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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 12:38PM #21
HazyElf
Posts: 213
[QUOTE=jcarlinbn;697143]In order to apply this logic to God one must first establish that God is an extraordinary claim.  This has not been done by Hitchens or anyone else that I am aware of.   [/QUOTE]

I don't understand. How is the existence of God NOT an extraordinary claim?
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 12:43PM #22
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,102

Ken wrote:

We have an excellent reason to disbelieve in it: the fact that there is no reason whatsoever to believe in it.

You and your tapeworm may disbelieve anything you want to based on any criteria including faith you wish to establish for your disbelief.  Just as anyone else may believe anything they wish based on any criteria including faith for their belief.  Neither belief nor disbelief establishes anything at all about the object of the belief or disbelief. 

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 2:29PM #23
Ken
Posts: 33,859

jcarlinbn wrote:

You and your tapeworm may disbelieve anything you want to based on any criteria including faith you wish to establish for your disbelief. Just as anyone else may believe anything they wish based on any criteria including faith for their belief.

A rational person will believe only when there are sound positive reasons for belief. To believe on the basis of "faith" - which means believing on the basis of anything other than sound positive reasons - is irrational.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 5:03PM #24
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Simon Jester wrote:

Wait you are confused. You seem to think that there is a difference between disbelieving and believing. There is not.

Disbelief is merely believing in the opposite.

The difference is that disbelief is the default position. Every proposition that is offered to us must earn its right to be believed. It doesn't get a free ride. It doesn't even get a lift to the corner. Why should it?

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 5:43PM #25
Ken
Posts: 33,859
To take no position would be silly. Any moderately clever person can concoct a proposition that is insusceptible of either proof or disproof, but why should we bother to entertain such a proposition? We can expose its worthlessness simply by asking the person who concocted it how they know it's true. Their answer will be that they have no evidence for it at all. They just dreamed it up. Are we obliged to concede the slightest degree of possibility to an idea that somebody dreamed up on the basis of no evidence, merely as a sort of mind game? I think not.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2008 - 11:27PM #26
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,102

Ken wrote:

A rational person will believe only when there are sound positive reasons for belief. To believe on the basis of "faith" - which means believing on the basis of anything other than sound positive reasons - is irrational.

  A rational person will disbelieve only when there are sound positive reasons for disbelief. To disbelieve on the basis of "faith" - which means disbelieving on the basis of anything other than sound positive reasons - is irrational.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2008 - 12:05AM #27
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Simon Jester wrote:

Well lets see, Belief in the Supernatural and dieties has been a staple of human civilization for at least the last 10,000 years, It would seem to me that the one coming up with the unprovable scenario are us athiestist.

I wasn't aware that atheists were coming up with any scenario at all. Or that all those believers in the supernatural and in deities had provable scenarios.

That said yes we must entertain the proposition because history is littered with examples where people came up with "unprovable" scenarios that turned out to be true, just look at the development of Quantum Mechanics there were thought experements devised which could not be carried out untl 80 years after they were detailed and they turned out to be true. All the evidence they had were some unprovable mathematical equations that weren't even fully solved or understood.

At least they had the mathematics and carried out the experiments. Theists have been proclaiming their gods for thousands of years and they still have nothing. 

The better question is why do you demand that we make up our minds with incomplete information?

We can't keep dithering about these things forever.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2008 - 12:07AM #28
Ken
Posts: 33,859

jcarlinbn wrote:

A rational person will disbelieve only when there are sound positive reasons for disbelief.

That's the silliest thing I've ever heard of. If true, it would mean that rational people believe for no reason at all.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2008 - 8:18AM #29
MattMiller
Posts: 50
Seems to me people get confused between rationality and logic.  They're not the same thing.

Logic is a set of rules for which statements can be concluded from which.  Rationality is a form of behavior that maximizes the chances of succeeding at some goal.

In general, it is not rational to believe or disbelieve only those statements that can be proven or disproven logically.  Very few things can be proven so completely.  In fact, one of the few statements that can be proven is that there will always be statements that can't be proven (this is what Godel's proof says).  Someone who insists that everything has to be logically proven before believing or disbelieving it can end up doing some very silly things.

Just because I have not explored every cubic inch of the Arctic does not make it rational to put out cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

When the available evidence becomes overwhelming, you round off to certainty and get on with your life.  For example, there is an infinitesimal, but non-zero, probability that brownian motion will make my underwear move two feet to the right before I finish writing this post.  I cannot prove this won't happen -- in fact, modern science says it can happen.  But I round off to certainty and believe it will not.  (If it happens, I'll deal with it.)

So I regard the issue of whether the existence of God can ever be logically proven or disproven as irrelevant.  The question is whether God is sufficiently likely or unlikely that I should round off to certainty.

I don't think the chances of a sentient deity are anything close to 10%.  Intelligence is vastly more rare than that amongst living organisms on Earth (consider how long it took for multicelled organisms to evolve, much less any with brains of any size).  Why should it be so probable in cosmology?  In fact, I think the probability of God is dwarfed by the probability of my underwear moving two feet to the right.

So I round off to certainty, and that puts me at a 7 on Dawkin's scale.  Sure, I can't logically prove that God doesn't exist, but I'm so sure He doesn't that I'm not going to worry about it.

-- Matt

P.S. I was right about my underwear.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2008 - 12:06PM #30
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,102

Ken wrote:

Theists have been proclaiming their gods for thousands of years and they still have nothing.

Nothing that works for a fundie atheist.  Their god proclamations have convinced much of the western world, both historically and currently that at least there are good reasons to believe gods exist.  This proves nothing about the existence of gods, but certainly makes the statement that theists have nothing ring quite hollow. 

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