Author Topic: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?  (Read 49609 times)

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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #464 on: June 02, 2013, 08:02:36 PM »
     But aren't you an imperfect and fallible human?  And isn't god supposed to be perfection, the ultimate in everything?...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.

     For a couple of reasons I do not agree that a perfect being must be 100% predictable:

First, perceived unpredictability does not necessarily indicate actual unpredictability.  A predictable being is one who acts in similar ways in similar situations - all other things being equal.  I am just wondering how, if you see unpredictable behaviour, you know that all other things actually are equal.  In other words, unpredictable behaviour seems to say more about the person perceiving it rather than the person demonstrating it - how much more so with a supernatural being?

Second, in my case I don't think that unpredictability is necessarily what makes me imperfect.  If I wear a red shirt on Monday and a white shirt on Tuesday, that doesn’t seem to indicate any imperfection in my character – why would I be more perfect if I wore a white shirt both days?  In the case of a perfectly good, supernatural being it sounds to me like you are focusing more on questions of justice (e.g. a perfectly just being would be completely predictable in rendering judgements – at least to an observer who also has a grasp of perfect justice).  This seems to be rather far removed from the original criticism that a miracle would demonstrate unpredictability on God’s part – why should a being perfectly predictable on matters of justice have to be perfectly predictable on matters of communication?

Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #465 on: June 03, 2013, 01:51:26 AM »
     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.
I had hoped (and am still hopeful) for a response from Epidemic, but I appreciate your input, G&W. Please explain exactly why theists would consider a self-caused universe implausible but a self-caused creator god plausible.

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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.
The evidence does indeed point to a beginning of the universe, going from a singularity to what it is now, but we have no way of knowing if that beginning is absolute. As I see it, the most plausible explanation is that all the elements that comprise the universe have always existed in various forms. I think the most logical theory is that of a cyclical universe, one which is presently expanding but will eventually contract back into another singularity, at which point another expansion will follow.  In this scenario, as The Gawd said, "nothing" was never an option.

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  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).
Occam's razor would reject pushing the causative explanation back even one level.

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     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
Can you give any nonfictional examples of a creation exceeding the complexity of its creator?

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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.
I would contend that it is impossible for us to determine what constitutes a metaphysical necessity as it relates to the existence of our universe, particularly when the proposed necessity is an "entity".
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #466 on: June 03, 2013, 03:58:29 AM »
     .....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. 

Yeah, I suppose its super - but given the length of an eternal life, its as relevant as the music you hear when they put you on hold for 30 seconds when you're booking a restaurant for a major party.  Nice enough for the brief blink of existence, but not really relevant in the grand scheme of things.

You seem to be looking at things on a very small scale, GW - this life is no more than a blip in the eternal life that you claim we have, of course I am far more concerned with the other 99,999,999,999,930 years of existence than I am with the 70 I will have here.  What I honestly don't understand is why you aren't - why you are so keen to just take "pot luck" with 99.9999% of your existence?

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.   

Tell you what matey - a possible 99.9999% of my existence is worth my consideration.  Give me some referenced proofs of what the afterlife options are and I'll consider it.  Heck, given the timescales we're talking about, if there is an afterlife I like then I'd be prepared to change my behaviours, even if I still don't have the belief.  I may not believe Hank exists, but if I can get to the good afterlife by spending 5 minutes a day saying "hail Hank", then I may well do it.  Trade 5 minutes a day for an eternity I like?  Hell yeah.

Trouble is, by your repeated (refusal?  inability?) to give me any clue as to what afterlifes there ARE, you give no incentive whatsoever for belief, or even to seek belief.  Like I said - this existence is the tiniest, tiniest fraction of existence, so any benefits I may get here are quite irrelevant.

Point being: worship of your god might lead me to what is - for me - a worse alternative for eternity.  To use my analogy - I'd get nicer hold music, but end up booking a dump.  For 99.9999% of existence, I need to know what the alternatives are.

What I find quite ironic is that I - the ungodly - seem to care more about the afterlife, while you - the believer - seem overly fixated on what happens to you here on this momentary material plane.  Weird.
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 epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #467 on: June 03, 2013, 08:41:51 AM »
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.

Oh absolutely.   In fact I have used that very argument many times.   But being that it is so hard to fanthom what could create a universe from nothing, I leave the possibility of a god in there.  Both appear virtually impossible to me.

I am not saying there is a god.  just that there is the possibility of one.  Yes it would seem that a god coming from nothing is more complex than a universe coming from nothing but both seem infinitely impossible to me.  When comparing two infinite impossibilities I put them at near a wash.


Offline epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #468 on: June 03, 2013, 08:53:22 AM »
True.  But aren't you an imperfect and fallible human?  And isn't god supposed to be perfection, the ultimate in everything?


God appears to not be perfection.

Can you be angry with a creation that you 100% created and you know ahead of time the mistakes it will make even prior to it's creation?

It would be like making a toe stubbing machine to stub your toe and being angry that it stubs your toe when you put your foot in it.  Or a writing a program intentionally designed to always give you the wrong answer and then being upset when it yields incorrect information.  Gods biblically claimed anger, jealosy, vanity are all indications of an being with out complete knowledge of past present and future.  Being angry also implies a possible outcome that could be imagined.  If god can imagine it he can change it therefore he is angry when his creation works exactly as he intened??????


I can't say there is not some supreme consciousness that created the universe but I am pretty sure that the one described in the bible, Koran, and or Torrah does not make a lick of sense.  I contend that if there is a god he is likely imperceivable and a hands off god.  Perhaps akin to a scientist who rules over a petri dish.  The germs growing in the growth medium might benefit or suffer as he changes their universe but I doubt the scientist has indepth conversations with their day to day life.

« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 08:57:30 AM by epidemic »

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #469 on: June 03, 2013, 09:32:19 AM »
     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.

Decisions are no less a result of the previous state than the freezing of water.  Unless you're suggesting that decisions are fundamentally uncaused, ie. random?  Evidence indicates otherwise.

     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.

That is, however, the only kind of consciousness we know about.  Of course, something we know nothing about could operate in ways we know nothing about.  Attaching the familiar labels used for humans to it, then, is unwarranted and deceptive.  "Personal" is not an adjective that applies - it already has a different meaning, one that applies to the qualities of people.

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?

And indistinguishable from a personal cause, for all intents and purposes.  You have still given no reason to believe that personality imparts any fundamentally different qualities from impersonality.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #470 on: June 03, 2013, 10:58:28 AM »
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     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
Can you give any nonfictional examples of a creation exceeding the complexity of its creator?
The word complexity is very vague here.  Do either you or Greenandwhite know of any means of measuring complexity?  Were the machines in The Matrix more complex than the humans?  Was the virtual human society more complex than the sentient machine society?
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Offline epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #471 on: June 03, 2013, 12:39:29 PM »
What if DOG were really spelled CAT :)

But seriously though I am not trying to indicate there is or is not a god.  Just that Atheism is just about as faith based as Theism.  Both are unproven, both are difficult to prove.   It all boils down to faith.

Agnostics are the only ones who seem to be considering both sides of the coin:)

Offline screwtape

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #472 on: June 03, 2013, 01:00:14 PM »
Just that Atheism is just about as faith based as Theism. 

My initial reaction to this oft repeated piece of conventional wisdom was a lot of profanity.  That's because it is stupid, frustrating and wearying.   I'm not going to spend the time to explain it all to you, because I'm weary of it.  So suffice it to say, you neither understand the atheist position nor have you thought about it very deeply beyond your own prejudices.   

Let me leave you with one question: does it require faith[1] to not believe in Zeus?  How about vampires?




 1. whatever that means, and I doubt you've though about that much either.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 01:12:00 PM by screwtape »
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #473 on: June 03, 2013, 01:07:02 PM »
What if DOG were really spelled CAT :)
Ogre would like to have a word with you.[1]

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But seriously though I am not trying to indicate there is or is not a god.  Just that Atheism is just about as faith based as Theism.  Both are unproven, both are difficult to prove.   It all boils down to faith.

Agnostics are the only ones who seem to be considering both sides of the coin:)
Agnostic atheists or agnostic theists?

But let's ignore specificity of labels here, as I doubt that argument would be of little use at the moment.  The core of what you seem to be saying is that the claim "god does not exist" is on the same epistemological playing field as "god does exist", at least faith-wise.  And I disagree.  If we're going to assume that all manner of knowledge requires some degree of faith (which I'm not sure is actually fair to say...probably some interesting discussion on that topic), then I'd say that the difference is 'degree of faith'.  An atheistic viewpoint, if any aspect of it is faith-based, is the 'faith' that there exists a shared objective reality, and that any claim regarding what is or is not a part of that shared objective reality ought to be consistent with that shared objective reality.  That's all; it's basically 'faith' that reality is not solipsistic in nature (read: reality has a nature).  All other claims require some evidence of some kind to suggest the truth-value of that claim prior to acceptance of it as 'true'.  Non-solipsist theists take at least the same 'leap of faith' as the atheist does, but posits additional faith claims on top of that.

Does any of that make sense?
 1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093857/?ref_=sr_4
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Offline epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #474 on: June 03, 2013, 02:36:15 PM »
I think the hard core Atheist believes that he is the authority on the non-existence of god.  A theist believes that they are in posession of knowledge that god exists.

I do not believe that atheists generally claim to be solipsistic in nature.  They claim to have complete knowledge on the existence of god.

Agnosism would appear to be a more solopsistic.  With a view of I simply don't know but from where I (the agnostic) stand/lean x, y or z based on what I have seen and feel.  With X being Lean thestic, Y don't care, and z lean toward atheistic.

Some people claim to have spoken to the all powerful diety, you can pick those claims apart but there is still a possibility that they did indeed speak to a god or gods.  I lean atheistic because I have seen many charlatans through out history convince people to believe in their unquestionably false claims.   Jim Jones... the WACO, wacco, are proof that you can convince people of a magical (cough cough heavens gate) things.  I also have a belief that people generally want there to be an explaination for everything so there is a tendency to hope for a god to explain things.



My belief system
1) I believe there is a possibility of a god
...a) I don't claim to be smart enough to say it is impossible
...b) I believe the universes origins are impossibly complicated at this point so it is possible that a god thought it up.
...c) If there is a god, the good books would not seem to be correct in their depiction of him (way to fallible)

2) I believe that god is unlikely
...a) I believe people tend to be superstitious and would create a god regardless of it's existence.
...b) If the universe creating itself from nothing is complicated then god creating himself is even more so.
...c) I think our lack of understanding of the origins of the universe are not a hole into which one can automatically put a god.



on the purely made up side of things, why do early christians take the risk to be christian.  A bronze age start up religion can not have power, control, or financial motivations.  Because they have all the opposite affects.  How does a preacher openly preaching in the street win new cult followers willing to die for those heretical beliefs.  Most cults seem to need private immersion time to convince their followers of devine nature.   This jesus/his followers really did an amazing job. 
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 02:44:06 PM by epidemic »

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #475 on: June 03, 2013, 03:06:13 PM »
What if DOG were really spelled CAT :)

But seriously though I am not trying to indicate there is or is not a god.  Just that Atheism is just about as faith based as Theism.  Both are unproven, both are difficult to prove.   It all boils down to faith.
Agnostics are the only ones who seem to be considering both sides of the coin:)
(my bolding)

This only makes sense if any ol' made up sh!t is just as likely as the sun shining when it is daylight.  &)

There are an infinitude (?) of made-up beings that probably do not really exist: vampires, Klingons, fairies, ogres, werewolves, chupacabras, ghosts, mermaids, thoughtful Republicans, tiny invisible living cupcakes. These things, for a variety of reasons, do not show up anywhere but the imagination. It does not take "faith" to decide that they therefore do not really exist.

There are a whole lot of beings that probably do exist: Pakistanis, baristas, soccer players, me, epidemic, doggies, Pakistani baristas, soccer playing doggies. You don't need much "faith" to decide that these do exist.

Now, if you can first explain why it takes "faith" to not believe in vampires, Klingons, fairies, or chupacabras, maybe you can then also explain why it takes "faith" to not believe in other supernatural or made-up imaginary beings like demons, spirits, gods and goddesses.

Finally, epidemic, you say that a god that "thought up the universe" is possible. That makes as much sense as saying that an all-powerful giant headless boar that "thought up the universe" is possible. Because we have just the same amount of evidence for the existence of a god doing stuff as for an all-powerful giant headless boar.

You could reasonably say that you think there is a being--a god, a headless boar, a disembodied sentient left buttock, a tiny invisible living cupcake-- that 1)created the universe, 2)disappeared leaving no sign of its existence and 3)has no interaction whatsoever with the universe as far as we can detect.

But.......why?
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.

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #476 on: June 03, 2013, 04:08:23 PM »
I think the hard core Atheist believes that he is the authority on the non-existence of god.  A theist believes that they are in posession of knowledge that god exists.

I do not believe that atheists generally claim to be solipsistic in nature.  They claim to have complete knowledge on the existence of god.
Most would say that they have complete knowledge of god in the same way they have complete knowledge of unicorns in that instance.

I'm confused by your use of the word 'authority'.  As in, the hardcore atheist decrees that god doesn't exist by fiat?  The label best associated with those individuals would probably be 'delusional'.  I suspect you mean the hardcore atheist that claims to know that god doesn't exist - I think most of those (Graybeard comes to mind on this board) would say that they know god doesn't exist in the same way that they know 4-sided triangles do not exist.
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Agnosism would appear to be a more solopsistic.  With a view of I simply don't know but from where I (the agnostic) stand/lean x, y or z based on what I have seen and feel.  With X being Lean thestic, Y don't care, and z lean toward atheistic.
There may be a disconnect with what we're talking about when I say 'solipsistic'.
For reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism
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Some people claim to have spoken to the all powerful diety, you can pick those claims apart but there is still a possibility that they did indeed speak to a god or gods.  I lean atheistic because I have seen many charlatans through out history convince people to believe in their unquestionably false claims.   Jim Jones... the WACO, wacco, are proof that you can convince people of a magical (cough cough heavens gate) things.  I also have a belief that people generally want there to be an explaination for everything so there is a tendency to hope for a god to explain things.



My belief system
1) I believe there is a possibility of a god
...a) I don't claim to be smart enough to say it is impossible
...b) I believe the universes origins are impossibly complicated at this point so it is possible that a god thought it up.
...c) If there is a god, the good books would not seem to be correct in their depiction of him (way to fallible)

2) I believe that god is unlikely
...a) I believe people tend to be superstitious and would create a god regardless of it's existence.
...b) If the universe creating itself from nothing is complicated then god creating himself is even more so.
...c) I think our lack of understanding of the origins of the universe are not a hole into which one can automatically put a god.
Sorry, but you sound like an agnostic atheist to me.  When confronted with the question "Does god exist", I suspect you'd give the same answer as you would when confronted with the question "Does the fountain of youth exist?"
"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 DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #477 on: June 03, 2013, 09:14:07 PM »
Oh absolutely.   In fact I have used that very argument many times.   But being that it is so hard to fanthom what could create a universe from nothing, I leave the possibility of a god in there.  Both appear virtually impossible to me.

I am not saying there is a god.  just that there is the possibility of one.  Yes it would seem that a god coming from nothing is more complex than a universe coming from nothing but both seem infinitely impossible to me.  When comparing two infinite impossibilities I put them at near a wash.
It seemed to me in an earlier post you stated that you felt a god was the most plausible reason, as no other explanation seemed possible. After reading the above reply, it seems you and I have quite similar perspectives on the matter. I would expound on it a bit to say that, while I acknowledge the possibility of a god's existence and role in creation, I think such a possibility is extremely remote and it is far more likely that the universe is either eternal or has a natural origin.

Thank you for your response and clarification.
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Offline epidemic

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #478 on: June 03, 2013, 09:35:24 PM »
Jdawg I would not suggest the fountain of youth exists.

There is no need for it to exist.  The universe had to come from somewhere either manufactured or created. 

I am also an atheist leaning agnostic.  I don't know but I lean toward atheism

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #479 on: June 03, 2013, 09:45:49 PM »
The word complexity is very vague here.  Do either you or Greenandwhite know of any means of measuring complexity?  Were the machines in The Matrix more complex than the humans?  Was the virtual human society more complex than the sentient machine society?
This is a good question, JD, as I am unaware of an objective "scale of complexity" to utilize here. I think the Matrix example was referring to how, much like in the Terminator series, the machines created by man eventually became the dominant "species" on the planet, but does that necessarily make them more complex than man? I don't know, but again, that's all fiction. The day a machine actually does become self aware and fully independent I guess we'll find out, assuming such a thing is even possible.

Doing away with fiction then, can you (or anyone else reading this) give an example of a creation that became more complex than its creator?
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #480 on: June 03, 2013, 09:49:45 PM »
Dumpsterfire, we humans have never, ever observed anything being created ex nihilo by something else.  So the comparison you are looking to analyze has never existed in our experience as a species.  There is no reason to believe that it has ever occurred at all.

That makes discussing examples a difficult and problematic endeavor.
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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #481 on: June 03, 2013, 10:12:20 PM »
@epidemic

atheism refers to what you believe
agnosticism refers to what you know

Ive noticed your usage of the two words a few times and its been off. Perhaps without using those words you can describe what you mean.

I for example am an agnostic atheist; I dont believe in any gods, but I cannot say for sure one doesnt exist. I do know for a fact that the gods weve been presented with dont exist as they cannot, similar to the example of the 4 sided triangle or the married bachelor. They simply cannot exist as described, thus they dont exist at all. I cannot say that there wasnt a prime mover that created then left or even died. A dead god would also seem nonexistent, would also account for why he used to do stuff but doesnt anymore.

Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #482 on: June 03, 2013, 10:22:51 PM »
Dumpsterfire, we humans have never, ever observed anything being created ex nihilo by something else.  So the comparison you are looking to analyze has never existed in our experience as a species.  There is no reason to believe that it has ever occurred at all.

That makes discussing examples a difficult and problematic endeavor.

I ask not for "magical" examples, but for real world creations that have become more complex than their creator. As the only "creators" that fit this scenario are human beings, I suppose I am asking for anyone to give an example of something that has been made in this world that might be considered more complex than a human being. We already have computers that are capable of performing calculations the likes of which the human mind cannot approach, but does that make computers more complex than a human? Perhaps in the ability to perform calculations, but certainly not in the big picture. Would anyone claim that the internet is a human creation that has evolved to greater complexity than its creators? I don't know, but I'd like to get some more opinions.

The ultimate point here is to establish that a creation cannot exceed the complexity of its creator, but if any of you can point to anything contrary to this conclusion, then by all means, please do so.
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Online Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #483 on: June 03, 2013, 10:47:08 PM »
I ask not for "magical" examples, but for real world creations that have become more complex than their creator.

I never brought up magic.  I merely pointed out that "creation" does not exist in our experience, except perhaps in the case of virtual particles.  Even they seem to require space to exist in order to be created.

As the only "creators" that fit this scenario are human beings, I suppose I am asking for anyone to give an example of something that has been made in this world that might be considered more complex than a human being.

Oh.  So, nothing analogous, then.  And only the re-arrangement of matter, not creation.

We already have computers that are capable of performing calculations the likes of which the human mind cannot approach, but does that make computers more complex than a human? Perhaps in the ability to perform calculations, but certainly not in the big picture.

Do you even mean anything coherent by the word "complex"?  Your meaning for it seems to shift from sentence to sentence.

Would anyone claim that the internet is a human creation that has evolved to greater complexity than its creators? I don't know, but I'd like to get some more opinions.

The internet is partly made of humans.  Without humans, there is no internet.  It's something we do.

The ultimate point here is to establish that a creation cannot exceed the complexity of its creator, but if any of you can point to anything contrary to this conclusion, then by all means, please do so.

Since we have no examples of creation to draw from, aside from the hypothetical "god creates universe" scenario, no examples can exist.  All examples we can think of are those of matter being rearranged, which is not analogous to creating something ex nihilo.  Creation ex nihilo is the scenario about which you're trying to make your point, so that's a pretty big problem.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 10:49:03 PM by Azdgari »
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Online Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #484 on: June 03, 2013, 10:51:57 PM »
Rather than examples, try this:  A god that knows all about what it wants to create, must have in its mind the information needed to do so.  Thus all information imparted to creation must also exist in the mind of the god.  The god therefore contains at least as much information as the portion of creation that it knows about and/or intended to create.

An all-knowing god is more complex than the universe it knows about, because a replica of all the information in that universe necessarily exists within the mind of that god.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #485 on: June 04, 2013, 12:34:47 AM »
     The word complexity is very vague here.  Do either you or Greenandwhite know of any means of measuring complexity?  Were the machines in The Matrix more complex than the humans?  Was the virtual human society more complex than the sentient machine society?

     Is it possible that in the Matrix the machines were more complex than the humans that created them while the virtual human society exhibited more complexity than the machines that created it? :)  I guess I haven't given a lot of thought to what exactly it is that makes something complex - is it an intrinsic property of a creator or is the measure of complexity dependent upon what a creator is capable of?   

Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #486 on: June 04, 2013, 12:40:06 AM »
Rather than examples, try this:  A god that knows all about what it wants to create, must have in its mind the information needed to do so.  Thus all information imparted to creation must also exist in the mind of the god.  The god therefore contains at least as much information as the portion of creation that it knows about and/or intended to create.

An all-knowing god is more complex than the universe it knows about, because a replica of all the information in that universe necessarily exists within the mind of that god.
Sheesh Az, you are really intent on sucking the fun out of this, huh?

I didn't expect anyone to actually present any valid examples, that was the point. G&W asked me why a creator must necessarily be more complex than its creation, and this was merely my attempt to illustrate the concept. Your post above illustrates it quite well, BTW. Thank you for that.

Incidentally, U.S. Copyright law uses the terms "author" and "creator" synonymously. While I agree that physical constructs are "rearranged matter" and not "creations" in the purest sense of the word, would you consider intellectual property such as songs, poetry, and stories to be ex nihilo creations[1]?
 1. not to say that any of these could be more complex than their creators, of course
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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #487 on: June 04, 2013, 12:48:36 AM »
Dumpsterfire, we humans have never, ever observed anything being created ex nihilo by something else.  So the comparison you are looking to analyze has never existed in our experience as a species.  There is no reason to believe that it has ever occurred at all.

That makes discussing examples a difficult and problematic endeavor.

I ask not for "magical" examples, but for real world creations that have become more complex than their creator. As the only "creators" that fit this scenario are human beings, I suppose I am asking for anyone to give an example of something that has been made in this world that might be considered more complex than a human being. We already have computers that are capable of performing calculations the likes of which the human mind cannot approach, but does that make computers more complex than a human? Perhaps in the ability to perform calculations, but certainly not in the big picture. Would anyone claim that the internet is a human creation that has evolved to greater complexity than its creators? I don't know, but I'd like to get some more opinions.

The ultimate point here is to establish that a creation cannot exceed the complexity of its creator, but if any of you can point to anything contrary to this conclusion, then by all means, please do so.

     When you look at a Rube Goldberg machine (e.g. his flyswatter); they always seem more complex than the everyday item that they replace - perhaps they exhibit unnecessary complexity, but it seems to be complexity nonetheless.  If the number of parts is what determines complexity, then surely it is theoretically possible for a creator to create something more complex than herself - how easy it would be to do so would depend upon how one divides the brain up into integral parts - how many 'parts' are there?  How many parts would comprise a disembodied spiritual being which, presumably, is what a 'prime mover' of the universe would be.

Online Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #488 on: June 04, 2013, 12:53:20 AM »
Sheesh Az, you are really intent on sucking the fun out of this, huh?

Sorry.  Got caught up in it myself, and wasn't sure quite which position you were taking!

I didn't expect anyone to actually present any valid examples, that was the point. G&W asked me why a creator must necessarily be more complex than its creation, and this was merely my attempt to illustrate the concept. Your post above illustrates it quite well, BTW. Thank you for that.

You're welcome, then!  ;D

Incidentally, U.S. Copyright law uses the terms "author" and "creator" synonymously. While I agree that physical constructs are "rearranged matter" and not "creations" in the purest sense of the word, would you consider intellectual property such as songs, poetry, and stories to be ex nihilo creations[1]?
 1. not to say that any of these could be more complex than their creators, of course

Oh, they're creations in the everyday sense of the word, sure.  And the information they contain that's relevant to us, is imparted by the minds that "create" them, so it's still an example of what I was talking about. :)  The reason I was so pedantic is that we humans are capable of arranging matter into objects more complex than ourselves, in that everyday sense of the word "create".

Example:  A cattle farm is a human creation that contains in its boundaries much more complexity than any, and probably all, of the humans that "created" it.  But a large degree of that complexity is not a product of human minds and hands, but is inherited from nature:  The cattle were not constructed by human beings, nor was the dirt.  We've imparted relatively little information to the farm, compared with that supplied by nature.  So who or what was "the creator" of the farm?  Not just the humans, certainly.  The humans imparted less information than they contained themselves, and so the component of the farm that they directly created is less complex than they are.  And the natural component is no more complex than it was before humans moved things around.

In a theistic universe, the buck for "who the creator" is stops at a the god.  The god would have supplied all of the information to produce the universe, and therefore is more complex than the universe, as it would contain not just the information of the universe but, at the very least, also the knowledge of how to create universes.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Online Azdgari

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #489 on: June 04, 2013, 12:55:21 AM »
     When you look at a Rube Goldberg machine (e.g. his flyswatter); they always seem more complex than the everyday item that they replace - perhaps they exhibit unnecessary complexity, but it seems to be complexity nonetheless.  If the number of parts is what determines complexity, then surely it is theoretically possible for a creator to create something more complex than herself - how easy it would be to do so would depend upon how one divides the brain up into integral parts - how many 'parts' are there?  How many parts would comprise a disembodied spiritual being which, presumably, is what a 'prime mover' of the universe would be.

The problem with your physical analogy is in identifying a distinct "creator".  See the example in my post above.  The "creator" of the Rube Goldberg machine includes not just the human, but also the source of the parts, the gravitational environment that enables its mechanics, etc.  All of these things are information sources.  They are co-creators.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #490 on: June 04, 2013, 01:15:54 AM »
     Rather than examples, try this:  A god that knows all about what it wants to create, must have in its mind the information needed to do so.  Thus all information imparted to creation must also exist in the mind of the god.  The god therefore contains at least as much information as the portion of creation that it knows about and/or intended to create.

An all-knowing god is more complex than the universe it knows about, because a replica of all the information in that universe necessarily exists within the mind of that god.

     Does information have a one-to-one correspondence with real life entities?  For example, if I were to write out a description of a Rube Goldberg machine, you could perhaps divide my paragraph into phrases and demonstrate a correspondence between each phrase and the component in the machine that it represents.  But does that kind of correspondence hold when talking about a creator's grasp of informational content pertaining to his creation?  For instance, I could also take a picture of a Rube Goldberg machine (i.e. a picture is worth a thousand words) and then it would seem that I have done away with one-to-one concept-to-information correspondence. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #491 on: June 04, 2013, 01:21:31 AM »
     When you look at a Rube Goldberg machine (e.g. his flyswatter); they always seem more complex than the everyday item that they replace - perhaps they exhibit unnecessary complexity, but it seems to be complexity nonetheless.  If the number of parts is what determines complexity, then surely it is theoretically possible for a creator to create something more complex than herself - how easy it would be to do so would depend upon how one divides the brain up into integral parts - how many 'parts' are there?  How many parts would comprise a disembodied spiritual being which, presumably, is what a 'prime mover' of the universe would be.

The problem with your physical analogy is in identifying a distinct "creator".  See the example in my post above.  The "creator" of the Rube Goldberg machine includes not just the human, but also the source of the parts, the gravitational environment that enables its mechanics, etc.  All of these things are information sources.  They are co-creators.

     I think that when I look at a Rube Goldberg machine the complexity I perceive is that which is due to the relations between the individual parts - the relations between the parts is due to the creator of the machine and not to the creators of the individual parts.  The parts could certainly exist apart from the machine, but the added complexity comes when the creator arranges them into a specific configuration.

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: What Would It Take For You To Change Your View?
« Reply #492 on: June 04, 2013, 01:45:08 AM »
     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.
     I had hoped (and am still hopeful) for a response from Epidemic, but I appreciate your input, G&W. Please explain exactly why theists would consider a self-caused universe implausible but a self-caused creator god plausible.

     A theist would not say that God is 'self-caused'; rather, a theist would claim that existence is a necessary part of God's being - God must necessarily exist.  I don't have a problem entertaining the possibility that the universe itself exists as a simple brute fact; it's just that scientific evidence seems to indicate an absolute beginning which undermines the notion of necessary existence.  A cyclical theory of the universe would certainly help the argument for the necessary existence of the universe, but I just haven't seen that this type of theory has anywhere near the support that the standard Big Bang model has at present. 

     Occam's razor would reject pushing the causative explanation back even one level.

     Not if retreating one level gains us explanatory power.  Ockham's razor only rejects gratuitous appeals to greater complexity - if a more complex theory is required to explain an effect then it is legitimate.