On the Existence of Garage Dragons
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19-08-2015, 09:19 PM (This post was last modified: 19-08-2015 09:23 PM by Matt Finney.)
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:57 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(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?

Obviously we're purely guessing, but I would guess a 4 or a 5. I would guess that he withheld belief in recognition of his lack of knowledge.

Regarding Dawkins' scale, I think it's kind of silly. There isn't really a spot for me (and perhaps Sagan) on it. I labeled myself as a 5 earlier but I also pointed out the bias on the scale. If we fix the bias and have the position of 5 being an inclination to believe that god doesn't exist, then 5 doesn't really fit because I'm not inclined to believe that god doesn't exist. 4 doesn't fit because I don't believe that the probability of god is the same as the probability of no god. I don't claim to know anything at all about whether something like a god is possible, let alone probable.

Where's the spot on Dawkins' scale for "I'm waiting for evidence before I make a judgment"?
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19-08-2015, 09:21 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
On the questions of existence and non existence, there is no middle ground in which anyone can stand that cannot lean towards a belief.

If we are to say something possibly exists, such as Garage Dragons (God etc), it is a belief in that possibility.

If we are to say " I do not know," it implies uncertainty in the existence of Garage Dragons (God etc), which by necessity holds the belief in the possibility.

If a theist says that the existence of Garage Dragons (God etc) is 100% fact, then the theist is obligated to demonstrate conclusive evidence to prove said existence.

If an atheist says the non-existence of Garage Dragons (God etc) is 100% fact, his case is already demonstrated to be true by the non existence of said existence, because it is a self-evident fact. Non existence itself is evidence to support the claim of non existence, and it is known in rational thought as "The Evidence of Absence."

To claim that something is still possible, despite the complete and total lack of evidence, is an empty baseless claim. For something to be possible, evidence is most certainly required to qualify that possibility. If no evidence is supplied, then the possibility itself does not exist.

In this discussion, neither the Garage Dragon nor God exist, nor do they possibly exist.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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19-08-2015, 09:39 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:21 PM)Free Wrote:  If we are to say " I do not know," it implies uncertainty in the existence of Garage Dragons (God etc), which by necessity holds the belief in the possibility.

I disagree. I don't believe that it's possible that god exists. I also don't believe that it's impossible that god exists. I don't have a belief, because I don't have enough evidence to form a belief I would want to hold. Sure, I can have a guess, and I would guess no god. I can also guess which team is going to win a football game, but I don't hold a belief that one team is going to win. No need to rush to a conclusion....not in that big of a hurry.
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19-08-2015, 09:39 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 04:18 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  In Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, he proposes the following scenario:

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage.”

Suppose … I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself….

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle—but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, except she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.”

And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it is true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.

The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility….

In it, he raises the question of fundamentally undetectable entities - "garage dragons" - and poses this question:

"What’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?"

Now, in another thread, this point was brought up regarding the deist concept of god - an entity that dwells outside the universe and does not take any sort of active hand in its creation. A garage dragon, in fact.

This led to an argument about what the answer to Sagan's question is, mostly between Stevil and myself, with occasional comments from other users. In the interest of keeping the other thread clear, I am moving this discussion to a more appropriate forum.

My answer to the question Sagan poses is as follows:

There is no difference between them. Garage dragons do not exist. There is no meaningful definition of the word "exists" that can possibly apply to them. They are functionally imaginary.

I will let Stevil present his own position, as I don't want to unintentionally misrepresent him, but the discussion is, of course, open to everyone. What is your answer to Sagan's question, and why?

He's wrong. They live in the back of my closet, with the wolves, and robbers, and kidnappers, and they come out at night if I turn off my light. So I can just leave on a night-light ... and it's all good. Thumbsup

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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19-08-2015, 09:44 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:21 PM)Free Wrote:  If an atheist says the non-existence of Garage Dragons (God etc) is 100% fact, his case is already demonstrated to be true by the non existence of said existence, because it is a self-evident fact.

Yes.

Garage dragons do not exist, by definition, because they do not meet the requirements for existence. They do not interact with other entities.

"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, 09:45 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(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.
Nope, no-one really cares about the garage dragon. It's just a fucking analogy, a hypothetical to help get the point across via a walkthrough. The garage dragon on its own is meaningless.

The whole point of Carl's piece is to explain why a poorly defined claim should be rejected. The claim itself rejected rather than the thing it is trying to describe.

(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  It also shows that the concept of a garage dragon "existing" is ridiculous on its face.
In no way, shape or form does it even try to do this.

(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(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...
Let's just forget about your awkward position on a fucking garage dragon.

Instead let's focus on one thing at a time. We can get back to the question of whether a non physical entity can exist afterward if you wish to pursue that.

Focusing on the concept of a poorly defined claim, the options are:
1. I accept your claim is valid and I accept your conclusion
2. I accept your claim is valid, I have falsified it which means your conclusion is false.
3. Your claim is invalid, I cannot assess your conclusion.

With regards to my previously stated hypothetical of the balls in a sealed jar. I have claimed that there are an even number of balls in the jar because I can feel it in my bones.
You would be silly to accept my conclusion because you should be able to see that my claim is invalid (How can I possibly feel the answer in my bones?)
You would also be silly to reject my conclusion because regardless that my claim is invalid, it is certainly possible that there are an even number of balls in the jar.
So you must accept option 3. Reject my claim but still accept that my conclusion has not been proven or disproved.


If you accept the above as a valid way of assessing a claim then we can move on to "argue" the validity of a non physical entity existing.
I feel we are complicating things by tackling both these issues at the same time.

Once we have finished arguing about the validity of a non physical entity existing then we can argue some more about whether Carl's garage dragon analogy incorporates this.

So there are three arguments here. I an interested in argument one, the ability to assess or handle a poorly formed claim.
I am less interested in arguing items 2 or 3 but can do so if it is something you are passionate about.


(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  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.
Yup, I've already answered this question twice, you obviously didn't like my answer. But lets finish the discussion/argument about poorly formed claims first then we can tackle the topic of a non physical entity existing. You can even ask me this question of yours again. Yippee!
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19-08-2015, 09:51 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:21 PM)Free Wrote:  If we are to say " I do not know," it implies uncertainty in the existence of God, which by necessity holds the belief in the possibility.
This is very poor application of logic. We went over this months ago.

A claim of "I don't know" means "I don't know" under no circumstances does it mean "I know that it is possible".
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19-08-2015, 09:53 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  In no way, shape or form does it even try to do this.

The question is still there, telling anyone who cares to read it that you are wrong.

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

And here's the wonderful thing about it: even if it wasn't Carl Sagan's original intention, it still works.

(19-08-2015 09:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Focusing on the concept of a poorly defined claim, the options are:
1. I accept your claim is valid and I accept your conclusion
2. I accept your claim is valid, I have falsified it which means your conclusion is false.
3. Your claim is invalid, I cannot assess your conclusion.

Or, as is the case with the garage dragon, option number four: the claim is nonsensical and self-contradictory, and self-evidently false. Statements such as "blue is red" also fall under this heading.

(19-08-2015 09:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(19-08-2015 08:54 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  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.
Yup, I've already answered this question twice, you obviously didn't like my answer.

No, I didn't, because it isn't actually an answer to the question. It is completely unrelated, and deals with a topic entirely irrelevant to the existence of the garage dragon. Whether or not people believe in the garage dragon is entirely unimportant, and does not have any bearing on the question being asked.

So, since I have already pointed out how your assumed three possible positions fail to address all possibilities, I ask again:

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

"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, 09:56 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:51 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(19-08-2015 09:21 PM)Free Wrote:  If we are to say " I do not know," it implies uncertainty in the existence of God, which by necessity holds the belief in the possibility.
This is very poor application of logic. We went over this months ago.

A claim of "I don't know" means "I don't know" under no circumstances does it mean "I know that it is possible".

"I don't know" means "I have no knowledge concerning ....".
It implies nothing.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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19-08-2015, 09:56 PM
RE: On the Existence of Garage Dragons
(19-08-2015 09:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Focusing on the concept of a poorly defined claim, the options are:
1. I accept your claim is valid and I accept your conclusion
2. I accept your claim is valid, I have falsified it which means your conclusion is false.
3. Your claim is invalid, I cannot assess your conclusion.

It sounds like you're describing the soundness and validity of an argument. Yes?

1. Your premises are sound and your conclusion is valid.
2. Your premises are sound but your conclusion is invalid.
3. Your conclusion is invalid but your premises are sound.
3. Your conclusion is invalid and your premises are unsound.

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