Author Topic: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?  (Read 37797 times)

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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #435 on: May 31, 2013, 12:47:45 AM »
     I think at this stage then, the appropriate questions are "so what ARE heaven and hell like"?  .....  I want to know exactly what I will be getting myself into, so that I can make an informed choice.  But now you are telling me that the Bible - the single source we have on what these two places are like - does NOT give a literal depiction of either?  So what ARE they like - really?  And how do we know?

     Fair enough, I can understand wanting to know what my 'holiday' is going to be like before I pay the travel agent, but I think the more important thing for me is who I am going to be spending my holiday with.  Let's say your wife (if you are married) or your best friend who knows you very well and whom you really enjoy being with says to you, "I just booked a holiday for the two of us to enjoy together but I want it to be a surprise so I am not telling you where we are going" - would you go?  For me, I look at heaven as being a 'place' where I will be spending time with my best friend and those who share my passion for Christ - the details of the location are insignificant in comparison.

     Good dodge - but you are assuming that in heaven you WILL be able to spend time with your best friend.

     Exactly, and in order to invalidate my point you would have to show me why my assumption regarding whom I will spend my ‘vacation’ with is wrong.  If your wife or best friend offered you a mystery vacation and you refused then I am assuming that your refusal would likely be based on some kind of lack of trust or other good reason (assuming you just don’t have the time or don’t like taking vacations in the first place).  I didn’t honestly think that I was dodging your question; because I thought that there were two possible ways of answering it.  As an example, if I am working in the pharmacy and a customer comes up to me and asks where the Cold-FX is there are two ways I could handle it – I could either show them where it is or I could explain to them why they don’t need it in the first place (whether or not the shelf is empty is irrelevant, so if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me).  I think that part of the problem is that you have had too many idiots invading this forum threatening you with fire and brimstone if you do not repent.  Personally I don’t think that the point of our lives is to try and figure out the best way we might avoid an unpleasant afterlife by buying some sort of ‘fire’ insurance, and I am certainly not interested in trying to ‘scare’ you into heaven. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #436 on: May 31, 2013, 12:54:52 AM »
     And yes, unlikely events happen...ALL-THE-TIME. I just came from the casino tonight and bought a few scratcher lotto tickets beforehand. Hey, guess what? I won! This must prove Yahweh! Right!? NOPE...overwhelming demonstrable evidence wouldn't be a miracle! It would be a commonly known, uncontested, non- contraversial (indeed quite trivial) fact (like the fact of water, gravity, or that there are other people).

     I know that there have been more than 400 posts since you wrote your OP so perhaps you have forgotten the content of the question that you posed to the atheists on this forum (including you): “What would it take for you to come to believe in a God, an "afterlife", and/or an immaterial spiritual realm?  What would it REALLY take for you to change your view (i.e. - reverse it)? And please be specific.”  In post #395 you give your proposed answer: “just because I'm feeling charitable [thanks…I think], here's mine in three words: OVERWHELMING DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE.  Now, if you could turn your attention to post #414, you characterize ‘overwhelming demonstrable evidence’ as follows: “overwhelming demonstrable evidence wouldn’t be a miracle!  It would be a commonly known, uncontested, non-controversial (indeed quite trivial) fact. 
     You know, for once I think that I actually agree with you; if there is evidence for the supernatural it will be of the same nature as the evidence that we might use to establish any natural claim.  For instance, if the gospel accounts are correct then none of the disciples actually saw the resurrection.  For the most part they came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead from “commonly known, uncontested, noncontroversial facts”.  There is nothing extraordinary about a human being standing in front of you who just happens to be alive, nor is there anything perplexing about an empty tomb.  The empty tomb would have been common knowledge which is why the soldiers were apparently paid to make up a story.
     At any rate, the point here isn’t to convince you that the gospel accounts are correct thereby constituting ‘demonstrable evidence’, but to examine the conditional statement that you introduced in your OP.  I realize that you don’t think that there is any demonstrable evidence available, but you asked the question ‘what if’ which is a conditional statement proposing that you examine how your perception of reality would have to be different for you to believe in an immaterial spiritual realm.  Here’s what I think: your demand for “overwhelming demonstrable evidence” is nothing more than a fancy way of saying that you wouldn’t believe in a spiritual realm no matter what the evidence was.  If you actually saw a man dead three days come to life or saw a leg ‘magically regrow’ you would find some way to explain it away – maybe you were hallucinating or maybe you could appeal to your ‘argument from ignorance’; after all, why assume the supernatural when we maybe just haven’t discovered a natural explanation yet?  I suggest that you give me a description of what your belief inducing “overwhelming demonstrable evidence” would look like or admit that you can’t.   
     By the way, all your caps lock typing and name calling (e.g. hypocritical, gullible, credulous, closed-minded, etc…) is really quite pathetic.  If your arguments can’t stand on their own without being augmented with a plethora of immature name calling then let me know when you are interested in actually having an intelligent discussion. 

Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #437 on: May 31, 2013, 02:22:49 AM »
     You fail to make a crucial distinction between knowledge (the perception of certain states of affairs) and power (the ability to actualize certain states of affairs).  Even if you could learn everything there is to know about how God created the universe that fact doesn’t mean that you would have the power to do it yourself any more than my possible complete knowledge of how Sydney Crosby learned to play hockey would not enable me to actually play in the NHL.  Knowledge and power are two distinct concepts. 
I would suggest that if you had an eternity in which to practice, an ageless and injury-free form, and the requisite desire and determination you absolutely would be able to develop your hockey skills to NHL levels, but I'm pretty sure there's no NHL in heaven[1], so it is a moot point.

More likely, what you are saying is that in this world Sidney Crosby possesses physical gifts and natural skills (read: powers) that you could not duplicate, no matter how hard you may try. So essentially your point is that we could never be as powerful as god because, well, he's god and we're not, right? But is god powerful because he's 6'3" and weighs 225 lbs., or because he controls all the forces of the universe? I would contend that if you've got eternity to do so you could also learn how to wield these forces. I suspect the big guy wouldn't let it get far enough to be a threat to him, though. Remember what happened the last time there was a revolution in heaven?

Quote
     
In my opinion it is absurd to think that “on an endless timeline everything that can happen will happen”
That you find a logically inescapable conclusion absurd means you have not given it enough consideration. IMO, the notion that a singular human consciousness will exist forever is what is absurd. Can you please explain what you think you'll be doing for eternity?

Quote
it is a legitimate possibility that you can in fact become a Christian.  Personally I don’t think that an endless timeline guarantees this because I think that there are other factors involved rather than just ‘time’.  You are obviously not a Christian and I am assuming that this is not the case because you feel that you have good reasons not to be one – reasons that you think are grounded in reality.  But if that is the case, why would time make any difference; if you are logically convinced of something, wouldn’t eternity (the chance to review the unimpeachable logic of your conclusions an infinite number of times) just strengthen your resolve to not become a Christian?  If you still insist that shear time would actualize every possibility then you must also realize that there is nothing about your observation that says when something must be actualized, and in that case there is no reason why you shouldn’t just convert to Christianity right now – if time is the only consideration then there is no difference between converting now or 10 years from now or even 10,000 years from now.
The mere fact that, in this scenario, I find myself existing eternally would obviously give me reason to reconsider my present position, but the rest of this paragraph is incomprehensible to me. I fail to see how my status as a "Christian" has any bearing on the previously referenced logically indisputable conclusion.

It is virtually impossible for our human minds to truly understand the implications of eternity. We can scarcely even grasp the vastness of hundreds of thousands of years, let alone millions and billions, which is the biggest reason so many people question evolution, IMO. But that's a different topic that will surely be revisited in many threads to come.
 1. wait, wouldn't this be hell to a Canadian?!!
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #438 on: May 31, 2013, 03:00:28 AM »
     I think at this stage then, the appropriate questions are "so what ARE heaven and hell like"?  .....  I want to know exactly what I will be getting myself into, so that I can make an informed choice.  But now you are telling me that the Bible - the single source we have on what these two places are like - does NOT give a literal depiction of either?  So what ARE they like - really?  And how do we know?

.....if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me.....

Only point?  Nope.  That's just the basics.  But thank you for admitting that there is nothing specific you can tell me about the afterlife.

Given that admission, why should I give the faintest toss about any claim you make about that afterlife, or (by extension) your god?  If all you can do is shrug and say "well, I hope it's like this, but really I have no idea" then it becomes entirely pointless me making any decision.  If there is no way I can know that action A will lead to effect Y or effect Z, then there is no reason - other that how it affects me NOW - why I should take action A or not.

You're saying "press this button - I have no idea what happens if you do, or do not - just some hopes of what might happen".  Why on earth should I press the button?  Or not press it?

Or bother with the button at all?
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 08:42:24 AM by Anfauglir »
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Graybeard

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #439 on: May 31, 2013, 06:58:59 AM »
     Things acting in a coherent fashion is, in effect, the defining characteristic of naturalism.  This is why supernaturalism is incoherent.

     You claim that a necessary property of anything that is ‘natural’ is that it must act in a coherent manner (“acting in a coherent fashion is, in effect, the defining characteristic of naturalism”).  I am assuming that by ‘coherent’ you intend to convey notions of predictability, logical consistency, or metaphysical necessity.  I will certainly grant you that the observational experience of homo erectus has been that nature is characterized by predictable patterns, but this does not in any way imply metaphysical necessity.  For all we know, that perceived pattern could revert to an unpredictable pattern in the future; there is nothing logically inconsistent about a rock falling up, it just hasn’t happened in our experience – all things being equal of course.  So you need to explain to me why you think that nature must be predictable, which is totally different from saying that in order to learn about nature we must expect predictable patterns.  No number of observations, no matter how great, can lead to necessary predictability, only expected predictability.

     It seems to me that in the second sentence you have used the word ‘incoherent’ in a different way from the way you used the word 'coherent' in the first sentence.  When describing nature I think your intention was to say something about the predictability of nature; however, in the second sentence it seems like you are saying that if God’s behavior is unpredictable then the concept of God is logically inconsistent.  I don’t think that logical inconsistency is at all demonstrated by mere unpredictability; if it did then you would have an argument against the existence of God.  In actuality, unpredictability could not possibly be an argument against the existence of any being.  I could suddenly act in an unpredictable way on this forum (e.g. I could randomly insert a swear word into my sentence).  That would be perceived by you to be in drastic contrast to the persona that I have presented so far (e.g. unpredictable), but I don’t think that you would consider the possibility of my doing so to be logically impossible nor do I think that you would therefore infer that I don’t exist.

An interesting argument but unsustainable. (i) Unpredictability as an argument against the supernatural on a macro level where object obey known laws is not valid. (ii) at the micro-level the variance in levels of predictability can be averaged to give remarkably reliable figures. This variance does not vary, hence (i).

A supernatural being would be able alter the eternal laws of the universe to suit one person who prayed, thus, on the macro- and micro-level we would see numerous diversions from the predicted: we do not.  In fact, we would have two distinct patterns, one where current laws were obeyed and another where clear evidence of the supernatural could be seen. We do not see the latter.

Nature's predictability is inherent from what "nature" is. Nature is a collection of atoms, molecules, etc, that obey laws. Imagine a wind. We cannot say what each molecule of the wind is doing but, given the wind-speed and humidity, we can say, with high accuracy, how a wind will, for example press upon a wall. The force of the wind is, in fact a massive summation of individual molecules and is remarkably accurate, more accurate than we actually need.

Your next fallacy is "there is nothing logically inconsistent about a rock falling up," (i) this would entail the creation of energy within a closed system. (ii) Naturally you do not say what would cause the rock to "fall up" nor what you mean by "fall" nor do you say how "up" has been determined. I mention this as Christians tend to rely on "the uncaused cause" A rock "falling up" would be in this category.[1]

The conclusion of the following statement is so deceptive as to be false: " the observational experience of homo erectus has been that nature is characterized by predictable patterns, but this does not in any way imply metaphysical necessity[nb]for the sake of the record, I would ask you to define your term "metaphysical necessity" in the light of the Higgs Boson."

Once a law has been established, variance from it is not possible. If there is an exception then it is incumbent upon use to find out why, rather than introduce the infinitely more complicated "supernatural". Once the exception is shown, then the law is amended. This is distinct from the infantile explanation "God did it."

Humans have seen that, throughout history, the acceptance of the supernatural is the acceptance of willful ignorance. You only need refer to mentions of "thunderbolts sent by the gods, to realise the truth in this.

Your whole argument rests upon, "We can never know," The truth is that over the past 300 years we have known; we have found that the supernatural has become unacceptable as an explanation of anything. As each "fact" has been uncovered, gods and superstition (the same thing) have retreated - you will be aware of "the God of the Gaps".

Your argument also boils down to (i) "We don't know some things therefore God did it." (ii) "Who is to say what might happen?[2]

The worship of gods is the worship of ignorance. The asinine adherence to the creed of "God did it" is what holds back societies.

Edit to include image:


 1. You may be able to escape from this inevitable conclusion by explaining how a rock could fall upwards.
 2. This carries the implication of "only gods can save us from the unknown." Which is a bit stupid, as it actually means, "Only gods can save us from what gods do."
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 07:32:56 AM by Graybeard »
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #440 on: May 31, 2013, 07:40:24 AM »
I would.  The argument wouldn't mean that you weren't cheating, mind you.  But cheating isn't a supernatural occurrence.
     In that case, put an add in the paper for poker buddies; you will have a line up of people a mile long at your door before you know it

Cute, but you've ignored what you've actually quoted here.  If you are not going to read my post before replying, then why should I bother to write replies?

I am not arguing against theism.  I am arguing against supernaturalism.  There is a difference.

     Well then, let me be crystal clear in saying that I am arguing for supernaturalism – what Christian isn’t attempting to do the same when she presents ‘evidence’ for the existence of God?

The ones that don't reject science wholesale.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #441 on: May 31, 2013, 08:51:36 AM »
.....it seems like you are saying that if God’s behavior is unpredictable then the concept of God is logically inconsistent.  I don’t think that logical inconsistency is at all demonstrated by mere unpredictability; if it did then you would have an argument against the existence of God.  In actuality, unpredictability could not possibly be an argument against the existence of any being.  I could suddenly act in an unpredictable way on this forum (e.g. I could randomly insert a swear word into my sentence).  That would be perceived by you to be in drastic contrast to the persona that I have presented so far (e.g. unpredictable), but I don’t think that you would consider the possibility of my doing so to be logically impossible nor do I think that you would therefore infer that I don’t exist.

True.  But aren't you an imperfect and fallible human?  And isn't god supposed to be perfection, the ultimate in everything?

People react on a sliding scale.  If you swore, we wouldn't say "GW does not exist", we would say "that was out of character".  And the more a non-sweary person you had been established to me, the more freaky and weird we would think it if you DID swear.

I'm sure you would agree that the less one does something, the less likely it is that someone will do that something.  The person who swears in every sentence, does not cause a surprise when they do - the surprise comes when they do not.  Its all about acting within the parameters of character.

So when it comes to an ultimate being - a being who sits on the very, very furthest point of the curve - unpredictability all of a sudden can NOT be an issue.  That being would have to react the same every time - because if it didn't, we would rightly say "well, clearly its not the ultimate then".

An ultimate god's behaviour should be absolutely, 100% predictable.  If it is not, then either that being is not truly god; or we are ascribing wrong characteristics to that being (i.e. it is not really good); or that being does not exist. 

For god to exist, be perfect, AND be unpredictable, is not a logically tenable position.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #442 on: May 31, 2013, 02:58:37 PM »
It seems to me that Greenandwhite is trying to make a logical argument that a god exists. (Correct me if I am misunderstanding.) He says that the universe as we observe it is somehow enough evidence for the presence of a god who is controlling and running it.

If the universe is under a god's control, it would have to be the best possible universe.  Or else, it should be under a better god's control, which would be logically impossible, according to G&W. Because the one true god is the greatest thing there is.

Here is where I see some problems. If this is the best of all possible universes, what is heaven? (An even better best of all possible universes?)

And if this is indeed the best of all possible universes, why does it seem to be so screwed up? Humans get a few decades struggling to survive on the dry bits of one planet. We spend most of the past couple thousand years of existence beseeching supernatural beings, trying not to starve or be eaten or dying of something horrible. We only start seeing improvements when we ignore religion and use science. Then after all that, we get judged on our behavior for all eternity--by the same supernatural being that never helped before?

This is the best a god can do? Please. Religious explanations seem more and more like a desperate ret-con attempt at rationalizing why things suck so much for so many people than anything truly profound and illuminating. I can imagine a hundred better setups, and I am just one silly a$$ atheist.

And religious people tell us that we atheists are either making things too complicated or too simple....
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 Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #443 on: May 31, 2013, 03:00:33 PM »
The question that always comes to my mind is:  What would a universe that no god created, look like, that's different from this one?

If one cannot answer that question, then one is admitting a lack of any means of telling one from the other.
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Offline epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #444 on: May 31, 2013, 03:18:40 PM »
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #445 on: May 31, 2013, 03:46:51 PM »
<snip>
It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

Ever heard of a strawman?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #446 on: May 31, 2013, 03:56:13 PM »
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt

Maybe we have to start with a something, instead of a nothing. Then we get another something. And so on. The earlier something does not have to be a god. Just whatever there was before the big bang.....

Anyway, that does not address the question of why this universe sucks so much for people if it was created by a perfect being--who supposedly made it all for people.
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 Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #447 on: May 31, 2013, 04:38:19 PM »
I second nogodsforme's response.  Epidemic, given that something preceded our universe, what makes you think it was something like you?  Ie., a conscious, personal entity?
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #448 on: May 31, 2013, 07:40:31 PM »
Well,  I believe the answer you will get will be simple.  it is the reason I am not willing to say I am an atheist.

Lets start,

We have nothing and after a while we still have nothing ;D

But after a really really long time we have nothing.

It is way beyond reason to say that nothing can create a universe. 

I push the I believe button on the universe creating itself.  I tend to believe there is a natural answer to it butttttt

What is "nothing"?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, nothing doesnt exist?

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #449 on: May 31, 2013, 09:37:40 PM »
I believe nothing exists. But at the same time nothing is something.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

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Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #450 on: May 31, 2013, 10:27:07 PM »
It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?

I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.
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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #451 on: June 02, 2013, 01:04:28 AM »
I would.  The argument wouldn't mean that you weren't cheating, mind you.  But cheating isn't a supernatural occurrence.
     In that case, put an add in the paper for poker buddies; you will have a line up of people a mile long at your door before you know it

Cute, but you've ignored what you've actually quoted here.  If you are not going to read my post before replying, then why should I bother to write replies?

     My focus should have been on responding to the second sentence rather than on giving a sarcastic reply to the first - I will have to work on my tendencies for sarcasm. 

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #452 on: June 02, 2013, 08:23:29 AM »
The problem wasn't the sarcasm (which at least was obvious sarcasm, unlike some peoples' posts), it was the fact that you didn't even read past the first word.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #453 on: June 02, 2013, 09:09:46 AM »
I believe nothing exists. But at the same time nothing is something.

-Nam
then nothing, doesnt exist nah mean?

It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?

I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.

I dont think science addresses this issue enough. Ive heard it a few times in passing only when I had come to the conclusion myself and started to see if it was an argument that had already been made. We simply have no example of "nothing" therefore it is a pretty large assumption that everything came from nothing when we only have evidence of there being something. And with that I agree with theists, something cant come from nothing. However, they jump to the wrong conclusion based on that thinking (whether the thinking is right or wrong). Instead of inserting a "something from nothing creator" they ought to think that perhaps this "nothing" they talk about never existed in the 1st place. Literally all the evidence supports that there is something.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #454 on: June 02, 2013, 03:04:46 PM »
     I dont think science addresses this issue enough. Ive heard it a few times in passing only when I had come to the conclusion myself and started to see if it was an argument that had already been made. We simply have no example of "nothing" therefore it is a pretty large assumption that everything came from nothing when we only have evidence of there being something. And with that I agree with theists, something cant come from nothing. However, they jump to the wrong conclusion based on that thinking (whether the thinking is right or wrong). Instead of inserting a "something from nothing creator" they ought to think that perhaps this "nothing" they talk about never existed in the 1st place. Literally all the evidence supports that there is something.

     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #455 on: June 02, 2013, 03:36:52 PM »
     It is very difficult to understand why a theist can be convinced that the universe cannot be self-created and/or eternal but be perfectly satisfied with thinking a singular being can be.

     Epidemic, do you not see how inserting a god into the equation only pushes the question of causation back one level? Why do you accept a god as the most plausible explanation when it doesn't get you any closer to really knowing the origin of all that is? Do you understand that any being with the power to create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe? How can such a monumentally complex being exist eternally but a less complex universe cannot?  I ask these questions sincerely, as I truly wish to understand your position.

     I hope I am responding to this question in the same spirit in which it was asked (e.g. helping you to understand the theist rationale without being argumentative).  You listed two possible alternatives - self-creation and eternal existence.  I suppose theists would say that they just don't find the concept of 'self-causation' to be a plausible notion.  This doesn't mean that all theists consider it to be a proposition unworthy of debate since there are intelligent philosophers who defend it (e.g. Quentin Smith).  In terms of 'eternal existence', I think that theists, and indeed many atheists, would reject that notion when it comes to our physical universe because of the scientific evidence that points to an absolute beginning of the universe (if one holds to the standard Big Bang model). 
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

     You said that a being that could create the universe must necessarily be more complex than the universe - why?  Do you think that it is impossible in principle for a creator to create some kind of creation more complex than itself?  It seems to me that in the movie The Matrix humans succeeded in doing just that; obviously, I realize that the movie is fictional, but I have never watched The Matrix and thought that the story line is logically impossible.  Wouldn't the same principle apply to any creator?
     At any rate, I didn't think that the possession of metaphysical necessity is a matter of probability - it seems to me that an entity either does or does not possess it, making any consideration of complexity irrelevant. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #456 on: June 02, 2013, 03:43:08 PM »
It seems to me that Greenandwhite is trying to make a logical argument that a god exists. (Correct me if I am misunderstanding.) He says that the universe as we observe it is somehow enough evidence for the presence of a god who is controlling and running it.

     I was not trying to make a logical argument that God exists.  If I understood Azdgari correctly, he was questioning the proposition that a supernatural being can be understood in a logically coherent way - that is what I was trying to answer. 


Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #457 on: June 02, 2013, 03:51:02 PM »
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

What I don't get is how this ground of all being ends up being someone that is not only like the theist (ie. a conscious, personal, often male entity), but that also agrees with the theist's personal biases and morals.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #458 on: June 02, 2013, 04:08:20 PM »
     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?
If? There is nowhere where you can find evidence of nothing. As far as we know, "nothing" is a concept with no basis in reality. I wouldnt expect to find "nothing" because the only evidence I have is of something. I am asserting that something exists, my evidence is existence itself. If you are positing "nothing" exists somewhere then I would be more than willing to consider the evidence.

The big bang talks about the expansion of time/space. There would be no time before the big bang relative to the current universe. Dont know what metaphysics is, Ive never bothered to look it up. But if what your are saying is, "the particles that make up this universe have always been" then I agree.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #459 on: June 02, 2013, 05:37:05 PM »
     If 'nothing' existed at some time logically prior to the Big Bang then what kind of evidence would you expect to see?  Why should the absence of evidence for 'nothingness' necessarily imply that there has never been an actual state of 'nothingness'?  In a roundabout way don't you think that you are just restating Carl Sagan's view that the physical universe possesses the quality of metaphysical necessity (e.g. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be")?  If the universe is a metaphysically necessary entity then actual 'nothingness' would be a metaphysical impossibility - would it not?
     If? There is nowhere where you can find evidence of nothing. As far as we know, "nothing" is a concept with no basis in reality. I wouldnt expect to find "nothing" because the only evidence I have is of something. I am asserting that something exists, my evidence is existence itself. If you are positing "nothing" exists somewhere then I would be more than willing to consider the evidence.  The big bang talks about the expansion of time/space. There would be no time before the big bang relative to the current universe.

     I am not positing that 'nothing' exists somewhere, since 'somewhere' implies temporal location.  If we have temporal location then we also have space which means that something exists.  I agree that 'nothingness' would not be a descriptor that would apply to a state of affairs temporally prior to the Big Bang, but it would apply to a state of affairs actualized absent the Big Bang. 

     Dont know what metaphysics is, Ive never bothered to look it up. But if what your are saying is, "the particles that make up this universe have always been" then I agree.

     I think that when someone claims that something is metaphysically necessary she is saying that not only has this universe always been, but also this universe must of necessity always have been - if something is not metaphysically necessary then it is contingent; if the physical universe is contingent then it does not have to exist.  For example, you and I are contingent beings; we happen to exist but it is possible that had history taken a different course we might not exist.  If the universe is a necessary entity then it is impossible that it could not have always existed. 
     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #460 on: June 02, 2013, 05:46:51 PM »
     If one can be justified in accepting the standard Big Bang model and one doesn't view self-causation to be a viable option, then one must look elsewhere for an explanation.  If one is going to push the causative explanation back then there are three choices: push it back one level (the traditional ground of all being), push it back two or more levels (rejected by Ockham's razor), or push it back an infinite number of times (an infinite regress that is quashed by various philosophical arguments against the existence of an absolute infinite).

What I don't get is how this ground of all being ends up being someone that is not only like the theist (ie. a conscious, personal, often male entity), but that also agrees with the theist's personal biases and morals.

     If the universe had a cause then the three qualities that you listed above also follow.  An impersonal force that is adequate to cause an effect (e.g. the universe) cannot exist for an indefinite amount of time without its effect.  If from eternity past sufficient conditions exist to freeze water, then any water that also exists would of necessity also be frozen from eternity past.  That is why if the universe itself is not a necessary entity nor a self caused one, its cause would be personal.  A personal cause can exist for a certain amount of time (or exist timelessly) before deciding to actualize a certain effect. If the cause is personal then it would also be conscious and we would refer to that cause using personal pronouns (he, she, they).  If you want to use 'she' to refer to a personal ground of all being then you are welcome to do so. 

Offline Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #461 on: June 02, 2013, 07:01:25 PM »
You've asserted that the pre-cosmos being personal solves these problems.  Yet, you've given no reason to believe what you've said.  We humans are personal and conscious, and yet we obey physics.  Consciousness does not in any way appear to be a special, game-breaking quality here.
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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #462 on: June 02, 2013, 07:12:14 PM »
     .....if the only point you are trying to make in this argument is that I cannot tell you anything specific about heaven or hell – congratulations, you  got me.....

     Given that admission, why should I give the faintest toss about any claim you make about that afterlife, or (by extension) your god?  If all you can do is shrug and say "well, I hope it's like this, but really I have no idea" then it becomes entirely pointless me making any decision.  If there is no way I can know that action A will lead to effect Y or effect Z, then there is no reason - other that how it affects me NOW - why I should take action A or not.

     You don't have to worry about any specific claims I make about the afterlife because I haven't given you any except for whom I think I will be spending it with.  I think that one thing we are disagreeing on here is the purpose of a relationship with Christ.  It seems to me that you are treating it as some sort of an instrumental good - the means by which we might gain access into some kind of a pleasant afterlife.  I guess I, on the other hand, am looking at a relationship with Christ as having intrinsic value in its own right - valuable apart from considerations of what happens after death. 
     On the other hand, you ask, "why should I give the faintest toss about... your god"?  If you see fit to give a 'faint toss' about my 'god', then I think it should be based on evidence that is traditionally given for God's existence and not on descriptions of the afterlife.  After all, if I could give you a detailed description of heaven or hell that wouldn't make any difference to the question 'does God exist' - you would then only have a detailed description of a place you don't believe exists.  It would be nice to have a description of heaven; I just don't think it is necessary and so I suppose this is just one of many things we will have to disagree on. 

     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #463 on: June 02, 2013, 07:26:51 PM »
You've asserted that the pre-cosmos being personal solves these problems.  Yet, you've given no reason to believe what you've said.  We humans are personal and conscious, and yet we obey physics.  Consciousness does not in any way appear to be a special, game-breaking quality here.

     I think I was trying to give my rationale for a personal cause using the supposition that an impersonal cause sufficient to actualize an effect would necessarily always exist with its effect (hence the frozen water example).  A personal cause, on the other hand, could decide when to actualize a given effect. 
     I realize that humans are personal and conscious while obeying the laws of physics; I just don't think that this observation necessitates that consciousness is always attached to something physical.  At the same time, it doesn't seem to me that if a being lacks consciousness he/she can make a decision to actualize an effect that previously was not present - wouldn't an unconscious personal being be indistinguishable from an impersonal cause?