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  • Darwins +369/-1


You repeatedly ask theists to distinguish between their claims and imagination.

So what distinguishes (your) physical reality (experience) from imagination or from a dream ?  What proof do you have that the physical world is not imagination or a dream ?

First of all, "dream" presupposes the existence of a non-dream reality.  We can tell what a "dream" is by comparing it to our waking state.  If the question was really confusing to anybody but schizophrenics, college kids hitting a bong in their dorm room after their first philosophy class, and theists, we wouldn't even be able to have a word for "dream" and know what it means.  It wouldn't be possible to try to demote reality by saying "How do you know it's not all a dream?" if "dream" did not connote a different kind of experience than what we have when we're awake.
You are in the same boat as a theist if you try to answer this.

No I'm not.  The difference between reality and a theist's imaginings is that reality doesn't go away when one stops believing in it.

My response:  There is no reason why a dream could not be logically consistent

Sure.  But it also disappears when the alarm clock rings.  Also, it doesn't have to be, and more often than not, it isn't. 

- and if you look at human behaviour there are plenty of examples of logical inconsistency (ie waking inconsistency).

People behaving irrationally is not at all the same sort of thing as a dream's "physics engine" breaking down, which is what is meant by reality being "consistent" vs. a dream's inconsistency.  When one of these irrational people can mount up on their flying carpet and go to work, or if they're in their living room one moment and in the middle of the Sahara Desert the next, you'll have a point.

The concept of physical 'evidence' ASSUMES that you are not dreaming.  I don't think that you have grasped that important point yet.

You've got it bass ackwards.  "Dreaming" presupposes the existence of non-dream reality.  What are you dreaming about?  And who or what, by the way, is doing the dreaming?  If there was no reality, there would be nobody to do any dreaming, and nothing to be dreamed about.

You can only search for physical evidence if you are not dreaming.

Well alright then.  There's one good way to prove we're not dreaming!  Search for physical evidence!  Better than pinching yourself, eh?  I just decided to eat a piece of chocolate.  I couldn't see any chocolate, and none materialized into my mouth.  So, I reached into a bag that seemed likely to contain chocolate.  It's a bag of chocolate chips, and I had no recollection of emptying it and no one else had the opportunity, so it had a very high prior probability of containing chocolate chips.  I felt objects inside, so I took hold of a couple of them.  Small, dark brown, and in the normal shape for chocolate chips.  So now the posterior probabilities in favor of chocolate chips go way up.  I stick them in my mouth, and sure enough!  They taste like chocolate!  Omnomnom!  There.  I'm not dreaming.  And if you were here, I could reach into the bag and offer you some chocolate chips.  For some reason, I rather doubt you could do anything similar, when it comes to your god.

Nonetheless, you do it all the time in the waking world, which means you know full well that your bafflegab about dreaming is unmitigated bullshit.  You're on your way to work.  You step out to your car and reach into your pocket--nothing there.  You try your other pockets--nothing there.  Do you just dream up your keys, or segue straight to your job without having to drive or get there any other way?  No.  You go back into your house, and you search.  Maybe you'll find them on the coffee table, or in the pocket of the pants you wore yesterday.  In a situation like this have you ever thought, 'Well, maybe my job is just a dream so I guess I don't really have to go, much less worry about being "late."  "Lateness" is only a dream, and I'd rather dream about being on a Caribbean beach with some attractive member of my preferred gender'? 

Physical evidence cannot address the question of whether or not you are dreaming.

Now you're contradicting yourself.  You just said that you can't search for evidence if you're dreaming, so according to you, the very act (not to mention the need) to search for evidence (such as for the presence and availability of your car keys) is inconsistent with being in a dream.  Right here, right now, we're searching for evidence of a god, anybody's god.  You know that you can't just dream one up for us, or dream that we're theists just like you.  You know that the Universe you're inhabiting as you read this doesn't work that way.  Otherwise, you would not have tried to make an argument about dreaming; you'd have just dreamed.


I would like to draw attention to the way the theists are arguing here.  They are not attempting to validate the existence of their gods.  Nor do they just say, "No I can't validate the existence of my God, but that's OK--I believe in him for other reasons than correspondence to reality.  My religion provides a mythic narrative structure that gives order and direction to my life.  It gives me membership in a community of like-minded individuals who help each other in time of need and provide moral teamwork that encourages us all be better people.  It provides ritual and meditative practice that brings me joy and piece of mind.  I don't need you to believe in my God or join my religion any more than I need you to be a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs."

Instead of validating their beliefs or explaining why they don't need to, they try to attack the very concept of validation itself.  Dominic tries the "we could all be dreaming/brains in a jar/living in the Matrix" Intro to Philosophy approach.  Wayne tries to define reality as a "sandbox" that his god exists outside of, ignoring the fact that physicists have no trouble whatsoever dealing with the concept of realms outside and beyond our own (multiverse theory, M-Theory, etc.).  I wish that when people did this sort of thing, that three people in lab coats would suddenly jump out of the nearest closet or door like Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition and shout, "YOU ARE BANNED FROM SCIENCE!" after which the person would find that nothing more complicated than a flint hand-axe would work for them.[1]
 1. Yes, I know there's actually quite a bit of science incorporated into the working of a hand axe, not to mention the knowledge and practice it takes to make one.  But I'm not completely ruthless.
Changed Change Reason Date
Samothec there you go using pesky facts and logic to rip theists apart February 03, 2013, 11:22:39 PM
lotanddaughters Chocolate chips are real. God isn't. Times have changed. January 09, 2013, 11:57:42 PM
bertatberts Brilliant. January 08, 2013, 05:13:00 AM
Iamrational Nicely done as always. January 08, 2013, 12:55:00 AM
kaziglu bey Wow. Just... wow. Very nicely done. January 07, 2013, 11:06:40 PM