About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
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22-11-2013, 01:29 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 01:24 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(22-11-2013 01:13 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  I understand the distinction quite well.

Possibility is a thing that may be the case.
Probability is an estimate of the likelihood of a thing being the case.

Suppose you have a bin full of marbles. It contains an infinite number of white marbles but only one red marble. If you randomly select a marble from the bin it is possible to pick the red one. The probability you will pick the red one is for all intents and purposes 0.

Now supposing picking the red marble meant you were executed. You could be pretty confident making a draw and surviving, but you still have to entertain the notion that it is possible you could lose your head. Not a possibility I would like to entertain.

It's good to know that your risk aversion is so great that you'll worship one particular god on the 1 in infinite chance it actually exists. Okay, then which god? Do you worship Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah? I would imagine Allah, seeing as how he has the worst possible version of Hell designated for non-believers.

If your risk aversion is that high, do you ever get into a motor vehicle? Because at this point, the likelihood of you dying in an auto accident is orders of magnitude greater than your chance of drawing the red marble. So I take it that since you don't want the pick the red marble, you likewise don't want to entertain the remote possibility of an auto accident. So I'll just assume you're a social recluse that never leaves your underground bomb shelter.

When did I claim this was an argument to convince you that you should believe in God? It is an argument critical of the claim that it is possible God exists, but not possible the Christian God exists.
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22-11-2013, 01:33 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 01:29 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  When did I claim this was an argument to convince you that you should believe in God? It is an argument critical of the claim that it is possible God exists, but not possible the Christian God exists.

If that was the point of your example, then you failed miserably to convey that.

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22-11-2013, 03:31 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
For fuck's sake, Hwood. Your first post should have just been, "Pascal and shit".

Could have saved us all a lot of time. Shame on you. Dodgy

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

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22-11-2013, 07:38 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(20-11-2013 10:39 PM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(20-11-2013 05:55 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  You're still mischaracterizing a weak atheist position. It should be: I do not accept any god claim, but neither do I make any claim of no gods.
The position I am characterizing is one that goes like this: There is a slim possibility that God exists, but there is no possible way the Christian God exists. What do you call that position if it isn't weak atheism?

That's a complex position you are wanting to evaluate there, and I think the context of your posts in this thread the meaning can be deconstructed as follows:
* "There is a slim possibility that God exists" breaks down to two parts
** "I positively claim that it is possible for a god to exist"
** "I positively claim that probability of a god's existence is low"
* "there is no possible way the Christian God exists" becomes:
** "I positively claim that the Christian god does not exist"

I'll exclude nitpicking over belief versus knowledge to focus just on claims or lack of claims.

I would characterise the basic weak atheist position as "I make no positive claim about the existence of god or gods", and the basic strong atheist position as "I positively claim that no god or gods exist". There is a bit of wiggle room in those definitions for class of beings you put under the "god or gods" banner, and these two points are part of a spectrum that also includes "I positively claim a god or gods exist" and everything in between and beside.

I don't think you can put a simple label on the set of claims you have described. In terms of what it excludes or includes it actually seems to fall slightly within the theist bubble rather than the atheist bubble. It excludes the possibility of a Christian form of god but not only allows for the possibility of some other god or gods but positively asserts the possibility of those god or gods. If you're willing to give that ground up without evidence to support it then you'll quickly find yourself drawn into ontological arguments that there's no need to seriously entertain.

The key ontological point here is that if I have a 6-sided dice it isn't possible for me roll a 7. Is God a 6 (the maximally great roll) or a 7 (an impossible roll, but none the less a conceivable roll). If you have an infinite number of rolls the "6" being will certainly exist, but even with an infinite number of rolls the "7" being can never come up. Asserting a god is possible is the same as asserting that he is a "6" and given infinite space will exist, however my feeling is that it likely god is a "7": A conceivable, but impossible being. I certainly don't have any evidence that would lead me to think he is a "6".

This is the fallacy at the core of various ontological arguments. Given the assumption that God is possible (that he is a "6") then given also some infinite space to work in then he must exist. However we have no basis for claiming that a god or gods are possible. To make such a claim we would need to discover something about the space in which such a being exists, and the mechanisms available to allow that space to interact with our own space. Without any such knowledge I see both the existence of a god or gods and the possible existence of a god or gods as unfounded.

So a "true"™ atheist position I think would not make a positive claim that a god could exist, except by way of sloppy wording. An atheist can certainly concede that it is conceivable that a god or gods exist. An atheist can concede that she does not know whether it is possible for a god or gods to exist, does not know the probability of a god or gods' existence, and does not know whether a god or gods exist in reality. To say that she does know or to positively claim the existence or possible existence of a god seems like a step into theist territory, and seems like it is giving unwarranted and valuable ground in any kind of debate arena.

That said I have strayed far from the agnostic/gnostic atheist/theist dichotomies. This can be corrected by replacing the word "claim" above with "know" and "believe", respectively.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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22-11-2013, 07:43 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 01:24 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(22-11-2013 01:13 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Now supposing picking the red marble meant you were executed. You could be pretty confident making a draw and surviving, but you still have to entertain the notion that it is possible you could lose your head. Not a possibility I would like to entertain.

It's good to know that your risk aversion is so great that you'll worship one particular god on the 1 in infinite chance it actually exists. Okay, then which god? Do you worship Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah? I would imagine Allah, seeing as how he has the worst possible version of Hell designated for non-believers.

If your risk aversion is that high, do you ever get into a motor vehicle? Because at this point, the likelihood of you dying in an auto accident is orders of magnitude greater than your chance of drawing the red marble. So I take it that since you don't want the pick the red marble, you likewise don't want to entertain the remote possibility of an auto accident. So I'll just assume you're a social recluse that never leaves your underground bomb shelter.

Human assessment of risk is unreliable. That's why we rely on formal processes for assessing safety related systems rather than ordinary human judgement. We see things we are used to doing as being lower risk than they actually are. So a theist may judge continuing to accept their own religion as a low risk activity, thinking that switching horses might lead to damnation... but at the same time may fail to assess their decision against multiple other promised forms of damnation from various religions they do not hold.

It's human nature.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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22-11-2013, 07:47 AM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 12:44 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(21-11-2013 07:13 PM)Cardinal Smurf Wrote:  OK, I've read through the entire thread finally.


Where are the nasty implications? Did I miss them?

The implication is that if God is possible, then for all intents and purposes a Christian God is also possible. Which is a possibility I would not like to entertain were I an atheist.

No, that does not logically follow. The Christian god is over-specified and leads to contradictions, so is falsified.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-11-2013, 02:51 PM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 12:49 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(20-11-2013 10:59 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  ...and you have to also "acknowledge the possibility" that monkeys will fly out of my butt.

I don't have to acknowledge the possibility of anything. But if I did acknowledge that it was possible that monkeys fly out of your butt, I would have to also acknowledge the possibility the species of monkey flying out of your butt is macaque.

Did I miss something again? We are required to admit the possibility of X, and you are exempt from admitting any possibilities? Did I get that right?

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22-11-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 07:43 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  
(22-11-2013 01:24 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  It's good to know that your risk aversion is so great that you'll worship one particular god on the 1 in infinite chance it actually exists. Okay, then which god? Do you worship Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah? I would imagine Allah, seeing as how he has the worst possible version of Hell designated for non-believers.

If your risk aversion is that high, do you ever get into a motor vehicle? Because at this point, the likelihood of you dying in an auto accident is orders of magnitude greater than your chance of drawing the red marble. So I take it that since you don't want the pick the red marble, you likewise don't want to entertain the remote possibility of an auto accident. So I'll just assume you're a social recluse that never leaves your underground bomb shelter.

Human assessment of risk is unreliable. That's why we rely on formal processes for assessing safety related systems rather than ordinary human judgement. We see things we are used to doing as being lower risk than they actually are. So a theist may judge continuing to accept their own religion as a low risk activity, thinking that switching horses might lead to damnation... but at the same time may fail to assess their decision against multiple other promised forms of damnation from various religions they do not hold.

It's human nature.

I'll stick to statistics for now. Since the number of people who've gone to heaven and returned to tell me I'm royally fucked is, at this time, zero, I'll continue to live as though there are no gods.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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22-11-2013, 02:58 PM
RE: About God and Knowledge and its nasty implications
(22-11-2013 01:29 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  
(22-11-2013 01:24 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  It's good to know that your risk aversion is so great that you'll worship one particular god on the 1 in infinite chance it actually exists. Okay, then which god? Do you worship Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah? I would imagine Allah, seeing as how he has the worst possible version of Hell designated for non-believers.

If your risk aversion is that high, do you ever get into a motor vehicle? Because at this point, the likelihood of you dying in an auto accident is orders of magnitude greater than your chance of drawing the red marble. So I take it that since you don't want the pick the red marble, you likewise don't want to entertain the remote possibility of an auto accident. So I'll just assume you're a social recluse that never leaves your underground bomb shelter.

When did I claim this was an argument to convince you that you should believe in God? It is an argument critical of the claim that it is possible God exists, but not possible the Christian God exists.

That's what I'm looking for: a bit more specificity. Now, I don't recall you clearly defining exactly what a god is, nor which version of the Christian God you were asking us to consider.

I also don't recall being asked my initial position on the matter. Are you just assuming my position for me? I don't recommend that.

EDIT: Ewww. My sincerest apologies for spamming.

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! -Brian's mum
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