Author Topic: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond  (Read 13089 times)

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3sigma

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #174 on: August 04, 2012, 06:57:32 AM »
I have not offered evidence [that my God is real], nor do I intend to in this thread.  I am not arguing God's existence in my posts.  I'm not even getting into my reasons for believing in God.

Much as some creationists conflate abiogenesis with evolution, you are conflating my beliefs with gnostic theism.  My reasons for not getting into the above are similar to the reasons one discussing evolution might not want to get into abiogenesis: it's tangential and will muddle an already complex topic.

Anyways, [my relationship with my God] is evidenced by my personal testimony.  As I am in a unique position to evaluate my own internal state, this should actually be fairly decent evidence that I at least think I have a relationship with God.

Testimony is admissible evidence in courts of law.  And I'm a primary source for my own experiences, which puts it on the high end of personal testimony.  Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

I'm pretty sure I've said multiple times that [God] is something I do believe is real.  Which is why I identify as an agnostic theist rather than an agnostic atheist.

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.

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. There is nothing muddling, tangential or complex about this. It’s simple. You cannot have a real relationship with something that doesn’t actually exist. To show that your claim to have a relationship with your God is true, you first need to prove that your God is real.

As a side note, it is revealing that religious believers so often use specious analogies to try to support their claims. It suggests that when they don’t have any sound evidence or sound arguments to support their claims, their only recourse is to resort to specious analogies and hope they will convince the gullible. Such sophistry is deplorable.

You haven’t yet provided any personal testimony as evidence of your claimed relationship with your God, unless you think merely asserting it amounts to “personal testimony”. When you talk about evaluating your own internal state it is indeed evidence that you are thinking imagining you have a relationship with your God. Just listen to yourself.

Personal testimony is admissible in courts of law, but it is now recognised as being the least reliable of evidence. For a start, people lie. People can also be mistaken, misinterpreting events or allowing biases or emotions to colour their recollection. They could have been dreaming, hallucinating or simply imagining events occurred as they claimed.

So you believe your God is real—but no amount of belief can make something a fact. What distinguishes your belief from imagination?

Offline HAL

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #175 on: August 04, 2012, 08:12:46 AM »
Let's review what this spin master does to people.

I don't think there's enough evidence to determine the likelihood of God's existence.

But earlier ...

The first thing you need to do is answer this question. Is your God real?

Maybe; I believe He is.

Give it up people - this guy is spinning you. He does this for amusement, that's why he was banned before. You'll get nothing out of him but rebuttals for the sake of rebuttals. It all means nothing.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #176 on: August 04, 2012, 10:19:19 AM »
LEPRECHAUNS EXIST.  So sayeth I.

There, now you have a reason to think they exist.  Now why don't you believe that leprechauns exist?
Well, for starters, your claim doesn't give me much of a basis on which to reconsider my position on leprechauns.  I can't simply accept it on your authority--that would be fallacious.
My point was you were missing a modifier like 'good' or 'sound'.  I gave you a reason to believe that leprechauns exist; it is a poor, unsound, idiotic reason but still a reason.  That's all I was really going for.
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For clarity, I'd like to know if you feel the following two points about your position are true.
a) I do not know if god exists.
b) I have a personal relationship with god.

Do these two claims apply to you?
b) might be better stated as, "I believe I have a personal relationship with God," but otherwise they're fairly accurate.

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.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #177 on: August 04, 2012, 03:36:22 PM »
^^^That is so clear. And everyone understands how this applies to actual human beings. But the special exception remains for religious belief in gods.

I could say that I have a personal relationship with Robert Downey Jr. Within a few questions any of you could ascertain what I meant by that (I have seen a lot of his movies and think about him a lot). Because we all know that the guy really exists. And therefore it is far more likely that what I said was true. Cause I don't have to prove that he is real.

But I am stretching the term "personal relationship" to be like what religious people say about god, because the guy does not behave as if he knows I exist and has never communicated with me. Unless the lovely sunset last night and the full moon shining on the street were his personal messages of love and caring to me. And I had a sore on my nose yesterday and today it is much better. Praise RDJr.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline fasi345

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #178 on: August 04, 2012, 03:45:02 PM »
good or bad is in man's own hands,people these days do good or bad at their wish some get satisfied in doing good other may not,completely ignoring the overcomes but its a universal truth that you will get the results of your deed,people are quite conscious about the overcomes in this world.  Let me make it simple,you choose to work hard to get good results in exam what if you just ignore about results? Everything has a reaction of your action their may be no one who do good for not to get good

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #179 on: August 05, 2012, 12:38:48 AM »
Neither.  Other people's beliefs are independent of mine.  Regardless of whether theirs is true or false, or they have evidence or not, it has no bearing on the veracity of my beliefs.

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.     

And that entire premise applies not just to you, but to theism of every sort.

If you're imagining this as some sort of religious roulette wheel, the fact that the last 100 bets lost (or won) has no bearing on whether my bet will win or lose.  The only way to correctly assess the odds is to determine the odds for my bet, and my bet alone.

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. 

As I said above, if you can not produce evidence that would separate your beliefs (veracity wise) from that of anyone else, then the odds you have it right are exactly the same as anyone else, with the added caveat that you all might be playing a game that none of you will win. 

The supernatural, by definition, defies the natural rules of probability.  Attempting to apply those rules to assess whether those rules applied is circular reasoning.

Answer the question Mooby.  Which is more realistic... That a man rose from the dead 3 days later or that people just lied about it?  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?  Don't give me the bullshit, just answer the question.  It's a simple answer.  You'd never, not in a million years, live your life believing I was telling you the truth and you know it.  We all know it.  So why does the bible get the free pass?  It is far more likely that it never happened, and you know it.       

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In terms of liklihood, is it more likely that everyone else in the world is fooled except you, or that you are just as fooled as everyone else?  Of course it is possible that you are right and everyone else is wrong, but is that likely
If we're working under the hypothetical assumption that only one person in the world is right, then I am almost certainly wrong, as are you, as is everyone else.  Yet someone is right, but I don't know who.  If you're asking whether it's more likely that 1 person is right rather than 0 (or 10 or a billion) people being right, I don't have enough information to assess that.  So I'm not 100% on what you're asking; are you thinking sort of like a lottery?  You're individually almost sure to lose, yet someone eventually wins?

My question was clear and you answered it.  If we work under the hypothetical assumption that some version of god is real, you admitted that you're almost certainly wrong.  I believe that's correct.  The only way this hypothetical assumption differs from real life is that there is another possibility that goes unaccounted for and that is the atheist position.  Adding that possibility into the hypothetical just decreases the chances of you being correct even further. 

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Do you consider even one other god to be imaginary?
Yes and no.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I think of most gods as man's various attempts at modeling God.  So while parts are undoubtedly mythical, I don't think the gods themselves are necessarily imaginary.

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. 

The other possibility is that all gods are imaginary.  That would explain why God never comes down to tell people the right way to do it (something for which your above theory does not explain well).  That would explain why religions differ in so many ways. 

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Is it because the likelihood of the stories about leprechauns being true is far less than the likelihood of them being false?  Does a lack of solid evidence for leprechauns play a part as well? 
Mostly the latter.  And I don't know how I'd argue for leprechauns if I believed in them, because I don't know what my basis for belief would be.
Does a lack of solid evidence play a role in your god belief?  What role? 

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Is Charlotte's Web more likely a fictional tale and why?  Then ask the same question about the resurrection and the other biblical stories.
Charlotte's Web was clearly written and published as a fictional creation of E. B. White.  We can't say the same for the Biblical stories.

Clearly a fictional creation?...  what makes you say clearly?  I'm a bit surprised to hear you say that.  That's a bit of an assumption there, don't you think?  I mean, how do you know it's clearly fiction?  Have you spoken with E.B. White?  Did you know him personally?  Either way, you'd have to go to the author to get that information, wouldn't you?  How can you say the biblical stories were not fictional creations by their authors?  Did you know them?  Do any of us even know who the gospel writers were? 

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?

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In the absence of evidence to back up the claim (and hence your agnostic standing), the likelihood that you're particular version of god exists is infinitesimally small
No, we don't have enough information to reach that conclusion.  We'd have to know something about the probability of God's existence before we could make that assumption.

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. 

The likelihood that any random guess (about anything in our universe) would be actual fact is incredibly small. As an example I could say planet Zenor 3 is exactly 2.423432 million Bleg years from us.  This is a random guess.  Is my guess more likely fact or fiction? You can't ask for probability, because we don't even know if Zenor exists or what a Bleg year is, but you can use other methods to determine likelihood, can you not?  And that method is exactly what I described.  That it's incredibly more reasonable to think my guess was wrong than to arbitrarily think it was right.  This is what I am saying about your God belief.  We don't know if God exists, so saying he does exist and he exhibits X,Y, and Z traits (on a complete guess) is on par with my guess about Zenor 3. 

For instance, let's say Disease A affects 50% of the population, and is asymptomatic in half of people affected.  In this case, an absence of evidence you have Disease A still leaves you a 25% chance of being affected. 

On the other hand, Disease B affects 1 in a million people, and is asymptomatic in half of people affected.  Here, an absence of evidence means your odds of being affected are 1 in two million.

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.  Maybe a blood test or urine sample.  Only then could you possibly know that half were symptomatic and half were not.  If we could not rely on another form of evidence other than symptom presentation, we would never know that 25% of the people had the condition but were asymptomatic.  We would simply conclude that 25% of the population had disease A because they had symptom presentation, and we'd be wrong about it. 

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. 

Long story short, you rely on the most reliable evidence.  You go by what you CAN see, and not by what you can't. 

In terms of how this plays in to the probability of God; in order to answer what the probability of God is, you would need a reliable test outside of personal experiences, faith, etc.  If one is not available, you are likely to get it wrong. 

Again, how do we know the likelihood of God's existence?

I don't know.  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. 

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You just don't know what's in the box, Mooby.  Living your life believing that you do know what's inside the box is a ridiculous position to take.
But I believe I don't know what's in the box.  That's my point.  Yet, in the absence of concrete knowledge, believing that there's something in the box is not any more ridiculous than believing that there's nothing in the box. 

That's fine if you want to take a deist stance.  I have no problem with that stance.  I don't personally believe it, but it has far more potential than any theist position I've ever encountered.

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.   

And depending on the circumstances, the latter might be quite unreasonable to take.  After all, why would it be most reasonable to assume you presented an empty box for guessing?

Why would it be less reasonable to present an empty box? 

Which brings me to the most interesting implication of your analogy.  If I think there's almost certainly something in the box, and there's an impractically large number of ways something could be in there, but only one way nothing could be in there, is it better to:
- Guess something random and be closer to being right, yet with lower probability of success,
or
- Guess "nothing" which I think to be almost certainly wrong, yet with higher probability than a random something?

First, you can't quantify how many possible 'nothings' are in the box.  It is complete nonsense to say 'there is only one way nothing could be in there'. 

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'm not stupid; I can see everyone else's guesses, some more reasonable than others, some similar, some not.  But when it's my turn, their guesses are independent of mine.  So then I have to decide: Do I choose the right thing for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing for the right reasons?  Do I say, "Lol, none of you know what it is, so I'm just going to say nothing's there," or do I play the game and make the most reasonable guess that I can based on what I currently see?

The best course of action is to say you don't know, and to live your life as if you don't know, right? 

Now, of course, an obvious response could be that you don't think that "something" is more likely than "nothing" in reality's box.  But that's not what I currently see when I look at the universe.  So why should I lie to myself and become an agnostic atheist when I think atheism is a marginal choice?

This is a fine argument for a deist, but you're not a deist.  You have chosen a belief that is detailed, well defined, with a deity that has specific characteristics and traits.  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.  It's not respectable. 

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In light of your self expressed agnosticism, please tell me what information you are looking at that allows you to make a different conclusion than me.
Just the sum total of my knowledge and experience thus far in my life.  There's nothing specific and jarring that jumps out.  To return to your box analogy, I'm just saying, "From where I'm standing in the room, it looks like there's something in there."  Maybe the view is a bit different from where you're standing.  I don't know.  It's not like I'm claiming to have x-ray glasses or anything.

But you live your life practicing a specific religion, do you not?  That's more than saying it looks like there's something in there. 

Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline screwtape

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #180 on: August 05, 2012, 03:32:38 PM »
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.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #181 on: August 05, 2012, 10:44:58 PM »
If you're imagining this as some sort of religious roulette wheel, the fact that the last 100 bets lost (or won) has no bearing on whether my bet will win or lose.  The only way to correctly assess the odds is to determine the odds for my bet, and my bet alone.

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. 

As I said above, if you can not produce evidence that would separate your beliefs (veracity wise) from that of anyone else, then the odds you have it right are exactly the same as anyone else, with the added caveat that you all might be playing a game that none of you will win. 

I think the bigger problem with the roulette analogy is that roulette has a well-defined betting methodology.  In the game of pickagod, there is no defined betting methodology.  Not only do you have to guess the right god, but you've then got to correctly place your bet.  If we extend the roulette analogy to account for the betting method void, then there is nothing to preclude a scenario where you believe the '35' is the winner, the ball lands on '35', but you still lose because this particular roulette table pays out on the numbers that you do not put chips on.

Hell, with no defined betting methodology, there is no reason to assume bets are taken in the first place.
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Offline HAL

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #182 on: August 06, 2012, 07:41:13 AM »
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.

What? Hahahaha!  Old Mooby at it again I see.

Offline kcrady

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #183 on: August 09, 2012, 01:29:44 AM »
The claim to have a relationship with a god (or a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, or any other entity with knowledge humans do not have) is a testable claim[. . .]Then, you could post its answers.
And if God declines to play this game. . . then what?

"What if the dragon in my garage is invisible?"

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.  Not only will it not play this game, it will not play any game at all that could not be played with equal skill by a non-existent god.  You didn't have to ask.  You don't have to worry that maybe your god will make you look foolish by stopping by my place to introduce itself and have a "personal relationship" with me as well.  What this means is that when it comes to anticipating how reality will actually behave, you expect it to behave exactly as it would if your god does not exist.  You live in the same godless Universe we do, and you know it.

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Why should this be the case, unless your god, in fact, does not exist?
"Your god, in fact, does not exist" is not a valid conclusion to draw from a hypothetical lack of posting.  Your test is not sensitive.

Did you see the question mark?  It was a question, not a conclusion.  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?  If I had a personal relationship with Superman, there'd be consequences.  I could take pictures of me and him together.  Maybe he could take me to Tibet and save me the air fare.  I'd probably be a lot safer from muggers, but perhaps more likely to be threatened by supervillains (as a hostage).  Superman would save people from disasters and plane crashes, sometimes if not every time.  His existence would affect world politics.  And so on. 

If I got adopted into the Rothschild family, there would be consequences.  Whatever money problems I might have would disappear.  I would probably be flown to Europe to be educated in how to go about handling my share of the family business and fortune.  I'd get a name-change, and become "krothschild" on the Forum.  And so on. 

Yet you would have us believe that having a "personal relationship" with an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent superhuman entity would have no real consequences beyond whatever good feelings you would also get if you were just playing pretend.

Now, this would not necessarily justify a 1000%-certain, Philosophical Conclusion of Pure Logic and Truthtm that your god does not exist.  An omimax being could play the best imaginable game of Hide-and-Seek, and we mere humans wouldn't stand a chance of finding it.  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.  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, along with all the leprechauns and chupacabras and grey space aliens and faeries and djinn and ghosts and other Invisible Magic Persons whose existence you join us in rejecting, that's a whole lot of weight on the scale of posterior probability against the existence of your particular deity.  Add to this the fact that the Biblical deity does not play the Platonically Perfect Game of Hide-and-Seek in said text (see 1 Kings 18), nor does it state anywhere that Yahweh created the Cosmos to look exactly like it would if atheistic scientists were right (Romans 1:19-20).  If the Bible was accurate, we could anticipate that the heavens would proclaim the glory of Yahweh, that his invisible attributes would be revealed in what was created, so that we would have no excuse (for disbelief).  We could anticipate that he would behave in ways that are incompatible with his own non-existence, and that there would be evidence that he had done so in the past (e.g., archaeological evidence for the Exodus plagues in Egypt).

By your own admission, none of this is the case, so the probability of your deity's non-existence is about as high as it can go without becoming a 1000%-certain, Philosophical Conclusion of Pure Logic and Truthtm.  Of course, a maximally deceptive Biblical deity could jump out and say "Boo!" tomorrow, but it doesn't make any sense to bet on that.
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Offline Mooby

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #184 on: August 09, 2012, 04:03:59 PM »
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?
Correct.

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.

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.
of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
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
I would?
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #185 on: August 09, 2012, 04:33:33 PM »
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.
Alright.  If you want to extend the concept of personal relationships to potentially imaginary entities, so be it.  I just can't help but think that you're trivializing your actual personal relationships in real life.  You've established a definition of personal relationship that allows you to declare a personal relationship exists without any input from the other entity you claim a relationship with.  In fact, there isn't anything to stop you from declaring that you have a personal relationship with a rock, the space-time continuum, the movie Tron, the quadratic equation, slashdot.org, Willy Wonka, and a cream cheese bagel.  Because your definition of personal relationship requires nothing from the entity you wish to declare a relationship with.  Personality, sentience, the ability to communicate, the ability to empathize, even existence are not prerequisites for personal relationships to you.

I just don't understand that.

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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?
What are you to do?  Go with the null hypothesis.  What is the null hypothesis in this case Mooby?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 04:36:59 PM by jdawg70 »
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline HAL

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #186 on: August 09, 2012, 04:36:06 PM »
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.

A delusion perhaps?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #187 on: August 09, 2012, 04:40:16 PM »
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.

You know, this got me thinking:

Why is it so common for people to assume that reality has some kind of hierarchy associated with it in the first place?  Why do people suddenly leap to this weird conclusion that there is a natural and a supernatural?  Is there a subnatural?  Is there a superdupernatural?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #188 on: August 09, 2012, 04:53:05 PM »
I just can't help but think that you're trivializing your actual personal relationships in real life.
Why would you think that when you know nothing about my personal relationships in real life.

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You've established a definition of personal relationship that allows you to declare a personal relationship exists without any input from the other entity you claim a relationship with.
No, I just don't have irrefutable proof that the input comes from God.

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What are you to do?  Go with the null hypothesis.  What is the null hypothesis in this case Mooby?
There is none; a null hypothesis requires the existence of a scientific hypothesis, which is not present in this case.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #189 on: August 09, 2012, 05:30:48 PM »
I just can't help but think that you're trivializing your actual personal relationships in real life.
Why would you think that when you know nothing about my personal relationships in real life.
Of course I know nothing of your personal relationships in real life - you have no requirements for your personal relationships.  When you tell someone you have a personal relationship with them, you may as well just tell them 'pancakes'.  You having a personal relationship with someone basically means nothing.

And of course I don't actually believe that's how you approach life.  You seem like a nice enough cat; I suspect that you have a good number of actual, personal relationships with other entities.  But with your definition of personal relationship, you can say "I have a personal relationship with Keenan Ivory Waynes" and that gives me exactly no information.  Your claim of 'personal relationship' is meaningless because, again, you seem to have no requirements for a personal relationship outside of you declaring that you have one.

I sort of want you to be right; I've been wanting a personal relationship with Zooey Deschanel for some time now.  In your world I need only declare I have a personal relationship with her in order for me to actually have it.  I'd guess that she and every other sentient creature in the universe (which includes *you*) would say, no, I don't have one.

Let's say I (not at all in a stalker like fashion) leave her little chocolates, put air in her tires when she's not around, and tuck her in when she is fast asleep and unable to know I've tucked her in, would she be able to say that she has a personal relationship with me?
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You've established a definition of personal relationship that allows you to declare a personal relationship exists without any input from the other entity you claim a relationship with.
No, I just don't have irrefutable proof that the input comes from God.
And again, this 'personal' relationship you have with god need not have anything to do with god apparently.
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What are you to do?  Go with the null hypothesis.  What is the null hypothesis in this case Mooby?
There is none; a null hypothesis requires the existence of a scientific hypothesis, which is not present in this case.
Can we make it a scientific hypothesis then?

Scientific hypothesis: An entity known as god exists in reality.

What's the null hypothesis there?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #190 on: August 09, 2012, 05:55:50 PM »
Can we make it a scientific hypothesis then?
For it to be one, it'd have to be testable/falsifiable.

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Scientific hypothesis: An entity known as god exists in reality.
Not testable to my knowledge.
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #191 on: August 09, 2012, 06:34:10 PM »
yet you still believe its real Mooby,why?
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #192 on: August 09, 2012, 08:12:58 PM »
There are times in history and places today where just having this discussion would be dangerous. Thanks be to the universe that we are not in any of those times or places.

Having said that, Mooby, can you and maybe magicmiles (as representative theists) see how making questions about the existence of god(s) forbidden might push otherwise skeptical people to claim belief when they didn't really believe? And given this, maybe there are only a handful of people who are really "delusional" and everyone else is faking the delusion out of fear or conformity. Considering how little real evidence there is for religion, I suspect this is the truth.

As a teenager, I sometimes pretended to like a movie or song that I didn't like or even know about, just to fit in. And nobody was threatening me with death, banishment, divorce, loss of child custody, public ostracization,  inability to be promoted at work, not running for political office, etc. Imagine how much more powerful the impulse to pretend belief is under those conditions.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Mooby

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #193 on: August 09, 2012, 08:51:55 PM »
yet you still believe its real Mooby,why?
I don't see how this follows from my post.  Why wouldn't I?

Having said that, Mooby, can you and maybe magicmiles (as representative theists) see how making questions about the existence of god(s) forbidden might push otherwise skeptical people to claim belief when they didn't really believe?
Yes.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #194 on: August 09, 2012, 09:33:14 PM »

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.)

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…  This acknowledgement does not prevent me from continuing my relationship with God…

If no one can prove your God exists then it follows that no one has ever shown that it exists. With that in mind, Mooby, please look at the following statements.
  • No one has ever shown that fairies exist, but I have a personal relationship with them.
  • No one has ever shown that the modern-day Santa Claus exists, but I have a personal relationship with him.
  • No one has ever shown that Vishnu exists, but I have a personal relationship with it.
  • No one has ever shown that God exists, but I have a personal relationship with it.
Which of those sound(s) reasonable to you? What is the difference between your saying you have a personal relationship with your God and a child saying he or she has a personal relationship with Santa Claus? There doesn’t seem to be any difference at all. All those statements appear equally absurd. You cannot have a personal relationship with something that has never been shown to exist, unless, of course, your relationship is just as imaginary as your God.

I don't see how this follows from my post.  Why wouldn't I?

The total lack of a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to show that your God is real is why any reasonable person wouldn’t believe it. Please stop evasively answering questions with questions and provide some honest, direct answers, Mooby. Why do you believe your God is real? Tell us what evidence and arguments convinced you that your God is real even though no one has ever shown or can show that it is real.

Offline Mooby

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #195 on: August 09, 2012, 10:12:39 PM »
What is the difference between your saying you have a personal relationship with your God and a child saying he or she has a personal relationship with Santa Claus?
A bunch of things, really.  But the main ones would be that adults intentionally deceive children on Santa Claus, evidence is planted, our modern version has many characteristics rooted in a fictional poem and fictional pop culture imaginings,

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You cannot have a personal relationship with something that has never been shown to exist, unless, of course, your relationship is just as imaginary as your God.
Shown to whom?  You?

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The total lack of a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to show that your God is real is why any reasonable person wouldn’t believe it.
And yet many, many people do believe it.  Are they all unreasonable?  Are we going to NTS this?

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Why do you believe your God is real? Tell us what evidence and arguments convinced you that your God is real even though no one has ever shown or can show that it is real.
As I have already said numerous times, not in this thread.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #196 on: August 09, 2012, 10:15:15 PM »
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.

Bold mine.

You thinking that there is probably something in the box has no bearing on whether there actually is something in the box.  That's where you get in trouble here.  The truth doesn't care what you think. 

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.

Uh huh.  And my dog rose from the dead through the magical power of the juju in the forest.  The probability of my dog rising from the dead through the magical power of the juju in the forest is equally unascertainable.  If you keep alive the notion that the probability of ALL unproven events are simply unascertainable, then you have opened the door of gullibility and anything can walk in.  In the absence of evidence that there is a magical power of the juju in the forest, it's more likely that my dog didn't rise from the dead and I just lied about it. 

Someone once said... keep an open mind; but not so open that your brain falls out. 

Careful where you step Mooby.  You'll trip over your brain. 

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. 

What if you stumbled upon that book in the library and knew nothing of the author?  Better yet, let's say you stumble upon 2 different books in the library.  Both of which you've never seen or heard of.  What characteristics would you look for in those books in order to determine whether or not they are fiction or non-fiction works?  If there were talking animals in the stories, what would you think?  Would you think it fiction, or say that since we don't know if the supernatural exists, we simply can't use the talking animals to conclude that the book is fiction?  That it is unascertainable? 


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?

Become an agnostic atheist.  Agnostic theism (agnostic Christianity) is a completely ridiculous stance.  Here is what you'd say... "I don't know if there is a god, but I'm going to live as if there is, and not only that, I am going to assume that I know what this god wants, needs, likes, and dislikes from me."       

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. 

Didn't you just finish saying that the probability of someone else's guess regarding deities being true has no bearing on the probability of your own guess being true?  Would that not translate to this problem as well?  Could I not say that the probability that I put something in the box is completely independent of what OTHERS would do in similar circumstances?  Would that not completely invalidate your thinking here?  The probability of me putting something in the box is solely dependent upon the probability of me putting something in the box.  It doesn't rest on what others would do. 

The interesting thing, however, is that I do follow your logic.  It does make sense to think that a human creating a 'what's in the box' game is more likely to put something in the box.  We base this on the fact that we have all probably faced similar circumstances in our lives with different people creating different versions of this little game.  In other words, we are using our reality, our history, and our common sense to reasonably conclude the likelihood or unlikelihood of something being in the box.  The same applies to God.  Our history, our reality and our common sense allow us to make conclusions about the probability of any specific type of god existing. 

So you really have no basis upon which to guess something rather than nothing.  Unless you can reliably calculate the probability of me putting something versus nothing in the box, you're up the creek.  But again, you don't guess 'I think something is in the box'.   You guess, 'I think there's a diamond studded Rolex watch that tells time in 12 different countries in there.  I don't know that, but it's what I think.'  While a watch might actually fit in the box, "It would fit in the box" is not a reliable reason to choose that item over something else.  And that is what Christian theology and apologetics amounts to.  They are nothing more than ways to make it reasonable to claim that their guess fits in the box.  While you might end up doing massive mental gymnastics to make your God fit in the box, that has no bearing on what's actually in it.

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. 

I prefer to think of it the way Cliff Claven answered his question in final Jeopardy.

The final Jeopardy answer was Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz, Lucille LuSueur, and Cliff answered "Who are 3 people who've never been in my kitchen."

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.

Probably yes.  Using your logic and reasoning, that's probably true.  And if I assume that every book that claims that events which violate natural laws have taken place is more likely to be fiction over fact, then the probability that the bible holds any truth, is extremely low.  Now, I can say, "Well, if the supernatural exists, then we just can't tell", but really, we can.  Beyond any reasonable doubt, yeah, we can.  You just have to call upon the same reasoning you used for the box example.

The best course of action is to say you don't know, and to live your life as if you don't know, right?
Correct.

But you don't know if Zeus is real either.  Why do you not live your life as if it is?  It makes no sense.  After all, with a little massaging, Zeus fits in the box too. 

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.

You make it sound like an infinitesimally small chance at being correct is so much greater than a zero chance that it's worth living your life as if you've actually gotten it right.  That would be like me saying I'm thinking of a number between 1 and infinity, and if you guess it right, in 10 years I am going to give you a billion dollars; and you quitting your job and start racking up credit card debt at year 9. 

Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline Mooby

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #197 on: August 09, 2012, 10:59:33 PM »
You thinking that there is probably something in the box has no bearing on whether there actually is something in the box.  That's where you get in trouble here.  The truth doesn't care what you think.
Nor does it care what you think.

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Uh huh.  And my dog rose from the dead through the magical power of the juju in the forest.  The probability of my dog rising from the dead through the magical power of the juju in the forest is equally unascertainable.  If you keep alive the notion that the probability of ALL unproven events are simply unascertainable, then you have opened the door of gullibility and anything can walk in.  In the absence of evidence that there is a magical power of the juju in the forest, it's more likely that my dog didn't rise from the dead and I just lied about it. 
Absence of evidence doesn't tell you anything.  Though, as a natural phenomenon, can a forest have supernatural properties?

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What if you stumbled upon that book in the library and knew nothing of the author?  Better yet, let's say you stumble upon 2 different books in the library.  Both of which you've never seen or heard of.  What characteristics would you look for in those books in order to determine whether or not they are fiction or non-fiction works?
I'd look for how it's written.  If it's written in a single narrative voice, tells a story in three acts, and contains common literary devices, it's most likely fictional.  Whether out of the ordinary things such as talking pigs are present is a poor indicator: many fiction books are set in a naturalistic world, and many non-fictional books contain content that is out of the ordinary.

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Become an agnostic atheist.
I'm not an atheist, though.       

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Didn't you just finish saying that the probability of someone else's guess regarding deities being true has no bearing on the probability of your own guess being true?  Would that not translate to this problem as well?  Could I not say that the probability that I put something in the box is completely independent of what OTHERS would do in similar circumstances?
If we assume you're a completely independent agent, then yes.  But I have doubts that this is possible.

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While a watch might actually fit in the box, "It would fit in the box" is not a reliable reason to choose that item over something else.  And that is what Christian theology and apologetics amounts to.  They are nothing more than ways to make it reasonable to claim that their guess fits in the box.  While you might end up doing massive mental gymnastics to make your God fit in the box, that has no bearing on what's actually in it.
Would I be misrepresenting the scientific method if I said that it looks for the thing it thinks would fit the box best?

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But you don't know if Zeus is real either.  Why do you not live your life as if it is?
Because I don't believe in the ancient Greek pantheon.

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You make it sound like an infinitesimally small chance at being correct is so much greater than a zero chance that it's worth living your life as if you've actually gotten it right.
For an infinitesimally small chance?  No, probably not worth worrying about.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #198 on: August 09, 2012, 11:03:24 PM »
A bunch of things, really.  But the main ones would be that adults intentionally deceive children on Santa Claus, evidence is planted, our modern version has many characteristics rooted in a fictional poem and fictional pop culture imaginings.

So children have an excuse for believing they have a personal relationship with Santa Claus. They’ve been deliberately deceived. However, you are claiming that here as a difference from your belief that you have a personal relationship with your God. It follows then that you haven’t been deliberately deceived with planted evidence. So what is your excuse for believing you have a personal relationship with your God that no one has ever shown to exist? Do you have an excuse or not?

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Shown to whom?  You?

You said yourself that no one can prove your God is real. That means it has never been shown to be real, not just to me, but to anyone in all of human history.

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And yet many, many people do believe it.  Are they all unreasonable?  Are we going to NTS this?

Great, another fallacious argument from popularity. Many people also believe that Santa Claus is real or that astrology is true. Is that a sound reason for you to believe in them as well? Yes, of course people are unreasonable to believe something without a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to support it. They probably believe it because they are insecure enough to want it to be true and gullible enough to believe it.

What do you mean by NTS? There are many phrases it could stand for, but none of them appears to make sense in this context (except perhaps NORAD Tracks Santa)? However, please don’t take this as an invitation to go off on a diversionary tangent.

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As I have already said numerous times, not in this thread.

Why not in this thread? It’s as good as any. Whenever you say you believe your God is real or you have a personal relationship with it, it is reasonable to ask you to establish the truth or validity of your claim. Refusing to do so is evasive and intellectually dishonest. If you are unable or unwilling to establish the truth or validity of your claims then why should anyone believe them or trust you to tell the truth?

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #199 on: August 09, 2012, 11:25:50 PM »
WHY are you still talking to a guy who moves the goalposts at every post he makes?
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #200 on: August 09, 2012, 11:40:53 PM »
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But you don't know if Zeus is real either.  Why do you not live your life as if it is?
Because I don't believe in the ancient Greek pantheon.
Why do you say this?  Why not 'I don't know if the ancient Greek pantheon exists'?

A bunch of things, really.  But the main ones would be that adults intentionally deceive children on Santa Claus, evidence is planted, our modern version has many characteristics rooted in a fictional poem and fictional pop culture imaginings.
These things don't apply to god?  What makes you say that?
You know what?  Forget those questions.  I'm not sure I care at this point; so far as I can tell this 'god' character that you have a personal relationship with has one AND ONLY ONE characteristic - that you have a personal relationship with it.  That's it - you have provided exactly zero other definable characteristics of this entity.  The property of existence is even given as an unknowable.  But you believe that you have a personal relationship with it that involves no personal anything whatsoever.

You seem to see no logical problems with this.  And that has me at a loss.  It's such a confounding position that I no longer have any understanding of how to possibly argue against it.  I may as well be arguing with someone claiming to farglupnop the Ghasperdi of Rigcncns52artistformerlyknownasprince every third flabble noc ipsum.  Colorless green ideas sleep furiously and all that.

Go ahead and continue believing that you have a personal relationship with god.  So far as I can tell, this 'personal relationship' you have is devoid of any meaning whatsoever and matters to no one - including you.

WHY are you still talking to a guy who moves the goalposts at every post he makes?
Car wreck witness syndrome I suppose, at least for me anyway.  Mooby strikes me as an intelligent person vehemently defending an untenable position that I suspect he knows is untenable.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Mooby

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #201 on: August 09, 2012, 11:53:30 PM »
Do you have an excuse or not?
Of course I have an "excuse" as you put it.

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You said yourself that no one can prove your God is real. That means it has never been shown to be real, not just to me, but to anyone in all of human history.
I also said that the reason I don't think God can be proven is that I can't absolutely prove I'm not mistaking Him for me. In other words, I see the barrier to proof in recognition reliable enough to be undeniable. I do, however, believe in the possibility of revelation--that God has shown Himself to people and they recognized Him. I just can't prove they're right, and I don't think they could prove it to my (or your) satisfaction.

So no, the latter does not necessarily follow from the former.

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Great, another fallacious argument from popularity. Many people also believe that Santa Claus is real or that astrology is true.  Is that a sound reason for you to believe in them as well?
Go back and read what I was actually responding to. I made no reference to the above straw man.
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What do you mean by NTS?
No True Scotsman with respect to "reasonable person."

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Why not in this thread? It’s as good as any.
I think I have given at least three different explanations already.

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Whenever you say you believe your God is real or you have a personal relationship with it, it is reasonable to ask you to establish the truth or validity of your claim.
Telling you what I believe should be accepted at face value, unless you think I am lying about them in which case you have no reason to discuss them.

I have not claimed that my beliefs are true. On the contrary, I have claimed numerous times that I do not know whether they are true. Again, I am an agnostic, which roughly translates to "without knowledge." You claiming that my belief in God is something for which veracity must be established is at best nonsensical to me, and at worst indication that you do not grasp the basic concept of agnosticism.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

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Re: Challenge: any theists encouraged to read and respond
« Reply #202 on: August 10, 2012, 06:00:50 AM »
Of course I have an "excuse" as you put it.

And I asked you what it is. Well, what is it? What is your excuse for believing a claim that hasn’t a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to support it?

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So no, the latter does not necessarily follow from the former.

Really? Then please just answer this question. Has anyone in all of human history ever shown your God to be real? If the answer is no then your objection is irrelevant.

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Go back and read what I was actually responding to. I made no reference to the above straw man.

I did. My question wasn’t a straw man. Here is the conversation:

3sigma: The total lack of a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to show that your God is real is why any reasonable person wouldn’t believe it.
Mooby: And yet many, many people do believe it. Are they all unreasonable?
3sigma: Great, another fallacious argument from popularity. Many people also believe that Santa Claus is real or that astrology is true. Is that a sound reason for you to believe in them as well?
Mooby: Go back and read what I was actually responding to. I made no reference to the above straw man.

I gave you a good reason why you shouldn’t believe your God is real. You didn’t then provide some sound evidence or sound arguments to prove your God is real. Instead, you replied that many, many people believe it and implied they couldn’t all be wrong. That was a fallacious appeal to popularity.

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No True Scotsman with respect to "reasonable person."

Again, we see you objecting to the term reasonable. A reasonable person is one who has sound judgment; someone who comes to sensible conclusions based on valid reason. Are you honestly arguing that it is reasonable to believe a claim that hasn’t a shred of sound evidence or a single sound argument to support it?

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Telling you what I believe should be accepted at face value, unless you think I am lying about them in which case you have no reason to discuss them.

I don’t doubt that you believe your God is real. I doubt that your belief is true. I’ve been asking you for some time now to demonstrate the truth or validity of that belief and the dependent claim that you have a personal relationship with your apparently imaginary God. You constantly evade every request to do so. I see this all too often from religious believers when they are asked to establish the truth or validity of their claims.

I don’t think that you are lying when you claim to have a personal relationship with your God; I think it is more likely that you are imagining it because it provides you with emotional comfort.

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I have not claimed that my beliefs are true. On the contrary, I have claimed numerous times that I do not know whether they are true. Again, I am an agnostic, which roughly translates to "without knowledge." You claiming that my belief in God is something for which veracity must be established is at best nonsensical to me, and at worst indication that you do not grasp the basic concept of agnosticism.

It would seem that either you don’t grasp the concept of belief or you are deliberately misrepresenting it. It is nonsensical to state that you don’t know whether your beliefs are true when belief is the acceptance that something is true.

You claimed to have a personal relationship with your God, Mooby. It isn’t possible to have a personal relationship with something that doesn’t actually exist so the validity of your claim depends on the actual existence of your God. The validity of your claim doesn’t depend on your belief that your God exists; it depends on its actual existence. To validate your claim that you have a personal relationship with your God, you need to prove that your God actually exists, but, of course, we know you’ll never do that because it is imaginary. Allowing yourself to believe that an unvalidated feeling or idea is true is nothing more than self-deception.