Saturday, December 27, 2008

Proof of God’s Non-Existence? Let a Jury Decide


While the burden of proof for a god’s existence is on believers, I’ve often thought about what would constitute proof that no supreme being/s exist?


In a court of law, when hard evidence is not available (i.e. deposable eyewitnesses, fingerprints, forensics, DNA, et al) lawyers depend on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is acceptable and often compelling. The prevailing accepted criteria to convince a jury in a civil case is by a “preponderance of evidence”, circumstantial or otherwise.


I propose that there is a preponderance of circumstantial evidence to show God/s does/do not exist.


1. Dispelled Supernatural Explanations- the Diminished God:

The scientific age is in its infancy. It is said that more discoveries have been made in the past 300 years than have taken place in the past 5,000 years. The infallibility of the Catholic Church has been all but dispelled as they capitulate to Copernicus’ model, and placidly accept Darwinian Theory. What for millennia the faithful attributed to the supernatural such as the “wrath of God” (i.e. earthquakes, lighting strikes; draught; extreme weather, plague); the “work of Satan” (i.e. deformed births, two headed sheep, plague); “demonic possession/ witches" (i.e. epilepsy, hysteria, catatonic states) have been shown by man’s scientific awakening to be natural, explainable, even reproducible/ repeatable events, & processes.


Similarly, radiologic dating, consistency of fossil species evidence within geologic strata, and other measurements both terrestrial and cosmologic which meet stringent scientific criteria , provide overwhelming evidence of Old Earth and Evolution; rendering Creationism and Young Earth fables just that...unsupportable fables with no scientific basis.


Thus, while the gaps in our knowledge still exist, they are steadily shrinking. Along with the shrinking gaps the “God of the Gaps” has diminished and continues to do so exponentially. I submit, therefore that each and every theist, clergy or layman, living or dead, who has ever acquiesced to the reality of a dispelled pre-scientific, biblically endorsed, theistically held belief (i.e. earth as center of the universe; a firmament; plague as punishment, etc.), is himself a witness to / proof that what theists once attributed to God’s Word or power is fallacy, and that this God’s credibility has diminished commensurate with those discoveries.


If a god was all powerful, all knowing and existing, his prior attributes & credibility could not be diminished by Man’s discovery. QED, God does not exist.


2. No Probable Cause for Belief:

The Bible is the sole document for belief in /support of the God of Abraham and supernatural Jesus. In 3,500 + years since the Old Testament, and 1,800+ years since the New Testament, no new evidence has ever been produced proving supernatural events described therein actually occurred. No corroborating eyewitness statements by disinterested parties, no archeological evidence, no scientific proofs or discoveries that substantiate the source documents.


For almost two millennia there have been numerous documented predictions by theists of the “end of times” / “second coming”. None of these predictions have come true.


Similarly, no new "miracles" have been forthcoming that could not be explained in natural terms. The "age of miracles" it seems has dissappeared with the advent of the scientific age.


If a supreme being existed who genuinely cared about its creations believing in him, common logic infers he would reveal his existence in undeniable and proof positive terms. He would do so without the need for fallible human interpretation, or suppression / suspension of the human ability to reason and logic (which presumably this god bestowed upon them), or dependence on man made excuses for the absence of this God's personal appearance.


In short: The evidence for the supernatural or God should be held to no higher or lower standard than the evidence for any other unseeable mythical being , i.e. werewolf, vampire, fairy, et al. I submit that in the absence of said evidence there is no probable cause to believe in a God/s existence.


Virtually all theists have on their side is "hearsay", which is the least valued of all evidence. So what can we deduce? This: if pure logic and a preponderance of evidence were the sole basis for a ruling, these two arguments alone could stand as overwhelming evidence for proof for no god.

Of course, my premise is based on "a court of law" scenario, where the judge / jury are impartial, and bound by the rule of law to decide by a "preponderance of evidence" irrespective of their personal opinion of the participants, or their own belief system. Unfortunately, given the lack of intellect of jurors, and their inability to overcome their own mental enslavement to religion, I doubt an impartial jury could be found. Certainly not in LA, or among justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, or Thomas.

31 comments:

atty79 said...

After finding your blog yesterday, the first question that came to my mind is why are you an atheist instead of an agnostic. I think this post is a perfect introduction for me to ask that question.

I, myself, am agnostic. I am agnostic because I cannot be sure whether there are gods or not. My understanding of atheism is that a determination has to be made that God or gods do not exist. I'm not talking about a preponderance of the evidence, a weighing of probability versus reality. Rather, I'm talking about the rationality of foreclosing the possibility of deities.

I'm curious on your take of agnostic versus atheist.

DromedaryHump said...

Atty,
Thanks for your thoghtful inquiry.

Let me answer your question this way:
Are you agnotic on fairy's, gnomes, lepracalns, unicorns, vampires, zombies, elves, etc? Are you agnostic on the question of Russel's Teapot?

I ask this because you/I have never been provided with definitive proof of the nonesxistence of those things, yet I'll go out on a limb and assume you are both sane and intellectually honest, and thus will admit you are "atheisic" on the question of those things; that you dismiss them entirely as fictions without any proof / evidence of their non-existence.

If you can do that, it's not difficult to nderstand why people who have been able to shake off the impact of the religiosmeme have no difficulty in dismissing as fallacy Zeus, Poisidon, Isis, Ra, Tammuz, Moloch, Osiris, Horus, Yaway, Jesus, and the 1000's of other gods, demons, devils, and supernatural entities man has invented over the past few millenia.

I cosider an agnotic a person who intellectually recognizes that man's imagination invents god/s as ways to answer things we didn't or don't yet understand; or as a soothing method to deal with the finality of death, etc.,; but is unable to entirely break free from 1000's of years of meme developement and the social stigma and pressures associated with declaring themselves atheist.

I understand that people who call themselves agnostic will object to that discription. I'd be happy to reconsider it, if you can provide some convicing evidence that gnomes exist outside the minds and writings of the human mind.

Regards,
Hump

Anonymous said...

How many times have theistic apologetics used "court of law" in their arguments (from authority)? I always laugh when they do.

Think about it... In a trial, lawyers are not there to find truth but to win the case for their client. At least one side in a court case tries their best to spin fiction as truth (and sometimes truth as fiction)!

My advice... avoid using this analogy.

- Fastthumbs

DromedaryHump said...

Fast,
Perhaps I'm not as jaded as you. I still believe that the vast majority of civil court cases are resolved based on genuine evidence irrespective of the spin and legal manouvering that is part of the process.

More often than not, those gambits can result in a reduced fine, or sentence, but its a rarity for empirical evidence, and logic to be undermined by a lack of either with pure spin.

The experts I'd call would have science and reality on their side. The otherside has pure conjecture and a book of unsupportable fable. If an honest jury who hasnt been indoctrined in supernaturalism could be found, I think the case would be a slam dunk.

But hey...its not like it will ever happen. Just a fun mind exercise.

atty79 said...

I found your argument troubling. I've been an agnostic for a great many years, and on the surface, your argument seemed to require me to be an atheist. I was taken aback by it. My problem doesn't rest on whether it's more politically correct to be an agnostic than an atheist, but rather on the question of how I can dispel some myths, like a belief in vampires, and not others, like a belief in a deity.

It's a good point.

I disagree with your argument on more fundamental grounds, which I will discuss below, but as far as my issue with dispelling myths, I have to look to the very definition of atheist, as well as the definition of agnostic, to come to a different conclusion than your argument would suggest. And that is, the definitions of atheist and agnostic require an evaluation of whether you believe in a higher power, a God, or gods. The very words center on the question of whether there is a higher power. You change the context and the question entirely by redefining the words in terms of creatures that go bump in the night. An atheist is someone who believes, or has determined, that there is no God or gods, not whether that someone believes there are no leprechauns. An agnostic is someone who has not made a determination whether God or gods exist, not whether that someone has made a determination on the existence of leprechauns or other mythical creatures.

So yes, I do dispel the myths of leprechauns, vampires, Jesus, the 10 commandments, and Santa Claus. However, my willingness to dispel those myths do not affect my questioning of whether a God or gods exist. The question of existence is a big one that truly defines the agnostic, as compared to the atheist or the theist. Your argument seems to miss that point.

But it also seems to ignore how little impact human imagination, belief, or even rational determination has on reality. After all, whether something exists rarely depends on human imagination, belief, or rational determination. I can use your courtroom reference as a perfect example. Our legal system is about fairness; it is not about fact. Both in the criminal and the civil arenas, the systems of evidence, juries, standards for weighing the evidence, and the laws themselves are there to make determinations of fact in the eyes of our legal system. Through that process, we can feel that the system is fair. But in the end, someone can be convicted of a crime he did not commit. The system itself may have worked flawlessly and we believe the person is guilty, but in the end, the system produced an outcome that was contrary to fact. And thus shows the fallibility of not only our legal system but of the fallibility and limited knowledge of humanity.

It doesn't matter what Christians show us, or Buddhists, or the crazies on the side of the street. What matters is fact. Is there a God or gods or isn't there? We can weigh the evidence presented before us, we can draw conclusions from rational processes, or we can guess by "faith" but in the end, we do not know the fact of the matter.

In the end what we imagine or don't imagine plays little part in what reality is or is not. It isn't a matter of burden of proof. It's a matter of reality. You can decide to limit or put a threshold on what evidence you need to see before you decide one way or the other, but your decision on the matter does not change whether a God or gods exist or don't exist. It is for that reason that I am an agnostic. I cannot make a determination whether God or gods exist, regardless of my impressions of how mankind has used religion for their benefit. I don't have the faculties or the knowledge to make an absolute determination, and any determination that I make at this point will be a matter of belief that my system is infallible rather than a presentation of absolute fact.

I can't tell you whether gnomes exist. But I can tell you that as far as I know the existence of gnomes is irrelevant to whether a God or gods exist. I can also tell you that my personal belief on whether gnomes exist plays little part in the reality of the matter. I may be right, or I may not be.

Taking all this into account, would you consider yourself an athiest or an agnostic?

DromedaryHump said...

ATTY SAID: I don't have the faculties or the knowledge to make an absolute determination, and any determination that I make at this point will be a matter of belief that my system is infallible rather than a presentation of absolute fact.

No, there are no absoltes. But you seem to feel you need an "absolute" in order to make a decision on a "higher power" aka god existence.

That agnostics say "we can never know..." seems to make it comfortable for them not to take a stand. I believe that there is 99.9999% possibility that God is as made up as any other ancient mythical god/supreme being, etal, or any other fictional character. I believe that Jabba the Hutt has a similar chance of non existence.
Thus while not an absolute its close enough for me to "lack belief" in god/gods, which is the definition of atheist.



Atty said: can't tell you whether gnomes exist. But I can tell you that as far as I know the existence of gnomes is irrelevant to whether a God or gods exist. I can also tell you that my personal belief on whether gnomes exist plays little part in the reality of the matter. I may be right, or I may not be.



Naturally, atheism has nothing to do with gnomes, lepracalns and fairys. That's why i put "athiest" in quotes when asking if you were "atheistic" toward their non existence.
But the point I was making remains valid. If you are willing to reject those supernatural mythical beings without having absolute proof of their nonexistence, amd feel no pangs of guilt or reason to remain "agnostic" on the issue, then there is no logical reason you can't dismiss/reject the supernatural fable of a God/gods without absolute proof, and on the same basis. That is the point.

Yes, I am an atheist. There is no more a logical, scientifc, physical, real, observable, repeatable, justification for me to believe in a god/s, and their associated characters(i.e. angels, devils, demons...lol) , than there is for me to accept unicorns as real.

I continue to hold that agnosticism is simply a remnant of ancient superstition from which one's modernity, acceptence of reality, and logical mind just can't fully free itself.

Anyway... I doubt we'll resolve this. But we've stated our respective positions and understand eachothers take on the issue as best we can.

Regards,
Hump

DromedaryHump said...

ATty,...one last thing.

If I told you that I was in fact a god, how much credence would you give my claim?

Would you be "agnostic" on the issue, because you could never really know?

Would you reject my claim outright?

How much proof would you require of me in order for you to believe I was God.

Here's my guess:
a) You'd need a shit load of proof to believe I was god.
b) youd totally reject my claim.
c) you'd be more "atheistic" than "agnostic" toward my God claim.

And yet, you remain "unknowable thus undecided" based on the babbelings of prescientific bronze age cultsists who thought that god causes floods, the earth was flat, the sky was a curved firmament, and other such dispelled nonsense.
You require zero definitive proof to accept the possibility that a god being could exist.

You'd think that I'd deserve at least as much credibility, and as little proof, as you attribute to them ;)

atty79 said...

HUMP SAID: That agnostics say "we can never know..." seems to make it comfortable for them not to take a stand.

Comfort has nothing to do with it. If comfort was an issue, I'd much rather there be a god and an afterlife. My preference on the matter, or my comfort, is a relevant to my determination that I cannot determine whether there is or isn't a god. Are you provided with comfort in the finality of your belief that there isn't a God or gods?

HUMP SAID: I believe that Jabba the Hutt has a similar chance of non existence.

Is that really an intellectually honest argument? After all, I think George Lucas would have no problem in saying that Jabba the Hutt was a figment of his imagination. As the creator of the character, and since he derived that character from his imagination alone, George Lucas' statement on the fictitious nature of Jabba the Hutt would be definitive.

Compare that to the fact that we have no definitive means of measuring the existence of gods or God. Even if the Pope, himself, proclaimed that God was just a fairy tale, the question of whether a god or gods exist would remain unanswered.

HUMP SAID: close enough for me to "lack belief" in god/gods

I've always struggled with an argument that theists use about atheists. They seem to suggest that an atheist is simply a follower of the religion of "I won't have it -- there is no God." It's very hard to define an atheist without including statements of belief. It's no wonder that theists suggest that atheism is merely belief misdirected. Granted, I'm not sure I believe that atheism is such an easily understood construct; but I've often struggled with how atheists seem to use the very tool of theists in pushing aside the possibility of a god or gods. That is, it seems that atheists, and correct me if I'm wrong, have a leap of faith that there is no god or gods. Logic, after all, provides a good framework to solving the mystery of whether there is or is not a god or gods, but by no means does it connect the final dot, which is the determination of whether there actually is or is not a god or gods. A syllogism can only go so far.

HUMP SAID: If you are willing to reject those supernatural mythical beings without having absolute proof of their nonexistence, and feel no pangs of guilt or reason to remain "agnostic" on the issue, then there is no logical reason you can't dismiss/reject the supernatural fable of a God/gods without absolute proof, and on the same basis.

Again, I believe there is a fundamental distinction between the logic you would like me to follow and the truth of the matter. Being agnostic is stating the obvious: we do not know if there is a god or gods. We can come up with many excuses why it is more logical to believe that there is no higher power; but logic fails to ascertain the truth of the matter. Our logic can be impeccable and we can still be wrong. I'm not going to leave this decision to a leap of faith in human logic.

Let me ask you this. It's 10,000 B.C. I walk up to you on the side of the street and say that the world is round. Nowadays, you would simply say that there is an observable, repeatable, and physical scientific justification to determine that I am right. But back then, your own words would actually turn you against the truth of the matter. At that time, all the logic, science, and observation available to mankind would leave you to believe that the world is flat. So how is it that you can make a determination on the existence of God, a really big thing, using an approach that you know, in all intellectual honesty, would have led you to an incorrect assumption during earlier times of human history.

HUMP SAID: Anyway... I doubt we'll resolve this. But we've stated our respective positions and understand eachothers take on the issue as best we can.

I greatly enjoyed reading your blog. Most of the foolish things in Christianity deserve to be lambasted. It kills me to no end to see Christians continue to follow their stupid ways. But regardless of how I feel about Christians and religion, I can't make a determination on whether there is or is not a god or gods.

I'm trying to figure out your character and where you're coming from in your decision-making. If your approach to the decision that there is no God is logical and not visceral, then I believe a resolution may indeed be possible. Under that assumption, both our views are based on logic, not on nonlogical principles. You don't have to answer, but if you feel up to it, I would like to ask at what point did you become an atheist.

HUMP SAID: How much proof would you require of me in order for you to believe I was God?

If you were God, you could do several things. One. Completely ignore the puny insolence of a human who you do not care if he follows you or not. Two, you can act upon your limitless knowledge of what exactly would be required to make me believe that you were in fact a god and make me so believe. Three, you could simply change my neurons and synapses to accept you as a god, or no longer question you as a god.

In none of those scenarios is my belief in whether you are a god affecting whether you actually are a god. That's the point. What I believe is irrelevant. What is the truth is what's relevant.

HUMP SAID: And yet, you remain "unknowable thus undecided" based on the babbelings of prescientific bronze age cultsists who thought that god causes floods...

This reminds me of a seminar held in undergrad, in south Louisiana of all places, where I proceeded to answer the question: did God create man, or man create God? Even though this was an honors seminar, I made my presentation extremely close to the door. I wanted to make sure that I could react quickly enough to get out of that class if I needed to. The subject, after all, is a touchy one.

I don't remain unknowable and undecided because of the babblings of prescientific bronze age cults. I remain unknowable and undecided in spite of their babblings. I am out to make a determination on whether a god or gods exist. It doesn't matter to me whether it is a god or gods of lore or if it's some unfathomable entity that exists is the very fabric of our universe. It really doesn't matter to me.

Being agnostic is not about belief. It's about accepting human limitations on knowledge and the ability to gain that knowledge. It may be that one day a physicist cracks the universal code of everything. If there is no God in that code, then I would have the proof needed to determine that god doesn't exist. On the other hand, if the physicist finds a cognizant and self manipulating entity created by the code, then it would hard scratch that it would be hard to argue that that entity is a god.

I'm interested in why some people are atheists and how that construct differs with the idea that one need only belief and faith to believe in a higher power.

DromedaryHump said...

Atty said: If comfort was an issue, I'd much rather there be a god and an afterlife.

See, now thats a telling statement. That youd RATHER there be a supreme being controlling thngs and giving you an after life instead of your being satisfied with the reality and finality of the natural world invariably SHAPES your perspective. It has to.

This isnt something you thoughtup..you were indocrinated long ago. I fortunately wasn't indoctrinated and thus can think freely unencumbered by the myth(s) you have been fed.

Yes.. i am totally comfortable that there are no gods influencing my life or the world. Based on what Ive read in the fables, most god's are petulant assholes... reflective of their authors/creators own shortcomings.
Yes...gods are made in mans image, but with superhuman powers.

Atty said: I think George Lucas would have no problem in saying that Jabba the Hutt was a figment of his imagination. As the creator of the character, and since he derived that character from his imagination alone, George Lucas' statement on the fictitious nature of Jabba the Hutt would be definitive.

It doent negate the possibility that Jabba the Hutt exists. Perhaps by another name... in another galaxy far far away. I reject the likelyhoood. You however must lkeep it open.

And since the authors of all the other gods and supernatrual beings arent here to question and draw an admission of invention from, its no more intellectually dishonest to equate that fictional being, or Paul Bunyon, or Odin to the myical fabled god inventions of your preference.

atty said: It's very hard to define an atheist without including statements of belief.

No its not. I have no "beliefs". Belief infers acceptence without evidence, suppporting documentation, logical bases for acceptence; sound theory. It infers blind "faith". I have no "faith"...i reject blind faith.

I DO, however, have high degree's of CONFIDENCE in things; I do have levels of ASSURANCE as to the reality of things; I do have EXPERIENCES from which to draw conclusions. I don't make decisions, establish goals, manage my life, etc., etc., based on faith or blind belief.

Do I have "faith" the sun will rise tomorrow? Nope... I have a high degree of certainty based on experience. Do I "believe/ have faith" my wife is faithful? Nope... I have a very high degrees of assurance based on 40 years of a relationship. Do I "believe" life exists in outter space? Nope, I have a reasonable level of confidence that it does because life exists on earth and the universe is vast.

You keep avoiding the fACT YOU DISMISS GNOMES FAIRYS AND UNICORNS WITH NO PROOF...BUT REFUSE TO DISMISS GOD. You can protest that there are differences until you are bluein the face, it still is avoidance. No matter how eloquently to cage your argument, no matter how distatsteful the comparison may seem to you... one man made fictional entity is the same as any other man made fictional entity. To reject one without evidence of non existence, and leave the door open to the other is, from my perspective intellectual dishonesty...avoidance. You see, extreme claims beyond the realm of reality require extreme evidence.

But I dont hold you accountable for your avoidance of this issue. Its that damn religious meme that insists you do so.

Atty asks: So how is it that you can make a determination on the existence of God, a really big thing, using an approach that you know, in all intellectual honesty, would have led you to an incorrect assumption during earlier times of human history.

Yes.. likely I would have been a theist 10000 yrs ago. Yes..i'd assume the world flat. I would have no therbass to reject flatness. Superstition was the answer to everything. Looking at things at face without understanding physics, geology, astronomy, laws of thermo dynamics, etec etc etc...would not have equipped me to reject things that would have seemed obvious...or to provide alternate answers to a Shamen's explanation of why and how things are.

We know about the theory of gravity now. we may not understand right now how it works..but we know it aint going to be shown not to exist.Nothing 10,000 yrs from now will tell us there is no gravity.

you see, Atty...we are in the Scientific age. And it aint going away. The age of superstition however, IS going away. That youare agnostic and not theist is indicative of that.

So... it leaves the question not "how can I..." be so sure... but HOW CAN YOU NOT be an atheist.

Atty said: If you were God, you could do several things. One. Completely ignore the puny insolence of a human who you do not care if he follows you or not. Two, you can act upon your limitless knowledge of what exactly would be required to make me believe that you were in fact a god and make me so believe. Three, you could simply change my neurons and synapses to accept you as a god, or no longer question you as a god.


I can do all those things. I chose not to. I am God. Now what?

Finaly, Ive pretty much always been an atheist.
I have explained that there is no supporting evidence, no natural principle, no observable indication that would lead me to "believe" any fables, or myths of a sky daddy, etherial or bearded, or otherwise. It is no more logical to me than a flying Spaghetti Monster deity would be to you.

I have studied comparative religions for 40 years or so, and they all share one thing in common: the need to explain what they could not explain; the need to believe they could influence supernaturally, thru prayer, sacrifice, etal, things they themselves could not control .

As an modern person, uninfected by the myths passed down thru centuries, and as an advocate for reality and science, God/ gods just make no damn sense ... in any sense or form of the word.

Thats as clear and concise, and as to thepoint as I can be. If it doesn't satisfy your quest to understand atheism is simply a disconect between my reasoning/logic/education/experience and your willingness to accept it.

Regards,
Hump

DromedaryHump said...

Addendum:

above I said:
"I have studied comparative religions for 40 years or so, and they all share one thing in common: the need to explain what they could not explain; the need to believe they could influence supernaturally, thru prayer, sacrifice, etal, things they themselves could not control . "

I also meant to include a thrid aspect they all share: they all used gods / religion / supernatural as a societal control.

atty79 said...

Your logic that leads you to believe there is no God is not even valid logical. It is based on a questionable premise.

Let's use the leprechauns again. You tell me that I cannot believe that there may be a god or gods because I have no pangs of guilt in dismissing the existence of leprechauns. Let's examine that logic.

In order for your conclusion to be supported by your argument, it is necessary for you to require me to make two assumptions. The first assumption is that if someone dismisses one myth for lack of proof of the existence of that myth, then it follows that that someone must dismiss all myths for lack of proof of the existence of those myths. The second assumption is that dismissing a myth is equal to proving its nonexistence.

Your argument then follows that because I've admitted that I don't mind dismissing myths, that since I am "atheist" about those myths, it follows that I must dismiss all possibilities that God or gods exists. Because I must dismiss God or gods, it follows that those god or gods do not exist.

Your logic would be impeccable, except for two things. First, you assume that God is a myth -- seems like you beg the question. The second premise is not valid because it is based on a questionable assumption. You have failed to show me that something's existence depends on whether I make a determination on its existence. Oddly enough, your comments appear to agree with me on that. You acknowledge yourself that 10,000 years ago you would have been a theist. It seems to me that your own assumption changes with the time.

Your answer is intellectually honest. The telling thing though is that valid premises do not change despite the years. What is logically valid now should be logically valid 10,000 years ago. The fact that your conclusion changes based on the evidence that would have been available to you 10,000 years ago, tells me that your assumptions for your arguments are dependent on the times and not dependent on reality. Your premise should remain the same whether it's 10,000 years ago or now.

Your premise is faulty, and therefore your conclusion is not sound. You claim to use reason to discount the existence of God or gods; however, that is not case. What you're doing is conveniently making an assumption for which the only conclusion that can be made is to support your position. Theists do the exact same thing. They change your second premise to be that God's existence is definitive and not a myth.

Your own predicate betrays you. It tells me what I've been hoping you would avoid to explain to me why you're an atheist. However, it appears that you made up your mind. You are emphatic that dispelling a myth somehow affects the existence or nonexistence of something. You have no rational basis and no evidence to support such a predicate. You have faith that that assumption is true. It doesn't make it true that you believe in it; rather, it's truth is an open question. The fact that it's truth is an open question is why I am an agnostic.

Now I have directly addressed the argument you claimed I was avoiding. It is incumbent on you to further refine your argument and explain to me why atheism is the sound conclusion.

HUMP says: See, now thats a telling statement. That youd RATHER there be a supreme being controlling things.

Your passion also gives away that you think like a theists. (No offense intended.) You're not concerned about logic; rather, it appears that you are more concerned about making a point.

You jumped on my statement about my preference on a God and an afterlife. However, my preference on something has nothing to do with the reality of that something. Furthermore, my comment was quite clear, "if comfort was an issue." I clearly started my comment with a condition. What's more, I specifically said that comfort is not an issue. Therefore, your response again is based on a faulty premise.

My goal is to know the truth. If you have uncovered something that provides you with absolute evidence of the nonexistence of any god or gods, I want to know it. If you have a logical argument based on completely valid assumptions, I want to know it. I have no preference either way. I don't care what the answer is.

You're lucky that you grew up without the indoctrination of organized religion. I was 12 years old when I realized how stupid organized religion was. Even though I grew up in a Catholic family, that in no way shielded me from logical arguments and thought. I am just as capable as the next person to determine the soundness of a conclusion. I think you depend too much on the fact that you weren't indoctrinated. It doesn't give you a pass on making valid arguments in order to convince others of your position.

Now granted, you aren't required to convince others of your position. I merely inquired why you believe the things you do because, again, I'm always curious why people are atheists instead of agnostic. It seems to me that agnostic is the status quo and I'm always curious about the deviation from that status quo.

HUMP says: It doent negate the possibility that Jabba the Hutt exists. Perhaps by another name... in another galaxy far far away. I reject the likelyhoood. You however must lkeep it open.

I find it telling that your response to my Jabba the Hutt comment evokes your rejection of the likelihood of his existence. With the evidence presented in front of you that George Lucas created Jabba the Hutt, you refrain from saying "I reject Jabba the Hutt's existence." Rather, you said that you reject the likelihood of Jabba the Hutt's existence. Why? I would have expected that as an atheist you would've rejected the existence of Jabba the Hutt. I would particularly have expected considering your claims of observation and high level of confidence. Do you reject the likelihood of God's existence or his existence altogether? To me, there's a big difference between the two.

I say that because as an agnostic I can make an opinion that based on the evidence -- use of religion, Sun worship, storytelling of the past -- that it is not likely God exists. But that opinion by no means determines whether God does exist. It's unlikely that I'll be struck by lightning, but I may nevertheless get struck by lightning. Likewise, it may be unlikely that God exists, but that doesn't mean he doesn't.

HUMP says: I have no "beliefs". Belief infers acceptence without evidence, suppporting documentation, logical bases for acceptence; sound theory. It infers blind "faith". I have no "faith"...i reject blind faith.

Tell me what is the difference between your assumption that dismissing a myth is akin to proving its nonexistence and faith? How is it that after admitting you would have been wrong 10,000 years ago in your assumptions that somehow today you are refined enough that you can make absolute determinations and present an assumption that would necessitate me to believe that there are no gods? If you would've been wrong 10,000 years ago, why do you think you would be right now? Sure, we're more observant and have more tools at our disposal, but certainly we have not reached the pinnacle that would allow such absolute determinations to be made.

The reality of the matter is that your rejection of blind faith is in fact faith. You have no proof whatsoever that dispelling a myth somehow affects its existence. You make an assumption that that is true based on your experience. You consider that you have a high level of confidence in that assumption, but I'd be willing to bet that the most devout theists also have a high level of confidence in their assumption that God exists. In reality, it's not about confidence. It's about fact. You do not know the fact of the matter anymore than a theists knows the fact of the matter about God. You make an assumption. You may be wrong.

HUMP says: To reject one [myth] without evidence of non existence, and leave the door open to the other is, from my perspective intellectual dishonesty...avoidance. You see, extreme claims beyond the realm of reality require extreme evidence.

I hope now you don't think I was being intellectually dishonest in my answers. Please see above for my very head-on-approach to your arguments. You make to faulty assumptions in your logic. The first is that God is a myth. (You beg the question.) The second is that dispelling the myth somehow affects its reality whether it exists or not. Because your conclusion is not sound, I can very well dispel one myth and leave the question of whether a deity exists open.

The intellectual dishonesty rests in your perpetuation of two assumptions that are either invalid or at least questionable.

Your second statement from the quote above yet again shows your passion for atheism. It doesn't seem that you care about the truth. Rather, you care about how you want things to turn out. That is your decision, and I don't fault you for it. However, it seems a bit disingenuous to assume a higher level of confidence needed for one fact over another. 200 years ago I could've made a claim that we're all made up of small particles. Just because then it would have been a crazy notion doesn't mean it deserved any more proof than that we were made up of godliness. You should weigh all claims against the same standard. To do otherwise is to predispose yourself to positions that may turn out to be false.

HUMP says: But I dont hold you accountable for your avoidance of this issue. Its that damn religious meme that insists you do so.

Again, see my thorough explanation, above. Also see my discussion below about how you depend far too much on organized religion and times of yore in your decision-making.

HUMP says: So... it leaves the question not "how can I..." be so sure... but HOW CAN YOU NOT be an atheist.

This goes back to your false assumption that extreme claims somehow require extreme evidence. All claims require the same evidence: the evidence that either proves or disproves their existence. It seems to me that you're finding the assumption that there is no deity requires less evidence. Why? I'm guessing it has more to do with organized religion than it does with valid logic.

HUMP says: I [as a God] can do all those things. I chose not to. I am God. Now what?

This is a funny but completely unsatisfactory comment. You brought up the premise that you were a God in order to ask me what I would need for you to prove to me that you were God. My comment about how you can act as a God to accomplish that does not change. My point still remains that as a God you would have the faculties and the ability to provide me with the proof that I require. If you tell me that your God, and fail to prove it, then I would dismiss your claim. You are the one making the claim. You must prove it.

HUMP says: It [fables, god, etc] is no more logical to me than a flying Spaghetti Monster deity would be to you.

I fear you confuse logic with belief. Logic is a process to determine the truth of something. It is limited by the assumptions one must make. You make the assumption that because there is no supporting evidence, no natural principle, and no observable indication that would lead you to determine that God or gods exist, that God or gods in fact do not exist. That is a pretty hefty assumption. In fact, you pretty much beg the question through that assumption. "Why don't I believe in God? Well, because he doesn't exist." That isn't logic.

HUMP says: As an modern person, uninfected by the myths passed down thru centuries, and as an advocate for reality and science, God/ gods just make no damn sense ... in any sense or form of the word.

You place far too much importance on organized religion. You claim that you've been uninfected by the myths passed down through the centuries, but in reality it sounds like your determination of whether there is a God is more due to that very fact of the myths passed down through the centuries than to whether you actually want to know whether a God or gods exist. With all the fascinating things that we can readily observe, it's amazing that you would make a comment about how God or gods existence just makes no sense. There are a lot of things in this world that make no sense. That's hardly a factor to depend upon to determine whether those things actually exist.

HUMP says: Thats as clear and concise, and as to thepoint as I can be. If it doesn't satisfy your quest to understand atheism is simply a disconect between my reasoning/logic/education/experience and your willingness to accept it.

You are correct. I do not accept your reasoning, logic, education, and experience as valid for determining that I should not leave the question of whether a God exists or does not exist open for debate. You simply do not provide anything other than a belief that your reasoning, logic, education, and experience are enough to make an absolute determination. In reality, it sounds like you make a likelihood determination. So in fact, it may be that you are an atheist-light. It isn't so much that you don't believe there is a God; it's just that you find it highly improbable. That being said, your own comments seem to be conflicting on this matter.

I greatly appreciate your input because, as I said before, I like to understand atheists. I hope that through my comments you can further develop and appreciate your own decision to be an atheist as opposed to a theist or agnostic. (And I agree with you--religion is used as a form of social control.)

DromedaryHump said...

atty said:
Your logic would be impeccable, except for two things. First, you assume that God is a myth -- seems like you beg the question.

I don't assume aything more about the mythical nature of God/gods than I do about lepracalns and faeries. Thus, I am being totally consistent.

You however are not.
You are willinjjg to dismiss one as myth and the other as a possibility with the exact same lack of evidence for both.

Lack of evidence and natural law for either works for all fabled supernatural beings... i draw no distinction...since nodistinction between them exists.

atty said:
You acknowledge yourself that 10,000 years ago you would have been a theist. It seems to me that your own assumption changes with the time.

Well of course they change with time... because with time comes more education/knowledge/technology / evidence. 600 yrs ago lightning striking a building was God's wrath. now we know better. Our ability to "logic" has developed a tad as a result of scientoific advancement. Thats a good thing.

As I said earlier...the scientific age has greatly diminished the use of God as an explanation for things. As far as I am concernecd, it has diminished it enough to make god as an exp-lanation for anything a non-starter... a total fabrication. Thats called advancement.

As I also said: your being agnotic and not theist (or so you claim) is also evidence of advancement. My guess is 10,000 yrs ago youd have been a god worshipper. And I'd proffer that if you were to live anotther 200 yrs, youd finally become atheist as the gaps in our knowledge become smaller and thus the justification for a god becomes commensuratly smaller.

att said:
What is logically valid now should be logically valid 10,000 years ago.

Thats patently absurd. I'm going to assume you are misstating your case. If as a prehistoric man i assumed the earth to be flat, because my "logic" tells me that it is the most simple explanation provided by my unaided eye, having no mknowledge of gravity, etc., ... why should that "logic" be valid 10,000 yrs later when we have been able to advance our knowledge thru technology and mathematics?

atty said:
If you tell me that your God, and fail to prove it, then I would dismiss your claim. You are the one making the claim. You must prove it.


Hehehe...exactly!! You believe a god may exist, or is as likly to as not. What made you even consider the existence of God/gods? The teaching of othrs, since it was not independently developed by your own mind. They TOLD you a god exists, a positive assertion.,...you chose to not reject it entirely. Thus the burden of proof is on those who implanted the positive assertion i your brainthe word god even has meaning... much less that it may exist. YET YOU KEEP THAT POSSIBILIUTY OPEN WITHOUT CHALLENGING THAT CONCEPT LIKE YOU CHALLENGED MY CLAIM. You accepted supernatrualism as a possibility without ONE IOTA of evidence for supernatrual being... yet you rejet MY CLAIM outright becausde I DO NOT provide the proof you demanded if me.

The irony of this this can't possibly be lost on you!!!
(by the way...my saying "i chose not to provide you proof", is the theistic exolanation for why god doesnt just come forward and make evereyone believe. They cite: "thou shalt not tempt the Lord they God."; and / or defalt to "free will".)

atty...I'm not going to go point by point thru the rest of your post. i fear that much has become repetative... and very long. I'll just say this:
Your equating my dismissal of faith as itself being "faith", is infact a theist tact. Itspeaks to their lack of understanding of the Scientific Method. I'm going to encourage you to google "scientific method" .

When you understand that, then you will see that my rejection of the unobservable, unmeasurable, unrepeatable, unfalsifiable, etc. etc., the components of the scientific method, is not "faith" at all, but infact the antithesis of faith. There is no supporting evidence , no basis for acceptance of the supernatural from the view point of science or scientific principles... no eviddence of it by using the scientific method.

Now..if a theist wants to retort with "there is no reason for them to beleive in science" which I have seen fundies do, I always encourage them not to take advangtage of all the things science has done for them (and civilization for the past 300 yrs. If they want to say "well science deals with the natural world and god is supernatural thus you can never measure or observe it" I say this: how very fucking convenient. But this is not of major import, since science doesnt waste its time contemplating god/gods. It would be like science undertaking the study of those lepraucalns.

anyway... I think ive stated my position (ad nauseum), and youve stated yours.
neither of us have changed or are likely to change our point of view. I look forward to your input in other subjects here.

Good luck... and may Moloch grant you good crops and may Hathor give you many fine children. ;)


Regards,
Hump

atty79 said...

I'll keep this comment short. You jumped on what I said about your first assumption--that God is a myth. You failed to even recognize the worst of the assumptions you make...the one that proves your logic is faulty. I would be interested to see how you reorganize your thoughts on the subject of God based on that comment.

I also disagree that my question on the existence of god or gods is based on past religions. That is not so. I base it on the fact that I theorize the universe is based on string theory and a highly refined Null Theory (which I've yet to publish...so the Null Theory you find online is merely a small taste of what the theory can explain).

The basis of the Null Theory is that every possible stable universe does exist. Now, whether there is a possible stable universe with a god, I don't know.

I have the very same sympathies you do about theists and their explanations of deity and gods. You however go the step further and make the unsupportable assumption that your disbelief is proof of nonexistence. (Again, I request you address that blaring error in your logic.)

And, please Google "logic". You are so far afield on the definition that it's hard to follow your comments. "LOGIC" does not change. Premises, assertions, and assumptions change, but logic does not. (BTW, I'm well aware of the scientific method.)

DromedaryHump said...

atty:
1) the concept of "logic" as we understand the term today would not have existed 10k years ago. There was no fomal system of inference. Thus, your using the term "logic" for the 10,000 yr ago example you proposed would be erroneous at face. My use of the term logic for that pre-historic scenario was a quiloqilism for a pre-historic's simple reasoning based on primitive observation. Alonmg experience , it would be his only basis for making a "logical" decision. Thus, that simple observation of a flat earth would have been "logical" for him, and it would have changed as our ability to apply new information, and logic as we understand it, became more advance.
Lets not make this into a word game.

Similarly, they also didnt have a concept of mathematics, but they could discern the differnece between a single mammoth and a herd.. Thus, If I had said he understood plurality of animals, would not have inferred he understood mathematics.

So, to chastise me for applying your misapplication of "logic" to pre-historic hominids is rather disengenuous.

2) atty said: I would be interested to see how you reorganize your thoughts on the subject of God based on that comment.

i have no idea what your refering to. But i have no reason to expound on anything retroatively.

3) atty said: I also disagree that my question on the existence of god or gods is based on past religions. That is not so. I base it on the fact that I theorize the universe is based on string theory and a highly refined Null Theory ....

So, inspite of your having been raised in a culture where the concept of god and religions existed and was likly some small part of your community, upbringing and environment you totally were insulated and never gained any understanding of that community's concept of god...you came up with the concept of a superior being as a possible real entity independently ... all on your own?

I doubt it.

You heard the term, and never submitted it's proponent(s) to the same level of chalenge that you did my claim of godliness. If you used it to dismiss my claim as god, why not use the same method to dismiss the very concept of god? That was the point. But lets not whip this to death.


4) atty said: You however go the step further and make the unsupportable assumption that your disbelief is proof of nonexistence.

"[my] disbelief is proof of nonexistence"????
I never made any such statement or inference. Infact, your attributing that statement to anything i said is beyond irresponsible. I'll ask you NOT to do that again.
My position was made very clear, multiple times: The lack of scientific or any compelling evidence for existence of god/gods/the supernatural, combined with the dissolution of god/gods/supernatural as explantions for natural occurances as proven by science, is sufficient for my rejection of belief.
Its that simple. It doesnt require reinterpretation, restatement, to suit anyone elses agenda.

Ok.. I think we're done.
thks
Hump

lets end it there.

Thks
Hump

Anonymous said...

Hmmm,

Let's see if I can break this down properly...
I am an atheist because:
Premise: The known laws of nature are uniform throughout the observable universe (evidence by experiments on the Earth, Moon and various space probes (Caveat - Sol system is only a tiny portion of the universe so sampling size is small) and astronomical observations that match predictions via various telescopes and satellites).
Premise: No demonstration of "supernatural" has ever stood up to scientific scrutiny in a controlled setting (Evidence - see James Randi $1 million dollar bet, articles in skeptical enquirer, snopes. com)
Premise: Lack of valid scientific evidence of any effect that God(s) have on the observable physical universe (Evidence - the hearsay and testimonial of believers, never anything by the God(s) they worship)
Premise: Lack of evidence for "soul" or "spirit" (Evidence - stroke/brain trauma victims show behavior, emotional, memory and bodily control issues when various parts of their brains are damaged/destroyed. Sometimes the victims regain these functions but it has been shown in various medical studies that it is the undamaged brain that "relearns" the functions of what the damaged portions did. Thus the logical conclusion is that when ALL the brain ceases to functions, the "self" ceases to exist)
Premise: Deities that have been described by the various religions past and present can be with the available historical analysis can be shown generally to be myth based on earlier religions. With no exception I have found, these deities behave inconsistently and generally illogically. (Caveat - I mainly been exposed to Christianity and Judaism, I have some minor knowledge of the Greek\Roman, Moslem, Hindu and Norse religions. From this sampling, I feel justified in painting all religions as man-made fantasies generally used by leaders to rally\control the masses. OK, so what about pantheists that claim the "universe" and\or nature is God? I find this an empty statement because, again, there's nothing that is described that can't be also described via natural laws as understood by science. Using Occam's razor, given two (or more) descriptions, the simplest is more likely to be true... )
So what can be left and be classified as God (as opposed to hypothetically super advance aliens)? So how to go and define what one means by God? Well given the above premises I'll define some attributes behaviors that a >>GOD (s)<< would have to have:
1) God(s) would be internally consistent (inconsistent God(s) would imply error )
2) God(s) would be constrained by logic (no fallacies such as God creating rocks to heavy for God to lift)
3) God(s) would have to have some way to interact with matter/energy (being "totally outside" the universe means not interacting with the universe. However to interact in the universe, would mean to be subject to the physics of the universe, otherwise you'd be violating #1 and #2 above)
4) God(s) choose not to reveal themselves (for whatever reasons) by any reliable measurable way on Earth or in the observable universe to date (and again "personal revelation" and\or mental illness is not "reliable". Valid evidence needs to be repeatable, testable and accessible by ANYONE)
I'm sure there may be a few more. Note I left out Universe Creator since all (scant) scientific evidence doesn't show a creation event... The big bang theory describes a "phase" change from a singularity (object not describable by our current understanding of physics) to the current universe. (If one subscribes to M-theory, then big bangs happen all the time when the various membranes interact... so even the phase change that spawned the universe as we know it, isn't something that is unique nor requires supernatural explanations - Caveat: To prove M-theory over the standard model with current technology, it would require a cyclotron about the size of Earth's orbit... but M-Theory certainly has some intriguing properties)
Note that point 4 is the most important reason I'm an atheist - Since God(s) choose not to reveal themselves (for whatever reasons) and human theological testimony is at best unreliable, then it makes no difference to me whether they exist or not because there is no meaningful difference. Therefore, the universe is a bit less complicated without worrying about God's (worrying about religious fanatics is a bit different) so I will live my life out as IF there are no Gods until proved otherwise - aka Atheist (without God(s)).

- Fastthumbs

atty79 said...

fastthumbs, I really appreciate your thorough explanation why you are an atheist. Your premises are reasonable and your response is rational. I actually agree with all of your premises.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that despite your premises you have decided not to make a final determination about the existence of God or gods. Rather, you have decided that the greater weight of the evidence points to nonexistence, and therefore, you can feel comfortable simplifying things by living your life as if there are no gods. You don't feel the need to make a final determination.

Please note that in no way am I being judgmental or trying to belittle you by thinking you're comfortable simplifying things. Simplifying complexities is what people do. I'm sure I do it on a daily basis when I drive down the road. I pay attention to only those things that have the greatest likelihood to affect my driving. I don't pay attention to the little kid swinging on a swing set or the father mowing the grass.

If I don't see the little kid swinging on a swing or the father mowing the grass, since I'm pretty observant, I can be pretty confident that they won't affect my driving. I can comfortably ignore them. Is that how you see the question on the existence of a God or gods? You live your life without being affected by them so you feel comfortable leaving the final question of their existence alone?

DromedaryHump said...

Fast..nicely presented.

Atty... I dismiss your claim of agnoticism, and declare you a theist.

atty79 said...

HUMP says: Atty... I dismiss your claim of agnoticism, and declare you a theist.

I neither believe in nor know of a God or gods. Therefore, I am not a theist. It appears that your dependence on observation and the assumptions that you've made based on those observations are leading you away from the truth. It's hard to fathom how you can make a clear determination that God or gods do not exist using that same power of observation and assumption making. After all, if you're wrong about me based on clear and concise writings that show I am an agnostic, what makes you think that you're right about the nonexistence of God or gods?

DromedaryHump said...

atty said: "i neither believe in nor know of a God or Gods".

Hmm.. now thats the definition of atheist..."one who disbelieves" in God or gods". Welcome to the club. :)

But this newest declaration of nonbelief not withstanding, the reason for my tagging you as a theist (or deist, or panenthieist, et al) is your adamant stand that no amount of reasoning for ones atheism allows you to accept either their position or veracity.
It boarders on dogmatic obsession.

Those are qualities I have found in theists who will pretend agnosticism/atheism to further an agenda. But now, with your declaration of atheism, I guess I'll accept your conversion as your final position.

Hump

atty79 said...

The difference between an atheist and an agnostic is a slight one. The differences are far smaller than the difference between an agnostic/atheist and a theist.

I do not believe in a God or gods. However, my belief is irrelevant to whether a God or gods exist. I've made this point quite clearly several times in my previous responses to your comments. I am agnostic because regardless of what I think, or feel, or believe, the question remains whether a God or gods exist.

I gather that you not only dismiss a belief in God but you also dismiss any possibility of a God or gods existence. If that is the case, the reasoning you presented for being an atheist is inadequate to support your contention that there is no possibility of gods existence. You continue to be adamant on your atheism despite clear logical arguments to the contrary.

Now the question is: are you passionate about your atheism? My logic, not my passion, brings me to my conclusion. If I were to hear an argument or be provided with proof of the existence or nonexistence of a God or gods, then I would follow suit accordingly. For me, it is not a question about believe -- it's a question about reality.

DromedaryHump said...

so..you don't believe in god or gods, and thus are atheistic.
But, you reject the concept of atheism because while you reject gods as a beleivable concept it doesn't mean it/they doesnt/dont exist.
ok, got it.

now... lets be consistent, lets apply that same logic to supernatural beings in general... Those which have for centuries or eons been posited by man. Lets be consistent and intellectually honest:

You don't believe lepracalns (zombies, faeries, alien abductions with anal probings, et al) exist [I'm making a broad assuption there] ...thus you are "atheistic" about them. BUT your rejection of them as being real doesn't discount the possibility that they exist. And since no one can either prove nor disprove their existence you leave the door open to their being real.

So ostensibly, any imaginary being or thing one can conjure you may well reject as nonbelievable, but will never dismiss as entirely nonexistent.

Now, I know you'll object.
You'll word game it to death. You'll painfully try to differentiate one kind of mythical supernatural being from the others. But thats ok. To the impartial observer they are one in the same.

moving on:

Passionate about my atheism?? I dont know what that means. I am a nonbeliever. There is no passion associate with not believing in something. I am no more passionate about being atheist as I am about being a nonbeliever in vampires. I already explained my reason for being atheist. It dovetails with Fastthuumb's articulate presentation almost exactly. But you seem to reject it, it fails to satisfy youbecause of your "non belief" but might exist" gymnastic mind set.

HOWEVER, I AM PASSIONATE about my anti-theism, as is evident from many of my blog posts. Its why this blog exists. I decry their stunted intellect and attempts to dumb down our public school curriculum; their theocratic governmental intrusions; their impact on social and scientific advancement. That but it's not a blind passion, it is passion driven by logic and reason.

I hope you share that passion

Hump

Anonymous said...

atty said: "Your premises are reasonable and your response is rational. I actually agree with all of your premises."

Do you also agree with my brief description of God(s) attributes and behaviors based on the premises I presented? If not, what would you add/subtract or amend?


atty said: "Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that despite your premises you have decided not to make a final determination about the existence of God or gods. Rather, you have decided that the greater weight of the evidence points to nonexistence, and therefore, you can feel comfortable simplifying things by living your life as if there are no gods. You don't feel the need to make a final determination."

How can I (or anyone else) make a FINAL determination? (If by FINAL you mean with 100% certainty)? The only fact that >>I<< am 100% certain about is at this moment, my own existence and an external environment exists separate from me. To equate the external environment with God(s) to a specific religion requires a leap of faith which is illogical to do (see Rene Descartes Hyperbolic Doubt - Note Descartes starts off well, but it's my opinion he gets off track when he attempts to equate this external environment with Catholicism - He was after all, a devout Catholic).

To be clear, I am not solipsistic - I have a very high degree of trust in my five senses (some of which that can be augmented by instrumentation) so I accept the universe as perceived. I'm aware of things that can and do trick our senses naturally (and by fraud), so I believe I can adequately compensate by the scientific method (and no, I do not HAVE to independently perform every scientific experiment personally. I have a high degree of trust of peer reviewed evidence presented by various degreed scientists, engineers and certain stage magicians (aka Randi, Penn and Teller, Houdini, etc). Conversely, I have a low degree of trust for clerics, psychics, politicians and ad agents).

But I digress. To answer your question, I believe I have logically gone as far as I can toward the absolute determination of God(s) existence that you are looking for. Since there is an overwhelming LACK of scientific evidence of any God(s) interaction observed to date, I am faced with two possibilities:

1) God(s) have not revealed themselves\leave tangible evidence, or

2) God(s) do not exist.

Since the nature of the universe is well described by naturalistic laws of physics and chemistry (and other sciences), positing the existence of God(s) who do not reveal themselves or leave tangible evidence of their interaction adds no meaningful information to the description of the universe. Again, using Occam's razor, option #2 is more likely.

atty said: "You live your life without being affected by them so you feel comfortable leaving the final question of their existence alone?"

I don't think I'm leaving the final question alone... I have a curiosity of why believers/non-believers come to their conclusions (so far none of the theists/agnostics have given convincing answers to my questions, but maybe I'll come across one someday) so I read a variety of blogs and websites.

I'm comfortable enough to say "I don't know with 100% certainty" and still am comfortable enough to consider myself an atheist rather than agnostic (and certainly not a theist of any stripe). If you agree with my premises, reasoning and conclusions, what is holding you back from declaring yourself an atheist? Is it the possibility of some sort of God(s) existing? So what? Probability does not equate always to reality. Per the standard model, there is a (extremely remote) possibility that all the air molecules in the room you are in move to the upper left corner leaving you sucking vacuum... Do you worry or think about such an event (other than as an example of possibilities that can be ignored)?

I find your driving analogy a bit inadequate - that guy mowing the mower could have an effect on me by his interactions (aka loses control of the mower and runs over the kid swinging with me witnessing it and have to appear in court...) . A better analogy for the existence of God(s) would be Russell's Teapot that orbits undetectable between Earth and Mars...

" If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time." - Bertrand Russsel.


- Fastthumbs

DromedaryHump said...

sorry, left this off:

atty said:
"I gather that you not only dismiss a belief in God but you also dismiss any possibility of a God or gods existence."

Almost, not quite.
If you go back to an earlier comment I specifically said that my evaluation of the likelihood of god/gods being wholy imaginary are tantamount to 99.99999%.

I said that given that %, that I have concluded existence is nonsense. Its the same % and level of possible existence I would apply to the possibility of the dead spontaneously reanimating after 3 days.

If I said 100% sure it would be an absolute. I dont buy into absolutes.

atty79 said...

Okay -- don't gang up on the agnostic. :)

I'll have to address each of you separately.

HUMP says: so..you don't believe in god or gods, and thus are atheistic.
But, you reject the concept of atheism because while you reject gods as a beleivable concept it doesn't mean it/they doesnt/dont exist.
ok, got it.

Yes, that is mostly right. I must equivocate. It isn't that I reject atheism; rather, I simply do not fall within the construct of that word. But the reason that I do not fall within the construct of that word is what you said. My belief or lack thereof fails to answer the question of existence. Ergo, I do not believe in a God or gods, but he or she or it or they may still exist.

HUMP says: BUT your rejection of them as being real doesn't discount the possibility that they [leprechauns, zombies, faeries, etc.] exist. And since no one can either prove nor disprove their existence you leave the door open to their being real.

Yes, I guess you could say that. But I would ask you to look at what I said regarding George Lucas's Jabba the Hutt. When someone creates an imaginary creature and in no way implies that it's based on reality, I feel comfortable in dismissing the imaginary creature. It exists in the imagination only -- not in reality -- based on a first-hand account. Now if someone writes about a creature or thing, and claims that his inspiration for writing about that creature or thing is something in reality, then it's incumbent on that someone to prove the existence of that creature or thing. Granted, it isn't necessary for that someone to prove the existence for the truth of the matter. It merely helps him not look like a crazy, and helps us have a better picture of what is real and what is not.

HUMP says: HOWEVER, I AM PASSIONATE about my anti-theism, as is evident from many of my blog posts.

Yes, I do share that passion. I find religion, spirituality, and deities unintelligent nonsense. I particularly am passionate when idiots use their religion to support positions that affect other people. For example, the recent debates on same-sex marriage. Those opposed to same-sex marriage always claim religion somewhere as the basis for their argument -- even when they don't even realize it. These people blindly believe in a God and expect everyone else to do the same and follow the scriptures of imbeciles of yore.

(Yes, I said I even find deities to be unintelligent nonsense. I still can't discount the possibility that deities could exist.)

DromedaryHump said...

Ok, I withdraw my accusation that you're theist. But you're getting closer to being atheist with every post. :)

Glad you're here, and appreciate your being a good sport.

Hump

DromedaryHump said...

Atty, not to whip this to death but I had a thought this morning (that makes two this year :).

I said I dont believe in absolutes. Thus, I give the likelyhood of god NOT existing to be 99.99999%, enough for me to reject the concept as unreal / nonexistant, thus making me a nonbeliever aka antheist. I sense you have a problem with that, so let me continue...

Now... if that .00001% leeway for possibility by your perspective, makes me "agnostic" and not atheist, then you must appy the same logic same litmus test to theists / believers. Therefore, a devout theist, layman or clergy, says they believe God to exist with 99.99999% certainity, thus leaving only 0.00001% room for doubt of God's existance. Following your logic (assuming you hold that only 100% certainity establishes the right to claim the title of atheist or theist) that self proclaimed life long, church going, praying, communion taking, heaven and hell beleiving, baptised theist is actually "agnostic" in your view? or are they still theist/believers?

If only absolutism / 100% certainity defines the two views...atheist and theist, then youre positioning agnosticism to be the ONLY viable label for vast numbers of self [proclaimed theists (and atheists).

The problem with that is obvious: I don't believe there are an aweful lot of peple on the planet who would accept that as a definition of agnosticism. Agnosticism certainly isn't defined as percentage of belief/nonbelief in any dictionary, or by anyone elses parlayence.

food for thought.

Hump

atty79 said...

Well, I do believe that agnosticism is the only viable construct. I believe it's the only realistic outcome when you take into account our limited faculties.

Now that being said, you bring up an interesting point about theists. It's been my observation that all theists believe there is no question -- a 100% likelihood -- in God's existence. Whatever leads them to that conclusion -- whether it be faith, tradition, or plain ignorance -- is beyond me.

If there is a theist out there that thinks that there is a .0001% chance that God doesn't exist, then yes, I believe he should be classified as an agnostic rather than a theist. The very fact that he questions the existence of God, regardless of how slight, shows that his determination on the existence of God remains up in the air.

But again, I think that it's a bit of a paradox to see a theist who has any doubt in the existence of God. My reasoning for that is as soon as a theist begins to reason that God may not exist he has to come up with something to support his existence determination. I imagine that once a theist goes down that road he'll quickly realize that his faith is built upon hearsay and religious dogma that really makes no sense. If he's being intellectually honest, what follows is disbelief. That .0001% will quickly turn into 50%, then to 70%, and then finally into a complete question in God's existence.

(Not to leave fastthumbs out, I'll try to get to his comment this afternoon.)

DromedaryHump said...

You are painting theists with a rather broad stroke.

I kow ALOT of theists, very religious people, who would admit to leaving a miniscule amt of room for doubt. In fact, Rev. Barry Lynn, the Director of Amer. United for sep. of church and state... an ordained and practicing minister... has said he will always leave open that possibility, but will conduct his life and his devotion as though the God of his religion is as real as can be.

In fact, except for the most extreme fundamentalists, it would be my guess , strictly based on 100's of chats and message group exchanges, and my life long experiences (i'm alot older than you) that the majority of theists will admit to having doubt.

I think your standard for theist (and atheist) is set too high. And i'd proffer that you are holding a very minority, and extreme, viewpoint on what is and isnt agnostic.

But hey... thats your right.

But think of your position this way: think of someone who looks white, has blond hair, blue eyes, was born to a white swedish parents,has white swedish grandparents, and great grandpaernts...but has <1% black African blood in his family lineage from 250 yrs ago.

While he, his family, and everyone on the planet would call him white ... you'd insist on him being called "mulatto".

Like I said... you have the right, but you'd be roundly dismissed by the VAST majority of thinking and reasonable people.

DromedaryHump said...

OK..heres one of MANY Christian sites that explain "Christian doubt", and how it is natural and not an offense to God to have such doubts.

I offer it as proof/support mof my "guess" and experience.

http://www.inspiration-for-singles.com/doubts.html

atty79 said...

I find it funny something in the link that you posted. "We can ask God in prayer to increase our faith. That's a prayer that God always answers." Yes, it's a prayer that God always answers because if your asking him something in prayer you are presupposing his existence and therefore back on the road to belief.

You may be right about theists questioning the existence of God. However, I just can't fathom that a theist can take a position so starkly in contrast with their belief. I think theists question their belief but in their heart whatever led them to think God existed in the first place continues to allow them to believe that God exists.

What we might be seeing is just the disconnect of acceptance. If a theist loses faith, but can't live with the idea that God doesn't exist, he continues with his tradition of belief because he knows of no other way to live. After all, belief in God is a pretty large safety net to get rid of when you're able to install it and depend on it.

I hope that my perception of agnosticism furthers the discussion on the vast distinction between atheism and theism. As I said before, I think atheism and agnosticism have much more in common with each other than they both do with theism.

DromedaryHump said...

atty said:
"As I said before, I think atheism and agnosticism have much more in common with each other than they both do with theism."

Heheh, there was never any doubt on that.

atty said:
"We can ask God in prayer to increase our faith. That's a prayer that God always answers."

Yeah...funny thing about that.
And it's like: "Dear God please help me believe in you... give me a sign."
Their dog farts and a lightbulb burns out. Bam!... All is good!