On the Existence of Garage Dragons
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19-08-2015, 08:30 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
Carl Sagan -

To Robert Pope, of Windsor, Ontario, Oct. 2, 1996

“I am not an atheist. An atheist is someone who has compelling evidence that there is no Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. I am not that wise, but neither do I consider there to be anything approaching adequate evidence for such a god. Why are you in such a hurry to make up your mind? Why not simply wait until there is compelling evidence?”

To Stephen Jay Gould, Dec. 18, 1989, after a newspaper editorial referred to Sagan and Gould as “dogmatic” on the question of whether there is a God:

“Do you understand how – assuming either of us ever did say ‘The universe can be explained without postulating God’ – this could be understood as dogmatic? I often talk about the ‘God hypothesis’ as something I’d be fully willing to accept if there were compelling evidence; unfortunately, there is nothing approaching compelling evidence. That attitude, it seems to me, is undogmatic.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ache...ve-part-1/
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19-08-2015, 08:40 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:30 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Carl Sagan -

To Robert Pope, of Windsor, Ontario, Oct. 2, 1996

“I am not an atheist. An atheist is someone who has compelling evidence that there is no Judeo-Christian-Islamic God.”

<snip>

That's all very interesting, but the Judeo-Christian god is explicitly not a garage dragon. It is one of the most emphatically non-garage-dragon gods in existence, in fact, since it apparently flooded the world and so forth.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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19-08-2015, 08:43 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:30 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ache...ve-part-1/

Good find! But your quote selection seemed ... incomplete.

Son of man who was Sagan's BFF-
“In his adult life he was very close to being an atheist. I personally had several conversations with him about religion, belief, god, and yes I agree he was darn close. It’s really semantics at this level of distinction. He was certainly not a theist. And I suppose I can relate because I personally don’t call myself an atheist, although if you probed what I believe, it would be indistinguishable from many who do use that term.”

Sagan's student -
“Carl acted like an atheist but rejected the label. I guess it seemed too absolute to him. He always tried to be open to new evidence on any subject. I am reminded of Bill Nye answering a question about what could change his mind about evolution : ‘evidence’.”

Sagan's widow -

“Carl meant exactly what he said. He used words with great care.He did not know if there was a god. It is my understanding that to be an atheist is to take the position that it is known that there is no god or equivalent. Carl was comfortable with the label ‘agnostic’ but not ‘atheist.'”

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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19-08-2015, 08:47 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
Regarding the Sagan quotes, I only wanted to point out that he never came to the conclusion that god does not exist. He was open-minded and rejected the claim that god does not exist.
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19-08-2015, 08:49 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:43 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Sagan's student -
“Carl acted like an atheist but rejected the label. I guess it seemed too absolute to him. He always tried to be open to new evidence on any subject. I am reminded of Bill Nye answering a question about what could change his mind about evolution : ‘evidence’.”

This is another thing that is actually very much worth noting in this context: Sagan was one hell of a nice guy, and didn't like to adopt labels or particularly strong positions that would anger more people than possible. He was essentially the Mister Rogers of the scientific community; he was kind and very good at making difficult, potentially scary concepts palatable for people who might be scared away by blunter talk.

Using any of the technical definitions of the word, Carl Sagan was an atheist. He didn't believe in god, and that's the only requirement. But because of the negative connotations associated with it, he rejected the idea of calling himself that, and instead simply chose to stress that he was open to new evidence of a god or gods' existence (which, for the record, I am as well; I am certain that it won't happen, but I'm still open to it if it does).

This is also why he tended to dress concepts like the garage dragon in simple, rather silly trappings, and end with asking the audience a question rather than simply stating things like "of course it's not real, and your neighbor is an idiot for suggesting it". He was a genuinely nice guy.

I do not have Carl Sagan's tact.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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19-08-2015, 08:49 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:27 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(19-08-2015 07:09 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The analogy quite clearly goes through these steps. It shows how the claim is ill defined and keeps getting redefined. It shows how you think there might be a way to falsify it and then when you try the claimant changes the claim, provides new excuses.

Carl's idea and analogy is much bigger than just addressing magical claims.

And yet it still addresses magical claims. Specifically, it shows that they are, by definition, untrue.

I really don't see what it is that you think is complicated about this.
It's not complicated. The hardest part is trying to convince you that the analogy is just an analogy, there is no reason to assume a "garage dragon" must breath heatless fire, just as there is no reason to assume a "garage dragon" must be invisible and incorporeal. That the point of the analogy is to show how a poorly defined claim evolves without ever presenting criteria for falsifiable evidence. And that a poorly defined claim can be dismissed without having to take the contrary position.

Quote:Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
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19-08-2015, 08:54 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:49 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Using any of the technical definitions of the word, Carl Sagan was an atheist. He didn't believe in god, and that's the only requirement. But because of the negative connotations associated with it, he rejected the idea of calling himself that,
What a load of BS.

Carl was using the term "Atheist" to mean belief that god doesn't exist.
He probably thought of himself as an Agnostic (either an ignostic or a 6 on Dawkin's scale had it been around in his time).

His was a position of lack of belief.
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19-08-2015, 08:54 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:49 PM)Stevil Wrote:  It's not complicated. The hardest part is trying to convince you that the analogy is just an analogy

I am aware that it is an analogy. I have pointed out to you, and to others, that it is an analogy previously. That is the whole point.

(19-08-2015 08:49 PM)Stevil Wrote:  there is no reason to assume a "garage dragon" must breath heatless fire, just as there is no reason to assume a "garage dragon" must be invisible and incorporeal.

No one cares what the specifics are, no. The central idea is that the garage dragon entity is completely untestable and undetectable, even in principle.

(19-08-2015 08:49 PM)Stevil Wrote:  That the point of the analogy is to show how a poorly defined claim evolves without ever presenting criteria for falsifiable evidence.

That is certainly one thing it does.

It also shows that the concept of a garage dragon "existing" is ridiculous on its face.

(19-08-2015 08:49 PM)Stevil Wrote:  And that a poorly defined claim can be dismissed without having to take the contrary position.

How?

In what way would it be possible to take the position that the garage dragon even might exist? The idea is not coherent. Worse, it is self-contradictory; the garage dragon does not meet the requirements for existence. That is the reason he asks this question, which you still have not answered:

What is the difference between a garage dragon and no dragon at all?

If the garage dragon can be said to exist, then you can answer it.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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19-08-2015, 08:55 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  What a load of BS.

Carl was using the term "Atheist" to mean belief that god doesn't exist.

I am aware of what he was using it as.

I am also aware of what the actual definition is.

(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  His was a position of lack of belief.

Which is atheism.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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19-08-2015, 08:57 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:47 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Regarding the Sagan quotes, I only wanted to point out that he never came to the conclusion that god does not exist. He was open-minded and rejected the claim that god does not exist.

Where do you think he was on the Dawkins scale? 5? 6? Or is he completely outside the scale and he can't be categorized as any?

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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