I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
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11-02-2012, 07:53 PM
I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
I'm reading 'The God Delusion' for the first time, and these are some of my observations from the first chapter:

On TAP (Temporary Agnosticism in Practice), Dawkins writes: "TAP...is the legitimate fence-sitting where there really is a definite answer, one way or the other, but we so far lack the evidence to reach it (or don't understand the evidence, or haven't time to read the evidence, etc.)...There is a truth out there and one day we hope to know it, though for the moment we don't."

On PAP (Permanent Agnosticism in Practice), he writes: "The PAP style of agnosticism is appropriate for questions that can never be answered, no matter how much evidence we gather, because the very idea of evidence is not applicable. The question exists on a different plane, or in a different dimension, beyond the zones where evidence can reach."

Maybe I'm wrong here, but just because a question can never be answered doesn't mean that there isn't a definite answer - we simply lack the capacity to obtain it. The question of a god's existence, Dawkins argues, belongs in the TAP category - that's to say that we can collect evidence for or against the matter. That's where I think he's wrong: we can only collect evidence revealing the laws of nature as we are able to observe them in the dimensions we are limited to. This has no bearing on the laws - or even the existence - of other as yet unknown, but entirely possible, dimensions.

Dawkins even seems to hint at this when he refers to Daniel F. Galouye's work of fiction 'Counterfeit World' in which it is "suggested (and I can think of no way to disprove it) that we live in a computer simulation, set up by some vastly superior civilization". How can Dawkins assert that we cannot disprove our existence as a computer simulation run in a dimension not observable to us, while at the same time suggesting that evidence can be collected to decrease the probability of the existence of a being(s) in a dimension also not observable to us?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts....

"Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars." - Carl Sagan
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11-02-2012, 08:19 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
(11-02-2012 07:53 PM)impr0vise Wrote:  Maybe I'm wrong here, but just because a question can never be answered doesn't mean that there isn't a definite answer - we simply lack the capacity to obtain it.

If a question can never be answered, there's no difference between the answer existing and not existing.

Quote:The question of a god's existence, Dawkins argues, belongs in the TAP category - that's to say that we can collect evidence for or against the matter. That's where I think he's wrong: we can only collect evidence revealing the laws of nature as we are able to observe them in the dimensions we are limited to. This has no bearing on the laws - or even the existence - of other as yet unknown, but entirely possible, dimensions.

Dawkins even seems to hint at this when he refers to Daniel F. Galouye's work of fiction 'Counterfeit World' in which it is "suggested (and I can think of no way to disprove it) that we live in a computer simulation, set up by some vastly superior civilization". How can Dawkins assert that we cannot disprove our existence as a computer simulation run in a dimension not observable to us, while at the same time suggesting that evidence can be collected to decrease the probability of the existence of a being(s) in a dimension also not observable to us?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts....

The key difference is that the existence of the God described by almost all religion (that is one who's omniscient, omnipresent, answers prayers, etc.) would have a definite observable effect on our natural world. When Dawkins says that the existence of God belongs in the TAP category, he's talking about the type of God that intervenes, not the existence of a dimension not observable to us.

When you define something as not observable, of course you cannot ever know if it exists or not, but then what difference does it make? If you can never observe something, it may as well not exist.

The mainstream God on the other hand should be quite observable. We should be able to detect a change in the prognosis of a disease based on prayer, for example, but we do not. We should be able to record and obtain material evidence of miracles, but we cannot. The idea of a God fails over and over again to make accurate predictions about our world.

Try a thought experiment: Imagine that a God as described in the Bible does exist. He answers prayers, performs miracles, and will punish or reward you based on your actions. Now starting from scratch, based only on this assumption, describe what you would expect the world to look like. You'll most likely come up with something like Skyrim, where there are definite, reproducible effects from praying and gods occasionally communicate with people. Now compare it to the world you observe.
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11-02-2012, 08:25 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
Sup, Improvise?

Amen.

You about nailed it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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11-02-2012, 08:33 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
It is the same thing as being able to disprove Santa Claus, only on a larger scale.
Can't do it.
IF we are in an existence as a computer simulation run in a dimension not observable to us, at some point we CAN figure it out because it is there.
However, things that do not exist can not be discovered.

I think it gets into information and physics.
In my eye, it is a subject that needs a really smart guy to explain.
I give you Leonard Susskind.
This is pretty interesting, but you'll need about an hour.



It's all in your head, because there is no other place it could be.
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11-02-2012, 08:35 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
That's a good response, Ben. It's the problem we face when debating theism vs deism; that the definition of god(s) vary across cultures and even within the argument of one apologist.

But here is a more succinct answer for you, Impr0vise... Do NOT question the Lord our Dawkins! THAT'S BLASPHEMY! Thou shalt suffer an eternity in room 101!
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11-02-2012, 08:49 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
(11-02-2012 08:33 PM)TalladegaTom Wrote:  IF we are in an existence as a computer simulation run in a dimension not observable to us, at some point we CAN figure it out because it is there.
However, things that do not exist can not be discovered.

If that's the case, the video game industry is in for a hell of a bust down the road when the characters we control figure that shit out. Smile

Seriously though, can anything become so intelligent as to deduce independently that it was created/controlled by something MORE intelligent than itself? Conversely, it works the same - nothing can become so intelligent as to deduce independently that it WASN'T created by something more intelligent than itself.

Thanks for the video, I'll check it out after my little guy goes to bed this evening.

"Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars." - Carl Sagan
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11-02-2012, 10:02 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
(11-02-2012 08:19 PM)Ben Wrote:  If a question can never be answered, there's no difference between the answer existing and not existing.

This is what I think it boils down to. I think that an answer absolutely exists to any question that can be asked. Whether or not we can deduce a correct answer via the scientific method, or any other method, is the issue.

Quote:The key difference is that the existence of the God described by almost all religion (that is one who's omniscient, omnipresent, answers prayers, etc.) would have a definite observable effect on our natural world. When Dawkins says that the existence of God belongs in the TAP category, he's talking about the type of God that intervenes, not the existence of a dimension not observable to us.

I have some issues with this, too. When we 'disprove' the existence of an omniscient, omnipresent, prayer answering god, are we 'disproving' the god or are we disproving the human assertions regarding said god? For example, let's suppose the doctrine of a particular religion says that its god will give you what you ask for if you perform jumping jacks while making the request. If we observe that it doesn't happen that way, we can conclude that that particular part of that particular religion's doctrine is false. But what evidence have we really collected for the existence or non-existence of the god of this religion? Afterall, maybe it's not jumping jacks you have to perform, it's push-ups. Oh, and, you also have to be exactly 6'5 3/4" tall with five strands of hair measuring 17 1/2 inches long; there's an infinite number of variables that could be attached to make it impossible to disprove a claim such as that.

In short, I suppose I don't understand how the idea of a mainstream god and an infinite number of variables can be any more a matter for science than my own assertion that a unicorn, from a dimension we'll never be able to observe, ultimately determines the decisions I make when pray to it, and, on occasion, provides what I ask for when I pray for it.

"Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars." - Carl Sagan
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11-02-2012, 11:06 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
How can an idea such that neither evidence for nor evidence against it can ever be produced possibly be relevant to our world?
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11-02-2012, 11:59 PM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
(11-02-2012 08:33 PM)TalladegaTom Wrote:  It is the same thing as being able to disprove Santa Claus, only on a larger scale.
Can't do it.
IF we are in an existence as a computer simulation run in a dimension not observable to us, at some point we CAN figure it out because it is there.
However, things that do not exist can not be discovered.

I think it gets into information and physics.
In my eye, it is a subject that needs a really smart guy to explain.
I give you Leonard Susskind.
This is pretty interesting, but you'll need about an hour.



So, I just watched that video. Holy shit. I had no idea that there was any such theory being seriously compiled.

Interesting that he states we know the universe to be at least 10x larger than the observable horizon. That's an awful lot that we most probably will never be able to know - in our own technically observable dimensions, none the less.

"Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars." - Carl Sagan
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12-02-2012, 04:23 AM
RE: I think Dawkins has it wrong on agnosticism.
Hey, Ben.

Quote:How can an idea such that neither evidence for nor evidence against it can ever be produced possibly be relevant to our world?

Because we all live by stories that answer the fundamental human question, "how did things come to be this way?"

Whether or not our stories are true or even demonstrable takes a back seat to what it is that people believe.

In questions of medicine and rocket ships, demonstrability is a must. In questions of how we understand our world and our place in it, not so much.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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