You claim to have a relationship with your God. I’m asking you to show us that your claim is true, that you have a real relationship with your God and that you aren’t simply imagining it. It isn’t possible to have a real relationship with something that doesn’t actually exist so the first proposition that needs to be verified is the existence of your God. Stating that will not even discuss this doesn’t do much for your credibility. It suggests that you are unwilling to provide sound evidence to prove your God is real because you know you are unable to do so.
As an agnostic, I claim
that I am unable to prove God exists. In fact, I consider myself a strong agnostic, which means I don't believe anyone
can prove God exists (or doesn't exist.)
So you believe your God is real—but no amount of belief can make something a fact. What distinguishes your belief from imagination?
I want to focus on that then, because the statement 'I believe I have a personal relationship with God' still has 'an affirmative belief in the existence of the entity god' as a prerequisite to make any sense. You clearly disagree, but now you've got to explain the nature of a personal relationship with an entity that 'may or may not' exist.
Quite simply, I have a relationship with an entity I identify as God. However, I acknowledge the possibility that it may be all in my head, just as I acknowledge the possibility that this forum may be all in my head. This acknowledgement does not prevent me from continuing my relationship with God, or posting in this forum.
Your analogy to evolution is specious. The theory of evolution is an explanation for the diversity of life we see on Earth today. The veracity of the theory of evolution doesn’t depend on how life came into existence any more than your claim to have a relationship with your God depends on how your God hypothetically came into existence. However, just as the theory of evolution depends on the self-evident fact that life does indeed exist so your claim to a have a relationship with your God depends on the actual existence of your God, which is not evident at all.
The theory of evolution depends on a bit more than that. It relies on the notion that life has developed naturally since its origin, and that evolution would create a mind that views the world accurately enough to construct the correct theory. A lot of evolution critics use a variation of the Omphalos hypothesis. In addition, there's no solid evidence that life arose from non-life naturally, or of the natural rise of a new type of organism.
But in the absence of evidence (and I'm talking about evidence that other people in other religions can't just as easily produce for their beliefs), the veracity of your beliefs is on a level playing field with everyone else. So while you can say that your beliefs have a certain truthfulness to them that other beliefs do not have, you can't remotely prove it. You just can't. And it seems you're fine with admitting it. So what does that mean? It means that your beliefs have no veracity. And if that is the case, then they amount to guesswork; and what are the odds (remember now, its an even playing field once you realized that you have no evidence that separates the veracity of your beliefs to that of other people) that you've guessed right? Infinity to one, I'd say.
Assuming that I were to accept religious exclusivism, and assuming that beliefs are truly random, and assuming that there is actually an infinite number of beliefs out there to be considered, and assuming that there are no factors weighting for or against any of those beliefs, then your estimation would be accurate.
However, even if that infinity to one "guess" was an accurate estimation, it still would not affect the probability of God's existence. In this case, the probability of God's existence is a base rate probability, while the probability of an accurate belief about God is a conditional probability. I can't use a low conditional probability as an argument against the existence of God, because that's fallacious: the conditional probability is dependent on the base rate, not the other way around.
The roulette wheel is a bad analogy because the ball always lands on something. My box analogy was far superior, because it's entirely possible that nothing is in the box.
00 was nonexistence in the roulette analogy. And your box analogy still has the same issue: this idea that somehow other guesses make mine any more or less right. Assuming that I was random guessing between infinite possibilities (i.e. "a watch" and "an elephant" have the same probability), my odds would be infinity to one. However, if I think the base rate probability of something being in the box is high, then it doesn't make sense to pick "nothing" when I think it's almost certainly wrong.
If I said I knew a man that rose from the dead 3 days later, which is more likely? That I lied or that it happened?
If you're claiming that he rose from the dead by natural
means, then the probability is very low that you're telling the truth. If you're claiming that he rose from the dead by supernatural
means, then the probability is unascertainable.
You mean they were all making attempts to model your God, right? You say it as if you believe that yours is the right one that they've been chasing all along. Of course you'd say that. It would be silly for people who worship other gods to think that YOURS is nothing but an attempt to model THEIR god, right? Yeah... riiiight.
I don't believe in a "your" god or "my" god, just God. So no, I don't mean what you say I mean.
The other possibility is that all gods are imaginary.
Yes, that is a possibility. It's also possible that no gods are imaginary. It's also possible that a god or set of gods exist that no one has correctly described. However, none of those possibilities accurately fit my beliefs.
Does a lack of solid evidence play a role in your god belief? What role?
No. Since a lack of evidence is not evidence, I don't see why it should play any role at all.
But even if you didn't know E.B. White, or couldn't talk to him, what evidence do you have that Charlotte's Web is fiction? After all, you believe there is truth in other books that have stories with talking animals in them; why does Charlotte's Web make you say 'clearly' a work of fiction?
Because E. B. White published it as fiction.
And believing there is truth in a story is different then believing a story is literally true: I think that there's a lot of truth in Charlotte's Web (which is likely part of the reason it's endured) even though I don't believe it's literally true.
Then form an equation that would calculate the probability of God's existence and show your work. And please understand, if you can't do that, then I am going to be forced to go another direction.
I don't have one. Do you?
The only way you would know that half the affected people that were affected by disease A had symptoms and half the people did not was to find a highly reliable way to detect the presence of disease A through some other means not related to symptoms.
Let's say that Disease A is always identifiable post-mortem.
Why is that important in this discussion? Because the person that was asymptomatic would not use symptom presentation to determine whether or not they had disease A. Neither would the medical community. They would use the most reliable method to find it, and then there would be no absence of evidence.
The existence of a test doesn't mean you have no absence of evidence. There exist medical tests which provide both evidence of presence and evidence of absence, there are tests that provide evidence of presence but absence of evidence of absence (no evidence of absence), and there are tests that provide evidence of absence but absence of evidence of presence (no evidence of presence.) This is where sensitivity/specificity and positive/negative predictive value come into play.
All you seem to be able to show is that without a reliable test to show God's existence, you're likely to get it wrong.
I may be wrong... but are you right? Because if I have no alternative that's any more right than my position, then what am I to do?
I guess my problem with your position is that you say you don't know what's in the box, but you live your life as if you do. I don't understand that.
I know you don't, and I'm not asking you to: that's a topic for another thread. Or we could chat about it privately: it's something better suited to short and informal (such as an IM) than a post. However, in this thread, I'd rather not open an opportunity for Bulverism.
Why would it be less reasonable to present an empty box?
It'd be less reasonable to guess
an empty box. Because when one sets up a game, "Here's a box, guess what's inside and you win!" one normally presents a nonempty box. Going further, there is nothing preventing someone who plays the sort of semantic game where "nothing" is an answer from playing a similar game where "air" is the answer.
So if you walk up and I know nothing about you, to reasonably guess there's nothing in the box I have to assume you're the type of person who might put "nothing" in as a joke, but not the type of person who might call that nothing something else (air, dust, bacteria etc.) as an even bigger joke. And even if you do fit that bill, there might be guessers who'd pick air, dust, bacteria, etc., which might sway the box presenter's answer.
And if I assume you're not playing semantic games, then the probability that you put "nothing" in the box is low, since most people not playing semantic games are more straightforward than that.
Second, why do you think guessing something random would be closer to being right than guessing nothing? Do you think you get some sort of special points for getting closer buy guessing something over nothing? There is one right answer and there are an infinite number of wrong ones. There is no in-between.
I was looking at conditional vs. base rate probability. Basically, I was asking whether it's better to go with a high base rate and low conditional, or a low base rate where conditional probabilities aren't a factor.
The best course of action is to say you don't know, and to live your life as if you don't know, right?
In terms of our box analogy, you want to make it seem like your choosing to say, "Yeah, there's something in there", but what you're actually saying is, "It's a gold Rolex watch with a diamond studded band that can tell time in 12 countries." There's a big, BIG difference there. I can respect the, "Yeah, there's something in there" stance, but not the other one.
If "yeah, there's something in there" is not an acceptable answer to win, then me giving that as an answer gives me a 0% probability of success. Literally any
guess over "yeah, there's something in there" gives me better odds. So while that answer may earn me more respect for you, it has a 0% return and is statistically equivalent to forfeiting my guess in your analogy.
of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
The supernatural, by definition, defies the natural rules of probability.
Oh? I've never, ever heard that definition. Where is it defined thusly? I think that is a convenient ad lib on your part.
Probability is a natural law. There are three laws of probability
; the supernatural defies the second in a system assumed to operate under natural laws.
What your post reveals here is that you already know that your god will not behave in any way that distinguishes its existence from its non-existence.
No it doesn't. What is reveals is that I don't know that He will, as evidenced by the word "if" and not "when."
You live in the same godless Universe we do, and you know it.
Your statement makes three implicit claims:
1. The universe is godless;
2. I live in the same universe as you;
3. I know 1) and 2).
I'll give you a pass on #2. Do you have any evidence of #1 and #3?
Why do you think your god would arrange every conceivable fact within its power of arrangement to make things look exactly like they would if it does not exist, then hide itself so brilliantly that even its best friend (you, natch) has absolutely nothing to indicate that it exists anywhere outside of his own imagination?
Assuming God has done that, I don't know why.
However, from a Bayesian-type probabilistic approach, an entity whose existence is inherently indistinguishable from its own non-existence in every conceivable way is one we can treat as non-existent. So, the prior probability of its existence is infinitesimal.
Where are you citing this from?
Given that we have thousands of other religions consisting of people who claim to have "personal relationships" with gods you'd agree with us do not exist