Response to argument that God defies logic

260


Discussion by: ageoflife

In the discussion of  the existence of God, it is easy to disprove God using logical arguments such as "Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?" However, the debate reaches an impass when my peers suggest that God defies the logical capabilities of humans, and can exist in a capcity beyond our ability to understand. This is frustrating of course because there is a complete lack of convincing evidence to supprt such a theory, and while I'm not necessarily trying to convice my peers to become athiests it would be nice to see if anyone has any suitable response to such a postulation.

Furthermore, I'm sometimes hesistent to discuss God with believers because they rest so much of their emotional and mental support structure in the "comfort" of God, it seems almost mean to suggest otherwise. I'm wondering if there are any former belivers who consider themselves emotional rather than logical by nature, and how they handled giving up this "comfort" in God. 

260 COMMENTS

  1. The response to God defying logical capabilities is to point out that this definition means that any attempt to even use the word ‘God’ fails because normal rules of language and definition fail. If God is beyond logic, then humans can’t define God, and so use of the term has no meaning. It means that the term ‘God’ is just noises; sounds empty of content.

    • In reply to #1 by Steve Zara:

      The response to God defying logical capabilities is to point out that this definition means that any attempt to even use the word ‘God’ fails because normal rules of language and definition fail. If God is beyond logic, then humans can’t define God, and so use of the term has no meaning. It means…

      I’ve been doing my best to promote Igtheism in your absence. Yes, I know, promote is an ignorant concept, it should be self evident.

      Good OP on your return, over 100 comments is an achievement these days. Provocative and stimulating discourse …with lots of participation is rare these days.

      Where’s the book BTW?

      • In reply to #2 by Ignorant Amos:

        In reply to #1 by Steve Zara:

        Where’s the book BTW?

        I second this query; we’ve been teased about a forthcoming book for years now. Book book book!

        In fact, when this book is finished, I would love to see a live, recorded convo between Steve and Richard.

        Also Steve, congrats on influencing Richard’s thinking on the possibility (or rather, non-possibility) of evidence for the supernatural. Finish the damn book already and establish your place as an intellectual leader of this movement.

    • In reply to #1 by Steve Zara:

      The response to God defying logical capabilities is to point out that this definition means that any attempt to even use the word ‘God’ fails because normal rules of language and definition fail. If God is beyond logic, then humans can’t define God, and so use of the term has no meaning. It means…

      You missed some doosies on the subject that might have better developed from your input…not that many of those taking part in the debate in anyway slouched you understand…

      What evidence would be enough?

    • In reply to #1 by Steve Zara:

      The response to God defying logical capabilities is to point out that this definition means that any attempt to even use the word ‘God’ fails because normal rules of language and definition fail. If God is beyond logic, then humans can’t define God, and so use of the term has no meaning. It means…

      Logic does have limitations.. Secondly, humans define God not by what he is but by what he is not. This is called the method of remotion. We come to a knowledge of God through His effects. We know He exists by observing that the universe exists and must have an efficient cause.

    • In reply to #1 by Steve Zara:

      The response to God defying logical capabilities is to point out that this definition means that any attempt to even use the word ‘God’ fails because normal rules of language and definition fail. If God is beyond logic, then humans can’t define God, and so use of the term has no meaning. It means…

      God is the unmoved mover, of which there can only be one. How hard is that to understand?

      • In reply to #76 by Frank Petrucci:

        ‘God is the unmoved mover, of which there can only be one. How hard is that to understand?’

        I’m constantly surprised by those who accuse Richard Dawkins et al of arrogance, fail to detect that trait in themselves! That is an extremely arrogant assertion and it’s not a thought proposed by all other Christian religions. Perhaps the Protestant denominations think this in their heart of hearts, but they don’t proclaim it from the pulpit.

  2. Steve nails it. If God defies logic then belief in God is irrational.
    One cannot say anything about God, or conversely, everything one can possibly imagine God to be is true.
    There is just no way to tell the difference. At least, no rational way.

    • In reply to #4 by zengardener:

      Steve nails it. If God defies logic then belief in God is irrational.
      One cannot say anything about God, or conversely, everything one can possibly imagine God to be is true.
      There is just no way to tell the difference. At least, no rational way.

      Religion and worship of God is not found among the irrational animals but only the rational ones..i.e. humans.

      • In reply to #71 by Frank Petrucci:

        Religion and worship of God is not found among the irrational animals but only the rational ones..i.e. humans.

        Irrational animals? I’d say the majority – if not all – animals, given their capabilities, are rational. However, our species has greater intellectual capabilities. Because of this, we are more prone to blunder and misunderstanding – and that’s partly why we’ve invented gods.

        Once invented, the beliefs and behaviours that develop can be quite rational to those who believe, e.g., animal or human sacrifice to gain favour and prevent god from punishing you, or society, with disasters and disease. Beliefs and behaviours like that are only irrational to those who don’t believe.

    • In reply to #4 by zengardener:

      Steve nails it.

      I disagree

      If God defies logic then belief in God is irrational.

      no. Just because you can’t completly understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Much of modern technology is incomprehensible to most of its users. Dogs don’t understand cars in any general sense. They can still get run over though.

      One cannot say anything about God, or conversely, everything one can possibly imagine God to be is true. There is just no way to tell the difference. At least, no rational way.

      the mistake is to buy into the “ineffable” argument in the first place. Never mind if god is comprehensible. The question is what evidence do you have that he exits at all? None is the answer and so far as I am concerned that ends the discussion.

  3. I have posted this before, but it is apposite. It’s Carl Sagan’s dragon in the garage from The Demon-Haunted World.

    If I tell you there’s a fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage, you will ask me to show you. But my response is “I forgot to say that it’s an invisible dragon”. OK” you say “No problem – we’ll sprinkle flour over the floor so that it will leave footprints”. “Good idea” say I, “but I should have mentioned that the invisible dragon hovers a few feet off the ground”. “No sweat” you say “We’ll mount sensors to detect the heat from its fiery breath”. “Good idea” say you, “but I forgot to say that the fiery breath is in fact heatless”. And so on, with me always coming up with reasons why you can’t carry out any tests.

    Now, the point is – just what is the difference between an invisible, floating dragon that breathes heatless fire and cannot be detected by any means, and nothing at all? The moment anyone proposes an untestable thing, the onus of proof is upon them to show that what they propose is different from nothing.

    • In reply to #5 by Pabmusic:

      I have posted this before, but it is apposite. It’s Carl Sagan’s dragon in the garage from The Demon-Haunted World.

      If I tell you there’s a fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage, you will ask me to show you. But my response is “I forgot to say that it’s an invisible dragon”. OK” you say “N…

      That is like saying perfect circles do not exist because there isn’t any empirical evidence for them. There is empirical evidence for God, however. They are called ‘miracles.’ If you disregard miracles, then you disregard the evidence.

      • In reply to #72 by Frank Petrucci:

        That is like saying perfect circles do not exist because there isn’t any empirical evidence for them. There is empirical evidence for God, however. They are called ‘miracles.’ If you disregard miracles, then you disregard the evidence.

        There is “evidence” for miracles??? Surely only in terms of psychological analysis of the claimants delusions or misunderstanding of natural phenomena! .

        @70 – Logic does have limitations.. Secondly, humans define God not by what he is but by what he is not.

        “God is not a cabbage” – That’s that sorted out! – clear as mud!

        This is called the method of remotion.

        Err – shouldn’t that be “This is called fallacious thinking”. You can’t define things by stating what they are not!

        We come to a knowledge of God through His effects. We know He exists by observing that the universe exists and must have an efficient cause.

        This is called the fallacy of begging the question! Tooth-fairies exist because teeth vanish! The Namazu is a giant catfish who causes earthquakes. By this pseudo-logic Namazu must exist because there are earthquakes!

        Religion and worship of God is not found among the irrational animals

        Our cat like most house cats worships the Sun (+radiators and fires) and regularly prostrates herself in front of these for very rational purposes.

        but only the rational ones..i.e. humans.

        God beliefs are “rational”??? That has yet to be demonstrated. There are however very many unevidenced and highly irrational god-claims. List of deities

        God-myths can however be logically self consistent, as can many works of fiction.

        • In reply to #87 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #72 by Frank Petrucci:

          That is like saying perfect circles do not exist because there isn’t any empirical evidence for them. There is empirical evidence for God, however. They are called ‘miracles.’ If you disregard miracles, then you disregard the evidence.

          There is “evidence” for mir…

          There is “evidence” for miracles??? Surely only in terms of psychological analysis of the claimants delusions or misunderstanding of natural phenomena! .
          That’s fallacioius reasoning. You are merely assuming that miracles are impossible without any evidence to back up your assumption.

          This is called the method of remotion.
          

          Err – shouldn’t that be “This is called fallacious thinking”. You can’t define things by stating what they are not!
          Things that dont properly belong to a genus like substance, accident, being, etc, are defined by what they aren’t.

          We come to a knowledge of God through His effects. We know He exists by observing that the universe exists and must have an efficient cause.
          

          This is called the fallacy of begging the question!
          The fallacy of begging the question is circular reasoning. But this is not circular reasoning to say, we observe things exist, therefore God exists. That’s straightforward.

          • In reply to #97 by Frank Petrucci:

            That is like saying perfect circles do not exist because there isn’t any empirical evidence for them. There is empirical evidence for God, however. They are called ‘miracles.’ If you disregard miracles, then you disregard the evidence.

            There is “evidence” for miracles…..

            There is “evidence” for miracles??? Surely only in terms of psychological analysis of the claimants delusions or misunderstanding of natural phenomena! . That’s fallacioius reasoning.

            You are merely assuming that miracles are impossible without any evidence to back up your assumption.

            This is called the method of remotion.

            ..and “remotion” is asserted theological mumbo-jumbo for ducking the issue of the absence of evidence, for miracles, and trying to shift the burden of proof. . Nobody with a grasp of logic would confuse this with logical reasoning.

            Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence!

            GOT EVIDENCE??

            Err – shouldn’t that be “This is called fallacious thinking”. You can’t define things by stating what they are not!

            Things that dont properly belong to a genus like substance, accident, being, etc, are defined by what they aren’t.

            They can’t be defied in any coherent way like this. They can be defied as not belonging to a particular set, but this in no way defines what they are or to which set they do belong! You really need to go on a basic course on logic, if you don’t understand that.

            We come to a knowledge of God through His effects. We know He exists by observing that the universe exists and must have an efficient cause.

            This is called the fallacy of begging the question! The fallacy of begging the question is circular reasoning.

            But this is not circular reasoning to say, we observe things exist, therefore God exists. That’s straightforward.

            It is a straightforward example of an irrational claim! This gratuitous contradiction makes no case!

            It is circular reasoning which begs the question. (I thought you mentioned a course on logic. – Theistic pseudo-logic looks more likely as the link below indicates.)

            Analogous example:
            A cabbage made your house. We observe things exist, therefore a house creating cabbage exists.

            As an attempt at logic, this is a comical fail!

            “Remotion” is just pseudo-philosophical drivel – http://theonoob.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/thomas-on-way-of-remotion-scg-14.html!

            Thomas begins his investigation of the properties of God accessible to reason. Thus far, all he has established, following Aristotle, is that the existence of the universe requires an unmoved mover, a motionless being who is the ultimate cause of the universe.

            Just the irrational ramblings of ancient muddle-brained theologians, fumbling around with the concept of a geocentric universe. (see @150) – Nothing to do with evidence, reason or logic!

  4. What kind of personal responsibility can there be for believing or not believing in an incomprehensible deity? How could you pick among an unlimited number of such? The “incomprehensible” excuse for carrying on the charade of religion is a fig leaf to cover no justification at all.

    I would ask someone taking that position what makes him or her think that something exists that makes no sense? From there, I would continue to take apart the supports for belief and bring up cases showing how often people do believe things that turn out to be based on emotional feel-good ‘reasons’ but ultimately have no reality.

    • In reply to #6 by Quine:

      What kind of personal responsibility can there be for believing or not believing in an incomprehensible deity? How could you pick among an unlimited number of such? The “incomprehensible” excuse for carrying on the charade of religion is a fig leaf to cover no justification at all.

      I would ask some…

      That’s like saying that the reason people become atheists is so that they can feel more comfortable living with their immoral behavior. That, however, is at least somewhat believable.

  5. first of all forgive my English, and secondly I honestly don’t remember where I read this, but it was a scientist, a theoretical physicist who explained “infinity” might defy human logic or something of that sort, but truly infinity is very simple if we can make it simple and can get as complicated as we wish. but to understand an infinity of something all we have to do is take a “finite” part of it and dismiss the rest, and that’s how we can understand it. take one of the “god’s” behavior from the book and you’ll definitely understand what kind of a primitive human being was the one who created it. and also my personal point of view is that if “God defies the logical capabilities of humans” than how can we even understand that it actually does defy our logic? I mean how can we perceive something that’s out of our logic to say that this is out of our logic… lol i’m not sure if I made sense. but truly if you study “infinity” in math and/or physics you can tackle these people very easily.

    • In reply to #7 by rayco1978:

      first of all forgive my English, and secondly I honestly don’t remember where I read this, but it was a scientist, a theoretical physicist who explained “infinity” might defy human logic or something of that sort, but truly infinity is very simple if we can make it simple and can get as complicated…

      I took courses on the various flavours of infinity at UBC. The very notion was somewhat strange, but the logic was quite easy to follow. It is certainly not part of pop culture.

      One of my peeves is people using the word “uncountable” (which has a precise mathematical definition) when they mean “a large number”. “Uncountable” is a fat sort of infinity, like the number of irrational numbers.

  6. My response to such an assertion is to simply reject it.

    “God defies logic!”

    “No, he doesn’t.”

    If they want me to accept the premise that god defies logic then they would need to demonstrate it – either using logic (which by their premise, they can’t use) or by providing credible evidence (which no religious person ever has). If they cannot demonstrate why god defies logic then I have no reason to accept that assertion.

    Simple as that.

    • In reply to #9 by BenS:

      My response to such an assertion is to simply reject it.

      “God defies logic!”

      “No, he doesn’t.”

      If they want me to accept the premise that god defies logic then they would need to demonstrate it – either using logic (which by their premise, they can’t use) or by providing credible evidence (which…

      God doesn’t defy logic.

  7. Let’s say some evanescent god does exist. What evidence is there that Catholics were correct in any of their statements about him? They just made them up! What difference does it make? What can you possibly detect in the universe that indicates such a god exists? There is nothing. So even if a god did exist, it is so divorced from the universe and affairs of man, it might as well not exist. It has no effect on us. From a mathematical point of view, since god does nothing detectable, effectively it does not exist.

  8. “God defies logic.”

    So does an invisible pink unicorn that smells purple and can be in two places at once. I’m still obliged to prove it actually exists, much less that it has those attributes.

  9. When someone claims that god defies logic, it means that they’ve completely lost the argument. If something defies logic, then it defies logical definition too, thus whatever claim is made regarding god will be inaccurate, and also render the very claim that god defies logic to be faulty.

    • Logic is the only way we know anything.

      In reply to #15 by adiroth:

      When someone claims that god defies logic, it means that they’ve completely lost the argument. If something defies logic, then it defies logical definition too, thus whatever claim is made regarding god will be inaccurate, and also render the very claim that god defies logic to be faulty.

      • The flaw in the phrase “a rock heavier than he can lift” is that it is gibberish. God doesn’t do gibberish.
        Humans often think that if they can strings words together (usually without bothering to define them) that SOUND like regular grammatical english that they have expressed a valid (logical?) thought. Not so. The phrase does’t prove OR disprove anything. It’s without meaning. Now, does god defy logic? Of course he does. It is a prerequisite of being god. Logic does not and cannot prove all things. Goedel tells us this. God can’t be tied to human’s weak understanding of even simple arithmetic. The thing about humans that most angers me is our capacity for arrogance.

        Buy the way I am not superstitious, so of course I do not believe in fairies, the number 13, or gods.

    • In reply to #15 by adiroth:

      When someone claims that god defies logic, it means that they’ve completely lost the argument. If something defies logic, then it defies logical definition too, thus whatever claim is made regarding god will be inaccurate, and also render the very claim that god defies logic to be faulty.

      The rules regarding definitions according to logic is to first identify the genus to which the thing belongs and then give the differentiae by which it can be distinguished from other species of the same genus. God, however, does not belong to any genus.

      • In reply to #75 by Frank Petrucci:

        In reply to #15 by adiroth:

        The rules regarding definitions according to logic is to first identify the genus to which the thing belongs and then give the differentiae by which it can be distinguished from other species of the same genus. God, however, does not belong to any genus.

        Whu? Way to pull a non sequitur, Franky. I’m curious whether you pulled that out overhand or underhand. It’s also baffling that you shot your own argument by claiming that God is not definable due to it not belonging to any genus.

        BTW, I am curious to which denomination you belong to since you seem to know God so well like you’re himself. Will you kindly talk to your priest and tell him that you know God better than him because I haven’t even heard of such outlandish claims made about God by priests. I don’t want to connote anything, but it suspiciously sounds like you’re inventing him as you go along. Molding him to fit the shrinking gaps squeezed out by science and our ever growing knowledge.

        I suggest that you describe your God to your priest and ask him or her whether you’re praying to the same one as he or she does. Then you’ll know if you’re really praying to God or to your imaginary friend who bends & shift to your imagination and internet argument.

  10. the debate reaches an impass when my peers suggest that God defies the logical capabilities of humans,

    It should reach an impasse. The so-called logic-speak is mental masturbation, a red herring. If you don’t know what a person of faith is talking about, it’s ok to tell them that. I’d suggest focusing on the attributes believers claim for their gods. Let the believers talk and be a good listener.

    As attributes for gods increase, so to rises the burden of providing explanations. As attributes decrease, so to does any meaningfulness of the god in question. This is the spectrum they must play their game on. Hold them to it.

    Mike

    • In reply to #17 by jimbobjim:

      I don’t understand the “”Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?” ” question and how it disproves God. Am I missing something?

      You seem to be missing gospel-double-talking cognitive dissonance!
      >

      http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/can-god-make-rock-so-heavy-even-he-cant.html
      So, can God make a rock so heavy even he can’t lift it?

      Yes. And he did. For three days only. And then he drop kicked it out of the mouth of the tomb.

      Maybe you can’t make it up because of your reasoning – but they can!

      … and no! It does not disprove the possibilities of gods – just irrationality and incredulity of some believers.

    • In reply to #17 by jimbobjim:

      I don’t understand the “”Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?” ” question and how it disproves God. Am I missing something?

      Because if god is all powerful then he should be able to make a rock so heavy/large that no one can lift it, including himself, but then he wouldn’t be all powerful because he can’t lift the rock, and if he does lift it, then he wasn’t powerful enough to make the rock large enough. It’s a paradox.

  11. nothing to add ot above comments. yes if god is so beyond my ability to understand, why do you claim to have any right to such an opinion?

    however I do like to turn these arguments on the beleiver a litttle. such as “why do you think he made you so imperfect? could he make you perfect if he wanted or not? or are you perfect already?”

    or the old classic question of omnipitent or all-loving? sure he can be both if “logic isn’t allowed” but then so can any slavemaster

  12. Yes. You are missing the attributes that many believers give to the god thing. All knowing, all powerful…..etc….

    The bog rock test is a non believer showing the believer that the god thing cannot be all powerful. This does not mean that there is no god, but rather that the god thing cannot be as the believer claims.

    • In reply to #19 by crookedshoes:

      The problem is with the use of all. If you say more x than, it’s easier to deal with. God creates a rock he can’t move. He doesn’t move it. No one else does either. The end. However, it does make the origin of God in the abstract notion of hierarchy a bit more obvious.

      Right, I need to stop commenting until I’ve read the rest of the thread.

  13. God is the term for the immaterial explanation of the universe. The universe cannot have a material explanation because any attempt to do so will invoke a regressively more complex scenario necessitating an even greater explanation in its own right, culminating in infinite complexity which would be infinitely improbable.

    But the universe exists and must have an explanation which, if it cannot be material, must by default, be immaterial. An immaterial explanation, although impossible to imagine, has the advantage of lacking complexity and therefore of not requiring an explanation in its own right. It doesn’t occupy space and time and therefore there’s no question of its origin. It is eternal.

    Whether right or wrong, an immaterial explanation can be treated as a brute fact without defying logic. A material explanation, on the other hand, cannot. God is the only possible brute fact

  14. @ Crookedshoes
    I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography test and prayed “dear God, please make Paris the capital of Turkey”. While it is interesting to debate and think about what God can and cannot do – as you say, does not prove or disprove the existence of God – maybe only our understanding and misunderstanding of God.

    • In reply to #22 by jimbobjim:

      @ Crookedshoes
      I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography test…

      So he is bound by the laws of physics. Therefore testable. Oh, but wait…

      • In reply to #24 by obzen:

        In reply to #22 by jimbobjim:
        But, if he created all, didn’t he make up the laws of physics? If so, he should be able to make exceptions at will.
        @ Crookedshoes
        I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography…

    • Yes, but I have also had the experience of saying this “rock test” to a believer who then says back to me “why are you trying to limit god?” I said “I am trying to get YOU to define god”…. etc…

      As i have said before, if the answer is “I/we do not know.” Then you are bound (if honesty is binding) to say “I don’t know” NOT to make shit up and then assert that you are correct. (Not “you” personally, but “you” in general).

      We need a clear definition of something before we can discuss it properly. The problem is, everyone seems to carry their own nebulous, ever changing construction of the god thing and they get all slippery and defensive if you show them that they cannot be correct. (Again, not “you” but believers in general)

      So, let’s define the god thing. GO!

      In reply to #22 by jimbobjim:

      @ Crookedshoes
      I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography test and prayed “dear God, plea…

    • In reply to #22 by jimbobjim:

      @ Crookedshoes
      I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography test and prayed “dear God, plea…

      Then, what do the lines regarding two or more gathered in prayer and all things possible actually mean? Is this where “free will ” gets inserted into the picture?

    • In reply to #22 by jimbobjim:

      @ Crookedshoes
      I’m a Christian and have never thought that “All knowing and all-powerful” means that God can do the ALL the impossible including making 2+2=5. The story that I have heard a number of preachers use to explain this is the boy who came out of a geography test and prayed “dear God, plea…

      Well if god can make a wafer the body of a 2,000 years ago dead fella, or a man appear from nothing out of nowhere, or triple the total amount of water on the earth instantly, which in my book is impossible, then why can he not make Paris the capital of Turkey? Why can he only do certain ‘impossible things’ and not others? Are some things ‘more impossible’ than others?

  15. There have been plenty of arguments/views that God is in another dimension and that we are limited in our ability to view this supernatural force. (Flat landers) Of course, those with a sixth sense or intuition are special enough to “see.” It becomes wishy washy when God becomes and interventionist God and then not. If God is outside of our realm, then our rules apply.

    Regarding your heart over head question, I consider myself to be more logical and I also have a strong emotional side. My personal and emotional experiences with the God concept were the last bit of deism I held onto. I now realize that I was technically already an atheist since I did not really believe in a literal Abrahamic God. I could easily join in any atheist argument against the Bible. Yet, those “feelings” persisted. I gave up this “comfort” very slowly, very painfully. It took a couple of years of depression, confusion, and endless questioning. Eventually, I started to listen to Dan Dennet’s views on perception and started to realize how I could be fooling myself. I’d like to add that no atheist argument directed at me worked. Of course I did not challenge atheists so I was not in the line of fire. Dennett helped me to realize how my emotions were fooling myself and I was slowly able to look at each experience and realize that they were all flawed in perception. I also began reaching out to authors such as Eric Maisel, psychologist who speaks strongly about us creating our own meaning in life. Fortunately, my former church emphasized finding your own spiritual path, so I was able to shift fairly easily into finding gratitude in areas that I did not formerly look at. In a nutshell, how did I give up this comfort? Through gentle logic and my willingness to find an alternative. At some point, my emotions “said” It’s ok, this makes sense and I can deal with this reality over time. Essentially, I gave myself permission to change. I would add that the feeling that accompanied this thought were deeply felt. If I had not experienced this, I would have possible stayed an agnostic.

  16. According to most modern-day conceptions of God, in order for God to have created the universe, God must exist outside of time and space and must not itself be made of matter or any other substance that is found within the universe (this is how they get around the whole “if everything in the universe had a creator, who created God” argument). Anything that exists outside of space and time and which is not composed of anything cannot interact with the universe, however. So, logically, even if such a thing as “God” existed, there would be absolutely no way to ever know of his existence. No miracles, no revelation, no prophecy, etc.

    In fact, by definition, a being that exists outside of the universe cannot be said to exist within the universe. And, since the universe is defined as the totality of all existence, God, by definition, does not exist. Q.E.D.

    • Ideas, arguably, aren’t particularly part of space and time since there would be no limit on the number of them you could stuff into a universe nor do they carry a date. We often know their provenance but that doesn’t mean you could carbon date one. Nor do we know whether they could exist outside the universe since we’ve no idea what that could mean. Nonetheless, though unmeasurable in any way, they seem to have a way of interacting in concrete and non-concrete ways with our world and so with the universe. So I think they could perhaps exist inside and outside the universe and be demonstrated to interact with it despite being intrinsically entirely non-concrete. What do you think?reply to #26 by godzillatemple:*

      According to most modern-day conceptions of God, in order for God to have created the universe, God must exist outside of time and space and must not itself be made of matter or any other substance that is found within the universe (this is how they get around the whole “if everything in the univers…

      • In reply to #40 by jburnforti:

        Ideas, arguably, aren’t particularly part of space and time since there would be no limit on the number of them you could stuff into a universe nor do they carry a date. We often know their provenance but that doesn’t mean you could carbon date one. Nor do we know whether they could exist outside the universe since we’ve no idea what that could mean. Nonetheless, though unmeasurable in any way, they seem to have a way of interacting in concrete and non-concrete ways with our world and so with the universe. So I think they could perhaps exist inside and outside the universe and be demonstrated to interact with it despite being intrinsically entirely non-concrete. What do you think?

        Sorry to be so long getting back to this. I’m sure others have argued the point, but I don’t consider an idea to have any sort of existence outside the brain that holds the idea. Think of a computer program stored on a disk or a song stored on a record. They are but transient patterns on storage media that do not have any existence apart from those media. Our brains are but one more form of storage medium that contain the patterns that make up thoughts and ideas. If the brain is destroyed, the idea is lost forever (unless it has been copied to some other storage media such as another brain, a piece of paper, etc.).

        And yes, I suspect there is most definitely a limit to the number of idea that can fit into a single brain (at least at one time). Which means the number of ideas that can fit into the universe is directly proportional to the number of brains that can hold them. Transferring ideas to other media for long term storage doesn’t remove the limit, it just expands it. There’s a fine amount of matter upon which ideas can be recorded, and no idea can exist wholly apart from some storage medium.

        As for ideas being “unmeasurable in any way”, I would argue that they are measurable in exactly the same way that a song on a record is measurable. Play the record and hear the music to “measure” how long it is, for example. Measure an idea by listening to somebody voice it and then write it down. Again, we are talking patterns stored in media here, not anything that exists on its own.

    • I think I should have made my challenge clearer. You claim “God” fails the criteria you propose and you say why in a way that suggests these criteria are, as if by definition, impossible to satisfy. I suggest that “ideas’ is an example of something which does satisfy these criteria and thus demonstrates that these criteria are fulfillable. If you agree that I’ve provided an example of something which satisfies these criteria, then they don’t constitute the automatic disproof of “God” you seem to imply. I believe other criteria are better, starting with the ridiculousness of an old boy in the sky with the character traits of a senile cretin and yet an interest in and ability to replay the universe as he wishes. It’s such an obvious fairy tale. reply to #26 by godzillatemple:*

      According to most modern-day conceptions of God, in order for God to have created the universe, God must exist outside of time and space and must not itself be made of matter or any other substance that is found within the universe (this is how they get around the whole “if everything in the univers…

      • In reply to #42 by jburnforti:

        I think I should have made my challenge clearer. You claim “God” fails the criteria you propose and you say why in a way that suggests these criteria are, as if by definition, impossible to satisfy. I suggest that “ideas’ is an example of something which does satisfy these criteria and thus demonstr…

        Whoa! Why would you reject the sky god image and yet embrace other notions of the supernatural? I think it’s fair to ask what your exact definition of a god is, after all you know exactly where atheists stand.

        • I don’t much use the word “supernatural” if I can avoid it since its use is to describe things which lack satisfactory evidence and so don’t appear to exist. If I did encounter satisfactory evidence, I would use the word “natural” for reasons which I hope are obvious. Ditto “God” none of whose descriptions ever seem anything other to me than very,very anthropomorphic. I believe I was about 7, sitting in boarding school chapel when I consciously thought that and, thanks to parents either atheist themselves or utterly indifferent to the whole idea since I don’t remember a single mention of it at home, I’ve never been subjected to any pressure to believe in “God” or anything like it. Where I do need to use the word, I suppose my definition would be roughly the metaphysical one found in most dictionaries. it In reply to #43 by Nitya:

          In reply to #42 by jburnforti:

          I think I should have made my challenge clearer. You claim “God” fails the criteria you propose and you say why in a way that suggests these criteria are, as if by definition, impossible to satisfy. I suggest that “ideas’ is an example of something which does satisfy…

          • In reply to #46 by jburnforti:

            I don’t much use the word “supernatural” if I can avoid it since its use is to describe things which lack satisfactory evidence and so don’t appear to exist. If I did encounter satisfactory evidence, I would use the word “natural” for reasons which I hope are obvious. Ditto “God” none of whose desc…

            By rejecting a god in the sky ‘a la Michelangelo ‘ you would have been burnt as a heretic not so long ago. I’m not sure if you attribute any godlike powers to your vision of a god, but I think that’s an important aspect for me to know. You may cast aside terms such as ‘supernatural’, but if your god has the power to grant favours, I think he would be classed as ‘supernatural’ whether you liked the term or not.

            It would appear that you’ve given the subject a lot of thought and come up with a rationale with which you feel comfortable. I see our differences as being very small, whereas my differences with any of the established faith systems is huge! That’s how it appears at the moment anyway, though I completely reject any notion that thoughts and ideas have a life of their own.

          • In reply to #50 by Nitya:
            I don’t ever think of myself having any sort of god and so, definitely, not one who grants favours. The nearest I ever came to encountering a summing-up of my sense that the universe is kind of orderly was the phrase “The Great Algorithm” which I found cute, if maybe a bit arch. But, no, I don’t have any mystical feelings of the kind I think you may be referring to. And, being rather nitpicking, which I hope you’ll forgive, I don’t suggest thoughts and ideas have a “life” of their own but, rather, an existence. I’m probably making a rather sloppy distinction but want to avoid suggesting ideas are in any way alive – eternal and alive are not the same thing, after all.

            I don’t much use the word “supernatural” if I can avoid it since its use is to describe things which lack satisfactory evidence and so don’t appear to exist. If I did encounter satisfactory evidence, I would use the word “natural” for reasons which I hope are obvious…

          • In reply to #60 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #50 by Nitya:
            I don’t ever think of myself having any sort of god and so, definitely, not one who grants favours. The nearest I ever came to encountering a summing-up of my sense that the universe is kind of orderly was the phrase “The Great Algorithm” which I found cute, if maybe a bit…

            I see the similarity with the ‘tree falling in a forest’ idea. I’ve always felt very practical about this question, thinking to myself that the vibrations are there whether or not there’s an eardrum to pick them up.

            For all intents and purposes you would be regarded as an atheist as you seemingly have no belief in gods or goddesses. You do have a view of reality that is away from the mainstream, but I don’t know if that puts you in a special category or not, but it’s not my view of reality. It’s unlikely that your Great Algorithm could ever be put to the test.

            As an afterthought, do you subscribe to the notion of an afterlife ?

          • In reply to #67 by Nitya: Yes, and if you don’t already know it, look up Bishop Berkeley’s gorgeous limerick on the subject – pity he was on the wrong side. As far as I know, I am an atheist; I certainly think of myself as one. No, no afterlife and so no taxes.

            In reply to #60 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #50 by Nitya:

            I don’t ever think of myself having any sort of god and so, definitely, not one who grants favours. The nearest I ever came to encountering a summing-up of my sense that the universe is kind of orderly was the phrase “The Great Algorithm” whi…

      • If I hook up a machine to your head, I can measure your “ideas”. I can give you radioactively labeled glucose and MRI your head while you do math and think of sex and I can map your “ideas” Your assertion falls short because, in fact, we can detect and measure “ideas”. It seems you are grasping at straws. Ideas do NOT exist outside reality. And, I can record your brain having ideas and write down when and where you had such and such an idea. Ideas are electrical impulses. I just had one this moment; I am gonna whip up a nice ceviche for lunch!!!!!
        Lime, olive oil, cilantro, diced tomatoes, red onion, and habenero peppers, with a nice marinated grouper. Wow! Now, that is an IDEA!

        In reply to #42 by jburnforti:

        I think I should have made my challenge clearer. You claim “God” fails the criteria you propose and you say why in a way that suggests these criteria are, as if by definition, impossible to satisfy. I suggest that “ideas’ is an example of something which does satisfy these criteria and thus demonstr…

        • No, you can’t measure or detect ideas until they take concrete form. What you can detect is the brain activity associated with them which is not the same thing. If I write down an idea, make a voice recording of it, film it , text it and so on, the idea remains the same and what you can measure does not. What does an idea look like if you don’t have instruments to measure the brain activity? Does it not exist? If I have an idea and write it down and start to think of something else, has that idea disappeared or ceased to exist? Ideas and brain activity co-exist but they are not the same thing since an idea can have a quite separate existence from brain activity. When I die, may my ideas not live beyond me, at least for a while? reply to #45 by crookedshoes:*

          If I hook up a machine to your head, I can measure your “ideas”. I can give you radioactively labeled glucose and MRI your head while you do math and think of sex and I can map your “ideas” Your assertion falls short because, in fact, we can detect and measure “ideas”. It seems you are grasping a…

          • In reply to #47 by jburnforti:

            What you are talking about is information. Which funnily enough, is also bound to the real world, the laws of physics, entropy, ect…

            Your idea cannot survive without a mechanical mean of storage, either brain, book, computer. The storage disappears, the idea disappears. There are no intangible way of storing information.

          • If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears. It is our access to it which disappears. If I am presented with an idea in Mandarin which I don’t speak, the idea is not non-existent, it is inaccessible to me and should I learn to speak Mandarin, it will not re-exist but will at that point be accessible to me. The messenger is not the message.

            In reply to #48 by obzen:*

            In reply to #47 by jburnforti:

            What you are talking about is information. Which funnily enough, is also bound to the real world, the laws of physics, entropy, ect…

            Your idea cannot survive without a mechanical mean of storage, either brain, book, computer. The storage disappears, the idea disapp…

          • In reply to #57 by jburnforti:

            If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears. It is our access to it which disappears.

            I think you are confusing intelligence with knowledge. Knowledge, things such as mathematical concepts or physics exist regardless of whether people describe them. But I think the relevant concept here is intelligence, the ability to do computations, store specific memories, etc. For that you need some physical medium, some collection of active neurons or bits and when the medium loses coherence the intelligence is gone. Pull the plug on the computer and it’s dead and when we die our minds die with our bodies.

          • In reply to #57 by jburnforti:

            If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears. It is our access to it which disappears. If I am presented with an idea in Mandarin which I don’t speak, the idea is not non-existent, it is inaccessible to me and should I learn to speak Mandarin, it will not re-exist but will at that…

            No, it’s gone. If there is no way for the information to be stored and transmitted, it’s gone. We’re not talking about the meaning, but the information content itself, whatever it means has no impact. In your example, you have that information stored in your brain. Either in the form of sounds, pictograms, whatever. Maybe you don’t know what it means, but if you ever forget it, the meaning, or non-meaning will be gone forever either way. It’s just a basic fundamental fact about information, whatever information is (DNA, language, abstract concepts).

            Take all the bibles in the world, burn them, take all the concepts of Christianity and reduce them to dust. churches, tombstones, literature, even the idea of it. What do you think will be left when no one is there to tell the tale? Unless you are Denzel Washington lost in a Mad Max rip-off, it’ll all just be gone forever.

          • Sorry, we’re not going to agree on this. Meaning, content, information, idea are separate IMO from the delivery mechanism and can neither live nor die. If you switch the radio off, you can’t hear the music – the absence of transmission has not killed the music, someone else may still hear it on their radio. If the orchestra then takes a break for a cup of coffee, no one can hear that piece of music but there it is, still extant and lying on their music stands. If there is a forest fire and their music is burnt along with a rather fine Guarnerius and the conductor’s spare socks, the music still exists. The music is not progressively deader with each closing off of a medium or aspect of transmission, it isn’t subject to a totting-up in that way which would be a mistake in categories. Whether one person hears it or twenty thousand has nothing to do with the music’s existence. And if you deduct that one remaining person, you still have not changed the music’s existence. The same applies to the performance of it. The same score played by double the amount of musicians is not doubly the music, it’s the same. The music like any idea is independent of its transmission BUT if untransmitted is unavailable, not non-existent. If it lies in a drawer in someone’s desk, it is music, not because it exists as manuscript but because it exists. If the manuscript is destroyed, the music still exists but can’t be performed. 2 plus 2 doesn’t stop having the values it has because recording materials and civilisation disappear. But, here at least, this rests on conviction. I know yours and you know mine. And so, in deference to Hunter Thompson, “Saleh”. In reply to #61 by obzen:

            In reply to #57 by jburnforti:

            If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears. It is our access to it which disappears. If I am presented with an idea in Mandarin which I don’t speak, the idea is not non-existent, it is inaccessible to me and should I learn to speak Mandarin, it wil…

          • In reply to #57 by jburnforti:

            What you are talking about is information. Which funnily enough, is also bound to the real world, the laws of physics, entropy, ect…

            Your idea cannot survive without a mechanical mean of storage, either brain, book, computer. The storage disappears, the idea disapp…

            this is a bot of a “me too” post. Ideas are like software or data or information. Once the physical instantiation disappears the idea/software/data/information disappears.

            You are suffering from reification or “misplaced concretism”. You think because you can talk about something that it in some sense “exists”. This sort of thinking leads to “souls” and other logical heresies

            If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears.

            if it’s the last copy, yes it does. Did You Do Your Backup Today?

            It is our access to it which disappears. If I am presented with an idea in Mandarin which I don’t speak, the idea is not non-existent, it is inaccessible to me and should I learn to speak Mandarin, it will not re-exist but will at that point be accessible to me. The messenger is not the message.

            reification meets solipsism! Ideas only exist if you have considered them!

          • In reply to #90 by nick keighley:

            If the storage disappears, it is not the idea which disappears.
            if it’s the last copy, yes it does. Did You Do Your Backup Today?

            I don’t think we disagree much if at all but I think that characterization isn’t quite right and it gets back to the distinction I was trying to make between intelligence (what humans do when we are conscious and what we stop doing when we are dead) and knowledge, for example the fact that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light or that 1 plus 1 equals 2. Those later facts express something true about the universe and (except for those of us who are philosophical idealists such as Bishop Berkeley) those things were true before any human realized them and will continue to be true when there are no more humans. You could delete every copy of The Origin of Species from every library and use the mind eraser from Men in Black to remove it from everyone’s mind but the facts of evolution would still be true.

            That is a very different thing than the intelligence required to understand Evolution. It’s the intelligence that matters, that is the phenomenon that we are talking about that needs to continue after death and there is no rational argument to believe it does. Quite the contrary, it’s an inevitable conclusion from our most current scientific theories that when your neurons stop connecting and firing your consciousness is gone.

          • I’m sorry to have expressed myself clumsily and meant the bit you quote to be understood as meaning the idea had never gone away but having been inaccessible to me as I don’t speak Mandarin would become accessible to me if I learnt Mandarin. That does follow the theme I’m pursuing which as far as the existence of ideas is concerned has nothing to do with solipsism at all and, generally, leaves me right out of the equation. As for reification, defining ideas as independent of the carrier is pretty much following many, if not most, dictionary definitions. In reply to #90 by nick keighley:*

            In reply to #57 by jburnforti:

            What you are talking about is information. Which funnily enough, is also bound to the real world, the laws of physics, entropy, ect…

            Your idea cannot survive without a mechanical mean of storage, either brain, book, computer. The storage disappears, the idea dis…

          • But, I can measure it. that is the point you are evading. I can measure it. While it is true I can’t quantify it completely (yet), I can measure it. That right there blows your “idea” idea out of the water. What can we measure about this god thing? the answer is NOTHING because the god thing does not exist. I CAN and DO measure ideas (not to your liking, but, I can measure something about them BECAUSE THEY EXIST)…..

            I know what you are trying to do with the “detect the brain activity associated with….” And, it is clever. but, it is wrong. i can measure ideas in some rudimentary way. It is a start and maybe a day looms where we get better at doing it. The god thing has been bandied about for thousands of years, and, if you’d like to offer a single piece of evidence proving god’s existence, I am all ears.

            In reply to #47 by jburnforti:

            No, you can’t measure or detect ideas until they take concrete form. What you can detect is the brain activity associated with them which is not the same thing. If I write down an idea, make a voice recording of it, film it , text it and so on, the idea remains the same and what you can measure does…

          • In reply to 65

            To measure something requires some sort of standard but the only standards I succeed in inferring from your posts are physical and don’t sound as if they have anything to do with the merits (for instance) or any other quality of the idea – from which I draw the conclusion you’re talking about brain activity. If you hear a piece of music (music being a convenient example),it’s subsequently in your head, so to speak. But the orchestra isn’t. In other words, the message has been transmitted and the messengers are now irrelevant . If you then reply that the music is measurably now in your head, I agree, the music/message/idea having been transmitted. I’m the first to agree that physical apparatus (in this case, the brain) is required to store the music ACCESSIBLY and the first to disagree that what is being stored physically is itself physical. I agree that every feature of its accessibility, storage, transference etc is physical/measurable but that what we often call the content is not.

            I don’t understand your reference to god as I don’t believe in one. But, if I did, I’m thinking some sort of combination of Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van, Bruce Lee and the Marx brothers except for the Karl one. But, re evidence, there is a different way of looking at that, a slightly tortuous one, as follows. If we knew for a fact that there is a God, then everything would be evidence and confirmation of his/her/it’s existence – from no evidence to nothing but evidence in one fell swoop. . Which is my way of saying that it isn’t the intellectual weakness of God belief that convinces me, it’s the sheer and obvious ridiculousness of what is really and clearly a bedtime story (often as unpleasant as those of the Grimm Brothers). But intelligent arguments only play to atheists in my experience since believers, however intelligent, are in the grip of an obsessive mindset simply not open to reason. In reply to #65 by crookedshoes:

            But, I can measure it. that is the point you are evading. I can measure it. While it is true I can’t quantify it completely (yet), I can measure it. That right there blows your “idea” idea out of the water. What can we measure about this god thing? the answer is NOTHING because the god thing d…

    • In reply to #26 by godzillatemple:

      According to most modern-day conceptions of God,

      “some modern-day conceptions” I’d say

      in order for God to have created the universe, God must exist outside of time and space and must not itself be made of matter or any other substance that is found within the universe (this is how they get around the whole “if everything in the universe had a creator, who created God” argument).

      I think that just begs the question. I still want to know if universes can’t create themselves how can gods capable of creating universes also not need a creator?

      Extra-space-time arguments are just hand waving

      Anything that exists outside of space and time and which is not composed of anything cannot interact with the universe,

      why not? Perhaps god-space includes our space-time as a subset. Perhaps a god that can create space time can also manipulate it. I’m not made of paper but I can do origami. Perhaps god can manipulate the laws that drive the space-time. Perhaps god can control the events that underlie Quantum Mechanics. Perhaps god has complete control but only makes it appear that QM is statistical. etc.

      I don’t believe any of this stuff but if people are making things up you seriously lack imagination but how far they can go.

      however. So, logically, even if such a thing as “God” existed, there would be absolutely no way to ever know of his existence. No miracles, no revelation, no prophecy, etc.

      In fact, by definition, a being that exists outside of the universe cannot be said to exist within the universe. And, since the universe is defined as the totality of all existence, God, by definition, does not exist. Q.E.D.

      got to be a bit careful in these latter days of cosmology. Although logically and etymologically there can be only one universe, physicists (who obviously skimped on their classical education) casually refer to “other universes”. They presumably mean “other space time continua” but there you go. Being right hardly ever wins these sort of arguments.

  17. To the OP

    Although I accept that my reading list of atheist books is probably a lot smaller than many others here, the incoherence of God concepts is IMHO best exposed and dealt with by George Smith in Atheism: The Case Against God. Simply read through the chapter where Smith goes through each step of trying to define something like the three-O Christian God, the contradictions involved with placing definitional limits on something that it supposed to be limitless, and the massive epistemological problems with any concept of God that exists “outside the Universe” (i.e. how could you have knowledge of such a thing???), and all the other irrationalities, contradictions, and absurdities associated with any attempts to have a coherent definition of one’s invisible friend.

    Your post is insightful in that you recognize that most people’s belief in God is rooted in non-rational foundations. These days, on the rare occassions that I get in these discussions, my only goal is to demonstrate that whatever concept of God that is put to me is irrational. In other words, I can’t even evaluate your existence claim about God because you haven’t given me anything coherent to work with. God is perfect and good, yet allows evil and misery to exist? He is beyond us, yet knows what it’s like to experience human pain and suffering? Come back with a better definition that is not the equivalent of 2+2=5 and then we can talk. This allows some face-saving for the religite, and allows me to quickly terminate any future discussions because the religite has yet to move the ball forward on the coherence issue.

    Their inevitable fall back position is to “faith” and “I just know” and other such non-evidence. And that’s fine. All you’re trying to do is show that you have very good reasons for not believing, and that whatever faith being offered is no more likely to be true than any other. You won’t convince a very religious person in a 30 minute convo to reject their faith, but you can ignite a spark of skepticism.

    • In reply to #29 by blitz442:

      Although I accept that my reading list of atheist books is probably a lot smaller than many others here, the incoherence of God concepts is IMHO best exposed and dealt with by George Smith in Atheism: The Case Against God. Simply read through the chapter where Smith goes through each ste…

      I totally agree, it’s like those who argue that the bible wasn’t meant for everyone to understand.. bla bla bla, (which technically gives them the opportunity to interpret anything in the bible as they see fit) but somehow the “word of god” was meant for everyone, and if its not written in a way for EVERYONE to understand than how would this god expect everyone to understand it, sometimes religious people talk crap which they don’t even understand it themselves.

      • You all just don’t know but you’ll sooner or later see that God and Jesus Christ are very much alive and real, although their both invisible believe it or not they’re both are here!!

        Although I accept that my reading list of atheist books is probably a lot smaller than many others here, the incoherence of God concepts is IMHO best exposed and dealt with by George Smith in Atheism: The Case Against God. Simply read through the chapter where Smith go…

  18. the debate reaches an impass when my peers suggest that God defies the logical capabilities of humans, and can exist in a capcity beyond our ability to understand.

    The simple answer to that is: how can they know that ANYTHING exists beyond our ability to understand? It’s a blatantly self-contradictory position.

  19. I mentioned these logical paradoxes that result from self-reference yesterday. The only way I’ve been able to have a person not react with emotional vigor is to not put out as a challenge. Yesterday I mentioned that it “doesn’t disprove God” it really just shows that the concept of omnipotence is a logical contradiction. That doesn’t help much. When truth and belief collide, generally, truth must give way.
    when faced with God is beyond logical criticism I admit that God is, in most religions, certainly not of this world. But then he cannot directly influence this world and is therefore, really, impotent to effect this world. So he must work through people who form objectives of action based on how they believe this entity, that has neither physical nor logical structure, wants them to act. Which, for myself, I believe is an ‘escape from freedom and responsibility’, a Kiekegaardian leap. And a simple leap of faith without any support but the wish to have a God and Immortality — and probably Santa Claus too. Then I shut up.

  20. First, I admire your empathy and compassion, considering the use god has for others. I saw my grandfather give up the comfort of god just before death. He was very logical and couldn’t deny what he knew. I wish he had been more prepared, found his spiritual peace as a logical person at an earlier age. So I say fuck the dumb shit. If someone’s comfort comes from a myth, it will fail them. That’s my moral stance, and I’m not convinced I’m right.

    Any argument that excludes logic disproves itself. God is not bound by logic? Prove it. One can not use logic to explain away the role of logic in knowing anything. It then becomes obvious that the assertion is begging for faith, that the person alleging it is declaring themselves an authority, and they should be believed without question (appeal to authority). People say these things without realizing the implications, so it’s not necessarily an arrogant person that raises this argument, but it can appeal to an arrogant person. The person is claiming knowledge that is not inaccessible by means of logic, so what makes them so special?

    Challenges against logic are common. I was once told logic was patriarchal. I asked them to prove it. there are no absolutes? Are you sure? Truth is impossible and we can’t know anything? How do you know that?

  21. @BenS. I like your simple reply to the assertion that god is beyond logic. Such a person is claiming to know the unknowable and you’re countering it with an equally unknowable claim. Elegant in its simplicity! I don’t think the true believer would acknowledge the fact that you had won the argument somehow, but it should get them into quite a tangle trying to argue from such a position. The debate would probably end in a stalemate I suspect.

  22. Not only is God beyond logic, – God is completely illogical ! The attempt to make God “beyond logic” is an admission of defeat in a rational discussion.

    In the Boxing Day tsunami a few years ago hundreds of thousands perished. A lone baby was found washed up on a beach alive. “A miracle !” claimed the theists, conveniently ignoring all the others who had unfortunately been killed by the tsunami. “Beyond logic” ? Yes indeed !

  23. I suspect being logical is a property that some Gods might have, but not the philosophical / highly developed God that often seems to be talked about at least in the ‘biblical’ religions.

    Illogical – impossible – Gods would be those that supposedly exist but are outside of the universe (ie not part of the set of things that exist). Or, being both omniscient and omnipotent (I think someone else here said that if God is omniscient then s/he must know the future perfectly. But that means the future is fixed, so God has no chance to exercise omnipotence. If so, omniscience logically contradicts omnipotence).

    By contrast, other (probably less grand Gods) could be logical. I don’t think there would be anything intrinsically illogical about the sun being a God, or there being various Gods (powerful beings) on top of Mount Olympus. Just no good reason to think they are real.

    Which perhaps confirms that logic doesn’t have much to do with a god that could exist (ie a smaller kind of god). It’s evidence we need – and lack.

  24. In the discussion of the existence of God, it is easy to disprove God using logical arguments such as “Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?” However, the debate reaches an impass when my peers suggest that God defies the logical capabilities of humans, and can exist in a capcity beyond our ability to understand. This is frustrating of course because there is a complete lack of convincing evidence to supprt such a theory, and while I’m not necessarily trying to convice my peers to become athiests it would be nice to see if anyone has any suitable response to such a postulation.

    Yeah yeah, god defies the logical capabilities of humans. God is magic and magic is magical. Let’s all believe in magic and superstition. Why not? Our world is built on supersti… Oh! No! It’s not is it? The microprocessor, delicately crafted from silicon, that enables me to communicate with you is not magical – it is real and a byproduct of man’s logical quest for knowledge. Or maybe I should reject that idea and try to communicate with whoever you are wherever you are by prayer.. Ommmmm.. CQ.. CQ.. Are you receiving me?

    Furthermore, I’m sometimes hesistent to discuss God with believers because they rest so much of their emotional and mental support structure in the “comfort” of God, it seems almost mean to suggest otherwise. I’m wondering if there are any former belivers who consider themselves emotional rather than logical by nature, and how they handled giving up this “comfort” in God.

    It was easy for me to give up comfort in a god once it dawned on me that god was a superstition, I could no more go back to that state of mind than resurrect my belief in Father Christmas (peace be upon him).

  25. Belief in the supernatural involves proposing that there is another state of matter that is not amenable to human understanding/perception/measurement. Other than possibly the quantum world no such state of Duality is known to exist. End of discussion – no need to go further in this direction, unless of course, that you want to play fairies, or some such. And I’ve never heard it said that some proposed deity operates in the quantum realm.

  26. IMO, you’re all being too clever by half (except Mike #16).

    “God exists but is beyond our understanding” is a case of wanting to eat one’s cake and still have it whole in one’s hand. It is the argument of a spoiled child, which, if proffered by christians, should be met with, “Isn’t there something in your bible that talks about ‘putting aside childish things’?”

    OK, so that’s Theology demolished as a subject for study beyond kindergarten … next target Psychology! :D

  27. I agree that people who are believers rely on the comfort of a God. Because they are so afraid of the “unknown.” They want to think that there is a heaven to go to when you die rather than not knowing what happens. I myself (in my kid and teen years) used to believe in a God because I needed that comfort. Also because my family are all believers. But that’s all it ever was to me was comfort. In the back of my mind, logic kicked in. Slowly I started disbelieving. Until one day I didn’t believe at all. I have been studying different religions and all seem so ridiculous to me now. “Comfort” is the only logical explanation I have as to why people still believe in a God.

  28. Sympathetic discussion moderators aside (this time), you claim your frustration occurs when verbal combatants give ‘god’ illogical powers. I’d hazard that your problem perhaps should lie not with argument’s arsenal, nor with the head-scratching conundrums provided by illogical supernatural trump-cards, but with the people you’re throwing wasted breath at.

  29. jburnforti:

    When I die, may my ideas not live beyond me, at least for a while?

    Sure, who disputes that ? But of course they have to be retained in some material way such as in other people’s brains as memories or emotions, books, letters, videos, emails etc. Luckily for us, Shakespeare wrote his plays down, as did Beethoven with his symphonies. Their ideas live on in multi media. It takes a living brain to appreciate them.

    By posting on this website you are ensuring your ideas are immortalised !

    • In reply to #49 by Mr DArcy:

      No, my ideas, like yours, are already immortal. Ideas can’t be destroyed though they can be disproved, made obsolete or become unpopular. You can’t have a hole where once there was an idea because ideas take up neither time nor space in the first place. A library of ideas could fit on a pinhead, a library of books couldn’t. The elliptical zen question “Where does the fist go when you open your hand?” hints at this very nicely, I think.

      Sure, who disputes that ? But of course they have to be retained in some material way such as in other people’s brains as memories or emotions, books, letters, videos, emails etc. Luckily for us, Shakespeare wrote his p…

      • In reply to #58 by jburnforti:

        In reply to #49 by Mr DArcy:

        No, my ideas, like yours, are already immortal. Ideas can’t be destroyed though they can be disproved, made obsolete or become unpopular. You can’t have a hole where once there was an idea because ideas take up neither time nor space in the first place. A library of ide…

        What were the ideas of the first humans to leave Africa? You can speculate on their content, probably with a degree of accuracy, but you don’t know for sure because the vehicles for these ideas are dead and gone.

        • In reply to #62 by Nitya:

          In reply to #58 by jburnforti

          Fairly sure they’d have been along the lines of “Having a wonderful time, wish you were here”. As you say, we’ll never know but cave drawings are nice. And it was rather touching to hear Grayson Perry in the recent Reith lectures mention that some recently discovered very similar cave drawings of horses were actually separated from each other by 5000 years. So, if I can just find un untouched cave…

          In reply to #49 by Mr DArcy:

          No, my ideas, like yours, are already immortal. Ideas can’t be destroyed though they can be disproved, made obsolete or become unpopular. You can’t have a hole where once there was an idea because ideas take up neither time nor space in t…

        • In reply to #119 by phil rimmer: I have the feeling that you’re waiting to sandbag me but, rather loosely, I suppose so. But why don’t I sandbag myself first and admit I notice the occasional, very uncomfortable resemblance in what I’ve been pursuing to some of what Frank Petrucci has been pursuing and so, without wishing to be rude, I’d have to say I’m utterly and entirely opposed to his general approach and beliefs despite a similarity in what we’ve both said about ideas.

          In reply to #58 by jburnforti:

          You can’t have a hole where once there was an idea because ideas take up neither time nor space in the first place.

          Are ideas composed of information?

          • In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #119 by phil rimmer: I have the feeling that you’re waiting to sandbag me but, rather loosely, I suppose so.

            Is that so I shall only sandbag you loosely? In physics, the realm you are uncomfortably in, whether you like it or not, information expressed is configured energy. Information stored is either configured energy or configured matter or a combination of the two. There is no other state for information to be in.

            How loosely? In what way are ideas not information?

            In the film Agora the great library at Alexandria is seen burned and a swathe of information is lost as a result of religious riots. The great teacher and mathematician Hypatia is murdered. It is reasonably suggested that this brilliant woman, mathematician and astronomer who translated the work of Appolonius on conics was fully able to understand the true motions of the planets, that these ideas were knowable and may well have been known a thousand years earlier than we realise but with the sacking of the library we shall never know. A thousand years without an idea.

            Are you suggesting an idea can be had again? That a sufficiency of monkeys with iPads can see the recreation of the one true Grand Unified Theory of everything that Ivor Snodgrass suddenly conceived moments before choking to death on his breakfast kipper? Ideas have value. For some they are had too late. The Snodgrass GUT could have created the warp drive that could have saved the planet before that cometary impact, but the monkeys weren’t put to work because they didn’t know they didn’t know. Ideas can be lost beyond lost.

            What is the value of the thing you are claiming?

          • “Rather loosely” referred to “I suppose so” and obeyed the laws of syntax so to do. I’m suggesting that content and transmission of content aren’t the same thing. I entirely agree that without a process of transmission, what is to be transmitted can’t be, but that doesn’t make them identical. The piano silently and passively awaits the playing of music on it which, when that takes place, means it “transmits” the music. The music exists, ready to be played, prior to its being played and continues to exist after the piano has fallen silent. Otherwise, the music could be popping in and out of existence (as distinct from transmission) every 5 minutes as one pianist finished and then another, somewhere else, started. That would make the music a property of the piano or of the musician or even both. Or, staying with the original piano, do you believe that when another pianist plays the music on a different piano that that piano and/or pianist has somehow filched or borrowed it from the first piano and/or pianist?. If you could deconstruct the piano/pianist in every way possible down to the very last atom of their composition, would you somewhere find the music in the DNA? I don’t think so. The content, information, idea are separate. If you burn the piano, have you burnt the music? Does the information to be transmitted by heliograph disappear at nightfall just because you can’t transmit it and then pop into life again when the sun comes out? No, what is to be transmitted does not pop in and out of existence with the presence or absence of the sun, but the means of transmission does. When the last computer dies along with the last human, there’ll be no one around perhaps to add 2 to 2. Do you think 2 and 2 would no longer make 4 because there’s no active use or user of the idea? If you do, please explain how 2 and 2 would cease to make 4. So far, your assertions don’t seem correct to me. . In reply to #135 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #119 by phil rimmer: I have the feeling that you’re waiting to sandbag me but, rather loosely, I suppose so.

            Is that so I shall only sandbag you loosely? In physics, the realm you are uncomfortably in, whether you like it or not, information expressed is…

          • Yes, ideas can be lost. So can my keys. That doesn’t mean they cease to exist. They exist but are unavailable. Indeed, what piece of energy or matter would be rediscovered when the idea is rediscovered? If I write on a piece of paper in a language you don’t understand about an earthquake which is taking place at that time and give it to you, is it information which is unavailable to you since you don’t speak the language or is the earthquake not taking place? The information is independent of its transmission.In reply to #135 by phil rimmer:*

            In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #119 by phil rimmer: I have the feeling that you’re waiting to sandbag me but, rather loosely, I suppose so.

            Is that so I shall only sandbag you loosely? In physics, the realm you are uncomfortably in, whether you like it or not, information expressed is…

          • In reply to #139 by jburnforti:

            That doesn’t mean they cease to exist.

            Why not? Who is to know? No one knows they are lost?

            Do you simply mean they could be thought again?

            Does every idea that can exist already exist?

            What value is that concept?

          • I feel I’ve answered your opening questions as best I can already.

            Well, couldn’t they be thought again? But, in that case, their perceived history would not necessarily reflect the actual history of their existence -see my earlier multiple piano/pianist example.

            I know of no way of deciding which ones need exist and which ones not. IMHO that’s not how ideas can be ranked. What we do, as humans, and very often as individual humans, is assign rankings ourselves. Which segues nicely into your last question. But, out of curiosity, what objective value might the moon have as compared with Saturday morning cinema or liquorice compared with a tiger? Can there really be values writ in the stars? Or is there an objective lack of comparative importance which only comes into existence when humans do the judging. In reply to #142 by phil rimmer:*

            In reply to #139 by jburnforti:

            That doesn’t mean they cease to exist.

            Why not? Who is to know? No one knows they are lost?

            Do you simply mean they could be thought again?

            Does every idea that can exist already exist?

            What value is that concept?

          • In reply to #146 by jburnforti:

            I feel I’ve answered your opening questions as best I can already.

            Heigh ho. I had thought you were on to something but it seems not.

            The idea if composed solely of its informational content is irretrievably lost if its information, stored and in transmission is lost. There is just no way of knowing of it, if it no longer exists in any synapses,or any other configured matter or energy.

            What I hoped you were trying to get to was that information, in the world of memes may evolve, de-evolve, speciate etc. It may create meta-information, not the idea but an idea of the idea or that an idea in cultural space may distort other ideas around it which need to adapt to its precarious existence. These “fossils”, might, taken together, allow a recreation (at least in part or at least as a meta idea) of a truly lost idea. In a fashion like our mooted proto-language currently being reconstructed by linguists using a sort of reverse genetic engineering.

            Religion free cultural historians (after the sacking of the Mighty Google Archives by politically militant but precise nano-bots) may find no record of religion anywhere not even in the USA, but they might wonder why all strata of its society put up with healthcare that is such terrible value and inaccessible to so many. They may then guess that some other kind of insurance policy was in play to keep the road sweepers passive and compliant. Something really cost effective. Well the game theorists announce, our simulations suggest it would have to be something whacky and big like the promise of eternal life to get this level of compliance in such an unfair society…..Maybe some strict rules if you are going to get this reward, ……and punishment……… a lot of visible punishment for rule breakers. Not rules more like commandments perhaps…..

            But no. no value I can see. No physics, no metaphysics, neither.

          • In reply to #166 by phil rimmer:
            A brief reply as I’m knackered, have said my piece and probably abused everyone’s indulgence. Lost, certainly, if there’s no transmitter but nonetheless alive and well and living with Elvis down in South America. Sorry it wasn’t what you’d hoped for but saves throwing those Daniel Dennett books away, doesn’t it? Peace.

            In reply to #146 by jburnforti:

            I feel I’ve answered your opening questions as best I can already.

            Heigh ho. I had thought you were on to something but it seems not.

            The idea if composed solely of its informational content is irretrievably lost if its information, stored and in transmission is lo…

          • In reply to #139 by jburnforti:

            Yes, ideas can be lost. So can my keys. That doesn’t mean they cease to exist. They exist but are unavailable. Indeed, what piece of energy or matter would be rediscovered when the idea is rediscovered? If I write on a piece of paper in a language you don’t understand about an earthquake which is taking place at that time and give it to you, is it information which is unavailable to you since you don’t speak the language or is the earthquake not taking place? The information is independent of its transmission.In reply to #135 by phil rimmer:*

            You’re making that mistake again. The piece of paper with the details written on it, and the information stored in your brain ARE the information quanta, not the earthquake itself.

            You cannot make any kind of claim about an earthquake that happened so long ago all traces of it ever happening disappeared. Whether it happened or not is undetermined. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, who knows. Can’t deal with uncertainty, entropy, and the arrow of time? Well, tough. Won’t stop the world turning around.

            As for your car keys example, well, it kinda undermine your own argument.

            And as for ‘idea’ re-discovery, there is no such thing. It would just be two distinct individuals arriving at the same conclusion.

          • The information in the note is that an earthquake is taking place. The information is real and accurate but you don’t speak the language the note is written in. Therefore, the information is unavailable to you. If someone who does speak the language is standing next to you, that person will be able to receive the information. The messenger (in this case, the piece of paper) is not the message. I accept that the message is also in my mind and, once read, in the mind of the person standing next to you. If that person (having become the messenger)announces that information over a PA system (which is now part of the messenging (ouch!) system to 2000 people, 4 of whom are deaf and 6 of whom don’t speak the language, then the information has been delivered to everyone, indeed everyone in the cosmos, but been available to 1990 people equipped one way or another to access it. The idea has not been non-existent to those 10 people and all the people in the cosmos, it has been unavailable to them because no appropriate delivery service existed for them. The idea/info/content existed at all times for everyone. It did not go away or die and was not a 1990-people-bit-of-info since ideas/info/content don’t come with parameters of that kind. I reiterate, the message and the delivery system are not the same thing.

            Your reference to a past earthquake doesn’t refer to what I wrote. Equally, your references to my inability to cope with entropy, time’s arrow etc have no apparent connection with anything I wrote but I’ll be interested to know how you’re dealing with them. Also, why not explain how my key reference works against my proposition. . reply to #156 by obzen:*

            In reply to #139 by jburnforti:

            Yes, ideas can be lost. So can my keys. That doesn’t mean they cease to exist. They exist but are unavailable. Indeed, what piece of energy or matter would be rediscovered when the idea is rediscovered? If I write on a piece of paper in a language you don’t understan…

          • In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            I reiterate, the message and the delivery system are not the same thing.

            So what. Both are subject to the same laws.

            I reject your premise that ideas are any different than any other information system, and that they somehow persist in some ethereal plane. To do that, would be to violate the laws of physics. Got it?

          • If you’re going to reject my premiss, you should understand it. At no point have I claimed that ideas are an information system. I have claimed the exact reverse. I have clearly claimed that they aren’t but that they are what an information system makes available and I assert that they are therefore not the same thing. You, I think, assert that they are. We don’t then agree. If my assertion is correct, whether they are still subject to the same laws might be brought into doubt-even more so, if their alleged similarity is what you base your assertion on. The laws of physics are periodically subject to change or amendment, usually but not always, by physicists. Whether all intellectual laws, as for instance logic, must defer to the laws of physics may be questioned. Will you forgive my lack of aggression if I don’t in turn say”Got it?” Oh, and by the way, you didn’t offer explanations to the points I put to you. If you floundered perhaps I can help.

            . In reply to #164 by obzen:*

            In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            I reiterate, the message and the delivery system are not the same thing.

            So what. Both are subject to the same laws.

            I reject your premise that ideas are any different than any other information system, and that they somehow persist in some ethereal plane. To do th…

          • Ellipsis?In reply to #170 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #169 by jburnforti:

            they are what an information system makes available

            Information?

          • *In reply to #169 by jburnforti:”

            Then send your ‘idea’ to Deepak Shopra. He’ll love that shit.

            material reductionism

            That’s the way the world goes round. Enjoy your magical unicorn.

          • In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            The information in the note is that an earthquake is taking place. The information is real and accurate but you don’t speak the language the note is written in. Therefore, the information is unavailable to you. If someone who does speak the language is standing next to you, that person will be able to receive the information.

            This is begging the question as the paper is irrelevant to the physical existence of the earthquake, which will of itself create a record of its existence.

            However if some one writes a poem which has only one copy and this is burnt to gas and smoke unread, – following the death of the author who has not communicated it to anyone else, or recorded it in any other way. The information is lost.
            Patterns of information can only exist in some form of material or energy. (On paper, in a physical memory, magnetically recorded or transmitted as waves.)

          • A number of my replies seem to have disappeared including to this so, briefly, the note about the earthquake has the same relevance as any description of any event. Your unreferenced remark that I’ve begged a question coupled with your non sequitur about the earthquake leaving its own record are odd. The information in your poem is not lost, it is forever inaccessible – see Michelangelo’s comment on the block of stone which became David. Same principle in reverse. Ideas are not responsive to the laws of physics, it is their expression which is – I’m aware that your material reductionism doesn’t allow of that. All the dictionaries I have consulted (quite a few) support my use and usage of the word “idea” which I have carefully distinguished from any recognisable physical or energetic process. It’s clear that you insist on a different usage and it’s clear that we won’t agree. In reply to #165 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            The information in the note is that an earthquake is taking place. The information is real and accurate but you don’t speak the language the note is written in. Therefore, the information is unavailable to you. If someone who does speak the language is standing next…

          • In reply to #175 by jburnforti:
            >

            All the dictionaries I have consulted (quite a few) support my use and usage of the word “idea”

            If you are using dictionaries written by linguists, to try to address the scientific nature of material reality, it is no wonder that you are confused.

            which I have carefully distinguished from any recognisable physical or energetic process.

            I have just defined Xrahfltwq as carefully distinguished from any recognisable physical or energetic process. That does not mean it exists or could exist.

            It’s clear that you insist on a different usage and it’s clear that we won’t agree.

            This is a purely semantic argument with no existence beyond words. You can persist in wishful thinking if you so choose.

            The information in your poem is not lost, it is forever inaccessible -

            ?????? Gone forever, with no material trace or any source of preserved data = lost – gone without trace. No longer in existence!

            see Michelangelo’s comment on the block of stone which became David.

            You misunderstand Michelangelo’s comment on translating a material image in his brain into an expression of it in the block of stone. Both are material.

            Same principle in reverse.

            The reverse would be seeing a statue made of stone and importing the image into a brain.- Again both material objects with information in molecular patterns.

            Ideas are not responsive to the laws of physics,

            Unless they exist in a material brain or in a recorded form which can be imported into a material brain, they do not exist. Material brains generate ideas in the first place, and they DO work on the laws of physics. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html

            it is their expression which is -

            In the real universe, without a material form, they do not exist.

            I’m aware that your material reductionism doesn’t allow of that.

            And neither do the laws of physics. Information is contained and recorded in matter or energy (which are interchangeable E=MC²).
            If you have evidence that it exists anywhere else, present it and claim your Nobel Prize!

          • In reply to #178 by Alan4discussion: No, my previous posts have made my position clear. We shan’t agree and I stop here. I thank everyone who engaged with me for your comments. Till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.

            In reply to #175 by All the dictionaries I have consulted (quite a few) support my use and usage of the word “idea”
            H

            If you are using dictionaries written by linguists, to try to address the scientific nature of material reality, it is no wonder that you are confused.

            which I have care…

          • In reply to #179 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #178 by Alan4discussion: No, my previous posts have made my position clear. We shan’t agree and I stop here. I thank everyone who engaged with me for your comments.

            You position has been perfectly clear. You claim that ideas exist but have no material substance, (No arrangement/pattern of atomic or subatomic particles and exert no measurable forces which could be used for data storage or transmission), This is a definition of “non-existence” but you insist that these ideas do exist despite them having no properties, including no access to the imagined data which has no storage medium!

            I would have liked some explanation of how you think this existence of non-existence could possibly work!

          • Just when I thought it was safe…

            OK, as you’ve done me the courtesy of engaging with me, I will reply, my reluctance tempered by the fact I had in mind anyway to post that many of the opposed comments, certainly including yours, had given me a lot of food for thought.

            But you’ll have to accept that, if you should find me confused, you can’t blame that, for a second time, on my attempt to give words their standard use; otherwise you will put me in a double-bind and will lack logic and consistency as all practical discussion depends on the accurate use of language, something which, on a recent thread, you enjoined someone (fiercely and a tad grandiosely) to learn from you.

            OK.

            Existence concurrent or, anyway, undetectably intermittent along with non-existence.

            I would have liked to ask Schrodinger but he was always busy with that cat – or was he? I get so confused. But then so did that cat. Then I thought of Lewis, you know, Lewis Dodgson, but he, too, would have been too busy, probably, with that Cheshire Cat – remember? Oh, you must remember that smile, the smile without the cat to smile it. What is it with mathematicians and the strange way their cats flick in and out of existence? We should probably condemn them to Purrgatory.

            Instead, let’s get back to Michelangelo and, after explaining to him his mistake in thinking he could release the David already latent in the stone, let him know that Rodin and Brancusi wanted to pop round and check the same stone out as they’d heard (not from us) that you could release statues from it and wanted a go.Then, shortly afterwards, Praxiteles, who’d got his second wind, arrived with a whole bunch of mates all wanting…? You’ve got it, a look at the block of stone to check out the sculptures they could see waiting as possibilities in it. And pretty soon, all those sculptures, not realising they’re impossible, are jostling for room, sending out for pizza, talking to their agents and so on. How do they all, thousands of them eventually, fit in there?

            “Oh dear” (for a family audience), I imagine you saying, “Weren’t you paying attention before? Each sculpture is in the sculptor’s imagination as an arrangement of neurons or whatever.” I don’t disagree that the possibilities reside in my mind, of course, but they also reside in the stone or they couldn’t be released. That’s the nature of that particular type of possibility. It’s not a possibility unless it can be actualised out of the stone. If it only exists in the sculptor’s head and isn’t a possibility waiting in the stone, then when the sculptor tries to sculpt it, it will be impossible. What feature, if there is no possibility in the stone, will make the sculpture possible? The possibility needs to be pattern-neuronised (well, you know what I mean) by the sculptor or it’ll never get done (though when those monkeys have finished their homework..) but the possibility is necessarily in the stone as well or it will be impossible to reveal it. That goes for all the possibilities in the stone, all the gazillions of them taking up no space because it’s not in the nature of a possibility to take up space.

            Let’s take a different tack. 10 or even, some postulate, 21 dimensions. I suspect you’re alright with that. It comes from respected scientists/mathematicians and it’s not yet asserted as fact. A lot of these dimensions may, apparently, be rolled very tiny and that’s one of the reasons we may be unaware of them. Multiverses, string theory, waves and particles. There’s a lot of fantasy on offer. “Whoa, wait a minute, all backed up by well-researched science”. But, apparently, it’s not acceptable to make the parallel claim for a definition of “ideas” unless scientists are present to ensure the definition passes the tests they/you impose. It seems I must be confused since I haven’t found a”scientific” definition on the internet that wouldn’t get ruled out by E=MC squared apparently and I have difficulty in accepting that. I’m passing that Nobel Prize you offered me straight back to you.
            I tire, understandably I think, of time travel being absolutely and finally impossible only to have Stephen Hawking not so sure, ditto the speed of light being an utterly unchangeable constant except that, wait a mo., under certain very special conditions, it’s just possible that…

            But back to E=MCsquared unchangeably backing up how you assert what form existence can take. Hmmm. I’ll have my people get back to you.
            But I have run out of energy on this and won’t convince you. I appreciate the useful and illuminating comments that have been made to me and will very certainly think about them. Later.
            t.In reply to #185 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #179 by jburnforti:

            In reply to #178 by Alan4discussion: No, my previous posts have made my position clear. We shan’t agree and I stop here. I thank everyone who engaged with me for your comments.

            You position has been perfectly clear. You claim that ideas exist but have no material s…

          • In reply to #192 by jburnforti:

            Just when I thought it was safe…

            OK, as you’ve done me the courtesy of engaging with me, I will reply, my reluctance tempered by the fact I had in mind anyway to post that many of the opposed comments, certainly including yours, had given me a lot of food for thought.

            But you’ll have to accept…

            Hi! Even though post #192 was not directed to me and I do not agree with you, I think you deserve credit for putting your case well. I thought that was very clever and amusing. Well done! ( I like the reference to Schrodinger and Lewis Carroll and their respective cats.)

          • Very kind. Busy preening (and awaiting shitstorm).In reply to #197 by Nitya:

            In reply to #192 by jburnforti:

            Just when I thought it was safe…

            OK, as you’ve done me the courtesy of engaging with me, I will reply, my reluctance tempered by the fact I had in mind anyway to post that many of the opposed comments, certainly including yours, had given me a lot of food for thou…

          • In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            The information in the note is that an earthquake is taking place. The information is real and accurate but you don’t speak the language the note is written in. Therefore, the information is unavailable to you. If someone who does speak the language is standing next to you, that person will be able…

            In short….the idea is still there, irrespective of whether there’s a brain to perceive it?

          • In reply to #167 by Nitya:Must be because I’m still thinking it though my brain’s in meltdown thanks to the lateness of the hour here in Bordeaux. Saleh.

            In reply to #163 by jburnforti:

            The information in the note is that an earthquake is taking place. The information is real and accurate but you don’t speak the language the note is written in. Therefore, the information is unavailable to you. If someone who does speak the language is standing next…

          • In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In addition to the fact that I think it highly unlikely that ideas exist in some way after they’ve been conceived, I was wondering to what end would they continue. I can’t see any possible reason why an idea would remain after the process of going through someone’s mind. Also, what would make you think of this as a possibility?

          • I can’t think of an idea which doesn’t so I’m probably not clear what you mean. Where would 2+2 =4 disappear to and are you suggesting that 2+2=4 no longer exists?In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In addition to the fact that I think it highly unlikely that ideas exist in some way after they’ve been conceived, I was wondering to what end would they continue. I can’t see any possible reason why an idea would remain after the process of going through someone’s…

          • In reply to #140 by jburnforti:

            I can’t think of an idea which doesn’t so I’m probably not clear what you mean. Where would 2+2 =4 disappear to and are you suggesting that 2+2=4 no longer exists?In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In addition to the fact that I think it highly unlikely that ideas exist in…

            2+2 is a useful idea that will remain in minds, but I suggest that most ideas are of absolutely no consequence. Does your theory of preservation of ideas only extend to worthwhile ideas?

          • How can one destroy an idea? By disproving that 2+2=5, you haven’t destroyed the idea, you’ve usefully made sure it won’t be used. The idea of God is usefully disproved every day at this site to the satisfaction of many of us, but it has hardly disappeared here and reappears with monotonous regularity. But, to be honest, that day to day meaning of destruction of ideas is not quite what I’m referring to. I’m talking about an abstract existence of ideas. I know, I know, we’ll plunge back into whether you can have things exterior to the universe which is impossible so they must exist within the universe which means they must have material and/or energetic form and so be subject to entropy, decay, disappearance etc etc etc. I’ve done my best to avoid that route by, I hope, explaining my line of reasoning and always giving examples. I entirely accept that I may be no better at this than anyone else, indeed perhaps worse, and so may have failed to be clear. Alternatively, I may simply be wrong but don’t yet feel that that has been demonstrated.In reply to #141 by Nitya:

            In reply to #140 by jburnforti:

            I can’t think of an idea which doesn’t so I’m probably not clear what you mean. Where would 2+2 =4 disappear to and are you suggesting that 2+2=4 no longer exists?In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            In reply to #129 by jburnforti:

            In addition to the fact that I think it hig…

          • In reply to #143 by jburnforti:

            How can one destroy an idea? By disproving that 2+2=5, you haven’t destroyed the idea, you’ve usefully made sure it won’t be used. The idea of God is usefully disproved every day at this site to the satisfaction of many of us, but it has hardly disappeared here and reappears with monotonous regulari…

            The colourless, odourless, tasteless idea, that has no effect on litmus paper, in fact no measurable physical properties at all, may as well not exist unless it is transmitted in some way. I can’t see why you’d devote valuable thinking time contemplating it.

          • Well, I’m not proposing a value system, I’m merely proposing the authenticity of what I’ve been suggesting. Are accuracy or understanding a waste of time?In reply to #144 by Nitya:

            In reply to #143 by jburnforti:

            How can one destroy an idea? By disproving that 2+2=5, you haven’t destroyed the idea, you’ve usefully made sure it won’t be used. The idea of God is usefully disproved every day at this site to the satisfaction of many of us, but it has hardly disappeared here and r…

  30. Watching “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian” I would propose that there is one way it would be very hard for anyone to deny the existence of god. If god appeared before me and brought back to life my parents so that they could meet their grandchildren, I would believe.

    • In reply to #51 by gringopistolero:

      Watching “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian” I would propose that there is one way it would be very hard for anyone to deny the existence of god. If god appeared before me and brought back to life my parents so that they could meet their grandchildren, I would believe.

      Aliens? Sadly, believing or not won’t bring them back. And it would have been a cruel trick to play to begin with. Then you would have to consider the price paid on your behalf for such an occasion. Nothing is free in this world (Entropy 101). Basically, I wouldn’t be a fan. Also, you can start with inventing a time machine. The probability would be roughly on par.

    • In reply to #51 by gringopistolero:

      Watching “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian” I would propose that there is one way it would be very hard for anyone to deny the existence of god. If god appeared before me and brought back to life my parents so that they could meet their grandchildren, I would believe.

      How would you be sure that you were not hallucinating? It could even be a group hallucination, as it has been documented in the past. It would need to be much more in my case. All the evidence and statistics would have to support that conclusion; not vague airy-fairy faith based evidence, but celestial footprints preserved in stone, strange DNA found in the tomb of Jesus, and much more besides. All bases would need to be covered and then some.

    • In reply to #51 by gringopistolero:

      Watching “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian” I would propose that there is one way it would be very hard for anyone to deny the existence of god. If god appeared before me and brought back to life my parents so that they could meet their grandchildren, I would believe.

      Would you then think that this god who appeared before you was the cause of all existing life? Perhaps the being has skill in just this area.

  31. A world where logic does not apply is impossible because it would mean that nothing connects to anything, and no thing can be a thing. So saying that God is beyond logic is actually an argument for his non-existence. Besides, if logic applies to our world, which God created and is part of, he can not be “beyond logic.” Never mind “God” or “logic”, I suspect that people using this argument don’t have a clear idea of what “beyond” means.

    Of course, it’s impossible to convince somebody with logic when they refuse to accept logic. They can say that 2+2=3, and when you tell them that it could only be 4, they can say, “well, God makes it 3″ (and, in essence, that is the kind of thing argued by the believers in the holy trinity). So, perhaps, the only thing to do when a person continues to push the “God is beyond logic” argument is to say, “No, you are beyond logic,” and walk away.

  32. And, it is very telling that, in your response post #63, every single thing you mention actually exists. You are using my argument to bolster your (incorrect) argument. It is like using a very loud voice to say “I am not yelling”. Yes. you. are. Internally, you know you are wrong, but you are “pot committed” and have to offer something as an excuse. And, you are very bright, so, your line of bullshit is high quality. But, it is still bullshit.

    • In reply to #66 by crookedshoes:
      But I deliberately used what I assumed were your standards in a way which I thought developed my thesis. I believe I’ve expressed it rationally and clearly but don’t think I can do better. Meanwhile, I’ll contact my bullshit supplier to complain. Only joking. Peace.

      And, it is very telling that, in your response post #63, every single thing you mention actually exists. You are using my argument to bolster your (incorrect) argument. It is like using a very loud voice to say “I am not yelling”. Yes. you. are. Internally, you know you are wrong, but you are “p…

  33. Hmm, from what I understand, logic is basically a observation of certain properties of existence itself. For instance, there are no square circles. Given that, the claim that god defies logic is tacit admittance that it defies existence as well…

    • In reply to #68 by Tlhedglin:

      Hmm, from what I understand, logic is basically a observation of certain properties of existence itself. For instance, there are no square circles. Given that, the claim that god defies logic is tacit admittance that it defies existence as well…

      Then what is your account of existential import in the rules of logic? Or, for that matter, hypothetical propositions?

      • In reply to #77 by Frank Petrucci:

        Then what is your account of existential import in the rules of logic?

        None. Logic is not a material object, they are concepts concerning observed phenomena, Treating them as anything more or less is ridiculous. Logic is descriptive(describes things that happen), not proscriptive(it is not law), changing our concepts does not affect reality. Otherwise you could simply logic all your problems away.

        Or, for that matter, hypothetical propositions?

        Any logical proposition is only as good as its adherence to observable reality.

        Why?

        • In reply to #118 by Tlhedglin:

          Any logical proposition is only as good as its adherence to observable reality.

          Not really. There are all sorts of mathematical proofs that follow from the basic definitions of logic and set theory and that have nothing to do with any observable reality. For example, one of the things I always found interesting is that there are different kind of infinity and that some infinities are bigger than others. That isn’t the way a math person would say it. They would say something like you can map an infinite number of denumerable sets (e.g. the natural numbers) into a non-denumerable set (e.g. real numbers) but both types of sets are infinite. And you can prove that, don’t ask me to do it, but I know it can be done and the proof is based on the basic properties and axioms of math alone.

          It’s a basic definition of knowledge into deductive knowledge and empirical knowledge. Deductive knowledge can be certain empirical knowledge can’t be, which is why Prof. Dawkins is always careful not to claim with certainty that God doesn’t exist, for him it’s an empirical claim and hence can only be extremely improbable not provably wrong.

          • In reply to #123 by Red Dog:

            Not really.

            Yes, really. How closely the conclusion of a specific proposition describes reality is entirely dependent upon how closely the premises describe reality. If the premises are erroneous or flawed, even a completely logical conclusion will be unlikely to describe reality with any degree of accuracy whatsoever.

            There are all sorts of mathematical proofs that follow from the basic definitions of logic and set theory and that have nothing to do with any observable reality.

            Indeed, 0.999999999_ =1, for instance. While intriguing, it does not actually describe reality. Probably why math is a strict subset of logic.

            For example, one of the things I always found interesting is that there are different kind of infinity and that some infinities are bigger than others. That isn’t the way a math person would say it. They would say something like you can map an infinite number of denumerable sets (e.g. the natural numbers) into a non-denumerable set (e.g. real numbers) but both types of sets are infinite. And you can prove that, don’t ask me to do it, but I know it can be done and the proof is based on the basic properties and axioms of math alone.

            Indeed, infinities cause problems in any set theory, by definition. The subtraction of infinity from infinity leads to the absurd, as it can be anything from zero to infinity.

            It’s a basic definition of knowledge into deductive knowledge and empirical knowledge. Deductive knowledge can be certain empirical knowledge can’t be, which is why Prof. Dawkins is always careful not to claim with certainty that God doesn’t exist, for him it’s an empirical claim and hence can only be extremely improbable not provably wrong.

            Interestingly enough, deductive knowledge does not necessarily have anything to do with reality, while empirical knowledge does. However, while the claim that no god exists may not be provable, the claim that certain gods do not exist is entirely provable. There was no global flood, the world was not created before the rest of the universe or in six days, and never did the earth stop rotating. Enjoy.

          • In reply to #161 by Tlhedglin:

            Yes, really. How closely the conclusion of a specific proposition describes reality is entirely dependent upon how closely the premises describe reality. If the premises are erroneous or flawed, even a completely logical conclusion will be unlikely to describe reality with any degree of accuracy whatsoever.

            All I was stating was the basic distinction between empirical knowledge and deductive knowledge. In a video just posted on this site Dan Dennett makes this basic point right around minute 13.

  34. The question, “Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift?” presupposes false assumptions about God. The person asking this question assumes that any answer to this question will prove that God is not all-powerful. If someone says, “no” then that implies a lack of God’s potential power to create something. If someone says, “yes” then again it implies that there is a limit on God’s power because he cannot lift the rock. But that is like asking, “Can God will evil?” and when someone says “no”, the atheist takes it to imply that God is not free. Really, what the question is asking is whether God is constricted by what is logically possible or if his will and power are arbitrary. But asking these questions fails to take into account the Divine Wisdom. God’s will and power is informed by His Wisdom, and as the existence of the universe is a demonstration of God’s power, so the order of the universe is the demonstration of His Wisdom. Thus, when a person asks such questions, they are asking things that are nonsensical. In other words, it is like claiming that God is not all-powerful because he cannot smell the color orange. Such implications and nonsensical questions do not prove anything but the idiocy of the one who asks them.

    • Or the idiocy of pretending that there is a god. You take your pick, I’ll take mine. Inherent in your post is your delusion and everyone can see it but you. Don’t worry, someday you will be close to death (I hope it is 100 years from now) and you will realize that you shit your life away on a scam.

      But asking these questions fails to take into account the Divine Wisdom.

      And, evidently all the intellects here pale to yours because you understand this and we fail to. Please please please take the time to explain this to us. I am waiting.

      This is called the method of remotion. We come to a knowledge of God through His effects. We know He exists by observing that the universe exists and must have an efficient cause.

      And, this is the single most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard uttered by a human being. You simply cannot arrive at the correct answer if you go at a problem this way. You are wrong, not only about god but about how to THINK.

      In reply to #69 by Frank Petrucci:

      The question, “Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift?” presupposes false assumptions about God. The person asking this question assumes that any answer to this question will prove that God is not all-powerful. If someone says, “no” then that implies a lack of God’s potential pow…

      • In reply to #92 by crookedshoes:

        Or the idiocy of pretending that there is a god. You take your pick, I’ll take mine. Inherent in your post is your delusion and everyone can see it but you. Don’t worry, someday you will be close to death (I hope it is 100 years from now) and you will realize that you shit your life away on a sca…

        Your entire response is an ad hominem fallacy. Attempting to insult a person does not help support your position. It makes you look like a fool. Now, if you have anything relevant to say, please do so. If, however, your only method of argumentation is attempting to insult someone who disagrees with you, waste your time elsewhere.

        • You are correct. I will spend my time doing something other than trying to communicate with a closed system. As for looking like a fool, POT;KETTLE…… Everything you have said to everyone here so far is not verifiable or reproducible. You may as well be arguing for the existence of unicorns made of smoke that eat garbage and crap gold. You offer nothing to the table and think you are dominating it. Delusions must be torture. You poor soul. All I have is pity for someone who cannot make sense of the world around them without inventing silliness and then defending their silliness. DEFINE GOD or go away.

          In reply to #96 by Frank Petrucci:

          In reply to #92 by crookedshoes:

          Or the idiocy of pretending that there is a god. You take your pick, I’ll take mine. Inherent in your post is your delusion and everyone can see it but you. Don’t worry, someday you will be close to death (I hope it is 100 years from now) and you will realize tha…

          • In reply to #98 by crookedshoes:

            You are correct. I will spend my time doing something other than trying to communicate with a closed system. As for looking like a fool, POT;KETTLE…… Everything you have said to everyone here so far is not verifiable or reproducible. You may as well be arguing for the existence of unicorns ma…

            God is the First Prime Cause, the unmoved mover, he is eternal, immaterial, purely good, goodness itself, there is no passivve potency in Him, he is in pure act, there is no evil in him, etc, etc

  35. God is the unmoved mover, of which there can only be one. How hard is that to understand?

    God doesn’t defy logic.

    Then what is your account of existential import in the rules of logic? Or, for that matter, hypothetical propositions?

    Secondly, humans define God not by what he is but by what he is not.

    Way to contradict yourself.

    Religion and worship of God is not found among the irrational animals but only the rational ones..i.e. humans.

    What now, an ape can’t make a judgement call?

    Sorry, we’re not going to agree on this. Meaning, content, information, idea are separate IMO from the delivery mechanism and can neither live nor die.

    I.Y.O. prove it. Good luck!

  36. Further to crooked shoes:

    My bullshit supplier apologises and suggests I try this new supply out on you (still only joking). I was thinking about your comments and this occurred to me; it doesn’t cover our basic difference but surely touches on it. How do you propose to set criteria for the measurement of ideas? Clearly, we can set an arbitrary measurement of length, weight, duration etc for the things we want to measure in daily life. But we’re usually careful that these measurements, even made arbitrarily, are consistent and only flexible as far as the necessary degree of accuracy is concerned. How will you do this for ideas? Even if you wanted to, could you set a measurement standard for, let’s say, values that would be consistent, never mind justifiable? Let’s give you the final power to judge the goodness of an idea, the importance of an idea, the truth of an idea. Are you convinced that a measurement system could be put in place that would let you measure consistently? Let’s go a bit further and, being human, not expect more consistency than one might find in a court of law where judges have to judge and don’t necessarily offer exactly identical judgements. Could you envisage yourself or anyone else being capable of that? Seems to me this measurement of ideas proposition faces enormous problems practically as well as theoretically. I don’t expect you to give me a detailed plan for the achievement of all this, but I hope, in view of your ardency, that you can suggest the theme that would underly all this.

    • Again, you are very clever and so is your metaphor. But, I can prove to you that I had an idea. I can have the idea manifest as a physical entity. Years ago i had an idea to use genetic technology to create christmas trees that glow in the dark, using genes from a jellyfish inserted into embryos of trees. If I happened to be in an MRI tube when I hatched the idea, I could document the idea and have some statistics about it. I then wrote a proposal and earned an HHMI grant to work on the idea at Swarthmore College. I couldn’t get the damn system to work, but that is a different lament for a different day.

      Memories ARE physical things. You should check out the current ideas (no pun intended) on how memory is consolidated and accessed. I think you’ll come to the same conclusion. Memories are physical. Imagination is a bit harder to quantify (if you are going to push this further, I suggest you replace “ideas” with imagination….)

      Anyway, as for your bullshit provider, I have some weird news for you….. your bullshit provider (in your case) is…. YOUR IDEAS! Talk about a paradoxical way to end a post??!!!???

      In reply to #82 by jburnforti:

      Further to crooked shoes:

      My bullshit supplier apologises and suggests I try this new supply out on you (still only joking). I was thinking about your comments and this occurred to me; it doesn’t cover our basic difference but surely touches on it. How do you propose to set criteria for the measure…

      • Mine wasn’t a metaphor but a line of reasoning which you didn’t address, so we probably can’t go much further with that.In reply to #94 by crookedshoes:

        Again, you are very clever and so is your metaphor. But, I can prove to you that I had an idea. I can have the idea manifest as a physical entity. Years ago i had an idea to use genetic technology to create christmas trees that glow in the dark, using genes from a jellyfish inserted into embryos…

  37. What is logic?

    The three fundamental laws of logic are these:

    The Law of Identity: This self-evident law states that A is A, which means that if a thing exists, it must exist as something specific, i.e., it must have specific attributes or characteristics, which is to say that it must have a specific nature or identity and therefore must be what it is.

    The Law of Non-Contradiction: This law is a self-evident implication of the law of identity and states that a thing cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same respect.

    The Law of the Excluded Middle: This law – also a self-evident implication of the law of identity – states that a thing must be either A or non-A at a specific time and in a specific respect.

    The essential distinguishing characteristic of logic is this: non-contradictory identification (of that which exists). NB There can be no contradictions in reality. Any attack on logic presupposes logic.

    There is a reality (this is self-evident, inescapable and undeniable) and man can know it, but he can know it only by applying logic – the art or skill of non-contradictory identification – to his observations of reality – his observations of that which exists. The product of this conscious process (which we call reason) is knowledge. Knowledge comprises facts, and facts are the form in which a consciousness grasps aspects of reality. Without consciousness there can be no knowledge, and no ideas. All knowledge pertains to reality. All knowledge is knowledge of that which is real – that which exists. One cannot know that which is unreal – that which does not exist – that which is imaginary. The real challenge for the theists is this: demonstrate that your god is not imaginary. It is, of course, a challenge the theists cannot meet, because all notions of god contradict reality.

    The essential distinguishing characteristic of all notions of god is this: a consciousness that actively creates and/or directly controls that which exists, rather than merely passively perceiving it – in other words, a consciousness that holds metaphysical primacy over existence. In reality a consciousness – any consciousness – does not create or directly control that which exists, it merely passively perceives it. In reality consciousness is dependent upon existence; existence is independent of consciousness; and in light of this fact existence is said to hold metaphysical primacy over consciousness in the consciousness-existence relationship. All notions of god, however, invert the proper order of dependence in this relationship, and in so doing contradict reality. All alleged gods are, therefore, in reality impossible and not real – and if they are not real, they must be imaginary.

    Incidentally, since miracles are essentially events or actions that contradict reality, they essentially define themselves out of existence.

    • In reply to #84 by jabberwock:

      What is logic?

      The three fundamental laws of logic are these:

      The Law of Identity: This self-evident law states that A is A, which means that if a thing exists, it must exist as something specific, i.e., it must have specific attributes or characteristics, which is to say that it must have a spec…”

      Have you ever taken a logic course?

  38. In the discussion of the existence of God, it is easy to disprove God using logical arguments such as “Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?”

    I’m baffled as to how that can be qualified as a logical argument. It just reads like a very silly question.

    The fact is God is nowhere in mathematics, biology, chemistry, genetics, evolution, economics, physics, psychology, morality… He simply isn’t anywhere except as a one-syllable answer to things we can’t or don’t wish to understand, and that’s nice for those who require single-syllable explanations. Even ones that don’t actually explain.

  39. Frank Petrucci:

    Then how do you exist?

    I exist because I was lucky enough to be the result of what my parents had done by mating. A different sperm, a different person. Perhaps a Suzy instead of a Mr DArcy ?

    • In reply to #99 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      Then how do you exist?

      I exist because I was lucky enough to be the result of what my parents had done by mating. A different sperm, a different person. Perhaps a Suzy instead of a Mr DArcy ?

      So then you are made only of matter? Are you identifying yourself as a materialist?

      • In reply to #100 by Frank Petrucci:

        In reply to #99 by Mr DArcy:

        Frank Petrucci:

        Then how do you exist?

        I exist because I was lucky enough to be the result of what my parents had done by mating. A different sperm, a different person. Perhaps a Suzy instead of a Mr DArcy ?

        So then you are made only of matter? Are you identifying [youeself as a meterialist]

        I am made of matter (and energy). I am a materialist (the more modern term is “physicalist”). No ghosts in my machine! On my really mean days I’m also a logical positivist.

  40. Frank Petrucci:

    But this is not circular reasoning to say, we observe things exist, therefore God exists. That’s straightforward.

    Hang on ! That’s quite a big jump from things existing, (agreed), to therefore God ! (Not agreed !)

    From where I stand, science has done a pretty good job of explaining the natural world, including the origins and development of the universe, and no deity is required. As Stephen Hawking put it, there is no need for a god to light the blue touch paper. Indeed “God” complicates the whole question of origins, by adding a mysterious mystical element in, where none is needed.

    Frank, I’m afraid you can’t just “assume” your God into existence as so many theologians have done. We need hard, cold evidence for such an idea.

    • In reply to #103 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      But this is not circular reasoning to say, we observe things exist, therefore God exists. That’s straightforward.

      Hang on ! That’s quite a big jump from things existing, (agreed), to therefore God ! (Not agreed !)

      From where I stand, science has done a pretty good job of explainin…

      You must be on this message board for a reason. I’m assuming that reason is either to strengthen your own faith in a not-God or to be open minded to whatever the truth may be. Now, in order to do that, we have to take this one step at a time. I do not expect you to jump from the premise that things exist to the conclusion that God does. I am merely showing you the first step and last step of the argument to prove to you that it is not circular as you have suggested. Do you understand that even if there are 100 steps in proving God’s existence, then if step 1 is “things exist” and step 100 is God exists, then the argument is not circular?

      • In reply to #105 by Frank Petrucci:

        In reply to #103 by Mr DArcy:
        Frank Petrucci:
        Frank Petrucci:

        But this is not circular reasoning to say, we observe things exist, therefore God exists. That’s straightforward.

        Hang on ! That’s quite a big jump from things existing, (agreed), to therefore God ! (Not agreed !)>>

        From where I stand, science has done a pretty good job of explainin…

        You must be on this message board for a reason. I’m assuming that reason is either to strengthen your own faith in a not-God

        people who don’t believe in god don’t have a faith. Not even a faith in a “not-god”. Do I have a faith in not-unicorns, not-pixies and not-zxyggyk?

        or to be open minded to whatever the truth may be.

        there’s “open minded” and there’s gullible.

        I’m on this forum for interesting debates. I also like poking holes in other people’s arguments (not only theists!). I also hope to learn something. You’ll have to accept it is unlikely that you’ll convert me to belief in your god. As I accept I’m unlikely to unconvert you! (Though your beliefs seem logically fragmentary and poorly thought through).

        Now, in order to do that, we have to take this one step at a time. I do not expect you to jump from the premise that things exist to the conclusion that God does. I am merely showing you the first step and last step of the argument to prove to you that it is not circular as you have suggested. Do you understand that even if there are 100 steps in proving God’s existence, then if step 1 is “things exist” and step 100 is God exists, then the argument is not circular?

        depends. I’d like to actually see a little more detail.

  41. Frank Petrucci:

    So then you are made only of matter? Are you identifying yourself as a materialist?

    Yes to both ! I am very happy to be “only” made of matter. Do you have a problem with “only” being made of matter ? Yes, I am happy to be a materialist who gathers information about the universe around me via my senses. Do you have an alternative method of gathering information ? Please enlighten us. There could be a Nobel Prize awaiting you !

    • In reply to #104 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      So then you are made only of matter? Are you identifying yourself as a materialist?

      Yes to both ! I am very happy to be “only” made of matter. Do you have a problem with “only” being made of matter ? Yes, I am happy to be a materialist who gathers information about the universe a…

      What does it matter whether or not you are happy with the idea of being made only of matter? How you feel about the proposition is irrelevant to whether it’s true or not. That is the fallacy of appeal to emotions. What matters (pun intended) is whether you actually are in fact made only of matter or not. Why do you believe you are made only of matter? And if you are made only of matter than how do the ideas of things comes into your mind? When you observe an object, say an apple, does the matter of the apple enter your brain? Or does your mind perceive the image and abstract the form of the apple?

      • In reply to #106 by Frank Petrucci:

        So then you are made only of matter? Are you identifying yourself as a materialist?

        Yes to both ! I am very happy to be “only” made of matter. Do you have a problem with “only” being made of matter ? Yes, I am happy to be a materialist who gathers information about the universe a…

        What does it matter whether or not you are happy with the idea of being made only of matter?

        well he did answer the question. He is made only of matter.

        How you feel about the proposition is irrelevant to whether it’s true or not. That is the fallacy of appeal to emotions.

        no. He didn’t say he was made of matter because it made him happy to made of matter.

        What matters (pun intended) is whether you actually are in fact made only of matter or not. Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

        no evidence for anything else. Occam’s razor. Apparently Dark Matter can be ruled out.

        And if you are made only of matter than how do the ideas of things comes into your mind?

        the computer is a good analogy (I’m not claiming the brain is a computer). Our senses (eyes. ears, etc.) turn sensory data (light, sound etc.) into electrical impulses and chemical gradients in our nerves. Eventually this causes physical changes in our brains- strengthen/weaken neurological connection, manufacture of mRNA etc. Our conscious mind (which is just another bit of software :-) ) interprets these as memories and ideas.

        When you observe an object, say an apple, does the matter of the apple enter your brain?

        no. sensory data about the apple does though

        Or does your mind perceive the image and abstract the form of the apple?

        yes, but ultimately these are all physical processes and founded upon physical substrates.

        Computer programming is highly abstract yet these abstractions are ultimately based on 1s an 0s in computer memories and so on. The gates and magnetic domains that express these are of course utterly physical. Similar things happen in the brain and while we may not understand brains as well as we understand computers there is no fundamental difference (that is both are physical objects)

  42. Frank Petrucci :

    God is the First Prime Cause, the unmoved mover, he is eternal, immaterial, purely good, goodness itself, there is no passivve potency in Him, he is in pure act, there is no evil in him, etc, etc

    Presumably the Christian God, Frank ? And how,sir, do you know these particular attributes about your God ? Did someone tell you this stuff to you when you were young. ? Did you read it in a theology book ? Did you hear voices in your ear ?

    First of all, I don’t believe in your particular God whoever He is. Nor do I believe that you can somehow magically read the mind of this mysterious being, and therefore lay down its qualities. God works in mysterious ways. He wants you to engage in this debate with hell born non-believers !

    • In reply to #107 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci :

      God is the First Prime Cause, the unmoved mover, he is eternal, immaterial, purely good, goodness itself, there is no passivve potency in Him, he is in pure act, there is no evil in him, etc, etc

      Presumably the Christian God, Frank ? And how,sir, do you know these particular attri…

      Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in what is supposed to be a discussion on logic. You asked for a definition of God and I provided you with one. Your response commits the fallacy of shifting ground. The next step in a logical argument is to either challenge my definition and give reasons why or concede that that is an acceptable definition of God which you can then either affirm or deny. But to take the argument in a completely different direction seems illogical.

    • In reply to #107 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci :

      God is the First Prime Cause, the unmoved mover, he is eternal, immaterial, purely good, goodness itself, there is no passivve potency in Him, he is in pure act, there is no evil in him, etc, etc

      Presumably the Christian God, Frank ? And how,sir, do you know these particular attri…

      Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in a discussion that is about logic. Either affirm or deny the definition and provide reasons to support your position if you deny it

  43. If all of you atheists are so confident about your position then why are all of you so angry and respond with ad hominem attacks and diversion? Why not just calmly answer the questions? It might be time to revise your unbelief if you find yourself pounding your fist every time someone disagrees with you.

  44. Frank Petrucci:

    Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

    What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

    Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested ?

    • In reply to #110 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

      What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

      Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested ?

      No object is made only of matter. Matter by itself is indeterminate; it has no form. Water, for example, is not simply matter or only matter, but it is matter that is arranged in a particular way, and this is called its form. it’s what makes it what it is.

      • In reply to #112 by Frank Petrucci:

        Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

        What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

        Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested?

        No object is made only of matter. Matter by itself is indeterminate; it has no form.

        Matter is made of a structure of atoms and molecules. The structure is the integral nature of the matter. The molecular level structure cannot be separated from the matter, but the old structure can be abolished by rearranging the molecules into a new pattern – such as during crystallisation. If the geometry of the molecule fits that of the crystal, it will be more likely to remain on the crystal than it is to go back into the solution.

        Water, for example, is not simply matter or only matter, but it is matter that is arranged in a particular way, and this is called its form. it’s what makes it what it is.

        It is an arrangement of atoms and molecules, which themselves are made of an arrangement of subatomic particles and some energy. The structural arrangements vary with temperature and pressure, in ways which have been catalogued by scientists. This is called a “state of matter” (eg. Steam, liquid water, ice-crystals).

        Physics shows there is nothing else! The whole Earth is made of matter and energy bound by forces, as described in the physics of atoms and thermodynamics.

        @113 Where does your mind come up with the idea of the color “blue”. You see with eyes things that are blue like the sky, ocean, or a blue crayon,

        This is the detection by the cone-photoreceptor cells in our eyes of the wavelengths of light in the “blue spectrum” – (“blue” Frequency 606–668 THz Wavelength 450–495 nm)

        but yet your mind takes all of those things and abstracts from them a common idea called “blue.”

        Nope! The cones in the retinas our eyes take the energy of sunlight and convert it to electrical signals sent through the optic nerve to our brains, which interpret these signals as patterns of blue light from the “blue” photoreceptor cells.

        Now that idea obviously isn’t made of matter.

        It is made of matter and energy. Electrical energy is passing along nerves and bio-molecule neurotransmitters are interacting at synapses in the brain to process the signal. It all works on energy, atoms and molecules of matter.

        You really should do your homework on these subjects before posting on a science site, if you are to avoid making a fool of yourself.

      • In reply to #112 by Frank Petrucci:

        Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

        What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

        Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested ?

        No object is made only of matter. Matter by itself is indeterminate; it has no form. Water, for example, is not simply matter or only matter, but it is matter that is arranged in a particular way, and this is called its form. it’s what makes it what it is.

        that’s just an arrangement. We don’t say a house isn’t made of bricks because the bricks have to be arranged in a particular way to make a house. A “form” or “arrangement” isn’t a “thing”.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_%28fallacy%29

    • In reply to #110 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

      What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

      Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested ?

      Where does your mind come up with the idea of the color “blue”. You see with eyes things that are blue like the sky, ocean, or a blue crayon, but yet your mind takes all of those things and abstracts from them a common idea called “blue.” Now that idea obviously isn’t made of matter.

      • In reply to #113 by Frank Petrucci:

        Where does your mind come up with the idea of the color “blue”. You see with eyes things that are blue like the sky, ocean, or a blue crayon, but yet your mind takes all of those things and abstracts from them a common idea called “blue.” Now that idea obviously isn’t made of matter.

        Humans have photo-receptors in the retina which respond to blue light. Brains know about blue things because the brain’s job is to learn about patterns in the world. Even artificial brains (@44:09) get “blue”.

        Oops, I forgot. Obviously computers aren’t made of matter either. They are manufactured by god complete with immaterial souls. Remember that next time you throw a defunct notebook in a skip.

      • In reply to #113 by Frank Petrucci:

        In reply to #110 by Mr DArcy:
        Frank Petrucci:
        n reply to #110 by Mr DArcy:

        >

        Why do you believe you are made only of matter?

        What else is there ? As we both know, matter and energy are manifestations of the same underlying physics. Where’s the problem of being made of matter ?

        Do you have an alternative idea that can be tested ?

        Where does your mind come up with the idea of the color “blue”. You see with eyes things that are blue like the sky, ocean, or a blue crayon, but yet your mind takes all of those things and abstracts from them a common idea called “blue.”

        we identify patterns. The colour blue is a range of wavelengths of light. The blue sensors in our eyes (I’m not sure we have blue sensors, but if we don’t then some combination of colour sensors will respond to blue light) give a large signal when we look at blue signals. Eventually a strengthened neural connection will form.

        Now that idea obviously isn’t made of matter.

        but its physical expression is.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_%28fallacy%29

  45. Frank Petrucci:

    Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in a discussion that is about logic. Either affirm or deny the definition and provide reasons to support your position if you deny it

    Frank, come on now, I’m hardly ranting ? I will affirm that my position is that your “God,” whoever He is, is an illogical human construction that has no basis in reality.

    It really is up to you show that He does have a real basis, a real existence outside of the philosophy and theology books. Until such time as you can do that, I will continue to believe that the scientific method is the best way forward for human thinking.

    • In reply to #114 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in a discussion that is about logic. Either affirm or deny the definition and provide reasons to support your position if you deny it

      Frank, come on now, I’m hardly ranting ? I will affirm that my position is that your “God,” whoever He…

      Doesn’t the scientific method come out of a philosophy book? You are basically implying, “Your idea of God came out of a philosophy book. All ideas that come out of a philosophy book are false. Therefore, your idea of God is false.” Ok, “The scientific method came out of a philosophy book. All ideas that come out of a philosophy book are false. Therefore, the scientific method is false.” Is this seriously how you reason? Surely. you must be pulling my leg just to get a rise out of me!

      • In reply to #115 by Frank Petrucci:

        Doesn’t the scientific method come out of a philosophy book?

        No! – It comes from a long recorded history of gradual developments, studies, and improvements showing how things work in a reliably predictable manner.

        You are basically implying, “Your idea of God came out of a philosophy book”.

        Which god?? They all lack supporting evidence! – Which book?? There are soooo many stories and myths about gods. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

        • BTW, the scientific method is the only way we “know” anything at all. The term itself was coined (I read) by Sur Arthur Conan Doyle whose character, Sherlock Holmes would say “Elementary, my dear Watson,” I know the truth through application of a scientific method….

          The use of inductive and deductive reasoning set Doyle’s character apart from other fictional detectives in the 1880′s. However, inductive and deductive reasoning have been employed by logical thinkers since there were logical thinkers

          At least, this is what I read somewhere a while back.

          In reply to #131 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #115 by Frank Petrucci:

          Doesn’t the scientific method come out of a philosophy book?

          No! – It comes from a long recorded history of gradual developments, studies, and improvements showing how things work in a reliably predictable manner.

          You are basically implying, “Your idea of God…

          • In reply to #134 by crookedshoes:

            BTW, the scientific method is the only way we “know” anything at all. The term itself was coined (I read) by Sur Arthur Conan Doyle whose character, Sherlock Holmes would say “Elementary, my dear Watson,” I know the truth through application of a scientific method….

            The use of inductive and dedu…

            Conan Doyle didn’t coin the term scientific method. And there were no fictional detectives before Holmes, with a few minor exceptions such as some stories by Poe or a Dostoyevski’s Crime and Punishment, the idea of making the protagonist a detective was a new idea which was then much copied. Most of the copies from people like Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayer were pale unrealistic copies of Holmes. The real innovation in detective fiction came from the US in the 1930′s from people like Dashell Hammett and then later Raymond Chandler. They made their detectives act and talk like real people and interact with actual criminals and working people as opposed to the upper class and very mannered settings that were the hallmarks of English detective fiction.

          • What was Poe’s detective’s name??? Anyway, a quick google of “who coined the term ‘scientific method’” leads me to believe that you are correct. There is no mention of Doyle. I gotta try to remember where I read that. Wikipedia has a pretty extensive history and Doyle is not mentioned and the idea of the scientific method is much older than Doyle, however, the term, itself seems to come into english somewhere contemporary with Doyle’s life…. Thanks for correcting me.
            crooks

            In reply to #157 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #134 by crookedshoes:

            BTW, the scientific method is the only way we “know” anything at all. The term itself was coined (I read) by Sur Arthur Conan Doyle whose character, Sherlock Holmes would say “Elementary, my dear Watson,” I know the truth through application of a scientific method…

          • In reply to #158 by crookedshoes:

            What was Poe’s detective’s name??? Anyway, a quick google of “who coined the term ‘scientific method’” leads me to believe that you are correct. There is no mention of Doyle. I gotta try to remember where I read that. Wikipedia has a pretty extensive history and Doyle is not mentioned and the id…

            Can’t remember the name of the detective, I just remember reading things about the history of the detective novel (I’m a big fan of Hammet and Chandler) that Poe’s name usually comes up first.

            BTW, this is OT but IMO the Wikipedia page on the Scientific Method is far below their normal standard for science articles which is usually quite high. I tried editing it but there are some well entrenched people watching it and (unlike my usual experience in editing Wikipedia) it was a nightmare. Just correcting an opening sentence that claimed the scientific method goes back to pre-Greek cultures took several days and two pages of discussion on the Talk page. I gave up, if anyone has time and has experience editing Wikipedia that page definitely needs work.

          • In reply to #158 by crookedshoes:

            Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” either. But for what it’s worth, ironically it fits well into your rebuke of yer mans ridiculous comments.

            As for the first Detective fiction….A Short History of Detective Fiction.

            As for Poe’s detective who first appears in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, that was C. Auguste Dupin.

            All a bit O/T but interesting pub quiz stuff all the same.

    • In reply to #114 by Mr DArcy:

      Frank Petrucci:

      Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in a discussion that is about logic. Either affirm or deny the definition and provide reasons to support your position if you deny it

      Frank, come on now, I’m hardly ranting ? I will affirm that my position is that your “God,” whoever He…

      Mr. Darcy, as you call yourself. I must seriously exhort you to be serious with me. As you see, I am not an anonymous person; I am using my real name. I wish to get involved in a logical discussion and put emotions aside. I realize that people whom you trust, maybe some of your favorite scientists, and Mr. Dawkins, because he is easy to read, help inform you that your unbelief is justified. But I also trust people who believe that God does exist. Of these is my logic professor! There are many educated people who either believe or disbelieve in God. I am challenging you now to think for yourself, and apply what you know rather than using insults or emotional appeal to make your case.

  46. Frank Petrucci:

    No object is made only of matter. Matter by itself is indeterminate; it has no form. Water, for example, is not simply matter or only matter, but it is matter that is arranged in a particular way, and this is called its form. it’s what makes it what it is

    Oh dear ! Do I detect a touch of Plato ? There is no perfect “table” only the idea of such ? Of course water consists of two hydrogen atoms plus one oxygen atom. And the molecule worries not about “form” but about the necessity of obeying the laws of physics. Jupiter doesn’t care about Newton’s or Einstein’s laws of gravitation; it carries on in its orbit around the sun regardless of “form” or of human logical constructs.

  47. Frank Petrucci:

    Doesn’t the scientific method come out of a philosophy book? You are basically implying, “Your idea of God came out of a philosophy book. All ideas that come out of a philosophy book are false. Therefore, your idea of God is false.” Ok, “The scientific method came out of a philosophy book. All ideas that come out of a philosophy book are false. Therefore, the scientific method is false.” Is this seriously how you reason? Surely. you must be pulling my leg just to get a rise out of me!

    Frank, please don’t misrepresent what I say. There were many philosophers who speculated upon the nature of life and the universe, and the state of humanity. For thousands of years they had no other basis to work on than their own observations and that of others. The Greek philosophers, for example, had the time and leisure to speculate about the nature of the universe, because they were supported by a class of slaves who saved them the daily drudgery of cooking, gardening, washing clothes, rearing children and so on. They disdained labour. It was below them. Whilst there much of useful insight that came out of the Greek philosophers, including the idea of the atom and the working out of the circumference of the Earth, there was also stuff that was asserted but had no basis in reality. Aristotle famously decreed that heavier objects fell faster than lighter ones. A gem of wisdom that took 1000 plus years and Galileo to show wrong.

    So no, not everything out a philosophy book is wrong, but many things are ! Every so-called statement of truth has to be judged on its own merits, and not just accepted as truth per se. Science became the great equaliser, shining beams of light into dark theological crevices, and its results were testable, reproducible and they worked in explaining the world. Without science this conversation would be impossible.

  48. Frank Petrucci:

    Where does your mind come up with the idea of the color “blue”. You see with eyes things that are blue like the sky, ocean, or a blue crayon, but yet your mind takes all of those things and abstracts from them a common idea called “blue.” Now that idea obviously isn’t made of matter

    Or the smell of coffee ? Sorry but such perceptions are very much of the material kind ! There are very good physical explanations for “blue” and the smell of coffee, and why we perceive them as such. And some people don’t perceive them, because they have a form of colour blindness, or a faulty sense of smell.

    As for “love”, a wee bit of oxytoxin plus some dopamine ! Maybe even the odd eye of bat or leg of toad?

  49. In reply to #115 by Frank Petrucci:

    Frank Petrucci: Your emotionally charged rant is out of place in a discussion that is about logic.

    Hello Frank. You should be more careful on your first day here, writing over 20 Comments full of assertions without any evidence, all based on and distorted by your religious presuppositions, then making assumptions about and insulting a rational, knowledgeable Member who has been here over 6 years – who obviously doesn’t need any help from others to defend his clear thinking on ‘materialistic’ reality – which along with some ‘preaching’ caused several of your Comments to be Moderated….

    Since gods of any specification don’t have any material evidence or coherent logic, your thinking is all emotional, likely due to you being well indoctrinated into your specific belief set, and seeing everything ‘in the light of your faith’, which reads like a religion-virus rant on this Reason and Science site.

    FP: Doesn’t the scientific method come out of a philosophy book?

    Which book is that, Frank? Not everything is the result of just one Trooo Book…. Mac.

  50. Frank Petrucci:

    And if you are made only of matter than how do the ideas of things comes into your mind? When you observe an object, say an apple, does the matter of the apple enter your brain? Or does your mind perceive the image and abstract the form of the apple?

    Oh I do love that word “only”, as if there was something else ! Frank, from my POV ideas are the products of a brain, which itself is part of a living organism. In our case we are humans and have probably very different ideas from, say, dogs. The questions you ask are indeed very interesting as to how we perceive the world around us. All my life I have never come across an abstract ideal apple – only real ones. You know the kind of apples you sink your teeth into ?

    Sorry was that too mundane for you ? Poor miserable materialist that I am, I can’t offer you anything higher !

  51. Matter is detectable. Energy is what animates matter. Energy is detectable. There is nothing else. If you think there is, prove it. You know, e=mc2??? Oh, that’s right, Einstein is dumb! He was not nearly as bright as all you who “understand” the “un Undersatdable”. And feel compelled to “describe” the “undescribable”. And of course you all “see” the “unseeable”. And “hear” the “unhearable”. What a trip!

    I have read this thread and am impressed each time I revisit it. I am impressed by the sheer number of posts that have been published in such a short time. I am not, however impressed with the folks who are posting pro god. You are stinking it up!!! Wow, your tautological and circular reasoning with blatant contradiction, sometimes in the same sentence is just staggering. The unmoving mover!!! The unseeing seer, the unsmelling smeller, the unskinny bop (thanks Poison), the unproven bullshit.

    I am the unposting poster, the thinking unthinker, the whispering screamer, and this is the dumbest bit of word salad I have ever seen. This is simply an inane display of why you all should sue whatever school you attended. This is an indictment of the educational system and further, you’d think with such a easy thing to prove— the god thing would be the most obvious and most important thing in our known universe. You’d think that with that at stake you could do better than offering such sophomoric cosmic bullshit.

    C’mon, get to something of actual import. Oranges exist and I can prove it. Bacon exists ad i can prove it. The untasting taster now wants to have a drink and get to bed.

    BTW, thanks for the “unmoving mover”. I am gonna use it every chance I get. Goodnight, from the tall short guy.

    • In reply to #132 by crookedshoes:

      BTW, thanks for the “unmoving mover”. I am gonna use it every chance I get. Goodnight, from the tall short guy.

      You realise that you have just proved that your science is not sufficiently out of date for you to be a fundamentalist Biblicist!

      >
      >

      The sphere of the stars lay beyond the ones shown here for the planets; finally, in the Aristotelian conception there was an outermost sphere that was the domain of the “Prime Mover”.- http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/retrograde/aristotle.html

      The Prime Mover caused the outermost sphere to rotate at constant angular velocity, and this motion was imparted from sphere to sphere, thus causing the whole thing to rotate.

      By adjusting the velocities of these concentric spheres, many features of planetary motion could be explained. However, the troubling observations of varying planetary brightness and retrograde motion could not be accommodated: the spheres moved with constant angular velocity, and the objects attached to them were always the same distance from the earth because they moved on spheres with the earth at the center.

      Creationist citations are “beyond time and space”! They cherry-pick “scientific concepts” or historical myths, from anywhere in time – and spoon-feed them to their “all-knowing” gullible followers!

      They KNOW you are just not sufficiently in tune with the philosophical past, to accept their studied “theological reasoning“! – Frank Petrucci is just trying to teach you god-powered “creationist astronomy”!

      • In reply to #150 by Alan4discussion:

        Just to add to my comment @150 on the “unmoving mover” of the celestial spheres of geocentric and Flat-Earth astronomy, – there is also the classic Stephen Hawking quote about this:

        “Turtles all the way down” is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox. The phrase was popularized by Stephen Hawking in 1988. The “turtle” metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of a “primitive cosmological myth”, namely the flat earth supported on the back of a World Turtle.

        On the back of another turtle, on the back of another turtle, on the back of another turtle, on the back of another turtle . ….. . .. .

  52. And I will have you all know that I NEVER drink when I am drinking so back off with your judgment. And, I have a new diet book. It demonstrates just how not to eat while you are eating! This is great. I am so glad I read this thread. Now everything is going to be alright!

  53. I think the best way to argue against the God theory is to take the rational stance and show how it is just an exercise for our minds to imagine the most powerful ultimate thing. I would attack them at an intellectual level and ask them if they do not see that they are simply attributing to their god every possible trait that would help prevent the truth of their god from ever being challenged. I would not budge from the stance that it is simply the product of our smart brains to be able to think of such concepts and that in no way does it equal the idea existing in reality.

    • In reply to #136 by Henzo_C:

      I would attack them at an intellectual level and ask them if they do not see that they are simply attributing to their god every possible trait that would help prevent the truth of their god from ever being challenged.

      The commonest form of this is to direct enquiries towards the gaps in knowledge in the distant reaches of time and space, and away from the delusions hiding in the egotism or servility of the believer’s brain.

      I would not budge from the stance that it is simply the product of our smart brains to be able to think of such concepts and that in no way does it equal the idea existing in reality.

      Many less-than-smart brains will deny this to defend their delusions -laughably – as the central feature of the universe!
      Usually their concept of “the universe” is not far removed from the “eternal” heavenly area, “beyond time”, in the upper celestial spheres of the Flat Earthists!

  54. Is God the ‘primary cause’, the ‘prime mover’?

    According to the law of identity – which is also the fundamental law of logic – A is A, a thing is what it is. The law of causality is a self-evident implication of the law of identity and states that an entity can act only in accordance with its identity – i.e., in accordance with what it is. The law of causality thus relates an entity with its actions and is essentially the law of identity applied to action. Causality thus concerns the ways an entity acts, including the ways it reacts to the actions of other entities. For example, a ball rolls on account of its roundness, roundness being the essential aspect of a ball’s identity that allows the ball to roll. All actions presuppose entities and all entities presuppose existence. If an entity is caused, it must have been caused by the action or actions of another entity or entities. Existence as such, however, cannot have a cause. If a cause exists, it must be part of existence; if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause. Causality begins with existence; existence is the irreducible primary at the foundation of all causal chains. The ‘first cause’ or the ‘primary cause’ or even the ‘first primary cause’, if you prefer any of these terms, is existence – entities that exist and act only in accordance with their identity – not some arbitrary notion called God.

    NB There is a derivative view of causality that is, regrettably, popularly construed as being definitive. It is the view that sees causality as a relationship between events. For example, ball B rolls (event 2) because ball A struck it (event 1); event 2 was caused by event 1. But if we accept this event-event model of causality, we are left with a logical absurdity at the base of all causal chains – an uncaused event. Although this model of causality is useful in analyzing some types of action, it is not a proper identification of causality.

  55. “God defies Logic”=the god concept is illogical

    In any case, unless I am very much mistaken ‘Human Logic’ is a strange term, since logic is logic and surely exists independent of human capacity to understand it. Or is logic only contingent on human (and only human) minds? Did logic exist before minds existed?

    I am confused, sounds like apologetics hogwash to me to try to get out of the fact that religion in general is illogical.

    Hmm one for the philosophers methinks.

    • In reply to #181 by adey5:

      In any case, unless I am very much mistaken ‘Human Logic’ is a strange term, since logic is logic and surely exists independent of human capacity to understand it. Or is logic only contingent on human (and only human) minds? Did logic exist before minds existed?

      There are two related but different concepts. One is the concept of Logic itself. The fact that you can’t have X and not X both be true, etc. That is just a division of mathematics. Actually all of this can just be reduced to a question of mathematics so I’ll start again with that in mind.

      There is mathematics as facts about the world. That one plus one equals two that p and not p can’t both be true, etc. Unless you are a philosophical idealist like Berkeley then you believe that these things reflect some fundamental truth about the universe and that truth was true before humanity and will be true after we are gone.

      Then there is the human understanding of mathematics. That is something a psychologist would study. The former was about what a mathematician studies. At some point in our evolution there were one or more adaptations that gave humans the capability to do math/logic. What those adaptations were, when they happened, and how they are reflected in our current genome are all interesting questions that no one knows the answer to yet.

    • In reply to #181 by adey5:

      “God defies Logic”=the god concept is illogical

      That is certainly so for many descriptions offered, although it is possible to make a “castle-in-the-air” self consistent god-claim.

      However, there have historically been many theists (like the self proclaimed “infallible” Pope Pius IX) whose claims were not only illogical, but literally DEFIED LOGIC!

      “10 Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I)

    • In reply to #181 by adey5:

      “God defies Logic”=the god concept is illogical

      In any case, unless I am very much mistaken ‘Human Logic’ is a strange term, since logic is logic and surely exists independent of human capacity to understand it. Or is logic only contingent on human (and only human) minds? Did logic exist before min…

      Logic is essentially the art or skill of non-contradictory identification. Its basis is the self-evident facts that reality is what it is and acts in accordance with what it is, and that consequently there can be no contradictions in reality. Logic is the method of reason, the method of reaching conclusions objectively by deriving them without contradiction from the facts of reality and, ultimately, from the evidence of the senses. In short, logic is the method of acquiring conceptual knowledge (knowledge above the perceptual level); it is the method of conceptual cognition. And since logic entails actions of consciousness – conscious actions required to achieve a non-contradictory identification – it pertains only to consciousness – conceptual consciousness. There can be no logic apart from conceptual consciousness.

    • In reply to #182 by adey5:

      If god defies logic, then why do so many theists present (supposedly) ‘logical’ arguments and syllogisms for his existence, ie Kalam, TAG, etc.?

      When theists try to reason god….they have already undermined his ability to be unreasonable, to be above his own laws and to be able to perform and achieve the most unreasonable of all. So god is not all mighty since he only acts out of reasons.

  56. “God defies the logical capabilities of humans, and can exist in a capcity beyond our ability to understand”

    Looks pretty easy to me, “Then tell me again, ‘How exactly is it that you have come to understand that said being exists?’”

    It’s very ineffable when they want it to be ineffable, however they keep using that word “ineffable,” I’m not sure they know what it means.

  57. As Steve said, God cannot be defined, therefore you cannot prove there is no god. You cannot use logic to break something down that is by it’s nature illogical. People believe in god and like a poster mentioned, their mind can warp itself to support that belief. Just like a belief in no god or in anything for that matter. You will always find evidence to support your belief systems.

    It is your belief in no god that is attempting to use logic to destroy the belief of another person. The truth of the matter is, you have no idea if there is a god or not. You said yourself there is no evidence supporting it. But there is also no evidence disputing it. Keep in mind I am no speaking about any god one religion subscribes to. I am talking about a consciousness that exists outside our own perceived individual consciousness. There is no way to disprove such a thing, and no way to prove it (maybe realizing enlightenment).

    The point I am trying to make is that people are going to believe what they want, we live in a world where we as humans are capable of transcending the old ways tomorrow, and moving toward a life where there is no hungry ppl, or sensless bloodshed, yet something in the consciousness of humanity will not accept that type of life. Maybe there is just more to life than we think, believers and non believers alike. Like there is a human consciousness, maybe there is a universal one. Maybe that universal consciousness is this god. Something we don’t understand and will never understand if we keep believing in ideas of man.

    • In reply to #194 by Hence:

      As Steve said, God cannot be defined, therefore you cannot prove there is no god.

      The lack of a definition from any claimants indicates that there is nothing to disprove.

      You cannot use logic to break something down that is by it’s nature illogical.

      If the argument for a particular belief is illogical, it is already broken and can simply be dismissed.

      People believe in god and like a poster mentioned, their mind can warp itself to support that belief.

      This is known as the “god-delusion”!

      Just like a belief in no god or in anything for that matter. You will always find evidence to support your belief systems.

      That is a false equivalence. Just like no belief in fairies, goblins, or Harry potter’s magic powers. – and no you will not find scientifically verifiable evidence for gods or any of these, although you may find false claims or semantic twisting of the term “evidence”!

      It is your belief in no god that is attempting to use logic to destroy the belief of another person.

      No! It is the absence of a credible case or evidence to support their claims.

      The truth of the matter is, you have no idea if there is a god or not.

      I assure you I am very confident that all the god-claims I have encountered fail to produce credible evidence, but I admit I have not combed the remoter jungles of the world to eliminate any tribal gods I may have overlooked. (- Nor I have not heard of any theists carrying out such searches either, in order to establish if they have chosen the “right” god!)

      You said yourself there is no evidence supporting it. But there is also no evidence disputing it.

      Only the gullible believe on the basis of the absence of a disproof. – Do you believe in fairies because you cannot prove there are none hidden on Earth?

      Keep in mind I am not speaking about any god one religion subscribes to.

      Without a definition, asking people to believe in some vague notion is ridiculous!

      I am talking about a consciousness that exists outside our own perceived individual consciousness.

      You are going to have a very hard time trying to prove such a thing exists! you will need do describe what properties make you think a) that it exists, and b) what attributes make you think it is conscious, c) what this consciousness does that has any effects in the material world, and d) how you came by this information.

      There is no way to disprove such a thing, and no way to prove it

      Actually there is if it claims to do anything in the material world or universe. It is called atomic and quantum physics which accounts for forces, energy, atoms, molecules, and thermodynamics.

      Absence of evidence is evidence of absence of defined objects. Undefined objects are just dreamed-up whimsicality of god-delusions in the first place.

      Can anyone disprove the existence of an undefined, unspecified, thing-umy-bob with no properties, which has no defined interactions with the physical universe?

      No – but this has nothing to do with the physical reality of humans. It is just a vague notion of nothingness personified, in the god-spots of the believers brain – hiding its claims from refutation. It can simply be dismissed as lacking any credibility or substance!

      BUT as soon as any claim is made that this is given properties or is claimed to perform actions, it can be identified by science – which has a long history of refuting such claims.

      What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

      • In reply to #195 by Alan4discussion:

        I assure you I am very confident that all the god-claims I have encountered fail to produce credible evidence, but I admit I have not combed the remoter jungles of the world to eliminate any tribal gods I may have overlooked. (- Nor I have not heard of any theists carrying out such searches either, in order to establish if they have chosen the “right” god!)

        Alan, ya don’t need to go to the remoter jungles of the world for the nonsense.

        Apparently, and on the authority of a Hindu I had a yarn with on these pages a while back, there are 33,000,000 gods in that religion. That’s an incredible number…recording the list of their names would be a challenge on its own.

        Now, without investigating each and everyone of them, and based on prior probability of never finding any evidence for deities, it really wouldn’t be a worthwhile enterprise for any rational human being to get into, but religious eejits are not even interested in that pursuit, so why should we be? No, its best to let the eejits present their argument with evidence first before the decimation begins.

        Presumably the Christian Buybull god believers can easily dismiss all these gods off hand, from the worlds oldest religion no less. Anyway, the Christians have enough problems arguing amongst themselves about which one of the 38,000+ Christian versions of god is the true Scotsman.

    • In reply to #194 by Hence:

      I am talking about a consciousness that exists outside our own perceived individual consciousness. There is no way to disprove such a thing, and no way to prove it (maybe realizing enlightenment).

      Right, and there is also no reason to even contemplate its existence in the first place. If something is unknowable, undetectable, unprovable, etc., then what provides the basis to think that such a thing might exist?

      If there is some reason to suspect that such a thing might exist, we should be able to examine that reason and test it for validity. If it turns out that there is no evidence that the reason is valid (let’s say, for example, it’s simply an idea that somebody came up with), then either the reason is wrong or else the thing supposed to exist does not actually exist.

      I believe there is no god for the same reason I believe there is no invisible pink unicorn hiding in the bottom drawer of my desk. The simple fact that somebody has said that there might be an invisible pink unicorn hiding in the bottom drawer of my desk doesn’t make it so (or even possible).

    • In reply to #194 by Hence:

      I am talking about a consciousness that exists outside our own perceived individual consciousness. There is no way to disprove such a thing, and no way to prove it (maybe realizing enlightenment).

      This is an incorrect assumption. As someone who held/understood these beliefs of Consciousness for more than a decade, I can tell you that reason can break down and disprove this view; it’s a matter of intellectual honesty and patience examining each belief. I find that when people say that God defies logic and is outside our capabilities of being perceived, there is intellectually dishonestly at the core. I have yet to truly meet someone who does not think that God or Consciousness plays a hand in this physical life in this Universe. They all point to some sort or physical manifestation that they attribute to supernatural causes. Even the act of supposed “Enlightenment” must have impact in this physical world since your physical brain is processing this “thought” otherwise, it would be totally outside your capability to detect. If you are moving the goal post so far out of any perception – Consciousness having no intervention or effects in this world, then no it cannot be disproved. But do you really believe it? It would be as elusive as saying that an invisible, undetectable butterfly lives on Pluto. Even if we were ever able to explore Pluto firsthand, we could never disprove this view because invisible and undetectable were added causing challenges in measurement. My guess is that you really think that some aspect of Consciousness can be seen or felt in this world as it is humanly known. You seem to imply that higher awareness can be achieved through your physical being. Somewhere down the line, someone saw something “fantastic” and attributed a simple explanation as a cause. When rational views dispel beliefs, new opinions of the cause are created attempting to challenge rational explanations more and more. Eventually, It moves the argument outside the limits of discussion “God defies logic”, but the person holding the belief is still hanging onto some aspect that this view of God or Consciousness is involved “God’s effects can be seen.” They have their fingers in the cookie jar and are saying “no my fingers are not in the cookie jar.” Be honest and recognize that this is what is going on.

      If you have studied many of the views of Consciousness and feel that Enlightenment is possible then the Consciousness you are referring to can be measured because it will show its effects manifest in this world. If you properly define Consciousness and the supposed resulting effects in a detailed manner, you could eventually eliminate each factor. Why not list out all the attributes of Consciousness as you understand it and then see how many are left standing after scrutiny?

      By the way, I’m late to this conversation and will have more to say about ideas (jburnforti) I think there is conflating between concepts that are from the imagination and opinion and concepts that are principles of realized or unrealized qualities of nature and the physical world.

    • In reply to #198 by Mr DArcy : Funny. Very appropriate. Wish I’d thought of that. One t I dimly remember. Own cat mad as a hatter and christened Boumpak by Mauritian wife – it means darling or something similar. Later he’ll have a Bar Mitzvah and subsequently a Hopi blessing, following which he’ll be nudged by both of us towards atheism or, in his case, catheism. Say goodnight, Gracie.

      I fear jburnforti’s cat may be McCavitty !

  58. Believers claim to know all sorts of things about God all the time, though! They tell us that they know that God loves us, and that He is omnipotent, and that He physically incarnated and joined us here on planet Earth.
    But if anyone points out any of the millions of contradictions or absurdities then all of a sudden He’s ‘mysterious’ and defies logic and is beyond all understanding.
    When they do this I like to let them think that I have gained a new understanding of His Divine Unknowability, and then say “You’re very certain that He hates poofs, though, aren’t you”

  59. Ignorant Amos:

    Anyway, the Christians have enough problems arguing amongst themselves about which one of the 38,000+ Christian versions of god is the true Scotsman.

    Jeez is this inflation of Christian churches gone astray? Only 3 or 4 years ago, the RCC estimated the number of Protestant churches at over some 30,000. Fewer Christians and more sects ? Or fewer Christians and more sex ? My mind boggles as to what goes through the Christian mind whilst fornicating.

  60. Religion spells power and money to many of the practitioners of these perpetual scams. Most of them know it is a scam but the power and money are more than they can resist. The rest of the expounders are the followers of an illusion-based education based on many imagined prophecies written and updated by those with the power to do so. The scams will continue as long as gullible people exist.

  61. When humans embarked on a journey to explain our origins, they ended up worshipping a placeholder to assuage their thirst for answer. If you look at this formula, we never did answer anything by leaving it to god.

    ? —>Universe—->Man

    God—->Universe—->Man

    ?—–>God—–>Universe—–>Man

    This formula above can only be solved with one move. Connect man with god in a loop. The answer is man actually created god who is thought to have created the universe which creates man.

  62. If a creator god wants to be called the designer, we hold him accountable for all of his designs. If he accounts to no one, I can understand why. It is precisely that he has no mother nor father nor guardian to teach him….why then should he account to anyone?

    • In reply to #214 by Omegatron:

      If a creator god wants to be called the designer, we hold him accountable for all of his designs.

      Well, as I always say, if the complexity of nature proves the existence of God, what do all the design flaws say about his work ethic?

  63. This illogical. You seem to place that which you define as God as being something. God is not something in that respect. God super-exists.In other words God does not exist. Where what you consider to be God does not exist in time and space. The quantum mechanics tell us that the universe would have come into being any ways due to random fluctuations in the probability matrix. But there must be a super-existing state for the equations to fluctuate in. There should be no time and there should be no space for the universe to exist in, but here we are and we emanated from the super existing state of quantum fluctuations. In that state due to the law of the conservation of information all the information that exists in the universe was present at the creation of the universe. There was no before and there is no after, so your idea of what God is is not reality. God does not exist in time, so nothing can come before that for which there is no before.

  64. I think the logical thing to believe is that god probably doesn’t exist until such time as evidence arises which proves he does! You don’t run around the house with a fire extinguisher just incase the house is on fire. You can’t know your house isn’t on fire when you’re sitting int he living room watching QI, enjoying a glass of Claret and munching Pringles – you assume it isn’t because the balance of evidence suggests it isn’t on fire until you smell smoke or see flames – then you act.

    That’s how it should be with god I think.

    I think it is possible that things are beyond our perception. if you look at quantum physics, schrodinger’s cat, the heisenberg uncertainty principle and the mathematical model for space-time comprising eleven spacial dimensions of which we only occupy three – things get pretty tricky to visualize.

  65. In reply to #219 by GregR:

    The flaw in the phrase “a rock heavier than he can lift” is that it is gibberish. God doesn’t do gibberish.
    Humans often think that if they can strings words together (usually without bothering to define them) that SOUND like regular grammatical english that they have expressed a valid (logical?) t…

    Really? You don’t “believe in the number 13″? Unlike God, I can assure you that this number exists. But seriously, folks.

    You seem to be taking the old C.S. Lewis argument that asking, “can God create a rock that even he can’t lift?” is as nonsensical as asking, “can God create a square circle?” The problem is that you don’t explain why it is nonsensical (and, in fact, you would need logic to explain why something is illogical). A circle can not be a square for the same reason that 2+2 can’t be anything other than 4. And since the laws of mathematical logic can’t be violated, and neither can the laws of physics, then God can not be supernatural (and if he’s not supernatural, why call him God?). You say God doesn’t do gibberish, but the very idea of this magical, all powerful, and supernatural creature is nonsense.

  66. I never knew my father. The youngest of four, all of my siblings were old enough to live on their own by the time I was ten. So, I pretty much grew up as an only child to a manic-depressive, dominating (and sometimes crazy) mother. She had no love for me, seeing as she had had a couple of electric shock treatments that completely wiped me from her memory. All of this info is to declare how I had no one to help me develop a strong, confident personality. I was lost in life. When I turned to god I was sure that the bible would give me the comfort and the footing I needed to live a full and happy life. Boy, was I wrong!

    I lived in fear of hell. I forgave everyone their persistent trespasses against me. My wife was hellbent on being my enemy (a lot like my mother). Because of my belief in a god I stayed in that insane marriage and those abusive friendships until I was ready for the nuthouse around the age of 30.

    So, believe me when I tell you that there is no comfort (and more suffering than anyone deserves) in the ridiculous belief that there is an all-knowing, all-powerful, invisible friend that is everywhere (even watching while you take a wicked dump in the bathroom!), who created the whole universe, who lives in another dimension called heaven, who is perfect in every way, who was never born and will never die. And who will cast you in hell for stealing a piece of gum while forgiving a mass-murdering, child molesting rapist if he’s really really sorry.

    • In reply to #223 by GregR:

      Of course a god would exceed logic. Goedel showed us that when he established that logic was necessarily incomplete (or fallacious).

      Gödel did not show that “God exceeds logic”. He showed that logic is insufficient for proving certain mathematical axioms.

  67. Hmmm! Because I suspected you are being disingenuous, I thought I’d check some of your other comments and, sure enough, it doesn’t sound like you’ll be popping into church any time soon for a chat with the Old Boy in the Sky. But you’ve dragged me back into a discussion which I thought I ought to leave on the grounds of my prolixity because you’ve represented my seriously-held position very well. Not because I believe that there is a god but because I believe that standard human logic is not the right way to argue against one. And like you, if maybe for different reasons, I quoted Godel on a different thread as a way of suggesting this. I think that the nature of Existence, the quality that subsumes everything else, cannot be explained by anything within Existence and that means Logic, Science and other rational approaches flounder. IMO the straw man in all this, anyway, is the God/Religion thing whose obvious fantasy and anthropomorphic features are hardly interesting enough to debate; at any rate, I don’t bother and never did and I seem to have been lucky in having had a family which never mentioned and had no interest in that sort of stuff. BUT, the Existence feature seems to me utterly different, entirely impervious to any explanations we think we can offer. And this, IMO again, is why people, needing some kind of explanation for this mystery, provide an explanation in the (dimly) recognisable form of God or gods which resemble nothing so much as, yes, us. It’s wretchedly ill-thought out shorthand for an answer to the mystery. But, while its value as an answer is, always IMO, entirely worthless, the question it attempts to answer is a) worth posing, b) will be posed, anyway, whether it’s worthless or not and c) shows no signs of getting answered any other way. I’ve got to be honest and say that I tired of Krauss’s recent book fairly early on but I don’t see Quantum Physics providing an answer any time soon. To questions about Nothing and Everything, yes, but to Existence, which allows of those, surely no. And the, to me, frequent conflation of those concepts is a mistake. So, while I refuse to use the term God or gods to argue my position and insist that , as I understand it, I’m an atheist, I think that for the final question posed (but not answered) by God/Religion, Logic/Reason/Science as they presently stand are not adequate to provide the answer and therefore are not the right tools to use to counter Faith. What they can, and do, do brilliantly is argue Evolution, Heliocentricity, Circulation of the Blood etc. Not exactly insignificant but not the main event either. I’ve no idea at all what it might be but, nonetheless, think we need a new approach.

    • In reply to #224 by jburnforti:

      I think that the nature of Existence, the quality that subsumes everything else, cannot be explained by anything within Existence and that means Logic,

      The physicists have put together a good try at the explaining the features of the parts we can research so far.
      What is utterly clear, is that “existence” cannot be explained “outside existence”! (Whatever that nothingness means!) – The “existence” of “outside existence” is an oxymoron!

      • We’re agreed about the first part of your comment re what physicists have achieved.
        As far as the second part goes, if you know of a way to explain the nature of Existence some other way, I’ll be the first to applaud you. If that is an unreasonable request, I’ll be satisfied if you can indicate convincingly what general direction might take us towards an explanation. If not, my Godel reference is shorthand for my convictions about our failure to understand/explain Existence; and I’ve explained why I’ve referred to Existence. If it’s “UTTERLY CLEAR “that “existence” cannot be explained “outside existence””, then you can’t usefully say “WHATEVER THAT MEANS” since it has the Godelian flavour of the comprehending you having to stand outside the uncomprehending part of the “you” system, though it may have elements of cognitive dissonance at the same time. The “”existence” of “outside existence”” isn’t an oxymoron (you’ll need to catch up on your Wittgenstein) but you could argue that “outside existence” is, at which point I would refer you to Godel again as an explanation of insidey-outsidey-systemy-thingies. Though my hope is that you’ll be able to support the “utterly clear” section, that I can then turn you loose on Godel and we can share the Nobel prize we’ve been offering each other. “Utterly clear”, those words float in front of my eyes with enormous sums of money and lots of kudos attached. Oh Frabjous day, callooh callay!is#226](#comment-box-226′) by Alan4discussion:*

        In reply to #224 by jburnforti:

        I think that the nature of Existence, the quality that subsumes everything else, cannot be explained by anything within Existence and that means Logic,

        The physicists have put together a good try at the explaining the features of the parts we can research so far….

        • In reply to #227 by jburnforti:

          We’re agreed about the first part of your comment re what physicists have achieved. As far as the second part goes, if you know of a way to explain the nature of Existence some other way, I’ll be the first to applaud you.

          I don’t because as I pointed out: “The existence of ‘outside existence’ is an oxymoron”.

          If that is an unreasonable request, I’ll be satisfied if you can indicate convincingly what general direction might take us towards an explanation.

          The onus of proof would be on you to provide evidence that “existence” has a boundary, that such a thing as “outside existence” is possible, and that some explanation can come from this strange alleged source, – rather than from the study of material which actually exists as the physicists’, studies are showing.

          BTW: “Outside the known universe” is not equivalent to “outside existence”. If a multiverse or other features exist, they are not “outside existence” but are part of the physics of “existence”.

  68. I didn’t ask you to explain “outside existence” but to explain Existence, something your answer evades by implying that the alleged oxymoron self-refutes the need for an explanation when, in fact, logically it hardly bears upon it; there’s nothing in the alleged oxymoron to stop you disregarding it entirely and addressing Existence on your own terms, as I asked you to.

    The onus of proof is on ANYONE who makes assertions about the nature of Existence and its alleged boundaries or lack of to offer evidence or a credible hypothesis. The only reference I could be understood to be making to Existence’s boundaries was that Existence cannot be explained by anything within Existence. Since then, it is you who talks rather freely about inside and outside and boundaries while implying that these are my propositions – they aren’t. I’m careful to be clear that I don’t know any answers except that I do make the one assertion that an understanding of what makes Existence possible cannot be demonstrated from within Existence and I assert this a) because it never has so been done and so b) I don’t believe it can be. I invited you to offer ideas counter to that and you haven’t. If you can, please suggest how that might be possible or accept that you are putting words into my computer.

    Furthermore, as in an exchange earlier in this thread, you carefully avoid other comments and questions I put to you. Clearly, you have taken Sun Tzu’s dictum about choosing the battlefield very much to heart.

    The study of material to which you refer must be excitingly “more existent” than anything else (i. e. everything else) that exists if it offers special insights into the nature of Existence and makes me wonder if you’re making this up as you go along.

    In the densely woven tapestry of your thinking, it can be hard to know which shining thread to follow first. Does your BTW compare known with unknown universe, does it finally allow use of the oxymoron (?) “outside existence”, is it a ranking system? And, finally, I see no hope of wresting that Nobel prize from your grasp any longer on rereading your surely delicate and ironic use of a tautology to assure me that postulated multiverses and mysteriously hinted at other features exist as part of the physics of existence. That’s numbingly good stuff.

    • I meant to say the material, the study of which you refer to, must be…etc

      In reply to #229 by jburnforti:

      I didn’t ask you to explain “outside existence” but to explain Existence, something your answer evades by implying that the alleged oxymoron self-refutes the need for an explanation when, in fact, logically it hardly bears upon it; there’s nothing in the alleged oxymoron to stop you disregarding it…

    • In reply to #229 by jburnforti:

      The only reference I could be understood to be making to Existence’s boundaries was that Existence cannot be explained by anything within Existence.

      That is simply an unsupported rather silly assertion, which is refuted by the physicists partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics explain many features. At a more basic level, the existence of numerous manufactured articles is explained by numerous existing people.

      What you have presented is a variation on the ill-informed supposition, that if science does not know everything it knows nothing and can know nothing! Billions of years of existence have already been explained.

      You seem to be persisting with your earlier strange unsupported claims of “information existing” independently of the existence of physical matter, forces and energy – now presenting it in a reversed negative format of denying the existence of the information within the physical universe. This is essentially inserting whimsical “immaterial” speculation, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the science.

      The time-line of the Big-Bang leading to the existence of our material universe is well documented. Here is a simple explanation.

      Graphical timeline of the Big Bang

      If you are looking to regress to a mythical “first cause”, there are no known ultimate first causes of anything.

      All questions eventually regress to, “WE honestly do not know”,or “I do not know” and will either (by science) try to find out, or (by religion), will make something up and pretend to know.

      That does not mean there is a lack of verified explanations prior to that ultimate point – at present beyond current technology, where theist gapology makes stuff up.

      The study of material to which you refer must be excitingly “more existent” than anything else (i. e. everything else) that exists if it offers special insights into the nature of Existence and makes me wonder if you’re making this up as you go along.

      The physical matter, forces and energy of the universe! – “”more existent” than anything else (i. e. everything else)” What anything else????????
      You are suggesting that the study of matter cannot explain its existence. Perhaps you should tell those scientists at CERN!
      That is a very big claim for which there is no evidence whatever!

      and makes me wonder if you’re making this up as you go along.

      Gazzzoing!!!! Irony meter explodes!!

  69. 1) Do “partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena” explain Existence? You offer no evidence. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics do indeed explain many features but not Existence. You don’t understand the difference between explaining Existence and explaining features of things, people, events, whatever that Exist. By way of analogy, to say that a car is blue is to say that, while one of its features is that it is blue, that does not define blue. By the way, is the word “silly” an argument? If so, this all gets really easy.

    2)”What you have presented is a variation on the ill-informed supposition, that if science does not know everything it knows nothing and can know nothing!”. I have done nothing of the kind, rather the reverse, and you have made “an unsupported rather silly assertion”?

    3) “You seem to be persisting with your earlier strange unsupported claims of “information existing” independently of the existence of physical matter, forces and energy”. What I am actually persisting with is my assertion that Science/Atheism, as they stand, cannot explain why there is Existence, but can give excellent, indeed awe-inspiring, insights into the history and behaviour of many features, events etc that have existed, do exist and surely will exist. “Strange” represents a by now familiar attempt to browbeat, “unsupported” is entirely untrue as I carefully marshalled both my arguments and my reasons and they supported my claims. That is not the same as saying they proved them.They were not to your taste, but no surprises there. If, however, you mean that I didn’t quote the enormous numbers of great minds over the last 2000 years right up to the present day who offer similar arguments to mine, that was for two reasons: the first, that references to authority are a weak form of argument and the second, that you yourself certainly haven’t bothered with such a process largely, I suspect, because you’re unable to – hence the feeble generality of “the physicists partial explanations” which I imagine you don’t recognise as shooting yourself in the foot.

    I’m delighted you didn’t fail to understand that I was being “whimsical” though you seem to have had trouble recognising it was not in the speculation but in the manner of presenting it. And I make you a cheerful promise that should I engage with you again, I will do my best to continue that theme as I feel at least one of us, when not busy dourly policing the corridors of Richard Dawkins’ inheritance looking for naughty non-science worshippers, should.

    4)”The time-line of the Big-Bang leading to the existence of our material universe is well documented. Here is a simple explanation. Graphical timeline of the Big Bang”. Here is a simple explanation of why I ignored it: the Big Bang is a credible historic event, neither more nor less “existent” than this computer I’m using now, but certainly a historical antecedent to it and, certainly, unimaginably enormous in scale and repercussions. It does not explain Existence since to do so, it would have to be the first cause and ” there are no known ultimate first causes of anything” – your words.

    5) Your question:”The physical matter, forces and energy of the universe! – “”more existent” than anything else (i. e. everything else)” What anything else???????? ”
    Your answer:” rather than from the study of material which actually exists as the physicists’, studies are showing.”

    6) “All questions eventually regress to, “WE honestly do not know”,or “I do not know” . All questions? Should I have another sausage? Are they getting married? Is Mt Everest the highest mountain? Does everyone die eventually? All questions? Is that ” simply an unsupported rather silly assertion”?

    7) “You are suggesting that the study of matter cannot explain its existence. Perhaps you should tell those scientists at CERN! That is a very big claim for which there is no evidence whatever!” While I wait for you to reveal how one offers evidence for a negative, why don’t you do something much easier and offer the evidence that it can? Meanwhile, though I really shouldn’t be hugging myself with glee, my elder brother-in-law, ex CERN scientist and ex Richard Feynman student, doesn’t find that much wrong with my arguments. He doesn’t agree but he doesn’t think they’re stupid.

    8) “Gazzzoing!!!! Irony meter explodes!!”. You have an irony meter? Much on it?

    • In reply to #232 by jburnforti:

      1) Do “partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena” explain Existence? You offer no evidence.

      I gave references to the science and gave links explaining the physics.

      The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics do indeed explain many features but not Existence. You don’t understand the difference between explaining Existence and explain…

      I do. It is yourself who does not recognise the facts and evidence of existence so persists in seeking the ever receding mythical “first cause”!

      All questions eventually regress to, “WE honestly do not know”,or “I do not know” and will either (by science) try to find out, or (by religion), will make something up and pretend to know.

      That does not mean there is a lack of verified explanations prior to that ultimate point – at present beyond current technology, where theist gapology makes stuff up.

      6) All questions? Should I have another sausage? Are they getting married? Is Mt Everest the highest mountain? Does everyone die eventually? All questions? Is that ” simply an unsupported rather silly assertion”?

      You seem to have missed and omitted from quoting the “I will try to find out” option! – Regression is correct for all “HOW” questions about physical reality. Obviously questions about personal objectives or the conventions of semantic definitions, or simple measurements, can be answered without regression by individuals “finding out” – unless you look into “HOW QUESTIONS” in the sources or basis for the definitions.

      Does everyone die eventually?

      That depends on the definition of “die”. Individual organisms may die. So far, many genes continue to replicate and carry on life! – As to the future – WE DO NOT KNOW!

      Are they getting married?

      Are two gay people getting married in Saudi Arabia? This is a semantic definition of a social or legal convention which people can find out!

      Is Mt Everest the highest mountain?

      Olympus Mons is higher. – What were the question’s terms of reference? Once you ask “HOW” it comes to be higher, rather than simply finding out a comparative a measurement, the questions regress.

      “You are suggesting that the study of matter cannot explain its existence. Perhaps you should tell those scientists at CERN!

      That is a very big claim for which there is no evidence whatever!”

      While I wait for you to reveal how one offers evidence for a negative,

      Certain negative claims can be disproved. For example a claim that the Earth will stop dead in its orbit, is refuted by the laws of motion – unless some explanation involving these laws is produced.

      You are claiming that science can no longer push forward the frontiers of knowledge by investigating the nature of matter, as it has done in the past. As I said – that is a big, unsupported, unevidenced, claim.

      why don’t you do something much easier and offer the evidence that it can?

      I can only point to the history of scientific progress, point out that at present WE DO NOT KNOW for certain, and that your pursuit of a receding infinite regression of questions, offers no evidence, no answers, and serves no useful purpose.

      • 1) If “the physicists partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics explain many features” is your “reference to the science” and the single link to the Big Bang is your “links explaining the physics”, what you’ve offered is so vague that it provides very threadbare justification and nothing that constitutes evidence for Science’s understanding of Existence. If your “reference to the science” means something more substantive, please identify it.

        2) ” It is yourself who does not recognise the facts and evidence of existence so persists in seeking the ever receding mythical “first cause”!” This is entirely in your imagination. If you choose to believe the Big Bang is a First Cause, that’s for you to assert if you wish and equally so if you don’t. Please don’t project your musings on to me without evidence.

        3) I didn’t quote the “I will try to find out” option! ” because it isn’t there unless you meant the missing “I” to be inferred in which case the construction becomes even more tortuous and must also, logically, mean you would, alternatively, “make something up and pretend to know.”(an admission I’m having difficulty visualising you making).

        4) “Regression is correct for all “HOW” questions about physical reality.” Really? And stops where? Wherever the ” ever receding mythical “first cause”! that you’ve been projecting begins? Perhaps I ought to suggest you have a look at this if you’re fantasising about First Causes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_timeline_of_the_Big_Bang

        5) “Does everyone die eventually? That depends on the definition of “die”. Really? Souls perhaps? Afterlife? Or the Son of God didn’t? Did I hear right? Notorious gapology denier has Damascene conversion and says he won’t be dying. No, no, love, everyone dies. Promise.

        6) “Are they getting married? Are two gay people getting married in Saudi Arabia? This is a semantic definition of a social or legal convention which people can find out!” You seem to be having trouble keeping up. Peter and Mary, Peter and Geoffrey, Ahmed and Ibrahim may in ascertainable fact be getting legally married or not and the factual answer to a question about it may well rest on their being permitted to do so. Semantics has nothing to do with that particular fact.

        7) ” Is Mt Everest the highest mountain? Olympus Mons is higher. – What were the question’s terms of reference?” You’re straining at gnats. Your commonsense was being relied on to provide the context but, even in the absence of that and relying on the question you implicitly substitute “Which is the highest mountain anywhere in the universe.?”, the question only regresses to “We don’t know” in the absence of the information ; beyond that, HOW? doesn’t come into it. BTW, you were straining at gnats while introducing a red herring.

        8) “You are claiming that science can no longer push forward the frontiers of knowledge by investigating the nature of matter, as it has done in the past. As I said – that is a big, unsupported, unevidenced, claim.” I have said absolutely nothing of the kind. Have you spent perhaps too much time with “Burn before reading” material rather than with Burnforti material? Fine by me so long as we know.

        9) “your pursuit of a receding infinite regression of questions, offers no evidence, no answers, and serves no useful purpose.”. Well, I ‘m not entirely sure what a “receding infinte regression of questions” might be but am beginning to feel confident I could recognise what an “advancing infinite aggression of unsubstantiated and often made up assertions” might be. I was clear that I wasn’t capable of evidence so offered my reasons instead, was even clearer that I don’t have answers, and, as for my pursuit of, oh well, whatever it is, serving no useful purpose, I’m glad to see how much it resembles one of Science’s great contributions in that respect – namely Evolution. Or have I missed something? Shame we no longer have your irony meter.

        In reply to #234 by Alan4discussion:*

        In reply to #232 by jburnforti:

        1) Do “partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena” explain Existence? You offer no evidence.

        I gave references to the science and gave links explaining the physics.

        The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics do indeed explain ma…

        • Clarification/correction:
          “and, as for my pursuit of, oh well, whatever it is, serving no useful purpose, I’m glad to see how much it resembles one of Science’s great contributions in that respect – namely Evolution”. That should have read “Nature’s”, not “Science’s”, and usefulness or otherwise of (Evolution’s) purpose cannot be determined where purpose does not exist. I apologise for expressing myself clumsily.

          And given your apparent interest in “receding infinite regression of questions”, I’m surmising that context is all and that if we substitute “scientists” for “turtles”..?

          In reply to #236 by jburnforti:

          1) If “the physicists partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics explain many features” is your “reference to the science” and the single link to the Big Bang is your “links explaining the physics”, what you’ve offer…

        • In reply to #236 by jburnforti:

          1) If “the physicists partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics explain many features” is your “reference to the science” and the single link to the Big Bang is your “links explaining the physics”, what you’ve offered is so vague that it provides very threadbare justification and nothing that constitutes evidence for Science’s understanding of Existence. If your “reference to the science” means something more substantive, please identify it.

          You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation? – Like this one? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big-Bang

          You still seem fixated on some mythical, ethereal, undefined, and unevidenced, substance called “existence”, when in fact “existence” is a property of matter, forces, and energy.

          And given your apparent interest in “receding infinite regression of questions”, I’m surmising that context is all and that if we substitute “scientists” for “turtles”..?

          In an infinite regression from “HOW” questions (or “why” questions which revert to “HOW” questions) ANY form of questioning is included. That is the point, although it is doubtful if turtles have evolved to ask questions! The Turtles all the way down explanation, illustrates the paradox of an infinite regression of creator gods, but an infinite regression, is an infinite regression, regardless of if the question is “Who-did-it?”, or What-did-it?

          5) “Does everyone die eventually? That depends on the definition of “die”.

          Really?

          Yep! Crystal clear! (That depends on the definition of “die”. Individual organisms may die. So far, many genes continue to replicate and carry on life! – As to the future – WE DO NOT KNOW!)

          Souls perhaps? Afterlife? Or the Son of God didn’t? Did I hear right?

          I was talking about definitions in the real world, not definitions in stories, but like I said it is about semantics and definitions. Fantasy definitions can be consistently applied in fantasy worlds!

          6) “Are they getting married?

          Are two gay people getting married in Saudi Arabia? This is a semantic definition of a social or legal convention which people can find out!”

          You seem to be having trouble keeping up.

          Gazzzoing!!!

          Peter and Mary, Peter and Geoffrey, Ahmed and Ibrahim may in ascertainable fact be getting legally married or not and the factual answer to a question about it may well rest on their being permitted to do so. Semantics has nothing to do with that particular fact.

          You seem to have again missed the point that being “legally married” and “being permitted to do so”, is complying with conventions and interpretations of laws of specific countries written in WORDS – otherwise known as semantics! – Which people can “FIND OUT”. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/semantic – Of or relating to meaning, especially meaning in language.

          Do I have to repeat all the explanations where you sit in denial?

          • 1) “You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation? – Like this one?” -I don’t remember the exact words but RD explains it as something along the lines of”How can you talk about so-and-so if you haven’t kept up with the literature (Erie Canal-Diggers Safety Clothing Annual etc)? No, I didn’t. But I’ll be happy to exchange multiple links with you if an obligation to read them is now in place because you’ve so stipulated. Now, let me see…yes, some Depak Chopra and some William Lane Craig ought to get you started, then we’ll offer you some Madame Blavatsky, some Gurdjieff, some Ouspensky, some Uncle Tom Cobley… All in the best possible taste, you understand? Yes, RD identified this line of arguing very clearly and I decline the offer of patronage you implicitly make by using it. Do your own reasoning.

            2) “You still seem fixated on some mythical, ethereal, undefined, and unevidenced, substance called “existence”, when in fact “existence” is a property of matter, forces, and energy.” So, let me get that straight. Existence is a “substance”, it’s “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced” and we’re back to insulting me with words such as “fixated” and making assertions which arrive unburdened with justification.? Can you really not avoid this sort of personalising? Rephrase your point correctly if you want it addressed. At which point the epithets “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced” will be addressed as the entirely private view you have of Existence, something which you claim, as always without substantiation, I view as a “substance”. An “unsupported rather silly assertion”?

            3) On countless threads you reiterate that WHY questions always devolve to HOW questions. You repeatedly assert but never substantiate this remarkable proposition – WHY not?Or should I ask HOW not? An ” unsupported rather silly assertion”?

            4) An infinite regression is not a “paradox” – if it were, 2 mirrors facing each other would express or be a paradox. WHY? I’m sorry – HOW?
            And, as a sort of footnote to help you, an infinite regression is an infinite regression is an infinite regression…etc. is not an infinite regression – just in case you think it is.

            5) By what “definition in the real world” of “die” does anyone not die? Or are you suggesting it’s a “fantasy definition” of the word to say everyone dies? It sounds IMO like a “fantasy definition” of the word to suggest anyone doesn’t. However, you may have support from faithheads for that idea?

            6) Complying with “conventions and interpretations of laws” is not usually seen as a semantic issue. It would be interesting to see “semantic confusion” offered as a plea in, say, a murder trial. Though if the death penalty were awarded, the condemned could perhaps comfort himself that he would only experience his dying as semantics.

            7)”Do I have to repeat all the explanations where you sit in denial?”. I’ll let you decide.

            In reply to #240 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #236 by jburnforti:

            1) If “the physicists partial explanations and calculated backward projections of physical phenomena. The sciences of quantum and nuclear physics explain many features” is your “reference to the science” and the single link to the Big Bang is your “links explaining t…

          • In reply to #243 by jburnforti:

            1) “You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation? – Like this one?”

            -I don’t remember the exact words but RD explains it as something along the lines of”How can you talk about so-and-so if you haven’t kept up with the literature (Erie Canal-Diggers Safety Clothing Annual etc)?

            No, I didn’t. But I’ll be happy to exchange multiple links with you if an obligation to read them is now in place because you’ve so stipulated. Now, let me see…yes, some Depak Chopra and some William Lane Craig ought to get you started,

            Your responses are just progressing into more evasion and obfuscating silliness!

            I pointed out your failure to look at the further links, in response to your false claim that I had not provided evidence, when in fact, the requested evidence on a large and complex subject, was linked from the briefer simpler linked explanation.

            2) “You still seem fixated on some mythical, ethereal, undefined, and unevidenced, substance called “existence”, when in fact “existence” is a property of matter, forces, and energy.”

            So, let me get that straight. Existence is a “substance”, it’s “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced”

            That appears to be your repeatedly stated position in asserting that “existence” is independent of matter, forces and energy!

            If you are not claiming it is a substance, please explain what you claim it is, as you deny it is a property of the matter forces and energy which make up the universe.

            and we’re back to insulting me with words such as “fixated” and making assertions which arrive unburdened with justification.?

            Really?? Are you claiming that is not an accurate description of your repeated assertion?

            Do you deny your persistent preoccupation or obsession or strong attachment (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fixation) to your claim of some “immaterial ethereal existence”?

            Is this more denial of your stated claims, with a gratuitous “offended card” thrown in, in the absence of an answer or evidence?

            Can you really not avoid this sort of personalising?

            Do you deny that this is the personal opinion you have persistently expressed in earlier comments?

            Rephrase your point correctly if you want it addressed.

            More obfuscation – it is correctly stated, unless you think some clarification of your repeatedly stated position is needed.

            At which point the epithets “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced” will be addressed as the entirely private view you have of Existence, something which you claim, as always without substantiation,

            Gazzoinggg!! – It is your assertion not mine, that “existence” is some “immaterial” property, which I point out is “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced”, so the onus is on you to produce definitions and evidence to support your claim.

            Science has evidence of the existence of the material universe for billions of years. You have produced nothing but obfuscating words!

            Got evidence???

            3) On countless threads you reiterate that WHY questions always devolve to HOW questions. You repeatedly assert but never substantiate this remarkable proposition – WHY not?Or should I ask HOW not?

            I have already explained this in detail, but it seems you still don’t get it!

            An ” unsupported rather silly assertion”?

            You really should read and attempt to understand the explanations on earlier comments!

            4) An infinite regression is not a “paradox” – if it were, 2 mirrors facing each other would express or be a paradox.

            Oh dear! More side-tracking. We were talking about questions not images in mirrors!

            WHY? I’m sorry – HOW? And, as a sort of footnote to help you, “an infinite regression is an infinite regression is an infinite regression…(regardless of if the question is “Who-did-it?”, or What-did-it?)”. is not an infinite regression – just in case you think it is.

            Oh dear! – Gratuitous unevidenced contradiction (and a truncated quote as bracketed)! – Denial of the “Turtles all the way down”, expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox.

            5) By what “definition in the real world” of “die” does anyone not die? Or are you suggesting it’s a “fantasy definition” of the word to say everyone dies? It sounds IMO like a “fantasy definition” of the word to suggest anyone doesn’t. However, you may have support from faithheads for that idea?

            Are you just being obtuse or just quote-mining and straw-manning??? http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/10/16/response-to-argument-that-god-defies-logic#comment-box-240 – “Does everyone die eventually? That depends on the definition of “die”. -Yep! Crystal clear! (That depends on the definition of “die”. Individual organisms may die. So far, many genes continue to replicate and carry on life! – As to the future – WE DO NOT KNOW!)

            6) Complying with “conventions and interpretations of laws” is not usually seen as a semantic issue. It would be interesting to see “semantic confusion” offered as a plea in, say, a murder trial. Though if the death penalty were awarded, the condemned could perhaps comfort himself that he would only experience his dying as semantics.

            Oh dear! Have you never heard of lawyers arguing over interpretations of legal documents or people being acquitted on legal technicalities ???

            7)”Do I have to repeat all the explanations where you sit in denial?”.

            I’ll let you decide.

            With repeated evasion, obfuscation, repeated ignoring of explanations previously posted, a bit of straw-manning and quote-mining thrown in, and your failure to produce evidence:- enough is probably enough!

            Your arguments certainly “Defy Logic”!

          • ” Your arguments certainly “Defy Logic”. Yes… or, perhaps just you. Tedium has felt like the new Dirty Dancing.

            In reply to #244 by Alan4discussion:*

            In reply to #243 by jburnforti:

            1) “You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation? – Like this one?”

            -I don’t remember the exact words but RD explains it as something along the lines of”How can you talk about so-and-so if you haven’t kept up with…

          • In reply to #245 by jburnforti:

            1) “You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation?

            ** ” Your arguments certainly “Defy Logic”.**

            Yes… or, perhaps just you. Tedium has felt like the new Dirty Dancing.

            Still more illogical evasive ramblings, with no answers to requests for clarification, or evidence for your “immaterial” assertions? – further demonstrating that point!

  70. Howdy,

    back in the day, I formulated an argument in response to this paradox that I ended up finding tough to crack, in effect baffling myself. I hail from a Lutheran community, but I am an atheist through and through, and merely frequented my peers’ train station of thought as a means of bonding and exercise. (No longer.)

    Here goes:

    “God has three distinct forms. Father, son, HG (…)
    Whereas the father aspect can create and manipulate any rock to any extent, the son aspect in and of itself can only manipulate the object as far as his human form allows, whereas the HG aspect cannot even interact with the material form regardless of size.

    True, the son aspect turned water into wine, flew around, healed, bla bla so why can’t he do the same to a big old rock? He can only do so by invoking the aid of the father alter ego that can manipulate matter endlessly(, or invoke the HG to manipulate the immaterial endlessly). The son aspect is a proxy for the two extremes, connecting the two ends of completeness.

    The point is that the 3 distinct forms account for different scopes and depths of material manipulation; total, partial, null. Total coverage.”

    So yeah, feel free to destroy the argument and teach me a good counter-argument that I’ve apparently missed so far. (Nothing as obvious such as “Assuming gawdexiss’ ” , of course.)

  71. It is impossible to conclude a first cause since we don’t even know if we are even the first universe to begin with. All things begin with a collective arrays of causes. The same way if I am to cook a pot of curry. I could throw in the lemon leaves first or curry powder first….does that mean the first ingredient I throw in naturally becomes the first cause that makes the curry? At the same time….the curry powder is derived from many causes leading to what it is….the lemon grass is also the outcome of many causes that leads to its existence.

    • Once people start talking dirty, I’m lost: lemon leaves first, currypowder first, I won’t argue. Just tell me where and when and what lager to bring and I’ll be there. And, interestingly, in my case the Big Bang can’t be the First Cause because it always follows the curry (oh all right, talk amongst yourselves).
      In reply to #237 by Omegatron:

      It is impossible to conclude a first cause since we don’t even know if we are even the first universe to begin with. All things begin with a collective arrays of causes. The same way if I am to cook a pot of curry. I could throw in the lemon leaves first or curry powder first….does that mean the f…

  72. God is hateful….there is really NOTHING comforting nor comfort to be found in him. We humans want nothing more than to have our egos stroked and self assurance/self consolation that there is an ultimate sky daddy up there and whatever he says is final and he supports our doing and forgives us since the hardest thing humans cannot do is to forgive others and themselves.

  73. However, the debate reaches an impasse when my peers suggest that God defies the logical capabilities of humans, and can exist in a capacity beyond our ability to understand.

    Which generally fits under the ‘incomprehensible is not evidence’ category. But more to the point, if it defies our ability to understand how could we possibly know whether we are having any form of contact or communication of said incomprehensible being? how would we know it has contacted us at all, or that we’re part of any design, or that there is even a design to begin with? The idea itself is functionally useless in a rational debate. If you were a theist telling me that god exists but he is incomprehensible, you don’t have any more evidence on your side to make that claim than I would passively dismissing it. Incomprehensible would mean no one would have any way of knowing and therefore not being capable of any rational pursuit.

    I’m wondering if there are any former belivers who consider themselves emotional rather than logical by nature, and how they handled giving up this “comfort” in God.

    Not in my case, honestly. My path out of religion came in the form of my interest in mythology, and the lack of evidence overall of any claim made by any faith, cult, myth or current religion. I didn’t even use the term atheist to begin with, I just knew I didn’t believe. I didn’t quite know what to call it in my late teens.

    So anything I’ve dealt with since that typically evoke emotional responses and some appeal to a higher power (illness, death of a loved one, disaster, etc) I’ve relied on the people I know and love and simply did my best to make whatever peace I can with what has happened.

  74. Moderators’ message

    No one learns much from discussions when they descend into mutual insult-hurling. Please keep the exchanges civil and focused on the arguments rather than on the perceived shortcomings of users who don’t agree with you.

    Thank you.

    The mods

  75. In reply to 244 Alan4discussion

    1) I wasn’t attending a lecture of yours, didn’t feel obliged to read yet another of the many “Timeline of the Big Bang” accounts I’ve already read and didn’t see it as my job to play what retrospectively turns out to be Hunt the Thimble played as though it were Blind Man’s Buff.

    2) You say I think “Existence is independent of matter, forces and energy”. I HAVE NOT ONCE SAID IT NOR DO I THINK IT.

    3) You say I think Existence is a substance. I HAVE NOT ONCE SAID IT NOR DO I THINK IT

    I have expressed my conviction that Existence subsumes them, that it is the necessary condition for them.

    4) You say I don’t think it is a property “of matter, forces and energy which make up the universe”. I HAVE NOT ONCE SAID IT NOR DO I THINK IT NOR DO I SEE HOW IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO SEPARATE THEM.

    5) You claim I’m “fixated” on an unspecified “repeated assertion” and appear to feel that it’s only necessary to assert it for it to be true. All you offer in support is a rather mild definition of “fixated” which very few of us, and certainly not you, would find ourselves undefined by. And extremely odd that where you allege fixation, you don’t specify the object of the fixation. Perhaps you’re making do with just the remark…

    6) You appear to have put “immaterial, ethereal existence” in quotes to let people have the impression I’ve said it, I HAVEN’T ONCE SAID IT NOR DO I THINK IT. Existence is merely the noun with shared roots with the verb to exist. Clearly I’ve more to say about it than that but, in this context, that ought to say enough for now.

    7) My stated claims indeed stand – you’re welcome to analyse, dispute, disprove them. You may not quote me as asserting things I haven’t asserted. And if you want me to justify one of my claims, please QUOTE it correctly instead of interpreting it yourself incorrectly and asking me to justify your incorrect interpretation.

    8) Yes, I was “offended” by your constant use of words like silliness, evasiveness, obfuscation and the like which seem to replace evidence or proposition. They have little place in an exchange of ideas and replace light with heat. Sufficiently so, in my case, that I got annoyed and made an unworthy remark which the Moderators, quite correctly, removed. They have my thanks.

    9)”Gazzoinggg!! – It is YOUR assertion not mine, that “existence” is some “immaterial” property, which I point out is “mythical, ethereal, undefined and unevidenced”, so the onus is on YOU to produce definitions and evidence to support your claim.”

    If it is my assertion that Existence is “some immaterial property”, how can it also be my assertion that Existence is a “substance”? The onus is on YOU to be accurate in quoting my claim, at which point I’ll be happy to support it again if you’re having difficulty in keeping up.

    10 I checked on your “I have already explained this in detail” link. No, nothing has changed, there is still no convincing explanation there of how all WHY questions devolve to HOW questions and it continues to offer you misquoting yourself in a most egregious fashion. In fact your misquotation of the previously missing “I” continues to be in bold! You’re absolutely right, I still don’t get it. You do?

    11) “An infinite regression is not a “paradox” – if it were, 2 mirrors facing each other would express or be a paradox.Oh dear! More side-tracking. We were talking about questions not images in mirrors!”

    No, no sidetracking. You incorrectly identified an infinite regression as a paradox as though it were automatically one. This is not so as the STANDARD EXAMPLE of 2 mirrors facing each other in non-paradoxical infinite regression demonstrates clearly, rather as one might use it in a Maths class.

    12) If, and I can’t be sure I know what you meant, you object to my truncating quotes, I don’t, at any rate, make them up (which makes one of us).

    13) I’m once again not clear. Which ought I to believe? That there are scientists all the way down or that there aren’t? You’ll remember, won’t you, that the core story is usually quoted just ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek. My variant is for those who inflexibly view scientists as gods.

    14) You chose to challenge the clear-cut question whether “all people die eventually?” So far they have, there’s very little yet to suggest they won’t but I will concede that there are gerontologists, prominently Aubrey de Grey, who argue somewhat the opposite. He asserts that there are people, presumably young, alive today who will live to be a 1000. So, despite wide doubt about this, I’ll withdraw that question.

    But the question whether a marriage arranged according to the local laws or customs and set for a certain date will take place is not a semantic question, it is a factual one.

    To a father whose daughter is getting married on Saturday, a factual question about that might get the joking answer “That’s a matter of semantics” but the real factual answer is “If all goes as planned, yes”. It’s not a semantic question.

    “Oh dear! Have you never heard of lawyers arguing over interpretations of legal documents or people being acquitted on legal technicalities ???”

    Certainly. I suggested that you couldn’t offer it as a plea in a murder trial where “guilty” or “not guilty” tend to be less frowned on. This arose from your desire to straw man a factual question about whether people in my example would be getting married into a semantic one which I find an astonishing leap.
    Question “Darling, I’ve arranged our marriage for next Tuesday at 2.30. Is that OK?”
    Answer ” Darling, Noone could bring Semance into my life like you. You’re so semantic”.
    Give over.

    15) “You are claiming that science can no longer push forward the frontiers of knowledge by investigating the nature of matter, as it has done in the past. As I said – that is a big, unsupported, unevidenced, claim.”

    I HAVE NOT ONCE SAID IT NOR DO I THINK IT.

    I have consistently praised Science but said that there are IMO things it can’t or doesn’t do. What is wrong with that?

    16) “With repeated evasion, obfuscation, repeated ignoring of explanations previously posted, a bit of straw-manning and quote-mining thrown in, and your failure to produce evidence:- enough is probably enough!

    Your arguments certainly “Defy Logic”!”

    Well, your words. I’ll leave it to others to decide who they best apply to.

    Meanwhile, I intend to leave this bad-tempered exchange for which we’ve both been responsible and will not comment further on this thread.

    In reply to #243 by jburnforti:

    1) “You did not bother to click on ANY of the further links from my link with the simple explanation? – Like this one?”

    -I don’t remember the exact words but RD explains it as something along the lines of”How can you talk about so-and-so if you haven’t kept up with…

  76. In my experience it is pointless to have this discussion with believers. Logic and reason are irrelevant when the conclusion contradicts their faith. As Pabmusic points out, Sagan’s imaginary dragon in the garage is an eloquent depiction of the problem. No logical answer suffices, and the faithful hold onto their beliefs even when completely demonstrated to be illogical and false.

    I just don’t worry about trying to convince the unconvinceable.

  77. The Old Testament is certainly not “comforting”. It is a blight to rationality & true ethics in my opinion. A monster of a God is no “mental & emotional support” to anybody except the wicked.

    That God surpasses our ability to understand is simple: He does not exist any more than a large rock can lift itself up.

  78. In response to Pabmusic: “just what is the difference between an invisible, floating dragon that breathes heatless fire and cannot be detected by any means, and nothing at all”

    Something you cannot touch, see, measure or detect in any known way, but you claim to be able to see its effects on other things. I give you “dark energy and dark matter”. Maybe dark energy and dark matter is the new “scientific” name for God.

    • In reply to #251 by Dave – Michigan:

      In response to Pabmusic: “just what is the difference between an invisible, floating dragon that breathes heatless fire and cannot be detected by any means, and nothing at all”

      Something you cannot touch, see, measure or detect in any known way, but you claim to be able to see its effects on other…

      Unfortunately this argument breaks down, Dark Matter and Dark energy are or were theoretical entities predicted by maths..God is a being predicted by ancient people with far less knowledge to explain unanswerable questions, the maths states he is not needed. The existence of A god cannot be properly disproved by rational debate though, no-one will disagree with this. The existence of ANY theist god can be by the terms of its own claims, which are repeatedly shown to be FALSE both by logic and evidence. There is NO bonafida evidence that Jehova or Ala exists. And almost overwhelming evidence to show that the contrary is true. For me that is conclusive enough, if you choose to believe in a phantom/hallucination that’s your concern with the provision, that you don’t then go doing evil acts the hope you’ll achive
      a short path to paradise that is.

  79. Let me go one better than…: “Can God make a rock so large that he himself cannot lift it?”…:

    Can “God” * be so powerful (omnipotent) as to be able to undo his own existence?

    Let’s say that God even dared to test his omnipotence that way – in an attempt of self-falsification…

    Hmmm…!

    That would simultaneously prove his existence AND non-existence.

    Well, actually, during his (?) non-existence, the “redo” button, so to speak, would not be available anymore! So, that would be the end of “God”.

    By the way, God’s self-undoing would have to occur faster than the speed of light, which – supposedly – is one of his first creations. Interestingly, what are called “virtual particles” CAN and DO appear and disappear… as long as they do it faster than the speed of light…

    If God could NOT do it faster than the speed of light, his attempt of self-annihilation would be tantamount to a snake eating its own tail, and that would prove God’s impotence… hence… he would not be “God”.

    But, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that God would be able to eat himself up like an Ouroboros eating its own tail.

    Hmmm…

    But then he would for an eternity be in state similar to Schrödinger’s cat… and in that case his existence / non-existence would be solely dependent on the quirks of human observation… Hardly a state, I would think, believers in God would like their omnipotent God to be in…

    • My use of the word “God” is in no way to be construed as being more than just a word…
  80. When people claim that god is beyond human comprehension, I ask “then why do you claim to know so much about him? – you know what he demands of humans and what he forbids, what pleases and displeases him, what he offers in reward for faith and how he punishes the unfaithful etc. etc. and now you’re saying he’s beyond understanding. You can’t have it both ways, either we can ‘know god’ or we can’t.”

    This usually gets a dismissive response, but it makes the point about how hypocritical the argument/claim is.

  81. The first question here is as I always say, what do you mean by God?

    If we’re talking about a revealed god, the best disproof is from their own theology. They disprove themselves by their claims and contradictions. Arguing passionately with theists is our duty I believe, because of the problems that organised religion causes as a result of their beliefs.Its not a matter of private belief at this point, its a matter of the harm they cause in society. They might take comfort in their beliefs, and thus challenging them might seem harsh, but the needs of the many… theist religion is a mind virus, which not only would I argue that we are ultimately better off without, as an individual, as a society we would be far better off without.

    If you’re talking god in a Deist sense, then the best answer I’ve seen is Dawkins’ hypothesis, which I read in ‘The God Delusion’. That said, I wouldn’t get on Deists’s backs about it though, such an abstract god, without a theology cannot cause problems and to be honest, as we don;t have empirical proof, just a basic hypothesis of logic would would argue that none existence is more likely than existence, we would be on morally very shaky ground to push it to hard.

    If you’re talking in the Einstein sense, then there is nothing to argue with, there is nothing wrong with having a sense of awe and reverence in the natural laws, I think we should all sit back from time to time and marvel at the fact that we exist, that the universe exists as it is, A Pantheist viewpoint that considers it to be a spiritual experience I guess, is whilst not entirely rational, our senses and feelings aren’t rational, but harmless and possibly beneficial.

  82. Many of the arguments espoused through this thread, infinite or ultimate regression, paradoxical arguments about lifting rocks, and tortuous, albeit valid, discussions in logic work better within this community than without. For the theists, it is just too difficult to comprehend, and for me commonly, too difficult to properly explain in the face of the desperate defences hurled up in response.
    Bear in mind, when entering this discussion, you are attempting to overturn some beliefs that are deep seated, and will be clung to with the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a straw.

    When I have had personal success in debunking god it has been through pointing out the utter incompetence of the so called “intelligent” design, examples being the piece of junk that is the eye, image upside down, big hole in the middle, irreparable if damaged etc. The clever part is the PhotoShop that goes on in the brain. Or the human sinuses, which drain from the top of the tank, a hangover from when we walked on all fours, and when they drained properly. What competent engineer puts the drain of a tank in the top?

    Things like this sow the seed of doubt best, then fertilise it with the conveniently forgotten murderous barbarity of the old testament, plant it around with the the historically supported chronological contradictions of the new testament, and soon the wavering theist will come up with his/her own realisation of the implications of the more ethereal arguments around infinitely large rocks, and regression.

  83. First of all is the use of a logical fallacy not a disprove of God. But if you are told that God lies beyond the comprehension of man, than you can answer, that this itself is a logical fallacy, because this would mean that any claim about this entity is worthless and a kind of “fundamental mistake of attribution”. The problem is, that this claim includes the possibility that this God had the power to do such ridiculous things as creating this marvellous universe and at the same time give a tribe of bronze-aged herdsmen in the middle of nowhere the set of rules, that is necessary to gain his acceptance and therefore to prevent eternal punishment.
    At this point the anthropocentric structure of this belief is so obvious, but believers deny even this. My answer here is that I use the same method here to get a most likely judgement as I use in the rest of my life, if uncertain what the truth could be: Ockhams razor! What I described above is so stupendous unlikely that every other answer is more likely. My scientific background gives me enough information to reject superstitious based pseudo-explanations about the origin of the universe. The fantastic thing about science is, that it is allowed to say: “Sorry, we don’t know it yet, but we work on it!” I prefer this instead of obvious forms of self-deception.
    This leads directly to your second point, the fact that believing in God means creating an imaginary friend, responsible for everything I can’t explain myself. This is fine until you get old enough to understand that it is rubbish and yourself have to care for your problems, so I think at the age of six or seven. I see this as part of the process to get adult.
    What astonishes me is that people claiming to have reached a certain goal (most likely the claim is that someone has become a totally new person, kind and handsome) diminish their own performance. If I am right and there is no God it was their own power, strength, discipline and performance. So why giving the credit to an imaginary something?

  84. First of all is the use of a logical fallacy not a disprove of God. But if you are told that God lies beyond the comprehension of man, than you can answer, that this itself is a logical fallacy, because this would mean that any claim about this entity is worthless and a kind of “fundamental mistake of attribution”. The problem is, that this claim includes the possibility that this God had the power to do such ridiculous things as creating this marvellous universe and at the same time give a tribe of bronze-aged herdsmen in the middle of nowhere the set of rules, that is necessary to gain his acceptance and therefore to prevent eternal punishment.
    At this point the anthropocentric structure of this belief is so obvious, but believers deny even this. My answer here is that I use the same method here to get a most likely judgement as I use in the rest of my life, if uncertain what the truth could be: Ockhams razor! What I described above is so stupendous unlikely that every other answer is more likely. My scientific background gives me enough information to reject superstitious based pseudo-explanations about the origin of the universe. The fantastic thing about science is, that it is allowed to say: “Sorry, we don’t know it yet, but we work on it!” I prefer this instead of obvious forms of self-deception.
    This leads directly to your second point, the fact that believing in God means creating an imaginary friend, responsible for everything I can’t explain myself. This is fine until you get old enough to understand that it is rubbish and yourself have to care for your problems, so I think at the age of six or seven. I see this as part of the process to get adult.
    What astonishes me is that people claiming to have reached a certain goal (most likely the claim is that someone has become a totally new person, kind and handsome) diminish their own performance. If I am right and there is no God it was their own power, strength, discipline and performance. So why giving the credit to an imaginary something?

  85. If logic does not apply to God, then anything goes. He may exist and not exist at the same time. Even better: He may be non-existent and still be the Creator of heaven and earth. Which implies that atheism is a sane standpoint for a creationist.

  86. While I am an atheist, I consider most of the agruments below to be unbelieveably shallow. Perhaps God is capable of making a rock so large that even He cannot lift it. Perhaps He is capable of existing and not existing at the same time. So long as He chooses not to do these things, there is no contradiction. though his power might extend to doing so, God is not compelled to create logical contradictions, is he?

    Second, the claim that God is all-powerful does not necessarily imply the claim that he is capable of creating logical contradictions. Suppose that God were capable of doing anything at all that was not logically self-contradictory. Most people would call such a being all-powerful. If you told such a being that he did not have the power that he did not have the power to exist and not exist at the same time, he might laugh at you in the instant before he damned you to Hell. You might not think your logic quite so forceful, in your new place of residence.

    I am not defendng theism; but I am put off by these sophomoric attacks on it.

    • Perhaps He is capable of existing and not existing at the same time.

      Then it was rather pointless to call yourself an atheist.

      In reply to #262 by Markovich:

      While I am an atheist, I consider most of the agruments below to be unbelieveably shallow. Perhaps God is capable of making a rock so large that even He cannot lift it. Perhaps He is capable of existing and not existing at the same time. So long as He chooses not to do these things, there is no c…

Leave a Reply