has not been shown that normally mentally healthy people (no mental illness or intoxication) regularly have the kinds of hallucinations that approximate the experience of "seeing a ghost". At least you haven't provided such evidence.

    I can only concede that "it's possible" that each and every sighting is just some form of mind trick or hallucination or lie. But the notion that something like that is always the explanation has been no better supported than the notion that sometimes people really do see ghosts.

    When my friend says he saw a ghost, I see a complete lack of external evidence showing that he actually saw a ghost. I also see a complete lack of evidence that he claimed to see a ghost because of a reason other than he actually saw one. And I did not say that I believe him. I'm saying that I consider it. I see no reason why I shouldn't consider it.

    There's no evidence that it couldn't have happened and there's no evidence that he himself is an unreliable witness (if he had a history of lying or mental illness, I would be more inclined to doubt him). And likewise there's no evidence that he really did see a ghost. So again, I'm agnostic.
    Last edited by mican333; May 19th, 2018 at 10:33 AM.

  2. #102
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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican
    In this thread, Sharma said that he could prove that ghosts don't exist so if THAT's the debate, then forwarding that it's possible that ghosts exist is a direct rebuttal to that position and therefore significant within the context of the debate.
    No, it's not. Had Sharmak written that he would prove that ghosts cannot exist, then to show that the existence of ghosts is possible (i.e., that ghosts can exist) successfully rebuts his claim.

    But that wasn't what he (according to you) wrote. He didn't say that he would prove ghosts cannot exist. Instead, he said he would prove that ghosts don't exist. Those are two distinctly different claims. You do not rebut the latter claim by rebutting the former.

    Here's an often used example of what I'm talking about. You do not successfully rebut the inductive argument that concludes "All swans are white" by demonstrating the mere possibility that a black swan can exist. To rebut that argument, you need to show that at least one black swan does exist.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    No, it's not. Had Sharmak written that he would prove that ghosts cannot exist, then to show that the existence of ghosts is possible (i.e., that ghosts can exist) successfully rebuts his claim.

    But that wasn't what he (according to you) wrote. He didn't say that he would prove ghosts cannot exist. Instead, he said he would prove that ghosts don't exist. Those are two distinctly different claims. You do not rebut the latter claim by rebutting the former.

    Here's an often used example of what I'm talking about. You do not successfully rebut the inductive argument that concludes "All swans are white" by demonstrating the mere possibility that a black swan can exist. To rebut that argument, you need to show that at least one black swan does exist.
    Actually, I would I rebut the claim that "all swans are white" by asking that the claimant support his claims that all swans are white. Since it's possible that he is wrong, he has the burden to support his climb.

    Any argument that asserts that "X does not exist" necessarily includes the premise "It's not possible that X exists" and therefore is countered by "It's possible that X exists". And if the argument that it's possible that X exists is correct, then the argument it counters must be wrong. So "it's possible" is very relevant to rebutting certain arguments.
    Last edited by mican333; May 19th, 2018 at 12:54 PM.

  4. #104
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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    No, it's not. Had Sharmak written that he would prove that ghosts cannot exist, then to show that the existence of ghosts is possible (i.e., that ghosts can exist) successfully rebuts his claim.

    But that wasn't what he (according to you) wrote. He didn't say that he would prove ghosts cannot exist. Instead, he said he would prove that ghosts don't exist. Those are two distinctly different claims. You do not rebut the latter claim by rebutting the former.

    Here's an often used example of what I'm talking about. You do not successfully rebut the inductive argument that concludes "All swans are white" by demonstrating the mere possibility that a black swan can exist. To rebut that argument, you need to show that at least one black swan does exist.
    Can anyone tell me what would be supernatural about a ghost?
    Assuming they exist, it seems fairly natural to me???

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Actually, I would I rebut the claim that "all swans are white" by asking that the claimant support his claims that all swans are white. Since it's possible that he is wrong, he has the burden to support his climb.
    Asking someone to present an argument or evidence to support a naked assertion is not really a rebuttal. It's just a request. A reasonable request, to be sure (especially if the claim is not obvious) but nevertheless it's just a request. That every a posteriori claim is possibly false has nothing to do with the burden of proof.

    Whoever makes a claim generally has the burden to support his claim if he wants his claim to be believed because simple assertions, unlike arguments, usually don't include reasons to support a belief that they are true.

    Any argument that asserts that "X does not exist" necessarily includes the premise "It's not possible that X exists" and therefore is countered by "It's possible that X exists".
    That's simply false. A claim that says something like "Sasquatches don't exist" isn't claiming that "It is impossible for Sasquatches to exist." What's meant by "Sasquatches don't exist" is something more like "Even though it's possible that a Sasquatch could exist, the evidence points fairly strongly toward their nonexistence."

    Agnostics, in particular, are fairly notorious in my experience in arguing against an a posteriori claim as if it were an a priori claim. Why? Because an a priori claim is much easier to argue against! It is infinitely easier to show that God possibly exists than it is to show that God probably exists -- which, as every non-agnostic knows, is the real issue.

    And if the argument that it's possible that X exists is correct, then the argument it counters must be wrong. So "it's possible" is very relevant to rebutting certain arguments.
    That argument would be effective only if someone makes the claim that something's existence is impossible -- and that is virtually never the claim that is made in discussions on this board.

    If someone were to argue, for example, that a being simultaneously both fully man and fully god doesn't exist and never existed because such a being cannot exist, then by merely showing that it is possible for such a being to exist, you've successfully rebutted their claim.

    However, if someone argues that the historical Jesus never existed because A) no contemporary accounts of his life exist, B) the accounts we do have of his life were all written decades after his alleged death and are all of a mythic nature, C) the first Christian account (Paul's epistles) is virtually bereft of information on the life of a historical Jesus, yada, yada, yada, then merely showing that it's possible for a historical Jesus to have existed does absolutely nothing to counter their argument. This is because it's already tacitly accepted that a historical Jesus could have existed just as it's possible that Sasquatches could exist. The point being argued in this argument is not that Jesus cannot have existed but rather that he did not.

    ---------- Post added at 08:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:12 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Can anyone tell me what would be supernatural about a ghost?
    Assuming they exist, it seems fairly natural to me???
    The OP posits 'supernatural' as "that which is not accounted for by current scientific understanding" and since no scientific model of the world includes ghosts (at least none of which I am aware) that means that ghosts, for purposes of this thread, are supernatural entities.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    The OP posits 'supernatural' as "that which is not accounted for by current scientific understanding" and since no scientific model of the world includes ghosts (at least none of which I am aware) that means that ghosts, for purposes of this thread, are supernatural entities.

    Science does NOT "understand" gravity! Not a very useful definition.

    A ghost, as I understand it, is a "human soul" that has left it's physical body. Nothing supernatural about that at all...???

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Science does NOT "understand" gravity! Not a very useful definition.
    Sorry, sir, that's not my definition. As I said, that definition was posited in the OP, which as far as I'm concerned, is a commendable practice. Folks are free to disagree with the definition all they want but that doesn't change the fact that that's the definition of "supernatural" used for purposes of this thread. By putting the definition right up front in the OP, mican prevented a lot of the confusion that comes with people talking around each other when they use different definitions for the same word.

    A ghost, as I understand it, is a "human soul" that has left it's physical body. Nothing supernatural about that at all...???
    And a "soul" is . . . ???

  8. #108
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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Asking someone to present an argument or evidence to support a naked assertion is not really a rebuttal. It's just a request. A reasonable request, to be sure (especially if the claim is not obvious) but nevertheless it's just a request. That every a posteriori claim is possibly false has nothing to do with the burden of proof.

    Whoever makes a claim generally has the burden to support his claim if he wants his claim to be believed because simple assertions, unlike arguments, usually don't include reasons to support a belief that they are true.
    And in an ODN debate if one does not support his claim when challenged, the claim fails. So my challenge of support will possibly defeat his argument for he will have to retract it if he doesn't support it. So in terms of an ODN debate, it's not request but a challenge and one that must be met if one wants to continue to assert that all swans are white.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    That's simply false. A claim that says something like "Sasquatches don't exist" isn't claiming that "It is impossible for Sasquatches to exist." What's meant by "Sasquatches don't exist" is something more like "Even though it's possible that a Sasquatch could exist, the evidence points fairly strongly toward their nonexistence."
    Nope. There are things that absolutely do not exist (like a married bachelor) and when referring to THOSE things, one says "A married bachelor does not exist". If it's something that might exist but is very unlikely to exist one says "it probably doesn't exist" not "it doesn't exist".

    I understand that in common conversation "it does not exist" can be read as "I don't think it exists" but in debate "it does not exist" means "it does not exist", not "it might exist but the evidence strongly indicates that it doesn't". I mean what do you say when you maintain something absolutely does not exist (like a married bachelor). I would say "married bachelors do not exist".


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Agnostics, in particular, are fairly notorious in my experience in arguing against an a posteriori claim as if it were an a priori claim. Why? Because an a priori claim is much easier to argue against! It is infinitely easier to show that God possibly exists than it is to show that God probably exists -- which, as every non-agnostic knows, is the real issue.
    While the agnostic position does incorporate "God possibly exists" in their reasoning, that it not their primary position. Their primary position (well, my position anyway) is that evidence for and against God pretty much evens out. So it's not, at least for me, a situation where the evidence stacks up really heavily against God but there's still a sliver of possibility that God exists so I can still say "maybe". I mean the evidence shows that God is just as likely to exist as not exist. It's roughly 50/50. That does assume that we are using the very basic definition of God (an intelligence that made the universe).

    Likewise with my friend's ghosts claim, I'm pretty agnostic (and part of the reason is that I don't really care enough to develop a strong conclusion either way). And for other supernatural things, like Leprechauns, I lean very strongly towards "probably not". So while it's possible that Leprechauns do or did once exist, I wouldn't call myself agnostic towards that but a soft atheist.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    That argument would be effective only if someone makes the claim that something's existence is impossible -- and that is virtually never the claim that is made in discussions on this board.
    And that is absolutely wrong. Again, "It does not exist" includes the premise that "It's impossible that it exists". "possible" is really just another word for "maybe". "maybe it exists" directly contradicts "it doesn't exist".

    And I will refer you to my "gun control" debate with Sharma where the possibility of a scenario where the second amendment would be needed was very much the issue.

    And even more to the point, if you are not positing that something is impossible in this scenario, then my argument that it's possible doesn't apply and therefore this whole issue is a waste of both of our times. You are apparently no longer debating the supernatural but trying to take me to task for using a certain argument. In short, you aren't debating the issue but just criticizing me. I'm not upset over this but it doesn't look too relevant to the debate we are having.

    You aren't saying ghosts are impossible but just so unlikely that we shouldn't believe in them nor am I responding to that by saying that they are merely possible. So "it's possible" is not really in play in our debate so it seems pretty irrelevant.

    So let's get back to debating the issue at hand.
    Last edited by mican333; May 20th, 2018 at 09:02 AM.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    And in an ODN debate if one does not support his claim when challenged, the claim fails. So my challenge of support will possibly defeat his argument for he will have to retract it if he doesn't support it. So in terms of an ODN debate, it's not request but a challenge and one that must be met if one wants to continue to assert that all swans are white.
    I wasn't aware that you were discussing ODN rules. I was speaking of debate in general, i.e., about trying to reach the truth, if possible, on some issue through a mutual exchange of argument and counter-argument.

    Nevertheless, merely requesting that someone present an argument to support some claim that they've made is NOT a rebuttal of that claim and it will never be a rebuttal no matter what the arcane rules on this particular site may say. If someone doesn't present an argument or evidence or both to support some assertion they've made, then there is no reason for anyone else to believe that the assertion is true (assuming the assertion isn't obvious) and that's that, end of story. But to actually rebut their assertion, and not just to merely point out that it is unsupported, it's necessary that you yourself present an argument that contradicts or calls into question the accuracy of or weakens the assertion that you are attacking.



    Nope. There are things that absolutely do not exist (like a married bachelor) and when referring to THOSE things, one says "A married bachelor does not exist". If it's something that might exist but is very unlikely to exist one says "it probably doesn't exist" not "it doesn't exist".
    To be precise you should say that married bachelors "cannot exist." To say that something "cannot exist" entails that it "does not exist."

    This doesn't work the other way round. IOW, To say that something "does not exist" does not entail that it cannot exist.

    You don't provide empirical evidence to disprove the proposition "Joe is a married bachelor" because there is no empirical evidence that will show this. You demonstrate that the proposition "Joe is a married bachelor" is false by showing that the descriptor "married bachelor" is a contradiction in terms; therefore not only can Joe not be a married bachelor, but no one else can either because "married bachelors" cannot exist!

    OTOH, to disprove the proposition "Joe is a bachelor" does require empirical evidence since the proposition isn't nonsensical and (apparently) contains no self-contradictory terms. You can show only that the claim "Joe is a bachelor" just happens to be false (perhaps by asking Joe or his family or perhaps by finding a marriage certificate or from newspaper articles or employment applications or whatever)

    What you cannot show by evidence is that "Joe is a bachelor" is false beyond even a hyperbolic doubt. Despite accumulating tons of evidence that points to Joe being a married man, it remains logically possible that you are mistaken and he's not.


    I understand that in common conversation "it does not exist" can be read as "I don't think it exists" but in debate "it does not exist" means "it does not exist", not "it might exist but the evidence strongly indicates that it doesn't". I mean what do you say when you maintain something absolutely does not exist (like a married bachelor). I would say "married bachelors do not exist".
    If you're expressing an absolute, indubitable assertion about nonexistence, you say something like "Married bachelors cannot exist." There isn't any such entity because there cannot be any such entity.

    If OTOH you're expressing a claim about something that could exist but apparently doesn't, you say something like "Bachelors don't exist in that family. They are all married men." In effect, this says that all the male members of the family in question are married, as far as anyone has reason to believe based on the available evidence, even though it's at least logically possible that one or more of them aren't.


    And that is absolutely wrong. Again, "It does not exist" includes the premise that "It's impossible that it exists". "possible" is really just another word for "maybe". "maybe it exists" directly contradicts "it doesn't exist".
    You've got this round about, I'm afraid. "It's impossible that it exists" entails that "It doesn't exist" but "It doesn't exist" does not entail "It's impossible for it to exist." There is no material implication between those two terms. The implication is strictly one way.

    "Joe the married bachelor" cannot exist because the descriptor "married bachelor" is a contradiction in terms; therefore "Joe the married bachelor," as a consequence of the impossibility of his existence, does not exist.

    However, even though, for example, "Joe the bachelor" does not exist (let's say we reached this conclusion after we talked to Joe and he claimed to be married; spoke to a woman who claimed to be Joe's wife; found a story in the local newspaper's archives about Joe's wedding; etc.) it's still logically possible that "Joe the bachelor" can exist. It just so happens that, as far as any reasonable doubt is concerned, he doesn't exist.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    I wasn't aware that you were discussing ODN rules. I was speaking of debate in general, i.e., about trying to reach the truth, if possible, on some issue through a mutual exchange of argument and counter-argument.
    I see no real difference. If one makes a baseless claim (such as "all swans are white"), they need to support their position before their claim can be considered valid. So regardless of how you want to word it, if it's a debate and the person makes a baseless claim, then I would ask the person to provide evidence that all swans are white. If he doesn't then his claim is baseless and his argument fails.

    So again, my response would be "please support your assertion". He can ignore my request but then his argument fails for lack of support and I've defeated his argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    If someone doesn't present an argument or evidence or both to support some assertion they've made, then there is no reason for anyone else to believe that the assertion is true (assuming the assertion isn't obvious) and that's that, end of story.
    Right. Therefore the argument that all swans are white fails. End of story.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    But to actually rebut their assertion, and not just to merely point out that it is unsupported, it's necessary that you yourself present an argument that contradicts or calls into question the accuracy of or weakens the assertion that you are attacking.
    I'll worry about rebutting someone else' argument once they've provided a reason for someone to believe it.

    I mean it's obvious that the original burden is on the claimant, right? And until the claimant supports his argument, the argument essentially fails, right? So I don't need to challenge an argument that's already failed.

    So let me just put this in bold and if you agree, this is settled. If not, then offer a rebuttal.

    Whoever makes an argument has the burden to support his argument before his opponent has any burden to support a counter-argument.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    To be precise you should say that married bachelors "cannot exist." To say that something "cannot exist" entails that it "does not exist."
    Maybe "cannot" is more precise, but regardless when I say a married bachelor does not exist, I am NOT saying that it possibly can exist.

    If a term is a bit vague, one can ask for clarification but short of that, the term should be taken as literally as possible and "does not exist" in its most literal interpretation means it currently does not exist (which does allow for past or future existence).


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    If you're expressing an absolute, indubitable assertion about nonexistence, you say something like "Married bachelors cannot exist." There isn't any such entity because there cannot be any such entity.

    If OTOH you're expressing a claim about something that could exist but apparently doesn't, you say something like "Bachelors don't exist in that family. They are all married men." In effect, this says that all the male members of the family in question are married, as far as anyone has reason to believe based on the available evidence, even though it's at least logically possible that one or more of them aren't.
    I don't disagree. But I don't see how that rebuts any argument I've made.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    You've got this round about, I'm afraid. "It's impossible that it exists" entails that "It doesn't exist" but "It doesn't exist" does not entail "It's impossible for it to exist." There is no material implication between those two terms. The implication is strictly one way.

    "Joe the married bachelor" cannot exist because the descriptor "married bachelor" is a contradiction in terms; therefore "Joe the married bachelor," as a consequence of the impossibility of his existence, does not exist.

    However, even though, for example, "Joe the bachelor" does not exist (let's say we reached this conclusion after we talked to Joe and he claimed to be married; spoke to a woman who claimed to be Joe's wife; found a story in the local newspaper's archives about Joe's wedding; etc.) it's still logically possible that "Joe the bachelor" can exist. It just so happens that, as far as any reasonable doubt is concerned, he doesn't exist.
    You seem to be saying that because an argument might be wrong, there is no way to state that it is absolutely correct. I can say that it's an absolute 100% true fact that Joe is married and when I do that, I will say "Joe is married". Since language is imprecise you might not know if, when I say "Joe is married", I mean:

    1. It's a absolute 100% fact that Joe is married
    2. I believe that Joe is married due to the fact that I went to his wedding yesterday but I allow for the possibility that he's not married due to some circumstance I'm unaware of but I think the evidence supports my statement that he is married.

    So whether my statement reflects "100% true" or "very likely true" is not known just because I said "Joe is married". But I COULD mean "100% true" and likewise if further conversation reveals that that is what I mean, then pointing out that it's possible that I'm wrong is a valid rebuttal.

    And in a theistic debate, that is the difference between a hard atheist and a soft atheist.

    I've seen atheistic arguments that hold that God is like a "married bachelor" such as the apparent contradiction that God is necessarily benevolent and yet allows evil. So on the basis of arguments like those, when they say "God does not exist" they DO mean that God's existence is impossible.

    So while "it's possible" is not a valid rebuttal to the notion that one should not believe in ghosts because the evidence strongly suggests that they don't exist (and I never made such an argument), "it's possible" is not an inherently insignificant argument. Depending on the argument that's being addressed, it can be valid.

    And more to the point, I am not using that argument in response to any of your arguments so while we can discuss the merits of that argument in debate in general, it has no apparent bearing on our debate regarding the existence of ghosts or other supernatural things so it's kind of off-topic at this point.
    Last edited by mican333; May 21st, 2018 at 09:45 AM.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    You seem to be saying that because an argument might be wrong, there is no way to state that it is absolutely correct.
    Well sure, we can state that some claim or other is absolutely, unmistakably true if we want to but we probably shouldn't since we can never know indubitably whether any claim is absolutely, unmistakably true (assuming, of course, that the claim has to do with things that go on in this world). It appears that the best we can do in such matters is to have probable knowledge and never absolute knowledge.

    A claim itself is either true or it's false. No claim is, for example, 65% true and 35% false. A claim is either 100% true or 100% false. The problem lies with our apparent inability to know with a 100% certainty which it is. It seems the best we can do is to know, within a range of probabilities, whether a claim is true, based on the evidence we have for it.


    I can say that it's an absolute 100% true fact that Joe is married and when I do that, I will say "Joe is married". Since language is imprecise you might not know if, when I say "Joe is married", I mean:

    1. It's a absolute 100% fact that Joe is married
    2. I believe that Joe is married due to the fact that I went to his wedding yesterday but I allow for the possibility that he's not married due to some circumstance I'm unaware of but I think the evidence supports my statement that he is married.

    So whether my statement reflects "100% true" or "very likely true" is not known just because I said "Joe is married".
    No -- and this is my point -- it is known (or at least should be strongly presumed) that this claim falls into category 2 of your two statements above. Such knowledge claims can only be known to be very likely true or true beyond a perverse doubt, etc., at best but they can never be known as absolutely, indubitably true.

    Unless you're claiming omniscience or divine revelation or have discovered a new law of thought, etc., then what you claim when you say "Joe is married" is based on your experience in the world, which makes your claim an a posteriori claim.

    Any claim based on experience, like "Joe is married," cannot be known to be indubitably true because it is based on circumstances that obtain in the world. It is always possible for such a claim to be false in a way that it's impossible for an a priori claim, a claim that is not based on experience (e.g., "Joe is not a married bachelor"), to be false. It's irrelevant how anyone expresses such a claim. They can say "I'm absolutely 1000% sure about this" or "I know this beyond any doubt whatsoever" or whatever, but it nonetheless remains possible that their claim is false.

    Any counter-argument directed against such claims ought to reflect this. You can easily show that this type of claim is possibly false but in doing so you do nothing to rebut the actual claim that is being made because ANY a posteriori claim is possibly false. Even the ones we consider to be almost certainly true may possibly be false.


    But I COULD mean "100% true" and likewise if further conversation reveals that that is what I mean, then pointing out that it's possible that I'm wrong is a valid rebuttal.
    If you do mean to say that your a posteriori claim is indubitably true and that it is impossible for it to be false, then you don't know what it means to make a knowledge claim about the world. However, even after you've been enlightened on that subject, whatever argument you've made for your claim, will probably remain largely unaffected. All you've really done is to probably overstate the certainty of your conclusion and to mischaracterize the nature of your argument.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Sorry, sir, that's not my definition. As I said, that definition was posited in the OP, which as far as I'm concerned, is a commendable practice. Folks are free to disagree with the definition all they want but that doesn't change the fact that that's the definition of "supernatural" used for purposes of this thread. By putting the definition right up front in the OP, mican prevented a lot of the confusion that comes with people talking around each other when they use different definitions for the same word.
    Well, in the Op Mican also said:
    "And btw, if you (whoever you are) are using a different definition of "supernatural" in your arguments, feel free to argue for that definition."

    ---------- Post added at 10:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:04 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    And a "soul" is . . . ???
    As far as I have been able to determine, a "soul" is:
    a construct that theists use to help forward their position

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Well, in the Op Mican also said:
    "And btw, if you (whoever you are) are using a different definition of "supernatural" in your arguments, feel free to argue for that definition."
    . . . which is also a good thing. To me, that sentence is a nice way to say "Responses to the thread should either use the definition for 'supernatural' that's been clearly stated in the OP or explain the reason you are using an alternative definition." Again, this can only aid communication.

    I wish every thread began with such clear definitions for the key terms that were going to be used in the thread. How many threads about, for example, God's existence have you read in which, a couple of pages into the thread, it becomes clear that two people are using two entirely different definitions for "God"? What a waste of time.

    Of course, some arguments seem to rely on fuzzy, "flexible" definitions in an attempt to disguise the weakness of the argument . . . So there is that, too.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Well sure, we can state that some claim or other is absolutely, unmistakably true if we want to but we probably shouldn't since we can never know indubitably whether any claim is absolutely, unmistakably true (assuming, of course, that the claim has to do with things that go on in this world). It appears that the best we can do in such matters is to have probable knowledge and never absolute knowledge.

    A claim itself is either true or it's false. No claim is, for example, 65% true and 35% false. A claim is either 100% true or 100% false. The problem lies with our apparent inability to know with a 100% certainty which it is. It seems the best we can do is to know, within a range of probabilities, whether a claim is true, based on the evidence we have for it.
    There is no requirement for us to hedge on a position that is evidently true. When I say "The Earth is round" I am NOT allowing for the possibility that it's not round. And about the only way one could argue that it's possibly not round is to engage in a Matrix "maybe everything you know is a lie" kind of argument which one is not required to entertain and is certainly not what I'm engaging in when I say "possibly".

    When I say that the Earth IS round, I mean:
    1. There is enough objective evidence to draw a solid conclusion on the shape of the Earth
    2. The evidence conclusively points to the Earth being round.

    So going by that criteria of what is "true", one could not argue that the Earth is possibly not round unless they posit that:

    1. There is not enough objective evidence to draw a solid conclusion on the shape of the Earth
    and/or
    2. The evidence does not conclusively points to the Earth being round.

    Assuming you agree that that is a reasonable standard of when one can or cannot argue that X is possible, then there is no need to debate this further. I'm not saying that one must always work at that level and cannot try to present "Matrix" arguments but I would think that most reasonable people (like us) would not want to do that and stick with what the evidence shows or doesn't show and likewise not say "possibly" when referring to the merest chance that something is not true.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    No -- and this is my point -- it is known (or at least should be strongly presumed) that this claim falls into category 2 of your two statements above.
    No, it entirely depends on what I mean. I can mean 100% and you can rebut "maybe it's a fake wedding" but that doesn't change that to my mind, I DO mean 100%.

    And a better example (since there are fewer variables), if I feel around my pocket and don't feel a coin, I am 100% certain that is no coin in my pocket and when I say "there is no coin in my pocket" I do mean that it is absolutely true. Again, we have to get to "Matrix" style "what if" before we can entertain that maybe there is a coin in my pocket.

    But either way, this really seems to be completely irrelevant to the supernatural debate we are having.

    To be clear, I am using "possibly" along the lines of "maybe", not "Since we might be in the Matrix any tiny likelihood must be considered". I don't say "there's possibly a coin in my pocket" if I've have solid evidence that there is no coin in my pocket. I don't say "Maybe the Earth isn't round" after seeing all of the solid evidence that conclusively shows that it is round. Again, one COULD use "possibly" that way and posit that since it's not a metaphysical certainty that I've not been fed a steady diet of falsehoods regarding the shape of the Earth, such as fake photographs and moving images and the rest of the world is either in on the conspiracy or are likewise fooled, it's "possible" that the Earth is not round. But two people in a debate can certainly agree to NOT use "possibly" in that fashion and I am not using it in that fashion so I think that settles the issue.

    Anyway, I think I'm done discussing this. If you want to get back to the issue at hand, go ahead. If not, I'll likely see you in the future on a different thread (or much later on this one).

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    There is no requirement for us to hedge on a position that is evidently true. When I say "The Earth is round" I am NOT allowing for the possibility that it's not round. And about the only way one could argue that it's possibly not round is to engage in a Matrix "maybe everything you know is a lie" kind of argument which one is not required to entertain and is certainly not what I'm engaging in when I say "possibly".
    That's true. In fact, that has been my position throughout our discussion and is my position now.

    For example, were I to assert "There is no God" I would not intend that to mean that God cannot exist or that it's absolutely, certain beyond any hyperbolic (matrix-style) doubt that God is nonexistent. For someone to interpret my assertion in this manner would be picayune.

    I would mean only to say something like "There is enough objective evidence at this time to draw a solid conclusion that God doesn't exist and that evidence conclusively points to the fact that God is nonexistent."

    Happy to see that we agree on this.

    I am still curious, though, about why you insist that "does not exist" entails "cannot exist"? If a proposed entity "cannot exist" then it isn't possible for the thing to exist beyond even the hyperbolic doubt that we both agree shouldn't be seriously considered in this kind of argument. But if the thing only "does not exist" then its existence is possible even though the totality of the currently available evidence strongly points to its nonexistence.

    IOW, a 4-sided triangle cannot exist and no one will ever find evidence of its existence. A unicorn, OTOH, simply does not exist although it will always be possible that someone, someday, somewhere will find evidence for its existence.



    No, it entirely depends on what I mean. I can mean 100% and you can rebut "maybe it's a fake wedding" but that doesn't change that to my mind, I DO mean 100%.
    Not sure I follow. If someone says that he is "100% certain" about an assertion he's made, then how is it possible to interpret that as anything but his claiming certainty "beyond even a matrix style doubt"? 100% certainty seems to leave NO room for doubt, not even for hyperbolic doubt.

    I mean, sure, you can say that you are 100% certain of some conclusion beyond even a hyperbolic doubt -- we can say anything -- but if you do mean to say such a thing then you are simply mistaken.


    And a better example (since there are fewer variables), if I feel around my pocket and don't feel a coin, I am 100% certain that is no coin in my pocket and when I say "there is no coin in my pocket" I do mean that it is absolutely true. Again, we have to get to "Matrix" style "what if" before we can entertain that maybe there is a coin in my pocket.
    Right. But it is precisely that very thing -- hyperbolic (matrix-type) doubt -- that prevents us from having absolutely certain, unmistakable, indubitable knowledge about anything that has to do with our experience in the world.

    If I were to say "I'm sure (or I'm certain or I know) that there's no coin in my pocket because I just now thoroughly felt around in there and felt no coin" I would be saying that I am sure beyond any perverse doubt that there's no coin in my pocket; that I am certain in a practical sense (although not in an absolute sense) that there is no coin in my pocket.

    However, if I say that I am absolutely, 100% certain beyond even any possible doubt that there is no coin in my pocket then I am simply making a false assertion because I do not have the ability to attain that sort of knowledge about any event that transpires in my experience.

    I can know beyond any possible doubt that a square circle does not exist. But I can never know beyond any possible doubt what is or is not in my pocket or whether ghosts exist or whether the earth is round or whether life on earth has evolved, etc.

    Sigh. I thought we'd reached agreement on this subject. But now I'm just as confused as ever about your thinking in this regard.


    To be clear, I am using "possibly" along the lines of "maybe", not "Since we might be in the Matrix any tiny likelihood must be considered". I don't say "there's possibly a coin in my pocket" if I've have solid evidence that there is no coin in my pocket. I don't say "Maybe the Earth isn't round" after seeing all of the solid evidence that conclusively shows that it is round. Again, one COULD use "possibly" that way and posit that since it's not a metaphysical certainty that I've not been fed a steady diet of falsehoods regarding the shape of the Earth, such as fake photographs and moving images and the rest of the world is either in on the conspiracy or are likewise fooled, it's "possible" that the Earth is not round. But two people in a debate can certainly agree to NOT use "possibly" in that fashion and I am not using it in that fashion so I think that settles the issue.
    Right. Again, this is what I've been saying all along. We shouldn't treat a posteriori claims or arguments as if they're claiming indubitability. When we say "The earth is round" we're not claiming "It's impossible for the earth to be any shape but round." We're saying, "Given current arguments and available evidence, for someone to believe that the earth is any shape but round would be perverse."



    Anyway, I think I'm done discussing this. If you want to get back to the issue at hand, go ahead. If not, I'll likely see you in the future on a different thread (or much later on this one).
    I appreciate the notice but it actually isn't required. If you're bored with the discussion or don't have time to continue it, then don't respond. If you don't respond that's fine, I understand. Either way, thanks for the conversation.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    For example, were I to assert "There is no God" I would not intend that to mean that God cannot exist or that it's absolutely, certain beyond any hyperbolic (matrix-style) doubt that God is nonexistent. For someone to interpret my assertion in this manner would be picayune.

    I would mean only to say something like "There is enough objective evidence at this time to draw a solid conclusion that God doesn't exist and that evidence conclusively points to the fact that God is nonexistent."

    Happy to see that we agree on this.
    Which is where we left it with ghosts (although God would work as an example as well) and likewise I've challenged your assertion on that basis - not that you've allowed for a sliver of possibility that they do exist but that you've not shown that there is enough objective evidence to show that they don't exist. I would argue that, in the case of ghosts, there is not enough objective evidence to show that they likely don't exist (or that they do exist).

    And I'm not forwarding the notion that they possibly exist in the "Matrix anything-is-possible" way but that "the evidence is not conclusive either way" way.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Right. But it is precisely that very thing -- hyperbolic (matrix-type) doubt -- that prevents us from having absolutely certain, unmistakable, indubitable knowledge about anything that has to do with our experience in the world.
    But in regards to a debate, if we aren't arguing at that level, who cares?


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    If I were to say "I'm sure (or I'm certain or I know) that there's no coin in my pocket because I just now thoroughly felt around in there and felt no coin" I would be saying that I am sure beyond any perverse doubt that there's no coin in my pocket; that I am certain in a practical sense (although not in an absolute sense) that there is no coin in my pocket.

    However, if I say that I am absolutely, 100% certain beyond even any possible doubt that there is no coin in my pocket then I am simply making a false assertion because I do not have the ability to attain that sort of knowledge about any event that transpires in my experience.
    But again, who cares? It's a choice to take the stated level of certainty to that level. I never made such a choice within this debate nor is that the level I'm referring to when I say "possible" and you apparently don't want to engage at that level either.

    So we BOTH agree that is one does not feel a coin in his pocket, it is correct for him to say "there is no coin in my pocket" or "it's not possible that there is a coin in my pocket right now" at an appropriate level of certainty for our purposes.

    So as far as this particular issue, there's no disagreement.
    Last edited by mican333; May 23rd, 2018 at 08:38 AM.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Either something can exist or it cannot.
    That was before Schrodinger’s cat.

    "In any physical system, without observation, you cannot say what something is doing," says Martell. "You have to say it can be any of these things it can be doing—even if the probability is small.
    Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there.
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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez
    Either something can exist or it cannot.

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    That was before Schrodinger’s cat.
    I think you're using a different definition of 'exist,' eye. The definition we've been using for 'exist' is this one, 'exist: have objective reality.'

    So Schrodinger's cat would exist (i.e., have objective reality) whether it's dead or alive. A dead cat, even though it's dead, nonetheless exists. It simply exists as a dead cat.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    It's possible that a ghost might exist, but it's just not likely at all. It's probably less likely that a ghost exists than that we've been visited by extraterrestrials (another proposition which isn't at all likely).

    Of all the good, solid evidence, which if discovered would make it somewhat more probable that ghosts exist, none of it has been discovered. Instead, the evidence for the existence of ghosts consists almost entirely of anecdotal stories from a relatively few persons -- which is just about as poor as it gets for quality evidence for the existence of anything.

    Add to this the fact that it is completely unknown how ghosts might physically manifest and the odds become even longer against their alleged existence. At least in the case of possible ET visitation, there's no need to drastically modify our current physical model of the universe (which, BTW, has an almost incomprehensible amount of evidence to support it) to accommodate their existence.

    All in all, it's not a difficult call to say that ghosts don't exist.

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    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodriguez View Post
    Of all the good, solid evidence, which if discovered would make it somewhat more probable that ghosts exist, none of it has been discovered.
    Hard evidence? How about compelling evidence ? I think part of the problem with the argument of do ghosts exist or not exist is the language of the statement itself. It's confussing. What is it that there is or is not evidence for? Wispy moving human forms says little if anything about existence.

    This sort of reminds me of the Creator/God/Spirit argument. No effidence of a universal Intelligent/Spirit/Creator? Of course there will be no efficence for something that has no clear definition for us mortals who may assume materialism is absolute. How can we accept or observe evidence of something that has no defining framework?

    Our inability or not choosing to even establish a reasonable working definition (for the purpose of investigation and discovery), of course, does not mean God or ghosts don't have existence. It just means we navigate within the confines of human language that has bondaries and limitations. And if anything happens to come along outside those boundaries we assume it has no existence or reality because we can't observe something that has no acceptable definition.
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