Believing That God Doesn't Exist
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14-11-2013, 12:06 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(14-11-2013 11:36 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  
(13-11-2013 02:22 PM)Misanthropik Wrote:  Can you explain why, please?

Note that "evidence" means just that. Evidence. It does not equal proof.

Let's get away from "silly" examples such as unicorns. Consider the thylacine, a marsupial dog-like creature that existed in Australia until the 1930s when the last known animal died in a zoo. It's better known as the Tasmanian Tiger or the Tasmanian Wolf. At one time it lived in mainland Australia but was later found only in Tasmania (there were bounties for hunters who killed one).

The Tasmanian Tiger was a real creature as opposed to unicorns, Loch Ness monsters, leprechauns etc. No-one doubts that it existed, but "all" biologists now consider it extinct. I use quotes because there are possibly biologists who don't agree with that statement.

There have been supposed sightings both in Tasmania and in mainland Australia. But as is often the case with sightings of strange animals, the quality of the evidence is poor, to say the least.

No-one has seen a thylacine in almost 80 years. Tasmania is an island that attracts many walkers and climbers each year and even now, when everyone has a decent camera in their pocket, no-one has come up with a half-decent shot of a thylacine.

So we've got Absence of Evidence.

Can we interpret this as Evidence of Absence? Some do. They basically say "We haven't seen it for 80 years. If it is still around, SOMEBODY would have seen it". And that's a very seductive argument. And, I'll admit, one that appeals to me. I believe that, unfortunately, the thylacine is extinct.

But it only takes one walker or climber to come up with a decent shot of a thylacine (I'm talking about a camera shot here). to turn the AoE on its head. And EoA becomes zero.

The same applies to God. I don't see any quality evidence to support the idea that (s)he exists in any format. so, there's lots of AoE. But God could appear tomorrow. And i'd have say "Bugger!!! G'day, mate. Fancy a beer?" But my AoE would have been rendered worthless.

Sure, right. The AoE would be less satisfying if virtually no one hiked in Tasmania.

But we are being asked/urged to believe in a god that controls, that intervenes, that answers prayers, and yet there is still no evidence.
Pretty good absence of evidence that should be expected to be there.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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14-11-2013, 12:21 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(12-11-2013 05:14 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  Those of you who have heard me speak about the belief and/or lack of belief in gods are probably familiar with my views. Reasonably-held beliefs/lack of beliefs should be based upon the available evidence either for or against them. A belief that unicorns exist is unjustified because we have no evidence that they exist. Thus, the belief in unicorns is not reasonable. The same goes with deities. We have no discernible evidence that any deity exists. Thus, the belief in deities is unjustified and not reasonable.

But as of late, I've been wondering a little more about the belief, as opposed to a lack of a belief, that these things don't exist.

I'm a reasonable person. This means that I do not adhere to beliefs without sufficient supporting evidence. When someone informs me of something, I seek validation. I check to ensure that the evidence supports the claim before investing a belief in it. But when it comes to the existence of a deity, as I stated, we have zero evidence that one exists. Now, this is where I'm getting hung-up. Instead of evidence for the existence of deities, we have a blatant lack of discernible evidence for the existence of deities. When a believer tells me they believe God exists, they are basically pointing to empty space and saying "There is a thing there." But all I (and any other clear-sighted individual) am seeing is empty space.

Does this lack of evidence, in itself, serve as enough evidence to justify a positive belief that God does not exist? Being reasonable, (and oh-so humble) I'm concerned that maybe my increasing tendency toward a belief that God doesn't exist is not sufficiently justified. For a long time, I've been of the "I don't believe God doesn't exist, I just lack a belief that he does" camp. It seems reasonable. But when I look out at the empty space, I'm inclined to deduce that absence of evidence is, in fact, evidence of absence.

Again, because I tend to ramble: Does this lack of evidence, in itself, serve as enough evidence to justify a positive belief that God does not exist?

I think this goes back, at least in part, to how "god" is defined. If "god" is supposed to be the creator of the universe who watches over the earth and us humans, listens to our thoughts, answers (selective) prayers, and remembers every last detail of everything that all of us have done or thought throughout our lives and eventually judges each of us on that, then I think there is sufficient evidence to say that such a god doesn't exist. But if god is simply the creator of the universe, then that gets more complicated.

We don't know exactly how the universe was created. We have the big bang theory and a lot of good supporting evidence, but what caused the bang? What existed before it? Before the universe existed, where was anything at all located? These unanswered questions leave room for a possible "creator", but would we call that creator "god" if it was more of a scientific process than an actual self-directed being? I doubt it. I suppose it's possible that a self-directed being really did create the universe, but we currently have absolutely nothing to base that upon except for sheer guessing. How great would the powers of such a being have to be in order to be able to create the entire universe? Surely, with such power, we would have seen something by now to give us a clue of that god's existence. But we haven't seen anything and it casts serious doubt.

I think there is sufficient evidence to definitively dismiss the gods of all earthly religions. After that, there is no evidence supporting that any other god (at least the self-directed being kind) exists. So, since a negative can't be proven, that's about as close to proof as you will ever get for the nonexistence of any god. Therefore, it seems reasonable to me for you to conclude that no god exists, perhaps with the caveat that you retain a willingness to open your mind should the unexpected evidence suddenly and undeniably show up. This is exactly where I stand on the whole matter myself.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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14-11-2013, 12:30 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(14-11-2013 11:36 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  
(13-11-2013 02:22 PM)Misanthropik Wrote:  Can you explain why, please?

Note that "evidence" means just that. Evidence. It does not equal proof.

Let's get away from "silly" examples such as unicorns. Consider the thylacine, a marsupial dog-like creature that existed in Australia until the 1930s when the last known animal died in a zoo. It's better known as the Tasmanian Tiger or the Tasmanian Wolf. At one time it lived in mainland Australia but was later found only in Tasmania (there were bounties for hunters who killed one).

The Tasmanian Tiger was a real creature as opposed to unicorns, Loch Ness monsters, leprechauns etc. No-one doubts that it existed, but "all" biologists now consider it extinct. I use quotes because there are possibly biologists who don't agree with that statement.

There have been supposed sightings both in Tasmania and in mainland Australia. But as is often the case with sightings of strange animals, the quality of the evidence is poor, to say the least.

No-one has seen a thylacine in almost 80 years. Tasmania is an island that attracts many walkers and climbers each year and even now, when everyone has a decent camera in their pocket, no-one has come up with a half-decent shot of a thylacine.

So we've got Absence of Evidence.

Can we interpret this as Evidence of Absence? Some do. They basically say "We haven't seen it for 80 years. If it is still around, SOMEBODY would have seen it". And that's a very seductive argument. And, I'll admit, one that appeals to me. I believe that, unfortunately, the thylacine is extinct.

But it only takes one walker or climber to come up with a decent shot of a thylacine (I'm talking about a camera shot here). to turn the AoE on its head. And EoA becomes zero.

The same applies to God. I don't see any quality evidence to support the idea that (s)he exists in any format. so, there's lots of AoE. But God could appear tomorrow. And i'd have say "Bugger!!! G'day, mate. Fancy a beer?" But my AoE would have been rendered worthless.
I find your argument to be more that absence of evidence is not proof of absence. As more time passes, however, and more and more people fail to come up with any evidence that at least one thylacine still exists, it is evidence of absence.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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14-11-2013, 01:09 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
Don't mind me... I'm just providing some focal imagery.
[Image: 2thylacines.jpg]
What a beautiful creature this Thylacine. Shy

I have occasionally observed the confusion of hope. I think people confuse hope with wishful thinking. There is a subtle difference which may be what causes one to pause and question their own reasoning and logic. Hope can be logically inert whereas wishful thinking often lends itself to desire and the manifestation of fantasy.

I can say, "What a beautiful creature this Thylacine, I hope we're wrong and it's out there somewhere.". That doesn't mean that it is out there and it certainly doesn't mean that I believe or think that it is out there.

When a person's hope gives way to wishful thinking, that slope gets steeper and slipperier.

(I wasn't sure slipperier would even be a word! Tongue )

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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14-11-2013, 02:00 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(14-11-2013 12:06 PM)Chas Wrote:  Sure, right. The AoE would be less satisfying if virtually no one hiked in Tasmania.

Ever hiked in Tasmania, mate? And I'm not talking about Hobart.
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14-11-2013, 02:21 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(14-11-2013 12:30 PM)Impulse Wrote:  I find your argument to be more that absence of evidence is not proof of absence. As more time passes, however, and more and more people fail to come up with any evidence that at least one thylacine still exists, it is evidence of absence.

I agree that AoE can in certain circumstances come to look like EoA. If we had observations available from 1940 (a few years after the last thylocine died), we'd probably conclude there was some reason to suppose they were extinct, but not overwhelming evidence. In 2013, we have no further evidence that they were still extant. That's why I said I believe they are extinct. If i had data from from 2113 and there was no more evidence that thylacines still exist, I'd be more confident that that they were extinct.

But my point was that one piece of (good, solid) evidence can overthrow AoE.

Example: what colour are swans? Europeans believed all swans were white until they reached Australia. There they found black swans. Hundreds of years of AoE had indicated that black swans did not exist (although to be fair, I doubt anyone had raised that hypothesis). but they did and do.
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14-11-2013, 04:12 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(12-11-2013 05:14 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  Does this lack of evidence, in itself, serve as enough evidence to justify a positive belief that God does not exist?
Great question and one i have often asked of myself. Am I a weak atheist or a strong atheist?
There are a couple of very important things to consider:
1. What is meant by the word "belief"?
2. What is meant by the word "god"?
A1. I tend to think that belief is choosing to accept one possibility and rejecting other plausible possibilities.
If a person doesn't make this choice and simply accepts that there are many plausible possibilities then they are remaining open minded to the possibilities.
If there aren't other plausible possibilities, then acceptance of the only possibility isn't deemed as a belief (is it?)
Sometimes knowledge on something can be challenged if a new plausible alternative possibility is discovered (postured), at that point a person can choose to be open minded to both possibilities or can take on a belief of one by rejecting the other.

Tumbling down this "belief" rabbit hole we then need to define what it means to be "plausible".
Thinking about unicorns (a horse like creature with a horn coming out its forehead), I can see that animals do exist, and a horse exists as a type of animal, also we have animals with horns. Is it plausible to have a horse like creature with a horn? My guess would be "yes". Is it plausible that these creatures exist somewhere on Earth but are yet to be discovered? My guess would be, highly unlikely, but theoretically possible.
Thinking about the multiverse (simultaneous existence of multiple big bang structures), I can see that there exists at least one big bang structure (our own Universe). If one is possible, then why not more than one? I'm no cosmologist, but it seems to me a somewhat absurd assumption to consider only one universe to be in existence. Can I discount that there is only one? My guess would be "no".
A2. I tend to think he definition of "god" is ill defined. How can I even entertain the possibility of "god" when it has no well defined definition?
In this way I am ignostic.
However, if it is assumed that a god is a conscious creature made of nothing, that has always "existed" and has knowledge and intelligence (before anything else existed), that has supernatural powers and can choose to manipulate material existence at will, then is this a plausible possibility? We have never observed supernatural powers or the existence of a conscious creature made of nothing. We can't logically understand how knowledge and intelligence can come before data and information. Given what we do know about existence, it does not seem plausible to have this kind of creature.
Is there any way to distinguish between a completely imaginary concept and the concept put forth of this god? There are an infinite possibilities with regards to imaginary concepts but nly one truth. If there is no way to distinguish then prudence and practicality would suggest to me that this idea is to be treated as an imaginary concept until such a point that evidence suggests otherwise.

So it becomes subjective,
1. if a person considers the god possibility to be plausible then they would need to take on a belief in order to reject that "plausible" possibility. This would mean that a strong atheist considers "god" to be plausible.
2. If a person considers the god possibility to be plausible but they keep an open mind to the possibilities of god or no god then they would be a weak atheist or maybe an agnostic theist depending which way they swing.
3. If a person considers the god possibility to be implausible then they can ignore it without having to claim a belief. This person can claim to be a weak atheist but must understand that some people whom consider "god" to be plausible, may see this person a strong atheist instead.
Personally i fall into category 3.
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14-11-2013, 04:30 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(12-11-2013 07:45 AM)grizzlysnake Wrote:  I don't understand this. If we do find solid evidence of a unicorn, gnome or leprechaun for all to see on a dissecting table I'll believe it. As of now, I don't. Ain't my job to look for these things.
You won't believe it, instead you will accept it as truth. Belief requires rejection of plausible alternatives.

(12-11-2013 07:55 AM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  If there was any solid evidence for "magic" (in any form or intensity) in the first place, than every single magical being or creature imagined throughout all of human history can be almost said to be completely possible and all but validated. Considering the very definitions of magic and supernaturalism.
Yes, to accept something as possible, we need some precedence. Otherwise we don't know if something is possible. We cannot answer yes or no to the questions "Is magic possible?" or "is god possible?". There is no precedence to suggest that these things are possible, at this stage they are purley imaginary concepts.

(12-11-2013 01:01 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  To make a positive claim that gods don't exist is to begin to tread the murky waters of an anti-theism.
No, I disagree. Having a belief that Santa doesn't exist doe not mean that you are anti-Santa.
(12-11-2013 01:01 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  You have long since left the shores of atheism.
No, all an atheist needs is a lack of belief in the existence of gods.
A belief that there aren't gods is merely a subset of atheism.
(12-11-2013 01:01 PM)BlackMason Wrote:  You are then burdened with the task to furnish evidence just like the theists.
I don't think anyone with a belief has a burdon of proof. Belief is acceptance that there is no conclusive prove and acceptance that there are plausible alternatives.
In my opinion, believers do not require proof, they can merely choose to believe.
(14-11-2013 11:36 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  Let's get away from "silly" examples such as unicorns.
IMO unicorns are more plausible than gods.
(14-11-2013 11:36 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  Consider the thylacine, a marsupial dog-like creature that existed in Australia until the 1930s
...
The same applies to God. I don't see any quality evidence to support the idea that (s)he exists in any format. so, there's lots of AoE. But God could appear tomorrow. And i'd have say "Bugger!!! G'day, mate. Fancy a beer?" But my AoE would have been rendered worthless.
We know animals existed, we know marsupials existed (thriving in Australia due to lack of placental mammals), we know due to "adaptive spaces" that many marsupials look similar to some placental mammals. The existence of Thylacine seems quite plausible.
Gods, on the other hand are deemed to be made of nothing, (we have no other creature made of nothing), have supernatural powers (we have no other creature with supernatural powers). You need to jump many hurdles to even consider a god as plausible.
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14-11-2013, 04:38 PM (This post was last modified: 14-11-2013 06:48 PM by Dark Light.)
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
There isn't a huge difference between not believing in unicorns, and believing there are no unicorns, but there is a distinction to be made. I believe in some things that aren't proven beyond all doubt. I am just prepared to accept the possibility that it's wrong should evidence materialize that persuades me otherwise. Just keep in mind the implications that come from stating "I believe there is no god", and be prepared to explain what you mean, because people will not take it the way you mean it. Cheers.

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14-11-2013, 04:43 PM
RE: Believing That God Doesn't Exist
(14-11-2013 12:06 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(14-11-2013 11:36 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  But my AoE would have been rendered worthless.

Sure, right. The AoE would be less satisfying if virtually no one hiked in Tasmania.

But we are being asked/urged to believe in a god that controls, that intervenes, that answers prayers, and yet there is still no evidence.
Pretty good absence of evidence that should be expected to be there.

And what is there is better explained through psychology and marketing.

My EoA was having the creator of the universe show up on the job site, but the unholy trinity is me, my Gwynnies, and the LC. I refuse to believe there's any other kinda god than the LC, there's no margin in it. Which translates into - god is a function of identity.

Some people here act like they're apologizing for a meteor strike.

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